Friday, March 5, 2010

Class Fun

Hello Friends,

Recently many of our beginning students got to experience the thrill of designing. At our art studio we offer classes in 6 week segments. At the end of the 6 weeks the students get a free week. This freebie is used to finish up class projects, introduce new concepts or just "fun" paint. At the end of this particular segment these students completed a design exercise. I had the students pick out their own surfaces that the could either buy from us or bring from home. Surfaces ranged from planters to coal shovels, to birdhouses, coffee pots children's furniture etc. etc. The surfaces were as diverse as the student are.

Next, each student had to develop their own background color. We discussed the role that intensity and value play in selecting and formulating a background color and I gave them some guidance but they really didn't need much help in this department.

Once the background was decided the students needed to develop their own design. This next part was critical to their success. I taught the students some simple flowers that they could incorporate into their designs and we also pulled out some elements from other pieces that we had painted. Their own designs were partly a combination of various elements that they had previously painted and some new elements unique to this project.
After we narrowed down the elements that they could incorporate into their pieces we talked about design weight and I encouraged the students to start their design with circles that represented any element. After the circles were placed in their patterns they could plug in the elements. Some of the students did it this way and some did their own thing. All students were extremely creative and came up with some really wonderful and unique pieces.

Finally we had to decide on a color palette. This part was really easy as we have been painting with a limited palette since the beginning of their training and extending that palette to their own pieces wasn't very difficult.

This was the first time that I had taught design to students that had only had a handful of lessons. I learned so much. Most importantly, I learned that it is never too early to start creating. I learned that new students do not share the fear of designing that other students have. I also learned that we develop excellent technique through decorative painting so that we can transfer that technique to our own work. There is not one student in that class that is not successful.

Below I have posted some pictures from the class. Some of the pieces are done and some are not. I will post completed pictures as the students bring them back to the class.

Stephanie is displaying her practice board as she works to develop a lovely cherry blossom design for her bird house. She is also working on a butterfly. Stephanie is creative and very involved.

Ron is a new grandfather and works in security at a local college. He started the classes with his daughter who quit to have her baby. His designed a piece that is practical and utilizes some of the flowers that I taught for this project.

Ginny brought in an old family piece and combine elements from other designs to come up with her own original. This was a large project and she did such a great job. I absolutely love her backgroud treatment and may steal it for one of my own pieces.

Madeline is a wonderful new artist and has great instincts. She is a thoughtful and meticulous painter and has a real eye for combining elements into a very pleasing art work. Her coffee pot is a knock out.

This has been such a wonderful experience for me as the teacher and for the students. There were many more students that have pieces that are "in progress". I will share their results when they are done. I do apologize for the messed up blog. I can never quite figure these things out. Anyhow, I am so proud of these new artists. They are just soaring with their new knowledge and confidence.
Paul Seymour

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Painting Technique

Hello Friends,

The following blog entry is taken from a post I did on the Jansen Art Education forum. I decided to repeat it for anyone who does not participate in this forum but is still interested in decorative painting posts. With that being said, I would highly recommend that anyone who does not read the forum (which can be found at under the forum link on the left side of the screen) considers doing so as it is a wonderful and informative home for decorative painters of all skill levels.

I have been working on developing a new painting technique for a while. I wanted this technique to be very casual, relatively easy for a beginning to intermediate painter and very fast.

Last summer I was at a workshop at the Jansens and we experimented with a technique that we called "mosaic' painting. I liked the technique but found that it had certain limitations which I won't go in to right now. So I have been experimenting and have come up with a technique that I call the "Global Harmony" technique. I named it this because everything is pulled in very thick global paints and the use of White paint and Faux creates a harmony throughout the entire painting. Very simply the entire technique is done wet on wet into very thick global paints. (If you are not familiar with global paints, they are Heritage MultiMedia paints that have been prepared so that Extender and Blending Medium has been substituted for the water in the paint which makes them have an extended drying time like oil paints.) Specifically I started with the background done in globals and pullted the leaves directly in the wet paint to give a soft look. The background was painted around the pattern for the elements similar to direct painting. To paint the elements I blocked in color with absolutely no definition. It is very important that the globals be fairly thick so that they create some resistance in the last step. Finally I filled a very scruffy #8 shader with a mix of Faux and various values of white. I pulled that mix directly into the thick globals creating all of the elements in this step.

It is a very fast technique. This is the first piece that I have painted with this technique and it took me about 2 hours including tray preparation. It is fun and fast. I am going to continue experimenting so that I can get a bit more value and intensity range in the painting. Now that I have done this I know where I am going. This is a work in progress but I thought I would let you all know what I have been working on. It has been a really fun day.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Benefits of a Learning Style

I have always enjoyed watching my husband learn and conquer new things. He has an interesting and tenacious learning style where he repeats a task over and over again until he has completely mastered it. This learning technique may have come from his many years of playing musical instruments. After all the hours of practice, he has become a wonderful musician capable of playing many different instruments. He says it comes from the fact that he is an average guy and has always had to work hard to achieve anything. I don’t believe that having seen the many things he’s accomplished but whatever this learning style comes from it has benefited him in many ways. He is an accomplished teacher, musician, artist, gardener, husband, father and friend.

