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!



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hello Friends,

I have to share with you the fantastic experience we had this past weekend. Paul and I had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy one of the best side benefits of teaching or taking regular painting classes - the phenomenal camaraderie that comes from a group of people sharing something they love.

My Tuesday night class had a double session on Sunday so that we could wrap classes up by the end of June. After class, we celebrated the year of learning together by having a cookout at our house. Class members brought their significant others and we all enjoyed a beautiful evening filled with fun, laughter and good food. It was so fun, and it made me realize how much painting has enriched our lives - from the beautiful artwork in our home to the friends we have met and enjoyed. Students we would have never known if it weren't for the painting classes we teach, we now consider to be our good friends. And this wonderful class of budding artists has developed the rhythm of friendship and camaraderie that a teacher can only hope for. I dare say they truly care for one another and the painting class and this group of people has become a sanctuary for each of them - a place to go to forget all problems even if only temporarily. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in decorative painting classes, weekly or not, run, don't walk, to register. It's an opportunity you won't regret and it has side benefits beyond learning to paint that may surprise you.

Take care,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The painting room!

Hello Friends,

Cathy and I are blessed to live in a lovely home. We live in a turn of the century rather large Victorian house with oak beams on the ceiling, lovely floors, nice woodwork, a modern kitchen, 4 bedrooms, a couple of baths, a nice large linen closet, an upstairs family room and .........the dreaded paint room.
To preface this article I must tell you that my wife is a wonderful homemaker. In spite of the fact that she works two jobs (the shop and public school) our house is almost always wonderfully clean and she is a wonderful cook as well. She works tirelessly to make sure that her family has a nice, normal home life and it is important to her that her house is tidy. Even with the 3 kids, the three dogs and me, the house manages to stay in great shape. But there is one room in the house that we have given up on.....our painting room.

Originally this room was some sort of closet or storage room...we aren't really sure. It is a very small room (8x10) and it has a bunch of stuff in it including two big tables, a big amoire for wood storage, bookcases, shelves, about 709879 surfaces, lots of paints, patterns, etc, etc. During the winter months we are in that room a lot but during the summer it is not unlikely for us to be in there for 8 - 10 hours a day. We paint all the time. It is funny that we have this huge old house but we spend most of our time in this little, tiny, over-crowded room. It also amazes me that this "black hole" is the home of so much beautiful art work. We stay in our painting room because at this point the mess is contained. We have a huge studio/store but it is away from our home and we want to be near the kids so for us... painting in a postage stamp is the best option.
I know that our painting room is a casualty of our unbelievable schedule. We have to prioritize and, quite frankly, a room that no one else ever sees and that would take us forever to clean, we let go. I know that if Cathy weren't juggling all of the things that we do our painting room would be spotless like the rest of our house. But for now it will have to do.
As we have reported before Cathy and I do a lot of shows in order to recruit new students. We have done well at these shows but one of the excuses we hear from people is that they do not have room to paint. Poppycock!!! If you have a kitchen table or a card table you can paint. We painted at our kitchen table for a long time before we started using our painting room. Currently we process about 300 paintings a year through our painting room. The point is doesn't have to pretty, it doesn't have to be particularly organized or clean, it doesn't have to be permanent but, if you want to create beauty you can find the space. So for now we will continue to paint in our little tiny, messy, cramped room and love every minute of it.
I don't want you to think I am exaggerating so I have included a few pictures of our "lovely" space. When you are looking at the pictures please keep in mind that we spend many, many lovely hours in this room together! Thank God we like each other.

Have a great day,

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Parent's bragging rights

Hello Friends,

It is 6:30 am on the last day of school. Summer means so much to a teacher. The most important thing is that summer represents a time for renewal. So...over the next three months I am going to renew..and renew again. Life is good!

Yes, life is good this morning but there are lots of times when life is a struggle. I am sure that all of the parents that are reading this can relate to what I am about to say. Parenting is the most difficult and most rewarding jobs that we can undertake. My children bring me more total joy and more intense worry than I could have ever imagined. This year has been no different. My kids are truly wonderful people but they have all of the flaws that the rest of us have. The only difference is that it is our job to condition our kids so that these flaws don't interfere with their life. Not an easy job but so important.

Lately, we have had a month of "prouds". Gabe is doing a wonderful job on his baseball team and is a real contributor. My brother John is his coach and I love the fact that they are interacting on their own level. Devon has completed her freshman year in college and is taking summer classes to help her along in the fall. She is also working a very difficult job this summer and earning minimum wage for doing it. I am hoping that she gains an appreciation for those that struggle day to day to simply exist and that she gains a deep appreciation for her education. Mariah is finishing her junior year in high school and has established herself as a really wonderful singer. She has done very well in lots of local, regional and state level singing competitions and truly works very hard.

