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Ideas & Inspiration

  • Ceramics: Pinch Pots

    Possibly the most ancient and also the most accessible and simple method of making a clay pot is the Pinch technique. People have been making pinch pots for thousands of years, as it requires only a ball of clay and your own two hands.

    Getting Started Pinching your Clay

    To begin making your pinch pot, simply take your ball of clay and roll it around in your hands,  kneading it like dough on your worktop. This will warm up your clay allowing it to me moulded easily.

    Push your thumb into the centre and begin to pinch the clay, opening out the mouth of your pot. This is a very tactile technique and only requires you to keep shaping your pot with your thumb and fingers until you are happy with your shape. You can also add handles, or faces or whatever you like to personalise your pot.

    Here's a great tutorial demonstrating the ease of this technique.

    You can now decorate your pot with various under glazes, or you could allow it to sit overnight until it is 'leather dry' (a term describing partially dried clay that will allow you to work into the surface without altering the shape or structure of your creation). Once 'leather dry' you have the option to smooth the interior and exterior, trim the lip of your pot or carve a design into the clay.

    You don't have to stop at pinch pots, however, you can used this technique to make anything you can imagine from cups to strange creatures. Here are some different examples of the results you can achieve!

     

     

    www.galatiak12art.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/art-i-pinch-pots.html
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CQAdMxjBik
    www.kathyjeffersstudio.com/pottery/pinch-pot/
    www.juliannakunstler.com/ceram1_pinchpot.html#.WUumiOvyu00
    www.jennygulchpottery.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/

  • Ceramics: Coiling

    Ceramics Coiling...Explained

    Coiling is a very straightforward ceramic technique that can produce fantastic results, from simple pots to intricate vessels. Evidence of this technique has been discovered all over the world showing many ancient civilisations having used clay in this way, from China and Japan to Africa, Greece and Mexico.

      

    The Process of Coiling Clay

    Using the coiling process you start with just the base of your vessel and you build up layer upon layer of clay using long sausage-like shapes around the circumference of your base. This technique allows you to control the thickness of the clay walls and also means that the design and shape can be planned and developed from the very start. The interior and exterior of your clay creation can be smoothed over or you can keep the the coils depending on your desired aesthetic.

    You want to start off by kneading your ball of clay with a decent amount of pressure to try and force out any trapped air, then the clay can be rolled out flat and evenly with a rolling pin. Using a template you can cut out a shape to become the base of your pot. From here you simply roll out sausage shaped coils of clay and begin building up your layers; merging, cutting and shaping them as you go. Slip should be used as well as scoring the clay in between each coil layer to act as a glue to hold the coils together

    Cutting coils - Click this image for a full step by step tutorial

    This is repeated to the desired height and shape of your vase, bowl or pot. You may wish to smooth the the interior and exterior depending on your desired result.

    You do not have to stick to this design; coiling can be a very versatile technique, check out some of these examples of more intricate designs!

      

    Also check out this time-lapse of the process!

  • A Different Painting Technique

    Painting With Palette Knives

    Forget the idea that palette knives can only be used for mixing colours!

    Choose from a wide range of palette knives 

    Tips for Painting with Palette Knives

    Not only are brushes are suitable for painting – using palette knives can give an entirely different effect, and they are particularly recommended for Impasto technique.

     

    Palette knives are especially useful when you want to achieve ‘clean’, brushstroke-free surfaces. Colours applied with a knife are pure and more vibrant, and due to the range of different sizes, it’s even possible to cover larger surfaces.

     

    Painting with palette knives is more like layering paint, so it’s the perfect tool for expressive marks as well as for realistic details like waves on the sea and tree trunks.

     

    Palette knives are very useful for painting outside (plein air) as it’s not only faster to put the constantly changing scenery onto a canvas with it, but it saves time and effort as knives can just be wiped clean in order to use a new colour.

    Palette Knife Types

    regular palette knives
    • Use a short blade for angular strokes
    • Use long blades for sweeps of colour
    • Use sharp pointed blades for thin scratches and lines
    • Use round blades to avoid sharp lines
    palette knives for unique effects

    Palette Knife Painting Techniques

     

    • Scraping back the paint, revealing the previous layers is a technique called sgraffito (using the end of a brush)
    • Pressing paint onto the surface will make a good textured effect
    • Pressing the edge of the knives is used to make fine lines
    • For making ridges, press the blade flat down into the paint
    • Or simply spread paint across the canvas like butter on bread with the long side of the blade

    Watch this Demo!

