Sous Vide, Scott Bradshaw, and Seven Ravens Bake House

Scott Bradshaw’s Rum Cake (via Instagram)

The 11th International Encaustic Conference sessions in Provincetown are over, and we have had several free days before I teach my post-conference workshop tomorrow at the Center for the Arts at Castle Hills in Truro. So yesterday, Bill and I took a road trip to Plainville MA to visit his nephew, Scott Bradshaw.

What surprising and delightful experience! I knew that Scott was an expert and innovative baker who lived in a restored 18th century house, but WOW. I’ll show you some photos of his extraordinary house first, then talk about Scott’s culinary creations.

The house is at least two-and-a-half centuries old and has been lovingly restored and remodeled over the years. The previous owner was a chef who taught cooking classes in her kitchen, so the kitchen was ready and waiting for Scott when he bought the house four years ago. Scott has also expanded the herb garden and done some major structural reinforcement.

When Bill and I arrived, Scott was experimenting with caramelizing milk and dark chocolate using the Sous Vide technique that utilizes precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results.

Bill and Scott discuss the chemistry of cooking – Dingo is Scott’s helper

The Sous Vide setup

Scott’s kitchen – swoon . . .

Scott gave us a sample of some caramelized white chocolate that he had just done, and then we tried some of the ganache that he had made from it. Good heavens! It tasted like the essence of Tres Leches cake – delicious and addictive. I learned so much about the art of baking in our short visit – and you can learn from Scott, too!

He has a fantastic new blog called Seven Ravens Bake House.

Here you will find all kinds of recipes and techniques that are generally know only to the experts – of which Scott is definitely one!

He’s also a very entertaining writer who will make you laugh out loud with his dry humor. I definitely encourage you to subscribe to his blog for the writing, if nothing else. Although the latest post on making Cola Ganache is pretty interesting – cola ganache??

A special thanks to Dingo for being a fine co-host on this memorable visit – thanks, Scott and Dingo – we’ll be back!!


Collage play

Quinacridone Gold – the all-purpose “band-aid” for any art project, and a great color for collage backgrounds

I had some unexpected time in the studio yesterday because of the threatening  weather, so I worked on some small collages for the upcoming Beacon Hill Art Walk in Boston on June 4th.

In my mind, I knew exactly what kind of collages I was going to create, but as usual, the process took over and drove the bus, and nothing ended up as I had planned. But the results were fun.

One of the background materials I played with was Yupo synthetic paper – if you haven’t used it, it’s really almost impossible to mess up. I painted some diluted Quinacridone Gold acrylic on the Yupo, then scraped and brushed and distressed it, and wiped the paint off through some stencil shapes.

You can see this technique in the background of the collage below, called “Asian Pear.” There are layers on top of it which have been glued to squares of archival matboard to create dimension.

Here’s another “pear-with-Yupo-background” piece, below. This one is simpler, but I like the simplicity. The scrap of blue paper went on as an afterthought, and it really makes the piece. The title is “Comice.”

The next collage also has a Yupo background and features a stock photo of an amaryllis that I altered in Photoshop. Those spatters that I flicked on just happened to follow the lines of the flower stamens!

Again, it’s a very simple collage with just three layers. I use a Scotch permanent glue stick as an adhesive for most of the layers. You can even heat-set the glued layers with a warm iron and a cover sheet to super-adhere the layers.

The next two pieces are kind of a set – both include tissue paper that I printed in my inkjet printer and then layered onto the Yupo background. I added some Portfolio oil pastel marks to both of them and stamped one with “No” and one with “Yes.”

Renaissance faces continue to fascinate me as collage images, and the titles on these are “The Game #1” and “The Game #2.”

This last one might be my favorite – it has more layers than you can shake a stick at. I tried to control what went on it, then painted the whole thing white in frustration, then wiped most of that off. It got uglier and uglier.

Finally, I just let it be itself and added a “ghost bird” as a top layer and stamped the word “Caw” on it.

The layers that were created as I kept trying to rescue the thing by adding more stuff actually gave it a richness and a history. Here’s a detail:

If I had to sum up yesterday’s collage play, I’d say it was a re-affirmation of my mantra, Trust the Process. At every stage, I looked at what the piece was trying to ask for, then tried to find it – sometimes it wasn’t what I would have chosen if I had been driving the bus. But it pretty much worked. Trust the process, y’all.

