About lynbelisle

Lyn Belisle Artist’s Statement: Shards and Veils As an artist, my personal obligations and passions are pulling individual connections from the circular nature of time, fashioning shards of recognition from the well of collective unconscious, exploring the idea of the “secret handshake” in symbol and archetype, celebrating the frozen moment between what was and what is to come. I work in four main media to explore these ideas: • In collage, often using beeswax and altered papers to celebrate anonymous faces and otherworldly places • In unglazed earthenware clay and found objects, often to create spiritual and symbolic “neo-santo” assemblage • In fiber and paper, often to create wall pieces with natural colors, wax, felt, cheesecloth and digital photo images • In acrylic paint, often as pure, non-referenced exploration of form and veiling I take inspiration and comfort from the knowledge that we are all connected on a deep cross-cultural level with shared collective memories that each of us can glimpse through art without the need for words.

New Work – Scraps and Shards and Milagros

If you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s usually because I’m on a deadline in the studio or I’m having computer problems – this time, it’s been both things, but all is well now. I just wanted to drop in to show you five new pieces I’ve built for the upcoming Art League Members Gallery show.

These guys are variations on the idea of my “Two-Byes” which I introduced in this post last year.

These pieces are a little less fiber-oriented and a little more found-object focused, but the idea is the same – take discarded scraps and and create new miracles (or at least new artwork). They incorporate some of the techniques I’ll be sharing in the upcoming working at the Fiber Artists of San Antonio Spirit Box workshop in May.

I’ve also completed a series of five new Neo-Santos in a different format – stay tuned for those. I’ll try to post photos later this week. Thanks for reading!!

The Pilgrim’s Scroll: Stories in Paper and Cloth

Color me happy !! My new online course, The Pilgrim’s Scroll, is open for enrollment! You saw the results of the recent in-person workshop in this post, and now you can join the workshop online with extra lesson and materials and unlimited time to play.

It’s been a dream of mine to explore the fusion of paper and fiber in a way that is both simple and profound. Paper is a fiber, of course. Combining paper and fiber into a scroll is akin to weaving together threads of history, culture, and creativity into a tapestry of artistic expression. The marriage of these materials allows for a unique fusion of textures, colors, and forms, culminating in a fine artwork that transcends traditional boundaries.

This new course, The Pilgrim’s Scroll: Stories in Paper and Cloth, is designed to help you choose what matters most to you and to express that in simple terms. Techniques include several kinds of image transfer , methods of surface design on textiles (think wabi-sabi), creating beads, talismans, and birds from paper clay and fiber, and assembling these with thread, wire, ribbon, and adhesives.

Here’s is the Introductory video which will tell you more about the workshop than just writing about it can:

As always, I try to keep my courses affordable, and this course is just $49 right now for instant access, downloadable videos, free images, and almost five hours of video instruction, including, as usual, the non-perfect parts (which always make us feel better somehow).

Find Out More

I hope you will join me in this course. Even though these workshops are self-paced, I’m always here to answer questions. The Pilgrim’s Scroll represents a journey, as you will see in the lessons, and we will arrive at a place of discovery and self-awareness together!

May our feet always be light on the path!

🙂 Lyn

 

 

 

Painting with Fire – fill your bowl!

It’s so great when things come together almost magically, like bowls and scrolls and wax and fiber!

Today I’m able to announce that my new Painting with Fire Encaustic workshop will be called The Diaphanous Vessel: Exploring Paper, Fiber, Plaster, and Wax.  This class reflects the excitement that I’m having inventing ways to create translucent, delicate but strong vessels.

Vessels are not new to me, but I’ve always thought of them as clay forms. What a revelation to realize that paper and fiber can fuse together to create these organic forms that are surrounded by space inside and outside. Translucent beeswax binds these shapes together and fiber strengthens them.

And of course, if you sign up for Painting with Fire for this coming year, you’ll learn how to make these for yourself.  You’ll also have 53 other great workshops from the best encaustic teachers ever.

