Archive for March, 2008

I Can Make You Thin

Well, Okay. I can’t make you thin, but Paul McKenna claims he can. It is all about reprogramming the way you think about food, through simple techniques. I must admit, I find the whole concept fascinating. And while I have been experimenting with week one’s plan, which is to eat consciously, I have not followed all the rules for it.

Week 2 Emotional Eating
The premise is that most overweight people eat to satisfy some emotional need, whether it be boredom, loneliness, or sadness. (I tend to over eat when really happy. Go figure.)

So the next time you have a craving for food, that is not hunger based, you can try this technique. It involves tapping pressure points on the body, while doing left brain and right brain activity. It rewires the brain, so to speak, to alleviate the desire to eat.

Tap under the eye several times, followed by the collar bone, then under the eye again. Tap inside, side of wrist, then back of wrist.

While tapping back of wrist, close your eyes, then open them. Look down and to the right, followed by down and to the left. Roll eyes 360 degrees to the right, and then to the left. Keep tapping. Hum a tune. Count to 5 then hum a tune again. Tap under the eye and back to the collar bone.

Assess you desire for food. The number of taps isn’t crucial, nor is the order of things correct. It is the activity itself which works.

Week 3 Busting Your Cravings
If you have a weakness for some favorite unhealthy food, this visualization technique might help. The premise for this is, the body doesn’t differentiate between a vivid fabricated image and a real experience.

So picture in your head your most disliked food. The thing that starts a gag reflex at the thought of it. (for me its peas, When I was a child I actually vomited during lunch when my mom forced me to eat peas. It was the last time she did it, though.)

Close your eyes and visualize eating them. Do the action of sticking your fork into the plate lifting it to your mouth, then chew. At the same time squeeze your left thumb and index finger together. Continue squeezing your fingers together until the exercise ends. Now add to this, whatever manner of revolting stuff you wish. He suggested hair clippings from a barbershop, spittoon juice or worms. Continue to put your fork in and eat. Then add your desired food, say chocolate for instance. When you are completely grossed out, you may stop. Asses your craving. The next time you have a craving for this food, simply press together your left hand thumb and index finger. Your visualized experience will remind the body of the disgusted feelings you experienced during the exercise.

The good thing about this, is you can do the same thing for energy or happiness. Visualize a wonderful experience you had, remember and feel the feelings. Draw upon many memories if you wish. While doing this, squeeze your right hand thumb and index finger together. Next time you need a boost or an emotional pick me up just squeeze those same fingers together. Cool!
For more information on Paul Mckenna or his program visit http://tlc.com/thin

See my post on weeks 4 and 5 of I Can Make You Thin

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In Part 2, we will explore getting the air space depth we need to prevent oil pastel transfer, from the painting to the glass, by using a wooden framing liner. This is my favored way to frame oil pastels. I like the simplicity, and it gives them the look of a oil painting. Also by framing in this way, it keeps my larger size paintings, from getting even larger (and heavier) because of the additional size and weight of the matting.

Add A Barrier To The Liner

Shows a lined and unlined section of framing linerI always line the liner. (Hmmm, I wonder if there was a better way to say that?) I generally use a 4 ply rag barrier board, or occasionally 2 ply. This prevents the artwork from coming into contact, and being damaged by, the wood of the liner.

In this photo, the liner is face down on the counter to show how it gets lined. I attach the barrier board with 1/4″ ATG, which is essentially a double sided framing tape. A glue would also work, just be sure to allow for proper dry time.

Glazing Placement

Glass sits between liner and frameThe glass is cut to the frame size. It sits between the frame and the liner, well above the artwork. Finish with a barrier board behind the painting and fill with an acid free foamcore board. Then, back off the framing as usual. See How To Frame Oil Pastels – Part 1.

Finished Framing

How the final framing looksA simple classic look. I apologize for the lousy photo. I took it late in the day, when there was tons of glare coming through my front room windows. But you get the idea.

Part 3 will be sometime late next week. (hopefully) I am waiting on my matting for the demo piece to come in.

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The Many Temptations of Budda

Budda on fly patrol
Do I really want to know what Budda is up to?As a young kitten, growing towards the path of enlightenment, Budda faces a struggle between his inner Yin and Yang. Though, these listed here are by no means all the temptations he must face and eventually conquer. These are proving the most difficult to master.

Plants The urge to climb the palms has more than once lured him into temptation, as has eating them, and playing with their dirt.

