Friday, November 6, 2015

The Art of Storytelling!

Much of my work has a spiritual, mythological or psychological relevance where metaphors, symbolism and allegory are used to stimulate curiosity, provoke thought and encourage further inspection. Throughout my pictorial idiom, I employ a concept-based, message-driven approach, evoking the imagination and the senses. I want the onlooker to be intellectually engaged with an instinctual desire to look deeper into the work to discover hidden messages that lie within the layers of symbolic meaning.

The mixed-media painting entitled Masquerade of Wits, featured in Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling, is a highly conceptual portrait about the inner struggle to find clarity in a world that is often full of uncertainty, distractions and temptation. In the piece, a contemplative female figure is presented as a symbolic warrior who metaphorically fights against the forces that create despair, anxiety and fear in her life. The meditative subject looks inward through a symbolic mask. A physical manifestation of her internal psyche, the mask dissolves into the flesh to become one with the myriad levels of consciousness present in the mind’s eye. Like a protective shield, the apparitional, mask-like form displays imagery from ancient armor and military attire, reminiscing back to a time when the righteous always triumphed over the malevolent forces of evil. Olive branches, historically emblematic of peace, are introduced in the brass assemblage accent as well as intertwined throughout the war-inspired iconography to create an interesting dichotomy.

Considered windows to the soul, the eyes project a serene and crystal clear blue expanding from a flaming orange center. The complimentary color scheme alludes to the setting of the sun, when the light fades and darkness takes reign, creating a dynamic interplay between life’s often paradoxical forces. Although the eyes are astute sensory filters, they are not perfect interpreters of reality, as perception can often be misleading. In times of doubt and fear, the malicious Tempter intervenes, presenting a false reality that uses trickery to set one off balance. A masquerade of wits ensues where virtue and truth battle deception and deceit.

The overall design and the jewel-accented assemblage add-on above the eyes are both based upon the sixth chakra. Known spiritually as the third eye, the Anja chakra represents a mystical gateway to the inner realms of higher consciousness. For insight and enlightenment from the heavens above, the figure is presented as gazing, looking inward to evoke the third eye. Through meditation and prayer, teleportation from the limitations and boundaries of the external, earth-bound existence to the all-seeing world of nirvana that exists within is possible. In times of distress, the divine spirit that is forever omnipresent helps to guide the troubled soul on a path of hope and lucidity of mind and purpose. The indigo color, deep violet blue to a dark grayish blue, that is known in the all-seeing sixth chakra symbol is ever-present throughout the perimeters of the mixed media piece. The perfect symmetrical balance of the facial features and mask juxtaposed against the more cacophonic environment is highly significant, as it conveys the importance of maintaining one’s balance amidst the often surmounting chaos of life.

Inside us all there is a story just waiting to be told. It begins at childhood and develops gradually over time. With every encounter, observation and experience, the tale becomes richer with a more expansive intellect from which to draw. In the heart, an amazing adventure lays dormant, waiting for the right time, when all the pieces are in place, for the dream to come to fruition.

Subscribe to my mailing list to hear more about my upcoming books, videos, workshops and more!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mixed Media Workshop & More!

Creating Color Field Paintings & Using Drip Technique
utilizing mixed-media approaches demonstrated in the workshop
I had an amazing time teaching this past weekend at The Art Students League of New York. The artists that attended came from all over the world...even as far away as Egypt and Japan! The last workshop I did at the league in New York the farthest artist attending came from Trinidad. I absolutely love the outreach that an art institution such as the league has to offer. 

We had a full class and lots of fun making art! The work that was created by the artists attending was incredible! So, I thought  I'd share some of the work in-progress with you.  Check out the work posted and all the different visions that were inspired by mixed-media!

My hands-on workshop called Experimental Painting: Inspirational Approaches in Mixed-Media is created as a continuation of my book Experimental Painting.  Both the workshop and the book investigate exploratory methodologies, techniques and approaches in mixed-media art. 

Creating Mixed-Media Painted Backgrounds 
utilizing many of the techniques demonstrated 
in the two-day workshop

Throughout the workshop in New York City at The Art Students League, many exciting  demonstrations were shown, providing an extensive array of visually-stimulating possibilities for artists to explore. Most artists walked away with lots and lots of ideas spinning in their heads as to what is possible with mixed media.

