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Monthly Archives: September 2016

How to Egg Art

Serious hobbyists or artists spend hours and days to create a piece of egg art. Artists create very intricate designs by carving on an eggshell using special tools, or decorate eggs with beautiful rhinestones and sparkle, creating pretty-looking eggs. However, if you are a beginner and want to learn this art, then start with small projects which involve simple painting and drawing techniques, rather than advanced sculpting or carving technique. As your hand gets steady and you develop a bigger interest in the art, you can invest in special tools and study egg carving techniques from artists.

Egg Art for Beginners

  • The first thing you need to do is decide how you want your egg to look. While doing this also research on the basic techniques of creating egg art.
  • Once you are done with the basic sketch of how you want the egg to look like, and the technique you are going to use, it is time to gather supplies.
  • Finding the right type of egg is important, you can start with a normal white chicken egg. Select a good, round, non-bumpy egg and clean it thoroughly. To do this you will need to make a fine hole at the top and bottom of the egg, then suck out the liquid in the egg using a syringe. Wash the egg with soapy-water using a syringe. Then wash the egg with tap water and let it dry.
  • If you wish to do a simple decorative egg, then pysanky style or the famous Ukrainian style is a good way to start with. To do this you will need beeswax, cold water dyes, vinegar, candle, pencil, a spoon, paper towels, and oil-based varnish. These are quite easy to find supplies, if you are having trouble finding these supplies then shop online.
  • First draw a simple design on the egg using the pencil, you will find many easy pysanky design on the Internet. After you are done with this, apply wax on the lines of the egg that you want to remain white. Then dip the egg in the lightest color first. Let the egg remain in the dye bath till it gets the desired color.
  • Then take out the egg and let it completely dry, then apply wax to the patches of the egg where you want to preserve the first color. Then again dip in the second dye batch. Repeat this process of wax, dye, drying egg till you have used all the colors.
  • Then light a large candle and rotate the egg directly on top of the flame till all the wax has melted.
  • Using paper towels remove any excess wax. Wipe off all the wax from the egg.
  • Finally apply several coats of varnish over the entire egg, this will seal off the pores of the egg and prevent any air getting inside to rot the egg. Varnish will also help to strengthen the egg.
  • These were the tips on creating easy egg art, if you wish to learn more about this art visit the site of International Egg Art Guild (IEAG). This is a site that is completely dedicated to egg art. With the help of this guild you can get updates on shows, buy supplies, attend workshops, etc.

So, start with a basic pysanky art project, and if you like the egg you created using this method, you can develop your hobby by visiting workshops or joining a local egg art club.

Footprint Art for Kids

As parents, we’re in a perpetual hunt for ideas that help boost kids’ creativity and meliorate their imagination. Footprint art is one such activity that will not only give them a learning experience, but immense joy too.
Paint the baby’s foot yellow. Help your little one make a stamp on one of his cute onesies, with toes pointing down. Let him dip his fingertip in paint and draw three black lines across the footprint. With a marker pen, complete the footprint bee by drawing the eyeballs and wings.
What better way to combine creativity and kids’ inherent love for the outdoors than by creating adorable butterflies on your garden pots.

Paint your baby’s heel black and rest of the foot in red. Stamp it on a paper plate, or ceramic plate if you’re planning to make a keepsake. Ask your baby to dip his/her fingertips in black paint and dot the bug. Help him finish the artwork by drawing legs and pasting googly eyes.

These bright and adorable butterflies on your kids’ bedroom linen will perfectly complement the character of their room, not to mention the immense pride they will feel at watching their creativity put to good use.

Paint one-forth part of your baby’s toe in green and the remaining in orange. Let him stamp on the plate. Let it dry completely. Give finishing touches with a marker pen.

Before stamping his/her foot on the item to be embellished, try a test print on a scrap paper or paper plate.

A great way of letting kids express familial bonds. Paint your child’s foot black and stamp on a cushion cover. Mom and dad can do their respective stamps. Let them dry. Help your kid paint the wings with black paint and beaks with orange. You can glue on two googly eyes, or fingerprint them.

A great way to preserve your kid’s creation for posterity by framing it for everyone to appreciate.

Choose paper colors wisely. The paint color should clearly stand out on the background paper.

For creating piggies, paint your child’s foot pink, one at a time, and let him stamp on pillow covers. Now, using the fingertips, make ears with a shade darker than pink. Use sharpies to complete the piggies by drawing curled tails and facial features.

Another design for the onesies that is sure to thrill your little Simba.

Personalize the artwork with name and age of the baby.

Another one for the keepsakes that commemorates your little one’s first visit to the beach.

Ways to Draw People

It’s no secret that learning how to draw people is an essential, timeless lesson in an artist’s development; figurative drawings continue to be among the most popular subjects in art schools and among professionals. But it takes more than just knowing how to create the contour lines that form a two-dimensional drawing of a person; one must have an understanding of anatomy, including muscle and bone structure, and of movement and balance to render the three-dimensional human body.

There are also the various body parts that have unique qualities to consider; the texture of the belly may be soft as a flower petal, while elbows and knees speak a different story. And the hands, poetically expressive and complex–they’re often thought of as the hardest part of the anatomy to depict accurately, and they can make or break a drawing.

In this exclusive collection of advice from top figurative artists, we share seven tips on how to draw realistic people.

1. Drawing Hands

Keep in mind the bone and muscle structure beneath the surface. In some places the surface is influenced by the angular bones, in others by the soft muscles. Don’t round off all the forms or the subject will look rubbery.

