Friday, February 26, 2016

Journals and Sketchbooks Who Needs Them? #1

I need them, and I think you might too!

Most of us have a "love or ignore" relationship with our sketchbooks and journals.  I love the concept, the paper, and everything about them.  I'm very picky about the size, the weight of the paper, and the binding.  That's probably why I have so many of them.  I surprised myself by counting  28 within easy access in my studio and office.  Some are filled up, but not all!  Does that upset me? Nope.

Hopefully this post will loosen up the inhibitions, and give you lots of support for wanting to use yours.  You do have at least one, right?

A very long time ago I picked up a book called A Life In Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal by Hannah Hinchman ©1991.  I loved it!  It was the first time I had an inkling that journals and sketchbooks were not required to be "works of art."  An excerpt:
“Just begin. Any day, any moment. There need be no occasion, no noteworthy event. Think of your beginning as the point where a tossed pebble hits the surface of a pond. Changes and discoveries will widen out endlessly from just such a small point. Take your life as it is, and go from there.”-Hannah Hinchman, A Life in Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal. 
And there is was..."just begin."  Hinchman goes on to say that our internal taskmaster will try to discourage any form of creativity, imagination and play, those things we so need to complete us. So, to circumvent that noisy left brain, she suggests that we just begin to use our journal to make lists, copy recipes, take notes, doodle, and basically get comfortable with it.  Maybe you may want to log information on a daily basis on some interest.  

This was a very liberating suggestion to me.   I grabbed up a book and took it with me on a road trip beginning with just very simple notes and scribbles. Thus began my collection.    

A great site full of articles and ideas can be found here:

Some reasons why you should keep a journal sketch book are listed on the page: 
    • "Why it is Valuable to Keep a Sketchbook or Visual Journal
    1. Keeping a daily sketchbook helps you to see and be present in the world.
    2. Keeping a sketchbook helps your ideas grow and helps you develop new ones.
    3. Keeping a sketchbook helps you make connections and fosters creativity.
    4. Keeping a sketchbook improves your drawing ability and observational skills.
    5. A sketchbook is an excellent source for ideas during those times when your creativity runs dry.
    6. A sketchbook is portable. You always have a studio with you. You always have a place to work. 
    7. A sketchbook is a good place to try out new techniques and materials.
    8. A sketchbook is fertile ground for happy accidents - those unforeseen and unplanned creative discoveries or beautiful passages -  to occur. "
                    (In addition, there are many other valuable page links to follow.)  

Now let's talk about THE sketchbook/journal.  What kind is best for you?  Touch them all, pick them up, turn pages, look at the color of the paper.  Keep in mind that everyone is different;  you may like an entirely different kind than I like, and that is perfectly ok!  The important thing is to really like it.  

Today the price of paper has risen sharply (hello, paper towels???)  You may not treat a really expensive one any better than a lower priced one; avoid buyers remorse!

This is what I like in a sketchbook:
  1. Blank pages that lay open nicely 
  2. Off white paper, over 60# 
  3. Hardbound  (because they look nicer on a shelf)
  4. Stitched binding
  5. Paintable cover (I will paint it, maybe not before I start it).
Soon I'm leaving on a trip.  Yep, I have yet another book.  This time the cover is already painted and it is smaller, 8.75 x 5.75 x 1" with 65# off white paper.  Tonight I am going to swish some thin washes over many of the papers because I have discovered that "white" stops me.  I will feel more comfortable if the paper already has some color on it.  Since I will be locked into an airline seat for a very long time, I've collected some colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and watercolor ink papers to play with.  

Artistic lettering has become a big thing.  It's friendly to read.  I downloaded a little movie lesson on the stylized lettering and will give it a play.  Also, I have some quotes collected on my iPad that will be easy to access for inspiration.  I'm ready!

Hopefully this dialog will inspire you to get close and personal with your own book.  When my grandchildren asked me if they could sketch in my book I hand it over to them.  What a joy that is!
AND VERY IMPORTANT:  date every page that you use; especially if you have several books that you randomly use.

I have more to be continued another day....  Let me know how you go with yours :-) 

Left:  A little drawing lesson with grandchildren on a car trip in 2000.  Kenzie is now 25 and the gorgeous mother of two sweet baby girls.  A memory preserved here!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

How Video Can Boost Your Adrenaline!

It was pretty unsettling, the thought of doing a video…a one HOUR video. I was asked to teach and paint one of my designs. You know, talk and paint at the same time? Everyone knows that requires both sides of your brain!

So, I prepped, I planned, I made lists. I even had my nails manicured :-)

The big day came, and I scrunched into the spot where I needed to sit to be videoed. Yes, it was unsettling. Of course it could only go one hour, so I had to watch the timer too. However, I proceeded and succeeded!

The e-magazine Interactive Artist Magazine published the article June 1. After watching it, I didn’t feel overly humiliated, but isn’t it weird to see yourself as others see you? From inside me, it doesn’t seem like me…but I guess that is normal.

