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Creativity Art Blog

  • DJCAD Master’s Show

    Masters Degree Show

    The DJCAD (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee) Masters show is a necessarily more sedate affair than the undergraduate show which precedes it by a few months.  The emptying of the city during the summer months means that the numbers of visitors to the show both on the opening night and during its week long run is significantly less than its sister event.  However, this should in no way be interpreted as attendant on the quality of the work on display which this year particularly was of exceptional quality.

    The master’s programmes offered by DJCAD ensure that the Master’s show provides a wide variety of art and its applications that goes way beyond traditional fine art.  With Medical and Forensic Art, Art, Society and Publics, Fine Art and Humanities and Animation and Visualisation programmes there was something for everyone to engage with.

    Forensic and Medical Art

    IMG_1379In the Forensic Art programme, visitors could look at the application of medical art to develop learning tools, to show the difficulty in creating police composite sketches and to create facial reconstructions from human remains.  The work by Amy Thornton on the facial reconstruction of the nineteenth century poisoner and pirate Alexander Tardy from a cast of his skull in the University of Edinburgh Anatomy Museum and Hannah Isaacs reconstruction of a male skull from the Edinburgh Trams project illustrate perfectly the points at which art, history and science intersect.  Anatomy was an important part of the training of Renaissance artists, with Leonardo Da Vinci in particular conducting his own dissections in order to achieve greater understanding of the human form which he reproduced.  The Forensic Art programme combines this great tradition with the latest in digital and manual reconstruction techniques.  Leading on from this is also the Msc in Medical Art, The highlight of this programme was Claire Taylor’s book project “Understanding Terminal Cancer”, aiming to provide a resource for people with a terminal cancer diagnosis with the scientific aspect of their diagnosis and prognosis.  This laudable ambition, to increase patients’ agency by increasing their access to information which helps them to fully understand their predicament shows that art can be used not just for scientific and educational purposes but also to benefit people in a very difficult life situation.PROMO IMAGE

    Art, Society and Publics

    P1020917 (1)In the Art, Society and Publics show the highlight for me was undoubtedly Penelope Matheson’s project “Nest of Gentlefolk” a series of surreal arrangements of animal ceramics, reminiscent of the creations of Hieronymus Bosch and early Dali sculptures.  These intricate and interesting pieces which also showed a high level of technical skill seemed to transform as one changed ones view points, and for me were one of the highlights not just of that particular course, but of the entire show.

    Fine Art and Humanities

    MashaviThe Fine Art and Humanities programme was the biggest section of the show and displayed a variety of work with disparate concepts, techniques and impacts.

    Sekai Machache’s show “Mashavi” explored the issues of African women’s identity in relation to the manipulation of hair, specifically around the tradition of braiding.  Her work combined painting, photography, sculpture and sound work to create a space which explores the braid as a cultural artefact as well as a hairstyle.

    Jae Ferguson’s delicate and intricate drawings of organic structures provided a great satisfaction to visitors who wanted to see more technique than just good conceptual work.  The perfection and simplicity of these pieces were refreshing and different in a world which is so often more concerned with the idea behind the work than the technical quality or what is produced.


    Animation and Visualisation

    10997499_934548359891211_139226110559213042_nThe animation course produced a series of entertaining and beautiful shorts, supported by extremely advanced supporting artist work.  Particularly outstanding in this respect Bimpe Alliu and Christina Maul with the animated music video “Hell Well” being the most coherent and entertaining stand alone piece on the show reel.


    The opening night of the show was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with far more space to move around and look at the work than at the over attended undergraduate degree show earlier this summer.  The artists showing were friendly and on hand to speak about their work during the rest of the week as well as at the opening.

    Currently you can still access the web page of the show at:


    At this link you can find full listings of all of the artists exhibiting as well as information on how to contact them and follow their progress.  iartsupplies would like to wish all this years graduates the best of luck in what promise to be bright artistic futures.


    Fiona MacHugh

  • J.M.W Turner Sandycombe Lodge

    Turners Home

    Famous talented artist J.M.W Turner built his own lodge in Sandycombe, Twickenham, which he designed for himself in 1813. The beautiful building which has been looked after and raised funding for restoring it, has been open to the public since April this year til October once a month allowing visitors to come along and see the famous artists' stunning lodge. Interested to see it and learn more then click here and get the details of when you can visit, only small problem is there is no parking so you are required to hop onto a train to visit. This is a "must go and see" for me after studying so much about the artist myself whilst at art college.

