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聽 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鈥檚 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. 馃檪

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

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 馃檪

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, 鈥淚 Have A Choice.鈥 -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.聽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聽 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!聽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聽 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!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio as Media Fusion Lab

My artwork typically deals with combining, curating, collecting, and composing different elements for collage and assemblage. To make all of that work together requires a bit of engineering trial and error .

I’ve been posting a few photographs of experimental transfer processes that I’m trying with various combinations of beeswax, solvent, paper, and fiber just to see what works, what sticks, what is worth further experimentation to get the look I am striving for. The idea is not to make pieces of finished art just yet. It’s to put in some time and thought on combinations that might eventually suggest a way to express a meaningful concept in a different way.

For the first series of experiments, I’ve used a toner print on plain paper with four different substrates as image transfer receivers. I used the same image on all of them – here she is!

The first step is to transform the image to black and white and print it on a laser (toner) printer – mine is a very old Brother L2320D B&W laser printer, cheap, about $100.

Here are the initial transfer results on four different surfaces – muslin, canvas, rice paper, and mulberry paper. Notice how the toner ink works differently on each surface.

I liked the one on the upper right – it’s smooth cotton muslin. Here it is, below, next to another version on rough canvas drop cloth that used to live on my studio floor.

Both have a coat of beeswax added, then the beeswax is fused into the fabric with a heat gun.

The beeswax acts as a bonding agent between the muslin and the rice paper backing that it’s fused to. The transfer solvent doesn’t seem to affect the beeswax. That was one of my questions and concerns, but it all seems to work together the way I had hoped.

After everything was fused, I wanted to see how it would stitch with waxed linen. This is another way of ensuring the layers are completely bonded together. It worked great.

The picture below looks strange, but it is actually the backside of the layered paper and muslin piece. It’s interesting to see how the image has come through the back because the beeswax has made it translucent. So much to discover!

So far, this effect below is what I have been working toward – an image transfer on fabric that is compatible with beeswax and remains supple without cracking. Most importantly, I wanted a mysterious translucency. The fine white wax spatters add another layer of illusion.

We shall see where all of this goes! Hands-on research is always fun.

What have you been doing in YOUR studio lab lately?? Do it safely!

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鈥 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.鈥

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!

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:

鈥淚f we don鈥檛 insist on defining impermanence as unsatisfactory, then it鈥檚 natural to celebrate. Just a moment鈥檚 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鈥檚 the movement of life itself.鈥 鈥 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

 

 

 

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!聽 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聽that invites you to show how you interpret the lovely, lowly wildflower. It’s called Wax and Wildflowers:

IEA and聽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:聽 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.’聽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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 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.聽 I love that they have become her halo.聽 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.聽 I would say this is usually a part of my work, although it’s not ‘in your face’ funny.聽 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.