The design I taught was on a canvas cover for a full size iPad. Very useful, very bright and cheery, easy to find where you laid it. My old iPad cover had finally bit the dust, so I found the canvas one and painted it. My good friend Carolyn Ballantine insisted that I needed to share it with the world. And…ta da…now I have.

Here it is:

Subscription Promo Code JUNE2015

It has a very handy inside pocket for, you know, paper. This will give me an excuse to show you the inside which features my #1 Great Granddaughter.

How does one decide what to put on an iPad cover?
For me, I wanted it to be bright (and noticeable). I love
to paint roses, but decided it would be a
different style. Of course it needed to have scrolls. And birds, and bees, and well, it just developed. That’s wonderful when it happens!

Therefore, if you would like to view my video lesson which includes complete pattern and instructions, you can subscribe now and get a discount! IAM has many great articles and designs available, so you will get your money’s worth. Just for you, here’s the promo code.

Or, if you are into instant gratification, you may order a finished cover (fits standard iPad from 2 forward),you can go to my Etsy shop now!

I hope you will subscribe and enjoy it. Please leave a note below if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Studying for Design - Sulamith Wülfing

This week we traveled to Eureka, CA, to study with JoSonja Jansen at her Folk Art Studio.  JoSonja has earned the titles of Master Decorative Painter and Gold Medal Rosemaler.  Early each year she hosts a painting seminar entitled Design and Color.  I have been privileged to attend the seminar regularly, and it gets the new year off to a great start for me!

In addition to exploring techniques, we sometimes study the work of a passed artist to understand their process and appreciate their work.  This year our study topic was Sulamith Wülfing (1901-1989).

Born in Germany, Wülfing painted from age 4, illustrating the visions she had of woodland gnomes and angels.  Nature and biblical stories were favorite subjects.  She endured very hard times during World War II, having to flee from Germany with her child after being separated from her husband and assuming him dead.  Even though they were later reunited, their home, belongings and paintings were destroyed due to bombing in the area.  

The work of Sulamtih Wülfing is beautiful and known for its ethereal quality.  Much of her work can be viewed through an Internet search. Some publications she illustrated are still available, but are somewhat rare and expensive.  We were fortunate to have access to a few of the small books that are owned by JoSonja.

An aspect that fascinated our seminar class was the hidden elements that could often be found in the illustrations.  As you look, you are immediately drawn to the faces, but as you gaze further, you may see elves, wood creatures, or angels.  

One technique Wülfing possibly used is water color over pencil drawing. This really interested me, so I began to explore those possibilities.  

Another subject of our seminar class was incorporating fabric and lace into our designs.  Some painted on fabric, decorating with their interpretation of Wülfing’s style.  These could be adapted to stitching projects, pillows, etc.  Others applied lace to the subject they painted.

My choice was a little curved-top box of Norwegian style, intended to hold sewing necessities.  I applied a piece of linen to the top with medium, then gave it a coat of soft pink paint.  We only use Artist Grade paint and mediums made by Chroma with the JoSonja label, made to her specifications.

I very much enjoyed sketching on the nice firm surface of the box, and then tinted it by thinning the heavily pigmented paints with just water.

Here is a view of the top before and after partial tinting:
Pencil sketch on wood, Vicki Allwardt

This is of course a simple floral. but it was quite enjoyable.  I am looking forward to doing more.

It's a little surprising to me, because I have done this technique in the past. First sketching the design using a pen, then tinting with paint.  For some reason using the pencil was much more fun.  Probably because changes could be made!  
Paint tinted pencil sketch, Vicki Allwardt

Another subject for our week of study was an antiquing method using only acrylic products.  That will be for another post.  Do take a moment to search for the images of Sulamith Wülfing's work.  You will greatly enjoy it. 

Have you tried sketching and tinting?  Let me know how you like it.

Happy Painting and Creating!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Nativity Christmas History~ Do You Know the Origin?

I was surprised to realize that the history of the "nativity scene" was unknown to me.  We have always had nativities and creches to display the meaning of Christmas, right? So when did they physically come into being?
Carved Folk Nativity, Dennis Allwardt
Small Carved Nativity, Dennis Allwardt

Here is another question.  Do you know that folk art and decorative painting have roots in the purpose of telling a story? Artists and folk artists throughout the centuries have had the job of showing events and history stories to a populace that couldn't read.  Maybe the materials to read weren't even available.  More of that for another post.

The story of the first recorded nativity is credited to St. Francis of Assisi in 1223.  Why?  He was concerned that those in his flock could not really picture the birth of Christ.  He arranged to set up a living nativity with real animals.  One account says there was a live baby in the manger, another says it was a beautifully carved wooden Christ child.  The people loved it, and we have had depictions of the scene ever since.  Enter the artist, and the story continues to this day.