Both two-dimensional and three-dimensional mixed-media techniques were covered, including employing alternative working grounds, using custom tools, toning the painting surface in imaginative ways, creating a tactile ground, building the visual architecture, utilizing innovative mixed-media techniques to create intriguing effects and much much more. It was a productive workshop and fun was had by all!

My NEXT WORKSHOP at the Art Students League is scheduled for: 

Sat/Sun Sept 10-11th, 2016 from 10am-4:30pm
If you were not able to come to New York City to attend, no worries. I  have several workshops coming up online. They start in January 2017 so mark your calendars.

 Mixed-Media Painted Backgrounds using techniques learned in the workshop
If you love mixed-media, mythology and painting the figure, you  will enjoy my six week workshop FIGURE PAINTING IN MIXED MEDIA: The Mythical Realm

Mixed-Media Painted Backgrounds using techniques
 learned in the workshop
The mythical figure has inspired artists for centuries. Let it inspire you too! This highly informative online workshop will explore experimental approaches to painting the mythical figure in thematic fantastical settings, using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional mixed-media techniques. Topics will include drawing and painting the fantastical figure, altering and restructure facial features and body proportions to create believable characters as well as painting magical landscapes and environments using mixed-media techniques.

All assignments will encourage in-depth research and exploration into a multitude of mythological, cultural and historical sources. Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Celtic, Norse, East Asian, African and Native American mythology, legends, fairy tales and folklore are just some of the areas of prospective interest. Artists are also encouraged to develop their own mythological stories to illustrate. We will focus on the creation of message-driven art through the use of symbolism, metaphor and allegory as well as anagrams, visual puzzles and hidden messages. The use of story boarding for narrative works in series whether for a gallery wall, book layout, video presentation or online experience will also be discussed. Other topics will include the use of costuming, decorative motifs and ornamentation, cultural iconography and architectural detail in works of the mythical realm.
Wonderful Exploration of Painting &
Mixed-Media Techniques learned in the workshop
Playing with many of the Mixed-Media
Painting Techniques demonstrated in the workshop

Lots of great mixed-media works in-progress!
With visually inspiring imagery, insightful readings, thought-provoking videos, creative exercises and step-by-step demonstrations, artists will discover a plethora of exciting two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques to employ in their own fantastical works. This online workshop is for intermediate and advanced figurative artists who are interested in using mixed-media techniques to add that magical, transforming element to their work!

The workshop is run as a six-week online class. I have set-up a private resource blog to serve as the interactive platform for the class. It will have articles, videos, downloads and links that will act as valuable supplementation to the class critiques. I will be in the classroom Monday through Friday reviewing in-process and finished works.

Mixed-Media Painted Backgrounds using techniques
 learned in the workshop
Start Date: January 9 to February 17, 2017
Course Length: 6 weeks
Tuition: $300.00

Wonderful Mixed-Media Background created with many
of the techniques demonstrated in the workshop

Working in bas-relief techniques learned in workshop
In January, I am continuing my MIXED MEDIA MASTERCLASSThis online workshop is for intermediate and advanced artists that are looking to refine their skills to produce professional works for the fine or commercial art marketplace. Artists will work on their own self-generated projects at a pace they feel comfortable with. In addition to weekly assistance with portfolio development, the class will cover a variety of topics from professional business practices, promotional strategies, merchandising, social media and public relations to studio practices, experimental and traditional painting techniques and an exciting multitude of artistic inspirational resources. Artists can choose to work on works of art, start a website, develop an identity package, set up a social media presence, create a video of their work, develop a merchandise line, or a combination of art and business etc. It is up to each artist how they want to use their class time. Discussions regarding personal outlook, growth and development will also help each artist to explore and expand upon their own creative process as well as establish successful business goals for the long term.