Click here for the info and the link to register

My summer class at SW/UTSA will also be about building vessel – there are just so many possibilities, and so many metaphors relating to bowls and receptacles. Stay tuned for that class info if you are here in San Antonio – the summer catalog is almost ready to come out.

Vessels, be they bowls, cups, or urns, embody a metaphorical richness that transcends their utilitarian function. They symbolize receptivity, gracefully accepting the contents poured into them. Conversely, they epitomize generosity, as vessels pour forth their contents, offering sustenance or wisdom to others.  They speak to the human condition, serving as vessels not only of physical substance but also of emotion, culture, and spirituality.

Some new vessels with collage and with Irish paper.

I love this excerpt from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, The Bowl:

A day, if a day could feel, must feel like a bowl.
Wars, loves, trucks, betrayals, kindness,
it eats them.

Then the next day comes, spotless and hungry.

The bowl cannot be thrown away.
It cannot be broken.

It is calm, uneclipsable, rindless,
and, big though it seems, fits exactly in two human hands.

Bowls both give and receive – vessels both hold space and occupy space.  I hope to see you in Painting with Fire this year so we can continue this conversation!

♥Lyn

Fear of Fiber

I just had the best weekend teaching at the UTSA Southwest Art Studios – twelve students and I explored materials and invented processes during the two-day Scroll and Surface fiber art workshop.

One of my favorite student comments  came from Susan, who said as we were reviewing our work, “I’ve lost my fear of fiber!!

Sometimes we think that an unfamiliar medium can’t be used to express our unique message. If you work in watercolor, you can’t imagine yourself telling the same story or celebrating the same subject in clay or fiber. But this weekend’s workshop concentrated on fusing all kinds of media media into individual narratives – paper, fiber, photography, paint, even clay. Here was our working description:

This mixed-media fiber art workshop includes components such as re-purposed studio drop cloth (torn), hydrosoluable fiber, walnut ink, paper twine, surface design, found objects, fiber, wire, image transfers and paper clay to explore how surface design can symbolize the precious belongings that we carry with us on our life’s journey.

The students came from diverse background and places in Texas – a military veteran who worked as a language translator, an elementary school STEM teacher, a naturalist, a minister, several professional artists, a college student just starting his art journey. Our personalities came together like a beautifully composed collage!

One of the strengths in creative diversity is that every message matters. A successful art workshop results in many right answers to the same question – what story can you tell that makes us all nod our heads in understanding, recognition, and empathy?

My students were just brilliant in expressing their narratives. Here is a video that tells all of the stories that were written in fiber this weekend.

I’m in the middle of filming lessons for this workshop so it can be available as an online class, and it should be ready in a week or two. I’ll share some of the mixed-media secrets we discovered this weekend – toilet bowl cleaner was a big hit as was sticky cheesecloth. 🙂

Thanks for reading SHARDS! And don’t be afraid of fiber – it is your friend!!

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many thanks!

I am so grateful to you for re-subscribing to SHARDS. You are the reason I teach workshops, share ideas, and learn so much about our arts community. Thank you for being a part of my creative life! I look forward to staying in touch, thanks to you.

As promised, I did a random number pick of those kind people who subscribed yesterday to win a free workshop, and the winner is number 217, who happens to be my friend, Joanna Powell Colbert! Joanna is primarily responsible for my journey into Spirit Dolls and the Tarot. I hope you have a chance to look at her work.

Joanna, when you read this, send me a quick email and pick out a gifted workshop on my Teachable Studio space!

Don’t forget, there are also free workshop for everyone on that site.

In the meantime, thanks again, and please stay tuned for some SHARDS posts in the near future! If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to send those along!

♥Lyn

 

 

 

Patched up . . .

I started this blog in its current form back in 2010 and it has become my invaluable journal of where the creative path has taken me. Recently, however, my SHARDS blog site completely crashed and I thought 15 years of entries and over 1000 posts were lost forever. Thanks to George Howard, a smart techie and highly-recommended good guy, we are patched up and running again. Sending you a shout-out, George!