Which brings me to my next point. Don't you just love when a plan comes together? Mariah has been taking French for the past 3 years and has developed a true affinity for the French culture. She has a wonderful teacher that inspires her to learn and examine the language for all the beauty that we associate with French. This teacher has exposed Mariah to music theater in French. One of the musicals has a song that truly captured her heart. I won't try to spell the French title but the English translation is "You are My Everything". Mariah listened to the song and she and a fellow classmate researched the music and put together their own performance of this song. They didn't practice a tremendous amount and they recorded this at 8 am with no warmup or thought to quality. They just sat down and made music. The results are lovely, and honest. I am particularly proud that Mariah has become a true student in her own right. She didn't do this because her parents expected it but she did it because she had a truly inquisitive mind that led to this discovery. Below I am including the link to "You are My Everything". The actual link might not work so you might have to cut and paste it into your address bar. Please enjoy. I am quite proud and Cathy and I claim "bragging rights" on this one.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our recent painting...the end of sister Paula

Hello All,

I only have 3 days of school left but Cathy has 5 days left. Please don't worry though. I promised her that for the 2 days that she is in school and I am at home I will sit up in bed and wave good bye. I'm all heart! Anyhow, it has really been a great school year. I have truly felt a connection to my students and I will forever be grateful that they have taken this musical journey with me. We have shared so many wonderful musical and personal experiences and all of them have made me quite proud.

I am going to take a moment and stand on my soap box. My father was a public school teacher and a powerful and charismatic man. He told me some truths before he died. My dad said that teachers will never have the respect they deserve because the public view teaching as an easy job. I assure you that if it is done well it is not easy in the least. He also told me that teachers always make a difference. I can see how my work makes permanent changes in the lives of others. That is so important to me. Teaching is an over-criticized and under-valued profession. It is also one of the most important jobs in the world. If you have the chance thank a teacher for the difference they have made in your life or the life of one of your children. Those small gestures of thanks motivate teachers to "get through the day".

My painting life has been a bit sporadic lately. By sporadic I mean that I have not had the schedule that allowed me to dedicate time every day to paint. My concert schedule was pretty grueling but now that is over. I still found many hours every week to paint but it wasn't as much time as I was used to. During the past weekend I started to clock a lot of time in the studio again. I am working on my Rogaland Rosemaling lesson for the new education system and have had such a great time. I am going to do this lesson a little different than the other lessons that I have put together. I am going to do three different Rogaland designs on three completely different surfaces. However, all of these pieces will use the same color palette. So, if the student chooses they can paint all of the Rogaland pieces and have a collection of them. If they just would like to paint one be it. I have decided that our students are going to spend much more time on Rosemaling and stokework next year. What I find is that our students are very artistic and have a wonderful sense of color and form but that they lack some technical expertise that can only come through strokework. Strokework is beautiful in and of itself but it is also a gateway to improved brush control and technique. Spending time with strokework is important in the evolution of a decorative painter so students beware - 2010-2011 is going to be the year of strokework. You will be better off for it!

This past weekend was a long one because we celebrated Memorial Day here in the states. This is the day that we dedicate to saying thanks to the people that have served in our armed forces. It is an important and meaningful holiday. One of the highlights of the past weekend was that I got to see my sister Paula and her husband Ed. Paula and Ed live in Arizona and lead a very busy life so we don't get to see them often enough. So, when we do get to hang out with them it is always a party. Paula is my oldest sibling and has always been so special. I could write a book about how generous, successful, classy and funny she is but let's just put it this way....she is a wonderful and unique person and I value every second I get to spend with her. Her husband Ed is exactly the same. He has such a sense of family and is truly my brother. Ed had some surgery this past week and I am hopeful that all continues to go well.

Anyhow, school is ending, summer is beginning and life will change. More time to paint, more time with family and less stress. Life is good!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Callie is in the building

Hello Friends,

Poor Cathy! She is a neutral dog person living in a house hold of dog lovers. She was hesitantly okay about the first dog and resistant to the second dog. For the last couple of years she has been saying that when these dogs have gone to dog heaven, we will not replace them. Enter Paul, Devon, Mariah and Gabe. We all wanted a new puppy but Cathy wouldn't budge. Can you blame her? It took some time but Cathy finally relented and now our new puppy, Callie, is with us. She is a 46 day old Shih Poo. Callie weighs about 2 pounds and will be around 6 or 7 pounds when fully grown. We had a great first day with Callie and Cathy has been great.

I guess the way I feel about it is is short and if another dog or a new paint brush or a new pair of shoes (can't imagine that one) makes you happy and you can afford it...go for it. We decided a long time ago that we weren't going to wait to live. When our kids were younger we bought a motorhome and spent summers on the road. Now the motorhome is for sale because the girls have summer jobs, Gabe has baseball games, and we have the paint studio. That time in our life has passed but we will never regret the money we invested in our motorhome. We created memories and in many ways it defined us at that time in our lives. So like I said before, don't wait to live. Do it now because we don't know what tomorrow will bring. Now the Seymours have a new puppy and life is exciting and good. We were having too much fun to take a lot of pictures but I did take this one. Isn't she great!

