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.

Fiber Art Reconsidered

At least half a dozen friends have sent me the eye-opening article from the New York Times called “ A Tangled Web“ and its premise that Fiber Art is finally, again, being reconsidered as a true art form.Julia Halperin, the author, writes, “. . . . in an age when we spend much of our time touching the flat surfaces of screens, this tactile art form feels newly seductive to makers and viewers alike as both a contrast with and a culmination of modern sensory experience.”

I hope you will read the article and discover the same reverence that I did for artists like Sheila Hicks and Lenore Tawney, innovators in fiber art.

For a look a an eclectic survey of contemporary fiber art closer to home (for San Antonians), visit TEXtiles: A Celebration of Texas Fiber Art, the annual juried Fiber Artists of San Antonio Art Exhibition will be held September 10 through October 20, 2023, at the Kelso Art Center, University of Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX.

Kim Paxon, Name Your Fear, 1st Place, FASA TEXtiles exhibit

 

The theme of the exhibition showcases the innovation and diversity of Texas artists who create and communicate with fiber. Through art quilts, framed fiber art, sculptural pieces, vessels/basketry, paper art forms, art-to-wear garments or accessories, art dolls, woven textiles, mixed media work, jewelry and adornment, and conceptual work that defies categorization, Texas fiber artists are bringing textiles and fibers of every definition into new contexts and exploring social and conceptual implications of their usage.

My piece called Ghost Factory, won the Third Place award, which surprised me because I don’t consider myself in same category of fiber excellence as many of the others in the show, but I worked the fiber like a collage, which is my natural approach to almost any medium. This piece is based on photos taken by Lewis Hine in the 1920’s of child laborers in the textile industry.

You can see a video of the works in the exhibit by visiting the FASA Website.

If you have not used fiber and fabric as a collage medium, it may surprise you! Just collect fabric and ribbon scraps and tear, cur, and arrange them as you might with paper. If you use a glue stick, you can iron over your finished piece to fuse the whole thing together (put some parchment paper over the top first). then add stitching!!

My new workshop called The Composed Collage: Sisters shows and example of that technique, but you don’t need to get the workshop to give it a try.

Have fun with it – fiber is good for you!

“Gold—what can it not do, and undo?” – William Shakespeare

Need a little glitz in your art practice?

I’ve been experimenting with Gold Sumi Ink since the first of this year and still have a lot to learn about its properties and how to use it in my own work.

I’ve used the more common Black Sumi Ink for decades – it’s a delightful medium.

But the Gold Sumi Ink is a curious creature.

It’s apparently made of a binder with gold particles suspended in it, and it is both water soluble and also water resistant once it has dried.The description from the  purchase link is not much help, although I like the fact that is has “Chinese herbal medicine and precious ingredients” in it.

Gold Sumi Ink

  • Golden calligraphy ink is made from all-natural ingredients. Its high quality and concentration ensure a smooth dense texture.
  • While golden liquid ink is made specifically for traditional Chinese and Japanese brush calligraphy and painting it can still be used for any art form. The ink’s bright luster results in a deep earthy tone when used on Xuan paper.
  • Made with all-natural materials, including a variety of Chinese herbal medicine ingredients and precious minerals.

When you brush it on paper, it has an amazing metallic quality. It can be thinned with water to make a glaze.

You can dip a stick into the bottle and make cool marks.

Gold Sumi Ink behaves differently on different surfaces. On an encaustic waxed panel, it sits on the top like India ink but when it’s fused, you can’t rub it off.

On of my best discoveries recently was using this gold ink on bare wood panels and on the sides of those panels. It creates a lovely “gold leaf” finish and bonds well with the raw wood.

You can mix it with Black Sumi Ink and get a very dark bronze color.

But if the Gold Ink dries, the Black Ink just sits on top and won’t dissolve into the bottom layer. That must be the Gum Arabic in the binder?

There are several brands available. They cost between $15-$20 a bottle and a bottle last a very long time. I’ve used two different brands and they both seem identical in pigmentation and viscosity. My current brand is CA Society Gold Calligraphy Ink and I did get it through Amazon, but it’s made by a small Chinese Calligraphy art business called CA Society.