The workshop will be run as an eight-week online workshop. I have set-up a private resource blog to serve as the interactive platform for the class. It will have articles, videos, downloads and links that will act as valuable supplementation to the class critiques. I will be in the classroom Monday through Friday reviewing in-process and finished works. Take this as an opportunity to do something really extraordinary, making an impact on your career for years to come!
Start Date: January 9 to March 3, 2017
Course Length: 8 weeks - $400.00
Adding mixed-media techniques learned in the workshop
to the figure

FANTASTICAL DREAMSCAPES: Creating Magical Environments in Mixed Media is a NEW online class! This highly informative online workshop will explore experimental approaches to painting dreamy vistas in mixed media, using both two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques. The workshop will cover the creation of mystical landscapes, waterscapes and cityscapes in imaginative, abstract settings that are inspired from mythology, fairy tales, folklore, classical literature and poetry.

Playing with collage techniques learned in the workshop

With visually inspiring imagery, insightful readings, thought-provoking videos, creative exercises and step-by-step demonstrations, artists will discover a plethora of exciting two-dimensional and three-dimensional techniques to employ in their own fantastical dreamy vistas. For intermediate and advanced artists who are looking to create magical, dream-like environments, this workshop will be a valuable resource and an ongoing source for creative inspiration! 
Start Date: January 9 to February 17, 2017 
Course Length: 6 weeks
Tuition: $300.00

Foil Embossing detail created from technique
 learned in the workshop
Foil Embossing detail created from technique
 learned in the workshop
Playing with collage techniques
learned in the workshop

Foil collage created from techniques
 learned in the workshop

Adding painted details using a controlled drip technique
Tissue texture collage created from techniques
 learned in the workshop
Using exploratory painting techniques demonstrated in the workshop

Smiling faces having fun with Mixed-Media!

Friday, September 18, 2015

EXPERIMENTAL PAINTING: Workshop Panel Preparation & Supplies!


Experimental Painting: Inspirational Approaches in Mixed Media
with Lisa L. Cyr


Acrylic Paints 
 (at least basic colors: Red, Yellow, Blue, White, Black, one metallic - bring more if you have them)
Black Waterproof Ink
Acrylic Matte Medium - Liquitex preferred
Acrylic Gel Matte Medium - Liquitex preferred
Molding Paste - Golden Brand preferred
Bookbinder’s glue: PH neutral preferred (PVA/Elmers Glue or similar will do but not archival)
Gesso: white - prefer Dick Blick Professional gesso (thick)

Synthetic Brushes: (at least a small round, flat (large and medium size) and a fan brush - bring more brushes if you have them)
Painting knife: wide flat tip
Plastic Palette (or several cleaned Styrofoam meat and egg containers)
Natural and Synthetic sponges
Sponge Roller (approx 4” long) with handle
Craft Knife: with new blades
Metal Ruler
Wooden Stick: sharpened at tip
Old Toothbrush
Hair Dryer


Illustration Board or Masonite (gesso primed panels of TWO 16" x 20" panels OR EIGHT 8“ x 10”
Preparation instructions:
White Tissue Paper
Cotton Cloth or Gauze Cloth, Burlap, Heavy Lace, Cheesecloth, etc. (white) optional


Graphite Pencil (HB or regular #2 pencil is fine) and Kneaded Eraser
Two Containers for Water: large yogurt containers or coffee cans (nothing too small or shallow)
Printed Ephemera (newspapers, magazines, ticket stubs, wallpaper scraps, old letters, sewing pattern tissue, doily paper, etc. Bring as much as you can!)
Plastic Grocery Bags
Paper Towels
Cotton Swabs (cheap brand works better)
Painter’s tape: 1”
Wax Paper
Plastic wrap
Sand or Saw Dust (optional)
Aluminum Foil: heavy-duty (Do not get non-stick)
Spray Bottle
Plastic Comb: wide-tooth or Plastic Fork
Inkjet Prints (2 - 3) of your color work or sketches (printed in reverse) to use as ink transfers
Anything with a low relief embossed surface (wood or metal accents, etc.)

Put liquid mediums in 4 oz. bottle and pastes in
small containers. Water bottles also come in 4 oz.

NOTE: If you are traveling, you can put liquid mediums in small 4 oz travel bottles and pastes in small plastic containers that you can get at the dollar store or drug store. Take the wax paper and foil out of the roll and fold up some sheets flat. 

