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  • Street Art Guide

    Street art - 'genuine' art form or 'vandalism'?

    It’s a common misconception to think about street art as vandalism – of course, everything has its place and spray painting on museum buildings and names carved into historical sights do cause harm. However, street art (that includes small tags to sculptural works) has its own history and legitimacy. It’s easy to have prejudice against something one doesn’t know – here, with this short summary we’ll try to show how street art isn’t the same as vandalism.

    Interested in Dundee's street art scene? Check out what OpenClose is up to!

    Paintings on caves - the earliest form of 'street art'?


    Street art has been with us since the beginning of time, and it's purposes haven't changed much. Communication, protest, remembrance, aesthetic appreciation - whatever it be, writing and drawing on the street states a presence and calls for attention.

    Written or visual, street art is generally used to broadcast statements about current political and social issues.

    Writing on a plane, WW2
    "Famous" graffiti that appeared at the time of the Second World War.

    Words of protest and political commentary appeared on the streets since the Second World War, and continues ever since.

    Graffiti on the Berlin Wall

    Between the 1960's and 80's, street art developed in New York's streets - signs of street gangs to band posters to well-known artworks by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

    Graffiti from MMP, first recorded street gang in the history of Oregon's capital city of Salem "Spyder" was gang leader.1987.
    Scull by Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Keith Haring


    One of many appeals of street art is that you don't need a sterile gallery setting in order to show your artwork, and since its beginnings, street artists proved their technical skills by developing techniques from everyday scribbles to spectacular wall paintings.


    Murals are artworks that appear on walls, and usually include or use unique architectural features of the chosen area.




    Artworks created with this technique use pre-drawn and cut out drawings that are then sprayed onto the surface.


    Tagging is the name given to when street artists scribble their uniquely designed names/ monikers onto surfaces, showing that they have been there.


    Throw-ups are similar to tagging, but they are large scale, spray painted, and usually use a similar type of 'bubble letter'. Regardless, they are always spectacular.

    Street Art Sculpture

    Sculptural works on the streets follow the same idea: funny, critical, or just simply aesthetically pleasing, they bring street art into a different dimension. Street art sculptures usually cleverly utilise the given features of the particular area.

    Isaac Cordal 'Cement eclipses'





  • D’Arcy Wentworth Thomspon – The Man Behind the Museum

    A multi-disciplined man with a passion for nature

    Dundee artist Suzanne Scott, A.K.A Whimsical Lush, has recently designed 10 bronze plaques commemorating a whole host of Dundonians, whose lives have significantly impacted both their respective fields of expertise and the city. The plaques have since been installed in the new Discovery Walk waterfront, set into the paved area of the Green Space. One man in particular stood out for our very own Paul Wallace, who's company (Trinity Arts ~ iartsupplies) championed D’Arcy Thomson’s plaque. Here we find out a little more about the famous biologist, and how Suzanne was influenced by his work in creating his plaque.

    D'arcy Thomson

    Born in Edinburgh in 1860 to Irish parents, D’Arcy Thomspon was schooled at the Edinburgh Academy and studied medicine and zoology at the University of Edinburgh and Cambridge respectively. He became the first Professor of Biology at the University of Dundee at the age of only 24, staying in the role for over 32 years.

    img_5573Known as a ‘pioneer’ of Life Sciences, Thompson was known as an interdisciplinary thinker. He was well versed in maths and classics, and translated German texts on biology on the side to earn money whilst at University. He displayed an obvious passion for nature in all of its fascinating, mysterious guises, and was dedicated to preserving and conserving wildlife, lobbying for legislation to be introduced that protected endangered species. In 1917, he authored ‘On Growth and Form’, which demonstrated the links between the growth of organisms and their forms and mathematical principles. He wrote extensively on ideas surrounding ‘Morphogenisis’, the pattern formation in plants and animals, and ‘phyllotaxis’, the botanical study of leaf formation. It is said that his work even influenced eminent thinkers such as Alan Turing and Claude Lévi –Strauss, and artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Jackson Pollock.

    img_5823 - CopySuzanne Scott took great interest in his drawings, which are available to see in the D’Arcy Thompson Museum, in the University of Dundee’s campus. Both a space for teaching and research, as well as housing many different species of animals and plants, the museum is open regularly to the public on Friday throughout the summer vacation, so be sure to make a trip out there! Suzanne immersed herself in a method of researching his botanical studies, in a manner appropriate to Thompson himself. Through dedicated and meticulous studies, the artist successfully managed to convery the intricacies and subtleties of these exquisite forms. She picked out particularly organic and delicate creatures, such as the jellyfish, and picked out bulkier shapes, such as the rock roses, in order to balance out her compositions, allowing for a flowing arrangement of shapes and lines.