     

    Examples:

    References:

    • http://thevirtualinstructor.com/knife-painting-acrylic-paint.html
    • http://www.buildart.com/secrt_of_PaletteKnifeOilPainting.htm
    • http://www.artinstructionblog.com/oil-painting-with-a-palette-knife
    • https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-how-to-paint-with-a-knife-2578778

     

  • Handmade Paper

     

    How To Make Your Own Paper?

    Want to recycle your spare printouts, write a special note, or just looking for a fun creative activity? Making paper on your own doesn't require professional knowledge, and you can't go wrong with it: the results are always going to be unique, and definitely gives a visually pleasing effect.

    A brief history of paper-making

    Paper-making began around 105 A.D. and was invented by the Chinese. It is said that Ts’ai Lung, an official of the Imperial Court made the first paper by using the fibres of mulberry tree bark. With this starting point people began experimenting, creating more and higher quality paper by adding rags and fish nets to the pulp. The method of paper making was kept a secret until the defeat of the T’ang dynasty by the Ottoman Empire. The method then spread to the Arabs from Chinese prisoners, who also began to guard the knowledge. In 10th century the Egyptians learnt the techniques from the Arabs and in Europe it was first introduced in Spain around 1150 A.D.

    In the UK, the first evidence of an existing paper mill was around 1495.

    What You Will Need

    • Water
    • Scrap paper
    • storage tub/ vat
    • blender
    • mould and deckle
    • Wood boards / sponge
    • towels

    Make Your Own 'Mould and Deckle'!

     

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU71fWKR0wg[/embed]

     

    DIY Paper - The Method

    Cut your scrap paper into small parts and soak it for at least a few hours
    Fill up a blender with water, or use a mortar to create a pulp.

     

    Fill the tub with the pulp, and add more water – the more pulp you add, the thicker the paper will be.

    Get the Mould and Deckle, and place it in the water (mould screen up, deckle on top). Shake it a bit when you lift it out. The next step is called couching (pronounced “coo-ching”) when you transfer the sheet to a flat, absorbent surface. Then remove the deckle, gently place the mould face down on the surface, press down and lift it up.

    If you don't mind the uneven edges, or don't have access to Mould and Deckle, you can also use a roller to for the sheets.

    You can dry the finished sheet in different ways. You can place the sheets on a wood board or glass, and just leave it to dry. You can also place the sheets together (with an absorbent surface in between), put a wood board on top then weigh it down with something heavy.

    Customise Your Paper!

    When you have learnt the basics, it's time to experiment!
    Try adding different colour dyes to your pulp to create coloured paper. You can also try adding pressed flowers and plants to your paper while it's still wet.

    Videos:

    References:

    • http://paperslurry.com/2014/05/19/how-to-make-handmade-paper-from-recycled-materials/
    • http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Handmade-Paper/
    • http://www.silk-road.com/artl/papermaking.shtml
    • http://baph.org.uk/ukpaperhistory.html
  • Using Tissue Paper To Add Texture

    Try something different for texture!

    It’s always nice to try something different with your paintings. I sometimes use tissue paper to add texture to my watercolours. It’s a really simple technique and very effective.

    All you need is some stretched paper, or a board or canvas, PVA glue, water and a glue brush, tissue paper and of course your paints

    Cover your painting surface with a thin layer of PVA mixed with a little water. Scrunch up your tissue paper and then lay it on the PVA surface. Cover the tissue paper with another thin layer of the PVA water mixture and leave to dry. You will end up with a nice crinkly surface to paint on.

    Alternatively, draw out your design on your stretched paper/canvas Choosing different colours of tissue, scrunch up your tissue, tear into the rough shape of the area you want to fill and stick on the piece of tissue. Keep doing this until you have filled every section of your picture. Cover with a thin layer of the PVA water mixture and leave to dry. Now you can work into your picture with your paints.

    It’s all up to you and your imagination now. How about trying the same technique with lace or paper doilies? Or maybe netting or string.

     

    https://youtu.be/VDaasjYr1LU

  • Get Creative With Clay

    Have you thought about trying Das Modeling Clay?

    Das, modelling material is lovely to work with and no need to mess with oven baking – it is air drying! Das clay contains tiny wee fibres, that give it added strength and rigidity.

    family-portrate

    Stuck for new ideas?

    Instead of model making, how about making a picture instead? Don’t paint that vase of flowers, make your vase out of a layer of the modelling clay. Make your flattened flowers and leaves. Maybe decorate your vase with flat spots or stripes. Then how about putting the vase on a flat table? Wall paper? Flying ducks? Let your picture dry and then start painting.

    Of course you’re not limited to vases of flowers, anything that you like to paint – your cat, a face, a landscape, can be made just as easily. Or how about a family portrait?

    the-cardowsYou can find all you need here to get started!

  • 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) .

    564457_998950546820999_4648177944573791427_n

    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

  • 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

     

     

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