I’m back just in time to share something lovely that Jude Hill wrote this morning

“So what if I concentrate on story building with loose patches for a while? Language Patches is what I have come to call them.  They are simple and small and maybe you can play along?”

This is so much like what I’m doing with my new workshop, Scrolls and Surface, that I wanted to expand on the idea. The scrolls that I’m assembling as prototypes for the class are nothing more than a collection small “patches” of narrative. They go together in various ways, much like chapters in a book, and because they are small, they can be rearranged.

Here are a few examples – some of these are image transfers on fabric, some are what I call “fusion patches,” and some are handmade or found objects.

The images that I choose incorporate on these “patches” reflect my personal themes: neo-santos, shards, paradoxical connections, lost children, myth and mystery. Your images will be different just as your story is different.

Once you start working this way, creating small components that will ultimately go together as a larger picture, you’ll discover all kids of possibilities and combinations. It’s great composition practice, but more than that, it’s a lesson in how one element affects another.

Assorted combinations of fusion patches and transfers to fabric – are there stories here? Can they be rearranged to tell a different narrative?

It really is so much fun to lose yourself in this task. And it’s equally as much fun to actually create the patches using all kinds of experimental methods. Even when something doesn’t work, it’s a good lesson. Jane Dunnewold makes Citrasolv transfer look so easy – when I first tried it, I got blobs. But at least they were mysterious blobs.

A Mysterious Blob

I’m filming a lot of these experiences for a new online workshop called The Pilgrim’s Scroll: Stories in Paper and Cloth which should be ready in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, it sure is great to have my blob – er, I mean, BLOG, back!

Thanks, Jude and George and all the people that help us stay connected and inspired!

 

Playing with AI

AI, AI, oh!

There’s a new exhibit opening at the San Antonio Art League & Museum next week called Lone Star Horizons: Texas Landscapes Past, Present Future. I have two pieces in it – one that was juried in, and one that I created for a special section about artists who use Artificial Intelligence tools in various ways in their work. There are nine other artists in this section – stay tuned and I’ll show them to you once the show opens.

Images generated with AI tools fascinate me, not because it want to find an easy way to make a picture, but because the tool itself has so many possibilities — and limits. For example, I created a series of coordinated collage mages in my Sisters workshop that are designed to teach combinations and composition without making students worry about copyright images from commercial sources. To me, that’s a help

It’s also fun to test the way that AI applications like DALL-E monitor themselves regarding content. As an experiment, I asked DALL-E, which is an image generator that make pictures from scratch, to create this:

Oops – it seems that “in the style of Georgia O’Keeffe” is not allowed. This makes me feel good because it shows level of protection for that artist. You’ll notice that DALL-E changed its “mind” before could generate the image.

Look what happens when I change the prompt and leave out the painter’s name:

Now it produces an image, one that is completely new and not copyright. Interesting!

But when I tried another prompt and asked simply for the “style of southwestern painters” it would not generate it.

When I removed the “style” part, look what happened:

It’s good to know that there are some limits. So how does this help with the creative process?

AI is a visualization tool for me. Let’s say I am starting on a new series of Spirit Dolls. I can use AI to generate a concept or design that gives me ideas on directions to follow even before I get out the fiber and clay. Here’s an example:

Obviously, none of these generated images goes with my signature styles, but I can try out the idea with Photoshop, using one of my Earthshard faces.

It’s a nice graphic, and while I like some of it, I can eliminate most of it as a possibility (like too much silver) without having to actually build it than take it apart again.

By the way, here is the AI-aided piece that will be in the Texas Landscape show. It is an encaustic collage with parts generated by the AI tool called MidJourney, and some parts from other sources, including some real pressed and dried flowers. It’s covered with layers of encaustic medium. And no Georgia O’Keeffe paintings were swiped in the production of this piece! 🙂

To me, a piece like this represents a fusion of old and new tools – an experiment that plays with new frontiers that we can chose to use or not. We follow out hearts and can go back and forth between comfort and experimentation.