    Watch this video to see inside  J.M.W Turner House Here


  • Calligraphy Hack

    f3579673250d9183994b8f5ab1e022d7Want to make use of some calligraphy script but don't have the time or materials right now to learn how to use a purpose pen?  Don't worry, we've found this great hack for you which shows you how to use fineliners to create calligraphy like writing. 

  • Wrinkling in your Oil Painting?

    What causes winkling in Oil Paints?

    wrinking of oil paint Oh Dear!

    It’s not a pretty sight. Usually we associate wrinkling with age, but if you have found your oil paintings wrinkling, age is not the cause! It is the drying process that is top of the list, with possible combinations of paint quality, colour, and your technique also contributing to the issue. If you want to know how to avoid it, then read on!

    Wrinkling is caused during the drying process when the surface of the paint layer dries faster than the body of the layer itself. As oils (linseed, poppy, safflower etc.) have a chemical drying process by oxidation and obviously the oxygen from the air reaches the surface of the paint quicker and more easily than the paint underneath. If the surface then dries to a closed film, this effectively blocks the oxygen to the paint underneath. As the oil is expanding by the addition of oxygen molecules, the surface of the paint layer tends to expand faster than the paint on the inside, especially when the surface does dry to a closed film. Then the difference in expansion causes wrinkling.

    slight oil wrinking Not a nice sight!
    oil wrinkling in thick paint Give some thought to the colours you use









    The surface of a paint layer can dry to a closed film for several reasons:

    1. First of all when the paint contains a relatively high percentage of oil, which is the case with very fine (transparent) pigments. Pigments in oil colours are surrounded by oil, and if the pigment particles are (relatively) very small, the collective surface of the pigments is huge and a significant quantity of oil is needed. The more oil (or put another way, the less volume of dry “breathing” ingredients), the more closed the superficial film and the higher the risk of wrinkling.
    2. The second reason can be the chemical composition of the pigment. Some pigments, such as cobalt and earth colours, contain elements that catalyse the accessibility of oxygen and therefore act as siccatives (speeding up the drying), with the same result as mentioned above. Also traditional lake pigments (e.g. traditional madder lakes, not used in the Rembrandt Oil Paints, here the “Permanent” madder lake is based on a modern replacement) tend to cause wrinkling.
    wrinking of oil paint Thick or thin, certain colours and additives like linseed oil or poppy oil can increase the wrinkling risk.

    This also explains why the risk of wrinkling with Van Gogh Student Oil paint is less than with the artist quality Rembrandt range of oil colour. In Van Gogh Oil the quality of pigment is partly replaced by extenders. The particle size of these chalk kinds of products is relatively big when compared with the pigment itself (so relatively less oil is needed), the particles themselves “open” and therefore give access to oxygen, also to the oil within.

    How can I reduce the risk of my oil painting wrinkling?

    By adding oil to the paint, the risk of wrinkling is increased, especially with metal and pearlescent colours. It is advisable to thin the paint with a painting medium, not with pure oil. Although mediums do contain oil the wrinkling is different and therefore reduced.

    Although Royal Talens (makers of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Cobra and Amsterdam paints) do try to avoid wrinkling as much as possible by adjusting their recipes, for some colours wrinkling cannot be eliminated without decreasing other quality aspects of the paint. If these kinds of colours are applied thickly, it is advisable to mix them with Painting Paste. This “painting butter” gives oxygen access to the oil within the paint as well, without changing the hue of the colour.

    So in summary you can avoid wrinkling in the following ways

    1. Give careful thought to the colours you use, as well as the paint quality.
    2. If you have the time, try out some tests first to be sure
    3. Don't add oil to your oil paint. You do not need to do this. You should only add a "medium"
    4. If you are using a “risky colour” in a high quality paint then think about
      1. How thickly you are going to be painting
      2. Can you thin it out a little with white spirit and make the paint leaner?
      3. Can you make the paint fatter and add some painting medium?
    5. If you want to paint thickly, with a high quality (high pigment content) and/or “risky colour” then think about adding some filler like painting paste.
    painting with wrinkling I am slightly wrinkled here and there, but I am not old yet!
  • Art Journals and Mixed Media

    blogAre you interested in starting your own art journal, improving your art journal techniques, looking for new ideas for backgrounds, pages etc.?  This great blog provides ideas, tutorials and guidelines, check it out for some inspiration and education.


