Anagrams, hidden messages and numerology have always sparked my interest. I love the way the use of numbers, words and typographic elements employed in conceptual picture making create curiosity, provoke thought and add meaning to the overall work. To see how I incorporate these concepts in my mixed media work, check out my lecture SYMBOLISM: Anagrams and Visual Puzzles in the video below.

SYMBOLISM: Anagrams and Visual Puzzles lecture by Lisa L. Cyr

The artwork featured below is called Focus. It is a mixed-media triptych piece that was pulled from my various sketchbooks. The work is about understanding what we focus on. On one side where the eye is blinded, we are plagued with all the bad things that are going on because it is so overpowering and all-consuming at times. But, if you block out the noise, what you will see, with an open eye, is all the positive things that are happening. Being a parent, I see the hope that children of the world bring. They have been through so much at such a young and impressionable age that they are driven to make a positive change for the future.

My painting entitled Focus is currently on display at an exhibition at the NYC Society of Illustrators called Sketchbooks. The exhibition runs from November 1, 2022 to January 7, 2023.

When it comes to utilizing typography in art, direct or indirect transfers can be very effective. Here are some things you can do to add typographic elements to your work:

1. Design your typographic elements on the computer or scan in your hand-lettered type.

2. Reverse the type on the computer in Photoshop and print it out using an inkjet printer, preferably one that uses pigment-based inks if archival issues are a concern. I use an Epson 3800 inkjet printer with pigment-based inks. You can also print on clear acetate that has been treated for inkjet printing.

3. For highly textured surfaces, use acrylic matte gel medium directly onto the print surface, making sure not to cover the entire sheet of paper. For smooth surfaces, you can use acrylic matte medium.

4. Place the reverse type, with acrylic matte gel medium on it, face down onto the textured or smooth painting surface. It takes about an hour to set, humidity depending, and then you will be able to lift the paper off. Let it dry overnight.

5. The next day, rub the surface with a damp cloth, lifting the remaining paper (which looks like tissue ) off the surface. You can also use your fingers. Sometimes, I like to use a clean rubber cement pickup eraser to do the job.

6. When the excess paper is fully removed, the ink part of the type will be the only thing that remains.

7. Solvent transfers using a solvent to lift/remove the ink can also be used. Even a blender marker that has a solvent inside can lift the ink by rubbing it on the back side of the paper.

The above image is from my handmade sketchbook before the pages were taken out. It was done using razor blades and paint. The images below show the pages that were accented with typographic elements.

The text was added in using a solvent transfer and clear treated acetate made for inkjet printers.

In addition, you can also use press type to apply typography to a surface. Letraset is a company that used to make press type for graphic designers back in the day. I still have a whole bunch of it! To apply the type, all you need to do is burnish it on and then seal it with acrylic matte medium. I have used this process in other paintings. It is the easiest transfer process to use. But, you are limited to what has been premade in terms of type and symbols.

The above image is a detail of the raised lettering I created on my mixed-media triptych called Focus.

Lastly, stencils are a great way to get lettering that is raised. You can even combine both raised and textured type to get interesting effects. In the detail image above, the lettering was designed on the computer and stencils were cut with my die-cutting machine. The raised letters were created using molding paste and various stencils. Acrylic paint was sponged on top. The floral element was created with gel medium debossing techniques.

Incorporating a typographic message can not only add an interesting graphic element but also provide context to your work, making it meaningful to the viewer. According to the announcement for the Sketchbooks exhibition at the Society of Illustrators, “Sketchbooks capture an artist’s ideas whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. In these pages, quick sketches can provide a blueprint to follow when creating an elaborate piece of art, while observational drawing focuses on the documentation of the external world and includes travel and nature studies. Sketchbooks are the connection between an artist and introspection, often the rawest and most unique artwork an artist creates.”

For more mixed-media explorations check these new projects out:


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NAVIGATING THE LABYRINTH OF THE CREATIVE MIND is my new patreon endeavor where I take you behind-the-scenes to witness projects I am working on. From the preliminary concepts, sketches and the production of unique costuming, masks, headdresses and embellishments through to the final execution of my mixed-media paintings, you will witness my journey through live monthly access on Zoom, weekly process posts and weekly inspirational and motivational audio insights.

We explore not only mixed-media painting techniques and conceptual approaches but also the practice of daily rituals that are conducive for artistic exploration and development, confronting the inner critic, handling creative blocks, working through anxiety and self-doubt and seeing mistakes as rites of passage. Every week, you will have access to audio insights that will help uplift, inspire and motivate you in your creative practice. As a patron, you will discover a multitude of ways to ignite your creativity, opening the door for the creative spirit to shine!

If you are interested in learning more about working in relief on the painted surface or working in experimental mixed-media techniques, check out my Masterclass on patreon!

A Unique Approach:

Masterclass is a unique approach to learning, where each artist works on their own projects, whether that be standalone works or works in a series. Unlike a workshop or an assignment-driven class, this online atelier supports each individual artist’s intent on creating works that they really want to pursue. 