I have also benefited from his learning style. For example, recently my family came to a decision to share the job of cooking. It is a task I have completed for over 24 years myself and I am burning out. I’m stuck in a rut of cooking the same old things and have lost the desire to experiment. Now with both of my daughters taking one night a week each and Paul taking a night or two, I am left carrying much less of the load. And Paul has approached this task with his usual tenacity. He is always looking for new recipes to try and is working hard to improve his skills. He reads and studies and watches the cooking channel and my children and I are thoroughly enjoying the fruits of his labor. Also, his excitement for the art of cooking has had another positive effect on me. It’s become contagious and I’ve started to feel excited again about experimenting in the kitchen!

The greatest benefit from Paul’s learning style is the beautiful artwork he has completed. Over the many years he has been painting, Paul has strived to master many different styles and types of artwork. Each time he worked on something new he painted it repeatedly on many different surfaces and in many different ways. For example, when he wanted to learn how to paint roses, he painted all different kinds, styles and techniques for six to eight months. As a result, we now have many beautiful paintings of roses in our house and studio. Even more obvious in our home is his journey to learn Zhostova. He painted this style for several months and now our kitchen boasts a beautiful wall of Zhostova plates and trays as you can see in the picture. When people enter our kitchen for the first time, they are awe struck by the beautiful wall of art they see. I have never tired of this beautiful wall and will enjoy this benefit of his learning style for many years to come.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Friends Are Back To Play

Hello Everyone,

It's been a little while since either Paul or I have posted. (It's absolutely amazing how fast time flies without one realizing it.) But now that it is fall and school is back in session, we hope to get back to posting more often. It seems that now that our lives are more scheduled, we are able to fit in more structured activities (go figure).

Anyhow, I have to tell you how exciting the middle of September was for me. My friends all came back to play!! Our art studio reopened for its fall classes and I was so excited to have everyone come back to paint with me. When each person walked through the door, I realized how much I had missed each of them and how great it was to see them again. Classes flew each evening as we got caught up on each other's summer activities and there was much laughter and carrying on. Many students had new grandchildren to report, some had just left the work force for retirement and many had great vacations they were sharing (even an Alaskan cruise!) It was so fun. And at the end, I realized how much these people had come to mean to me. Yes, Paul and I do operate a business and as business people we have to keep the bottom line in mind at all times, but above all we are people who love the company of these fellow artists and we are so fortunate to call them our friends.

Happy painting everyone,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My journey in decorative painting

Hello Friends,

I have just returned from a 5 day floral seminar at the Jansen residence and am very pleased with what I have learned. I have posted about my experience at the Jansen's on the Heritage Forum so I won't repeat that information here. This post is very different.
Normally when I learn a new technique I am not totally satisfied with my painting. Of course when we learn something new it should stretch us and we should need to practice these techniques a great deal before we master them. However, this seminar was different. I felt like the actual techniques were fairly simple but the finished look was quite different. I also felt like I really understood the look and that we were going for so I am thrilled with my finished pieces.

Actually my 5 days of painting got me to thinking...... I have been in the arts forever but I have only been in decorative painting for about 7 or 8 years. I caught on quickly, had great teachers and practiced everyday so my technique, artistic eye and understanding have grown quickly. I had a natural affinity for strokework which has led to a certain amout of brush control. I say none of the as a "brag" but as a statement of fact. I have a lot to learn but I am so pleased with my journey. Decorative painting has opened up so many doors for me and has introduced me to really wonderful friends. As I often say...I am so very blessed.
When I came home from my seminar my family had lots of warm greetings for me and then they "oohed and ahhed" over my paintings. I was so pleased that they liked my work and was proud of my accomplishments. When we finally sat down to catch up Cathy said, "those paintings are so pretty. Do you remember your first painting?" I had to think about it but I did find my first painting and wanted to share it with all of you. It is a little hard to see but it is a folk angel that is all basecoated with a couple of painted stitches. There is no highlighting or shading on it at all. Just a basecoat and a little liner work. Now lets move to the three paintings that I recently completed in the 5 day floral seminar. This first painting is a simple study panel we did to expose us to the techniques used in direct painting. Thank heavens we started with this piece. it gave us a chance to make errors and learn.

This next piece is one of my favorite paintings. I love the composition and the warm background.

Finally, this painting was a real challenge and was a true study of Premier Coup techniques. I especially like painting the bird. Good times!

