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,