  • Sakura Gelly Roll Pens

    Whats so great about Gelly Roll Pens?

    Gelly Roll Pens are gel ink pens which come in a variety designed for writing and doodling with. They were the first pens that created the gel ink category within the writing instrument industry. These creamy pens are ideal for creating art, writing in scrapbooks & journals, signing documents, daydream & doodle. These pens are chemically stable, waterproof, fade resistant, no smearing, no feathering and the ink does not bleed through on most papers.  These pens make writing and self expression effortless. You will find that there is an incredible array of colours to choose from providing favourite  "flavours" for allowing your thoughts flow directly onto your chosen paper surface.

    gelly-rolls 6

    What colours go Gelly Roll Come in?

    You can use the gelly roll pens for writing cheques also - making writing these out a lot more fun and prettier - but ideal colours for this is either black, blue, royal blue & burgandy due to the gel ink's resistance to fraudulent washings.

    Gelly roll pens come in a variety. You get them in ranges of Glaze, Metallic, Stardust, Moonlight, Classic, Gold & Silver Shadow. We sell the Glaze, Metallic and Stardust ranges in our shop which, you can also purchase online on our website.

    Look at just a few of the things you can do using these beautiful Gelly Roll pens.

    gelly roll 3

    gelly roll 2

    gelly roll 1

    gelly roll 7

    gelly roll 6

    Watch the following video to see how you doodle with gelly roll pens using a variety of the pens.

    Watch the following video to see how you write with the gelly roll pens and see the effects they give on light & dark papers.

    Happy writing & doodling x x

  • Art Profiles: Jonathan Hood


    August's Artist Profile

    We were lucky enough to be able to go and speak to one of WASP Dundee’s resident artists, Jonathan Hood for the second of our Dundee art profiles.

    As always we were interested to know about the artist’s background and artistic education. Hood told us;

    “I went to college straight from school but I was very lucky because my school art teacher just encouraged me the whole way.  I remember a careers officer when I was about 17, and he said, “What is it you want to do?” and I said “I’m very much sold on the idea of going to Art College”.  And he said, “To do what?” And I said, “Drawing and painting”. And his response was, “That’s a woman’s hobby, you can’t do that. How about architecture?”  And eventually he said “We’ll compromise, I’ll put you down for art history”.  And I thought you’re not listening to me…And he wouldn’t hear me.”

    Paris and L'Ecole des Beaux Arts

    Despite this Hood did go on to Art College and studied at Duncan of Jordanstone from 1976 to 1979.  He then left his studies there to follow the route many of the worlds and history’s most famous artists have; to study in Paris.

    “That sounds all very grand and everything,” he says, “but it was basically, well, I got into L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. It was effectively a drawing class but I learned more there than I learned the whole time in Dundee. I was living along the road from the Jeu de Paume and the Pompidou centre, and all these wonderful little private art galleries dotted about the place. If you go over to the left bank in Paris, round Boulevard du Saint-Michel, Rue Saint- Antoine you’ve got all these different tiny galleries.  There were these immediate connections to things and it really blew me open.  I spent a year there and there’s some wonderful stuff.  The way that France and the French deal with painting is different. Painting is very, very much alive.”

    After this seminal experience in one of the world’s artistic capitals, Hood returned to Scotland.

    Getting Started

    “I came back 1980/81 and had a few years knocking around…trying to be a rock star at one point…that was quite good fun.  But I always painted.  At that point I was self employed and I was beginning to get noticed.  I spent a little bit of time on the dole, which is always, and was especially so in the 1980s, a very character building situation.  But there was this thing called the Enterprise Allowance Scheme so I decided to go on that and got picked up by a couple of galleries in that time and I was doing quite a lot of portraits of people’s dogs and things like that. I paint the whole animal rather than these terrible head and shoulders things.  I’d rather do the whole creature.”

