The "Answer man" emails

Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001
Every once in a while the Answer Man comes out of retirement to lend a helping hand to damsels in distress.
Q. Dear Answer Man, I keep reading about this stuff called "Chintz." What in the world is it? Love, Puzzled.
A. Well, Puzzled, where I came from it meant "cheap stuff," as in "Boy, that dress looks Chintzy."

Q. I do a lot of portraits and I wonder if Desitin would help me?
A. Of course, especially if you do a lot of children's portraits. It's really good for painting babies' bottoms.

Q. I read on "the list" something about Nymphenburg. Where is that?
A. I consulted my geography data base to discover that it's across the pond. Furthermore, it's where a lot of the nymphomaniacs hang out -- except for those who escaped to the US but I've not had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of any. I regret that!

Q. Hey, Answer Man, my gold has simply dried up. What's the answer to that?
A. I know just how you feel. I just got the statement on my portfolio today from Merrill Lynch and my gold has dried up, too.

Q. Someone mentioned a web site for cabbage roses. Where is that?
A. I could tell you but it wouldn't do you any good. Cabbage Roses are gone for this season.

The Answer Man
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001
Dear Answer Man:
Q. I read a post by VY some time ago and she made reference to the "demon chairman." Do you know what she had in mind?
A. Devil if I know.
Q. It is so encouraging to know that everyone is saying that their painting improved so much after 20 or 30 years. Isn't that wonderful?
A. Absolutely, I took up china painting two years ago when I was 92. Why, in the year 2029 A.D. ("after death") I will be truly able to admire my work. It gives me something to look forward to and I can hardly wait to see my friend's, AC, expression when she sees my work then.
Q. What do you think should be done with those good folk who still insist in typing in BIG CAPITALS in spite of the fact it is common knowledge that it is BAD NETIQUETTE and VERY HARD for many of us to read?
A. We could try deCAPitation.
Q. I'm not from the United States and wonder what it meant when someone said that that Elderberry syrup was "out of this world?" What does this mean?
A. I think it means, "unearthly."
Q. I'm not sure if I should be insulted or not. I'm a lovely lady and my teacher just happens to be a hunk of a man. He was telling me (up close) about "One hot fire." I told him I was married but he still insisted, "the best approach is to love'm and leave'm." I'm so confused. From... Pretty Thing
A. Oh, Pretty Thing, don't be off-putted. He was obviously talking about the One Fire Method of China Painting. Surely he meant that the magic in that relationship is not over-intimacy but simply to lay down (the strong load of paint), love it just enough (smooth just a bit) and leave it (alone). See, Perhaps your expectations are too high.
Q. Please tell me about good composition. From ... Seemore
A. Composition is simply what works to make it pleasing to most eyes. It give three opportunities. The good artists discover composition by trial and error and apply it to their work. The good teachers are able to describe composition and teach it as if there were laws governing same. The good opportunists categorize it, give it fancy names like "Golden Mean," make it rather obtuse and then sell this knowledge for money. As my sister used to say, "TNT" which means "Taint Nothing To it."
Q. So much of the information seems to be centered about female things -- like recipes and housekeeping and such. They all seem to be of the distaff. Why can't we have questions for the staff people, like, "How Do You Tune A Car?"
A. I know exactly what you mean. I personally use a Tuning Fork.

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2001
Dear Answer Man, Why do people complain in the PPIO list?
A. For many reasons I think.
1. They wish to prove that those who know, do; those who do not, complain.
2. It's an itch that critical people get that cannot be scratched in any other way.
3. Somebody kicked them earlier in the day but they don't have a cat; so, they kick the PPIO list.
4. They don't realize that they're guests in somebody else's "house."
5. Some folk can rise only by standing on somebody else.
6. They're probably sinless - for only sinless people can really throw stones that well.
7. They ate snapper soup for breakfast. That'll do it every time.
8. Being virtually anonymous, they can hit and run.
9. They grew up with vinegar because they don't realize that honey is usually better.
10. They want to give all the rest of us the opportunity to say how ungrateful they are. OOOoops!

Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2001

Q. Answer Man, I spilt LBG Gold on my skirt. How can I clean it?
A. Actually, LBG Gold doesn't have to be cleaned. It's other kinds of gold you have to clean. However, if you insist, you could try digging it out with a scalpel; however, do it in private as you do not wish to be known as a gold digger. My wife suggests that you wash it. She said that some very great people have washed for gold. She also suggested that I tell you not to wear the skirt in public as some people might go for the Gold. If all else fails, take it to a dentist. They're equipped to get the gold out. Oh, yes, it would help to clean the skirt, too, occasionally.