I gave some of the gold ink to my friend Barbara who is going to play with it, and if you decide to get some, let me know what you discover. Even if I just used it to paint the sides of my wood cradle board, I’d still like the stuff . . .maybe not as much as I like Walnut Ink, but it’s a most interesting addition to your studio materials.

By the way, if you want to learn more about the relaxing practice of Sumi-e Painting, sign up for my FREE workshop, right here.

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

Ephemera/Ephemeral

I am thrilled to have had three works accepted for this exhibition — Ephemeral/Ephemera: A special exhibition of small encaustic and cold wax works on paper at Mulranny Arts in Mulranny, Ireland. October 10- November 15, 2023

Mulranny is where I taught this summer and it is such a special place. This is how the Call for Entries described the theme:

Ephemerality is a state that is deeply integral to the human experience. Moments, objects, and beings; all exist for a brief time and then disappear or transition to another state. We consider that which is ephemeral to be particularly fleeting, and a poignancy resides there. Closely related, ephemera are the bits and pieces of our lives (typically paper items) that were not intended to be preserved yet become the memorabilia that we keep to memorialize those meaningful but passing moments.

This is my first piece (above) and its description:

“This small work comes from a lifelong ephemeral dream of seeing my mother walking ahead of me in the fog when we lived in London when I was a child trying to catch up with her. I’m not sure where this dream came from because my mother was kind and caring and would never have walked away from me, but the dream persists.”

More about the Ephemeral Exhibition: Ephemeral/Ephemera will showcase works on paper that illuminate the concept of the ephemeral from an artist’s perspective, using wax as a primary medium. We invite national and international artists to consider how we experience ephemerality. Dreams, memories, chance encounters, nature, time, seasons, and even the nature of wax and paper itself are potential areas of exploration. What do we wish to hold on to, and what do we wish to let go of?

Here is my second piece, called “Wednesday’s Child” which is based on the photographs that Lewis Hine took of child labors in the US in the 1920’s. His photos ultimately changed the laws about allowing young children to work in fields and factories. I have been fascinated with these images for over a decade and return to them again and again.

More about Ephemeral Art: It is a transient form of artistic expression that exists briefly, often changing or disappearing over time. It encompasses various mediums, including street art, sand sculptures, and performance art. Ephemeral artists embrace impermanence, challenging traditional notions of art’s durability, and provoking viewers to appreciate the beauty and significance of the fleeting moment.

This third piece is called “Caged Memories,” and it expresses how difficult it is to hold onto the ephemeral beauty of lost moments, even if we try to bind them to our hearts.

All of this has me thinking about the whole idea of ephemeral impermanence and its influence on me and so many other artists. It is a first cousin to the idea of Wabi Sabi, which as you know is the Japanese aesthetic emphasizing beauty in imperfection, transience, and simplicity, finding elegance in natural flaws and the passage of time.

I suspect as we get older we both identify with and grapple with the idea of impermanence. Seeing the beauty in it is one way to come to terms and be a peace with it, to “find elegance in the passage of time.”

Here’s a good quote related to the complex idea of ephemerality and impermanence:

“If we don’t insist on defining impermanence as unsatisfactory, then it’s natural to celebrate. Just a moment’s pause to consider the passing of the seasons is enough to convince anyone that not only is impermanence the source of all possible joy in this life but it’s the movement of life itself.” ― Lin Jensen, Bad Dog!: A Memoir of Love, Beauty, and Redemption in Dark Places

It’s is a good topic for this Monday – a day of loss and memories. And this week will be gone before we know it! Quick, make some ephemeral art – it won’t last forever but it will shine in its moment!

Thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS.

The Composed Collage – and more!

Last night I sent out a notice to all the people who have signed up for workshop updates on my website telling them about this new class. Perhaps you got it – if so, thanks for being on the list.

As a teacher, when I put something out there as an art lesson, I want it to be perfect. But Perfect is the enemy of Done, so here it is, a new finished workshop, warts and all. It’s kind of like what most of us do in our studio practice – start with an idea of perfection, then listen to our intuition as we work and realize that perfect would actually be kind of boring. At least that’s what I tell myself!