Bugs Now while hunting bugs is an acceptable form of entertainment. Flinging himself wildly in the air, paws swinging crazily, heedless to where he may crash into, is not.

Making his own cat toys in particular my paintbrushes. Something about those furry sticks, he just can’t resist.

Unsuspecting People In truth, even the wizened Oliver, had trouble with this one, well into his advanced years. Budda’s most recent failure to maintain peaceful centeredness, involved an incident while Mike was napping on the couch. Budda hunkered down as if stalking, then catapulted himself on Mike’s chest. After a dramatic pause, he threw in a 2 pawed slap in the face, for good measure. (I think Budda still chuckles to himself, when thinking of this. Uh . . . anyway I do.)

Water Water is by far his greatest challenge. Any water poses the threat of pulling him over to the dark side of temptation. (Thats a mixed Zen/Stars Wars reference in case you missed it.) Oddly enough the only water he doesn’t like, is the water he gets sprayed with, for doing the naughty things listed here. Hmmm.

Food Dish Water – His water in his food dishes are a great time for splashing about. It goes something like this. Slap paw onto surface of water. Hold paw aloft while watching water intently, realize paw is wet, then furiously shake water off paw. Repeat.

Paint Rinsing Water – Has that extra something that makes it so refreshing to drink. (note: My water color pencils are completely non-toxic. Still he gets in trouble for it. I mean it can’t exactly be beneficial to drink either.)

Toilet Bowl Water – Its like his own personal fountain and splash bowl in one.

Answer me this: How does a cat manage to get water all over the toilet seat, the floor, and half way up the wall, and yet he, himself remains completely dry?

To help Budda on his path towards enlightenment we now, close the toilet lid every time, dump out my painting water at the end of the day and trim or water my plants when he is asleep or otherwise engaged. The slapping Mike thing though . . . well, thats just plain funny.

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Since oil pastel paintings don’t really ever dry, they need some accomodations when it comes to framing. Namely, a deeper air space between the glass and the painting to prevent the transfer of the pastel. I do this primarily in 3 different ways.

  1. Using matting
  2. Using a wooden liner
  3. Floating with a shadowbox

I will cover each way in its own post. Today we’ll start with creating depth using matting.

Creating Depth With Matting

Multiple Mats
Since I tend to work oil pastels by laying in thick coloring, I may use a minimum of a three mats, but most often I go with four. The multiple mats stacked up create the depth needed. This is pretty straight forward, so I won’t elaborate on it. However if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask me.

Spacing Mats Apart
I achieve the depth I need by putting an (acid free) AF spacer in between the matting. This is not one of my paintings, nor is it an oil pastel. I am using the same technique for it, that I would for an oil pastel painting, because it adds a certain drama and interest when framing other items as well.

    Note: This watercolor of a poppy was painted by a friend of mine, Arjes Youngblade. She has graciously allowed me to use her painting in this blog demonstration. Thank you Arjes.

Here is the artwork with bottom mat only, which was cut at 4 3/8 inches.

Here the AF foamcore spacer has been laid in place. It was cut at 3 inches. It needs to be well undercut from the topmost mat, so as not to be visible from any angle. In this instance, the spacer was cut 3/4″ less than the top mat.

Here the top most mat has been added. It was cut at 3 3/4 inches.

And now the frame and the glazing (glass) have been added. Because this project is an original watercolor, I am using Conservation Clear. (If you remember from my post on glazings, only clear glass should be used with anything that has depth to it.)

This is the back of the framing. A dust cover (brown kraft paper) is applied to help seal it from bugs and dust. The wire is set at 1/3 the distance down the frame. Bumpons are applied (the clear little knobbies on the bottom corners. They help to keep it hanging straight on the wall, as well as protect the wall from frame rub marks.) And lastly, a Conservation Clear label is applied to the back to explain the care of the glass.

Here is a cross section view of the layers, In this instance I used a black foamcore spacer to help differentiate it from the surrounding boards.

The layers from the top down are:
glazing (conservation clear)
top mat (C1607 Brite White)
AF foam core spacer
bottom mat (1607 Brite White)
barrier board (2 ply 100% cotton rag board)
AF foamcore backing board

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The Canadians Are Here!

Just a few days back it was the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring.) And it feels like Spring has arrived. With the warming weather the birdies are chirping, bits of grass are pushing forth from the frosty ground, and as previously mentioned the barn cats are frolicking. But this also means the Canadians have begun arriving en masse. They have descended upon our sleepy little village in search of a cozy spot to spend their summer. Some are returning back to their vacation homes, while others are arriving for the first time.

