Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fabulous! by Pastel Guy

It's coming. I can sense it. I see the signs.... everywhere.

As Resolution Day approaches, there are lists, tips, blogs, and books about how you should be. Which raises the question, "Am I not worthy?"

At the library this afternoon, I found a book, "Freakin' Fabulous" by Clinton Kelly. I'd never heard of the guy before, but I guess that's what happens when one lives under a rock and doesn't watch TV.

Anyway. Apparently, he's the guru on how to be fabulous. So, sucka that I am, I checked it out, and during our family reading time this afternoon, I was able to thumb through it. Really, it's just a list of manners, and grammar, and artistic common sense.

Y'know, stuff parents teach their kids...

...But I guess they don't.

As I was reading through the chapter on how to speak with fabulosity, I noted that it was my seventh grade grammar curriculum reduced to 10 pages. Who vs. whom, further vs. farther, the subjunctive tense, etc. I learned all that at home ('course having two english teachers - ahem, teachers of English - as parents didn't hurt).

Reading through his list (book) of pet peeves started me thinking about my list. What would I write about if I were (see?! I just used the subjunctive correctly!) to be paid millions of bucks to summarize the habits of people that annoy me the most.

Here's the short list using Clinton Kelly's categories:

1. DRESS: Men who wear black socks with their black shoes and khaki pants, and women who wear jewelry that's too small.
2. SPEAK: People who finish their sentences with 'at'.
3. BEHAVE: Intolerance of others even when they consider themselves 'Christians'.
4. EAT: People who don't hold their silverware properly.
5. ENTERTAIN: arriving early.
6. DECORATE: pictures that are too small hanging too high on the wall.

I haven't read all of his book, so I don't know if I'm duplicating any of his or not. I am far from being fabulous myself; this list is just the six sure-fire ways to botch any chance you might have had at being fabulous in my world.

As I look out over my students in the few minutes between classes, I listen to them ask their neighbor where their pencil is at, and call the kid across the room a fag. And I sigh.

Should I scrap my lesson on DNA replication in favor of Today's Tip on Civility? Obviously they're not getting it at home. So is it now my job?

Perhaps my New Year's Resolution will end up something like this: I will strive to spread fabulousness - one student at a time.

Until tomorrow,
PastelGuy - pastel paintings - handmade jewelry for sale

Friday, November 21, 2008

Up and Down

Today was a day of ups and downs...

My first period class was enjoyable. Then, during 7th hour, I think my blood pressure spiked. Went to see Bolt (the new Disney movie) with my son after school (good movie, great time with him), came home to pest control people not doing what they were supposed to and the dog eating my supper. Ten came a nice full tumbler of whiskey. So now I think I'll go to bed while it's on the upswing, even though it's only 8:22 at night.

Here's to NaBloPoMo!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Custom Stained Glass

Summer Rain (stained glass panel about 36" x 24")

Yesterday I ranted, so I thought today I would take it easy. Earlier this month, I promised you another stained glass window. Here y'go.

This one is actually the second one I made using this pattern. The first pattern was made for a woman who wanted a window for her bathroom that had a Frank Lloyd Wright style to it. I had been doing stained glass for a couple of months, and this was my first real commission on anything. She wanted it in blues, with a modern feel. There had to be light, but privacy, too. The privacy issue eliminated Wright's signature use of design around the outside to allow for full light and visibility in the middle of the window. I wanted it to look sort of like falling rain.

Anyhow. I liked the design so much that I made one for myself. Of course it's been sitting in my garage against the wall for the last few years, coming out only to make its annual trip to my school for the art teacher to use as a demonstration.

The most fun part of making a window is picking out the glass. Some of the glass in this window is handmade, and quite pricey. The main panels with the slight strawberry swirl in them is a glass from the Youghiogheny Glass Company. Rather than the usual high polish that's on most glass, this one looks like it's made out of wax.

Then there's the ridged one that's a great olive color. It's hard to see it in the picture, but its ridges are so sharp that it reflects the light, and adds great texture to the composition.

The gold one is cool, too. Its ripples are so pronounced that it was hard to put into the lead because the ripples are actually taller than the lead, so you have to grind it at an angle to reduce the ripples enough to fit in the lead channel. It also has an iridescent finish.

But when you have exciting glass pieces like that, you have to offset them with some boring, "normal" glass, such as the green and amber squares in the repeating checkerboard motif.

It's sort of like wearing a fantastic necklace on a patterned top. Don't do it! Put it on a solid color, and let your jewelry stand out.

Make sure you stand out today!
Pastel Guy - pastel paintings - custom and handmade jewelry for sale

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shame on You!

Remember the good ol' days when you could convince your PE teacher to play Prison Ball in class? The you went out to recess and played tag until you thought your lungs would pop?

No more.

The other day my kids came home from school with the news that they are no longer allowed to play dodge ball, wall ball, or any variation. Tag is also taboo.

I'm sorry, what did you say? No tag?

Mmm hmm. That's right. No more fun. Apparently, during the game, kids are singled out and that's a bad thing. I talked with some of my colleagues here at the junior high, and they said that they were taught in teacher school that we shouldn't let the kids play "shame games." (I think I would have remembered this lesson. I guess I'm either too old, not certified in elementary, or was sleeping especially well that day)

According to the pundits, a shame game is any game that singles out a particular kid, thus creating the potential of lowering their self esteem. OK. So I'm trying to think of an athletic activity where that wouldn't happen. Baseball? No, nothing more esteem-deflating than striking out. Basketball? No, my esteem never made it past being the last one chosen. Track? No. Golf? Tennis? Badmitton? No, no, no.