Actually there are two new workshops, one is a mini-free-one. Both use images from a series of illustrations I’m developing for mixed-media artists called The Composed Collage Collection. It’s amazing to me how illustration has changed since I worked as an illustrator in the 80’s for our newspaper. More fun, less drudgery, thanks to technology! I thank my lucky stars that fate took me to the Computer Science Department at Trinity University in 2004 where I got to teach and learn all about this newfangled stuff.

Anyway, these ramblings are just for SHARDS readers who know me, warts and all. Onward!

New Workshop: The Composed Collage – SISTERS

This workshop teaches composition through collage with curated content. You’ll create collages in two ways – one, starting from scratch building great bones for your work, and the other, more random way, by making a “content map” and finding the best compositions on that map. As a bonus, you’ll also learn now to create a fabric banner collage.

New Free Mini-Workshop: Connected Collage – An Art Journal Page

This little freebie takes you through a 30-minute collage on a journal page – it’s a great way to start your day in the studio.

New Image Collection for composed Collages:

SISTERS

SAVANNAH

CHILD FRIDA

CHEYENNE

These are truly gorgeous collections, if I do say so myself. They are designed to be components that you tear, glue, rearrange, combine and otherwise claim for your own. Each set is just $14 and you can print them out on almost any surface that will go through your printer – Lutrador, tissue, transfer film, or my favorite, plain old printer paper. The sets come with a free composition how-to booklet.

Here is a video that tells you about all three of these new adventures and how they are interrelated:

This video shows each of the collections for the Composed Collages – all are available on my website for just $14 a set and each collection includes a booklet on the AB3sof composition.

 

That’s it for today – I hope you have a safe end-of-summer holiday!

Thanks for reading SHARDS!

♥Lyn

 

 

 

Broken Shards repaired — and Ireland Paper

For longer than I care to remember, SHARDS has been down for a technical glitch that I could not, for the life of me, figure out. But I finally dug out some rusty old tech-brain solutions and found the broken setting. Whew! Like Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), the cracks are finally stuck back together . . . after several frustrating months.

So many cool things happened during SHARDS’ down time – major things, like Shannon Weber‘s workshop, the Wax & Wildflowers Exhibit with the IEA here in San Antonio, and the amazing experience of teaching in Ireland with Michelle Belto. I will eventually work backwards to talk about all this good stuff, starting with Ireland. Today I’m giving you a link to a video showing a technique that I taught in Mulranny – read on.

The amazing Lora Murphy of Painting with Fire had invited us to teach at an Art Retreat at the Essence of Mulranny., on the wild West Coast of Ireland during the last week in July. The place is indescribably beautiful – sky, sea, cliffs, sheep – Celtic fairy tale stuff.

My part of the workshop involved creating a figurative representation of the Irish Goddess Aine. We collected objects and made collage paper as part of the preparation.

I called this collage paper “Ireland Paper” because it reflected the beautiful colors of the Irish countryside which you can see, below, out the studio window..

Lots of people have asked about how we created this effect, so I made a video for you yesterday on how we did this Ireland Paper. And this will be a reminder for those of you who went along with us to Ireland. The technique does involve hot wax, so if you haven’t worked with encaustic before, do your homework on encaustic safety if you decide to try it.

How to make Ireland Paper

But wait – there’s more! Below is a link to a video showing more of the creative things we did in the workshop to construct our figurative sculptures – wish you could have been there!:

VIDEO: Offerings to Aine: a Workshop in Mulranny, Ireland (Lyn Belisle)

It’s nice to be back – thanks for reading SHARDS!!

 

Wax, wax, wax

Many of you are on my email list for workshop notification, and thanks so much for that!If you are, you know that there is a new year of Painting with Fire beginning soon.

This has been the most phenomenal program to hit the Encaustic arts community in —- well, forever! It’s the brainchild of Lora Murphy, and it has widened the appeal and exposure of painting with wax exponentially. You can read more about how Lora won a coveted award from the International Encaustic Artists for her amazing work in this article.

