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chapter 2: Layers of Life

Lesson 4:

walking On the horizon

Landscapes are full of layers. The ones closer to us appear sharper and tangible, then the further we look, the more blurry and uncertain it all gets. All the way to the horizon, this mysterious line that marks the limit of what we can perceive, the threshold of day and night, of light and darkness.

The horizon is a symbolic line that I love to work with. As we stand with our feet on the earth and our face towards the sky, it symbolizes the connection between the material and spiritual realms, between dreams and reality, the tangible and the more elusive parts of our lives.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
— Christopher McCandless

In this lesson we work with the landscape and the horizon as metaphors for our creative lives, our journeys as artists in this world.

What does the landscape of your life look like? How do you find your way in it? What does your unique path feel like? What's on your horizon?... Keep these questions in mind as you explore, journal and create.

Inspiration warm-ups

Photo explorations: over the line

Take a walk in your surroundings, in nature... Or maybe dig out some images from your travels or holidays, from nature-themed magazines or from Pinterest... Look for landscapes, and look for those horizon lines that connect the Earth and Sky.

What do they look like? Are they straight or hilly? Which ones are you most drawn to? What feelings do they awaken in you?

A line is a dot that went for a walk.
— Paul Klee

Lines are everywhere, and offer such a variety: straight or curved, diagonal, parallel, perpendicular, random, zigzaging, criss-crossing, circling, sharp, blurry... In our art, lines create structure and movement. Some lines divide and others unite. Look around you and start noticing them.

How do the different kinds of line make you feel? Which ones inspire you? Which do you dislike? What stories are they telling?


Journal explorations: landscape of your SOUL

This is a soft and short vision/meditation exercise that will fuel your inspiration for the next project! You can read it first and memorize the journey before doing it, or even better, you can record yourself reading it (slowly), then play it to yourself. You'll need about 10 minutes for the meditation, and some time to record your impressions in your journal. Consider this well-deserved self-care time, a moment to enjoy the stillness, to relax and let your imagination flow...

Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed (no phone!) with your journal and a pen. It can be in a room or even better, outside in nature (I like to sit with my back against a tree).

Take the time to sit still and breathe, to pay attention to the way your breath flows, the way your whole body feels. Close your eyes. Let your whole body relax, your back and shoulders, your face, jaw and eyelids, your fingers and toes... Let this moment unfold: there's nothing to do, you're right where you're supposed to be, here and now.

Keep your eyes closed and begin to feel your connection to the ground, to the planet. Feel that you are supported by Mother Earth, every step of the way, in the most loving ways... Then feel your connection to the air that surrounds you, that fills your lungs and brings you life. Feel that you are one with this world... Then feel a small ball of light inside your chest. As you notice it, your inner light starts to expand until it fills your whole body, your whole being. Notice how it feels, what it looks like...

Your light keeps expanding and little by little, it illuminates a beautiful landscape all around you. You feel completely at home here, safe and peaceful. Notice these imaginary surroundings, what do you see, hear, feel? What kind of landscape is it? What time of day or night? What season? What does the light look like? Can you spot any birds or other animals? Any particular plants, flowers or trees? You can take a walk in this landscape if you like. How does the ground feel under your feet? Is there a path to follow? Is there a horizon ahead? What does it look like?

As your light keeps expanding, let it fill the sky. Feel that it is watching over you, always ready to guide and protect you. Look at yourself from above, standing in this vast and beautiful landscape. Do you notice anything more about it, about yourself? What does it look like, and feel like, when you take it all in?...

When you're ready, very gently, very slowly, let your light come back and nestle itself inside your chest again. Take your time and notice your breath again. Slowly get back in touch with your body and your real-life surroundings. Take a deep breath and gently open your eyes. Take a moment to stretch your body, then record your impressions in your journal: thoughts, images, feelings, memories, symbols that may have appeared in your vision... You can also do a quick sketch if you like.

Know that this beautiful place is yours and that you can go back to it anytime you wish...
Sky above, Earth below, Peace within.
— Anonymous

Pinterest inspiration quest

Create a "Landscape" or "Horizon" board and collect images that inspire you and echo your inner landscape... Check out l'Atelier on Pinterest, and in particular the following boards as a starting point for more inspiration:

Main Project

"dream wanderer"

wax and fiber landscape

The horizon line also symbolizes the future, our dreams and aspirations: we walk towards it, yet somehow it always seems far away in the distance...

But if we look at our life "from above", like a bird flying over the landscape of our life... we realize that it is not this far-off, elusive destination. That's an illusion. The truth is that we're already there, in the here and now. And we can walk our path, not to reach any kind of destination that we cannot yet see, maybe hidden behind the next hill, but for the journey itself. To learn, grow and enjoy the beauty and freedom that live inside of us all along. Let's walk on the horizon...

So let us go forward quietly, each on his own path, forever making for the light.
— Vincent Van Gogh

What you will learn along the way:

In this very dimensional project we will:

  • Create a collage background with paper and encaustic
  • Build up the layers of a landscape with fiber
  • Add light and texture with white encaustic paint
  • Add color and whimsical details with inks and markers
  • Incorporate a narrative element with a figure as a focal point and a few cut-out words, weaving a story into the piece.

What you will need:

  • Encaustic supplies & tools: see the Encaustic Set-up page
  • White oil stick or oil paint (to make white encaustic paint)
  • Spoon
  • Papers in neutral tones, including book pages
  • Fiber: fabric, lace, ribbon, cheesecloth (no synthetic materials)
  • Buttons or other embellishment
  • Pitt Artist pens or similar permanent markers in the colors of your choice
  • Alcohol inks in the colors of your choice
  • Oil pastels in white and brown (optional)
  • Black India ink
  • White ink (acrylic or shellac-based)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Fine-tip black permanent pen (pigment liner)
  • A small piece of white tissue paper
  • Cut-out words from a book (optional)

NB: Remember to check out the Encaustic Set-up page:

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.
— Rumi

Step 1: encaustic collage background

A neutral collage background, this time with encaustic wax!

Step 2: fiber layers

We build dimensional layers with yummy layers of lace, fabric, ribbon...

Step 3: Whimsical details & color!

We add color, patterns, dots and words to infuse life into the landscape.

Step 4: finishing touches

We create the figure of our little wanderer and bring it all together with finishing touches.

I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.
— Geronimo

I'd love to see your dream landscape!

Please share your questions and creations below in the comments and/or in our Circle of Light Facebook group!

You can also share images of your creative process and the art you create in this class on Instagram with the hashtag #layersoflightart!

Diving deeper

Light-Bearer interviews

Read this week's Light-Bearer interviews featuring mixed media artists Petra Hrziwnatzki and Roxanne Evans Stout. They both love to play with texture and natural materials: learn about what inspires them!

Petra Hrziwnatzki

Artist, mother, teacher and soulful inspirer... Read the interview HERE


 © Petra Hrziwnatzki

© Petra Hrziwnatzki

Roxanne Evans Stout

Collage artist, teacher and nature-lover... Read the interview HERE

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