Monthly Archives: June 2017

Silhouette Art

A silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, with its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the whole is typically presented on a light background, usually white, or none at all. The silhouette differs from an outline, which depicts the edge of an object in a linear form, while a silhouette appears as a solid shape. Silhouette images may be created in any visual artistic media, but was first used to describe pieces of cut paper, which were then stuck to a backing in a contrasting colour, and often framed. Cutting portraits, generally in profile, from black card became popular in the mid-18th century, though the term silhouette was seldom used until the early decades of the 19th century, and the tradition has continued under this name into the 21st century. They represented a cheap but effective alternative to the portrait miniature, and skilled specialist artists could cut a high-quality bust portrait, by far the most common style, in a matter of minutes, working purely by eye. Other artists, especially from about 1790, drew an outline on paper, then painted it in, which could be equally quick.

From its original graphic meaning, the term silhouette has been extended to describe the sight or representation of a person, object or scene that is backlit, and appears dark against a lighter background. Anything that appears this way, for example, a figure standing backlit in a doorway, may be described as “in silhouette”. Because a silhouette emphasises the outline, the word has also been used in the fields of fashion and fitness to describe the shape of a person’s body or the shape created by wearing clothing of a particular style or period. The discipline of architecture that studies the shadows cast by or upon buildings is called Sciography. The play of shadows upon buildings was very much in vogue a thousand years ago as evidenced by the surviving examples of “mukarnas” art where the shadows of 3 dimensional ornamentation with stone masonry around the entrance of mosques form pictures. As outright pictures were avoided in Islam, tessellations and calligraphic pictures were allowed, “accidental” silhouettes are a creative alternative.

Many photographers use the technique of photographing people, objects or landscape elements against the light, to achieve an image in silhouette. The background light might be natural, such as a cloudy or open sky, mist or fog, sunset or an open doorway (a technique known as contre-jour), or it might be contrived in a studio; see low-key lighting. Silhouetting requires that the exposure be adjusted so that there is no detail (underexposure) within the desired silhouette element, and overexposure for the background to render it bright; so a lighting ratio of 16:1 or greater is the ideal. The Zone System was an aid to film photographers in achieving the required exposure ratios. High contrast film, adjustment of film development, and/or high contrast photographic paper may be used in chemical-based photography to enhance the effect in the darkroom. With digital processing the contrast may be enhanced through the manipulation of the contrast curve for the image. In media the term “to silhouette” is used for the process of separating or masking a portion of an image (such as the background) so that it does not show. Traditionally silhouettes have often been used in advertising, particularly in poster design, because they can be cheaply and effectively printed.

Realism Art

Realism in the arts is the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements. Realism has been prevalent in the arts at many periods, and is in large part a matter of technique and training, and the avoidance of stylization. In the visual arts, illusionistic realism is the accurate depiction of lifeforms, perspective, and the details of light and colour. Realist works of art may emphasize the mundane, ugly or sordid, such as works of social realism, regionalism, or kitchen sink realism. There have been various realism movements in the arts, such as the opera style of verismo, literary realism, theatrical realism and Italian neorealist cinema. The realism art movement in painting began in France in the 1850s, after the 1848 Revolution. The realist painters rejected Romanticism, which had come to dominate French literature and art, with roots in the late 18th century.

Realism or naturalism as a style meaning the honest, unidealizing depiction of the subject, can of course be used in depicting any type of subject, without any commitment to treating the typical or everyday. Despite the general idealism of classical art, this too had classical precedents, which came in useful when defending such treatments in the Renaissance and Baroque. Demetrius of Alopece was a 4th-century BCE sculptor whose work (all now lost) was said to prefer realism over ideal beauty, and during the Ancient Roman Republic even politicians preferred a truthful depiction in portraits, though the early emperors favoured Greek idealism. Goya’s portraits of the Spanish royal family represent a sort of peak in the honest and downright unflattering portrayal of important persons.

The Realist movement began in the mid-19th century as a reaction to Romanticism and History painting. In favor of depictions of ‘real’ life, the Realist painters used common laborers, and ordinary people in ordinary surroundings engaged in real activities as subjects for their works. Its chief exponents were Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, Honoré Daumier, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. According to Ross Finocchio, formerly of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Realists used unprettified detail depicting the existence of ordinary contemporary life, coinciding in the contemporaneous naturalist literature of Émile Zola, Honoré de Balzac, and Gustave Flaubert.

In the 19th century “Naturalism” or the “Naturalist school” was somewhat artificially erected as a term representing a breakaway sub-movement of Realism, that attempted (not wholly successfully) to distinguish itself from its parent by its avoidance of politics and social issues, and liked to proclaim a quasi-scientific basis, playing on the sense of “naturalist” as a student of Natural history, as the biological sciences were then generally known. The originator of the term was the French art critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary, who in 1863 announced that: “The naturalist school declares that art is the expression of life under all phases and on all levels, and that its sole aim is to reproduce nature by carrying it to its maximum power and intensity: it is truth balanced with science”. Émile Zola adopted the term with a similar scientific emphasis for his aims in the novel. Much Naturalist painting covered a similar range of subject matter as that of Impressionism, but using tighter, more traditional brushwork styles, and in landscapes often with more gloomy weather.

Abstract Art

Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality. The arts of cultures other than the European had become accessible and showed alternative ways of describing visual experience to the artist. By the end of the 19th century many artists felt a need to create a new kind of art which would encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which individual artists drew their theoretical arguments were diverse, and reflected the social and intellectual preoccupations in all areas of Western culture at that time.

Abstract art, non-figurative art, non-objective art, and nonrepresentational art are loosely related terms. They are similar, but perhaps not of identical meaning.

