Saturday catch-up: collages, challenges and show&tell

It’s been a busy week – I taught a beeswax workshop with the San Antonio Art Education Association at a workshop on Tuesday, and then spent Thursday at the Studio with Gloria Hill and Lisa Stamper Meyer.Here are our collages from that art playdate – can you believe that three artists with the same challenge could come up with such different results? Fascinating.

rosemarychallenge2 copy copy

And speaking of collages and challenges, congrats to Rosemary Uchniat who won the random stuff challenge with this powerful collage. I saw her “before” pile of stuff and am in awe of the way she pulled it together – it belongs in a gallery!

Rosemary, your prize is an Artist Sampler of Three Face Shards to use as you like. What will you come up with this time? It’s always interesting.

toni copyToni Curtis from LA also sent in her wonderful collage which morphed into a journal cover – nice, Toni!  Check out Toni’s Heart of the Gypsy Facebook page. It’s fun to challenge yourself to an out-of-the box diversion – try it.

And finally, today is the first Show and Tell of 2016 – my favorite Studio event!

In the lineup today are painters, poets, authors, card makers, fiber artists – and Chef Mikey himself, who will share the Studio’s signature dessert recipe of Sopaipilla Cheesecake. Hope to see you there from 2-4!

Composition Camp commences with collages


My demo collage created during Sunday’s Composition Camp workshop – 8×10″, mixed media, titled “Again?”

First workshop of the year taught by ME (yay!- I love teaching workshops) was Part One of Composition Camp. So what is Composition Camp?? It’s an intensive three-hour workshop directed toward planning and starting your artwork with strong composition bones, no matter in what medium. And it’s super easy.

I’ve developed a composition system called the AB3’s, which stands for

  • Alignment
  • Breathing Room
  • Threes and Thirds

It’s kind of like a simple kick-start for your artwork because it lets you know in advance where your main elements will be most effective. The students in yesterday’s Composition Camp: Collage workshop were given a folder with photos of a random person and a random cat along with some scraps of paper – they had to make a narrative collage using only those elements.  Everyone  took the challenge and ran with it. Take a look!

Before we began our work yesterday, we talked about painterly influences on collage imagery, particularly the works of Larry Rivers and Robert Rauschenberg, two of my favorite artists ever. Rauschenberg said that he works “in the gap between art and life,”  that he wanted to question the distinction between everyday objects and art objects. I like that!

Robert Rauschenberg, Buffalo II, 1964

Larry Rivers, French Money, 1962

It’s always good to go to the Masters for inspiration! There are two more sessions of Composition Camp to come, and there will be more in the summer and fall.

Challenge update

This is what I ended up doing with the objects I collected for the spontaneous “Studio Stuff” challenge. I like it! It’ s called HeART of Time, and it’s about how time flies – wings? eggs? clock pieces? Makes sense to me!

HeART of Time: mixed media assemblage by Lyn Belisle

HeART of Time: mixed media assemblage by Lyn Belisle

And here’s the studio stuff I started with:


Now I’m wondering if it’s cheating to add a couple of extra things to pull the project together. I added some cloth wings that I’d had for years and also a small box with compartments to put everything in. Nah, that’s not cheating – you can add a few things, too, if you like. I’m kind of making up our rules as I go!

Below are two submissions of studio stuff from brave artist friends – let’s see what they do with it! Names have been concealed to protect the innocent. Stay tuned.

Rosemary toni


Assignment: refocus through a creative challenge

After week of extremesextreme dismaythe fire near the Studio that caused so much damage to othersand extreme joy fantastic time with Clare O’Neill, more pics to come – I’m ready to get back to some new artwork. But it always takes me a while to re-focus. Does that ever happen to you?

So here’s what I did this morning – I collected some random stuff from my work table and arranged it like a collage. Easy. I photographed it, then gave myself a challenge – make something out of (or inspired by) this pile o’ stuff.


