Friday, March 5, 2010

Class Fun

Hello Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Painting Technique

Hello Friends,

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Benefits of a Learning Style

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

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

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