    Whilst Hood attempted to establish himself, he was fortunate to be noticed by Christine Heinzel, an event which may have substantially altered his fortunes.

    “About 20 years ago, 25 years ago, Chris Heinzel walked through that door, and says “I really like your work,” and she had just opened a gallery in Aberdeen; Gallery Heinzel which is still running though it’s not run by her anymore.  One of the best galleries on the East Coast, and I took my work up and she phoned me a week later saying have you got any more?  And I said yeah, well why?  And she said we’ve sold it all….which was a bit of a shock.”

    Inspiration and Method

    It isn’t hard to see why Hood’s eye catching work has proved so popular over the course of his career.  We wanted to know a little more about how he chooses his subject matter, materials and his method.

    “I started off doing these landscapes.  I was going out just taking photographs, going out walking, and then people started appearing in them and then the people sort of took over.”

    Jonathan Hood Artist 3 take 5 - 31x31 inches

    “I use various techniques to achieve various results. Sometimes I use collage, sometimes if I can’t be bothered painting an aeroplane I’ll cut one out and stick it on.  Or taking sports photographs, ripping them up and then sticking them back together, you get all sorts of interesting different forms and shapes.  Predominantly I work in oil,”

    “Before I very rarely used acrylics, but I got started using them through a project.  I was asked if I would paint some murals in a little private zoo near Edinburgh.  Basically painting backdrops, jungle scenes, things like that and I thought why not, it seems like a good way of sort of cleansing the mind.    And I won’t really have to think too much about what’s going where or anything like that.  And that was painted in acrylic.  That got me back into that and I thought ok, I’m going to try something out on hardboard, because I prefer hardboard.  You can get great vibrant colours with acrylic.”

    Jonathan Hood Artist New Work 2015

    Spontaneous inspiration is important to subject selection in Hood’s work also.

    “One of the things that I do sometimes is I see something and I just get that click. It’s about observing and it’s about taking your time. One of the first things I was taught about when I first went to Art College was looking and observing.  And just taking in what you see in front of you, because most people will look at that and say what colour is that wall, well white, but there’s actually all sorts of different things you can be trained to see that aren’t immediately obvious.”

    The Future of Art

    We asked Hood about what he thinks prevents people from getting into or involved with art?

    “There’s a lot of fear surrounds art now.  A lot of people seem to feel it’s far too far above them, or they don’t understand it.”

    We asked about what advise Hood would give to those about to embark on an artistic career, the response was practical but ominous.

    “Students are not taught anything practical at college these days.  We used to have a class, materials and methods.  And we were taught how to make rabbit glue, we were taught how to make varnishes, you were taught how to make your own primer, prepare your own ground, chalk and gesso and so on. These skills are disappearing fast.  I come from a time when we’d spend hours in the dark room processing large black and white prints.  People don’t sit in a dark room breathing fumes anymore, it’s all digital.  These skills are disappearing, and at our peril.”

    Fiona MacHugh


    Jonathan Hood regularly exhibits work in various galleries including the Sun Gallery, Newburgh, Scotland, the Eduardo Allessandro Gallery, Broughty Ferry Scotland,  Abiergo Casanova Gallery,Lucca Italy, Jeanne o Contemporain 2012 Orleans, France and the Laurel Gallery, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland.

     He welcomes visitors to his WASPS studio during working hours or by appointment, contact: Studio 201, Meadowmill, W. Henderson Wynd, Dundee, DD1 5BY

    Tel:  0772 933 1250

    You can also follow his work on his Facebook page:


  • Adult Colouring Books: A New Art Sensation

    A new trend for the hobby world?

    Adult Colouring books are the new trend sweeping the creative hobby world and tidying up in the top- sellers lists across the world.  The Guardian has run a series of articles commenting on the phenomenon, some supportive, others scathing.  Whether the assessment of the craze is positive or negative the fact that such a major newspaper has dedicated so many column inches to the subject is just one  indication that this trend is attracting quite a bit of attention.