PS If you want to see a very cool woman experimenting with Yupo paper, check out Miss Millie on YouTube!





Kintsugi and Boro – fusion and inspiration

Celebrating the imperfect, the time-worn, and the re-invented resonates deeply with me, probably because I am a combination of all of those things. That’s why the Japanese arts of Boro and Kintsugi are so appealing. Boro, a Japanese word meaning “tattered rags,” describes lovingly patched and repaired cotton bedding and clothing used much longer than the normal expected life cycle.

Boro is enjoying a revival among fiber artists who treasure its indigo blue color and melange of textures and subtle patterns. In fact, the Fiber Artists of San Antonio are offering a Boro workshop taught by Mary Ruth Smith in July.

A Japanese houshold Boro textile

Linked to Boro by concept is Kintsugi, meaning “mended with gold.” It refers particularly to the Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum.

The Kintsugi process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.

The Kintsugi process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.

Both Boro and Kintsugi are interwoven with the philosophy of wabi-sabi, which means “to find beauty in broken things or old things. ” See why I like this stuff so much?

So today at the Studio, I was putting away materials from our Citrasolve and altered paper collage workshop, and I started thinking about torn paper scraps (Boro) mended with gold (Kintsugi). I printed out the word “kintsugi” and began arranging Boro-like tatters of paper (they would probably have been dumped in the trash) onto 8×10″ pieces of archival mat board.

Then, inspired by the gold veins of Kintsugi, I “mended” the spaces between the scraps with gold leaf. It was amazing how fast time flew – I created five of these collages in about four hours. They almost pieced themselves together.

Here are the five collages – #3 is my favorite because it looks most “Boro-like.” These pieces are destined for the Beacon Hill Art Walk this Sunday, but when I come home from Boston, I’m going to continue to explore the idea of gold-mended tatters and the beauty of imperfection and re-invention.

Mended with Gold #1 Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #1
Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #2 Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #2
Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #3 Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #3
Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #4 Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #4
Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #5 Lyn Belisle 2016

Mended with Gold #5
Lyn Belisle 2016





Jane Davies workshop, Day One

Jane Davies

Gloria Hill and i are on an art adventure north of Boston taking a three day painting workshop with Jane Davies, whose work we both admire. She’s a fine teacher, sensible, inspiring, funny and approachable. She also works us like you wouldn’t believe!

The workshop studio is as big as a basketball court. There are fifteen of us from all over the place, including Ireland. It’s a great group. I’ll try to share some of the photos as we go along – we started with black and white line and “visual weight” studies this morning,  then moved on the color and layers in the afternoon. We did one-minute paintings that were a huge challenge, and experimented with shapes and process this afternoon as we added veils of color.  It’s back to the workshop early tomorrow – I’ll keep you posted!

If you’d like to know more about Jane’s work and her teaching, just Google Jane Davies and then take a look at her You Tube channel. Shes incredibly generous with her techniques and very encouraging to everyone in this weekend’s workshop. More tomorrow if my painting hand isn’t too tired to type – this is intense!



Painting with Ellen Rolli in Boston

Gloria Hill and I just got back from Boston last night. It was a journey that involved a lot more than miles – it was a painting adventure and self-exploration of artistic motives and direction. Thanks to the incredible Ellen Rolli for being our guide and mentor. Here’s a video of some of the work we did during the two-day workshop.

When we weren’t in the studio, Gloria and I were lucky enough to experience a few spectacular spring days in Boston. The Public Garden was ablaze with tulips, and all the trees were in bloom. ACHOO!


It was a fantastic trip. We even got to see the newly installed arial sculpture by Janet Echelman in downtown Boston – you’d think it would be easy to find a one-ton floating construction, but it took us a while to track it down. Well worth the effort, though!

So glad to be home, re-inspired and ready to go to work in my own Studio!

A rainy train . . .

Writing and rolling, on a train headed to Boston from New York’s Penn Station, gives me a unique perspective of a territory that’s unfamiliar in the first place, but darn near alien as it zips by at 80+ mph on a cold, rainy Christmas Eve day. The first time I tried to take a photo out of the window, it was blurry from the rain and the rail motion and speed. But – aha! – it was kind of impressionistic! I swear, there is beauty everywhere whether we notice it or not. Here are some accidentally arty iPhone photos that might just inspire some mixed-media work when I get back home to the Studio.