Until next time,


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just say 'abstinence'

Hello Everyone,

It's been a while since I posted as I've been leaving the bulk of it up to Paul, but I just recently experienced something that I thought I would share with you. Recently, my two daughters attended their high school prom with the two wonderful young men they've been dating. Paul and I love these two boys as if they were our own. They are quality people and we are thrilled to entrust the safekeeping of our daughters to them.

As I'm sure many of you are aware, the prom is a huge deal in the life of a teen girl. Preparation begins weeks in advance, picking the perfect dress, shoes, jewelry, tanning, manicures, up-dos and so on. The list is endless and as a parent, it is very expensive. But when the big day finally comes, the couples are so gorgeous, you know all the expense and work was worth it. To see what I mean, I've posted their pictures below.

This is of course the couples together and below are pictures of each couple.

My favorite picture, however, has to do with the title of my blog. If you are a parent, you know how easy it is to mortify your child. Sometimes the very act of breathing is enough to earn their derision. During picture-taking time prior to the couples leaving for the prom, I committed the greatest parent-child faux pas. When the couples were standing for yet another photo, I went for big smiles from them but instead of saying the obligatory 'say cheese', I said 'say abstinence'. While the other parents found this quite funny, my daughters were not so amused. One of the parents got their reaction in the photo below:

My oldest daughter (the one in pink) was particularly irritated, while my younger daughter laughed initially and then gave me the look of death, which was not caught on film. Their dates were unruffled by the whole thing as you can see. Oh well, being a parent isn't always easy but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even when looks from your children make you want to shrivel up and blow away, it's still the best job in the world.
Until next time - take care,

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Hello Friends,

I don't usually write blog posts without a specific subject in mind but this is not a usual day. Today is the national day of prayer and as part of that day I took a group of students to a prayer breakfast in our community. Our students had the opportunity to perform some wonderful music and to have a great meal. There was a gamble however. I had to ask them to be at the performing venue at 6:45 am. Now we all know how teenagers love their sleep so I didn't know what to expect. I walked into the hall and, amazingly enough, they were all there and ready to go. I am so proud of my students. The students sang like angels and the entire gathering was very appreciative of their contribution. After the affair was over the students generously offered to stay and help clean up. HAHA. They didn't want to get back to Trigonometry, History, Biology etc, etc. I told them to take pride in their education. I was selling but they were not buying! Anyhow, we got them back to school in plenty of time and, much to their disappointment, their learning was uninterrupted.

There were several speakers at the prayer breakfast. All of the speakers were truly wonderful and gave meaningful and moving messages but one speaker stood out. His message hit home.
The main theme was this....God gives us opportunities when we place ourselves in the center of His will. That concept was very moving and the message was quite powerful.

I realize that God's will for me was to be a teacher. It doesn't matter if I teach painting or music because I gain energy from leading others toward understanding. I am so grateful that the significant people in my young life helped me to see this "calling". I will never be rich but I lead a life filled with richness. I believe that God's will was for me to be a teacher. Being in the center of His will has led me to amazing opportunities.

I also believe that God's will has put Cathy and I on a path that intersects with such wonderful people. It is God's will that I am a loyal friend and that I enjoy my interactions with the Jansens. It has allowed us to keep a tight friendship in difficult times. Once again....God's will at work.

I was truly moved by the message this morning. It also provided me with the opportunity to think about and recognize the role that God plays in my life.

My blessings are deep and my life is good. Either by accident or by design I have placed myself in God's will and it has yielded a great life. I just wanted to share my profound appreciation. Fondly,


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Regrouping from the seminar

Hello Friends,

For any of you that have ever been in a painting seminar before you will understand this....There is an unreal feeling that you have when you are in a seminar. I'm not quite sure how to describe it but it feels like the world stands still while you are learning your new information. It reminded me of the college "bubble". When I was in college my whole world revolved around the couple of acres that comprised my college campus. When I am at the Jansen's my entire world revolves around their painting studio. There is no swine flu, bad economy, stressful job, etc. There is only me, the class and my paint brush. While I learned about Palekh painting the world stopped. What a funny and unreal feeling.

Now I am back to reality and I have a chance to regroup and reflect. What did I learn in my journey? I am so thankful that I am a lifetime learner. I honestly feel that the quality of my life is improved by the fact that I love to learn and I am so grateful that I have opportunities to feed my need to learn. In addition, I am so thankful for new friendships. We spent so much time teasing each other but all jokes were made in humor. I teased my new Canadian friends about the way they talk and they teased me about everything else. To an outsider it might not seem like we even liked each other but we all know differently. We shared laughs, great food, great conversation and, most of all, great art.
Specifically I learned about Russian Folk painting. To my non painting friends that might sound really awful but it was absolutely fantastic. The depth of history and the maturity of styles in Russian folk painting is absolutely wonderful. There are four types of Russian folk painting, Fedskino, Kholu, Mstera and Palekh. We had the privilege of studying Palekh painting. Our particular study piece was designed by David Jansen, MDA and is based on the Russian Fairy Tale, Father Frost and the Maiden. Our class delved into the history of Palekh painting and we made many discoveries along the way. It was a wonderful seminar and one that I won't soon forget. Following is a link for some really great information on Russian folk painting.

