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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

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