Friday, May 29, 2009

Creative Energy and Learning

It has been an incredibly productive and creative week here in my studio. During the day two students have been coming in to paint with me and we are working on completing our Willem van Aelst study. We are all in the 'July' portion of our instructions so we have officially come halfway and the paintings look amazing.

We had some really great moments this week...Lynn and Lynn both had serious 'aha' moments when they came to the realization that they were painting 'their' painting and not David's or Willem's....sounds silly I know because they are painting a reproduction piece, but as an artist it is an incredibly liberating moment to make the transition from painting "cause it says so" to painting "cause that is what MY painting needs". It means that they are seeing and executing as an artist, they are making reasonable judgements and decisions that are based upon what is happening on their own canvas. I think it was a moment that has building within them for quite sometime and then snuck up on them and took them quite by surprise. I know that this painting has stretched them both and they have both learned so much from the exercise.

My Wednesday night class is exercising some creative freedom as, bunch of rebels! What I had intended to be a floral study from their own photographs has morphed into something even more wonderful and rewarding. There are 4 of them in class and all 4 of them are painting something different. Some based on published patterns and some based on photos. It really is stimulating as a teacher to be the 'guide' and just facilitate and help along the way instead of standing at the front and having them copy step by step exactly what I do. Everyone is learning so much from the different skills that are necessary in each different painting. I think they might say that it also allows a lot more time for 'social' time in class. LOL

Painters are amazing people. Everyone comes to the studio from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different families and yet they all have something in common....I've watched some really great friendships develop over the years because of classes and it is so wonderful to realize that I am part of such a large family.

Here's a shot of my van Aelst so far....I'm in the middle of July instructions and working on the watch.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cottage is open!

Well it has been a very busy couple of weeks around here. My American friends are celebrating their first long weekend of the summer today and we Canadians celebrated our Victoria Day long weekend last week. Usually, this would mark the beginning of our cottage season...but, high water and threats of snow flurries (holy macaroni! how weird was that???) scared us away! LOL

Blake and I took the kids up to my mother in law's cottage this weekend and we opened up. It is always so much fun to go up to the cottage the first time of the season...It always feels like I was just there yesterday even though 7 monthes has passed. We did the usual cleaning up of mouse poop, fighting with leaky pipes and water pumps and dodging black flies. We had some boat trouble and hopefully that will all be worked out soon.

My Mom and Dad have a cottage directly across the river from Blake's family. That's how we met actually...he was the boy next door. LOL He is the 3rd generation at his cottage and I am the 3rd generation at mine. We watched eachother waterski as kids, play volleyball at picnics and passed eachother probably a million times at the marina....but we never met...May 19 marked our 18th anniversary of meeting and this summer we will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. It was on Victoria Day and my 2 sisters and I had our cottage to ourselves...we were 'bonding' because Kari was about to spend the summer in Germany on a university work exchange. We had been there all weekend and on Sunday night we were sitting on the point having a cocktail when we realized that the crazy guys across the river were setting off fireworks and playing some great music. My sisters and I debated for a while and finally decided to go across the river and meet the neighbours...afterall, we had just run out of beverages...LOL

We pulled up to the dock and what to our wondering eyes did we see? Five really, really, really cute guys. And boy were they happy to see us! LOL I distinctly remember hearing one of them say "hey, that boat is coming in here....and there's women!" LOL The rest as they say is history. I fell in love with the guy around the campfire as he did his best (worst ever! LOL) impression of Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World. My sister Kari ended up marrying Yuri one of the guys on the dock and Jodie and one of the other guys are still great friends and dated for a long time before parting ways.

Yuri actually proposed to Kari on the May long weekend about 15 years ago...he did it in front of all of Blake's relatives and all of our friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, my youngest sister, mom and dad and even my grandmother was there.

It always amazes me that we never met as kids, but I'm so glad we didn't...we just found eachother when we were ready one night way back when and there were fireworks...literally and
figuratively! LOL

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Special Board

Hi All,

This year I began my second attempt at painting a board for the certification program with the Society of Decorative, it is such an amazing experience to paint this board.

It is a test in which the SDP mails the applicant a board and a line drawing. It is up to the individual artist to paint the line drawing...sounds easy right? Wow, wrong! LOL

It is so difficult to choose a colour scheme and then follow it through, every stroke asks the question "what is the quality and quantity of light in this area of the painting?" I found myself continually questioning my choices and pushing, pulling my painting limits and far can I safely take a value and intensity in this element of the painting?...

This year's test has really, really stretched me. I feel pretty good about the result...I know that I have some areas to study and work on still but I really like my finished product.

Now comes the hard part...waiting for the judges at the convention to critique my painting...then the REALLY hard part ~ LOL~ accepting the critique in the positive way in which it is meant! Putting my ego aside and really looking at it as a guide and map to the areas that I need to study this year. I love that it will provide me with direction.

My critique from last year explained that I needed to study value and, that is what I did this year...I think that this year's board has a marked improvement over last year's attempt I am really excited to see if the judges agree.