No matter what the situation, remind yourself, “I Have A Choice.” -Deepak Chopra

Thanks for reading!

PS If you wold like copies of any of the images that were generated in the examples, just let me know and I will make them available for download. They are not copyrighted and you can use them in any way you wish as long as you don’t say that you painted them! LOL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscapes and homecomings and a gift for you

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on the back-end of the upcoming Lone Star Horizons show, an exhibit of Texas landscapes in every media imaginable that opens at the San Antonio Art League & Museum on January 6th. Our Juror, Harold Joiner of Houston, had a tough job choosing 50 pieces from the 200 submitted.

Setting up a Call for Entry like this one is kind of complicated, but once it’s up and running, as the admin you get to see all of the entries come in via digital photos before the Juror sees them and makes his selections. So I’ve been viewing landscapes in all forms and media for the last two weeks and thinking about how we create them as artists.

Landscapes, as I have said before, are the most popular subject for paintings because they suggest a sense of homeland, a place just over the hill or down the road where we truly belong and will be happy at last.

All of those thoughts reminded me of one of my early online workshops called SMALL WORLDS: Creating Fantasy Landscapes with Altered Paper. This course was first presented over ten years ago as part of the summer program at Artful Gathering and quickly became one of the most popular in-person workshops at my Studio.You can still see many of these collaged landscapes in galleries around town with torn CitraSolv paper and other altered collage materials.

Tying this all these landscape thoughts together with this season of homecoming and sheltering seemed natural (I’m writing this on the night of the Winter Solstice) I figured  that this oldie-but-goodie workshop might be just the perfect thing to offer you as a holiday gift for a limited time. There are a zillion techniques for altered papers in this workshop and lots of composition tips. You’ll have fun with it.

You’ll need to go to my Teachable Studio page first, then find the Small Worlds workshop – here’s the link.

Go ahead and register for the course (it normally costs $29) and when you check out, use the coupon code FREEDEC31. That means the course is free for you until December 31st. Go ahead a check out and you will see from the screen shots below that you will be charged zero dollars! Free is good.

When you submit you payment, you will see that your total becomes $0.00.

Giving credit where credit is due, my friend Eva Macie was one of the first artists to discover the possibilities of CitraSolv on magazine pages. She’s even on the CitraSolv website! Thanks, Eva!

So enjoy creating landscapes, and thinking about homecomings and the promise of good things to come down the road and over the hill into the New Year. Thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS.

Lyn

 

Decisions on Bearing Arms

As artists, no matter what medium we employ, our job is to make the right decision.

Does yellow look best as a highlight on that purple grape? Will adding gold leaf to this acrylic medium enhance it or make a mess? How will this nylon thread react to the encaustic medium?

There is always more than one right answer, but there is usually just one answer that gives you theeureka shivers that it’s the best one. And to get to that, you have to try some different solutions.

Take arms, for example. I am constructing some of my beloved Wanderer figures for an exhibition at Jane Bishop’s Mockingbird Handprints in December. Here’s one in progress – I already love the layered fiber wrapping:

So I have the head ready – but does it need arms? (Decision=Yes) If so, what kind?

First idea – how about plaster wings??

This might work if I sprayed it with terra cotta walnut ink – or rust paste, and added another one on the left side…but the shape and weight just aren’t quite right.

How about something really different?? Shannon Weber gave me these great old vintage faucet taps–

They are cool, but they almost need their own sculpture to be a part of, one that shows them off more. These “arms” compete with the layered and wrapped body.

How about sticks?? Like the ones on the head?

Close, but no cigar – too matchy-matchy.

How about just one curvy stick??

Up? Down?

Not quite there – too spindly in relation to the body. But I got an idea from this experiment – since the body is wrapped in fiber, why not wrap some stick arms in the same way?

This is the result, and it gave me the “eureka shivers“. Just right!

