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Creativity Art Blog

Art & Crafting Hints, Tips & Discussion

  • The Mesmerizing Installations of Katharina Grosse

    Grosse

    Where art seeps into life

    Katharina Grosse is a German artist and writer, born in Freiburg in 1961 and lives and works in Berlin. The artist uses acrylic spray paint fired through industrial spray guns to create immersive, colour experiences. Creating her works on an enormous scale, the works make the viewer aware of their own size in comparison. Grosses’s rainbow-like installations appear to be simultaneously concerned with the nature of observation and the fact of simply being in the space. The artist paints across whole stretches of chosen sites or gallery walls, swallowing up architectural details, or objects that she incorporates into the painting. We realise that the boundaries between where the ‘painting’ begins and where the gallery space or building ends begins to blur, encouraging us to view the whole space as an artistic experience.

    Grosse 2

    Joyful, bold colour

    As she paints, layers of paint build upon one another, creating a patchwork of colours that connect and respond with each other. Textures of rock, sand, bookshelves and even beds appear otherworldly after she has passed her paint over them, and contrast with dripping or cloudy spray gun marks that cover the flat walls. Due to the use of spray paint, her works have a graffiti-like style that evokes a certain tag or signature quality to the works. Through this manner of working, we also feel that these paintings are done quickly and decisively, almost like a performance yet with no audience bearing witness to it.

    Katharina Grosse’s work strikes me as truly joyful. She incorporates a whole range of materials into her work, and challenges us to rethink the nature of a painting, and how we might frame such a concept. Her brilliant, saturated hues spreading across enormous spaces appear to me as a celebration of colour, illustrating that the medium of paint seems more alive than ever today.

  • Artists Profile: Angel Perdomo

    This month's artist's profile is with Angel Perdomo

    Originally from the Canary Islands of Spain but currently living and working in Poland.  A mainly self-taught artist, Angel produces beautiful, if sometimes disturbing portraiture and figurative work which explores states of mind and being.  We asked him to talk a bit about himself and his background.

    angel1

    When did you first get involved with art?

    Ever since I can remember I have always drawn and painted.  These activities were always something natural and necessary for me from a young age.  At the same time I have grown as a person and this is reflected in my growth as an artist.

    How would you describe your work?

    I would define it as figurative poetic art, combining experimental concepts with a strong fantastic character through which I create images with open meanings.

    Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work? 

    In my painting I usually use a mixed technique on wood. I begin by laying down a layer of acrylic to obtain different textures and at the same time begin to block in something of the basic colour scheme.  Next, on top of this acrylic base, I carry out the more complex work with oil paint.

    In my drawing work I used mixed media on paper.  I use many different techniques, depending on the result I am trying to achieve.

    If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?

     I currently don’t have a fixed affiliation with any of these type of spaces.  At the moment I am looking to establish just this type of connection on a permanent basis, either in the Poland where I am currently resident or abroad.

    If from traditional art background (i.e. higher education in art) how do you think the institutions you were associated with have formed/ informed your practice?

     The closest thing to a formal art education which I have undertaken was my time at the Escuela de Arte Feranado Estevez de Tenerife, where I took my certificate in art, and la Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Granada where I took the Ciclo Superior in Illustration.  Despite this I consider that my true artistic formation in self-taught.

     If from other type of background (i.e. no formal art education) what were the reasons for not pursuing this route and how do you feel this has influenced your art?

     My art education has been mainly self- taught. I have learnt techniques and artistic language through practice and experimentation.  I believe that personal, individual practice is essential for the development of an independent artistic personality even if and when this is accompanied by traditional academic training.

     angel2

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

     I am inspired by all artists who use the human form, but who are not realists, but who instead work in reinterpretation.  Above all I am inspired by those artists who are independent and work outside of established fashions and movements.  For example Francisco de Goya, Edvard Munch, Oskar Kokoschka or Francis Bacon.

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

     The inspiration behind my work comes from different emotional states, unconscious thoughts and anthropology.

     What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?

     I work in a space which is both my home and my studio.

    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?

     I would advise them to be deeply passionate about what they do, to the point of being capable and willing to make all the sacrifices which an artistic life involves.  I would also advise that they develop a critical stance in relation to their own work, in order to be able to continually improve.

    What do you think is the importance of art to society?