Here what I have to work with:

  • watch parts
  • copper wire
  • A very cool stained paint rag
  • a face shard (or course)
  • a bird wing
  • a paper scrap
  • glass beads
  • a wooden egg

My assignment – MAKE SOMETHING. First thought – print and mount the photo for an encaustic pieceeasy. Harder would be to make an assemblage sculpture, or a huge acrylic abstract painting based on the colors and textures — so what would YOU do?

Your assignment – Email me a pic of some of your small random studio stuff, no more than ten items, It shouldn’t be contrived or exotic – a tuna can, a twig, some lace, whatever – and then tell us what you’re thinking about doing with it. I’ll post the pics of the “ingredients” first. Then, in a week or so, I’ll ask for a pic of what you have done with them, sort of like an online Show and Tell There will be a prize involved!

PS Speaking of Show and Tell, don’t miss the next one at Lyn Belisle Studio on Saturday, January 30th from 2-4!


Workshop with Clare O’Neill – transforming photographs with pigment and wax

 I am now the proud owner of one of those Clare O'Neill brought one of her iconic works as a gift for me - I am thrilled! His name is Pasta, and he is a wild mustang - wow!

Clare O’Neill brought one of her iconic works as a gift for me – I am thrilled! His name is Pasta, and he is a wild mustang.

It’s been an exciting two days at the Studio – nationally-acclaimed photographer and photoencaustic artist Clare O’Neill has been sharing her techniques with a very fortunate group of us who wanted to learn how she produces those luminous beeswax-enhanced fine art photographic works.

Clare did not disappoint – one of her great skills is encouraging students to take the techniques she demonstrates and adapt them to their own personal styles. You can see in the video (below) how many different approaches and experimental works came out of the two-day workshop. It was really fascinating to watch the creative paths diverge into wonderfully finished works.

Tomorrow we start the second two-day session – I can’t wait to see how this group of students responds to Clare’s teaching. Stay tuned . . . .

Fire – update, luck and reassurance . . .


There was a fire at Carousel Court last night that severely damaged the space next door to the Studio, but the Studio itself escaped almost unscathed – hooray! We were alerted by ADT about 11:00 pm, and when we got there, we had to park across the street because 14 emergency units, including firetrucks and many police, filled the parking lot. There was a lot of smoke and noise – scary stuff.


The fire fighters had to come down through the ceiling of the Studio to do their work, so they took out several ceiling tiles and a lot of insulation, then opened my door from the inside. That set off my alarm system. The fire was under control a little after midnight. The property management people were there immediately and are sending out a team to try to get rid of the smoke smell today. What saved the Studio was the concrete wall between the fire next door and my space – it kept the fire from jumping over. I am so lucky!

Firefighters work at the former CycleHub space next door to Lyn Belisle Studio

Firefighters work at the former CycleHub space next door to Lyn Belisle Studio

Unfortunately, my friends at Shear Image Salon on the other side of the vacant space were not so fortunate. They suffered heavy damage. Please send good thoughts their way.


Inside Shear Image Salon – they were not as lucky as I was

It will be business as usual after a little bit of clean-up today (there’s a strong smoke smell that the property management will take care of), and Clare O’Neill’s workshop this weekend should not be affected. I am profoundly grateful to the fire fighters who kept everything safe – they even stacked paintings up so they wouldn’t be damaged after they came down into the Studio.

Thanks to everyone who helped keep us safe. I’ll have an exciting story to tell you guys at the next Show and Tell!



Encaustic excitement and fiber – Maggie Ayers’ mixed media work


Maggie Ayers – Cocoon, 2008







Clare O’Neill’s visit to my studio is just days away, and I’ve been immersed in encaustic excitement! I just can’t wait to work with her since many mixed-media artists like me are incorporating the seductiveness of beeswax into their work, and Clare’s expertise is impressive – we are so lucky to have her here.

Maggie Ayers, Flourish (detail) 2009

Maggie Ayers, Flourish (detail) 2009

Coincidentally, I just discovered this morning that one of my fiber artist heroes, Maggie Ayers, has also turned to encaustic, and wow! What she’s doing with wax and silk is gorgeous! Maggie Ayers’ work prompted my interest in fiber art about ten years ago – her work is unique and organic.

She’s brought those qualities to wax – you’ll love the new work that she demonstrates in the video below.

