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

 

 

 

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!!

 

Plein Aire isn’t as simple as it sounds!

I have always loved Vikki Fields’ work. She is perhaps the only painter I know who works exclusively from life, never from photographs, and her En Plein Aire landscapes are stunning. She sometimes spends hours in the outdoors at the same time every day capturing the light on a particular tree or mountain.

I own this small painting that she did of Arroyo Seco near Taos – it’s a treasure.

Taos by Vikki fields

So when the Witte Museum asked the Art League to partner with them in teaching a Plein Aire painting class to celebrate to opening of their new exhibition, Vikki was the first person I asked to teach it. She agreed!

Fifteen of us signed up and met at the Witte last Sunday afternoon (hot, hot!) as Vikki guided us through the plein aire preparation process.

Vikki Fields discusses choices and vistas

Most of us painted from the shady balcony overlooking the San Antonio River.

The view was beautiful — but, where do you start?? It’s sort of a green blur to me.

Some people used watercolors, some painted with oils, others, like me, started with a pencil sketch.

I hadn’t painted from life in about 20 years, so I had to try and remember how to “look” at the subject in a different way. For me, it works if I can flatten it out in my imagination, like an illustration. For a painter like Vikki and some of the others, it’s a process of starting with values and underpainting.

Three hours went by remarkably quickly. If it hadn’t been so hot, we probably would have stayed on, but we went inside the (air-conditioned!) museum to look at our work and discuss it.

The differences in approach were fascinating – take a look at some of the paintings. We weren’t expected to finish, nor to create a masterpiece since we were just working on studies, but I loved seeing the results.

So here’s mine – remember when I said I thought like an illustrator rather than a painter? Good thing we weren’t supposed to paint a masterpiece!

The huge lessons I learned were PATIENCE and OBSERVATION. It was really hard for me to slow down and truly look at what was going on with the rocks and the water since I don’t have a painter’s eye for suggesting many details with one brush stroke. It was also a relief to know that I could still draw – whew! But painting? Not so much.

Here’s my friend Lara Hye Coh – now this girl can paint!

A million thanks to Vikki for her encouragement and teaching skills. And many thanks to Mary Margret McAllen, Director of Special Projects at the Witte Museum, who cooked up this great collaborative workshop!

This Plein Aire Workshop was designed to compliment the wonderful exhibit now at the Witte called James Ferdinand McCan: A Texas Artist Rediscovered. It features more than fifty of McCan’s paintings—most of which are rarely displayed to the public. And we in the class got to see them even before the exhibit opened.

McCan was a plein aire painter, friends with Julian Onderdonk, and he captured the incredible change in animals and landscapes that occurred in the 30 short years (between 1895-1925) he was painting in Texas. Please go see the exhibit! It’s open until October 2nd at the Witte.

Here’s an example of one of McCan’s remarkable paintings.

Mossy Oak and Bluebonnets, James Ferdinand McCan

Want to give plein aire painting a try? One of the things I did before the workshop was to set up a suggested materials list for those who signed up. For those of you who would like some guidance with materials, here is a link to a list of suggested supplies to purchase online. They are portable and not very expensive. Go for it!

I am so glad I had this learning experience!! It was humbling and exhilarating, all at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More about Painting with Fire (by request)

Thanks for the great response to the Painting with Fire announcement, and thanks for all your questions. It occurred to me that I have been teaching this program for a year, and so was just assuming that everyone knew how it worked.  Not true – yikes. So here is some more info, by request –

This is a year log program with 52+ workshops of which mine, The Shaman Spirit in Paper and Wax, is just one little part of many really amazing classes. At the end of this post, I’ll show you who all the other teachers are and you can see the names of the classes that they are teaching. And all of these are included in the $249 Early Bird price.

pro

A lot of the questions I got about this year-long program were about experience level and also how to access the classes. So I went to Lora Murphy, the genius artist behind PWF, and got a few of her answers for you:

All the lessons are independent projects from start to finish and it is up to you which order to take them in or how many lessons to complete. You can work at your own pace it is up to you.

All the courses on Painting with Fire have a lifetime access and all classes will stay on the course page.

All our courses are for individuals of all skill levels, including beginners. Don’t be intimidated by comparing your work to other students who have more experience in art. We are all in different phases of our creative journey and we all once were beginners. The best thing – is to compare your own work from before to what you do now, and how it changes and improves as you practice. I would recommend to post your work so you can get feedback from the teachers and support from fellow students. Be kind to yourself and others!