Now, it is all 'zippy lippy' until the judges have completed their task so come June I'll share my photos of this journey.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Catching up After a BIG Weekend

Hi All,
Wow, what an amazing weekend...when I last left off it was Sunday and we had just finished our 2nd full painting day. Dave and Martha host a BBQ at every seminar and ours was on Sunday night. It is so much fun...after painting together for a few days everyone is comfortable with new friends and having a relaxing dinner together is great. Often we get to meet spouses and other family members who have made the journey to seminar. We also get to snoop...LOL

Dave hand Martha open their home and we get to see the hundreds of paintings hung on every spare square of wall and sitting everywhere. Talk about inspiring! Ok, confession time...I had a brain fart and forgot to become obnoxious paparazzi at the BBQ...soooooo, I'm going to show you pictures of the Jansen's upstairs and paintings from my seminar last July! LOL

VGB, I couldn't resist this shot of Dave's upstairs office...So I'm not the only one who leaves my brushes in water...unfortunately, I don't manufacture them....hmmm LOL

I did take a few shots of the classroom before I went to bed on Saturday night:

There is nothing being spoiled at a Jansen seminar...Martha, Dave P., Kaitlyn, and Jessica take such good care of us all day. Martha feeds us breakfast every morning, a beautiful lunch and snacks all day. I don't think any wish or want is overlooked and she makes it look so effortless but I know how much at work she puts into it... What an incredible hostess. She even finds time to chill out with Bacchus.
Bacchus, Maggie and Kaiser (the dogs...forgot a shot of them!) keep us all company throughout the day, hanging out in the studio and snoring while Dave is trying to teach.

Dave P. and Jess took some time during lunch to fulfill their role as 'the marketing team' and put together an updated catalogue of all of the DVDs, books and wood that we could shop for.

Paul and I got up REALLY early one morning and at the behest of Martha ran some of the new Heritage MultiMedia Acrylics through the paces. All I can say is WOW!!!!!! I can't wait!!!!! They are absolutely amazing....

Thank you Martha it was an honour to play with it.

Here are some paparazzi shots of my new friends in class!

Louisa and Jessica.
Dorothy. She is a triple crown winner in doll making! Her faces on Father Frost and the Santa were beautiful.
Betty AnneAbi
I left for home on Tuesday morning so I stayed up on Monday night and finished my box and Santa Claus. I really love them. I think these Santas will become an annual thing for me! Creating a collection would be wonderful. I brought home 7 blank Santas so that I can teach a class myself. I'll be taking a look at the calendar after I post this blog so watch our website if you're interested.

Well, it was a wonderful weekend and I can't thank Dave and Martha enough for their generous hospitality and wonderful class. I still can't believe that Dave and Martha arrived home from Japan on Thurs. morning at 3am, I arrived at their house at 6:30pm and then class began Friday morning at 10am. They had jetlag and must have been exhausted but made everything look so easy and smooth. I had so much fun with my classmates and managed to create something beautiful and learn all at the same time. I love to learn with DVDs and take online classes but there is nothing in the world like a real live class....Now the countdown begins for National in Peoria. I can't wait!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

More Seminar Stuff!

Well, we had a wonderful day today. We got a lot of painting done and had a fantastic BBQ. Martha also invited Paul and I to try a little of the new Heritage paint too! Wow!!!!!! It is sooooo AMAZING!!!! I wish I could sneak some home with me! I think Martha and Jessica might notice though and I do want to be invited back...Perhaps I could figure out a way to blame Paul???

I am very sorry everyone, it is late and I am exhausted! I'll post lots more pictures and stories tomorrow night. Tomorrow is our last painting day and I'll make sure the 'paparazzi' snaps lots of candid shots! Our class is so great, everyone is wonderful and the creative energy in the room is amazing. I do take requests and will answer any questions about the studio and will take close up shots of anything you'd all like to see, just leave a comment and I'll do my best.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Palekh Painting

Greetings from Elizabethtown Pennsylvania!

Well, with 'prep day' under our belts, we were up and at it early this morning and started the first official day of seminar. This weekend we are painting a Palekh of the Russian Fairy Tale "Father Frost and the Maiden". Palekh is one or 4 traditional styles of painting Russian Fairy Tales. It is fascinating to hear the history and traditions associated with the different styles and learn the characteristics that make Palekh so unique.

Here are some photos of the Carved Santa and the box that we are painting this weekend.

Isn't he something? Today we got the surfaces basecoated and the colour assignments done on the elements of the design. We also began a really interesting layering technique to execute Father Frost....hmmm, well maybe execute was a poor choice of words...LOL, I'm sure by the time class is over none of us will have 'murdered' this pattern....hahahaha.....gosh I'm tired.....

This class is having so much fun. Everyone here is so nice and we are all doing a lot of laughing and learning.

As you can see, all of the students work really, really hard.

But, please pay special attention to how hard the teacher works ~ you can see in the following shot...LOL, man am I ever going to be in trouble tomorrow when he sees this...sheesh....but, I think it is worth it!

Jessica is painting with us this weekend too ~ check out Bacchus the cat, making himself at home while poor Jess tries to paint!

Ok, I have to go to's been a long day and I have to figure out how to trick Paul into 'showing' me how to vacuum the studio tomorrow morning before everyone arrives....hmmm, he had promised to vacuum if I didn't post this photo of him in his headband magnifier glasses....LOL

Prep Day at the Jansen Studio

Well, the drive yesterday, was long, boring and most importantly uneventful. Whew. Between the Tom Tom and the mapquest instructions that Blake downloaded from me I made it in about 9 1/2 hours driving...Blake did, however, mess with the TomTom settings and set the voice for something I think was called "British rude guy" LOL...yup, he is rude..."turn left...idiot" is one of his endearments to me and also "you're here, you've arrived...what a bloody miracle! Now get out of the car and get me out of this tiny box!" LOL Yup, he got me....not sure how to prank my dear hubby back...but, I'll think of something.

The first day of seminar at the Jansen studio is 'prep day' and it is so much fun! There is absolutely no pressure and we basecoat, trace and visit with our classmates. It is our opportunity to renew old friendships, put faces to names we have met online and meet brand new friends. It is, I think, my favourite day of seminar. It is such a relaxed atmosphere and such a great opportunity for us to bond as classmates before the work begins.

I was so caught up with chatting and painting today that I completely forgot to take photos, so I'll have to make sure that I do that today.