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Creativity Art Blog

  • 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'





  • INKS

    Different Types Of Artists Inks, Techniques and Auxiliaries

    There are two main types of inks: Pigment inks and Dye inks.
    What's the difference?

    Pigment Inks

    Pigment inks have a telling name – they contain pigments. (Indeed, pigments don’t mix with water, therefore this type of ink will be water resistant once dried.) Since pigment particles make a stronger bond, pigment inks will not fade so quickly, and last  for a longer time. At the same time, it’s said that they’re harder to work with and the colours aren’t that bright.


    Dye Inks

    Dye inks compared to Pigment inks are less permanent, as they remain water soluble even after they dried. While some people prefer them for they have more bright colours, however, they tend to fast easier as well.

    Abby Diamond

    India Ink

    The Bombay India Ink range has 24 vibrant colours (all transparent except black and white which have excellent  coverage) - what's good to know about this brand is that the inks are very pigmented and lightfast, and also waterproof.

    DR. Ph. Martins Radiant Inks

    This type of ink comes in 56 different colours, however, due to the quality of the dye, it's not very lightfast. It can be used mixed with acrylic paint, or as a fabric dye  (with added salt for fixative.)  These inks don't contain shellac like other type of India Inks.


    Royal Talens India Ink


    India ink (or Chinese ink) is made up of fine soot (carbon) and water, usually with added shellac or gelatine to make the dried ink more durable. It can be both waterproof and non-waterproof, depending on the added binder. India ink is most commonly used for drawing, especially ink comic books

    John MacNair

    Royal Talens Ecoline

    Leandro Russo, Omeostasi, 2014, ecoline on canvas, cm 20 x 25

    Ecoline is a liquid watercolour paint, but at the same time very similar to inks. The brand has many colours (46 transparent and 2 opaque) which are also available in pen form (and the two can be mixed!) They are not waterproof, thus you can keep on working on the image even after it’s dry.

    Ecoline Brushpens  and Ink Bottles



    Techniques for Inks

    Source -

    Shading Techniques

    Tools and Surfaces

    Inks probably work the best with soft brushes like watercolour brushes, but you can experiment with technical pens, fountain pens, calligraphy pens or airbrush as well.

    Inks, unlike watercolours, can be used on non/absorbent surfaces like cartridge paper, but it's good to keep in mind that the more water you add, the chance of paper buckling grows, therefore it's better to stretch your paper first.



  • Quentin Blake

    Quentin Blake, the illustrator


    About Sir Quentin Saxby Blake

    Sir Quentin Saxby Blake CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDI is one of Britain’s most successful children’s authors, illustrators and cartoonists. He was born on the 16th December 1932 in Sidcup in Kent. During the Second World War, he was evacuated to the West Country. He attended Holy Trinity Lamorbey Church of England Primary School and Chiselhurst and Sidcup Grammar School, where his English teacher, J.H. Walsh inspired his love of literature. He studied English Literature at Downing College, Cambridge from 1953 to 1956. He has denied that studying at Cambridge University contributed to his artistic or creative talent. After his national service, he received his postgraduate diploma in teaching from the University of London. Later he studied part-time at the Chelsea School of Art and then at Camberwell College of Art. He received his teaching diploma from the Institute of Education.


    Blake's First Published Illustration

    Blake’s first published illustration was at the age of 16, in the satirical magazine, Punch, while he was still at school. A later cover featured his illustration of a weightlifter being imitated by a dog carrying a bone. He said “I can remember getting a letter from the art director congratulating me on being the youngest contributor and I thought ‘this is alright.’ I started drawing for print then”


    Blake's Professional Teaching Career

    Blake taught English at the Lycee Francais de Londres in the 1960s, building on his strong links with France and culminating with him being awarded the Insignia of Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur at a ceremony at the Institut Francais in London, in March 2014. He also taught at the Royal College of Art for more than twenty years and was head of illustration from 1978 to 1986.

    Literature’s Greatest Author and Illustrator Duos

    He has gone on to illustrate more than three hundred books, with authors including Michael Rosen, John Yeoman, Joan Aiken and Dr. Seuss and illustrated the first Seuss book that Seuss did not illustrate himself – ‘Great Day For Up!’ in 1974. Over many years he worked with Roald Dahl on some of his most well known and loved books, his illustrations capturing the essence of The BFG, Mathilda and Willie Wonka. He also illustrated and wrote a number of quirky books himself including Mister Magnolia, Zagazoo and Lovelykins.

    An Iconic Collaboration with Roald Dahl

    Blake met Dahl and began working with him in 1975 after a meeting set up by their publisher. Dahl had already published some of his most famous works including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Initially I was rather apprehensive because he was a big chap and very famous, but it was a relationship that worked” said Blake.” “Because I had established myself as an illustrator, I had something to bring to it."

