Artist of the Month: Lyn Belisle

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Imagine the serenity of Jayavarman, layered with gorgeous papers, colors, textiles, stamps, wood, stone, and even a coin - all with a modern twist. Does this sound like something you'd like to see? Me, too. I found artist Lyn Belisle in a most serendipitous manner, from her son's blog reference to her art, and was completely transported by her work. The layers in her art attest to an objet d'art that I hold dear - the surprises tucked inside, the continuity of beauty from front to back, and yes, Jayavarman.

 

Lyn Belisle, Greystele

Greystele

 

 

As delighted as I am with her art, I am even happier to consider her a friend. She's full of hidden depths - she's a certified aromatherapist, teaches computer science at Trinity University, is a Foodstock member (and great cook!), musician, blogger, gardener, and world traveler.

 

Lyn Belisle - Contramal

Contramal

 

Her work references classical and global art, colors, textures, details, and creativity unsurpassed. It all comes together beautifully. Want to know more? We did, too. We sat down to chat with Lyn about her art, inspiration, creativity, and more. Here's what she had to say...

 

 

WE: Please tell us about your art...

LB: Well, it’s changed over the years, but it’s always been about telling stories and inventing myths through visual fragments, colors, symbols and texture. I was an art major as an undergraduate, and I remember loving abstract expressionism and being frustrated with representational still life practice. That bowl of fruit we were supposed to paint was a done deal, no secrets there. But the mysterious shimmering color in a Mark Rothko canvas, for example, was an allegory full of layers and discoveries. For a long time when I was fairly active with gallery shows, my signature pieces were very large life-size origami paper kimonos, folded flat and framed. They had fragments of writing, torn rice paper strips, all the elements of a story about who might have worn them. You can still see them occasionally in regional hotels and galleries.

Now I’m making smaller collaged journal and e-reader covers and portfolios – I’m happily creating handmade pieces of art to cover and protect electronic reading devices! It’s incredibly enjoyable, kind of art-meets-tech, form and function, surface decoration with purpose. I still do large folded pieces from time to time, but the smaller format allows so much personal discovery and experimentation – easy to be brave on a small surface!

 

Lyn Belisle, Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass

 

Lyn Belisle, Medici

Medici

 

 

WE: How/when did you start becoming an artist?

LB: So long ago that I can’t remember – I knew from early childhood that the arts would be my passion. Fortunately, my mother and father thought it was a good idea, too, which was fairly remarkable for the practical 50’s. They made sure that I had books and drawing materials, but also let me take piano lessons (which I hated) and dance lessons (which I liked because I got to wear a kitty costume). I was president of the art club in high school, and that allowed me to be a little strange and get away with it in my very socially-conscious school where unconventionality was frowned upon. In college, I was fortunately to have two marvelous professors, Bill Bristow and Phillip Evett, who are still practicing artists today. They were wonderful men, good mentors, talented and kind.

Bristow, a painter, showed us how the body of a bird reflects the shape of the egg from which it hatched – shapes under shapes. Evett taught me to weld car bumpers into sculptures of wild, buxom women! That lesson, the realization that amazing art can come from unexpected places and discarded materials to be reborn in a new story, has stayed with me.

 

Lyn Belisle, Legacy

Legacy

 

Lyn Belisle, Pesca

Pesca

 

 

WE: What do you draw inspiration from?

LB: How things fit together and come apart. The negative spaces between tree branches that changes while I’m driving, the distorted shadow of a wheel against a wall – faces, old books and textiles. Sometimes I’ll see a twig lying next to a silver gum wrapper, for example, and it will give me an idea for a new element on a journal cover. I also have a crazy imagination. Often I go walking very early in the morning and if I see a taxi passing in the pre-dawn, by the time it gets to the end of the block, I’ll have a whole story in my head about who it’s picking up and where they are going – and why. But I’ve never been able to write fiction – my stories come out in the studio, putting images together, tearing a picture of a hand or a face out of an old discarded book and covering it with tracing vellum, then drawing back into it, or writing a fragment of a poem on the edge. My son, Rick Riordan, is the writer, and I can only hope that some of his gift for story-telling came from me.

 

Lyn Belisle, Singallo

Singallo

 

Lyn Belisle, Cambridge

Cambridge

 

 

WE: Where are your favorite places to create art?

LB: My studio – it’s a converted garage on the side of my house, but it’s my safe spot for creating art. For about ten years, while I was reinventing myself from teaching art to emotionally-disturbed teenagers into a faculty member in a university computer science department, the studio space was just a storeroom filled with junk and I was totally ignoring my creative urges. But last spring, something just snapped. I went to Colorado to visit my former studio partner (she had gotten away from her artwork, as well) and during the three or four days I was there, we inspired each other with talks and gallery visits – we kind of “re-purposed” ourselves. I came home, cleaned out the studio, and got back to work with my new collages. Fortunately, the Kindle cover format took off through a series of happy circumstances, and I’m actually selling my work again. But as most artists know, you create art for the joy it gives and not the money you get. However, it is a nice validation! 

 

Lyn Belisle, Zeus

Zeus

 

Lyn Belisle, Carmel

Carmel

 

 

WE: What do you enjoy creating most?

LB: Two dimensional representations of three dimensional experiences and emotions. I like creating visual surprises – the jolt of a photograph of a lily against a photo of a chunk of ice, or a portion of a classical portrait superimposed on a digital clock. I also like creating little still-life vignettes in my home – you know, a critter’s little femur bone next to a sand dollar on top of a tiny old tattered book.

 

Lyn Belisle, Abbey

Abbey

 

Lyn Belisle, Relic

Relic

 

 

WE: How can readers find and purchase your art?

LB: Right now, I’m concentrating on my collage covers. You can see them at my Etsy Gallery shop:
www.etsy.com/shop/belisledesigns
I am participating in some upcoming shows this fall, and hope to get some larger work to my representative at Nueva Street Gallery in San Antonio before the end of the year. Stay tuned.

 

Lyn Belisle, Linden

Linden

 

 

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

LB: It surprises me that a lot of artists my age have totally rejected the promise of technology in their work – and I don’t mean making digital art, I just mean being able to reach out to a cybercommunity of creative people around the world to share ideas, encourage each other and get inspired. To me, it’s exciting. Sharing my work the way I am with you would have been unimaginable when I was an undergraduate art major. It’s a brave new world built on the beauty and tradition of the past and the possibilities are endless.

 

Lyn Belisle, Readings

Readings

 

 

WE: Thanks so very much, Lyn. I cherish my art from you - it's right here on my desk, and thank you for sharing your talent and vision with us. I highly recommend that our readers explore more of your art!

 

 

For more information, please see:
www.etsy.com/shop/belisledesigns

http://earthshards.com/shards/

http://www.lynbelisle.com/

And my Jayavarman? He's the feature photo for our article. 

 

Lyn Belisle Kindle Covers

 Photo: HELEN L. MONTOYA / EXPRESS-NEWS

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Lyn Belisle, except where noted.

 

Comments (1)

  • Sarah V.

    13 years 8 months ago

    Beautiful work!  I'm so glad to find out that this artist lives in San Antonio...I'll have to check out the Nueva Street Gallery soon.

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