Q. Answer Man, I belong to so many lists, how can I tell if I'm in the wrong one here?
A. There are many ways, but here are ten I might suggest....... You're in the wrong list:

1. If you believe you are the driver of this bus when you're really along just for the ride.
2. If you make suggestions that require tons of time and effort for the PPIO elves and really expect them to leap -- even if it's Christmas and you would like to see "Two Elves A Leaping."
3. If you post in HTML and expect PPIO'ers to applaud your expertise for you have spoken in tongues.
4. If you express your opinion as if it's the only real one in the world.
5. If you think controversy is a form of exercise and advocate everybody's doing it, even lazy folk like the Answer Man.
6. If you think that everyone here will ever agree with each other on everything, anything, something or nothing.
7. If you hit the REPLY button and spilled yesterday's list all over the new day and then celebrated your contribution.
8. If you expect the best stuff for nothing when you're only peeking through the knot hole.
9. If you aim to maim or write to slight or don't pretend to contend with folk who differ.
10. If it's no longer fun.

On the other hand, you can tell it's the right place if:

1. You think the free sample is so great you want to buy the whole enchilada for only about $32 per year.
2. You appreciate the great ideas and lessons and information in the "pay for view" section more than just the demo's in the daily views sections.
3. You want to be a part of a group that knows the value of giving as well as getting.
4. You think that one day you may blurt it out instead of lurk about.
5. You desire to be more than a hitch hiker but help provide the gas.
6. You can grow and mature not only as a painter but as a person with the help and encouragement here.
7. You realize that just as important as your magazine subscriptions and seminars and workshops and multitudinous orders is your paying the piper for this great production. You CAN get something for nothing; but you can get lots more for something.
8. You know that, just like in real life, "Thanks" is not quite enough sometimes.
9. You believe that getting older and better in your china painting is more than just being chronologically gifted.
10. You just love it!

Sorry, other correspondents. There's not enough room for more. 'Til next
In Your Service,
The Answer Man

Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001
Dear Answer Man. . .
Q. Many people are talking about using Soap as a medium. What do you think?
A. I would suggest that you start off sort of cautiously. First, use it with a wash.

Q. What's a good thing to paint for Easter? Love, Happy.
A. Hi, Happy, You haven't much time; so, for the short hop, I'd suggest a Bunny.

Q. My teacher says I paint too thinly. What can I do?
A. I think of an old Biblical injunction, "Repaint Ye Thinners, Repaint."

Q. How can I learn to critique?
A. You first have to learn four phrases, "But...," "Keep Up The Good Work," "Great Work For A Beginner" and "In My Humble Opinion." You can say anything you wish and then add one of these four phrases. Try to work them all in for a better critique.

Q. I used to enjoy China Painting but lately I am sort of listless. What do you suggest?
A. Well, for goodness sake, make another List! There is always China stuff you can put on a list. You don't have to need it.

Q. When I go to seminars and workshops what should I look for?
A. Free things! If you cannot find free things, get cheap ones. If there are none of those just buy whatever everybody else is buying. That's what most people do.

Q. My uncle says that with all my China Painting paraphernalia I must be a witch doctor. Am I?
A. Of course not, you have a vision. This makes you a Shaman.

Q. Do our modern China paints still have lead in them?
A. They must! My teacher keeps yelling at me, "get the lead out." She knows.
More On Another Day. . .

Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2000
Occasionally, the Answer Man comes out of retirement to deal with questions he's asked...
Q. I am a beginner in china painting. What can I do to enhance the viewer's enjoyment. Sincerely, Suzy.
A. Suzy, I would suggest using Garlic Oil for your medium. It really doesn't improve your painting but it encourages folk to stand back further to look at your work.

Q. I painted a plate with flux; actually I painted it twice with flux. Now, I want to etch the plate with acid. What do you think? Sincerely, Jane.
A. Jane, I would not suggest doing this. I had a friend who did this exact same thing and the plate developed acid re-flux.

Q. Answer Man, Every time I do pen work things just seem to fizzle. What can I do? Love, PB.
A. You could try to use something other than Alka Seltzer water to do your pen work.

Q. I have this gold pen and it doesn't work. Any suggestions. Sincerely, "Digger."
A. What difference does it make what color your pen is? Use a brown one or a blue one. They write the same.

Q. I've heard things about pointillism. Can you explain this to me?
A. I'm not real familiar with this but I think it's really a game. China painters put blindfolds over their eyes and point their loaded brushes at the canvas, sometimes hitting it. They do this over and over. The most original piece wins. If that's not the correct answer, you can do it anyway.

The Answer Man (sometimes retired)

Q. Answer Man, I bought this new fangled banding wheel and don't know what to do with it. Can you help?
A. Of course, most people use it this way. You get it all set up and go out into the yard to your bird feeder and catch one of those cute little birds. You bring it carefully into the house and set it on your banding wheel. When the little bird spins around it gets dizzy. At that moment you put one of those little bands around one of its little feets. He'll get his balance soon and you can then turn him loose - preferably outside. It's a wonderful thing and helps the Autoban Society.