    Storytelling and Stamps

    In the 1970s Blake presented more than one hundred and fifty episodes of the BBC children’s storytelling television show, Jackanory, where he would illustrate the stories as he was telling them. In 1993, Blake designed that year’s Christmas postage stamps, based on Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol.

     Memberships and Associations

    He is a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, patron of the Blake Society – Downing College’s arts and humanities society and patron of The Big Draw, a registered UK charity aiming to get everyone drawing and demonstrating that drawing is a life skill, an essential tool for thinking, inventing and communicating.


    Included in his accolades are the J.M. Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in 2008, the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration from the International Board on Books for Young People for his services to children’s literature, while he was Children’s Laureate and an honorary degree from the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

    In 1988, Blake was given an OBE, in 2014 a CBE and in 2013 he received a knighthood at Buckingham Palace for his services to illustration.

    Blake's Art Projects 

    As well as illustrating books, Blake also works with hospitals and mental health units, decorating buildings with his drawings. “It’s a different kind of brief, a different kind of audience. A lot of pictures I do in hospitals are to cheer up gaunt surroundings” he said. In 2007 he designed a huge mural on fabric. It was suspended over a dilapidated building directly opposite the entrance to St. Pancras station in London. The painting of an imaginary welcoming committee greets passengers arriving on the Eurostar high-speed railway.


    Blake also negotiated the House of Illustration project aimed at opening a gallery dedicated to illustration. The gallery was opened in 2014 near to King’s Cross in London.


    Even though Blake is one of the UK’s most beloved artists, he still has his critics and one criticism levelled at him is that his illustrations are so constantly upbeat. “There are a lot of smiles about, it’s true.” he admitted. “People have come up and said ‘Thank you for your work’ and ‘joy’ is the word they’ve used, but I’ve also reproached for it being too cheerful. But if you add a smile, it doesn’t make it necessarily joyful.”


    Article written by Mary Aitken

  • Egg Tempera

    Guide to help you make your own paint

    A painting method that shows you, eggs are not only for breakfast!

    History of Egg Tempera Paint

    Tempera paint seems to be one of the most common paints that we're introduced to from the very beginnings. Can you imagine it has been around since the first century AD?

    Many examples of the use of tempera include the Fayum Mummy portraits, and other Egyptian sarcophagi decoration, Orthodox icon painting, early medieval paintings in temples in India, and even Michelangelo had egg tempera paintings.

    Tempera was the primary painting medium up until the 1500s, when the appearing oil paint replaced it. There were some occasional revivals of tempera paintings, for instance in the 19th/20th century by the Pre-raphaelite Brotherhood.

    What You Need


    • egg yolk
    • water
    • dry pigment
    • glass muller
    • jars or tubes

    The Method

    Preparing the Pigment Mixtures

    First you need to grind the pigment with a small amount of water using the muller, until the consistency reaches a creamy state. (The time and amount of water depends on the particular pigment!)

    Preparing the Egg Yolk Medium

    The next step is to prepare the egg yolk medium which consists of egg yolk and distilled water. In order to make it, you'll need to separate the egg yolk from the white, You might want to carefully dry it with a paper towel to remove all the white. Then, take the yolk and pierce the sack under a jar. Discard the sack, and if you find any impurities in the yolk, strain the liquid. If needed, mix it with a bit of distilled water, and it's ready for painting. Keep the medium tightly sealed and refrigerated up until two days.

    Christina's World - Andrew Wyeth, 36" x 29", 1948



  • Encaustic Painting

    Make stunning artworks with pigments, wax and heat

    Painting with wax not only creates exciting, intriguing images, but due to the building up of the wax, it allows you to approach painting from a rather sculptural point of view,

    What is Encaustic painting?

    The name Encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos, meaning "to heat or burn in". This name is quite telling, as the technique is to paint with layers of melted wax. The medium is made out of natural beeswax, dammar resin and optionally pigments for colours. The idea is to use the paint, layers of paper, dried plants, etc between each layer of wax, and to continuously fuse them together with reheating it.

    The History of wax-painting

    Encaustic painting dates back to ancient times as it was used by the Greeks to decorate war ships.  The same technique was used to decorate Egyptian tombs and sarcophagi : the most famous being the Fayum funeral portraits.