More information and photos:

Salt Glaze Nativity
Salt Glaze Nativity
I love nativities.  My collection is pretty large and varied.  I have wooden, metal, resin, and ceramic to name a few.  This is a salt glaze nativity.  It must be handled with care, and so far all pieces are intact.

Most of my nativities can be handled, because that is the beauty of telling a story to people who also can't read yet, like, children.  One year our whole Sunday School painted a nativity.  It is still one of my favorites.

Each week my husband would cut out the proper size block of wood needed for that week's addition to the nativity.  Of course, the lesson accompanied the items we painted.  You do know that folk art is art by the people for the people? Training is not needed at all, just the willingness and the art supplies.
Folk art block nativity
Block Nativity
As you can see, any child could play with this set without harm.  We stained each piece and transferred the design.  Everyone outlined the design with black permanent pen, and then filled in with color. Yes, real paint. On this set I added the darker purple and glitter paint to the tops.

Do you have nativity sets?  What is your favorite?

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Helan Barrick, Interview of a Master Decorative Artist

Helan Barrick is a greatly loved and admired teacher, holder of the title "Master Decorative Artist." I have been blessed to take many classes from her.  Here is a little peek into her art and inspiration.


Why did you begin painting?     
I grew up in Oregon and Washington,  watching my Grandma Shultz paint - snow scenes, beach and ocean scenes, etc.  Loved the  smell of oils and turps!

Do you feel you came from an artistic family? 
Very much so.  Grandma Shultz painted nearly all her life...and taught several of her grown daughters and sons (my aunts and uncles).  So I just naturally assumed someday I , too, would paint.

What type of paints have you used ?
Oils, acrylics, watercolors, tempuras and pastels.

Do you have a preference? 
Well, I always thought oils were (and still do) but I've been painting in acrylics for so long now, it would be a toss up.

Did you have art training?    
I've taken classes from many teachers...

If so, is there a  teacher you feel has influenced you the most?  
Virginia Rodecker Jarboe and Jo Sonja Jansen.

How do you describe the type of painting you are known for? How do you categorize it? 
Technically it would be described as 'decorative painting' - painting on useful items, ie furniture, boxes, tinware, canvas, fabrics,  paper etc. My subjects in painting are general designs featuring children and other figures, combining oil and watercolor techniques.


When you are creating, where do you start?
Topic is first concern.  Children doing things children do - playing, exploring, singing, dancing,entertaining.  As I am drawing....I'm also thinking about the type of piece/surface that would fit in with the subject - ie Amish ladies quilting painted on a quilt chest;  kids in school - painted on a school desk,  Girl kneading bread - painted on a bread box, etc.  you see the idea.

Do you sketch out your plan in advance or in a sketchbook or on paper?
Usually on paper, or napkins, brown paper bag,  backs of envelopes, etc.

Do you use sketchbooks? 
Yes, sketching ideas, shapes, items, thoughts, locations, time of year, holidays,  etc.

Do you have a favorite color you like to work with?
I like all colors, warms, cools, monotones.  Love to paint on backgrounds of stains, shades of blues, greens, black, red.

Do you have a favorite technique?
Love the strong focus on the figures and the fading, and disappearing for backgrounds and surrounding areas.    I like varying the techniques of application - smoother, finer details in faces, free, wispy treatment of hair, looser touches in clothing, with backgrounds having the least details or color strength.

What are your favorite subjects?
Children, of course, in rural settings,  beach, schoolroom, , etc - in different seasons and Halloween and Christmas.

What do you do to come up with new ideas for patterns or classes?
Remembering my school days, and my kids out playing, at the beach, the farm, birthdays, school plays, going to Grandmas, kids playing.  I remember, in Oregon, hiding with my cousin under the 'bunch grass'  as my Aunt Cleo kept calling us to come take our dreaded piano lesson,,,ugh!  Oh how I wish I hadn't done that now!

Do you ever experience "artist block?"   -  Oh yeah. 

Do you have a trick to break the block?
Several  -  When we used to live near the dear little town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio,  I would drive in to town, park the car and spend the morning or afternoon wandering in and out of the cute little shops, stand on the bridge watching the falls,  eating ice cream from the popcorn shop, etc.  Other times I would drive out to the Amish country (Middlefield, Oh.), and watch the horse drawn buggies, the kids walking to their Amish schools, lunch pails in hand, mothers hanging laundry on the lines to dry,  the men with their horses plowing the fields, wander thru the Amish quilt shops, etc....oh yeah! 


How long have you been a teacher of painting?
Since 1966...that's 48 years!

What is your greatest reward in teaching?
Oh by far making friends with so many dear people,  hearing their stories, seeing them year after year, just realizing the lives we have all touched from all over the world.