    The books are proving a publishing phenomenon. One Guardian article claimed that the books are now selling faster than cookery books in France, with last years total sales shifting a massive 3.5 m books.  Another stated that last month five of Amazon’s top 10 were adult colouring books, as were six of the top 10 non- fiction books in Brazil.  Scottish Illustrator Johanna Basford whose colouring book The Secret Garden was one of the chart toppers this April has sold over 1.4m copies to date.



    Colouring- in for Adults

    Colouring is still a form of creativity and we shouldn’t have to stop just because we pass a certain age.  Most of us did it and many of us loved it growing up.   But we get to an age, where like so many of these things we think, why am I actually doing this?  What is the reason for it?  Am I going to make money from it?  So many people give up on creative projects when they “grow-up” because it isn’t seen as a valuable use of time.  With this proliferation however of colouring books aimed at adults you can take up the activity again without any fear of social recrimination as not only is it acceptable, it is fashionable.  You can colour everything from Benedict Cumberbatch to Tattoo Designs, fairies and animals to intricate doodles, henna designs, Japanese inspired and funky animals.

    download (1)

    However this new wave of books are not simply being marketed as a way to be creative and get in touch with your inner child.  Many are specifically being marketed as a type of art therapy which is supposed to help people with everything from stress, to sleeplessness to mindfulness.

    Ana McLaughlin, head of publicity and marketing at Michael O’Mara (UK publisher which has sold over 340, 000 adult colouring books) attributes the genres success in main part to this remarketing strategy.

    “The first one we did was in 2012, Creative Colouring for Grown-Ups. It sold strongly and reprinted, but it was last year that it all really mushroomed with Art Therapy, in June. It really took off for us – selling the anti-stress angle gave people permission to enjoy something they might have felt was quite childish,”

    Art Therapy

    Lucy Fyles has a blog, in which she reviews various examples from a mental health point of view.  There are hundreds of testimonies all over the internet from individuals who claim that the activity has helped them deal with everything from the normal daily stresses of life to far more serious forms of mental distress.  The basic principal works on the concept of involvement in an activity which is both simple and absorbing at the same time which quiets the mind and allows the practitioner to disconnect from the general world around them.  The success of this kind of activity shouldn’t really be surprising, an activity with a very similar ethos behind it has also been causing a storm in the art world recently, namely Zentangle.

    download (2)

    Whether people are taking it up as a creative or a therapeutic activity (or a combination of both) there seems to be no doubt that many people are enjoying the activity and feeling the benefits one way or another.  And after all why not?  The books are really just an extension as well of the very popular free downloadable colouring templates which carders have been using for some time as templates.  If you think about it carefully, there isn’t really so much difference between intricate colouring and say creating a cross stitch from a manufactured pattern or following a knitting pattern.  They are all levels of a creative process.  Anything which provides the release of creative energy and decreases stress is something we at iartsupplies can fully get behind.

    Here to Help

    iartsupplies has several product ranges which are ideal for this activity if it is something you are thinking of taking it up.  Although there is no set material which must be used in the activity here are the ones we stock and would recommend to get you started.  Although feel free to check out full range of products, the only limits on your creativity should be the ones you set yourself.

    Our Koi Brush Watercolour Pens come in a vibrant range of colours and are very reasonably priced.  The brush style tips and water based inks mean you can use them like felt tips or combine them with water to create a watercolour effect.

    Want a bolder graphic style?  Why not give our Stylefile markers a shot?  The ink can be blended with the colourless blender, but the real beauty of the Stylefile range is the opaque dense nature of the colour.

    Our pastel pencils are available individually and ranges of colouring, water-colour and pastel pencils are available as sets.  Click here to see the ranges.

    So why not check out the ample range of colouring books on offer at Amazon, The Works or your local book seller, then drop into us for your materials.  You'll never know until you try.


  • Sculptures Nick Mackman


    Fantastic Animal Sculptures

    Nick Mackman produces some truly wonderful animal sculptures which we love to share on our Facebook page. Read about what influences and inspires her on her blog and you can also check out the website on her gallery while you are there.

  • Olivia Rose

    Fantastic Forms, Beautiful Colours and Individual Spirit

    Read this interview with artist Olivia Rose to find out more about her work, the way she produces it and why.  Her artwork is truly inspirational for its fantastic forms, beautiful colours and individual spirit.



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