Monthly Archives: March 2017

Important Steps You Can Take to Ace High School Art

People often think that high-achieving Art or Design students are blessed with a gift: bestowed with a creative talent since birth. You might be surprised to learn that those who excel in high school Art often excel in a wide range of other subjects too – that it is not so much a creative gift that they possess, but rather a practical understanding of howto succeed. Every day thousands of skilful Art students underachieve, while others slowly and steadily inch their achievement levels higher and higher.

1. Dream of success

Most people spend their days fretting about the past or worrying about the future. They carry around an inner critic that belittles their skill, intellect, appearance, decisions, actions and worth as a person. The human capacity for anticipating the future based on the events of the past has resulted in us dominating the planet; it is also the leading of cause of misery. If you are depressed, worried or anxious, read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (Amazon affiliate link). He will remind you that what has already happened has gone and will only ever exist as a memory experienced in your mind now. Similarly, the future is an imaginary concept that can only be considered in this moment: now.

2. Get enough sleep

80% of the teenage population is estimated to be suffering from a lack of sleep according to a 2006 poll by the American National Sleep Foundation. Even worse, we don’t know it. As sleep deprivation increases, the body adjusts in order to cope and we don’t register the feeling of tiredness – especially if we try to stimulate alertness with caffeine, junk food, artificial lights or digital screens. Average sleep hours are estimated to have decreased by two hours per night over the last fifty years; primarily the direct result of electronic devices disrupting our circadian rhythm – the natural cycles that prompt us to wake and sleep.

3. Eat well (and stop dieting)

Like the rest of the world, teenagers are image and health conscious. This often leads to restrictive dieting, excessive hunger and other ongoing eating issues such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder (conditions estimated to be rampant in modern society). Dieting has – at best – a 98% failure rate. Restricting calories mutes your brainpower, makes you tired, erodes willpower, ruins your mood and is the leading cause of eating disorders. Eat like a normal person: satisfy your appetite with a combination of nourishing food and easily absorbed energy. Never, ever starve yourself.

4. Stop poisoning yourself with addictive substances

You might be surprised how many teenagers compromise their high school performance as a direct result of taking drugs or engaging in other harmful behaviours. Many countries have a crazy youth culture that involves experimenting with alcohol and other addictive substances (those which – by their very definition – offer the fleeting illusion of pleasure in exchange for long term pain). These cause the deterioration of physical health and a depression of your mental state. Very often this is compounded by foggy memories, social embarrassment, regret and a lack of sleep.

5. Get some sunshine

Sunshine exposure triggers the development of vitamin D in your skin; helps with bone strength and resistance against diseases. It has been linked to higher levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that promotes a good mood and regulates appetite, sleep and memory. Humans are not designed to be trapped inside, under artificial lights, for hours on end. Kick a ball outside. Lie in the sunshine for 10 minutes and see how this changes your mood, your outlook and your approac

How to Create an excellent Observational Drawing

Observational drawing is an integral component of many high school Art courses, including GCSE/IGCSE and A Level Art. Often, drawing is the core method of researching, investigating, developing and communicating ideas. While it is accepted that there are many wondrous types of drawings – and that non-representational drawing methods have an important role in student Art projects – it is usually advantageous to demonstrate competent, realistic observational drawing skills to the examiner (particularly in the early stage of a project).

Tip 1: Look at what you are drawing

Failing to look at what you are drawing is one of the most fundamental errors an Art student can make. This sounds obvious, but it is the most common error made by art students. Many students attempt to draw things the way that they think they should look, rather than the way they actually do look. The only way to record shape, proportion and detail accurately is to look at the source of information. Human memory does not suffice. Forms, shadows and details are hard enough to replicate when they are right there in front of you; if you have to make them up, they appear even less convincing. In order to produce an outstanding observational drawing, you must observe: your eyes must continually dance from the piece of paper to the object and back again. Not just once or twice, but constantly.

Tip 2: Draw from real objects whenever possible

The phrase ‘observational drawing’ typically implies drawing from life (see the superb observational drawing exercise set by artist and teacher Julie Douglas). Ask any art teacher and they will list the benefits of drawing from objects that are sitting directly in front of you. You are provided with a wealth of visual information…changing light conditions; rich textures; views of the subject from alternate angles; as well as information from other sense…smells and noise from the surroundings etc. Transcribing from three-dimensions to two is ultimately much harder than drawing from a photograph, but it often results in drawings that are ‘richer’ and more authentic.

Tip 3: Don’t trace

Throughout history, great realist painters have traced from photographs or worked from projections blown up onto walls. But these painters are not high school art students; nor are they assessed on their ability to replicate form. There is a place for tracing in IGCSE or A Level Art (such as when tracing over something you have already drawn or creating a repeat pattern), but tracing from photographs and then simply applying colour or tone is not acceptable. Such methods of ‘drawing’ involve minimal skill, teach you little and run the risk of producing clunky, soul-less outlines. Don’t do it.

Tip 4: Understand perspective

As objects get further away they appear smaller. The replication of this change of scale on paper (through the use of vanishing points) is called ‘perspective’. The fundamentals of perspective are usually taught in junior high school; by Year 10 at the latest. If you are a senior art student and have somehow missed this lesson, remedy this situation urgently. There are not many theoretical aspects of art that are essential to learn, but this is one of them. Please view the perspective handouts in the Student Art Guide free teacher resources to get you started.