Do you have any frustrations with students?
note:  I remember one time you told Jeanie Serveau that if we wouldn't work at learning your dabby technique that there was no need for you to come back.  We were all using slick bottle paints and side loading smooth floats.  We didn't "get" the messy kids clothes in our heads. I was shocked into seeing it from your point of view, and started paying more attention.

*****I would say "dabby" kids clothes (rather than 'messy'.  Ha). In some areas, 'dabby' painting is so much more effective and interesting than super smooth or transparent floating of color. 


Do you have a website?

Where are your designs available? 
There are still some shops carrying my books.  They can also order from me.  I have lots of pattern packets available.  I don't sell them to distributors because of the huge discounts they have to have...and all the packets are totally hand assembled making it impossible to wholesale them.

Do you still have books available to purchase?
Yes, these books are still available:

Angel Twigs, #1
Country Tin Whippersnappers,  #3
Painters Pleasure, #2 and 4 
Fairytale Whippersnappers,  #3
Whippersnappers,  #14 and 15
All priced at $12.00 each

note:  many patterns are available on Helan's website, and in addition

What magazines have you published designs in?
Decorative Painter, Artist's Journal, PaintWorks, Painting

Do you have any finished art for sale?  If so where?   
Only if I get serious about  it!

Do you have new pattern designs coming? If so, where?
Will be working on some new items.  Also have many of the seminar designs that will be going in to packet form.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Art Abandonment~Give it Away!

Secreting your artwork and giving it away?  You already know that artists practically "give away" their work.  Would you like to have some fun doing it?  There's a movement afoot, and it's called "Art Abandonment."

An artist friend told me about this.  It appeals to our whimsical side and if you read the previous post about getting in touch with your inner child, you will like it.  

It's this simple.

  • Prepare a piece of artwork of any kind, shape, size with a nice subject.  
  • Hide it somewhere where it will be found. 
  • You have abandoned your art and given it as a gift to the finder.
This has taken on a movement all on its own.  You can add a way for the finder to thank you anonymously.  You may even hide and watch!

My friend created a fairy themed piece of art and placed it in a park.  She found a bench with a good vantage point and was delighted when a little girl and her mother found it.  They seemed very pleased!  

The purpose is also educational.  It raises ones appreciation for art and the collecting of art.

Take a look at this website and Facebook page, you may be inspired to share and abandon your work as well, and the blessing will be in the giving.  Click here:
          Art Abandonment  

Friday, May 30, 2014


   Inspiration?     How can we corral that sometimes illusive and all important component ? 

Coincidentally I read two blog posts this week on inspiration.  Both are very good, and a reminder that 1) inspiration is Everywhere and 2) Play when stuck.

Michaela Cristalio writes in For the Creators blog that inspiration is actually EVERYWhere, we have simply to look for it.  That is so true!  Apparently, the problem is that we forget to look.  We must be intentional about looking,  especially when we need some inspiration. Go for a walk; take a hard look at the "ordinary" objects; and see if they just might be trying to get your attention for a bit of inspiration.  Thank you, Michaela, for that reminder :-)  It's too easy to only see our frustration or even fear instead opening our eyes wide. Keyword here is "intentional." She says:
"Being inspired, at its core, is about being curious for life no matter what it throws you. There’s inspiration to be found on the sidewalk outside your house if you look. The problem is we often don’t."
Then along comes the Unstuck blog.  It's a wonderful resource, and the post this week was "How to PLAY your way out of a stuck moment."  Who doesn't like that option?  With permission, here is a preview:
  • "But actually, play is all about flow. It puts our brains and bodies into a joyful place where things just click. And that’s when magic can happen. This playful state of being can have amazing benefits in life and work:
  •  Play fires the brain, revealing patterns and creating connections that drive creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.
  • It’s a social glue that helps us bond, learn about, and better understand each other.
  • It helps us grow, emotionally and intellectually, from birth onward.
  •  It eases stress, helping us live longer and keep our minds sharper."
The article goes on to an interview with Dr. Stuart Brown, and expert on the subject, yay! He has even founded The Institute of Play.  Unstuck even gives you a printable tip sheet with ideas for play, in case it's been too long since you've tried it :-)

Of course, one of my favorite forms of inspiration is "retail therapy." However, if you are blessed to live in a small town like me with limited sources of shopping, the world is at your finger tips with your internet connection.    Pinterest is a good source to spark an idea, and have you found ISSUU ?"A world of magazines. For FREE."  Don't get lost there, get back to work on your art now that you are inspired!  Get that notebook out, jot away, and note all references for each idea.

You should read the blog articles mentioned for more inspiration. they are!

How to find inspiration in anything
How to play your way out of a stuck moment

Go forth, look, play, and be blessed!  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pretty Pansies....

In our pansy study, we sketched and became familiar with the differences between pansies (largest), violas (medium size), and violets (smallest, but have largest leaves).  Pansies and violas come in so many colors!  You can paint any color or combination of colors you wish without fear of being wrong in your selection.  Pansies are one of the most popular flowers in decorating and gardening.

