Thursday, March 31, 2011

Encausticamp Spotlight: Michelle Belto!

Over the next few weeks I will be hosting a "guest blogger" series which will spotlight each of the EncaustiCamp Instructors and assistants. I couldn't be more excited about this event and I hope that you will be joining us!

Today's spotlight is on Michelle Belto. Michelle has developed her own luscious technique and I have to admit, there is a big part of me that wishes I weren't teaching at EncaustiCamp so I would be free to take Michelles workshop!

Here she is to talk about it~

All Roads Lead to Forever by Michelle Belto
Encaustic, Tar, Torch on Handmade Paper

"When I got married, I didn’t know the first thing about cooking.  Unfortunately, my new husband liked to eat…and eat often!   Thinking that it would be something easy, he informed me that his favorite side dish was mashed potatoes and that “it would go with everything.”   What he didn’t realize was that even the lowly mashed potato was beyond the level of my expertise.   I remember calling up my mom with a raw potato in my hand and asking the question:  How do you get from here to there?

I often get asked that question about my work.  How did you get there?   For those who will be attending the first ever Encausticamp in [outside of] Portland this summer, you will get there yourself!   Beating cotton and rag into a giant slushy pulp and then reforming it into something wonderful is addicting.  What’s more making your own supports will open the door to endless new ways to explore mixed media work, sculpture, and, of course, encaustic painting.

Here is a visual overview of the process that you will learn when you come to camp:




Participants will first learn how to make pulp from ordinary recycled materials.  We will use the pulp in a pour-mold (1) which will allow us to add cool things like glitter and cut up newspaper or embed threads or botanicals. Our form, created from foam core and other materials, will be embedded in the pulp. This will make the support stable enough to take the wax.  (2)The next step is to remove the water by pressing.  One of my students is hand-pressing the pulp.  See she is smiling!  It is fun! (3)  The final step is to allow the form to dry…and voila!  You have just created your one-of-a-kind support."

Michelle will then teach the students to use the support to create their own encaustic masterpiece. Thanks Michelle! Who would have thought you could learn so much in one day of camp? Can't wait to see what else is in store! 

Stay tuned......

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giving Up Shame

I have never been a faithful observer of the Lenten Season. In years past it felt more like a religious ritual - the act of fasting or giving something up for lent - then anything to do with my relationship with God. But this year I can't help but connect the place that I am in my recovery journey with the observance of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

Reflecting on and letting go of past baggage.

Repenting of our sins has gotten a bad rap over the years. I'm beginning to understand the deeper reason God says to come to him and confess. The bad choices I have made certainly come as no surprise to Him. He doesn't need me to tell him about them. He already knows.

Nor does he simply want to rub my nose in it. As if some sort of aversion therapy is necessary to bring about my redemption. His word tells me if I am weak and weary to come to Him and rest. No condemnation.

No, I see now that it is not for Gods benefit, this thing called repentance, it is for my own - for as long as I am unwilling to name it, it holds a secret power over me. That power is called shame.

Just as I cannot stuff my feelings - it is necessary for me to feel them and acknowledge them in order to let them go - I cannot stuff my sin and expect to be free.

This year I have decided to give up something for Lent. I am giving up shame. 

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" ~Isaiah 58:6

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Learning To Trust

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" 1 John 4:18

In the midst of exploring who I am, in the process of uncovering my true self, learning to allow myself to make decisions based on my own needs, wants, hopes, dreams and desires, I come face to face with the fear that drove me to hide behind the mask of my co-dependent people pleasing behaviors to begin with.

Fear that others would not like the true me. Fear of being not good enough. Fearing the weight of judgment by others and never quite measuring up.

And feeling as if I must always strive to "make them" like me.

Whoever the "them" happened to be. Those invisible judges who knew my every move and were always displeased. What would they think of me if they could see my hair like this? or my clothes. or my room. or my grades. or my skin?

This extreme fear of man and being displeasing is not a conscientious thought or decision based on one moment in time. Rather a lifetime of moments, of "evidence" to my inherent flawedness.

We all have those moments. The feelings of rejection. unintentional or not. real or imagined. from peers, parents, teachers, society in general. A child absorbs the feelings and emotional waves of the people around her and has no way to process other then to associate it with her own behavior.

But there is now an opportunity to meet that child as an adult. To come along her within myself and help her to trust again. To help her to see her own worth and understand how much she is loved. lovable. worthy of. I go back to those moments now as an adult. I see them and experience them with fresh mature eyes and I show her compassion and acceptance and allow her feelings to be heard. I validate her and help her to release them. I help her to see herself, myself, in a new and more human way.

In this returning to the past I am able to tear down those walls around my heart erected so long ago. I invite God to come in and join me in the process of renewal. I trade in that fear of what "they" might think and let His good and perfect love seep in to the very morrow of my bone.

I don't have to be perfect to be loved. I don't even have to be liked by "them" to have worth.

I have a voice. I have feelings. I can make decisions about getting my needs met. I am learning to trust.