For attendees of my workshops, here are some tips on how to prepare your panels for class:

For the preparation of TWO 16" x 20" panels, acrylic gesso prime the boards at least twice to seal the surface.
Acrylic gesso primed panel

Divide and section off the panels using a graphite pencil. Measure 1" all around and then 1" in the middle horizontally and two 1" sections every 4 inches on the vertical, leaving six 4" wide  by 8.5" tall panels.

Mask off the panels using your 1" painter's tape. Apply the tape around all the edges as well as in the marked sections. Adhere it down well, using your fingers. One panel will be used for two-dimensional techniques and the other for three-dimensional, bas-relief techniques. Your TWO 16" x 20" panels are now prepared to experiment with twelve different techniques that I will demonstrate in class!

Panel masked off with painter's tape

For the preparation of EIGHT 8" x 10" panels. Prime each panel with acrylic gesso.

Eight 8" x 10" gesso primed panels

Take three of your 8" x 10" panels and mask them off with 1" painter's tape all around the edges and in the middle. Leave the other five panels unmasked. Your 8" x 10" panels will be used to explore a multitude of expressive, mixed-media painting techniques that I will demonstrate in class. I am looking forward to working together!
Three 8" x 10" masked off gesso primed panels

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Detail of in-process work on Mademoiselle du Carnaval
The Fall 2015 issue of Acrylic Artist Magazine features an in-depth, step-by-step demonstration of my acrylic and mixed-media fantasy painting Mademoiselle du Carnaval! 

An article about my work and process entitled Artful Arabesque: The Dance of the Drawn, Dripped and Painted Line shares some of my sources of inspiration as well as my unique approach to both two-dimensional and three-dimensional mixed-media techniques! Be sure to check it out! 

Spread from Fall 2015 issue of Acrylic Artist Magazine
featuring my mixed-media painting Voyage to Michaelania

In addition, watch the three-part demo below for the process of creating my mixed-media work Voyage to Michaelania that I did with The Artist Network!

Also featured in the article is my mixed media painting entitled The Messenger! This painting is fully demonstrated in my webinar entitled PAINTING THE MYTHICAL FIGURE IN MIXED MEDIA available for download at 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Assemblage, Book Art & Collage!

Recently, I was asked to participate in a group show put on by Southern Utah University's gallery and was excited to participate. The Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery group exhibition ABC: Assemblage, Book Art, Collage will be exhibiting my work The Creative Spirit Within.  
The exhibition will showcase three unique art forms, assemblage, book art and collage. The art has been created through cutting, layering, adhering, constructing, unusual use of media, and creative juxtaposition.
Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery
September 10 – November 7, 2015 
Hours: Tue-Sat, noon-7pm  

Opening: Thursday Sept 10 7:00pm to 9:00pm

There is also some amazing programming to go along with the show. 

Tuesday Sept. 15 
Talk: "Assemblage in Nature" by Dr. Matt Weeg
7:00 - 8:00pm

Wednesday Sept. 16  
Panel Discussion "What's Happening to Books"
7:00 - 8:00pm Dr. Richard Saunders, Sue Cotter and Jonathan Talbot

Thursday Sept 17 
Talk: "Collage Medium & Metaphor" by Jonathan Talbot
7:00 - 8:00pm

Tuesday Sept 29 
Letterpress Workshop with Jessica Gerlach
7:00 - 8:30pm

Thursday Oct 1 
Art Insights with Sue Cotter

Tuesday Oct 27
Letterpress Workshop with Jessica Gerlach
6:00 - 9:00pm

Lots of buzz on the Assemblage, Book Art and Collage exhibition. Check out the news coverage that the exhibition has received:
My 2-day workshop at Southern Utah University  (Photo taken by Ron Spears)
I was asked a few years ago to do a workshop and several lectures at Southern Utah University. I met some amazing students as well as inspirational instructors during my visit. The work was so stellar from the workshop that my publisher displayed it on their site CreateMixedMedia in an article entitled Taking the Mixed-Media Challenge!
Checking out examples from my books Art Revolution and Experimental Painting at a Southern Utah University Workshop (Photo taken by Ron Spears)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Printmaking with Ordinary Objects & Materials!