Pansies were cultivated from the common wildflower viola tricolor.  We can thank Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet (1785-1861) who was obsessed with cultivating every pansy variety possible.  With others joining the quest, by 1833 there were 400 named varieties of pansies available to the public!  It is interesting that the viola tricolor is still important for medicinal uses.  It has some wonderful folk names:  heartsease, heart's delight, tickle-my-fancy, jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, three faces in a hood, or love-in-idleness.

We were invited to sketch and draw on surfaces of our choice.  I brought a silver water pitcher that had been properly prepped and painted a light yellow.   With the use of Retarder and Antiquing Medium, I added a glaze of reds that gave it a sort of peach / coral hue.  I also had a small tin pail that was painted a very toned shade of pink (Thistle).  Being much more interested in the Chippendale piece (previous post), I treated these pieces as "study" and simply added the pansies and violas here and there as we painted the different colors.

On the next to last day, my ugly pitcher got it's feet and handle painted the dark red (Purple Madder) with a dry brush of Rose Gold over the top.  At this point most of the painting was done and I began to really like it.  I wanted to add a border at the top; one of my dear students suggested I put a braid, a less expected treatment.  THAT took me several hours to work out as I chose to do a celtic braid.

Here is the finished pitcher:

The inside of the pitcher is "clean" but makes a nice vase with the insertion of a small glass jar to hold flowers.

Below is the small tin pail.  The pansies were just too bright against the toned background.  To help this, I shade glazed around each element with Purple Madder plus a touch of green to tone.  I liked those results best.

The end....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chippendale Study

This year in Floral Studies at JoSonja's in Eureka,  one study was on this sweet little tin box painted by Cornelius Von Spaendonke .  He was a native of Holland and painted extensively during his lifetime through 1833.  He painted in oils and gouache.  There is a lot of information online, images and reprints are available of his beautiful work; one only need paste his name into a search engine.

Chippendale box painted by Cornelius VonSpaendonke in collection of JoSonja Jansen
Thomas Chippendale was a master furniture manufacturer, and his name is widely used to refer to furniture in general from his time. His work was immensely popular, and there is even a society dedicated to the work.

Eventually scalloped trays became associated with the Chippendale name.  They were painted by skilled artisans each with his own specialty.  The trays were usually done in oils or gouache according to the book "Ornamented Trays," in the section on Chippendale Trays by Martha Muller.  Lovely florals, scenes, and gold adornment are common.

We enjoyed this study. My box is shown below:
Chippendale Study --Vicki Allwardt

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Autumn Hues

Autumn Hues

"Autumn Hues" is the name for the new collection of colors that JoSonja Jansen has selected.  These are all mixes from the tube colors made under her label by Chroma.  
*Please Note* this is a work in progress, we will need to wait for their debut, possibly available in February, 2014.

These are lovely mixes, sure to be a hit, I know they are with me!

JoSonja's collections are all mixes from the tube colors, and are produced in the Background Colors for convenience, as well as enhanced coverage.

The photo at the left shows some current fabrics that support the colors.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Painting on Leather

Yes, you can paint on leather and leather-like surfaces.  Here's how I do it, with thanks to Betty Jo Evans for the tip.

Using JoSonja Artist Grade Acrylic Paints by Chroma and JoSonja Textile Medium. I put a dollop of Textile Medium on my palette, and then picked a little up in each brush load.  You can begin by dressing the brush in the Textile Medium, and then picking up the paint.  This will thin the pigment a bit.  Paint your design....  When finished and dry, paint another layer of clear Textile Medium over just the design part.

Here's another example.  The shoes were just a tad too bright when they arrived in the mail.  Since I hadn't been wearing them,  it seemed like a good idea to make them more adaptable to my liking as they are very comfy.  Can you tell which one was the original?

In this case I thinned the paint a bit more with Textile Medium because I wanted a bit more transparent color.  Then I added the design.  After wearing the shoes a couple of times and scuffing the toe, I repaired them and added a coat of JoSonja Polyurethane Matte Varnish over the whole shoe.  That has seemed to wear better.  Here they are finished:

Let me know how you like them, and if you have a scuffed or unworn pair of shoes in your closet, you may want to get them out and play!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Story of a Tea Set

For Design class at JoSonja's Folk Art Studio this year, we were asked to bring a mismatched tea set, all prepped and ready to paint.

Prep:  washed, sanded, and sealed with two coats of All Purpose Sealer, or Undercover (both in the JoSonja medium line).  I used the Undercover in white, since I wasn't sure what color I would choose for the base coat.  

Naturally, I prepped several more pieces than I thought I might need, for "just in case" there was extra time or inspiration.  Our challenge was to paint the set so that all the pieces coordinated.