The train is getting close to Boston, so I’ll sign off for now, but not before wishing you a happy Christmas Eve (or a glorious December 24th if that suits you better) – I hope you are in a place that brings you comfort and joy.

Painting with Ellen Rolli – unchain my art

I spent three hours yesterday talking and painting with abstract artist Ellen Rolli at her SoWa studio in Boston. It was a pretty transformative experience – Ellen has a fearless relationship with her work that is contagious (see her website). I am so grateful for a chance to work with her, and am still processing a lot of what I learned, but thought I’d share a few photos and a book recommendation from Ellen. Yesterday’s objective was not to produce a finished painting, but to work in a more intuitive and liberating process with the paint. It was cool.

I learned to trust the painting process a lot more. That is the title of a book that Ellen recommended for me which I’ve already ordered:




And I’ll leave ya with a quote from Hans Hoffman that I found on Ellen’s website –
“Every successful canvas has been painted from the point of view of a student, for a great painter is always a student.”
Thank you, Ellen! Hope to see you on my next visit.

First Friday, Boston-style

Boston has a thriving arts district on Harrison Avenue
, south of Washington (SoWa). I got to check out their First Friday, and came back with a huge stash of new ideas. There was *lots* of exciting encaustic work. We were particularly impressed with Robin Luciano Beaty‘s work with wax, mixed media and found objects:

Refuge No. 24-29 Encaustic, m/m and found objects 42 x 24″

 Even more exciting was getting to meet Ellen Rolli, a Boston abstract painter whose work I love – and I’m going to have a private painting session with her on Sunday! I had contacted her by email, and the timing worked out – will send a report. Here’s a sample of her work – it’s energetic and mysterious and totally engaging:

Glimpses acrylic and mixed media 36″x 36

There were lots and lots of photographic mixed media works – here’s one I liked a lot by artist Melody Postma:

Slightly shifting the subject to using photographs in your own art work, here’s *sort* of a Friday FreebieCloth Paper Scissors magazine just send me a link to a free eBook with four tutorials on digital artmaking. They have a lot of good free tutorials, but this is one of the best if you’re wanting to know more about digital processes and aren’t an expert (who is??). Here’s the link:

You can download it and even print it out.You do have to sign up for an account if you don’t have one, but there are no strings attached and you can access a lot more of their good information if you do.

That’s it for now – gotta rest up for the Red Sox/Yankees game today at Fenway!  More soon from your roving arts and sports reporter in Boston . . . . have a great weekend.

Report from Beacon Hill

The gorgeous weather was the star on Sunday in Boston – what a fabulous day for the annual Beacon Hill Art Walk. I set up my work in the same courtyard as last year, only this time I had the invaluable help and creative eye of my daughter-in-law, Becky, who is an artist and photographer. As she said, “It practically set itself up!” What a team! I shared the space again with printmaker Dominique Lecomte, whose appealing woodblock prints, charming accent and genial manner makes him a perfect exhibit partner.

This event brings out the most interesting people – my first sale was to a fellow artist, Fran Busse, who has a studio in Concord, MA. We decided that we explore a lot of similar themes in our work. Another interesting person named Dave noticed my reference to “shards” in my artist’s statement and told me about a German proverb, “Scherben bringen Glück”, which means “shards bring luck.” It must be true, because right after that, a judge came around with a second place ribbon for my work! Woohoo! Sales were good, I had wonderful help from Rick and Becky and our friend Danny, and was even able to walk around a bit to see the other work. I really can’t wait till next year – if I’m accepted again, Dominique and I have a deal to set up at the same lucky place on Beacon Hill! Here are some photos (thanks to Becky for some of these – the good ones!)


Boston spring break retreat and finding answers to all of life’s artistic questions (sorta)


This was the view out my window on a snowy spring day this week in Boston. I’m home now after my short getaway – I took an evening printmaking class at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and did a bit of shopping on Charles Street at Black Ink, a very cool store. Retreats like this are s’posed to help you figure out the answers to the Big Questions. I didn’t come up with many of my own Big Questions about art and life, but did have fun painting some answers. This is an acrylic-on-canvas triptych I did while there. They can be hung in any order depending on your desired outcome:


Today I’d start with the one that says “Yes” –  glad to be back working at the Studio and yes, also, to being very grateful for the time away to recharge and visit with family. (And “no” to living all winter in the snow!)