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.