Celebration Tea Set ©Vicki Allwardt 2013

We began with a session of brainstorming.  What could be the purpose of a tea pot?  String holder,  birdhouse, sewing kit?  Many ideas offered. Then we talked about what  might be some themes for our tea set.  There were at least twenty named, but I clicked with the word party, from the obvious tea party suggestion.  At first I was thinking birthday party.  I jotted down a list of what might be painted on the set,
presents, forks, music notes, confetti, cakes or slices of cake, cupcakes; I had quite a list. 

Then I thought, don't limit it to birthday, this could work for showers, anniversary, any kind of party.  So I ditched many of the ideas.

JoSonja showed us a bowl of silk ribbons that she had brought in to help inspire us with color.  I laid out several that I really liked.  So, when it came time to start, I based the tea pot with a bright medium green called "Seedlings."   

Thinking about the ribbons and "party" I picked some colors, and began to paint.  I picked up the little creamer first and painted the face while letting other ideas gel.  Eventually the set above came to life.  The girl with the feather is jumping for joy and clapping, while the little dog is suspended by a balloon.

Celebration Tea Set ©Vicki Allwardt 2013
On the back is a little parade with a girl holding a flag lettered with "Celebrate!"  The tray needed to stay a bit quiet with all the busyness of the pieces.  It needed to be a color that would support the pieces yet not complete.  The scrolls are in Rose Gold metallic, and also have some words tucked in, "sing, laugh, share, celebrate."

So the party set is finished, and ready to be put to use!  

It was such a fun class, and there were no two sets or themes alike.  Now I am inspired to do more metal pieces of any kind :-)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What is your favorite color--this year?

Panatone seems to carry a lot of weight in our world.  Color is our world of course.

This year Panatone has decided that Emerald Green is the color of the year.  There is the "Color Council" which also determines current colors, but it is expensive to belong to it, so I don't know what they have decided.  Anyone know?? Post it here if you do :-)

When I posted this info on my Facebook page there was not a single like or comment until I asked why.  Soon many people posted their feelings, and most of them aren't crazy about emerald green--unless of course they own it on a ring or necklace!  This means they not only don't want to surround themselves with it, they don't like to paint with it either. Green is one of my favorite colors, and I'll admit I have a bit of trouble with it as well. It is decidedly cool to me, but another artist I totally respect says it appears warm to her.

Now here is the really big question.  The more we "see" this color around us, will we begin to like it?  Will we be accustomed to it?  I'd love to know what you think.

Here is the scoop on Emerald Green: "Panatone 17-5641 Emerald, a lively radiant, lush green...a vivid verdant green, enhances our sense inspiring insight as well as promoting balance and harmony."

Sounds awesome, doesn't it?  Now here is the really big question.  The more we "see" this color around us, will we begin to like it?  Will we be accustomed to it?  I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Do You Have A Favorite Color?

Almost everyone has a favorite color, do you?  Years of watching and listening to creative people have brought me to that conclusion.  We know that our favorite is often influenced by our eye color.

So, when it's time to start a new painting, or project, do you automatically go to your favorite? These can also be called our "comfort" colors.  It's the one we go to when we aren't sure where to start.  The color may develop into our "signature color" when people know us by the color.  "Sue must have painted that, it's blue." There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a favorite color, but sometimes creativity beckons us to move out of our favs from time to time.

There is a whole psychology in the study of color, it is a fascinating subject!  We will visit the topic again.  In the meantime, I feel validated about loving shades of aqua, especially since it is also the Tiffany signature color.  Do you like it too?  Or, do you like it more because it is Tiffany? Interesting to think about.  Here's the story:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Floral Class with JoSonja Jansen

JoSonja's week long Floral class was wonderful as always, but especially because I was able to finish the three designs; all of them lovely! Below you will find JoSonja adaptations of country tin painting, old Flemish (tote), and Venetian style (box). In my classes we are doing a small piece of student's choosing with the old Flemish. Very fun! The Country Tin design is the same class Jo taught in Atlanta for the National Museum of Decorative Painting. You know, when they honored her as a Living Treasure. Very, very special. My pot was painted with burgundy over black so it appears darker than the original design. Love those cherries!

Country Tin painting designed by JoSonja Jansen, painted by Vicki Allwardt
Cherries Jubilee
JoSonja always has words of wisdom for us, so I'd like to pass some on to you.

About Paint:
*Don't store your palette in the fridge
*Don't let your palette/paints be in direct sunlight or near a heat source
*Don't let them freeze
*Paint can become contaminated, pour out only what you need and don't return unused back to the bottle.
*If your paint "smells" throw it away, it may have mold in it.