It starts the same every year, with only one or two. But within a few days you can’t swing a dead cat, (not that I would, mind you, it is just an expression) without hitting a Canadian. At this point, when you step outside your door or drive someplace you’ll find anywhere from two to hundreds of them. They disrupt the quiet balance of our blissful country life. Canadians are unbelievably noisy, especially in the morning (they seem to be early risers.) And to top it off they are unbelievably messy and they poop everywhere! (disgusting!)

Umm . . . I am talking about Canadian geese by the way, not our human friends to the north.

Our farm is surrounded by hay fields and horse pasture. We also have a creek edging the south side of the property. This means we always have several pairs stop by the farm before setting up their nesting site in our prime real estate.

CanadiansI am unsure why they land in the yard, other than they see our domestic geese and either mistakenly think they are Snow Geese or they think geese are geese and try to be neighborly. Unfortunately, our domestic geese just aren’t as racially sophisticated as the Canadians. They have never welcomed them like the distant family they are.

This is pretty much how it goes every year.

CanadianCanadians: Hello as they wander in to the yard.

Our Geese: Whonk?

Canadians: Sure is nice weather we’re having, eh? Me and the wife are really looking forward to another lovely summer in Iowa.

Our Geese: Go away. Accompanied with a beady-eyed glare (apparently, in addition to our geese being segregationists, they also don’t seem to be as verbally proficient as the Canadians either.)Domestic

Canadians: Umm . . . (long pause, while desperately searching for further topics of polite conversation) Wow, these dandelions in the yard sure look tasty. And look at all these tender grass shoots. Mind if I have a nibble?

Our Geese: Mine! Go away! Accompanied with a stern hiss.

Canadians: Do you think we could just mingle in the yard for awhile to rest a bit? You know, it is always much safer in a flock.

DomesticsOur Geese: Go away! Go away! GO AWAY! Presenting a unified front, and occasionally chasing them with threats of violence, until the newcomers get a safe distance out into the hayfield.

Eventually the Canadians stop trying to be sociable. And thus ends avian race relations for yet another year.

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Happy Easter !

Mixed Company - Domestic Rabbits - click for larger image
Mixed Company – Water soluble pencil 29 x 11
Copyright by Mona Majorowicz

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Framing Your Artwork Part 2

Frame SamplesHere I will provide a very brief overview on the different types of matboard and glazing (glass.) This is not all of the options available.


The purpose of matboard is to provide a decorative enhancement, as well as an airspace between the glass and the artwork. The airspace is important to retard mold growth.

Matboard comes in a variety of types, serving different functions. Matboard can be strictly decorative but eventually damage the artwork: be decorative and not damage the artwork: to actually absorb free radicals and help to preserve the artwork.

There are many companies that make matboard. Two of the more common companies (and the ones I carry) are Crescent and Bainbridge. Visit them for more complete information on the products they make.

Non-conservation grade – is as it sounds. It leaves the factory ph-neutral but almost immediately begins to decay. Acids and off-gasing from this type of matting will cause yellowing in both the matting as well as whatever it is framed with. I have not used this type of matboard in my gallery for over 10 years. Not only for the above reasons, but also because it fades and yellows quite quickly. The way I see it, if you are spending money to frame it, you want it to look the same for a few years at least.

White Core Mat – Have (and maintain) the very white core of the acid free archival matting, but are neither acid free nor archival. Not to be used on anything of value. Again not a matboard type I use.

Alpha Cellulose – Made from wood pulp and has additives which make it acid free. These boards remain archival and can be used to frame anything.

Matboard Samples

100% Cotton Rag – Made from cotton pulp. Is the highest level of quality for Museum Mounting of original work and fine art photography.


All of the glass types here are based on Tru Vue glass company, which is the brand that I and most frame shops carry. There are other types as well as acrylic options but these are the basic choices when it comes to framing your artwork.

Regular Clear blocks 47% UV (Ultra Violet) light. UV light is the main cause for fading and deterioration of artwork.

Regular Non-glare has a frosted etching on one side to cut down on glare but still only blocks 47% UV light. You should be aware that non-glare glazings should not be used in cases where more than 2 mats are used or any kind of deeper spacing occurs between the artwork and glass.

Conservation Clear has a coating on one side which blocks up to 97% UV light. Conservation Reflection Control (Non-glare) is the same as above. It has the frosted etching to cut down on glare but blocks the same amount of UV as Conservation Clear. Again should not be used in deeper air space situations.