I am so excited to be back for my third year with Lora Murphy and Painting With Fire. Please consider enrolling – I honestly didn’t realize that you can access the previous two years of lessons when you sign up for this one! But it’s true!  Here is information on this year’s spectacular line-up.

PAINTING WITH FIRE 2023-24

I’ll be teaching two classes for Painting with Fire this year. One is called The Birds and the Beads, and the other is called Unfolding Stories. Classes start April 26th, 2023, and right now there is an Early Bird price of $249.

If you go to this link on my website, you can see a short preview video of one of my classes called The Birds and the Beads. Actually, this video is from the very end of video when I am amazing myself that everything turned our so well – sometimes it doesn’t!

Click here to see the Birds and Beads video and also to register if you decide you’d like to join Painting with Fire for the Early Bird rate.

Here are some more birds and beads done with encaustic medium and beeswax and other stuff:

So NOW for the next WAX Feature – (and enrolling in Painting with Fire might help you with this one).

There is an open CALL FOR ENTRY by the International Encaustic Artists that invites you to show how you interpret the lovely, lowly wildflower. It’s called Wax and Wildflowers:

IEA and SAALM (San Antonio Artists League & Museum)
are co-hosting a collaborative juried exhibition –
“Wax and Wildflowers”

June 11 through August 11, 2023.

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT:  April 15, 2023

Click HERE for details

The coolest thing is that the exhibition will be held here in San Antonio at the SA Art League & Museum in June. Encaustic artists from all over the world will submit work about wildflowers. The whole place will be abloom!

You can read the story about the inspiration for this show as well as find our who the jurors are by clicking this link.

If you are interested in Painting with Fire or the Wax and Wildflower show, here’s a prompt to get you started. The first five people who send me an email before noon today (CDT) with Wax as the subject will get a copy of my eBook called Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage. You don’t have to enroll in anything or enter the show to get a copy – just be one of the first five. I’ll send you the download link.

Thanks for reading SHARDS!! Wax on!

Meredith Johanson and Our Lady of Covid Relief

I’m back from all kinds of adventures, including a studio move and teaching a workshop at the new Rockport Center for the Arts. Both those stories will be told later, but first, a delightful post from guest artist Meredith Johanson from Buffalo, NY.

Meredith and I “met” in the Spring of 2021 by email when she sent me a lovely thank-you card. We found much in common and promised to keep in touch. Then just last week, she send me photos of an amazing mixed media piece called Our Lady of Covid Relief. I know that her work and the story behind it will resonate as much with you as it did with me.

Our Lady of Covid Relief
by Meredith Johanson

I struggled with all the new parameters that the Covid pandemic created, all the fears, uncertainties, new ways of living, and all the old ways that helped in this strained situation. And of course, the original, authentic me created during all my years of living (70) was there too. So I processed what was happening to me in art from the get go. What else was there to do?

Ideas that have resonated with me for as long as I can remember include the idea that inanimate objects can have their own spirit, can hold spirit; madonna/saint/goddess figures are simply objects of focused love and somehow that gives them power/healing/softness and makes them universal; i have seen a wonderful humor in much around me; the universe provides if only we can be still and listen.

As many of us did during the ‘Covid period,’ I reached out to/with friends in art. I was talking to my cousin, half a country away, one day about using doll forms to represent spirit, call in spirit, release spirit, create presence, centering, grounding, releasing something, etc. We decided to embark on a project in which we would both make a doll (she never had even contemplated this) and I would coach her along. Then we would compare what we did.

I quickly discovered that the blue paper mask laying on my work table in the studio instantly turned my face into ‘Our Lady.’ She existed for months with just the head covering, watching over us all and waiting for me to catch up to her. And we were making friends.  As we went through our own physical process with Covid, I began collection physical things that I loved visually from the experience and mental things/images as well.

I did collect the physical bits together on a tray that I saw every time I was in the studio. There was a sense of her presence with it, so she existed even then, although not in complete form yet.  This method of working is part of the way I think/process what is going on in my head when I can’t put words or concrete ideas to it. If I see it visually and let go of self, the bits seem to have a way of working themselves into order and letting me know what else they need.

