Words as art – it’s National Poetry Month

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Are you a poet?If you think like an artist, you probably are – art has always inspired poetry, and poetry has always inspired art. I saw Express-News poetry editor Jim LaVilla Havelin  at the Voices de la Luna gala on Sunday, and I can testify from hearing his crazy schedule for National Poetry Month that poetry is alive and well in San Antonio.

Jim and his wife, Lucia (a fantastic fiber artist), are long-time arts advocates. Jim was the Master of Ceremonies for the Sunday event which honored Bryce Milligan of Wings Press and the Writers in Communities program at Gemini Ink. These people share a passion and commitment to the power of poetry and writing as tools of personal freedom through self-expression.

If you are a poet but don’t know it (remember that old poem –your feet show it, they’re Longfellows? Sorry!),  you might want to come by the Studio on the second Wednesday of every month to hear some of the city’s best poets gather to share their work. Our own Studio Poet Laureate, Harold Rodinsky, is usually there – and the guest poet at tomorrow’s meeting is Paul Pineda, whose work is gentle and powerful, always eloquent. . Here’s the info:


And if you need inspiration for your art through poetry (or vice-versa), I highly recommend the J. Paul Getty Museum Connecting Art and Poetry site – it’s written for little kids, but it’s a fun exploration of  writing from art – I mean, if a giant bug with a pin stuck in it doesn’t inspire you to verse, what will? Get out there and write a poem – it’s National Poetry Month, for heaven’s sake.



A Gift from Joanna

joannamadonnaDear friend Joanna Powell Colbert sent me a beautiful gift, a limited edition print of her newest artwork, Dark Madonna and Daughter. I found the perfect home for this lovely work in an old tin retablo frame from the early 1900’s. It’s hanging in my study on the wall above my computer. I love the serenity of this piece – it reminds me to slow down and take a breath when I get too rushed. You can order this print for yourself from her site, Gaian Soul.

I would encourage you to read Joanna’s blog post on how this piece came about. It speaks to the creative process in all of us. She also has a wonderful online series which has just started called 30 Days of Yuletide: A Daily Sacred Pause to Welcome the Return of the Sun. Just reading it each day helps keep me grounded to the season and the earth. And, boy, don’t we all need some grounding this time of year! Thank you, Joanna!

A quick reminder to San Antonio folks, Linda Lucretia Shuler will be signing her novel, Hidden Shadows, at my Studio this evening from 5-7. Her book (which I am thoroughly enjoying) explores how we ground ourselves to a homeplace – in this case, the beautiful Texas Hill Country. I hope you can join us for some informal literary conversation with Linda and share some refreshments.

Seek serenity, y’all – and celebrate the season!


2016 Spring Workshops open for registration


Yay! It took most of the day yesterday, glued to my computer instead of playing in the Studio, but the spring workshop calendar is finally up on my website. I hope you find something that you like! Thanks to everyone who helped me out with the workshop preference survey – I included most of the things you suggested (like three Composition Camps) and I still have the rest of the year (and some Saturdays) to add new stuff.

And I have some great guest teachers right off the bat – Clare O’Neill, of course (can’t believe she’s actually coming to MY studio – woohoo). There may be one or two spots in her workshops as things shift around, so email me if you are interested.

Also coming are Kelly Schneider Conkling who is teaching meditation as an art process – I saw how she worked with Zelime Matthews and was just amazed. And my friend Lisa Stamper Meyer is going to teach a workshop on simple screen printing for mixed media artists. When she showed it to me, I couldn’t believe how really easy it was. 

handsAnd then there’s ME – I’m teaching 10 workshops this spring, including some on Wednesdays.

Hope to see you in the new workshops! Thanks for making this so much fun – big ol’ group hug!!


Home from The Prairie

belIt’s hard to know where to start when you’ve just experienced an amazing four days in an unfamiliar but totally inspiring place. Teaching with the gifted instructors at Vivi Magoo in Round Top was an honor – and the students taught me as much I taught them! My friend Bonnie said that it was like going off to camp – how true. Except the camp cabins at The Prairie were furnished with lace and soft pillows and rose chintz.

I did miss my pal Michelle Belto – she was a huge help preparing botanical prints and papers for our demonstrations. And I couldn’t have done it without help from Lorri Scott, whose advice kept me focused and confident in a new environment – so glad she’s feeling better! Each of the three classes had its own personality – and I loved them all. Remarks heard during the three days, “I love your residue!” – “Those look like tie-dyed underpants” – “Ow, ow, that rebar’s hot!!” – “Look, it’s an alien!” – and especially, “I feel like I’ve know you guys all my life.”

