Saturday, July 5, 2014


I have to admit that I like bright colors, and I have no apologies!  I’m especially partial to blue, but also love other bright colors.  Thanks to my cousin Janice, who is my moral support, plus my painting mentor, I recently took on another project, the downstairs bedroom.  There were so many things I could paint, it was exciting!

In thinking about a color scheme, I keyed in on these paintings I bought in the last couple of years through the Circle of Art auction, to benefit Food Gatherers, that has been held at Saline Picture Frame for 10 years.  I’ve had them in the bedroom and love them.  They have a nice color scheme, so I decided to make the room those colors.

First, I went to the hardware store and looked at painting ideas, picking up lots of swatches.  The guy who works there, someone my son’s age and my new "friend," told me that once a lady took so many paint samples, they had to tell her to stop.  He wasn’t talking about me, but I tried to be reasonable with the options I took.   Anyway, I found a few color options, all with blues in them.  Then, I took a picture of them on my phone and texted them to Janice, along with photos of my room so she could see what it looked like.  She suggested I use the blue and green colors with white trim, which worked out great.  And, this shouldn’t have been such a light bulb idea, but she told me I could paint the doors too – really?!?  Why hadn’t I thought of that?!?  And, she also okayed my pink color, but suggested that I not use it to paint the walls, but use it to paint the furniture.  Yes!

First, I painted the blue color as predominant.  I used the bluish green color on the top half of the wall, and painted the shelf, trim and doors all in white. 

Then, I started on the furniture…  This was furniture that I had as a kid growing up.  I remember preparing my room at that time which was all in nature colors – yellow walls, yellow bedspread, chair with leafy print, and, the furniture olive green.  My mom and I painted it.  We put on the green paint and then “antiqued” it, which was maybe big at the time.  I think we bought it at a resale place.  So, my plan was to change the olive green furniture into pink.  

  I wasn’t sure I wanted three pieces of furniture solid pink, so I undertook making drawings of the furniture itself, toying with where the pink should go, along with my complementary color of white.  After multiple drawings, plus some inspiration from the internet, I had my plan!  It was SO MUCH fun!  

Take a peek!  (The photos make the pinks look different, but they are really the same, except for the intended color variations on the tall pieces). I'm still looking for more artwork to match the colors, but got lucky with one and won a piece for free a year ago.


I even hand-painted little flowers on the drawer knobs – all different.  
So hokey, I know, but it is MY project. 

The other day I went back to the hardware store… it was a slow day and the manager and other employees were hanging out at the register.  My young friend said, “oh, here’s the ‘crazy paint lady.’”  I think his boss was horrified, but I was delighted.  I showed him the pictures of my bedroom and the furniture and he loved them!

Monday, June 16, 2014


I just bought an amazing picture at the Chelsea Artists Fair last weekend.  I totally fell in love with it.  It started me thinking about the shared and different experiences of visual artists and stage actors.  In talking with the creator of this work, I learned that she had been thinking about this project for quite some time.  She told me that it had been on her studio for a long time and that she had finished it only 3 days before she sold it.  It was a mixed media work and she said she put a few more pieces of paper on it just recently.  She told me the story of where she got some of the paper that she put on the work.

I couldn’t help wondering how she felt seeing it go away.  I jokingly asked her if she wanted to kiss it goodbye.  Then, I thought, maybe she did?  I was so excited about buying it, that I hugged her. Yes, I paid her a nice amount of money for it, but I wonder if it was difficult to give up something that had been a part of her for such a long time. 
Then I began thinking how this might be similar to being on stage.  For example, on stage, we also spend weeks creating.  We think about our characters, create their story, find their pulse, and become them.  It takes a huge amount of energy to create. With a play, the audience claps so you know what they are thinking pretty quickly.  With an art show, often people look at the art and walk by.  I’m never sure whether I should tell the artist how much I like their work, even if I have no thoughts of buying it.  But, if I say nothing, it may be like an audience not clapping. 

With theater, you are usually rehearsing with others plus a director, so that you receive feedback throughout the process.  But, an artist alone, unless they are involved in a peer group, do they get feedback?  It seems pretty darn scary, like perhaps doing a one-person monologue show. 