It is really thrilling to see my first piece and my most recent pieces and to be able to chart my own journey as an artist. However, I have to honestly say that I am as proud of my little watering can as I am of my Premier Coup paintings. They all represent my journey and each piece holds a story and it's own special memories. My sincerest hope is that all of you have had the same kind of wonderful journey that I have had. Once again...I am so blessed.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nadine Rogers

Hello Friends,

We are so blessed to be surrounded by scads of very special students and friends. When we decided to open the shop I was not expecting to create the intense relationships that we have. Frankly it was something that I never thought about. However, that has been, by far, the very best thing about our shop. I am a bit proud that our little shop in the mountains has become a mecca for so many people that find relationships and fulfillment through the arts. It is our dream to create a community of artists where everyone contributes to everyone else. The shop and the friendships have been life-changing.

Every now and then, a student will distinguish themselves in some way. Perhaps one student is incredibly creative, another is very neat, another may be quite flexible and have a great attitude. You get the picture. I have one student, Nadine Rodgers, that has been painting with me from the very beginning. She was in the first beginner class and from the first day that our shop opened she has been a part of our lives.

Nadine is hard to describe. She is a person that has lived on the same street practically her entire life, but her view of the world is rather large and she has a wide tolerance for others. She is also a person that loves simple things, a good book, family, her home etc...but she is a very intelligent and observant person. She is also a person that is very loyal and loving to the people in her life but has a quick wit and a very funny sense of humor.

I could go on and on about her but I have come to realize that there is one thing that I value about her above all others. Nadine thinks "out of the box". She has her own sense of style and her own tastes and her own eye and I support her decisions. She will often make small changes to the pieces that we are working on but will still retain the basic look of the piece. I applaud her independence and encourage her to continue. The wonderful thing is that she doesn't do it all the time but on occasion she will change the background color of a piece, or the color scheme etc etc.

During the prep for our last Palekh seminar Nadine told me that she didn't want to paint it on the surface that we recommended. Our policy is that seminar pieces must be painted on a piece purchased through the shop so she looked through our inventory and found a lovely scalloped edge plate. We talked about how she could adapt the surface to this pattern. She did a wonderful job with it and added a lovely scroll border to the outside of the plate. In addition Nadine studies some of the pictures that I handed out that talked about the history of the style and saw another painting of Father Frost with some pretty interesting hair. Nadine decided to change the beard and the hair and her piece is truly stunning. She is such an artist. It comes out of her mouth, her brain and her brush and I am so grateful to be her teacher.

I am posting a closeup of her painting. Isn't this truly a great accomplishment. Congratulations Nadine!



Sunday, June 28, 2009

Painting Palekh in Pennsylvania with Paul

Hello Friends,

Okay, the alliteration is a bit goofy but I put it in anyway! Our summer schedule has been crazy. We have been working lots of long hours to prepare our lessons for the new Heritage Education Program, continuing to teach our weekly classes and preparing for our seminars. Our studio is really hopping with activity and we are so thrilled with the artistic energy that we are creating.

This weekend we had the first of our three summer seminars. Our seminars are not long, extended seminars that span several days....our market could not absorb that. Our seminars include a three hour Friday night painting session and an 8 hour session on Saturday. The day and a half seminar is perfect for our students and our market. It provides a concentrated period of study but allows our students to have limited time away from work and family.

Our current weekend seminar was based on the Palekh painting style that I studied with David Jansen in May. I took the class from David because I wanted to learn the techniques that are associated with Palekh painting. While I was sitting in the class I realized that this painting style would translate beautifully to one of our condensed weekend seminars. It was really perfect because the style was new, the techniques were not too difficult and the finished painting would be beautiful. I decided that I would not do the lesson on the small Santa surface that David used so I resized the design and taught it on a sled that our woodman had already made for our studio. The upside of the resizing was that some of the tiny details were bigger! When we painted the Palekh at David's seminar we used a magnifying glass for the small details. Our resizing avoided that need.

Anyhow, the seminar was such a wonderful experience. We had 13 students in the seminar which was a nice size for our studio. I had a goal of completely finishing the painting during the seminar so that meant that I had to be a drill sergeant! No slackers allowed! I told the students to strap in for the ride and for the next two days we worked very hard. The students rose to the challenge and they all have a gorgeous piece of Russian Folk art to display in their home. Following is some pictures from the seminar. I am so proud of all of the students and truly had a wonderful time. Also...a special thank you to David for designing such a wonderful piece.

Nancy is building the snow in layers. Her final painting is gorgeous.

Nadine is adding a wonderful border to her painting. She decided to do the painting on a round plate with a scalloped edge. Her painting turned out great. I hope to post about it after it is varnished. Nadine always thinks outside of the box.

Cathy and Betty multi task as they complete an intermediate step on the painting. Cathy loved this painting and was excited to learn the style. We will often sit as students in each other's seminars. I have to tell you that she was a very good student but she gave the teacher a very bad time! HAHA.

Here I am doing the "teacher thing" as I help Nancy refine her Father Frost face.

This is a picture of some of the class...unfortunately a few students had to leave early and missed the class photo. You can tell by their smiling faces that they were fulfilled by the seminar. I am so proud of everyone. Thank you students!