I’ll let the video give you a taste of all the truly fun things we did and learned, but videos can’t show the welcoming warmth of the students and instructors at Vivi Magoo (by the way, I did find out where the name came from). Many thanks to Barb Solem and her family. And what a thrill it was to meet fellow Artful Gathering (yay!) instructors Diane Cook and Debby Anderson in person. So Viva, Vivi Magoo, and y’all in San Antonio stay tuned for workshops at my Studio sharing all of this good stuff!

The timeless art of The Prairie – a gentle retreat

viviUntil I was asked to teach at the Vivi Magoo art retreat, I had never heard of The Prairie, a meeting and event venue in Round Top, Texas. People from all over the country fly in to Austin or Houston to stay at The Prairie, but since it’s just a couple of hours away from San Antonio, we drove up on a quiet Monday to check it out. I knew it had been founded by Rachel Ashwell (the inventor of “Shabby Chic”) but I was curious to see how art classes would work there.

Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t wait for next week to get here! We saw no one when we first drove up to the collection of lovely old houses and barns – the only sound was the breeze, and the only signs of life were the white linen sheets blowing on the clothesline and a white horse in the pasture.

We explored a bit, and then found Sarah, a lovely young woman who was readying the main house for next week’s gathering. The whole place is otherworldly and serene – I really felt as if I had gone back in time. Here’s a collection of photos that I took while we were there – it’s truly a beautiful environment. If you want information on the upcoming Vivi Magoo retreat, click here. And if you want to visit The Prairie, you’ll discover it down a secluded gravel road about five miles out of Round Top, Texas – but be prepared to find yourself in another time zone!

Dyeing to Show and Tell


New painting by Lesta Frank, from Sunday’s Show and Tell

From dyeing on Saturday to Show and Tell on Sunday, this weekend rocked. It started with an afternoon of small-space dyeing with Rosemary Uchniat and ended with a Show and Tell with the usual suspects and some new ones, as well. Part of Show and Tell is always sharing upcoming shows, so here are two to pass along:

Small-Space Dyeing has become one of the fastest sold-out workshops at the Studio. Rosemary’s unique formula for fabric dyeing success produces fun, no fail results every time, even for novices. Take a look at the video from Saturday.

Sunday’s Show and Tell photo gallery gives you a clue to the diversity and talent of the participants – everything from Acrylics to Zentangle – I am grateful to the generous and highly creative people who share their ideas with all of us at  these get-togethers.

milagroLast but not least, the winner of the Friday Freebie heart milagro is lucky SHARDS subscriber #134, Arwen Lynch Poe, a friend who has just moved from Texas to New Mexico. Arwen, send me your new address and I’ll send you this little gift to remind you of how much we miss you!

I had lots of requests for info about this piece, and I plan to have some for sale at the Black Saturday Studio sale on November 28th with Lesta Frank and Alison Schockner! Happy Monday, everyone, and thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS.

Potters and gourders

I’m presenting a program to the San Antonio Potters Guild tonight. It’s called Earthenware, Ornament, and Assemblage. While collecting photos photos of my clay pieces, I realized that working in earthenware has been part of my art practice for almost 50 years! These days it’s mostly face shard production and some small sculptural pieces, and I love exploring finishes for fired unglazed clay. Here’s one of the finishes I’m showing the potters tonight – it’s a wax-based custom metallic patina that starts with neutral shoe polish! I used it as a finish on the piece at the left and thought you might like to see how it’s done.

Kathleen Peet: "Diamonds on the soles of her shoes"

Kathleen Peet: “Diamonds on the soles of her shoes”

Just as I was working on my Potters Guild presentation, I got a message from Kathleen Peet, a mixed-media artist from Prineville, Oregon who uses my shard faces in her work. She works with gourds in a unique way – look at this gorgeous piece, left.

Kathleen has an Etsy shop called  Full Circle Art and you can contact her there to see the full scope of her creativity with gourds.