Of course there was so much, and Our Lady didn’t come together in the time period I thought she would. And she existed in my mind and that felt like enough.  This Winter, something shifted in my world, I felt ready to ‘re-enter’ a more normal life and move away from Covid. Time to address all that stuff on the tray!

Some of the things that are part of “Our Lady’

I have always saved fortune cookie fortunes and have a big box of them.  Sometimes I look at them for inspiration, or to find something fun to add to an art piece. AMAZING – many of them were eerily appropriate for Covid – “‘A chance meeting with a stranger may change your life,” ” Enjoy time in nature,” “The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go,” “Do what you can with what you have,” “Now is not a good time to travel,” “‘Now is a good time for a bit of solitude,” etc. I will always think of those fortunes when I think of that time period.

The syringes are representative of our hopes for a vaccine that would end the madness.  I worked in the medical community for 25 years and was surrounded by them, but if you suddenly want them for an art project, Oh NO! not available. But when my neighbor spontaneously delivered a bag of the tiny ones to my mailbox, I was blown away.  I love that they have become her halo.  Indeed, vaccines are the saving magic for many illnesses.

There are a lot of references to testing and testing supplies, appropriate because the became such a part of my (our) daily lives. They are inserts from Covid tests, printed in 7 languages that the tests are approved for use in that country, stamped with a big red seal, made in China. I love red. I love they are a reminder that the entire world, the human population was in this together.

One bit of testing ephemera is actually saved from personal use, in which 5 people were home testing together and the testing method was too hard for any of us to figure out. So some of it is really personal, some more global in nature. The back is covered with a testing instruction sheet and the hanging device is a N95 mask, signaling for me when restrictions began to be lifted across the board if a N95 mask was worn. Time to let go of it all.

There is actually quite a bit of humor in the piece.  I would say this is usually a part of my work, although it’s not ‘in your face’ funny.  I see it as my own little joke, and an added bonus/treat for viewers that look close enough to find it. If it wasn’t for humor, how ever would we get through this life?

Meredith

NOTE: I love Meredith’s work because it represents the best in art – creative, relevant, beautiful and ironic in its beauty. Meredith, many thanks for sharing your personal thoughts and processes about Out Lady. We can all relate, and we can all be grateful on so many levels for having come together through this experience.

 

 

 

 

“Two-Byes” — scrap-and-shard sculpture

There is such joy in making something out of shards and discards, especially if they have a history. Remember my post about provenance? I wrote, If you look up “provenance” as it relates to collecting art, you’ll find that it refers to the trail of ownership of an art object, or the history that got it from there to here. But every object has a history and a story based on where it is found. As an artist, you can incorporate those stories to give richness to your work.”

So I call these new assemblages “Two-Byes” because they are made from small scraps of two-by-four lumber found at the edge of the junk pile of a construction site across the street. The house that’s being built there is on the site of a lovely old brick home that was torn down to make way for this giant new structure. Sigh.

At any rate, these Two-Bye assemblages are full of stories about where the parts come from, and the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

The Two-Byes start with stamped random words from an antique stamp set that was a gift from my friend Jean.

Picking out words to stamp give me a creative kick start – it doesn’t mean that the piece will be about seven white horses or Japanese combs, but pictures start forming in my mind about how these words suggest stories, materials, and choices. I love this stamp set!

The heads are fired earthenware (Texas Longhorn White) and I have used the same base face with variations for these guys.

This structure lends itself to all kinds of media. Here is a Two-Bye called “Love Letter” with surfaces of encaustic collage.

Here is one called “Indigo Girl” – she is covered with hand-dyed indigo cotton and has rusted metal elements. Rust and indigo are such natural partners.

Here is “The Artist’s Cat” – it also has rust elements and a “heart box” covered with a mica sheet that reveals a murky portrait of a cat inside.

One of the things I really like about assemblages like these Two-Byes is that they are a playground for experimentation. They come from humble origins but tell glorious stories in all kinds of media languages.