Here are some great pictures of the last day of seminar.
In the following picture Dave Parmer and Jessica Jansen were trying to avoid the paparazzi. I failed in getting them to pose but I did get a picture of them. Dave Parmer and I share lots of taunts but he is a great friend and a very talented guy. His woodwork is beautiful. Jessica Jansen is truly wonderful. She is quite funny with a very subtle sense of humor but she is very smart, truly unique and a wonderful artists. They both are so much fun to be around. (Please no one tell Dave I said anything nice about him)
In this pic. Carol, Louisa and Jess are working on small detail work. Check out the magnifier that Jess is using. Now that is small details!

In the background of this picture is Linda, Bettyann and Abi. In the foreground is Ms. attitude, Georgia.

Finally we see David as he uses the big, upscale magnifier. He is also demonstrating some detail work.

Anyhow, the weekend was amazing, the friendship was amazing and I am so happy to be part of this thing we call decorative painting. As I expressed this weekend, we are so lucky to be part of something so timeless and we are also so fortunate to know that we could study this the rest of our lives and just begin to scratch the surface. I hope that you all have many wonderful painting moments in your future.
God Bless,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Leave me alone!

Hello All,

Haha...i thought that might get your attention. I am at the Jansen art studio and we are learning to paint a Palekh Santa. I am actually teaching this technique in a few weeks at our studio and the seminar has a lot of people in it so I am really trying to pay attention so that I know what I am doing. Easier said than done! The people in this class, including the teacher, pick on me quite badly. I was accused of oozing onto Carol's work space....oops....guilty as charged. All the women in this class were mad at me because I admitted that I have never done a load of laudry in my entire life. (I am just glad that I wasn't pelted with extender cups) And, I was getting harrassed because I wore a "mapron" (man apron) to keep my clothes clean.
I was a real trooper....honestly. I didn't say anything. I just sat in my seat and tried to blend with this class. I didn't tease my new Canadian friends about anything and I most certainly didn't tease David. Honestly folks, I have had the best time.
I know that many of our blog readers are painters. I urge you to take a class from David Jansen as soon as you can get in to it. He is such a wonderful teacher and his classes are filled with so much fun. But, more importantly, there is no one that I know of that has the depth of experience in this industry or the depth of knowledge of decorative painting. Sitting in one of his classes is an amazing experience and I am so grateful that he is my mentor and my friend.
The Jansen family has come under considerable fire in the last year because of some business issues. The criticism that they have had to endure is truly unwarranted and I have truly felt sorry for them. But, the true measure of a person's character is how they maintain character in times of crisis. The Jansen family has have held their head high and perservered and I am so proud to call them my friends.
Anyhow, this weekend has been so much fun. The people in the class are truly awesome and the art is so rewarding. Here is a picture of 4 of the students confronting the challenges of Palekh painting.

For those of you that have never been to a seminar at the Jansen household one of the jokes among the students is that they don't know if they come for the painting or the food. Honestly, I can't decide. Martha and Jessica do a great job with the food. And they are so very gracious.

Martha Jansen is our host for the Jansen Art Seminars. This is a great picture of Martha grabbing a few minutes of social time before she has to attend to the many duties of hosting a seminar. We could not honestly ask for a more gracious host than Martha.

Finally I must say that a seminar at the Jansen residence is about food, friends, laughter and fellowship but mostly it is about the art. David Jansen doesn't just talk about art but he is one of the most active artists that I know. He paints several hundred original paintings a year and, in addition, he is one of the most sought after teachers in the United States. Why? Because he is a spledid teacher and knows so much. Anybody that has ever taken a class from David can tell you that he is truly a master teacher. Like I said before, if you haven't taken a class from David you need to get on a waiting list immediately. It is absolutely the way that I want to spend my money. Following is a picture of David in rapt concentration. Don't worry...he isn't a serious as he looks. The class is filled with fun and laughter. Tomorrow I will post about day 2 of our seminar.

Until Tomorrow,


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shopping for a bed to make into a bench...huh?

Hello Friends,

I have known my wife Cathy since we were 6 years old. In fact, we were in kindergarten class together. She chased me in middle school, I chased her back and we finally caught each other late in our high school years. The point is that our lives have been intertwined forever. I have known that she is extremely creative for years. She decorates our house with the eye of an interior decorator and does beautiful things with color and texture. She gets it. Part of the challenge of living with one that is so creative is that we often get involved in things that others think are a little weird. She orders curtains that were from a movie theater from someone on ebay...They are gorgeous but that isn't normal. She uses a victorian dresser scarf around our fireplace mantel...gorgeous but perhaps a bit unusual.