     I believe that art and culture in general are two of the defining characteristics of the human race.  As a consequence, to deny the importance of art is to deny our own humanity.  For this reason, art should be far more present and visible in society than it currently is.

    Culture should be something which we prize, because culture helps in the development and growth of all people, which in its turn helps to improve society in general.

    angel3

    If you would like to see more of Angel's work or contact the artist you can follow him on facebook  on his website angelperdomo.com or contact him directly through his email, perdomo_art@hotmail.com.

  • Chinese Brush Painting

    New Products and Techniques

    We have some beautiful new Chinese brush painting sets now available to buy in store or online.  They would make great presents for someone looking for a new hobby, and we’ve put together a brief guide to Chinese brush painting, in case you needed some more information.

    chineseBrushSet71L

    An Ancient Chinese Painting Technique

    The technique of Chinese brush painting has existed since about 4000 B.C.  Traditionally the style involves everything from Buddhist religious paintings to landscape and figure painting. There are various different styles involved in the traditional technique such as “blue and green landscapes” which use bright blue, green and red pigments and “ink-and-wash landscapes” which use vivid brushstrokes and different concentration of ink to create images.  Particularly well known are the flower and bird paintings which broke off from more general decorative styles to form their own genre.  The subject matter of this style usually involves flowers (such as plum and cherry blossoms, orchids, bamboo), koi fish or trees (cypress and pines).

    download (4)

    Materials and Methods Of Chinese Ink Painting

    download (5)

     

    The distinctive Chinese painting style is closely linked to the particularity of the materials used.  Most importantly is the Chinese Brush.  This is similar to a western watercolour brush but it thins to a much finer tip which allows for a wide variation of line.

     

    The specific method of brushstrokes is particularly important to creating the style.  It is hard to explain in words how this works, especially as it is so centred on movement.  Here are two links to videos which show the vital energy of the Chinese brushstroke technique.  You can find a wealth of other videos on youtube which will help you to understand the various techniques.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m4yJ9FrAsM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF3EbR8y8go

    images (1)How do I use the Chinese Ink?

    The ink used for Chinese painting is usually ground down from an ink cake or stone (you can use other inks but the powdered nature of the Chinese inks mean that you can create different densities of ink which you cannot get in quite the same way with a liquid ink.)  Chinese painting is generally done on Chinese Paper or Silk.  Chinese Paper has been made with different materials throughout history including pulp, old fishing nets and tree bark.  Modern paper is usually machine made and is sometimes called rice paper in English.  The paper is similar to watercolour paper in that it varies in weight, absorbency and surface texture.

    download (6)

    If you fancy giving Chinese Brush Painting a try, why not check out our related products.

     

  • Things We Love That We Think You’ll Love Too

    A Few of Our Favourite Things 

    The world is full of amazing, talented people creating beautiful things.  One of the great things about modern communications is that you can discover new art and artists all the time, even when they are on the other side of the world.  Here’s our pick of people this month who we think you’ll love and should know about.

    Pixie Cold

     

    Pixie Cold (Svenja) is a Berlin born artist who has been creating an internet fan base since 2009 and a full time professional artists since 2012.  She uses watercolour, acrylics and collages to create her vibrant and energetic work.  Her focus on eyes is a particular feature.  In her own words, she says “the very least thing she intends is to be a conventional artist anymore.”

    pixie

    You can check out Pixie Cold’s work on her website (http://pixiecold.org), her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pixiecoldss/timeline)  or her Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/PeeGeeArts) .  She also provides tips and product reviews on her Youtube channel which are worth a look if you fancy trying out some of her techniques in your own work.

     

    Paul Lewin

     

    Lewin is a Jamaican born artist who has spent his life in Miami and Oakland where he currently resides.  Although Lewin says he has always been interested in art and worked on creative projects, he decided not to pursue art college as he found the prescriptive nature of school art projects limiting and unstimulating.  Lewin eventually moved into acrylics which is what most of his work is done in today.  He had his first show in 1998 in Miami.  He is inspired by Jamaican mythology, sci-fi and fantasy art and ancient artifacts.

    11666057_935368759838533_2651262237307484616_n

     

    You can check out Paul Lewin’s work on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/paullewinart/) or his website (http://www.paullewinart.com).

    Johanna Basford

     

    Johanna Basford is a Scottish born artist who graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2005.  She has become extremely well known recently for her beautiful adult colouring books, although she creates a variety of work.  You can check her out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/johanna.basford/timeline) or on her website (http://www.johannabasford.com) .