Q. Answer Man, folk were talking about remembering the other day and somebody mentioned Unions. Do you remember them?
A. Absolutely. My Mother taught me. I recall when they first started advertising Western Unions. My Mother wondered why cowboys needed special underwear. I offered that it must be colder out there in Texas.

Q. Answer Man, how can I heat my little bottle of gold? I understand it works better than way.
A. There are many answers but I leave you with three. The first is called the Chest Rub. You sort of, uhhh, put it between where your chest is.... The second is called the Coffee Mate. I discovered this quite by accident. I dropped the little bottle in my coffee and when I used it (both the gold and the coffee) it was wonderfully fluid.... The third method is referred to as Moon Glow. One simply sits on the little bottle. The smell is hardly noticeable.

Thanks for asking the Answer Man.

Subject: OT and other Prophecy
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2002
The Answer Man's Column . . .
Q. Answer Man, I have heard that men's underwear is really good to use as rags. What'da you think?
A. I think it's dangerous. My wife grabbed a pair of my underwear the other day to wipe up a spill. They worked great. Unfortunately, I was still in them.
Q. Can you really fire Corelle hot?
A. Certainly, I have a Corelle plate that is presently being used as a picture frame of sorts. I absentmindedly put it in the kiln with some other stuff and fired at 015. It slid right over the shelf and congealed into a marvelous shape. I call it my Salvador Corelli. If you use your imagination you can create a marvelous fruitbowl.
Q. I'll give you a penny for your thoughts.
A. No, if I did that I'd lose money. I always put in my 2 cents worth. If I get only a penny for them, I'm losing 50% on every cranial explosion.
Q. Can you suggest a good box for gifts?
A. I certainly do not suggest Whitman Chocolate Candy boxes. I did that last Christmas. I bought a carload of those to use as gift boxes. I felt obligated to eat the candy -- all 1142 pieces. I do not recommend that.
Q. What do you think about those roll-up brush holders.
A. I think they're just sew-sew.
Q. Some folk use Transmission fluid to clean their brushes. Do you think that's the best?
A. Well, don't know if it's the best or not but if you do buy it, get the automatic kind rather than manual. Why not let it do all the work?
Q. Have you ever painted a portrait of a Playboy Bunny?
A. I've sort of stayed away from those. Just like every warm-blooded American boy, I grew up looking at the center spread of somebody else's Playboy magazine. I was married before I realized that all women to not have staples in their navels. I just don't know what else I'll find if I mess around with Bunny Portraits. They may be ok for the short hop but I don't think for the long run.
Thanks for writing to the Answer Man.
Until Next time . . . . . . .

Subject: The Answer Man
Sun, 23 Dec 2001
Q. Mr. Know It All Answer Man. You make it sound like the "Pay For View" part of PPIO is the best thing since sliced bread. I'm not a paying member; so, what am I missing?
A. Unless you're the best in your class (and even then), you definitely can benefit from the information that is behind closed doors and available only to paying members of PPIO. Here are just a few.
* I might get the hankering to capture a shimmering spider web on a plate in 3-D glory. Jean Beebe shows me (in carefully spun ways) just how to do this. How wonderfully impressive this is...... P.S. Spider rebuilds web immediately.
* Penwork has it's own peculiarities and I don't have time to experiment and learn them all. Alice Wofford teaches me how to do this by way of a friendly Tiger and a few deft strokes.
* If I drop one of my freshly painted plates, I might be tempted to throw the whole thing in the waste basket. Well, there are ways to recycle that painted china and perhaps be congratulated for your avant garde piece. The answer's here. Some things are great just as they're cracked up to be.
* Are you an expert on Lusters? You can learn to use Luster without Fluster by following the guidance of folk who have this art down pat. It's a small, small swirl they live in.
* Would a Water Drop be a neat thing added to a leaf or blossom that you've painted? It has more steps that the Waltz for sure but you can find out how to do it by going through that special door of "Members Only."
* Are you sure that your leaves match your flowers or are they botanically correctly? You'll find ways to assure this behind the door. You can take it or leaf it.
* Have you bought Bisque that feels more than a sand castle than a dream castle? Beverly Stone tells you what to look for quickly when you choose your next piece of Bisque. Look under Bisque Quick.
* Maybe you've gotten the itch to do some air-brushing. Unless you were born with a gun in your hand (airbrush gun, that is) you'll probably have to learn how. You'll find several articles on this behind the Member's door. Give it a shot.
* Do you have all the ideas that you can possibly use for the painting of your blanks? Not to worry, with more than 75 illustrated lessons and/or articles online -- that'll keep you busy for a month of Sundays. All good painters use blanks.
* Oh, Yes, do you have immediate access to the accumulated wisdom of hundreds of excellent painters -- all indexed by subjects and just waiting in an area called FAQ. You can't get there except as a paying member. And you thought King FAQ was one of Ben Ladin's fellows didn't you?
* You said you don't know where to find some pictures of old barns or new tigers? Well, all paying members can search for these in the photo database. And if you belong, you don't have to paws to get there.
So, Sweet Stuff, all this and more can be yours for about $32 a year. That's a little bit more than sliced bread, but not much.
Out Of Breath,