Most of these are common sense, but reminders are always good, and I admit to pouring extra varnish back into the bottle on *several* occasions :-)

Grandmother's Floral Tote, designed by JoSonja Jansen, painted by Vicki Allwardt
Grandma's Floral Tote
Venetial florals designed by JoSonja Jansen, painted by Vicki Allwardt
Venetian Summer Florals
Because she paints daily, Jo keeps a long 1" flat in a small container of water, essentially rarely washing it.  She uses it to varnish and then returns it to the small container which has just enough water to cover to the bottom of the ferule.  I have been employing this tip as I had many items to varnish last week and found it to be very convenient! The container should be short enough to keep the brush at an angle so that it doesn't bend.  I'm using an antique creamer.  We just need to keep painting so that varnishing is regularly necessary and the water doesn't evaporate.

This leads to another tip JoSonja tells us every year--paint every day, even for only a small bit of time.  It is a proven fact that the body can rest and heal from stress (physical, mental, emotional) if we can just allow ourselves to escape into our right brain for a while each day.

More on Brushes:  besides always keeping them clean, the sables need a little soap or egg white in the clean tip to keep them shaped properly.  You can keep a small jar of just egg white for this purpose.  Jo says it will last a long time.  I'm just using a small bar of hotel soap at this time. I am finding that even though they are synthetic hair, my pointed round blenders benefit from the shaping as well.
So, let's get to painting, right?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bride's Boxes

The June 2012 issue of Early American Life has a nice article "Bride's Boxes."  These boxes were of European origin, not native to the United States, although many have been made here!  Bride's Boxes can be any size, but are mostly oval.  Hand painted with love, a gift to the bride to hold items of her choosing.  This is a wonderful tradition that needs to be encouraged in our day with so many things becoming "disposable" decorating.  These heirloom boxes often are scribed with names and dates.
Most common designs found on the boxes are florals, strokes, brides and grooms, houses, trees.  This is a photo of a more modern box that I painted.  Can you see that the bride. groom, house and tree form a heart?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Creative Painting, Las Vegas

The class offerings for 2012 Las Vegas Creative Painting are online now, and I have two really interesting classes (smile) that you will want to take:

"Roses and Hummingbirds" on a crackled background.  This is painted on hardwood framed board called a cradle board, so it is ready for display.

"Foil Lovebirds" is a quick two hour class that uses aluminum foil as a base for some of the elements.

To see the photos up close:

To go to Creative Painting to sign up for class #182, and #210  (my name is first here :-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Heidi England /Silver Palette Award

Heidi England, recent classes, Japan
This week an American Folk Artist received the Silver Palette Award from the Society of Decorative Painters.  This is a high honor and well deserved.  Heidi England has taught folk art painting for 40 years,  zig zagging across country and continent.

I have had the privilege of painting with Heidi for many years.  Her designs are counted among my favorite possessions.  It is wonderful that her talents and dedication have been recognized by the membership of the prestigious Society of Decorative Painters.

Nominated by her peers, Heidi was chosen for these qualifications:

1. Promoted and stimulated interest in tole and decorative painting 

2. Elevated and maintained a national level of quality of tole and decorative painting. 

3. Has been instrumental in dispensing information about tole and decorative painting.
4. Has lent distinction to the field of tole and decorative painting. 

In response to a note of congratulations, Heidi had this comment:

"This Silver Palette represents 40 years of teaching !  I hope to continue to represent our Society and all my wonderful teachers that I have had through the years !"

Thank you Heidi!  We look forward to sharing many more years and happy painting hours with you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rose Project

As a fund raiser for Society of Decorative Painters, several artists were asked to paint a metal wall pocket.  These will be auctioned at the annual conference in May.  For me, the subject had to be roses.

This time I used these two reference photos, crackled the background, and used artist's license on the colors.  As I sketched the roses, I did not worry that every petal had to be exact, as long as the form was correct.

The use of JoSonja's Gel Retarder made the painting delightful.  Gel Retarder allows you to place and blend the colors like oils.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Get In the Habit

How many times has JoSonja Jansen told us, "make yourself a comfortable place to paint, make it beautiful as possible, then paint at least 15 minutes a day...."?

This article about How to Develop Good Creative Habits in Just 21 Days echos the same message, and even goes a step further in giving you goals for the 21 days.  I think you will gain from reading it.  I'm already up to step six, just have to work on the 7 to 21 part.

The previous blog entry about forgiving yourself for procrastinating fits very nicely with this article.
I have found that if my work area, or even house is messy, I just don't feel like painting.  However, get it all spruced up, and everything in it's place and all of a sudden the creative juices just start flowing.

So, let's get going, shall we?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Procrastination Revisited

I usually always glance at articles or titles that include the word "procrastination," because I'm sure I won't see anything new.  Woah, I LIKE this article.  It was in a recent "O" magazine.  I snapped this with my iPhone while waiting in the doctor's waiting room.  I think you will like it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fraktur References

   This is a fraktur picture taken from one of many that are available on the Dover site as graphics that you can make a free "e card" from.  In addition to the card feature, you have some nice samples of early American folk art to refer to.  

Here is the link, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Color Wheel

Maybe you read the post on mixing color and would like more information.  This link to an online interactive color wheel may just give you "too much information."  It is fun to click and put together a sample palette though.