Our many past experinces have prepared me for the most recent announcement. Enter Cathy..."Paul, I would like to get an antique headboard and make a bench out of it for the front porch" I looked confused and said, huh? What are you talking about?

Over the next few days Cathy showed me pictures and sketches to clue me in so I saw where we were going. Our first job was that we needed to find an old headboard. Cathy showed me some pictures of possibilities on the Internet. In addition we went "antiquing" in Adamstown, Pa. We didn't find anything that would do the job. Cathy was ready to order a headboard on line but the shipping was an issue.

Today I suggested that we take a road trip to a nearby small city, called Altoona to see if we could find something that would work. We walked through aisles and aisles of antiques and we didn't see anything that we could afford. Of course we saw a few beds but they were over $800. That is a little too expensive for our front porch. Then I saw it! A perfect headboard to be made into a very dramatic bench. I was afraid of the price but the look was incredible. When I looked at the price I almost fell over....$45. I couldn't believe it. The wood isn't in great shape but who is as solid as a rock and we are going to paint it anyway.

So we have our headboard and we are going to create a few blogs so that you can see our $45 dollar trash turn into a treasure. You are also going to see the creative wonder that is my wife. Below is our special find. Ignore the boots under the bed...they belong to Gabe. If someone leaves their shoes by the front door Cathy puts them on the porch or in the yard (mine have even ended up there a few times). See if you can visualize what this will become. It took me a little while but it will be a cool process. More later!



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Teaching a different class

Hello All,

We have so much to catch up on. The last two weeks have been filled with music, art, teaching, family and travel. We plan to make a separate post about some of the musical experiences that we have had during the last couple of weeks. Awesome! But, in the meantime I would like to tell you about an experience that I am having in our studio.

Cathy has been teaching a group of artists for the last couple of years. When they came to her I don't think any of them had any experience so Cathy has guided them and nurtured their abilities to the point that they are at now. I am so pleased to say that this particular class is filled with great painters. They are avid learners, paint on their own, and have developed quite rapidly. Cathy is a splendid teacher and these students are naturals.

A few weeks ago Cathy informed me that she needed to take an online class and had to be available on Thursday evenings so, could I teach her class for a couple of weeks? Sure...Why not... Piece of cake. Haha. There were a few details that I didn't count on. First of all, this class is fiercely committed to Cathy so when I walked in they were in the, "what the heck" mode. Second, this group has a language that is all their own. They are great friends, they like to do a little friendly "men bashing" and I happened to be the man in the room. Third, I learned very quickly that when a group of women "men bash" it isn't a good idea to return the gesture with "women bashing". OOPS. Bad call.

Anyhow, the truth is that I had a wonderful time. The ladies did have some fun with me but the teaching and the learning was absolutely great. I am proud of Cathy and the wonderful rapport that she has with her students and am grateful that they are loyal. In truth they were very kind. One of the things that you miss in an online class is the kind of intense bonding that goes on in a weekly class. It is one of the backbones of our industry.

The ladies in Cathy's Thursday night class have been through a lot together. They have cried, laughed, hugged and bonded in ways that are unique to this group of people. I love the fact that our little studio in the mountains is a safe place for all of our students. They know that the time that they spend in our studio will be rewarding and fun. It is one of the things that makes this job truly rewarding.

If any of the Thursday nighter's are reading this please remember....go easy on me. I am enjoying getting to know you and look forward to our time together.

Till next time,


Friday, April 17, 2009

Breaking down the mystery of designing

Hello Friends,

TGIF....Thank God It's Friday. This has been a heck of a week. Thankfully I am recovering from sickness and back in high gear. We have had a very interesting week at the studio. One of the goals that we have for our students is that every student should become a designer. When I started painting I can remember clearly saying that I would never design my own pieces and that I only wanted to paint other people's designs. I'm not sure why I took such a hard stand but I do know that it probably has to do with the fact that I didn't feel capable. Designing seemed to be shrouded in mystery.

Through time I have come to realize that designing isn't as difficult as most people think. David has done a wonderful job breaking down the separate elements of designing and, quite frankly, I have done so much of it that I can't believe that it ever seemed impossible. Designing is a privilege and I get so excited when our students embrace it.

Since I have been spouting off about designing for a long time, I have decided to put my words into action. Everyone can design! Everyone is an artist!

As a result, our advanced class is going to spend several months designing their own pieces. The classes will be spent studying design theories and talking about different designing philosophies. In addition, we will spend time giving design guidelines and giving structure to the designing process. As David says, "Designing becomes easier if we have parameters to work within".

This is a subject that many artists are interested in. How do you make the leap from doing other people's work to doing your own work? Over the next year I am going to take you on a journey with our students. I want to share their difficulties, their challenges and their successes. In addition I would like to share their stories. The people in this class have struggled and confronted major life challenges....debilitating illnesses, lost loved ones, split families, dissapointments with jobs etc, etc.... But it is the art that keeps them going.