What is going on? Can someone please fill me in? I've been in education for 10 years now, and it makes no sense.

I'm gonna stop before my veins pop.

Pastel Guy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Indiana Savannah (12 x 18 pastel on paper)

This is my first official pastel.

It's now hanging above my desk nicely matted and framed, waiting for the day when I'm famous and it will be worth a fortune. (I know that usually happens after the artist is dead, but oh well, the grandkids'll appreciate it!)

Here's the story of how I became involved with pastels.

In the spring of 2007, I was reading one of my jewelry magazines, and they had an article about summer camps for grownups. You know, places where you could go and spend a week in some idyllic location and do artsy stuff (and not have daily responsibilities - key seller for me!). One of the schools featured was Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. None of the jewelry classes offered seemed particularly appealing, but the artist offering a pastel workshop had amazing paintings whose artisitic style was similar to mine, so I thought I should give it a try.

The problem was that I was now signed up for a class geared toward intermediate and advanced students, and I had never completed a real pastel painting. So I bought some pastels and some paper, rummaged around through my art file for a subject, and came up with this one.

Not bad, I thought. I ready to go!

Never have I spent a week on such an emotional rollercoaster before! The people were great, the food was amazing, Susan Ogilvie, the instuctor was incredible, but I left every day completely defeated. Nothing turned out. My 5:00 cocktails became bigger every day, and nicotine my new best friend. Notice how you haven't seen any of the paintings I did while at the workshop.

I like to blame it on the scenery there. I mean, the forests of the Smoky Mountains have some really dark shadows, and the streams had rushing water and boulders (aren't rocks an artist's worst nightmare?). Besides, I had a very limited palette, and the supply store had crap for pastels, and ... and...

In actuality, I think I had finally hit the learning curve.

Upon return, I took out my notes and reread them. I opened my sketchbook and studied them, remembering the milllions of little tidbits I had learned. Then I washed off the panels that were too terrible to keep, resurfaced them, and started over. And always, I had Indiana Savannah propped up on the window sill to remind me of what I had done...what I could do.

A year later, I'd been accepted to a couple juried events, and had won an award.

And now my first painting hangs over my desk, reminding me that today is another day, and somebody new needs to see my work.

As we say in America, "Keep truckin'!"


Monday, November 17, 2008

I Need You!


Considering how much traffic has viewed my Jewelry Tutorial I and Jewelry Tutorial II, (a huge heap of thanks goes to Rena Klingenberg and her Jewelry Business Blog for featuring my tutorial a while ago), I think it's about time to make another. But I'd like to hear some opinion from my readers. I also think I may start making some really detailed ones and sell them on Etsy as downloadable files. There is a woman in Thailand who does that for $5 each, and seems to sell them pretty well.

So, here's a list of media in which I would feel comfortable making a tutorial:
  1. silversmithing in general
  2. soldering
  3. turning your jewelry designs into reality
  4. beaded work, perhaps making a successful random design
  5. stained glass projects (maybe my Christmas tree earrings?)
  6. pastel paintings
  7. cuff bracelets
  8. painting composition (decide what of a landscape scene to include)
  9. bezel setting stones
  10. insert your idea: ________________.

Please take a moment to comment so I can make plans!


Pastel Guy - jewelry store - pastels

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Christmas List

I need a makeover.

OK. Scratch that. My website needs a makeover. (Although some may argue for the former!).

My family has been asking for my Christmas list. But I can't think of anything (except the new Blackberry Storm, but I don't want to have to pay $250/month just for access!) I really want. Maybe I'm at that age where I don't really want much anymore. I already have a great family and a job and a house.

But what I do want is a decent website for my pastels.

In reading art books, magazines, and blogs, my website is embarassingly amateur. I found this place that was cheap, and they hooked me by saying they had these templates that made it easy to make your own, professional-looking website. HA! I just remember several chat sessions with the techies, phone calls, and late nights filled with cursing.

That was 10 months ago, as part of my 2008 New Year's Resolution.

Now, I see that there are several sites that are designed especially for artists. From having had a website for almost a year now, I have come up with a wish list - the requirements of a perfect host, if you will:

  1. They will still accept my domain name. I don't want my domain name to have to be tacked onto the beginning of the hosting site, as in my Etsy store, People should be able to type in, and go directly there.
  2. It should have a cart, so I don't have to go to PayPal, make a button, copy it, and then paste it onto my page FOR EVERY PAINTING! However, I need to be able to disable this feature if my work is at my gallery and only available through them.
  3. Easily adjustable/customizable templates, like I like this site, and I would use it exclusively, but there's nowhere to show all my work.
  4. When visitors click on a thumbnail, it will take them to a page with an enlarged version. I shouldn't have to set that up. It should do it automatically. I can't do that with my current site, so I haven't taken the time to figure out a page address and all for each enlarged picture.
  5. A place for reader comments, like a blog. There should be some way for the vistors to interact with my site and my work.
  6. Simple Flash capabilites, like the Flickr Gadget on this blog that shows a slideshow of my jewelry and recent work. I don't want it to be so complicated that it takes forever to load. I've been to some websites that I X out of before it has finished loading, because I'm impetuous like that. And I have cable internet.

Six wishes isn't so much, is it?

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. If you have visited another artist's website that you think is amazing, leave their link in the comments section.

Thanks in advance,

PastelGuy - pastels - jewelry store