If you’re interested in learning more about assemblage, I have an online course called NEO SANTOS: New Interpretations of Folk Art Saints and Angels that can give you more ideas. I now some of you have taken it and I see what you’ve done with it – good for you!

But you really don’t need a workshop to put together a scrap-and-shard story – just collect some scraps of wood and fiber and metal and write some random words to guide you. See what happens!

 

 

Getting a head for the new year . . .

December has been a blur of events small and large, good and challenging, planned and surprising. I try to deal with them when they pop up and feel as if I don’t have enough time to give them the thoughtfulness that they deserve. It’s been hard to keep my head on straight. So here’s a lesson I just re-learned about paying attention and trusting the process.

Yesterday, I was rushing past a little sculptural assemblage sitting on the worktable that was almost ready for the Art League Members Gallery show when it looked at me and stopped me in my tracks. It had been trying to get my attention for a month. It just wasn’t right.

“Yo,” it said. “My head does not belong here. It’s too big, too cramped, too complicated. – look around.” So I did, and right beside it, waiting patiently, was this rather imperfect head.

“Seriously?” I said. “Yep,” they both said. So I got out the strong snips and proceeded to do the deed. Gulp. Yikes.

The new head slipped into easily place. I could hear its sigh of relief. It’s just right – rustic, poignant, plain, endearing.

The other head has not found its place yet, but it’s not worried. It will. It’s happily trying out new bodies.

These small studio stories always cheer me up and remind me how deeply we are connected with the art we make. We do indeed trust the process, but our artwork also trusts us to pay attention to it and do what’s right.

I am so looking forward to 2023 – lots of new things happening, and with any luck, I can keep my head on straight and appreciate it all! See you in the new year!

Join Michelle Belto and me in Ireland next July

It sounds rather unbelievable, even to us, but Michelle Belto and I are teaching a Celtic-inspired workshop on the West Coast of Ireland from July 22 – 29, 2023 at the beautiful Essence of Muranny Art School and hope you can join us!

We’ll be offering a new, collaborative encaustic and mixed-media workshop called Offerings to Aine (pronouced ‘aw-ne’). Aine is the Irish Fairy Queen and a legendary inspiration for artists and poets.

Each of us will be lead teacher on two of the four days of the workshop.

For my two teaching days, we will learn various creative fusions with wax, paper, fiber, and clay, constructing an enigmatic goddess figure that is inspired by Aine and wrapped with handcrafted grace and spirit. Using the Legend of Aine as a guide, our figures will be infused with Celtic myth and lore. During the two days of construction and experimentation with wax and mixed-media, participants will find inspiration that will enhance their own studio practice and mixed-media horizons. And the goddess figure of Aine will be your traveling companion on your journey home!

For Michelle’s two days, participants will be guided in a partial plein air approach to the landscape of the area on a cradled panel during the first day. This “sense of place” will honor the elements of Aine’s land and become the basis for a small altar to celebrate her magic. The process will continue as participants create a shrine-like opening in the panel. Found objects from the surrounding land can be attached as honored “relics” representing the places she protected.

As you can tell by the timeline, we will have extra days to explore the countryside with our host, Lora Murphy, award-winning encaustic painter and owner of the school.

Our time in Mulranny will be spent with 4 days in the classroom setting, plus additional time sightseeing with a well informed tour guide, evening entertainment with talented musicians, storytellers or surprise events. Beautiful coastal walks or Great Western Greenway bicycle rides are there for free time excursions. Accommodation is provided in rental cottages and houses nearby the school. Meals are enjoyed in local restaurants, guest houses and private accommodations.

YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS MAGICAL ART RETREAT HERE.

It may sound like an impossible dream at this point, but put it on your calendar. If you are worried about the cost, we have you covered – here is an Irish spell that will help you find money for those travel funds:

A charm to always have money

Take the feather of a black rooster, go to the crossing points of three fairy-paths, and while holding the feather and a gold colored coin, call the name of the Goddess Áine three times, to bring you everlasting prosperity.

And feel free to email me privately if you have specific questions – I really hope that you can come!

The Goats of Mulranny