As Lora alludes to, we have a great Painting with Fire Facebook group that’s active and helpful – I’m on there all the time getting ideas and giving advice.

So here’s the best part – look at this list (below) of the 26 teachers and the topics of their classes – you really do get all of this for one price for the whole year! You can watch them as they come out every week, and you can save them for when you have time – you can even pick and choose from the classes that have been released.

And if you have more questions – send them along – as you can tell, I am such a fan of Painting with Fire and feel so privileged to teach with all of these great instructors. Here’s the info/registration link.

 

Fire up the pot(s) – a festive gathering

Last Friday, we got to participate in an amazing experience at Andy and Virginia Bally’s Studio near Canyon Lake. We had talked about planning a pottery pit fire for several months, and thanks to the Ballys’ hard work, it actually happened!

A pit fire is the oldest known method of firing pottery, dating back to 29,000 BC. It works as a kiln using a hole in the ground as insulation and fuel to reach temperatures around 2000 degrees farenheit.

British potter Jane White says, “The process of pit firing has endless possibilities, the pieces seem to have been created by nature itself, by the organic material, and the fire, which transforms the surface of the clay into a myriad of different patterns and colours, and each piece that is unearthed from the ashes is totally unique.”

A motley crew of potters and friends gathered outside the Bally Studio to watch the spectacle.

The pit was impressive. It was almost two feet deep and covered on the bottom with a deep layer of sawdust.

Here, I’m taking a photo of just the first third of the pit as it is being loaded with clay objects. The pieces are covered in all sorts of crazy, experimental stuff, including tamale shucks.

We also experimented with different colorants and chemicals on the surface of our bisque clay before adding them to the pit.Here, Julie and I are painting on Mason Stains (powdered pigments made of a combination of oxides and frits) and spraying on various chemicals including insect repellent and organic weed killer (!) to see how they would react with the flames.

Everyone kept a close eye on the fire – Andy was the Fire Pit Master and added oak in a steady, slow controlled process.

There is something about a communal fire that is exciting and sort of ancient. And we were all anxious to see how our clay would turn out, even though we knew it would take several days to cool and we wouldn’t get to see the results any time soon.

When the flames died down after several hours, the pit was covered with metal to keep in the heat and allow the pieces to cool slowly.

There was so much to learn and to experience. We all took lots of pictures. After Andy and Virginia opened the pit two days later, they pulled the pots from the ashes and cleaned them. Then they sent photos of our work.

I had fired some face shards in the pit, thinking they would come out looking like ancient relics, and the did! Here are several of my pieces.

The face on the bottom left had Mason Stain applied before firing, and the face on the bottom right has traces of smoke “clouds.” All of us wish we had taken better notes so we could duplicate the results next time!

You can see the whole process and many more of the pieces in the video below.

VIDEO: A PIT FIRING AT BALLY STUDIOS

There is also a You tube video of a Masterclass in Pit Firing by Jane White at this link. You’ll learn more about the process and be amazed by the results.

Jane White’s Masterclass Video on Pit Firing

No matter what our age or circumstances, we can resolve to keep on learning new things in the New Year. Participating in the Pit Fire experiment reminded me that creative learning and seeking out new experiences makes life rich and meaningful. It connects us to our past and makes us more resilient for the future.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas-time and looking forward to being with you in 2022!

♥Lyn

Shards and Santos, Clay and Collage

Happiness is teaching in Taos!

A week from tomorrow, I’ll be at the Taos Ceramics Center working with students in my Shards and Santos Workshop. The class takes place on two consecutive Saturdays – here’s a description.

In this workshop, we will create personal assemblages inspired by these iconic figures of Santos. In the first class, we will construct handmade textured slab-based clay components such as heads, bodies, and enhancements. We will also learn to make hand-crafted clay press molds. These components will be fired once.

Here are some examples of assorted assemblage components that I’m taking with me – honestly, working in assemblage is just like working in collage, only a bit more dimensional:

Continuing the workshop description —

The next week, we will build our figure, incorporating found objects such as bones and shells and bleached twigs into the final assemblage and perhaps include cherished objects and hidden words. We will explore the limitless possibilities of cold finishes, such as metallics and beeswax, to enhance the surfaces of the unglazed earthenware.

These santos, below, are in progress, and I’ll use them to show how the components are put together.

