The Family That Paints Together Stays Together

The original saying, “The family that prays together stays together,” was a slogan invented Al Scalpone (not to be confused with Al Capone) and was first uttered on March 6, 1947 as an ad during the radio program, Family Theater of the Air (click here for more info).

You’ve probably just learned something new.

You’re welcome.

The two-story blank wall in our entry way has always been the bane of my husband’s existence. Blank walls really get on my husband’s last nerve. He’s an architect. I think that sums it up.

After ten and half years in this house with this blank wall, my husband finally decided that he had had enough. It was time to do something about it. He’s a professional on deliberation especially when the decision is important (it took nine years of dating before he decided that I was the one). During Christmas break of 2011, Mike and the kids brainstormed and the solution was the Family Art Wall (FAW).

This solution was presented to the Family Manager (moi) and was approved with reservations.

It’s a two-story blank wall, people.

However, I really wanted to be viewed as encouraging whimsy in our house since I’m usually dubbed, “the funsucker”. (Say it carefully.)

The FAW was to be done by December 31, 2011, but due to multiple delays (we all got hit with a long-term mokus) it did not get done until this summer (around the 11th anniversary of living in this house).

It turned out really well and we all love it. When we tried describing it to our friends and family, some were like, “cool” and some were like, “huh?”. Those in the “huh?” category were probably worried we were turning our household into some weird liberal-art colony-free love-free thinking hippie commune. Maybe we did and maybe we didn’t (wink, wink).

Without further ado, I present to you, my loyal followers, the Family Art Wall:

In order from Top to Bottom:

Jack’s creation: He combined his love of making a mess with his love of Origami.

Rachel’s Creation: Her piece is a thinking person’s piece. The phrase is in contrast with the background – very artsy.

Mike’s creation: His piece is a compilation of the people in his life. Not to be too cliché, but family is important to him. He really could give Ward Cleaver a run for his money.

My creation: If you have been a long-time follower of this blog, you know that artsy stuff is an extreme challenge for me so please don’t judge too harshly. One of my friends said it looked like a gay foodie poster which wasn’t my original intention, but she does have a point!

Maddie’s creation: The girl LOVES to bake so this is a perfect representation of one of her many interests.

As you can see, the kids have taken after their father in the creativity/art department! Aren’t they talented?

Next project? The other blank wall in our house. It’s located our fancy living room that we never use (and only one-story). Look for an update in the summer of 2013.

Those Five Little Words

Do you know what can make me go from absolutely fine to insanely crazed faster than you can blink?

“You just need to relax.”

It doesn’t matter who says it either – my husband, my dad, my friends, my kids, etc. If you’re in the mood for a fight, then just go ahead…….

Who said it this time? Let me backtrack a bit.

My sweet husband bought me a coupon from Living Social for a 3-hour art class. You see, I had a painting that’s been half done for about a year and it’s been haunting me (and others, apparently). Since I’m not a trained artist (I’ve created a total of 2.5 paintings in my entire life), I got stuck and couldn’t move forward. Simple as that.

I finally decided to go to this instructor to see if I could be helped (wait, I know I can’t be helped, but maybe my painting can). How did it go? Just let me say that I’d rather have hot pokers stuck in my eyes than go back to that class.

Let me give you some samples:

“Um, are you happy with your sky?” {He was subliminally trying to get me to say, “No, I’m not.”}

Yes, I LOVE my sky.

“You know, I offer classes on just mixing paints and brush techniques.”

Really? Well you can kiss my ass. It’s not rocket science and I think my mixing is just fine.

“Don’t be so rough with the brush. You want long smooth strokes.”

Again, kiss my ass.

“You just need to relax. Painting should be fun.”

Aaaarrrghhhhhh! Did you just say, “Relax?”  You want me to RELAX? Then quit sitting across from me staring at me haphazardly mixing my paints and roughly smacking the canvas with my paint brush!!!!

{Shit, has it really only been 45 minutes?}

“I absolutely don’t let anyone paint flowers for their first painting.”

Huh? I didn’t realize this was a dictatorship.

“You need to add more black.”

Got it.

“You need to add more black.”

I heard you the first time.

Do you really like oils?

Yes, I like how you can smoosh (It’s a painting term. Look it up.) the colors together. {Clearly oils are wrong and acrylics are right.}

Meanwhile, in between his blurts stated above, he shows us another one of his paintings (ooh, aah), visits the three other painters-in-training and murmurs helpful hints. Then, one of these murmurs catches my attention.

Artiste: “Would you like a glass of wine? There’s only enough for one glass.”

Huh? What about the one that needs to relax?

Mrs. Flirty (sitting behind me): “Sure.”

Then, I hear, “How did you end up in the Midwest?”

It’s a legitimate question. I mean how could a bunch of unrefined, dumb hicks ever appreciate his sheer acrylic brilliance? They don’t even offer Art Appreciation class in Indiana anymore because we all flunked it. There is an ugly rumor circulating that all the cool stuff hits the coasts first and then eventually trickles inward to us poor Midwesterners. I personally don’t think that’s true. I just heard a new band on the radio – Hootie & the Blowfish. Ever heard of them? They. Are. Awesome!