Note: Conservation Clear is what I use on all of my original artwork. I am not fond of non-glare glass in general. This is just a personal preference.

AR Glass Reflection-Free offers the clear (unfrosted) glare-free viewing of Museum Glass. It blocks 78% UV light.

Museum Glass Is the best of all worlds. It is so clear and has virtually no glare that it looks like there is no glass at all. This is the most expensive option, but worth the money if you can afford it. It blocks 98% UV light.

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Framing Your Artwork Part 1

A 5 Part Series in 21 Installments
Just kidding. (kinda) When I started working on this concept for a blog post it started as a two part series and just kept growing. So framing Your Artwork will be in 2 posts. And since oil pastels have relatively special needs when it comes to framing, and a few people have been wondering what to do. I will address How To Frame Oil Pastels in the near future.

Proper framing is an important part of selling your artwork. So here are some things to consider when choosing your framing.

Use the best quality framing materials you can afford. I want to start by saying I use only archival and acid free materials when framing my original artwork. You should consider doing this for 2 reasons.

1.Why should a buyer be willing to invest money in your art if you aren’t? I can’t tell you how many times I have seen artists with cheapo framing of garage sale quality, that have their work priced like they think it is something special. If someone is art savvy enough to be willing to shell out big money for your artwork, poor framing may turn them off to buying. Framing quality is a reflection of your professionalism.

In a similar vein, be aware of damaged frames. I do many art fairs every year and the packing and unpacking is really hard on the artwork. I put extra effort in protecting the artwork for traveling, by wrapping each painting in foam and slipping into it’s own box. But if a frame gets beat up, I replace it.

2.Protection of artwork. There are several types of matboard (and glass) out there with various conservation properties. (These will be discussed in depth in part 2.) The framing should provide adequate protection of artwork, not assist in its destruction.

Match your frame style to your artwork style. Choose framing that is stylistically similar to the artwork you are producing. I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

Avoid too much extravagance. Proper framing provides a field in which to view the artwork undistracted. If the framing is too fancy with loads of specialty cuts, patterned matboard or exotic or stylistically inappropriate framing, the viewer may look more at the framing than at the work. However, good framing when done properly, can elevate a mediocre piece of art.

I will occasionally dress up my prints with specialty cuts (fancy cut outs or v-grooves) but I almost never put them on original work. I do use specialty matboards (like suedes or silks) on originals quite often, but I avoid harsh patterns that might distract. A good rule of thumb, if you are spending your time admiring the clever frame job, then its too much.

Always frame to enhance the artwork. I think this is the main difference between how interior decorators choose framing and how artists choose framing. But since you have no idea where the painting is going, or how trends will change in the future. You should choose framing to complement the work, not the current color palette of home decor (unless you get lucky enough that current trends also complement the work.)

Be aware of current trends. Umm, I know this sounds like I have just contradicted myself, but bear with me. The point of this is not to copy what is out there. But being informed of what is popular can only assist you when framing your work for resale. The best way to stay on top of trends is by getting trade magazines like Decor, Art Business News, or Art World News (to name a few.) You can also visit interior design or furniture stores.

Reframe a painting that doesn’t sell. If you have a painting that just isn’t selling you should first evaluate if the artwork is connecting with people. Does the painting in general evoke a positive response from people? Do you have people on the fence about purchasing it, but they just don’t commit?

If not, (however painful this may be to hear) it may be your artwork just isn’t connecting with people. This could be for many reasons other than quality. Like your genre is wrong for your location (are you doing seascapes in South Dakota?) Or perhaps a particular trend has ended. For example I do quite a bit of exotic wildlife, like big cats and zebras and such. We just passed through a hot faze where everyone had a safari room. (See, I told you there was a reason to know what current trends are.) My African wildlife went like hot cakes. That decorating trend has ended. And while I still paint exotics (I painted them before the trend, and will continue to do so.) I can expect the interest in this work to wane, despite the fact that I do them as well or better than before.

But if the painting is getting good attention and still not selling, perhaps you should consider reframing it. (I can hear the frustrated groans already. What! I already spent $$$ framing it the first time and now you want me to do it again!)

Again, I will site myself as an example. As mentioned previously, I do around 15-18 art events each year. The biggest benefit of doing these other than the $$$, is the instant feedback. I can see what thousands of people think of my work (this is not for the faint of heart) in a single day. So if I have a painting that is priced in range with my other work and it appears people respond well to it, or I am selling loads of prints of it, and yet the painting remains unsold. I reframe it and most often raise the price. (Yes, you read that right.) Not only does raising the price recoup your framing cost, but I think much like poor framing can turn off buyers, so can a painting priced too low.