Since we will not be glazing and re-firing the shard components, I’ve been experimenting with cold finishes for fired clay for the last couple of weeks.

One of the most successful combinations I’ve discovered is Pearl Ex powder by Jacquard mixed with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium.  You can control the translucency and the color saturation, then buff the wax finish. It’s exciting to see how well it works on bisqueware.

 

Another technique I’m playing with is tube acrylic paint mixed with a bit of cornstarch to dull the finish.

In the sample below, the acrylic mixture mimics the look of Gilder’s Paste at about half the cost and with less potential toxicity.

This kind of experimentation is part of the fun of planning a workshop. And then I get to share with new people!

I’m grateful to the Taos Ceramics Center for inviting me – and at this writing, there’s just one spot left, so if you need a quick get-away, come on up to the mountains of New Mexico!

 

New Work, Old Concept

Old retablo frame, late 1800’s

THE ENCANTO SERIES

Lyn Belisle, Crow’s Companion, 2021

My work has always been strongly influenced by the idea of “shards” as a metaphor for human communication across time. A shard can be a found fragment of clay, a rusty nail, a scrap of handwriting – any little clue that becomes a “secret handshake” between the maker and the discoverer.

Shards, clues, and other stuff

As an assemblage artist, I collect bits of meaning from various cultures and times. This series, called Encantos (charms), respectfully combine contemporary historic images, then veil them with beeswax, a material which has been used in art-making for over 2000 years. This encaustic process seals and enhances the images. The metal adornments on these pieces honor the traditional centuries-old Retablos, painted tin icons that show the significant rust and fading consistent with their age.

Lyn Belisle, Spiral Crows, 2021

For decades I’ve worked with clay, fiber, and paper in assemblage and collage to express this non-verbal time-circle connection. When my friend Michelle Belto introduced me to the encaustic process in 2009, This new-to-me medium seemed a perfect companion for my most-loved materials.

Lyn Belisle, Crow’s Talisman, 2021

I’d briefly tried encaustic medium on collage, but I began to understand that beeswax is a metaphoric material in itself, ancient as clay, versatile as paper, compelling as ivory and bone. Now beeswax and encaustic are integral parts of my process.

Lyn Belisle, Nest, 2021

This series feels just right, a synthesis of digital, ancient, and contemporary process and content. Work for this series is available at the Members Gallery (San Antonio Art League) and soon at Marta Stafford Fine Art in Marble Falls, Texas.

Take good care, hope to see you soon – Lyn

The early bird trickles like sand through the hourglass —

I just finished filming my first lesson for the extraordinary “everything you never knew you wanted to learn about encaustic” course called Painting With Fire:Essence of Mulranny. I am one of 26 international teachers invited to teach at Painting With Fire. The scope and content of the lessons is amazing – yes, even if you are a beginner.

Conceived by Ireland-based artist Lora Murphy, the year-long program’s early bird cost of $199 is the bargain of the century for anyone who wants to learn more about painting with wax or using it as a stellar component in mixed media work. Seriously. The sands are trickling through the hourglass, though – early bird tuition ends on Thursday. After that, the price goes to $249 (which is still a bargain, but $50 can buy a lot of encaustic supplies).

So this is a preview of what I am doing for my first Painting With Fire lesson – it will be released really soon, on Wednesday, May 26th. It’s called Surface Sampler, and it’s super-fun, if I do say so myself. Just click on the image or the link below:

Link to Preview

Here are some FAQs about Painting With Fire

  • Class starts on Friday, April 30th
  • Every class after this is on Wednesday (from May 5th onwards).
  • There are 52 weeks of lessons, often several in one week. All you need is an internet connection to view them. You can go back to previous lessons during the year.
  • All classes are prerecorded (with one exception) and will be available from approximately 12 noon EST each Wednesday.
  • Lifetime access to the videos.
  • There is a Facebook group which is private for PWF students.

And here’s my invitational link to join – please make sure that if you want to take part, join today or tomorrow before the Early Bird tuition goes away.

You’ll be joining a wonderful community of talented teachers and students!

 

 

 

 

Serenity through bamboo – for you?

My latest online class for everyone is called, “Sumi-e Painting: Serenity and Simplicity.” It’s absolutely free, and it’s designed to de-stress your mind and to celebrate the coming of spring – yay!