    The Mummy of Demetrios, 95-100 C.E.,11.600a-b, Brooklyn Museum

    Since it was a rather difficult technique without portable wax melting tools, the popularity of Encaustic painting decreased for centuries before its late revival in the 20th century. The technique was picked up by painter Fritz Faiss (1905 - 1981), student of abstract expressionist Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

    Untitled (1955)

    What You'll need:

    • thick surface (wooden boards / blocks are probably the best)
    • Encaustic medium (wax)
    • collage materials, pigments or coloured wax
    • natural bristle brushes (hog or goat hair(
    • heat gun or propane torch
    • electric hot plate
    • optionally tools for scratching / sculpting

    The Method:

    • Melt the wax
    • Brush the first layer of wax onto the surface, and then start layering, as the work is made with multiple thin layers of wax. Keep both the brushes and the wax warm throughout. You can also add different collage materials like pictures or dried flowers, but keep in mind that the first layer will be less visible.
    • After each finished layer, fuse them together with a heat-gun, so the layer will be even
    • Add texture to the 'painting' with scratching and scraping! Encaustic allows you to work on 2D images with a sculptural touch.


    1. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the wax.
    2. Use a porous surface like wood, paper or clay.
    3. Use an electric plate and palette cups to separate different colours while keeping all of them warm.,
    4. Don't be afraid to hang your finished work, as it won't melt in the sun, however, it's not advised to put it directly in the sun, especially in warmer climates. They're also sensitive to freezing cold temperatures, but otherwise wax makes the work archival so they will last for a very long time.





  • The Art of Paper Marbling


    The technique of Suminagashi originates from Japan. It's name translates to "ink floating", as the ink patterns that marble the paper are prepared on the water surface.
    You can use this impressive, versatile technique to decorate sketchbook covers, wrapping paper or to dye fabrics.


    The practice of paper marbling was invented in Japan in the 12th century, and it's still a popular technique today, all around the world.

    In 15th century Turkey and Persia they developed a similar technique called Ebru ( “cloud art”) but they used oil or gouache paint instead of inks to create the prints.

    The technique of paper marbling came to Europe in the 17th century, and was mainly used for the purpose to decorate book covers.

    You will need:

    • Watercolour or Japanese Ink Paper / fabric
    • (Chinese) brushes
    • Tray filled with water
    • Marbling ink, or Acrylic paint and Turpentine
    • clear dispersant (Photo Flo, or alternatively dish soap or conditioner)

    Do It Yourself

    The name Suminagashi describes the technique in one word, as it really as about floating ink on the surface of water.

    All you need to do to create these unique patterns is to switch dipping coloured and clear brushes on the surface of water. While it sounds rather easy, it can be a bit tricky, as you basically can't really control how the image will turn out.

    the technique comprises of the variation of colour(s) and clear 'circles', and when you have enough, you can try to create new patterns by blowing into a straw.

    Useful Tips:

    • you only have to touch the surface of the water with the end of your brush - but even if accidentally touching the bottom of the tray, it won't influence the whole image.
    • if the ink doesn't "float" properly, try wiping the water surface with a piece of newspaper to get rid of all the dust
    • try to lay your paper in one even motion - otherwise tiny air bubbles might appear that will leave white dots on your image
    • change the water every now and then
    • or try the technique on other surfaces like fabrics and wood!



  • Photo Transfer Gel

    Introducing the Amsterdam Photo Transfer Gel

    Why would I need something so "niche" as Photo Transfer Gel? Well, if you have doubts about this product, keep reading to find out what you can use it for, and who knows, you might want to give it a try, after all?

    What's Photo Transfer Gel for?

    Photo transfer Gel can be used for many purposes, from craft to fine art, everyone can find a good use for it. You can use it to transfer a sketch directly from paper onto the canvas or wood, saving time with sketching before painting. Or you can just transfer your images in order present them as they are, on a more durable surface than paper. It is also comes handy for craft projects!

    How to Transfer Photos onto Canvas & Wood?

    For the project, you will need:

    • Photo Transfer Gel (obviously)
    • Brush (make sure you choose one that will give an even coating!)
    • (stretched) canvas or wood panel
    • Photocopy of your image
      note that especially with writing, you will have to use the reverse of the image! Also, generally Laserjet copies work, but Inkjet won't. It's also useful to choose images that aren't coated (like magazines and postcards tend to be)
    • water and a tray
    • sponge or a cloth

    The Method

    Place your image on the surface where you're transferring; and mark the edges of the photocopy to make sure you will know where to put it.

    Spread the gel on the surface evenly; look out for small gaps, otherwise the photo won't transfer perfectly.

    Place your photocopy onto the surface, and press it with your hands or with the help of a roller.

    Leave it for at least 24 hours, but leaving it for a few days is fine too!

    Especially with unstretched canvas, it's a good idea to soak the surface with water, as it makes it easier to peel off without ruining the image. Peel off the first layers of paper, then rub off the excess with your fingers, a wet sponge or towel.

    Enjoy the results!

    image source: Fast Image Transfer with Melanie Matthews

    Transfer a photo to wood:



  • 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!



  • 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!






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