If you look around, there is a new textural imprint just waiting to be explored!

In my book Experimental Painting, I've used burlap, romaine lettuce leaves, sprigs, paper towels, plastic grocery bags, aluminum foil, bubble wrap, textured wallpaper, string and sponges just to name a few items. 

Almost any material can be used for a signature imprint! You can employ them flat, crinkled, wadded-up or in combination to make interesting marks onto the surface of your work.

Look around your surroundings to see what you can find! Here is a link to take a look inside my book Experimental Painting. 

covers a diverse array of creative and painterly approaches using both transparent and opaque applications. Shown on various surfaces, altered, repurposed and custom tools are used in inventive ways to create signature works of art. Automatism and freeform painting techniques are also discussed, creating wonder-filled, imaginative environments that enrich the working surface with color, pattern and texture.

Throughout the webinar, lushly painted passages and rich transitions boast mixed-media techniques such as dissolve treatments using acrylic, gouache and ink, lift-off applications using oil paint and gouache and resist treatments with rock salt and candle wax. Dripping, spattering, ghosting and dry-brushing with paint and water-soluble crayons as well as custom blotting, masking, stamping and monoprinting are each explored in this exciting 90 minute video.

For more decorative applications and faux finishes, marbling using self-leveling clear gel, acrylic matte medium and PVA glue, sponging techniques with natural and manmade sponges, combing and pouring techniques using acrylic gels and paint with varying viscosities, ink embossing, crackle applications as well as other aging and distressing techniques are shown.

Creating custom collage papers with techniques such as veining and creasing along with mixed-media painting and surface treatments demonstrate exciting ways in which to infuse custom collage elements into a multimedia painting. The creation of custom acrylic skin surfaces, clear tape transfers and textured image transfers are also covered.
Techniques that creatively manipulate heavily-applied paint with a painting knife, comb and other non-traditional tools are also discussed. Utilizing alternative and unconventional tools and techniques, this webinar will certainly provide engaging and creative inspiration for artists who want to experiment and explore, igniting the creative juices!

Other Artist Network Videos by Lisa L. Cyr:
Creative Explorations in Mixed-Media: Collage Techniques for the Mixed-Media Artist
In the recorded webinar, I go into detail about the intrinsic characteristics of various papers and the aesthetic possibilities and technical issues that go along with them. In collage works, weight, surface, texture, color permanence and opacity each play a part in the selection and use of paper and paper-based ephemera. Throughout the recording, I also discuss the use of handmade paper as well as the making of custom- treated papers. Paper treatments such as sponging, dripping, drybrushing and custom stamping add a signature look to any paper surface. When it comes to adhering various collage and paper elements to a surface, I discuss which adhesive is the best to use for specific papers and applications. Sealing procedures are also covered, including when to apply isolation coats between various mixed-media techniques.

Paper manipulation such as the use of tearing, scoring, punching and die-cutting are also explored with detailed examples of various applications. In addition, I discuss a variety of techniques such as folding, wrinkling, creasing, burning, aging and distressing. Unique processes are shown throughout, using both paper and metallic surfaces.

For a more densely collaged substrate, I present techniques such as peeling-back, sanding, scratching and scraping. I also discuss the use of multi-layered and raised surfaces with custom inlays that employ carving, scoring, embossing and debossing of paper and foils. The addition of embellishments and accents as well as the employment of stitching, weaving and knotting are also covered.

Assemblage Accents: Employing Faux Finishes & Patinas
This recorded webinar covers creatively customizing found objects, assemblage accents and sculptural creations with unique finishes and patinas. To enliven the mixed-media landscape, a diverse array of techniques and materials from repurposed and custom treated natural and man-made elements will be explored. With the addition of faux finishes and decorative techniques, the everyday object can be transformed into a one-of-a-kind accent, communicating a concept or illuminating a subject in a unique way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Making a Customized Roller

Using everyday materials, custom tools can be produced to introduce signature mark-making and imprints onto the working surface. Further expanding the visual vocabulary, one-of-a-kind instruments allow for a distinctive, personal approach to picture making.