In this class, you’ll learn to paint a variation of the ancient Asian art form called Sumi-e in a simple way that anyone can do. It’s fun and relaxing, even if your bamboo leaves end up looking like bananas. 🙂

Here’s the class link.

The class opened on Monday, and right now there are 90 people signed up, painting graceful bamboo stalks and wild orchid grass. I’m getting lots of favorable responses!

There is a joy in providing a no-cost chance to be creative that money can’t begin to buy – honest!

One of my favorite responses came from a participant who wrote:

“My friend was asking me about some painting tutorials and where to get started.  I told her about (your) lotus book tutorial and how much fun it was. Your free painting video arrived today in my email has been a great way to show her what you are doing.

We had great progress and successfully completed the tutorial this afternoon.”

bamboo

“The first photo shows (my friend’s) work from start to finish and you can see the progression after we practiced and how quickly we got some good results with your excellent instruction.” – – – (Wow, thanks!!)

I told her how much I loved their work – and how nice (especially these days) to get to paint together with a friend.

She wrote back:

I did two little cards on some scrap watercolor paper. We were using the same watercolor paper as you demonstrated with.  I even found a little stamp that we dipped in red watercolor for chop mark.

I actually had a stone chop made when I was in Taiwan in 1978 but I really couldn’t put my hands on it this afternoon. It has my name in Chinese carved into it with an ox figure on top. I am year of the ox!

Before we went I had pored over a book my Dad had brought back from his travels of Chinese watercolor painting . I was fortunate enough to get the watercolors and brushes ( the brushes  we used today) and paint and paper while I was in Taiwan. . . Funny how things come full circle!”

(Special thanks to Marti Bledsoe for sharing this painting adventure.)

So, try this project if you haven’t – you don’t’ need any fancy materials – just some inexpensive watercolors and some paper. And maybe some nice wind chime music in the background. You, too, can bamboo!

If you like this technique, I also have a new in-depth workshop called Sunsets and Serapes which, strangely enough,uses this Sumi-e technique to make Southwestern striped paintings for mixed media artists!

Serape Mother and Child

This particular painting workshop is not free (a mere $39) but it has four hours of videos on painting with strong East/West influences. Here’s that link.

Finally, here’s a challenge/idea – how about making Lotus Books (another free workshop) and doing the covers with Sumi-e paintings? That would be beautiful!!

Wishing you a serene and stress-free day! ~~~ Lyn

Wendy’s Nature Spirits

A weather note : I started this post on Monday morning. The post (and normal life) has been interrupted by two days of power outages and snow here in South Texas, and there may be more to come! Yikes!

So, before the power goes out again, I want to warm your heart (and mine) by telling you about Wendy Larsen of Nevada.

Normally, I’m shy about writing my buyers to ask how they are using the faces the purchase from my Etsy shop, Earthshards, but Wendy had ordered quite a few of the Celtic Forge faces and I was curious. I emailed her, and she graciously told me about her Nature Spirits.

Celtic Forge faces from my Etsy Shop, Earthshards

Wendy wrote:

“I use all natural materials, and your faces are beautiful addition to my art. I was going to create my own Etsy shop one but the works weigh a lot as I use petrified wood and agate rose quartz . So that makes them quite heavy to ship, but I do have some in a crystal shop in Lehi Utah that carries my art, and I’ve done quite well there over the past few months. I’m currently doing a few commissioned pieces.

It started when I was at a cactus nursery and saw some Choya wood and decided to use it to create a beautiful piece of art. Little did I know they would be such a success! They are inspired by nature. Everything used on them is natural except for what I used to keep them in place. They they all have an energy that lives within each piece. I use a lot of raw crystals, pine cones, living moss, and natural stones as well as the Choya wood and your beautiful clay faces. I’m typically inspired to do a piece by what the face tells me.

Here is a picture of the first piece I ever did — and it’s history from there – LOL.”

Wendy’s Nature Spirits are packed with intricate detail and precious objects – tiny silver lizards, clusters of crystal. Here are some others. You can see the care and love that she adds to each one.

Thanks so much, Wendy, for sharing your wonderful Nature Spirits with us!

Before I close (and before the power goes off again!), I want to remind you that the Early Bird pricing for Painting with Fire is still open if you want to explore a year of Encaustic techniques and processes by 26 teachers (including me!) for less than $10 a workshop — pretty cool. Or hot.

Click here to visit Essence of Mulranny .

Please stay safe and warm – and take good care,

Lyn