    D'Arcy Thompson was also on the committee of the Dundee Private Hospital for Women, and also a founding member of the Dundee Social Union. He was knighted in 1937, and won the Darwin Medal in 1946. After he left his post at the University of Dundee, he spent another 31 years at the University of St Andrews as Chair of Natural History. He died in 1948 aged 88, survived by his wife and three children.


    Amongst the other Dundonians celebrated in Suzanne's plaques are Mary Ann Baxter, Professor Margaret Fairlie, Dr James Riley and R.D Low, all of whom have made progressive scientific, medical or cultural discoveries. The commemorations fit accordingly with Dundee's motto, 'One City, Many Discoveries', and form an integral part of the the up and coming new waterfront development area. Imbedded into the fabric of our city, they call to us to know our past, understand our present and inspire us in the future.

  • 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.


  • Amelias Colourful Companion

    Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion artist

    Illustrator Alex McGinn is one of the artist's featuring in Amelias Colourful Companion Magazine for her stunning vibrant, unique and bright illustrations. A Falmouth college student, who was discovered at the New Designers 2015 Summer Show. It was her distinctive autumn palette of vivid and bright colourful illustrations that allowed her to really stand out from the crowd and the fact that her palette lends her work to different subjects. Some of Alexs' illustrations can be found in Amelia's Colourful Colouring Books for adults who love to colour in. Alex takes on commissions and one of them being was to design and produce  a leaflet depicting the History of the Workers’ Educational Association within Dartington itself, from the past 100years. The illustrated map was put together leading the viewer to see the trail of Dartington Estate and the countrysides surroundings. Along the way on this map Alex had some NOW and THEN statements displayed, that explained the past and current projects the WEA undertook in Dartington. This was Alex's first commission due to her tutor from Falmouth College having contact with Write to Freedom which collaborated with Workers Eduactional Association. Drawing is her passion and you can see that perfectly in her work displayed here and read and learn more about Alex McGibb from the Interview on this link.

    Alex-McGinn-Artwork 1

    The latest trend

    Adults colouring in books are right on trend just now. These nature illustrations designed by Alex McGibb are just too beautiful that anyone would want to fill them up with their choice of colours and bring the whole image alive. Why not pick yourself - or a loved one - one up, or even as a Christmas gift, and get colouring. Supermarkets and newsagents stock them. If you do have a go, why not share your finished piece here or on our Facebook page. We would love to see your colouring in.

    Alex-McGinn-Artwork- 2

    Stuck for getting colouring in products? Buy yourself a variety of colouring in pens on our website and colouring pencils too. A lovely way to finish a busy da, relaxing with a truly wonderful and well illustrated colouring book.

    "Live Creatively" All xx

  • Dundee Wearable Arts

    A Different Kind of Art


    This autumn Dundee Wearable Arts returned after an extremely successful crowd funding campaign and support from local businesses to put on the second annual showcase of incredible imaginative work.

    Iartsupplies was proud to sponsor one of the prizes for this year’s competition and we were very grateful for the VIP treatment we received from the team who put the show together.  The whole evening was a spectacular experience showing some incredible skill, both conceptually and practically, as well as some excellent individuals who helped to make each piece a performance and not just a costume.

    A Great Turn Out

    The event was incredibly well attended, filling the auditorium of Dundee’s Bonar Hall, and front row seats right by the catwalk is probably the closest thing we will ever get to fashion week.  The variety of work on display certainly showcased the wealth both of technical skill and creative inspiration kicking around our fair city.  Picking winners certainly wasn’t an easy job.

    21990419223_52c4a032b2_n Irene Blair’s Tatty Sack Dress. Photo courtesy of Graham Black and Dundee Wearable Arts.

    The pieces were shown in four sections; Environment, Olde World, Technology and Open.  Interpretive depth was in abundance. There were pieces which displayed humour such as Irene Blair’s Tatty Sack Dress and Linda Thompson’s She Scrubs up Well made of micro fibre cleaning cloths, and those which were also inspiring of more negative emotions such as Jill Skulina’s Perfect Mother and the inquiet Synthetic Biology by Neil McIntee.