Abstraction indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. This departure from accurate representation can be slight, partial, or complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum. Even art that aims for verisimilitude of the highest degree can be said to be abstract, at least theoretically, since perfect representation is likely to be exceedingly elusive. Artwork which takes liberties, altering for instance color and form in ways that are conspicuous, can be said to be partially abstract. Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, for instance, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. Figurative art and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive. But figurative and representational (or realistic) art often contains partial abstraction.

Painting Random Geometric Abstract Art

  1. Create a textured background. One of the easiest ways to do this is to apply artist-quality Gesso, a thick gel-like primer. Apply it like paint, or spread it around with a palette knife, if it’s thick enough. This will allow you to control the style of the texture.
  2. Tape lines at intersecting points across the canvas. Use blue painter’s tape and place several lines, creating geometric shapes, such as triangles, squares, and rectangles. The goal is to create images that aren’t representative of reality. The taped lines will help you paint Painter’s tape will ensure that your painting has crisp, clear lines and shapes.
  3. Mix your paint colors. Decide which colors you’ll be using to complete your painting. Mix them on an artist’s palette or plate. You could also mix the colors directly on the canvas, but this will take away some control over the finished look.
  4. Paint in the spaces between the tape. Don’t worry if you happen to get paint on the painter’s tape. Also, don’t feel as though you must fill your entire canvas, or all of the shapes, with color.
  5. Remove the tape. As soon as you’ve decided the painting is complete, remove the painter’s tape. If you’d like crisp, clear edges, remove the tape while the paint is still wet. If you remove the tape from a dry painting, it’s liable to pull paint away with it, creating slightly rough edges.
  6. Fill in the blank space from the tape, optional. Once you remove the tape, you’ll notice white lines from where the tape was covering the canvas. While you can leave it, you could also paint the lines in.

Oil Paint

  1. Choose your paints. Before you can even consider oil painting, you must get oil paints. Although there are dozens of brands of oil paint on the market, don’t be drawn in by the attraction of budget supplies. Buying cheap, poor quality supplies will make your painting difficult, tedious, and frustrating. Paying a few dollars more will give you paints that require one coat instead of two or three for the same vibrancy and blend-ability.
  2. Get the rest of your materials. Beginning painters often fall under the tendency to avoid getting certain supplies to save money. While this is a perfectly all right practice, there are a few basic painting essentials you will need to make oil painting enjoyable and easy.
  3. Set up your work area. Because oil painting does require a lot of supplies, you will need a large area to use. Set up your easel or table in an area that is away from foot traffic and direct sunlight, if possible. If you have one, lay a drop cloth down to prevent any paint spills from ruining your floors.
  4. Create a rough sketch. Use a hard pencil to create a light sketch of your subject. You can do this directly onto the canvas or onto tracing paper, and transfer it using a carbon copy. When you’re drawing your subject, keep in mind the composition and use of negative space.
  5. Find the light source. To create a realistic painting, you must have obvious patches of light and dark. Look at your subject and determine the angle at which the light is coming from, and where shadows and highlights are located.
  6. Consider your colors. For new painters, it is often very difficult to match the colors of their subject to the colors they mix with their paint. This is because the brain provides an idealized color value; you see the sky is blue, so you mix blue paint, only to realize that your paint is much brighter and colorful than the actual sky. The trick is to get past the symbols of color our brain uses, and examine the actual colors being used. This will change the brightness of your paints.
  7. Look at the movement of your subject. Are you painting a still life with little to no movement? Or is your figure in a field on a windy day, creating a lot of motion? Paying attention to the movement of your subject is important for planning your brush strokes. Realistic paintings have brush strokes that create movement, or a lack thereof.
  8. Mix your paints. Oil paint is extremely forgiving in the sense that it takes many days to begin to dry. However, it is nearly impossible to mix the same paint twice so mix your paints in large batches and preserve between painting sessions so that you always have enough of the right color.
  9. Begin painting. You can choose whatever painting technique you like, whether that be painting entire sections to completion or putting layers of paint over the entire canvas. When oil painting, though, use the thin-to-thick method in which you paint with thin paint before using thick paint.
  10. Try different techniques. There are dozens of ways to perfect your painting, but learning them all as a beginner can be overwhelming. instead, focus on picking up some of these techniques one at a time
  11. Correct any mistakes. You have about three days (while the oil paint is wet on the canvas) when you can alter any mistakes or remove them completely with a damp rag. Before you decide the painting is complete, take a step back and look at your painting in its totality to see if any changes are needed.
  12. Save unused paint. If you have a lot of paint left on your palette that was not used, save it for your next painting. Scoop it into small containers or into piles on your palette and cover with saran wrap.
  13. Clean your paint brushes. Oil paint will ruin your brushes if it is allowed to dry, so clean your brushes immediately after use. Use turpentine and an old rag to wipe away as much of the paint as you can then rinse them under warm water with a little washing up liquid. You can brush the bristles against the palm of your hand to make sure all the paint has been removed. Put the clean brushes, bristle-end up, in a jar or cup to dry. Make sure that the brushes get adequate air circulation until they dry: Put your brushes them in an open area– on a shelf or desk, for example, not in a closed cabinet or drawer.
  14. Wait. For oil paint to dry completely, it may take up to 3 months, even longer if your painting has many thick layers of paint. Put your painting where it won’t be disturbed or damaged and allow it to air dry for the necessary time.
  15. Add a coat of varnish. When your painting has dried completely, add a coat of varnish to protect it and preserve the color. When the protective varnish has dried, you’re done! Hang your beautiful creation for all to see!