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    We love discovering new artist and new art.  Do you have anyone you would like to bring to our attention?  Comment here or on our Facebook page and help the art you love reach more people around the world.

     

     

    ~Fiona MacHugh

  • Easy and Fun Printmaking Techniques!

    Have you ever wanted to try out quick, simple ways of printmaking at home?

    Did the thought of needing specialist equipment or using solvent-based materials around the house put you off? Now you can explore high quality printmaking techniques at home with just a few easy products that we have here in store at iArtsupplies. All you need is a roller, our Seawhite of Brighton water-based block printing ink, some plastic sandwich bags or sheets of acetate to use as your printing ‘plate’ and any drawing materials that you have around the house.

    printingink

    Easy and safe to use printing inks

    All you need to do is ‘ink up’ your sandwich bag or acetate – meaning roller out a thin, even amount of your printing ink (you can even use acrylic paint with some acrylic medium or fabric paint if you want to print onto fabrics, all of which we stock here!)

    Then draw into the wet ink or paint with whatever drawing materials you like to create your design. Get creative! You can use pens, pencils, brushes, but also things like cotton buds, scrapers, old toothbrushes… anything that makes a mark that you like. You can also experiment with pressing materials into the ink that will leave an imprint, or pattern – like leaves, twigs, sponges, bubble wrap, even scrunched up paper or cling film!

    ABurke

    (Photograph courtesy of Alisa Burke)

    Get Creative!

    All you need to do now is press your chosen material face down onto your plate, whether its paper, card, fabric or even canvas, and roller it across the back with a clean roller to really press the surface into the plate. If you’ve applied a thick layer of paint, you may even get a ghost print if you try printing your plate again. Happy experimenting!

     

     

  • Gerard Quenum:  Valley of the Dolls

     

    Last year I was visiting the National Museum of Scotland on a day out in Edinburgh when I came up against one of Gerard Quenum’s sculptures for the first time.  I find that art produces several different types of positive effect in me if I like it.  Sometimes it’s a technical appreciation, sometimes it’s a sense of connection with what the artist is representing or trying to say.  And sometimes there is something deeper, something where the visual elements of a piece of work combine to create messages, messages which touch our own visual memories which are connected to experience. These are the pieces of work which you can never forget, which can even come to superimpose themselves over your own emotional memories as a kind of synthesis of all the things which that piece connects for you.

     

     

    gerard-quenum-s-l-ange L'Ange

    For me straight away the sculpture brought vividly memories of my childhood home Nairobi and the city’s copious rubbish dumps, bits of coloured plastic, broken toys, and mangy dogs, but also of the many traditional tribal dolls which as a backdrop were ever present images when I was growing up in one way or another.

    L’Ange is a towering wooden structure ( a reclaimed upended drum) with one of Quenum’s trademarks, a dolls head, blackened and damaged.  The piece if also unique in that the eyes of the doll are actually made out of a wasp’s nest, which happened by chance in Quenum’s studio whilst he was creating the piece.  (You can read about the conservation efforts in relation to this aspect in an interesting article here: http://blog.nms.ac.uk/2013/08/12/for-your-eyes-only-repairing-gerard-quenums-lange/)

    I remember staring up at this piece and feeling the sensation of fire burning, charring the wood and the plastic, and knowing that this was a piece of art and an artist that I was not going to forget in a hurry.

    Quenum was born in 1971 in Porto Novo, Benin and is part of a movement of francophone African artists now starting to receive international recognition for their work.   Quenum’s work has risen from a form of street art springing out of Porto Novo and Cotonou where spontaneous exhibitions are organised in the city streets.  This “Boulev’art” (Art on the Boulevard) is beginning to gain international popularity and Quenum now has a considerable list of joint and solo exhibitions on the national scene under his belt.  As well as exhibiting in Benin and other African countries such as Senegal and Togo Quenum has also exhibited in London, France and Brazil.

    It isn’t hard to see why Quenum’s work has enjoyed some success.  Whether you love it or hate it there is no denying that these altered dolls are both striking and memorable.  I suppose on some level it saddens me that the first reaction people seem to have to the pieces is “that’s weird” or “freaky” or some such thing.  Whilst it is obvious that these pieces are meant to have some unsettling effect, it is a shame to see so many people dismiss the work as an attention grabbing gimmick when there is so much behind this work.

