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Creativity Art Blog

  • 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.

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

    Johanna Basford

     

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

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

     

     

    ~Fiona MacHugh

  • Easy and Fun Printmaking Techniques!

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

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

    printingink

    Easy and safe to use printing inks

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

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

    ABurke

    (Photograph courtesy of Alisa Burke)

    Get Creative!

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

     

     

  • Gerard Quenum:  Valley of the Dolls

     

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

     

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

     

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

     

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

     

     

     

    Fiona MacHugh

  • Portrait Artist

    Dutch Portrait Artist

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

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

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

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

  • Artist's Profile: Libby Page

    Libby Page

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

    WEBconsequence

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

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

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

    WEBPouvoir

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

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

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

    WEBStill Standing

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

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

    WEBGracious

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

     

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

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

     

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

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

     

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

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

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

     

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Art is vital.

     

    WEBPigasse 2013 Anne

     

     

  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Flake White

    Why Can't I Find Flake White?

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

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

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

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

     

  • Mixed Media Hearts

    Valentine Hearts

    Artist & Illustrator Kim Anderson, is very much into painting hearts amongst other gorgeous designs. But her mixed media hearts are just magical right now.

    You can see why her hearts are just amazing. Her use of colour is fabulous and, her style is just beautiful. We have been following this artist & Illustrator for a  few years on Facebook and on Instagram and, literally fallen in love even more with her work as time has gone on.

    kim anderson 1

    kim anderson 2

    This Heart below in particular is one of our favourites. The textures are exciting and lively, as are the vivid colours Kim uses. Loving the bubble come water ripple effects of colours created through Kim's technique. Would it not be just wonderful to be able to create this yourself? Why not give it a bash.  Mixed media artworks are lots of fun to do and, the exciting thing about mixed media is just being able to experiment with various art materials you enjoy using - or have not even tried -and seeing what happens.  Magical really!  The artist uses inks, pens, acrylics, craft foil & gold leaf to create her stunning mixed media works.

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    Kim also paints stones in the exact same way - stones that she picks up and produces the most striking hearts in the exact same way she does on her canvasses.

    kim stone 1

    These stones are examples of what she does. They would make perfect gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, valentines and more.

    kim stone 3

  • Creepy Crawlies: What’s In Your Paint?

    Do you know what makes the colour in your paint?

    When we are thinking about what art supplies we use, most of us don’t really think about where things like pigments come from.   In this modern age it is easy to assume that most pigments are manufactured in laboratories and that there is very little that synthetic production cannot do.   However you might be surprised by what gives your favourite colours, or pallet staples their distinct hue.  Understanding more about how your paint is made and where it comes from adds another dimension to your creative process, and it can also help when we are trying to understand why some materials cost so much, or are so hard to obtain.  We’ve put together a little article to give you some facts you may not have know before!

    Slimy Substances

    Tyrian purple is a dye produced from sea snails which can be traced back as far ass the 13thCentury BC. It is the dye often associated with Roman robes of state; the cost involved in the production meaning only the rich could wear it.  The production of this purple declined after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and was totally replaced in the late 19th Century by synthetic equivalents.

    snail

    Beetle Bugs

    Perhaps the most famous of these dyes/pigments is that produced from the Cochineal beetle, a small parasitic insect which lives on and off the prickly pear cactus.  Cochineal dyes are used in makeup and as food dyes as well as in paint.  The colour comes from the Carminic acid which the beetles produce to protect themselves from predators.  The beetles are harvested and then dried and crushed to produce a powder.  The use of these beetles is believed to have been developed by the Maya and Aztec and was then brought to Europe by the Spanish after Columbus landed in the Americas.  In the 19th century its use declined as synthetic dyes became more widely available offering an easier and cheaper alternative.  However as with some natural dyes cochineal has experienced a re-emergence as concern over toxicity of synthetic dyes has grown.  Cochineal is proved to be non-toxic and non- carcinogenic.  Today there are major production sites in Mexico, Guatemala and the Canary Islands.  The colour produced is considered to be stable, and it is one of the most resistant natural colours to time, light, oxidation and heat, even more so than many synthetic dyes.  If cochineal has been used in paint, carmine will be listed as one of the pigments.

    cochineal

     

    The Kermes insect which is found in oak scrub in the Mediterranean was an earlier equivalent for Europeans of the Cochineal beetle.  They also produce a brilliant red dye when treated in the same way as the Cochineal bugs (but based in the kermesic acid which they produce).  After the importation of the Cochineal from the Americas the use of the Kermes insect declined because although the colour produced is similar in intensity cochineal dye is 10 or 12 times more effective and stable than kermes dyes.

    kermes

    Lac insects also produce a red dye which can be manipulated with mordents to produce a range of colour from violet to brown. The dye is used in natural fabric dye for wool, silk and sometimes leather. However it is the glassy resin which the insects coat themselves in whilst they mature from larvae which is their principal product.  Once processed this resin is made into shellac, the only commercial natural lacquer.  Shellac is used in varnishes, paint, printing ink and sealing wax amongst other non- art products.  The principal producers are India, Thailand and China, with smaller production lines in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

    So next time you reach for a product you might know a bit more about how it’s made!  Whilst some people are put off by the concept of these production methods it is worth bearing in mind that many of these natural dyes are actually safer for you than the things p

  • Colourful Art

    Colleen Ranney

    colleen ranney 1

    Artist, Author and Poet Colleen Ranney creates the most stunning and colourful, textiley paintings and writes poetry and many books too. Colleen was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 4 and has gone from strength to strength through her life. To read more about the talented lady read her biography.  Colleens purpose is exposing hidden truths through the expression  of poetic art which she produces in this beautiful textiley form.

    Lovely Colours

    The colourful artworks are intense and inviting and, grasp your attention quickly. Below are just some of her amazing and beautiful paintings. I for one know that I would love to walk around in her beautifully painted scenes. They are far too inviting and just looking at them I feel i am part of the painting myself.

    meadow-trail-by-colleen-ranney-colleen-ranney 3

                                        meadow-sky-by-colleen-ranney-colleen-ranney 2

  • Handmade Resin Bracelets

    Bracelets embedded with Plantlife

    Designer Sarah Smith at Modern Flower Child creates beautiful and unique natural looking resin bracelet and other jewellery for you to purchase and enjoy. Embedded with real flowers, shells, bark, grasses, foliage's, dried ferns and even peacock feathers and any other organic materials. She produces something very different and unusual, leaving a stunning unique finish that you can wear and show of.

    The plant-life Sarah uses for her jewellery makes are frozen in time inside these clear time capsules.  The whole process can take up to as much as three weeks from original design to the pouring of the resin, curing, and then the shaping of  the final piece. Look at just how beautiful these plant-life bracelets are. Sarah's one off designs are all done by hand - and by herself alone (she is a one person business) therefore not made on any machine and the tiny bubbles, bumps and slight imperfections found on her designs are all part of her unique hand produced jewellery makes, making them that extra special. To learn more about the artist visit her website.

    resin bracelets 1

    resin bracelet 2

    resin bracelet 3

     

     

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