I am following up the previous blog about painting parties. I taught a few of these kind of classes. For the Creative, they can be very exhilarating and very frustrating. And really enlightening! But for the most part, I like it when the people leave the class with a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that they DID something, created something.

I had a class where the theme was Halloween. I had made a painting within that theme, of a dark sky, full moon, a witch and her broomstick, a black cat on the fence, pumpkins, the works. I would walk the class thru the beginnings and then leave it up to them to use what they would like in their painting. They can copy mine, or use it for reference.

A few students were self conscious, having “never painted before”. One student started to mix her colors and didn’t know when to stop mixing. Her colors became more gray. Some pink. Lavender. Yellow. What was going on? The more she added another color, the more her painting took on a life of its own. She became upset that this whole Halloween thing was not happening. She was so far away from dark and mysterious. She became frustrated, and a little angry that she “sucked at this”.

But I could see what was happening. Now I just had to convince her. Her Creative was saying “I’m not really into this dark thing. I need to be this. And this is how it’s going down!” I suggested she abandon the competitive idea that it had to be Halloween, and allow this to evolve. Her Creative wanted to say something. Now. Today.

What emerged was a beautiful, soft, slightly abstract painting of the sun over a lake landscape. The sun was yellow with hints of pink and lavender. The sky was streaks of soft oranges, yellows, blues and grays. A little tweaking and the water on the lake became really believable. It was so nice to witness the Ego being trumped by the Creative ( more in another blog about this). Her Ego was ranting, shaking its fists, jumping up and down saying You have to be LIKE THEM!!! Her Creative stayed the course and got her way.

Oh, yes. We framed it.

There seems to be a trend of these painting classes, where one can bring a lot of friends, a few bottles of wine, and paint in a festive atmosphere. Terrific idea for camaraderie, and even discovering a hidden talent. But I have one criticism.

In the effort of marketing, business, making money---whatever---these endeavours rob the participant of INDIVIDUALISM. In the end, the pictures that are taken of the group and their final product, every single picture is the SAME. The sky is blue, the clouds are white, and the knockoff Van Gogh is futile. This cookie cutter approach to art may make the business a few dollars, but to what avail?

To me it seems kind of insulting. Even condescending. If one has already planned to attend this kind of event, it seems then that they want to learn something about painting. Sure, mindless instruction is fine, but there is no effort and therefore no result that the individual can be proud of. They take their painting home, and most likely throw it away. The person most likely thinks “That was fun. But I stink as an artist. I’m really bad.”

That is so sad. The creative in that person quits right there. I have taught quite a few of these classes. However, I take another approach. Bring a photo of what YOU like. Your pet, a flower, a landscape scene. And the realize that whatever comes out of your brush is YOU! Start with something you want to learn about. Then I can help you get there. Now it may not be the perfect artist that you envision at first. Yes, maybe you have to peel back some layers to get “really good”. Realizing your  contribution to the Creative Universe is an involved journey, but it’s okay if you don’t want to travel it all at once. Just realize that you are an individual and we don't need cookie cutter art. What we need is what YOU have to offer.

That's a lot of flies!  Collection of antique hand threaded fisherman flies.

Winner of the Pan American Silver Medal in Endurance Riding, and a collection of her career medals.

There are so many ways to journal your inspirations.  So here I made a list of suggestions and supplies that have been tried and are favorites.  One can get really bogged down with the amount of “things” you can get.  It can be overwhelming, and kind of exciting.  You have all these ideas and then just don’t know where to start. This article is for the basics that you need to begin. In the next article, I will go over some really neat supplies to advance you in your creativity.

 The first thing you need is a good sketchbook.  I like the wirebound, multi media paper.  Or a good watercolor sketchbook is good too, because of the weight of the paper.  You are going to be using inks, paints, collage, and mediums ( will explain that later), and you need a book that will support those.  Get a sketchbook that is about 8 x 10.  This is a good size to start.  Smaller books are good for travel or carrying around every day and sketching thoughts.  Larger books can get to be overwhelming if you are new to this.  

Now you have to be able to prepare the pages.  While you can paint, write, collage right on the page, sometimes you need to give the paper a little help.  Gesso will become your best friend.  There are so many ways to apply this product, and it never gets stale.  You can apply gesso to anything that you want to paint--boards, craftwoods, paper, matboard, furniture, anything you need to prepare the surface for you paint. You will also use it to glue pages together for a firmer surface to journal. Use a brush or old credit card, or you can cut up matboard.  Later we will learn how to add to gesso to make rough surfaces, textured preparations, etc.

The same goes for Mod Podge.  Get a jar. It never goes bad, and you will use it for all of your collage work. Part 2 article we can go over gel mediums ( there's that word again!) as a solution to your collages. You will apply Mod Podge with a brush.  I keep a brush that I don't use for anything else but Mod Podge.  It washes out with water.

With an outstanding career in swimming for Lehigh Valley, the collection of all his medals presented a wonderful display.

Upon her retirement as a schoolteacher, her sister presented her with the original key to her classroom from many years ago, with a little artwork and design by Little Conestoga Picture Framing!

Just when you thought you had all your pictures and memories framed, framing your flat screen TV is one of the most creative additions you can add to your home decor.  Admit it, the biggest focal point in a room is your TV, why not put a glamorous frame around it?


This project was done a few weeks ago.  The client chose a beautiful chunky gold frame, about 3 1/2 inches wide. It enhanced her room decor to a T!  Installing the TV frame takes some thought.  In this case, we "suspended" the frame on the TV itself, as it was installed with a bracket to the wall.  Other frames may include enclosing the sides of the frame to  hide wiring and brackets.  It is fairly easy to install, and the end result is something quite unique.

It is inevitable. The Framing elves, as I call them, will show up at the most inopportune times and "help out" with my framing. They leave a speck on the mat after it is completed, a scratch in the glass not noticed until the final inspection, or a puff of dust inconspicuously centered on the artwork. While I am committed to handing our clients an excellent product, in the end it is custom and custom made, and tiny flaws can occur.

No worries. I look at it as the client is my final inspection, after my eyes have gone fuzzy, and my elves have helped out.  I appreciate some of my client's eye, like an electron microscope  because it helps me to be a better framer. And I have a no questions asked, lets git er done, guarantee. For any reason, we will remedy what the Framing Elves have done.The only charge is a little time. I am proud to have my framing on your walls, and I want you to be proud to show it off!

Recently this plate arrived, of a portrait of the client's great great grandmother dated 1880.  Knowing where to send her to have it properly restored insured it would come back to me for framing.  A good framer should have a network of other experts to help out when needed!  Over the years I have built up a cache of people to advise me when "I get one of those really good ones".

American Flag
American Flag American Flag

When this flag flew on a air craft carrier in WWII at Iwo Jima, Im certain the soldier never dreamed that 85 years later it would hang proudly in his granddaughters family room.  Knowing what to do to keep it for another 85 years is part of Little Conestoga Picture Framing's services.  We treat heirlooms as if they were from our own family.

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