Maggie writes, “Central to all my work is the notion of mark making. Whether it is a trailed line of ink from a delightfully scratchy bamboo nib, a rusted metal print on paper or torn reclaimed cloth, or quickly cut scalpel lines on a beeswax and resin ground, these are my working beginnings.” Beautiful.

Maggie Ayers, Small encaustic panel, 2015

The big lesson for me is not just about wax or silk or collage or any particular medium, but about expressing one’s own ideas in many ways. Not everyone who comes to Clare’s workshop this weekend will become a photoencaustic artist, but each of us will experience a new method of communicating through our art as Clare instructs us, and as Maggie Ayers has done. I love it!

Maggie Ayers, small panel, 2015

If you’re a mixed-media artist, and you’re new to encaustics, here’s a great list of resources compiled by Rhonda Raulston that will introduce you to the seductiveness of wax – but be careful – it’s contagious.

Want instant relaxation? Try this . . .


My theme word for 2016 is BALANCE – I’m gonna try to have time for art and workshops and sketching every day, reading more books, updating the website and keeping track of taxes in advance and writing real letters and relaxing and . . . ARG – I got tense and unbalanced just thinking about it!

So I turned to the all-wise higher power – Google! Lo and behold, I found this great guide to active relaxation that takes two minutes at the most and really works to help refocus and calm down. It’s on the Eastern Washington University site, and when I followed the steps, my whole body de-stressed and lightened up.

Want to try it? Here are the steps (and I’ve also made a printable version for you guys that has two copies – one for you and one for a friend – you can find it here).

Sit or lie in a comfortable place with your spine straight.

You may start with either you right side or your left side (most people prefer to begin with their dominant side).

For each step, hold the position described for 5 seconds and concentrate on the sensation of muscle tension. Then release the position and concentrate on changes in the muscles, noticing the sensation of relaxation.

  1. Foot – point and curl toes, turning foot inward
  2. Calf – pull toes toward head, flexing foot
  3. Thigh – push thigh muscles down, tensing muscles
  4. Repeat for opposite foot, calf, and thigh
  5. Stomach – contract stomach, making it as small and tight as possible
  6. Chest, Shoulders, and Upper Back – pull shoulder blades back and together
  7. Upper Arms – push elbow down
  8. Hand and Forearm – make a tight fist
  9. Repeat for opposite upper arm and hand
  10. Neck and Throat – pull chin toward chest and keep it from touching chest
  11. Jaw – bite hard and pull back corners of mouth
  12. Cheeks and Nose – squint and wrinkle nose
  13. Forehead – lift eyebrows as high as possible

That’s it!! I figure that if your body feels unbalanced, your mind is going to take a hike, too – sometimes just remembering to flex my foot (#2) and push my elbows down (#7) is enough to help me refocus.

OK, print out your relaxation tips and go have a balanced and happy weekend – become one with the serene seashore rock!




Pegboard studio storage spiff-up


I love these new pegboard walls that I copied from Lisa Stamper Meyer‘s studio! They have made a huge difference in the storage space by providing hanging places and supply screening. Here is a side view and back view – you can see how well the pegboard walls hide a multitude of stuff!

2side 3back

And here’s what you need if you, too, want to make a storage wall shelf like these.

A metal shelf, 4’x8’x18″ – I bought mine from Costcohere’s a link. These shelves are on casters so you can roll them around easily if you need to. When I bought them, they were $98 each, very sturdy – I think they hold 1200 pounds.

A sheet of 4×8′ pegboard, primed white. I bought mine from Home Depot. Here’s a link for those. They are a little bit unwieldy to manage but if you have access to a truck, you can just lay them in the back. You will probably need a helper – Mike helped a lot with this project.

A bag of 8″ cable tieshere’s a link. This is the neatest trick. You just thread the cable ties through the pegboard holes and pull them tight to the shelf posts. We used eight ties per shelf, three on the sides (top, middle, bottom) and two in the center to hold them steady.

Lisa even attached brush holder to her pegboards using cable ties – she’s an organizing genius! If you have any questions about this easy project, send me an email.