Masonite ¼-inch thick (6mm)
Heavy-duty mailing tube
Decorative fabric lace
Relief blocks
Paint rollers: 4- and 9-inch (10cm and 23cm)
Paint roller handle
Pastry spatula
Metal ruler
Acrylic matte medium
Acrylic matte gel medium
Molding paste
White gesso
Flat nylon brush
Cotton cloth
Hand saw

Making the Base
1 The plastic caps are removed from the ends of the mailing tube and put aside. Using a hand saw, a heavy-duty 2-inch (5cm) diameter mailing tube is cut to approximately 10 inches (25cm) long. A bigger trim size can also be used for larger works. Note: Bendable cardboard tubes will not work.
2 A 4-inch (10cm) paint roller is temporarily inserted part way into the tube. This is used as a holding device while the tube is coated. Three coats of acrylic matte medium are applied with a soft fl at brush all around the tube to seal the surface. To establish the imprint base, acrylic matte gel medium is applied to the surface. A thicker application of gel medium will allow for a more dimensional texture while a thinner coat will produce a more subtle relief.

Creating the Design
3 While the gel medium is still wet, the tube is slowly but firmly rolled over a piece of fabric lace to deboss the surface with an overall texture. For more detailed areas, various relief blocks are also imprinted into the surface. Almost any material, porous or nonporous, can be used to create texture. The tube is dried overnight in an upright position.

Assembling the Tool
4 Once the gel medium has fully cured, sandpaper is used to smooth out any unwanted peaks on the surface. The small roller is removed and a large 9-inch (23cm) roller with an attached handle is fully inserted. This will ensure an even distribution of weight and ease of use. One of the plastic caps is used to seal the other side of the tube.

Smoothing the Substrate

5 A layer of molding paste is applied to a gesso-primed Masonite surface with a pastry spatula.

6 A metal ruler is used along the vertical as well as the horizontal to thin down and evenly distribute the molding paste. A very heavy coating of molding paste will not work for this application.

Producing the Custom Imprint
7 The custom tool is employed by pressing it firmly on the surface and rolling slowly in various random directions, allowing the unique, textured pattern to appear. If any molding paste builds up on the tube, simply wipe away with a slightly damp cotton cloth. Since the tube is sealed, it can be cleaned with water and a nail brush and reused for other applications. When cleaning, the plastic caps should be inserted on both sides to protect the interior of the tube once the handle and roller have been pulled out.

For more demonstrations on making unique surfaces and creating custom tools, check out my book Experimental Painting (North Light Books).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Experimental Mixed- Media Techniques: Part Two

When it comes to invention and experimentation, I believe the act of play holds an integral part in the creative process. Without set intention, just create, focusing on the journey not the destination. When you begin to play, you open the door for discovery to enter. I’d like to share with you some fun and playful techniques that I have discovered.

Handmade paper embedded with natural fibers is primed with gesso and washes of Burnt Sienna and copper acrylic are applied on top. The raised surface is wiped with a cloth to reveal a tactile environment. Creating your own handmade paper is a terrific way to establish a distinctive, collage-based environment.

Corrugated cardboard is adorned with pearlescent acrylics and dripped with latex paint. The raised paper surface provides an eye-catching element for any two-dimensional surface.

Debossed wallpaper is imprinted using leaves and acrylic paints. You can also emboss and deboss your own paper using a template and a stylus.

Die-cut and embossed paper is treated with silver acrylic and adhered to a painted surface. Brown ink is applied on top while the surface is sprayed with a water bottle. The ink puddles and begins to drip while the excess is removed with a paper towel for a weathered appearance. There are many techniques available when it comes to aging and distressing collage and assemblage accents.

Gold and copper acrylic is sponged on top of a black base using a large sponge with irregular holes. Explore both natural and man-made sponges to get a variety of imprints.

Heavy-duty aluminum foil is crinkled and manipulated to create an overall embossed texture. Black ink is applied to the surface and wiped away to create an interesting patina. Do not use nonstick aluminum foil, as it will not work. Regular foil does the trick just fine.

For more demonstrations on making unique surfaces and creating custom papers, check out my book Experimental Painting (North Light Books).

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing what you have unearthed in your journey of experimentation and exploration!

copyright 2015 Lisa L. Cyr, Cyr Studio LLC