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Wednesday, August 18, 2021


As an artist and decorative painter, I have used a LOT of different varnishes. As a result, if there is a problem to be had with a varnish, I have probably experienced it.  

There the too thick varnishess.  The too thin varnishes.  The varnishes with fumes so bad you have to ventilate the whole city block. Brush marks.  Cloudy finish.  I even had one incredibly expensive varnish that discolored my projects almost immediately, leading to many Anglo Saxon words best not repeated here.

As a general rule, good varnishes are finicky and expensive.

The best varnish available...Liberty Varnish!

I hit a goldmine when Hofcraft ran a sale on Liberty Varnish.  I went ahead and ordered a bottle.  I wish I had bought it in five gallon increments!  Liberty varnish comes in gloss, satin, and matte finish.  Even in the ridiculous humidity of Louisiana I have not had any issues with it.  It doesn't run or clump.  It doesn't show nasty brush marks. It dries to the finish it says it will without clouding, even on muggy or rainy days. A very, very mild odor and water cleanup.   And it stays clear.  I ordered it the first time just because the sale price was low.  But I am very impressed with the product and have reordered several times since. And incredibly, the price is reasonable!

You can get Liberty varnish in gloss, satin, or matte finish in several sizes at  and if you happen to be an SDP member, tell them in the comments on your order because you will get a discount. ( This is not an affiliate link at this time; I don't know if Hofcraft even does that.  If I find out they do, I'll edit the post and add one!)


Liberty Varnish

And while you're online,  would love to have you go to my art site,,  and buy some of my art and/gift items! I need money for more varnish!

Face mask from

Art reproduction t-shirt from

Art reproduction coffee mug from

Original painting from

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Yes. It's Art!


Painted chair with Santa fac from artist Betsy Levels


Flamingoes under the mistletoe painted on surfboard from


Handpainted items but Betsy L vels


I started out as as decorative painter.  My late mother was a decorative painter.  She was, in fact, very active in the Society of Decorative Painters. (Back then, in the tole wave of the early '70's it was known as the National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters)  She jumped into it with both feet.  She had never picked up a paintbrush in her life, but suddenly was painting everything.  She went to conventions all over the country and took classes from some of the best known folk artists in the field.  But she said we couldn't consider it real art.

I call B S.

I know it's not original art if you use someone else's pattern.  But that's one of the many ways you learn new skills and techniques.  Fine artists use paints--decorative painters use paints.  Fine artists use paintbrushes--decorative painters use paintbrushes.  Fine artists study color theory--decorative painters study color theory.  And value.  And composition.  And on down the list of the multitude of things painters learn over the years.

Hey, Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo, and all the old masters started out as apprentices and had to paint from patterns in the style of their teacher to start with.  They learned from it and went on to develop their skills and create original works.  And that was real art folks--about as real as it gets!

And so what if some of this art is painted on functional objects!  People have been creating art to embellish the things around them in their daily lives since back when cavemen painted bison on their cave walls!  That too, folks, was real art!  Have YOU ever tried to depict a buffalo on a stone wall using charred wood and rock dust?

I know not everyone is going to like or appreciate everyone else's work (each to his own taste, said the cat as he licked his behind).  But anyone who is putting their own original work into a representation for others to see is creating art, whether they learned it from years of expensive art school or "The Joy of Painting".  It isn't how you learn, it's that you learn.  And then you do it.  

I learned a world of different things from years of involvement with the Society of Decorative Painters.  I was active in our local chapter until it folded.  My daughters and my granddaughter all attended some of our chapter paint-ins, although the grandbaby was still a toddler.  I remarked then that she made four generations of our family with the Society of Decorative Painters.  She is four now, and paints with me frequently--she has created her own "Unicorn Flamingo", and painted a lovely floral using the stump end of a celery stalk.
Unicorn flamingo painting

  She is learning to experiment with a wide variety of techniques at an early age.  And she proudly  calls herself an artist.  That tickles me to no end.  

If you have always wanted to learn to paint, there are a lot of tutorials on YouTube and other sources.  I would recommend you check out the Society of Decorative Painters and their recently launched Decorative Painters Academy.  You can learn a lot there and make friends with a lot of other creatives.  There are local chapters all over United States and the whole world now, and also a virtual chapter forming.  I have found it to be a great experience for many years and would not be creating original paintings right now without it.

As always, I'd sure like to sell some of my painted items, as seen here:

Fkamingo s under the mistletoe painted on surfboard

Betsylevels com banner logo banner

Friday, August 6, 2021

Party Animal--NOT!

Party animal--NOT image


Everyone has told me I should offer painting parties as a way to supplement my starving artist's income.  

I have put in hours online, researching how to put paint parties together.  All the, icebreaker activities, themes, checklists, you name it.  There are worlds of great information out there for anyone that is interested.  It is supposed to be a great way to monetize your painting skills. I'm putting all of it aside. Why?

I don't like parties.

Actually, I detest them.  My people skills can best be measured in negative numbers.  I don't enjoy chit-chat.  I get bored with games before they have even begun.  I was brought up with the maxim that "small talk is poorly disguised warfare".  At parties, I am usually the person taking a stroll in the gardens--the whole time.  Subjecting myself to being the focal point of a social evening would be absolute misery no matter what the pay rate.

I just want to paint!

Don't get me wrong, I would love to make some quick money.  But I make art because that is what I love to do.  It isn't a hobby, or a pastime.  It's a deep, inborn need to create something in some form or other.  It is more than just "fun". It is fulfillment on a soul-deep level.  And turning it into self-torture for a few dollars just isn't on the table any more. 

If you are set on doing painting parties, here are just a few of the tons of tip sites out there:

I'll skip the party.  I'd rather stay home and paint.

But if you make some money doing a party, I would appreciate it immensely if you would drop in at my website and buy some of my art or gift items!

Looking back--that awful first booth

 My first time out at a maker's fair was a complete disaster.   I made just about every mistake it was possible to make.  Some of them w...