And here’s another similarity. This artist in some ways had to trust that I would value her painting as much as she did.  I felt some obligation to tell her where it was going to go and have her know that it was revered.  I wonder if that is a bit similar to a playwright having a play published and trusting that whoever takes that play will perform and interpret it well.  So, in a way, the painting and the play are one art form, and then they become a second art form based on how they are displayed or performed, respectively. And, then of course, there is the audience, who reacts to the art however it is displayed or performed. 

So art turns into art turns into art.  The creativity goes on and on and on….   Lots to wonder about.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Unsung Hero - Sara

Sara Honsowetz is the most hard working, tireless, generous, kind and extraordinary person I know.  She has been part of the Saline Area Players for about 10 years onstage in Cooking with Gus, Arsenic and Old Lace, Wizard of Oz, and You Can’t Take it With You, and behind the stage as the producer for many a show, including some gigantic ones like Gypsy and The Sound of Music. Her other backstage exploits include helping with props, board member (currently VP) and proofreading. She is amazing at selling ads and has the ability to talk people into all kinds of things and barter like crazy. You’d think that would be enough, but one of her greatest contributions to Saline Area Players is that of COSTUMER! Sara organizes our costume storage, rents costumes out, makes new finds and has costumed numerous shows. In the winter, she brings a shovel to the unit and shovels her way in to get to the costumes.
Sara holding up a Willy Wonka costume

You might hear her say “Costumer coming… beware!” as she heads to the dressing rooms. There is no time to waste as she brings in costume after costume for cast members to try on.  When Sara is costuming a show, her home turns into the costume shop.  Her living room is graced with a costume rack, her daughter’s bedroom is filled with clothes, and her car is stuffed to the gills.  She takes the job seriously and often works morning to night.

What costumes is she the most proud?  She loves the oompa loompa costumes she created for last year’s production of Willy Wonka.  She found tie dye overalls for all the loompas and then had each of them choose a color and wear matching socks, shirts, shoes, and tassles on their hats.  Another triumph was creating Electra’s costume in Gypsy. The character is a stripper with an “electrical” costume.  She bought Christmas ornaments that would light up and had another SAP member wire a battery pack to them.  Then she sewed them to the costume and when the battery was turned on, the lights would pop on in rotation.  And then there was Willy Wonka’s hat.  She took a regular top hat and made a pattern of a hat that would go over it.  Of course it was purple.  AND, she found sparkly material with which to trim it.

From Cooking with Gus
Then there is the search for the right costume and the “finds” – driving around looking for things that could work for a particular show.  For example during Willy Wonka, she felt like she drove around the world seeking just the right costume piece. During one week alone she drove 977 miles in search of costumes, traveling from one thrift store to another from Saline to Detroit to Fenton.  And the following week...she went to Bay City where she found the perfect jacket for "Ms TeaVee”!   Another favorite “find” was not a costume, but what we fondly think of as the “Grandpa” picture.  It is a vintage portrait of a stern-looking elderly man with a long white beard that she found for “Arsenic and Old Lace” since they referred to “grandpa” in the show.  Later, this same picture ended up in the “Went with the Wind” sketch in the Carol Burnett Show.
She is currently costuming Annie for SHS and recently told me how she managed to get 6 maid costumes.  She went to Fantasy Attic, a costume store in Ypsilanti that was going out of business (which is, incidentally, a big loss to the theater community as they were the “place to go” for costumes locally).  Anyway, she bought one maid costume but didn’t buy all 6 until she was sure they would be okayed by the director.  Once she got the okay, she called back only to find that they had already moved out.  Not to be undone, Sara drove to the store, found the phone number for the leasing agent, called them and asked them to call the owners of Fantasy Attic.  She was able to reach them and bought the other 5 maid costumes!  Way to go, Sara.  Another costume coup for Annie is that a few years ago she put a dress in our costume supply from a family member, knowing it would be useful someday.  Success! It is a perfect choice for the character of Grace in Annie.  Sara has a keen eye for what may come in handy.