Sorry to say that you won’t see the finished Wanderer yet – I sewed her arms on last night (they look great) and I’m still adding her special touches, but you will see her soon.

Here’s the take-away – when you see  finished artwork that resonates with you, whether it’s a painting or a sculpture or a piece of jewelry, remember that what you see is a process of informed and personal decision making that is hard work and takes a lot of time, love, and experience. The artist thought and experimented and perhaps failed and tried again to get the piece just right for you to see and appreciate.

Try to imagine the back story – put yourself in the artist’s place and see where complex decisions were made to find the “eureka shivers” moment in every step.

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scents, Spirit, and Connections

I’m taking a bit of a shortcut in this post and stealing it from our Inside the Enso blog. It’s a new offering from the online residency program called The Enso Circle that Michelle Belto and I began building together at least ten years ago and is now opening its ninth term in January. You can subscribe to the blog without being a member of The Enso Circle. It’s designed to give you an idea of some of our discussions with the Artists-in-Residents – like this one on Sacred Scents!

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SCENTS FOR CREATIVE PRACTICE AND SACRED SPACES

Scents and aromas have been part of sacred spaces for over 5000 years. Originally, perfumes were used in sacred shrines in conjunction with burnt offerings. People burned precious scents such as frankincense and myrrh on their altars. Soon, people began using these rare perfumes on their own bodies and associating scent with spiritual experiences.

Creating a sacred space with the assistance of essential oils, incense, and natural scents is a personal and customizable practice. The scents you choose, the rituals you incorporate, and the intentions you set all contribute to the unique and sacred atmosphere you want to create.

Here are some cross-cultural versions of sacred scents that have endured:

Copal Incense: Copal incense is a resin incense that has been used in Mesoamerican rituals for centuries. It is known for its strong, earthy, and slightly citrusy scent. Copal incense is typically burned on the altar to purify the space, create a welcoming atmosphere for the spirits, and to help lift the prayers and messages to the spirit world. The aromatic smoke is believed to be a bridge between the two realms, helping the spirits find their way.

Below is a very short video about how to burn Copal resin incense from Quetzalcoatl Music Guillermo Martinez.
Source for Copal

Lavender Essential Oil: Lavender’s name traces back to the Latin verb “lavare,” which means “to wash.” This essential oil provides spiritual protection by metaphorically cleansing your spirit. Lavender essential oil has the potential to dispel feelings of depression and aids in regulating our emotional well-being. It is the go-to choice for meditation due to its calming and soothing properties. Lavender essential oil is a valuable tool for enhancing your meditative focus and achieving a deeper state of inner tranquility. Sprinkle one or two drops on your altar cloth or use a mist of 20 drops of lavender oil to 2 ounces of water as a purifying mist.Source for Lavender Essential Oil

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Hand-gathered Smudging Bundles for Purification of Spaces

Smudging with sage or cedar is a centuries-old ritual deeply rooted in Native American and Indigenous cultures. It involves burning bundles of dried sage or cedar leaves and using the fragrant smoke to cleanse and purify a space, object, or person. Sage is often associated with purification, clarity, and wisdom, while cedar is believed to offer protection and grounding energy. The ritual is typically performed by lighting the bundle and waving it gently, allowing the smoke to waft through the area while setting intentions for cleansing negative energy and promoting positive vibes. Smudging is not only a practical act but a spiritual one, fostering a sense of balance and reverence for the natural world.

You can make this even more meaningful by gathering your own plants for smudging bundles. You become part of the sacred process from beginning to end.  Here are directions that we wrote for you about how to make your own Smudge Bundles. They take about two weeks to dry, so practice mindfulness and patience.

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More subtle than music, ephemeral in nature, scents enhance, inspire, cleanse and renew on the deepest level of human consciousness. We’d love to read your comments and observations about how you use scents as a creative enhancement in your own  work.
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One last note: If you think you might be interested in applying for a 12-week Enso Circle residency, please take this link and we will get right back to you – applications for the new term open on December 1.