I've always felt that obsessing over color isn't necessary. Most of it is intuitive.  God made the colors of the world simple.  Based on just the three primary colors: red, blue, yellow.  Amazing isn't it?  And yet an endless variety of hues and values are available.  Take a look and have fun.

Just remember though, art should be fun, not work :-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mixing Color

Many decorative artists do not like mixing colors and thereby missing out on fun and endless options in painting.

Today in, Marion Boddy-Evans discussed six different ways to mix paint.  We employ at least the first five regularly in our painting.  Realizing this may encourage more freedom and less frustration in not having the "perfect" color.  One factor is knowing your product. You need to be very familiar with the colors you use and how they look when broken down with medium.  Solution?  Paint often and play on the palette a bit.

1. Physical Mix (mixing on a palette)
2. Incomplete mixing on a palette--brush blendling
3. Wet into wet--mixing on the painting
4. Scrumbling, or broken layers
5. Glazing or layering
6.Optical mixing--placing colors in close proximity and letting the eye blend them, such as pointillism.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Behr 2010 Color Selection

In the process of choosing paint color for our remodeled bathroom, I ran across this page on Behr's site.
It has a short blurb about the colors forecast for 2010.  Although it may be a bit late in 2010 already, I found the colors very pleasant to view.  I loved the fact that they mention fine art and folk art in referencing the colors.
"Folk art blends with fine art and retro design with reclaimed detail."  Sounds just like what we are all about.
Take a look and read:;channel=INSPIRATION;view=6

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Why, What, How Path to Success
by Clint Watson

This article is by Clint Watson,  former art gallery owner/director/salesperson and founder of FineArtViews. You should follow Clint on Twitter here.  It was originally published in FineArtViews in March of 2007.  We have republished it today as a "classique" since the idea is still relevant.
Setting specific but flexible outcome targets tied to specific general goals and then reinforcing the proper habits to achieve those goals is the surest path to success.

A few months ago I wrote about embracing success by developing habits.  In the essay, I denigrated the traditional idea of setting goals with specific outcomes and deadlines in favor of developing more general and desirable habits.  The idea, though correct, may be incomplete.  Perhaps there is a place for goals after all.

For example, every success book I've ever read states that written goals increase the likelihood of success.  And every single one espouses setting SPECIFIC goals...the more specific the better.  I, on the other hand, have been more of an evangelist regarding developing habits and character.  And I still am.  But lately, I've been experimenting with setting goals and I must say, there is something to it....if done properly.

Let me explain.

As an artist, let's say you follow the traditional advice and set a specific goal of painting 60 paintings this year.  That's five paintings a month. OK.  That's fine as a goal but what if you only finish 48 paintings?  Did you fail?  Traditional goal setting would make it appear that you did fail, which is why I believe that traditional goal setting itself fails.  It seems contrived and artificial.  It's OK to set the WHAT (60 paintings this year).  But you should also write down the WHY.  WHY do you want to paint 60 paintings this year?  Let's say the why is to have "enough" paintings for a one person show.  Keep asking WHY and digging.  WHY do you need enough for a one person show?  Perhaps you want to have an event that showcases your work, an event that gets attention, an event that impresses people, an event that makes people remember your work.  You're looking for the WHY that really satisfies your soul.  Now, hypothetically, let's say halfway through the year you've finished 25 paintings and you have an idea for a grand 12 foot long you paint it over the next six months.  Now you finished the year with only 26 paintings.  Did you fail?  No!  Not if you go back and look at the WHY you set the goal in the first place.  You wanted an impressive body of work, that will garner attention, impress people, etc.  Twenty-six amazing paintings make an enormously bigger impact than 60 mediocre ones.

The WHAT must be flexible.  The WHY is the "real" goal.  The WHY is the outcome that will satisfy your goal.  After all, when you diet, your goal is not to limit your consumption to only 1500 calories a day.  Your GOAL is to look good.  We all know if a 3000 calorie-a-day diet came along that made us look good....we would all be flexible and drop the 1500 calorie a day "goal."

However, the ultimate secret to achieving the goals still lies in the HOW.  And that's where we get back to habits.  In our fictitious example, you would need to develop a habit of painting every day to take "enough" action to achieve the goal.  I still believe habits are the most important step.  In fact, even if you'd set no goal and just made it a habit to paint every day, you'd still be 90% there.

So the bottom line is:

1. Figure out your "big picture" goals (The WHYs)

2. Set specific goals, so you have day-to-day targets (The WHATs)

3. Be flexible with the WHATs because a better path to your WHY may present itself at any time

4. Develop the HABITS you need to reach the big picture goals (The HOWs)

The formula in short:  WHY, WHAT, HOW.


Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS:  I left out WHO and WHEN because they should be obvious.  WHO is YOU...WHEN is NOW.