This is what she says about her passion: “When I started in 1996, gourds were a relatively new medium, especially in rural eastern Oregon. The most frequently asked questions were: “What are those?” and “Do you grow them?” Now, gourds are much better known, and some are recognized as ‘fine art’ rather than just craft. I have enjoyed taking this medium in many different directions, and just when I think I’ve tried everything, some new idea hits me. While still enjoying painting, spinning/weaving, ceramics and abalone jewelery….I always come back to gourds!”

Here are some photos of more of Kathleen’s work, including a look at her Oregon studio – thanks, Kathleen! Clay and gourds are a natural pairing!


Monika Astara – a visit to her studio

When I first met Monika Astara at a FASA Runway Show several years ago, I was almost tongue-tied by the beauty and originality of her designer clothing. She was swamped with customers, but I managed to ask her rather tentatively if she ever did trunk shows – she said that she did! Six months later, she brought her wearable art to my Studio, and it was a huge success. We became fast friends and she’s had several more fantastic shows with me – her clothes are comfortable, casually elegant, yet very distinctive. If you are a Monika fan, you know what I mean.

Hoverer, I had never been to HER studio until this weekend, and what a treat it was to see where all of the Monika Magic originates. I got to see her long cutting table where she paints and constructs her garments, the stacks of patterns, and most of all, the fabrics! Her signature fabrics are chosen for their unusual textures and colors and for their practicality – not an easy task.

I took some photos during my visit to share with you, and I hope you will be at her next show and sale at Lyn Belisle Studio in October, date coming soon!

It takes a few eggs to hatch an altar

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My altar from last year titled “Illumination”

Celebration Circle’s annual invitational event, One People, Many Paths: The Sacred Art of Altars, is a personal favorite. It’s a challenge to take one of 50 plain wooden boxes and transform it into a personal artistic statement with meaning, maybe some humor, and a visual appeal that will encourage people to bid on it to benefit this very cool group of spiritual creatives. Last year’s altars show the amazing variety of artful offerings.

My altar for this year started with some eggs from the next-door neighbor’s chickens. I loved their shape and texture, plus there’s always the notion of what will hatch. When my friend Zippy found a nest that seemed made for the altar box, it started to come together. Want to see? Here’s how I made my altar titled “Brood, Hatch, Fly.”

Lyn Belisle "Brood, Hatch, Fly - wood, earthenware, plexiglass, found objects

Lyn Belisle “Brood, Hatch, Fly – wood, earthenware, plexiglass, found objects

Here is the quote that inspired “Brood, Hatch, Fly”:

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” C.S. Lewis

You can see all of the Celebration Circle altars (and bid on them) at the Santikos Bijou Theater in Wonderland Mall from September 1 – 30, 2015. Now go hatch and fly.


Goodbyes, hellos, and how to start a blog

The Medina Mud Band in the early days

The Medina Mud Band in the early days

The Medina Mud Band said goodbye to the Quihi Dance Hall Saturday night, and to the many benefit gigs we’ve played there for Inner City Development. So many friends turned out despite the stormy weather – and the biggest surprise came from Patti and Rod Radle, Inner City’s founders and executive directors, who announced that they had established the Medina Mud Band Cultural Arts Fund for the children at their West Side community center. So the band lives on in a fine legacy – what an honor!

Cousins Pegeen, Jesse, (me), Grace, and Skip

Cousins Pegeen, Jesse, (me), Grace, and Skip

One of the coolest things about the event was meeting my cousins from Louisiana, who drove to Texas for the gig. My cousin Skip has been here before, but I got to meet his daughter and her children in person! We had the best time. The girls wanted to go to the Wax Museum on Alamo Plaza. I have to say that it is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever visited. Many of the life-sized statues were creepily real, while others looked kind of goofy. Here’s a gen-yoo-wine photo of me and Barack Obama – which is wax and which is real??


President Barack Obama gives a high five to Lyn Belisle just before he melts into a puddle of wax

OK, now I’ll bet you are saying, “Gee, I wish I knew how to make a blog so I could put up pictures of touristy wax figures on the Internet.” Help is here – actually, I just remembered that I made some tutorials for my Trinity students on how to make a blog using Blogger. It’s free (all you need is a Google account), and it’s fun. These tutorials should be fairly easy to follow if you want to try it – nobody says you have to keep it.

The only thing you’ll have to remember is that in the first video, I tell the students how to access Blogger through their university account. You’ll just go directly to blogger.com and take it from there. There are also lots of helpful videos on You Tube as well, and a good help menu on the Blogger site. On your mark, get set – BLOG!