In addition to creating and finding, another part of costuming is to revamp an old costume into a new one.  For example, she found the old wedding gown that eventually turned into a priest’s robe for The Sound of Music.  And, she turned another wedding dress into a bridesmaid dress.  And then there was the challenge of “hiding” the fact that a lead actress was actually pregnant, which required some last minute costume choices.  (As an aside, I’ve now been in two plays where backstage I helped an actress who in real life is pregnant, get into a wedding dress to go out onstage).  Even costumes that belong to Sara’s family are appropriated for shows, like the lederhosen that she bought for her husband that ended up in SAP’s production of Silent Night this past December.
Aunt Martha

One of her favorite finds is the vintage velvet cape that she found and wore during SAP’s Arsenic and Old Lace in which she played Aunt Martha.  And, she was able to use it again during our gala performance last year.

Sara does all this costuming with panache.  She loves making people look good on stage, has incredible patience, and is sensitive to her cast members, finding costumes that will make them comfortable and happy to be on stage.  If you want to see some of her work, come out and see Saline High School’s production of Annie February 21-22. 
Aunt Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace
Penelope Sycamore in You Can't Take it With You

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Painting Courage

Although I had been contemplating this for a while, sometime in the middle of the summer I decided that I was going to paint the living room.  I didn’t have much of a plan in mind except that I like blue and that I wanted to get rid of the stencil I put on the wall about 25 years ago.  So, I went to the hardware store and chose some paint colors.  I showed them to my cousin Janice who was visiting.  She told me they were too bold and to modify them, but was very encouraging.  She told me to go for it and have fun.  When I told my sister that I was going to redo my living room and that I’d noticed that it was a bit drab, she said she just thought I “didn’t care” which I am assuming translates into saying that she figured I was content with not having house beautiful.  In reality, I just hadn’t given it much thought.

At any rate, I have to thank my involvement in theater for giving me the courage to paint.  I have been painting sets for years.  Mind you, I haven’t done the fancy stuff, but I’ve painted plenty of flats (that is the term for the “walls” in theater) and even some fancier stuff with lots of instruction.  So, with that under my belt, I felt “courage” to paint my own walls, and theater set painting has armed me with lots of simple “tips” to make the job easier.  Plus, I already have lots of paint clothes.


Theater has taught me a number of things.  The most useful one is that you can make mistakes.  I can think of a number of mistakes I’ve made painting sets, and lo and behold, if you mess up, you can paint it over again or fix it.  One of my favorite painting stories was the time I was painting shingles on the front of a house, which consisted of drawing dark lines equal distance apart onto the base color.  One day, I dripped, and a drop of the darker color fell on the white of the house.  I couldn’t do much about it and I figured, in my creative fashion, that every house needs a bit of bird poop on it.  Well, the rest of the story is that the next day I came back to find that someone had painted over my “bird poop” and the house was white again.  Presto!  But, back to my own house, I’ve definitely learned the art of practicing and fixing mistakes. 

Another thing that theater has taught me is that “good enough” is okay.  Behind the scenes of a show, we have a mismatch of paints to choose from and often “make do” with a particular color, for example, or slap on some yucky paint as a base coat before we fancy it up with other stuff.  Certainly there are occasional places where the paint job is not perfect, but on stage it is generally “good enough.”  My motto is that if the audience notices that a little bitty line is crooked then the actors aren’t doing their job.  The way this translates to home is that I’ve decided that “good enough” is good enough for me.   I don’t really need house beautiful, but I do need a fun and creative outlet, which this provides.   

There are definite differences between painting at home and painting in the theater.  If there are holes in the flats, we generally cover them up with tape whereas at home, I’ve learned (and like) the art of spackling and sanding.  Also, when you paint a flat, you lay it horizontal on the ground and take the roller on a long stick and go over it while standing up – pretty darn easy and fun.  At home, most (or rather all) of the walls are vertical, making it a bit trickier to paint, and you can’t run over the edges with the roller (like with a flat).

It will be no surprise to anyone that once my walls were painted, my furniture looked drab.  I hadn’t thought much about what would happen after the paint, unlike with a set, which is very well thought out.   So, I’m making it up! I have been adding furniture, curtains, pillows and accessories in a rather spontaneous, although thoughtful, way.  I don’t know how it will turn out, but I’m having a blast.  And, I realize that the paint on the walls simply creates a palette for the creativity that will ensue.  This whole project has turned me into an art nut.  With my new-found courage, I’ve given up my old ways of debating about what should go where which leaves my walls bare, to buying and covering my walls with beautiful art that I like.  I can’t get enough of art shows. Surrounding myself with beautiful art is exciting, and I’ve created my own set right in my living room!