     

    la-vendangeuse(1) La Vendangeuse (The Reaper)

     

     

    Quenum’s work is produced almost exclusively using reclaimed and repurposed materials, most notably wood and bits of old dolls.  The dolls, almost always originally white baby dolls, then undergo a transformation process, usually using fire to blacken their skin and to frizz up their hair. These alien baby dolls, given to African children, are being transformed into something which resembles to a greater extent these children.  They are also being transformed into something which many times resembles traditional African dolls or masks, whilst always at the same time retaining something incongruous.  It is this incongruity which makes people uncomfortable but it is also what makes Quenum’s work so hauntingly beautiful.  There is a disturbing lost innocence about these reworked dolls, something which makes them both comforting and potentially terrifying.  I suppose another thing that they brought immediately to my mind were child soldiers, innocent faces, scarred and marked by the histories of war torn countries.  Can innocence exist where situations of extreme exploitation of the human being exist?  La Vendangeuse (The Reaper) above perfectly illustrates this for me.  The doll here is joined by another familiar childhood figure for Europeans, a stuffed Disney Tigger toy, but it is totally out of place.  The elongated hooded figure reminds me of the many nomadic herds people who are so common a view in many African countries, and the children who are so often occupied with looking after their livestock, carrying their blankets around with them to sleep with the animals.  However there is a darker side to this, The Reaper, is also death. The face of innocence in conjunction with the concept of the Grim Reaper calls to mind again for me child soldiers, agents of death hiding behind unexpected guises.

     

    Quenum’s work is well worth a look at and if you happen to be travelling through Edinburgh go and see the real thing.  At the least its something totally different, at the most it might be a new obsession.

     

     

     

    Fiona MacHugh

  • Portrait Artist

    Dutch Portrait Artist

    https://youtu.be/of_pW-nwGxA?list=PLag3BK7yc27siPeEc9ylUwDUde3ozScQL&t=124

    Dutch Portrait painter, Ben Lustenhouwer, paints with Rembrandt materials only. Ben has become more and more known for is portraiture. Because of this he is gaining many more commissions from countries like countries like The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Belgium, France, Switzerland, England, Finland, Russia, Mexico, USA, and China.  His career as an independent artist started in 1972 while visiting the academy of art in Utrecht. Ben studied drawing and anatomy at a very early age with the renowned Beatus Nijs in Hilversum. With this foundation it is no wonder he can produce such beautiful and talented portraits.

    See more of his work on his website and learn what techniques he uses and more.

    This video above shows him using the Rembrandt Oils and how to paint a portrait of this little girl he has done.

  • Artist's Profile: Libby Page

    Libby Page

    Our latest Artist’s Profile for our readers is with Libby Page.  Born in Bath in England Libby is currently resident in Narbonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France.  Libby has a BA in Fine Art specializing in sculpture from what was the Wimbledon School of Art (now Wimbledon College of Art).   Libby currently has professional affiliations with galleries Inspiré in Azille, Southern France ( https://www.facebook.com/InspireAzille/) and Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne, Southern France (http://www.vuesurcours.com).  She has also exhibited in Lyon and the UK but works mainly with private clients.

    WEBconsequence

    What kind of art do you produce and how/ when did you start to get involved with this?

    Moving to the south of France nearly ten years ago revived the passion for colour that I’ve had since I was a child. As I travelled within the region I found myself asking how I would mix up the colour of this cloudless blue sky, the riotous autumn vineyards, the bright spring poppies or the distant mountains.

    Finally it was the Canal du Midi with it’s beautiful tree-lined banks that pushed me to take these colour-filled musings and try attempt to pay homage to the splendour that was all around me. The Canal, as we know it today, is coming to the end of one glorious chapter as it’s majestic plane trees are being felled due to disease.

    WEBPouvoir

    So, not only was I stirred by the Mediterranean colours and the trees whose architectural forms resonated with the sculptor within me, but now I also had a deadline; these trees are coming down fast, each year the canal-scape changes. It is still very beautiful as new vistas are now opening up which were once hidden, but it is changed.

    So at first glance it seems apparent that I am a landscape painter, but there is also a hidden message within the work. Each colour has a meaning of my own invention. So as I paint, I am telling a story or remembering a moment. It is a way of writing in code, my secret diary.

