Honolulu Star-Bulletin

'Eazy Stuff' hopes to tap into

the latent artist in you in this latest

in a string of 'how-to' shows

Story by Nadine Kam

THE melodramatic among us excel at inserting difficulty into any situation, whether it involves relationships or the task of learning.

Ann Marie Kirk has another way to do things -- the "eazy" way. The producer-director applied her philosophy to learning how to cook in the TV series "Eazy Grindz," and when that worked, she turned her attention to playing the guitar ("Eazy Tunes") and playing the ukulele ("Eazy Strummin' "). Now, her lens is focused on art.

Pegge Hopper, left, and Page Schoenke Chang in "Eazy Stuff."

Like her past series, the state Department of Education-sponsored "Eazy Stuff" is geared toward teenagers. Knowing how intimidating the subject of art can be, even to adults, Kirk said, "Let's not make kids afraid to go into galleries to look at art. Let's teach them that it's OK to be an artist."

"Eazy Stuff" host Page Schoenke Chang introduces young people to art through the possibilities lurking right in their bedrooms in the form of ugly, naked desk lamps and ratty chairs. With the help of guest artists, Chang presents two projects in each of six episodes, whether it's painting a chair, a lamp or door.

Parents will probably want to be consulted, and may have to foot the bill for the "renovations," but Kirk said, "It's OK to express yourself, especially in your own environment.

"In Hawaii, kids are a little shy about things but it's important to just do it and believe in yourself."

"This is the kind of show kids need," said Don Walker, who is the guest artist in tomorrow's episode (repeats Sunday). "They just need the idea that they can do it and when they do, everybody will say it's fabulous."

Walker said he'll be painting a chair with Martian fish scales up its legs and UFOs on its seat.

"I was just making blobs and it made me think of the 50th anniversary of the Roswell, New Mexico, fiasco, and I thought the blobs could be UFOs hovering."

Although the show is geared toward teens, adults may also find the inspiration to tackle a project of their own.

Walker didn't start painting until he ended his first career as a dealer in Japanese antiques in New York and Florida five years ago. Since then, his work has been exhibited in several local galleries and at The Contemporary Museum.

"Although I had a formal M.F.A. I never studied painting. I studied jewelry making and textile design.

"I told myself when I moved to Hawaii that I would like to have a home that is way out, wacky and colorful. I was amazed at how it changed who I was because it changed peoples' perception of who I was. They suddenly began to think I was a wild and crazy person, and I'm not, but (my surroundings) gave me permission to be wild and crazy.

Pegge Hopper examines a lamp she painted.

"Your house is so much a part of who you are. It's the most immediate expression of who you are.

He added, "The dullest thing you can look at is a room with all matching furniture."

Getting started

When you're talking about painting a chair, the details can bog you down. You may start to notice little cracks and pukas that require a wood filler and vigorous sanding. Then you might start to worry about whether you need a primer and whether you should use an oil- or acrylic-based paint. After awhile, you may start to think the project is more trouble than it's worth.

Walker said, "The younger you are, the less that kind of stuff bothers you. You just get a quart of paint and go. The older we get, the more restrained we are. We start to feel insecure. The trick is to do it and keep doing it, learning more as you go."

If you don't want to start with the big family dining table, he suggests starting with a small tile or a small stool, sanding first so paint sticks better. Chang and Walker recommend using interior latex house paint, which covers objects completely, gives intense color and clean up easy in water. Then use a clear, water-based polyurethane cover to seal.

Half-pint cans of paint sell for about $4 to $6 at any hardware store. Inch-wide brushes sell for less than $1.50. Paint sealants run $6 to $10. A one- or two-color paint job on a small item should run less than $20.

Don't restrict yourself to paint. Broken pieces of ceramics, beach glass and floor tiles can be used to create mosaic surfaces on table tops, vases, lamps and picture frames. Craft rhinestones and beads can also be glued on to objects to give them more texture.

The ultimate test

To make sure the "Eazy Stuff" TV series measured up to its billing, we sat a couple of teens in front of a TV, then turned them loose in a garage with paints, brushes, a stool and a lamp.

When Kevin Murata, a '97 Kamehameha Schools graduate saw the naked stool from At Home, he immediately wanted to trade projects with Kamehameha senior Carly Bolson.

"I don't want to do this," he said. "It's too nice. I like it the way it is."

Carly Bolson, above, paints a lampshade bought

at Goodwill for $5.20.

Bolson didn't want to trade; she already had mapped out her lamp shade with a sunny sky theme. She opted to leave the lamp base alone: it's sunny yellow and white color worked well with the shade.

Bolson went to work quickly. She's accustomed to making art out of the ordinary, having made soap carvings in the past and painted her mom's old cosmetic compacts with nail polish to make custom coin purses.

"But I never thought of painting furniture," she said.

Murata had a harder time getting started, unsure about which colors to use, but by the end of the session, his "Predator"-meets-Nine Inch Nails work would have made Jackson Pollock proud. Murata, a future engineer, graduated from making polite pats with a paper towel to dripping paint and slapping it on, even pulling vines out of the Bolsons' fence and painting those to create a stool and wrap-around vine assemblage.

"I was trying to make it neat, then it started to get messy," he said. "The thing is not trying too hard. If you just have fun it's cool."

Eyeing his finished work, which he intends to take to the University of Hawaii dorms his freshman year, he said, "I hope no one steals it."

Meanwhile, a logical next project for Kirk would be "Eazy TV," but the producer/director says she's more likely to take an easy vacation. "Just go and relax," she said. "I did 18 shows this summer."