There are approximately SEVEN Live Events every month. The Masterclass Saturday sessions (usually held on the first Saturday of the month) are from 11:00am to 1:00pm EST and the In the Studio sessions are from 2:00pm to 3:00pm on the same day. In addition, there is a monthly Paint, Draw + Create Together event (once a month) on Tuesday from 11:00am to 1:00pm EST and the weekly Sketchbook Meditation + Exploration Social events (3 to 4 times a month) are on Tuesday from 7:00pm to 8:30pm.

Patron Art Feedback sessions for Masterclass are conducted four times a year, giving each artist time to create their works. Artists that cannot attend live can submit up to 3 pieces for a live session review. Each review is recorded.

Experimental + Traditional Techniques:

The Masterclass online atelier covers a variety of topics from studio best practices to a vast array of experimental and traditional painting as well as expressive drawing techniques. The instructor provides monthly assistance and guidance through live  demonstrations, lectures and group chats. ​If you miss a class, you can watch the recording at a later date. 

Painted Passages: This series of posts and videos on how to employ freeform painting techniques to create magical backgrounds and environments in mixed media.

Collage Techniques: This series of posts and videos on using collage techniques in mixed-media works of art.

Working in Relief: This series of posts and videos focuses on working in relief in mixed media, exploring self-expression through texture-building and bas-relief techniques onto the painted surface.

Studio Basics: This series of posts and videos on artistic best practices for the studio artist, from working surfaces, grounds, painting mediums, varnishes, drawing and painting media to brushes, tools and equipment.

Expressive Drawing Series: This series of posts and videos explores alternative mark-making using drawing materials to create expressive works of art. 

Conceptual Development: This series of posts and videos focuses on developing concepts for visually expressive works of art.

Masks, Props + Costuming: This series of posts and videos focuses on how I create unique masks, props and costumes for my figurative subjects.

Insights from the Natural World: This series of posts and videos explores using nature as an inspirational muse for creating artistic works

Just Imagine: This series of posts and videos explore working in a sketchbook as well as creating custom made books. Tactile surfaces, unique designs and engaging presentations stimulate brain activity, allowing artists to drift back to a playful state of mind.

Paint Pictures with Words Writing Club: This series of posts and videos explore writing about our works, creating poetry and prose and using the power of words to assist in the creative process!

Mixed Media Artist Series: This series of posts and videos includes insightful and thought-provoking profiles of leading artists, working in unique techniques and innovative approaches in art.

The Art of Promotion: This series of posts and videos cover artistic promotional strategies and practices.

Check out the complete Collection of Content already on the Navigating the Labyrinth of the Creative Mind site!

Behind-the-Scenes Access:

The artist brings you into her studio through live behind-the-scenes access and weekly posts and videos to current projects and creative endeavors.​

In addition, you have early access to the artist’s upcoming Shows and Exhibitions.

Creative Enrichment:

Discussions regarding artistic growth and development, nurturing the creative spirit, developing personal content, embracing a multidisciplinary mindset and creating message-driven art are also explored as ways to assist artists on their own creative path.

Throughout this online workshop experience, artists discover a multitude of ways to ignite creativity, opening the door for the artistic spirit to shine! Check out the testimonials above from artists around the globe!

Get weekly access to the Rediscovering Your Creative Self weekly podcast which focuses on developing a relationship with the creative spirit that resides within and making daily lifestyle changes that enhance creativity, building a more creative and playful mindset.

Throughout the audio program, topics such as battling the inner critic, handling creative block, working through anxiety and self-doubt and interrupting the patterns that bind are explored. Managing fears, seeing mistakes as rites of passage, knowing when to open and close doors, riding the wave of triumphs and tribulations, avoiding distractions and coping with naysayers that keep one from seeing the light that resides within are covered.

Every month on the Navigating the Labyrinth of the Creative Mind site, there is new Sketchbook Challenge prompt and directive, allowing artists to discover alternative ways in which to practice art that is more personal. Art created from this endeavor is shared on the private Community Chat with other artists.

Sketchbook Meditation + Exploration Weekly Social

Every Tuesday night from 7:00pm to 8:30pm EST, you can attend an open sketchbook night social event called Sketchbook Meditation + Exploration. We discuss the Rediscovering Your Creative Self podcast episode of the week, setting an intention for our work and making daily lifestyle changes that enhance creativity.

Artists use the Sketchbook Meditation + Exploration weekly get-together as a time to commit to working in their sketchbook, experimenting and discussing with other artists topics that will help in developing a relationship with the creative spirit that resides within. Recordings are available for Masterclass artists if they miss a session!

Build a Community:

Be a part of a creative tribe, interacting with artists and enthusiasts from all around the world who have shared interests in art. This is an opportunity to create a robust artistic community, broadening your horizons as a creative person.

Your membership also includes private access to the  Community Group, where patrons share art and works-in-progress, post the monthly Sketchbook Challenges as well as the weekly Sketchbook Meditation + Exploration Social art and work from the Paint Pictures with Words Writing Club. They also share inspiration, discuss new artistic tools, products and equipment as well as interesting and informative books on art and so much more!

Join Us:

TheNavigating the Labyrinth of the Creative Mind Online Atelier has weekly posts and videos as well as several LIVE events each month.​

Join month-to-month for $25/mo US or save 5% if you join yearly!

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