Some of our students have already started to do their own designing. Melodye has been painting for a few years and is a wonderful student and a fabulous painter. She has dabbled in design and has expressed an interest but with this recent project she outdid herself. I am so pleased with her work. Melodye loves the written word, more specifically Bible verses. She uses Bible verses as a springboard to design. So, Melodye brought me the seeds for this design and a nice line drawing. We discussed how best to develop the rooster. In addition, we had to change some of the directions of the flowers as they were pointing in such a way that your eye was led out of the painting. We made small changes to her design that made a huge difference. The next step was developing a palette that would work. That took a bit of trial and error but I think the end result is delightful. When Melodye was a newer painter she struggled with the casual style but now she has mastered it. By setting up parameters for Melodye she was able to come up with a wonderful design.

This is going to be a wonderful thread on our blog. More to come in the future! Below is Melodye's design. I am going to encourage her to make this into a pattern packet and put it on the Heritage website as a lateral design. Way to go, Mel!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday night's class

Hello Friends,

My Monday night painting group has been together for many years. Their collective experience is quite impressive and they are all developing into nice artists. I get so excited for them and revel in their accomplishments. For a few years we strictly followed the Traditions Education Program. The program worked well and was a good starting point for a complete curriculum that delved into the many styles of decorative painting.

Since this is my most advanced group I often design the pieces that they paint. I will test pieces on them before I publish them or teach them to others. They understand this and they are pleased to be part of this process. Recently I decided that we would do an Ompir study. To save them some money, I designed a couple lessons that could be painted on one surface - a bread paddle. One of the lessons I designed that was a quirky examination of the Ompir style. I used lots of techniques in this design that were either new or reinforced other concepts from a former lesson.

The techniques used in this design include staining, underpainting, drybrushing, scrubbing, working on extender, floating, pat blending, liner work to name a few. I wanted to use this lesson as a starting point and then suggest some further Ompir studies for the students to pursue. Lynn Snyder, Donna Rose Prestridge and David Jansen all have great Ompir people that the students can paint after they compete this study.

Below is a picture of the Ompir piece that I designed. It will be offered as a pattern packet in the near future.

I will follow up this study with a study of the Ompir floral style. We will paint the Ompir florals on the other side of the bread paddle. This saves money on a surface and seems to be a good way to help students. Once I design that piece I will also post it on our blog.

Have a great day and keep creating!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Trash to Treasure

Hello Friends,

The first year that Cathy and I painted we spent an enormous amount of money. First of all we both had to get supplies. We were very willing to share paints but we absolutely had to have our own brushes and other supplies. In addition, we both took many classes, purchased a boat load of books and pattern packets and generally spent a small fortune on painting supplies. We never regretted it for an instant as painting has changed our life but we knew that we needed to find ways to save money or we wouldn't survive in this lifestyle. The problem was that we didn't have the skill or the confidence to take patterns and lessons and adapt them to alternate surfaces so we always had to get the recommended surface. Well, after we painted for a while we learned that we could take a pattern and make it our own. We could enlarge it or reduce it and we could also eliminate some of the elements in the design to make it fit a particular surface. That opened up a world of possibilities for us and we want to share them with you.

Some of our greatest times have been spent combing through thrift shops and yard sales to find surfaces that make excellent painting surfaces. The amazing thing is that the surface can look cheap in its original state but if you slap a coat of paint on it and give it a wonderful decorative painting treatment you can have a piece of art that will be passed down for generations.

My first case in point is the wall in our kitchen. In my second year in decorative painting I got obsessed with Zhostova painting but had no idea how to learn. I bought books off of the Internet and bought every inexpensive tray that I could find. All of the trays on this wall are reclaimed surfaces and the most I paid for any one of these trays was $4.99. Thats right! $4.99. Some of these trays had embossed designs on them but you can't really tell after they are painted and they are gorgeous. They have scalloped edges and all kinds of decoration. You just have to imagine what they could be.....

From this photo it is a little hard to tell the detail on these pieces but they are splendid trays and I probably paid a total of $20 for all of those trays put together. That is a bargain!

On one particularly fruitful trip to the thrift store I found two other trays. One is a very simple silver tray with an interesting edge. I was teaching stroke roses and used it for my class piece. I am totally serious in saying that this surfaces was 99 cents and now it is this gorgeous tray.

On that same trip I found another huge tray for the very expensive price of $3.99. If I were to find this tray in a decorative painting catalogue it would easily cost over $25. I painted this tray and now it is a permanent part of our kitchen.
The list of wonderful surfaces continues. This gorgeous table cost me $4.99 and now look at it. At our last show I had someone offer me $350 for it. I won't part with it because I like it so much.

We paid under $2.00 for this magazine stand at a yard sale and it provided us for a great surface when we were demonstrating Rosemaling at one of our shows. This piece now graces our living room.