It continued:

Mrs. Flirty:  “You should be in New York or an artist colony somewhere.”

Artiste:  “Blame it on the wife (wives can be such bitches!). She wanted to live in the Midwest so we moved here.

Wow. Wow. Wow. When is this class going to end?

When I finally got home, I was so wound up that Mike was confused (because I was supposed to be relaxing) and then eventually amused by my irritation.

The only true bright spot during the entire ordeal occurred at the end of class. The sweet 14-year-old student sitting next to me looked at my painting and said, “Wow, your painting is way cooler than the actual picture.” Take that, Artiste!

Step Three is Painting the Kitchen from Hell

Wednesday, as the contractors were putting in our countertops, I heard one of them say, “This is turning into the house from hell.”

I was afraid to go in and find out what was going on. Then one of the contractors told me that the countertops were taking longer than normal because my cabinets were 33 yrs old and warped. They were having trouble getting the countertops level. And, to add insult to injury, our hard wood floors have buckled in a few places also due to age which added to the leveling problem.

It’s hell getting old even for houses.

So, on Wednesday, the countertop guys were done at 5:00pm, the water was turned on by 5:00pm (thank goodness), the guy that hooks everything back up was done at 5:40pm and four 8th grade girls arrived at our house at 5:45pm. And, I started drinking my colonoscopy “cherry-flavored” sh*t at 6:00pm.

Instead of making dinner for the girls as planned, we ordered pizza and then Mike drove 4 giggly girls to the 8th grade dance. We were back on track.

Yesterday, we had the painters in at 8:30am to start painting, the plumber in at 9:00am to fix the broken main water valve and I had my doctor’s appointment from hell at 1:15pm.

The plumber discovered that our water main valve is so messed up that he didn’t have everything he needed to fix it – we rescheduled our appointment for next week.  We just have to hope that we aren’t in a situation where we need to shut the water off to the house (at least until June 1st). Keep your fingers crossed because at the rate we’re going anything is possible. 

Okay, for the big reveal on our kitchen:



I haven’t had time to put our kitchen back in order, but what do you think? Much better, right?

I’m really glad we did it and I can’t wait to start cookin’ in my new space!

Painting the Town (part of the ‘What If?’ project)

Are you wondering how I am doing on my “What If?” endeavor?  Me, too!

Ummmm.  Damn!  It’s really  hard to change when you’re in your mid-40s!  Ugghhh! Falling into old patterns is like wearing your favorite old t-shirt – but, the shirt may be faded, tattered, permanently stained and outdated.  Just because something is comfortable, doesn’t make right (see pic to the left)!

I was going to start with baby steps, remember?  Whenever a project or problem would arise in either my personal life or professional life, I was to say to myself, “How can we make that work?” -or- “What can we do to solve this dilemma?” -or- “What can we do differently?”  . . . .  Have I been doing that on a regular basis?  Not exactly.  It has been a struggle to suppress my automatic response of “We can’t do that because it’s too expensive, too complicated; we’re too busy, there’s no time, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. . . .”  

Hopefully, exercising the right side of my brain will eventually get me thinking in a different way (how long will this take?).

The Painting Project

As I mentioned before, I started taking painting classes in mid-March.  That surprised a lot of people because I’m a die-hard, left-brainer (for left & right brain inventory, click here).  I don’t go anywhere without my lists (and my calculator!).  Never having painted anything but my nails and interior walls, this seemed like the perfect thing to push me outside of the comfy zone.  

After 8 lessons, here are the results:

This is my first oil painting ever!  What do you think?  I think it looks like a 4th grade art project, but my family lies and tells me that it is really good (they want me to continue doing their laundry :)).  See the purplish/gray meandering thing on the left side of the picture?  Is it a river or a path?  Many have commented on the awesome path toward the mountains!  It is supposed to be a wintery river scene.  Oh well. . . . . 

Here is my second painting ever – it’s a still life instead of a landscape.  On the left side is the actual picture of the “still life”  and on the right is my artistic interpretation of the still life.  Before you comment, please note that it’s still a work in progress :).

I thought the still life would be easier, but it is NOT.  You have to worry about shadows and the direction of the “light source”, etc.  Ahhhhhhh!  This class is starting to get on my nerves a little bit because of the flashbacks to Mrs. Rose’s 8th grade art class  – it’s becoming too precise and rule-oriented (“my sun wasn’t artsy enough”, blah ,blah).  I want to do something without right & wrong answers (like street fighting! Okay, maybe not quite that but you get the picture, right?).  I wanted to do something that was less structured like a Jackson Pollock painting.  You know, where you just toss your paints on the canvas like a grown-up finger painting and then get to hang your painting in the Museum of Modern Art?!

It sounds like I’m not enjoying my art class, but I am!  I guess there are rules and guidelines for everything so I just need to chill and learn the basics.  I do look forward to Monday nights – 2.5 hours of me time!  Once I get my station set up, put my iPod earbuds in, it’s all good.

The next big step for me is to start a painting outside the classroom without the safety of having the instructor nearby. . .. . What should I paint?