The Answer Man

Q. Hey, Answer Man. I've been told that if you have a little fresh red paint on a shard or so of china when you paint your LBG, it will make it lighter and brighter. What do you think?
A. Absolutely. The proof is in the pudding (if that's the kind of dish you put the gold on). I think it's because color likes harmony. That FACT is right up there with banging on a new tree every day with a rolled up newspaper for the first year. It helps the tree to wake up and grow. However, be warned that some folk think the tree gets used it and will have to have it done unto the rest of its life and don't let the dog see you with that rolled up newspaper. It is also a fact that if you keep your Guitar on a stand in a room and leave the radio on for it, it will certainly play better than without this loving treatment. It has to do with sympathetic vibrations. It is also a fact that my wife seems to sleep better in a room with gold in it. Don't have any rational explanation for this but it seems to be a fact. She's looking over my shoulder here and says diamonds do the same thing. However, she is unaware that you cannot put diamonds in a kiln without fearsome results. Those kind are called "hot" diamonds. My uncle had some of those.
Q. Answer Man, what's your take on lead in paint.
A. Well, I was never able to get the lead out of my pants but I so believe that I've been able to do it with my paints. I liken lead to something like beer in the frying pan. If you cook it hot enough it just kind of evaporates leaving you just enough to talk about. Just stay away from acids. You got no business eat'n that stuff anyway. The same thing is true about lead paint inhouses before 1976. To prove a point, my uncle warmed his entire house to 3000 degrees and no one could find any lead anywhere. He was the same uncle who drank a glass of milk one morning and was later arrested for speeding. It was the hardest thing to get my kids back on milk after that.
Q. Dear Answer Man. How in the world do you know all this?
A. Actually, my knowledge base is not of this world at all. My dear wife says that I'm totally unearthly -- and I don't think she necessarily means heavenly. But I would hasten to point out that in every culture and every art the oral tradition is most important. If any time you do not know something you can say, "They Say..." Who in the world can dispute that? Have you ever thought that the "They" may be little people from afar? My uncle died and we think that he might have been abducted because of the milky way. He really loved milk. My Dad poo pooed the whole thing as udder nonsense but it's hard to break the hold of the oral tradition.
Thanks for writing the Answer Man.


Dear Answer Man . . .
Q. I hear so much about the Golden Mean. Please tell me about it. Suzy
A. Dear Suzy, it's another of those injustices of society. Those who have the Gold are usually Mean. This is almost like the Golden Rule in which those who have the Gold, Rule. My advice is to simply stay away from those who have Gold. It's just too easy to be rubbed the wrong way.

Q. Maybe somebody else asked you about this. My memory is not what it used to be. Sophia (I think).
A. Dear Sophia, just what was it you wanted to ask me.

Q. Sometimes I just get the urge to type in all caps. How can I do that without getting fussed at? Rebel Jane.
A. Well, Rebel, it's really simple. You first say, "I Know I'm Shouting BUT..." Then you can type as BIG as please. It's just like all that MIME or HTML stuff. If you've bought a computer, hooked up your modem, joined the list, and all that complicated stuff -- how in the world can anyone expect you to know how to go into the settings and put a little check mark by "Plain Text." Just let people know that sometimes, they just want too much.

Q. There's this lady who signs herself "Guitar Painter." Have you any idea why she does this? Bean.
A. Dear Bean, I don't have the slightest idea, but my mind runs wild. I certainly cannot imagine that is because she wears a "G" string when she paints. Perhaps it is because she's high strung. But for my money, I think it's because she is really very beautiful and when she dons a diaphanous doily and dances with her fan brush, her lovely silhouette reminds her bow of .... you know what.

Q. Goodness Graciousness, Answer Man, I did some enamel work on bisque and it ran. What can I do? Pokey
A. Dear Pokey, if you were named for the reason that I think, you may be out of luck. When bisque runs it is a most difficult problem.
Sometimes it's just no telling where it will end up. Some enamellists spend their entire lives trying to put a stop to running bisque. Good Luck.

Q. You are so intelligent, Answer Man. Tell me, I want to paint some clouds with silver linings. What kind of brush should I use to put the silver on the linings? D. Reamer
A. Dear D. I would suggest a home-made brush. Some of these tools work absolutely wonderfully. First you go to the ocean and cut yourself just a little piece of shore line. You fuzz up the end and use it to daub the linings. Please be sure to let me know how this comes out.

Until another time.
Answer Man