This old suitcase and this end table were both given to us. Neither of them were too aesthetically pleasing when we received them but now we love them both. The trick is to see through what it currently is and to see what it could become.

Metal pieces can also be reclaimed surfaces and don't necessarily have to match. In the first picture you will see a metal charger plate that we purchased at Walmart for under $5. We bought every one of these plates that we could find. The plates are large and have this interesting roping around it. They are awesome painting surfaces. In the second picture you can see several unmatched pieces for a silver setting. We painted them to look the same and no one would know that we paid pennies for these pieces.

In closing this rather lengthy post I would like to share a story with you. Now I don't like to gloat when I tell this story but for Cathy...."I told you so". When we first got married I would comb through the sales circulars to find antiques that I could refinish. I loved to spend my time reclaiming old furniture. One time I saw in our local paper an ad for a trunk. I bought it and Cathy was not real happy. The trunk only cost $20 but at that time we didn't have two nickles to rub together. She thought the trunk was nasty and to be truthful, it was. I slapped a coat of paint on that thing and we have used it ever since but she never liked it. When she would go on a rant about it she would laughing call it "Pauley's Folly".....Well, I went through my Bauernmalerei phase and thought that I would paint this trunk and further distress it. The results were really wonderful and this trunk is one of the show pieces of our family room. Besides that, you could drive a truck on top of it and it wouldn't matter. So....this trunk is a perfect example of trash to treasure.

As you can see, I have futher distressed the trunk. Instead of trying to hide the fact that it was old and beaten up, I highlighted it. I am very fond of this piece of painted furniture. I painted it early in my painting career and some of the strokes aren't perfect but Cathy and I love this piece.

I hope that this exploration of trash to treasure surfaces has inspired you to hunt for some surfaces of your own. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create beauty, you just have to use your imagination.


Paul and Cathy

Important Traditions

Hello Friends,

Happy Easter! Yesterday was to be a quiet day at home but our children had a different idea. They wanted to color Easter eggs. We have a 20 year old daughter, a 17 year old daughter, and an 11 year old son and for the last couple of years we didn't color eggs because we were traveling. But, the kids persisted and we decided that an afternoon egg coloring session would be fun. We ran to the store, bought 5 dozen eggs and got to work. The girls invited their boyfriends and we had a great time.

This picture of the kids and their friends says it all. Fun and color...what a great combination.

In this picture the kids had to get goofy. Pretty funny.

Anyhow, we had a great time playing in color and we had a wonderful afternoon. On reflection I was really surprised that the kids wanted to spend their free time doing something as seemingly juvenile as coloring eggs, but then it made sense. One of the things that gives us an anchor are the traditions that we experience with our family. These traditions give us a link to our past and connect us to the very people that will comprise our lives. Therefore, it wasn't necessarily that our children wanted to color eggs, but they wanted to bond with each other. It is the renewal of these bonds that give us strength to get through the ups and downs of daily life.

May you all have a Blessed Easter and may the traditions of the holidays link your family together.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Time at the Jansens

Hello All,

I am addicted to learning. I'm not quite sure why but I do know that from an early age learning, particularly in the arts, has been my passion. I tend to bounce back and forth between a couple of artistic expressions ...stained glass ....antique restoration .... music ....visual arts .... but in my mind this is all the same thing. I am learning and growing in the arts.

On Sunday I had an opportunity to learn some more. Martha invited me to the Jansen Art Studio to help test some of the new paint. There were various artists in and out of the studio all day. It was quite busy but we were all there for the same purpose, to make sure that the paint would have the high level of performance that you have come to expect. Dave had lots of computer work to do so as he finished his computer work, Donna Rose, Jessica and myself busied ourselves with the new paints.

What an amazing process! We were examining the new paint to see how it performed in many categories. Very interesting and a test of my accumulated color knowledge. I was pleased at my ability to contribute to the conversation. It is so good to have an understanding of color. But, like all lifetime learners, I feel like I am just beginning to scratch the surface. Of course we were testing to see how the paint performed on various surfaces. Here is a picture of Jessica testing the paint on shiny porceline. As you can see, a gift for mom was the result.

I love the expression on Dave's face in the background. "What the heck are you doing". Very funny. Anyhow, Jessica is a great person. We spend lots of time in laughter and fun. But she is also very smart and talented.

Donna Rose Prestridge also came to help with the testing. Like the rest of us, Donna Rose had fun playing in the paint. Of course her eye for color is excellent and she did a fabulous job.

For those of you that know Donna Rose you can attest to the fact that she is truly a wonderful artist and a lady. My time spent with Donna is always rewarding and fun.

The day spent at the Jansen home was typical of my time with them in that we shared so much laughing. David and Martha, along with the rest of the family and extended family, thrive in the company of others. Our mutual friendship means so much to Cathy and I and our shared experiences enrich our lives beyond explanation.