Whenever I have reframed a painting, (and I have done so at least 4 times in the past 3 years.) The painting usually sells within 6 months. Often the very next time I am out. Every painting that I have reframed has sold since doing so.

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Earth Movers - Percheron Team 4 Across - click for larger image
Earth Movers – Oil Pastel 12 x 22
Copyright by Mona Majorowicz

Letting My Inner Colorist Out To Play
So here is the completed painting of
The Earthmovers.

I think there may be a colorist deep inside me trying to get out. Many of my paintings start out with all sorts of color and then I start toning them down until I finish with something that looks quite realistic with just hints of brightness. Mike rolls his eyes every time, when I look at a near completed painting and declare, “It looks too purple.” Apparently there is something going on unconsciously and then I have to pull it back into reality.

I think a part of it may have to do with the fact that I make my living selling my artwork. And the artwork produced thus far leans to a more realistic coloration. Occasionally I go ahead and do something rather bright. I had a lovely black faced sheep which was done in purple. The surprise was that it was apparently talked about in the community and it actually brought in a few locals to see the “Purple Sheep.”

Anywho, this painting started out as being quite realistic in coloring and then I was getting bored. (Yawn) So I thought what the heck, I doubt I will be happy with it as is, lets bump up the color. And here is the result. The sad thing is you can’t actually see the color that I am talking about in this scan of it. But trust me, it is just crammed with purples, periwinkles and gingers. (I just love that color combination.)

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Odd Bits

I have been hiding out for a couple of days. I fell and may well have cracked a rib. (Apparently I don’t bounce as well as I used to.) So I am taking yet another personal day to recuperate just a bit. I am not really in much pain unless I laugh, breath too deeply or God forbid, sneeze. Sleeping is really the only thing that hurts. Well . . . not sleeping exactly. Its more the rolling over bit. I really am working on some actual posts that deal with either art, animals or living the creative life. (just not for today)

Since I am trying to rest up, I have spent the past 36 hours or so, horizontal on the couch. I watched a couple of intrigueing shows last night. The first was Dumped on BBC America. 10 people are dropped off in the middle of a landfill and will spend the next 3-4 weeks, living off the refuse of others. At the moment, they get their food and water supplied (I have a suspicion, that may come to an end at some point.) But everything else, including housing, bathroom facilities, pots & pans and household supplies are rummaged for. The goal, is that at the end of their time, they will have created a totally sustainable living on the landfill. The whole project is to raise awareness about what we toss away and our impact on the planet.

I must add, they have an artist in the group. And as an working artist, I am a little disconcerted by what their artist is up to. While others are rummaging to create better living conditions for the group, she is off making a sculpture, in the belief that her art will make a statement about what they are doing. Now, while I like her spiritual and artistic mentality, I find it annoying that she leaves most of the mundane tasks to the others, while she creates. Sort of that stereotypical artist living off the community (government). Expecting that creating art, is a fair exchange for shelter and living necessities. I am probably just transferring my own issues about artists who spend their time between creating art and writing grants to sustain them. So I better drop the subject.

The other show was I Can Make You Thin with Paul Mckenna on TLC. Apparently, he is some relatively famous British diet guru. His mantra, “eat all you want and what you want and still lose weight.” (yeah, I know. . . let the rolling of eyes commence.) It is a 5 week series. And I am curious enough, that I think I will follow along.

Week 1.
The 4 Golden Rules.
1. Eat when your hungry. The reason behind this is if you ignore hunger, your body thinks it is being starved. It slows your metabolism and then when you do eat. It stores as much as it can as fat for future starvation.

2. Eat what you want. He say anything goes. If you want to live on pizza and potato chips, have at it. Toss out any foods you eat because you think you should. Toss anything you don’t like. (I am a diabetic, so I can’t truely do this part.)

3. Eat consciously. Eat slowly, chewing 20 times per bite. Put down your utensils between bites. Do not watch tv or read. Be in the moment while eating. If you are distracted, you don’t notice the full signal, your body is sending.

4. When your full, stop eating.

Sounds easy enough. I think I can manage the eating slow bit. But we eat our dinner in front of the tv every night. Most often because we eat later at night and since we have a really busy lifestyle, it is kinda guilt free tv. (I’m big into multitasking.) It should be an interesting experiment. If you want more information visit, the TLC website.

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