    More here: http://libbypage.eu/coded-messages

    WEBStill Standing

    Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work? 

     Used to working with traditional oil paints, I am now making the switch to Cobra, water mixable oil paints. The transition has been easier than I thought because the most important thing for me is colour and they are so good. One of the best sap greens I have ever used! I’m a fan of translucent paint and they match up to their traditional counterparts 100%. The difference has been one of texture. Oil paints have a sumptuous fluidity which is less evident in the Cobra paints. However, a little medium, (or a little water!) soon fixes that.

    WEBGracious

    If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?

     

    The relationship with Inspiré in Azille started when a friend of a friend told me about them. I met the owner, Angela Saunders, four years ago and liked both her and her vision for the gallery from the start. She is a pioneer of fine art in a region that is mostly devoted to the more natural pleasures that the land has to offer, namely wine!

    I have only recently been approached by Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne. The owner, Claude Tassus-Bauléry has seen my work evolving over the last few years and wanted me to be a part of her portfolio when she opened her new space in the centre of Narbonne. Very exciting!

     

    If from a traditional art background (i.e. higher education in art) how do you think the institutions you were associated with have formed/ informed your practice?

     I think my most formal lessons were learnt before my higher education started. The fundamentals of colour mixing I learnt at school and the disciplines of constant observation and a disciplined drawing practice I learnt during my one year foundation course. My higher education taught me how to talk about my practice and how to understand what I am doing now in the context of art history and the wider contemporary scene. After that, a job working in an art gallery gave me a glimpse into seeing things from the other side; a comprehension of what people like to buy and also the confidence that it is possible to survive as an artist. However, we learn every day and from every experience. You can be a great artist with no formal training at all.

     

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

     In chronological order of influence in my life, a condensed list looks something like this;

    Andrew Fraser, Errol Le Cain, Otto Dix, David Elgey, Paul Cezanne, André Derain,    Francis Bacon, Simon Müller, Barbara Hepworth, Yoko Ono, Edmund de Waal, Ronald F Smith, David M Martin, Domonic Hills, David Hockney, Peter Doig.

     

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

     Externally, the Canal du Midi and the light of Southern France. Internally, my faith, my questions, my observations and reactions.

     

    What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?

     

    I have a wee room in my home, 3m x 4m. North light and neighbours peep through the window. I’m beginning to outgrow it now but it has been so nice working at home with my cat.

     

    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?

     

    • If you are nervous, it shows that you care.
    • If you want to be good, don’t give up practicing. If something seems impossible, carry on practicing until it is easy.
    • Wear many hats. Once the first hurdle of learning how to make your work well has been leapt over you will still need to learn how to market your work and plan your time effectively to meet demands from galleries or private clients.
    • Enjoy it. Or stop. There are easier ways to make a living!

     

    What do you think is the importance of art to society?

     

    Like an oasis in a desert, like a question posed by a child which exposes the fact that the emperor is naked, like bird song,

     

    Art is vital.

     

    WEBPigasse 2013 Anne

     

     

  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Flake White

    Why Can't I Find Flake White?

    Flake white is getting increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain in the art supplies world, so we thought we would explain to our customers why.

    The short and simple answer is that Flake White is made based on a lead white pigment.  Due to the toxicity of lead many companies have decided to stop producing the paint.  However in the UK and the EU lead white pigment is not actually illegal in ARTISTS paint as long as it is packaged in child proof containers, however it is illegal in other products.  The relatively low amounts required by this portion of industry has led to a decline in production of the pigment in general.  This means it is more difficult for companies producing the paint to obtain lead white and also more expensive, leading many to stop production altogether as the product becomes financially inviable.  The companies which do continue to produce it raise their prices as production cost increases.

    The alternatives available for artists who want flake white are fairly limited.  Zinc white and Titanium white have virtually replaced flake white in many paint ranges but both of these paints have fundamental differences.  Titanium white has a higher opacity and tinting strength which means it can overpower tints more easily than flake white.  Some artists also complain about its chalkiness when compared to flake white.  Zinc white is less opaque than either flake white or titanium white and is weaker in tinting strength.

    Companies like Windsor and Newton also produce substitutes such as  flake white hue.  This is not a genuine flake white but an equivalent such as cadmium red hue.  However given the rising costs of lead white and the difficulty in obtaining in it many artists will have to consider making the switch to one of these options sooner rather than later.

     

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