One of the magic qualities of this industry is that it can produce friendships that are deep and resonant. The arts can bind us together in a way that nothing else can. I would guess that the shared journey bonds us together. I just know that my lives have been enriched by all the wonderful people that I have met in my time in decorative painting. God has blessed us.

The bad part of the day was that I have been fighting sickness. I didn't share this with the Jansens as I was long past the contagious stage and I don't like people to fuss over me. But, I was feeling pretty listless. I found out that I have Pneumonia. This is the third time I have had it. But, I am on the mend. By Easter I will be as strong as can be.

I thought I would leave you with one parting photo. The Jansen Art Studio is a hopping place filled with creativity and passion about the arts. David is a whirlwind of productivity and he doesn't spend his days talking about painting, he spends his days with a paint brush in his hands. Well, from time to time the studio begins to show the effects of his whirlwind life. He is like me in that he will allow stuff to accumulate and then he has to attend to it. This is the before picture of his studio. It is the kind of creative "jungle" that you would assume that a great artist is working in. But, I guarantee that by the time all of you see it, the place will be shining.

Anyhow, it is time to head to school. Thankfully today is a fairly light day. God Bless.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Hello Everyone,

Well, the weekend is over and I have to take the time to tell you about our experience at the Art/Craft Fair on Saturday. The day started very early as we loaded our van and car with our wares at 6:30 in the morning. We had lots of help this time as our daughters' boyfriends and our youngest daughter got up early to help us load and carry in to the Fair. One of their friends also met us there and as a result, we were set up in record time.

Usually, Paul and I are scrambling to be finished in the two hour time slot we are given for set up but with all of our young, hardworking children and friends we were actually sitting around waiting for the Fair to start. I've included two pictures of this lovely group. Notice the second picture with all of their hardworking muscles showing!! They are a great group of kids which is truly obvious when they were willing to get up so early on their morning off and do such an awful job.
The Fair was lots of fun. We try to bring out a wide variety of colorful paintings to catch people's eyes and get them excited about painting. We've included a picture of our table so you can see our set-up. We have two large panels that we set up at each end to hang paintings on and they are a little difficult to see in the picture. We both paint during the day, answer questions, handle sales and hand out information about our new classes. It's a great time as we meet many great people and hear lots of enthusiasm about our work. We also enjoy the lively social atmosphere of the Fair and since we live in the same town, we also get to see many friends during the day. It's a fun day. We find these days to be very successful as they enable us to recruit students for our classes.

The whole day ends with tear down and the same crew came back to help us. Again we were done in record time. To thank this lovely group, Paul and I used some of our proceeds from the day to take them all out for pizza and wings and as a result, the day ended with a lovely and lively celebration.
Hope your Saturday was as productive and fun as ours was,


Friday, April 3, 2009

Preparing for a Huge weekend

Hello Friends,

I love blogs. I think we all have a desire to know the hows and whys of other people's lives. I want to know what makes others click. Blogs tend to be quite personal and really fun. I know that many of you are artists. Some of you have your own businesses and many of you do not. Our blog will give you the ups and downs of business ownership, the joys of an artistic life, the mammoth challenge of holding down 2 full time jobs (actually 4 between Cathy and I) and the joys of family life. We encourage discussion and really want to talk with you. One of the miracles of the Internet is that it shrinks the world. All of a sudden I can become friends with someone in Canada or Sweden with the click of a button.

Anyhow, our life is interesting. We own our own art business. We are both full time public school teachers. We are frantically busy but we have great kids, we love our creative lives and we have a great marriage. Of course, like all lives, it isn't always perfect. So, you will have to take the good with the bad. Speaking of which....let me tell you about our weekend.

I am sure many of you have had similar experiences where you have great things going on in your life but when too many great things converge at once stress and chaos can follow. On Friday evening our 11 year old son, Gabriel (don't be fooled- he is no angel) is performing in the district elementary school band fest. The best 6th graders from 25 schools are chosen to participate in this band. They practice for a full day and prepare a concert in the evening. We are so proud that Gabe got selected for this. He really is a special guy. But, I do wonder how he is going to sit for 8 hours and play his trumpet. He is an active boy and sitting still is not his favorite thing to do. But, the concert is tonight at 7 and is an hour away. We won't be home until after 10 pm. Not a big deal BUT we have an art/craft show in the morning and we have to get up at 5 am, pack the van, and be set up and ready to start by 8:30. We will be there the entire day. We are going to do some "make it-take its" and I will spend the entire day doing demos. It will be a tiring day but a really fulfilling one. We do not do these shows to sell our products but to pick up students. If we get a few students out of the day we will be thrilled. The show will be over at 5:30...Home by 6:30...reconnect with family on Saturday night. On Sunday I am going to the Jansen Home and will be leaving at 7 am. I will spend all day there and return late Sunday evening and will get up for work on Monday.

Trust me, I am not complaining (well maybe a little) for all of these things are really wonderful. But when they all converge on the same 48 hours there can be lots of juggling. I will post lots of pics from the weekend. Stay tuned.