    The fact that we can talk about the emotions these pieces inspired hopefully illustrates to the reader that we are not just talking about fashion pieces here but indeed something more evolved and deeper.  Other pieces showed great thought involved in the way they moved, like Morag Taylor’s Chrysalis Pupa and Ana Inès Jabares-Pita’s Ignis, simple pieces in terms of size and materials but which had a big impact. Designs such as Captain America, combining elements of Native American dress with the all American hero’s costume displayed a jarring juxtaposition which showed that political messages can also be transmitted through this media. We could go into descriptions of every piece shown as all of them were truly amazing but it would be hard for us to do them justice, so we think you should check them out here:

    And Here:



    A Three Dimensional Experience

    Great credit must also go to those who did the choreography, lighting design, hair and makeup which made the show a three dimensional visual experience, as well as mentioned above, the performers who modelled the work.  All of these elements brought life to the pieces which cannot be communicated in the photos, nor could the same effect have been achieved by displaying the pieces on lifeless mannequins or in a less inspired catwalk framework.  Credit has to be given to all hands involved for creating a very unique experience in which a great many facets of Dundee’s creative community’s talent was displayed as a combined effort.  Unfortunately this full effect cannot be transmitted in the photos, but trust us it was awesome.


    DWA15_Show_GrahamBlack-52-e1446302315574 Ana Ines Jabares-Pita, Ignis. Photo courtesy of Dundee Wearable Arts

    And The Award Goes To....

    Several prizes were awarded and all were thoroughly deserved.  The Spirit of Dundee prize was awarded jointly to Rachel Goodman for Ice Crystal and Ana Ines Jabares-Pita for Ignis. Samantha Bryan was awarded both the Best Innovative Use of Recycled Material and Technology Section prizes for Sheer Connection and Everlasting Spirals.  Jill Skulina’s Perfect Mother won the Best Use of Yarn award and Rhiannon Wright’s Ravens/Crows took the Best Use of Paper/Print prize.  Morag Taylor’s innovative Chrysalis Pupa won the Open section and Gabrielle Von Waldburg’s Deep Sea Diva took the Environment section.  The winner of both the Olde World section and the overall prize was Morag Nowell for her piece Ship Ahoy.

    DSC_5430-e1443478254389 Morag Nowell, Ship Ahoy. Photo courtesy of Laura Mumby and Dundee Wearable Arts

    Nowell’s work was inspired by Dundee history, particularly its connection to the sea and the importance of ships to the town’s economic foundations.  Materials used all had some connection to the city as well with Levi’s jean material, jute and muslin playing their role as well as papier mache from the Courier and Evening Tele.   As well as various vouchers including our own the winner will be enjoying one year of free membership of the Dundee Makers Space at the Vision Building.  We hope to see what great use this is put to in the coming year.


    The Dundee Wearable Arts competition is a great opportunity for everyone involved.  For those participating, either as choreographers, makeup artists, performers and creators it is a great opportunity to showcase your work to an audience.  For that audience it is a great way to have a thoroughly different evening out and artistic experience. We look forward to seeing next year’s competition.



    Fiona MacHugh

  • Painting Competition

    Are you Britain's Best Hobby Artist?


    Like to paint, but only as a hobby? Well here is your chance to become Britain's Best Amateur Artist by entering in on this Painting Competition which will be open  from September 28th to October 31st. Find out more information on this link .

    Fill you boots with Art Supplies

    Step out of your comfort zone and see what happens. You will never know what could come of it if you do not give it a go. If you do decide to enter, and need some art supplies then pop in to our art shop in Dundee, Perth Road, or you can order online via our website or on Amazon.


    paintings by Maren Hoefler

    Have a go at winning yourself a painting holiday from this competition. Not to be missed!

  • Cobra Watermixable Oil Paints

    A quality alternative to Artisan Oil Paint

    Finally the New Cobra water-mixable range of oil colour is here, the replacement from the Van Gogh H2Oil colours. Now I can talk about them, I 't dont have much to say yet as I haven't had the chance to try them but have read all the sales blurb and they sound really good and cannot wait to have a go with them.Cobra H2Oil Colours

    If you go to you can learn much much more and see demonstrations.

    Also you can chat about it as Talens have set up a face book page too

  • Rembrandt Oil Paints

    Taking the PlungeWhoohoo! Take the plunge with Rembrandt!

    Finally I have managed to get all the open stock of the Rembrandt Oil Paint, onto our new website, which will let you get 25% off if you order a pack amount. There is a huge colour range to choose from, all made from the purest & best pigments available. I'm particularly fond of the metallic colours, the deeper blues, Quinadrone Rose, and Pearlescent White.

    Most of the time I just use these paints straight to canvas, Continue reading

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