Tip 5. Use grids, guidelines or rough forms to get the proportions right before you add details

Many students start with a tiny detail (the eye on a face, for example) and then gradually add in the rest of the image ending up with a drawing that is badly proportioned or doesn’t fit on the page (or floats aimlessly in the middle of it). This can be avoided by approximating the basic forms before adding details or by using guidelines to ensure that proportions are correct. If working from a photograph, using a grid can result in highly accurate work. It allows students to focus on one small segment of the image at a time and gives arbitrary lines from which distances can be gauged. This can be a helpful strategy when precise, detailed images are required and can itself become a celebrated component in an artwork. As gridding is methodical and involves meticulous plotting of lines, however, it is important to acknowledge that this approach runs the risk of producing tight and regimented drawings that lack in ‘spirit’ and should thus be approached with care.

Coloring Book Creativity

Tips for creative ways to color adult coloring book pages

1. Make it a zentangle

By using ink, you can color in the page using different pen strokes like hatching and cross hatching and tiny patterns to create an intricate coloring wonderland. Before you know it, the page will completely change character, becoming almost like a collaborative work between you and the coloring book page illustrator.

2. Use paint

Using paint instead of pencils or crayons can make coloring a totally new experience. In the above photo, watercolor is used to apply a delicate, translucent tone to the coloring book page, giving it a soft effect and a different character than a page colored in with crayon or colored pencil. Watercolor isn’t your only option; you could use gouache or acrylic, too (oil paint is not suggested). For best results, remove the coloring book page from the book before painting so the paint doesn’t warp the pages below or seep through. Using removable tape, affix it to a rigid work surface to prevent buckling of the page as you paint.

3. Create lush layers

Working in layers, you can create a lush, soft effect in colored pencil that can create truly stunning coloring book pages. In this post on the Craftsy blog, the artist offers a tutorial for how to build layers slowly, with one color at a time, allowing for better control over value and consistency of color. A little bit different than working with several colors at the same time on your piece, the results are luminous and stunning.

4. Try indenting

Indenting is an awesome technique that can add texture and character to your coloring book pages. First, start by either removing the page you’re working with, or by inserting a rigid backing, so that you won’t inadvertently add texture to the pages below the one you’re coloring. Place a sheet of tracing paper over the image, and then use a pencil or pen to indent the image. You won’t be actually drawing on the image, but rather indenting the paper so that your colored pencil or coloring medium will leave ghostly white outlines in the spots you indented. This could be as simple as adding details to flower imagery or adding zentangle-like patterns within your coloring book page. It makes for a magical effect as you color.

5. Make a rubbing

Here’s a fun way to add a collage-like feel to your coloring book page: try make a rubbing! All you have to do is put some sort of textured object under the coloring book page (above, it’s a series of coins). Then gently shade the space with the side of the pencil or colored pencil point to fill in an area. It can give interesting bits of texture to an area in your coloring book page, and when used on an entire page, it can create a cool effect.

Art World

The art world comprises everyone involved in producing, commissioning, presenting, preserving, promoting, chronicling, criticizing, and selling fine art. Art world is indeed a wider term than art market, though that is a large part of it. Howard S. Becker describes it as “the network of people whose cooperative activity, organized via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things, produce(s) the kind of art works that art world is noted for” (Becker, 1982). In her book, Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton describes it as “a loose network of overlapping subcultures held together by a belief in art. They span the globe but cluster in art capitals like New York, London, Los Angeles, and Berlin.” Other cities sometimes called “art capitals” include Beijing, Brussels, Hong Kong, Miami, Paris, Rome and Tokyo; due to their large art festivals, followings, and being the centers of art production.

The notion of the singular art world is problematic, since Becker and others show art worlds are, instead, independent multiplicities scattered worldwide that are always in flux: there is no “center” to the art world any more. In her analysis of the “net art world” (referring to network-aided art or net art), Amy Alexander states “net.art had a movement, at the very least it had coherence, and although it aimed to subvert the art world, eventually its own sort of art world formed around it. It developed a culture, hype and mystique through lists and texts; it had a centre, insiders, outsiders, even nodes. This is of course not a failure; this is unavoidable: groups form; even anarchism is an institution.” Art worlds exist at local and regional levels, as hidden or obscured subcultures, via primary and secondary art markets, through gallery circuits, around design movements, and, esoterically, as shared or perceived experiences. The one globalized, all-encompassing art world exists only as myth; rather, there are multiplicities of intersecting, overlapping, self-similar art worlds, each expressing different views of the world as they see it.

Though the painting is not in the show, activists argue that the ICA is giving institutional approval to a “violent artifact.” Local activists, artists, and community members are calling for the cancellation of a solo exhibition of work by Dana Schutz at the ICA Boston, which opens to the public July 26. In an open letter sent to the museum yesterday, the group criticized the institution for capitalizing on Schutz’s notoriety following her controversial contribution to the Whitney Biennial earlier this year.

Schutz’s painting Open Casket (2016), which is based on photographs of 14-year-old Emmett Till, drew protests when it was shown at the Whitney Museum this spring. The work touched off intense debate over who can and should make art about historical trauma and if and how institutions can responsibly present that work. The exhibition, which has been in the works for two years, presents around 20 works by Schutz created over the past decade and focuses on her move toward increasingly complex, large-scale compositions. The museum “never considered” including Open Casket, Eva Respini, the ICA Boston’s chief curator who organized the exhibition, told artnet News. At the same time, Respini says, the Whitney controversy unfolded so publicly that the museum felt it must acknowledge it somehow. “We understand that people now read her work through this lens,” she says. The museum will address the issue in the exhibition’s wall text and through a series of public talks.