2. Drawing People and More

A classic way to draw something with correct proportion is to create a grid and place it over your reference photo, then draw a grid on your paper. Erasing these lines can be a pain, so a lightbox (or window on a sunny day) can be used instead. Place the grid on the lightbox, tape it down, then place your paper over the grid. You can see the grid through the paper and there’s no erasing later.

3. Drawing People

A useful device is a shaft or midline, which is a line drawn through  the middle of a human form to see how it is supported. A midline acts like the armature underneath movement and direction. It also simplifies the process of seeing and indicating the angles of specific forms.

4. Opposites Attract

An essential principle of design that also relates to the human figure is the concept of opposites. The use of opposites, or contrast, exists in all the arts to create interest. In the human figure, a contrapposto position, where the weight is on one leg, is usually more interesting than one where the weight is equally balanced on both legs or throughout the figure. Each opposite helps strengthen and clarify the other.

5. How to Draw a Person

The muscles are the body’s substructure. They are a big part of what gives the figure its shape and form. Understanding what goes on beneath the surface will help you see important details that might have gone otherwise unnoticed.

6. How to Draw Characters

For a visual artist, choosing how to depict an event–what parts are emphasized and what are downplayed–is done through staging. If there are enough clues through the interplay of body language, setting, costumes, props and even artistic style, the viewer will understand the story and the meaning behind it.

7. Make the Most of Your Time

Don’t necessarily add more detail in a longer study–spend the extra time observing the overall pose more carefully. You may want to choose a less familiar viewpoint. This figure, for example, is foreshortened because it’s seen from a high eye level. There are some surprising correlations of different parts of the body. Note how the fingers of her right hand appear to reach her calf and are even in line with the toes of her left foot!

Art of Survival in Post-Revolution Russia

The State Russian Museum is one of those lavish St Petersburg buildings that has seen a lot of history pass by its elegantly proportioned facade. It was built in 1825 as a palace for the Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich, and after his death became famous for theatrical displays and the lavish balls that were held by his wife.

Since 1895 it has displayed a dazzling collection of art – and, in 1932, hosted one of the most significant exhibitions in Russian art history when the critic Nikolai Punin, people’s commissar of the museum, staged Artists of the Russian Federation over Fifteen Years. Containing more than 3,000 works in 100 rooms, the show was entered via a staircase hung with red flags and Soviet banners. With its suitably po-faced title, it faithfully charted the development of art in Russia since the Russian Revolution. As it turned out, it also marked the avant garde’s last glorious celebration before Stalin’s demand for socialist realism, set out in a diktat just two years later, snuffed out radical thinking and many of the men and women who supported it were persecuted.

Even by that point, it was a brave act for Punin to allow Kazimir Malevich a room of his own, in which he could exhibit one variant of his famous Black Square, the work that he claimed marked the “zero point of art”. The presence of Malevich’s work marked Punin’s dedication to presenting a true history, rather than bowing to the mood of the times. That room will be recreated in Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, a new exhibition opening at the Royal Academy on 11 February that takes Punin’s show as the starting point for a major survey of the tangled history of visual art in the post-revolutionary years.

When the Bolsheviks took power in October 1917, many artists flocked to the cause, taking up official positions on behalf of the new government and putting their talent at the service of a regime that promised a glorious future. For a brief moment it seemed possible that revolutionary idealism and avant-garde thinking might come together and produce the art of the future.

“It was unbelievable what was going on in that period,” wrote the composer Arthur Lourié. “For the first time we, young dreamers, were told that we could make our dreams come true and no politics would interfere with our pure art, for which we joined the revolution without hesitation.” Until 1922, he was music director of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment. Then he went on an official visit to Berlin – and did not return.

Other artists also found sanctuary abroad. In the new Bolshevik state, the avant garde would have to develop its vision without Kandinsky and Chagall, who both quickly realised that, far from encouraging it, the revolution threatened artistic freedom. Malevich was forced to give faces to his faceless figures; his great rival Vladimir Tatlin, who designed The Monument to the Third International, the famous tower that was never built, taught the virtues of constructivism. His last major work – a human-powered flying machine that now hangs on the walls of the State Museum like a great metal bird – was created in 1932. After that, with socialist realism on the rise, he took refuge in painting still lifes of flowers.

Other lesser-known figures, whom co-curator Natalia Murray has included in the Royal Academy exhibition, suffered far worse fates. Pavel Filonov was the son of a cab driver, a war hero and a man convinced that the revolution would bring about an understanding of his art. Punin gave him a room in the 1932 exhibition to display such works as the dizzying Formula of the Proletariat of Petrograd, a vast canvas covered in tiny, overworked faces. The workers who saw it loved it, but his work suddenly fell out of favour and the painting was never exhibited again. Filonov painted on obsessively, selling nothing and living off his wife’s pension before dying of starvation in the siege of Leningrad in 1941.

The October staircase in the Winter Palace, in what is now the Hermitage Museum, is a low-key affair compared with the white curlicues and sweeping excesses of the main entrance. But looking down on it, you feel close to history. This was the staircase the Bolsheviks used when they stormed the palace on 25 October 1917, to overthrow the provisional government established by the first revolution in February that year, which had brought down Tsar Nicholas II.

In fact, images of the noble workers streaming into the palace owe more to Sergei Eisenstein’s 1928 propagandistic silent film, October: Ten Days That Shook the World, than they do to reality – the filming caused more damage to the building than had the bloodless coup. But once Lenin was in power, art became a weapon of control. As he announced: “It is with absolute frankness that we speak of this struggle of the proletariat: each man must choose between joining our side or the other side. Any attempt to avoid taking sides in this issue must end in fiasco.”

But for artists, things could never be so clear cut. The modern branch of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, a bright 1970s building full of excited children and bustle, offers a glimpse of the diversity. Walk through the rooms devoted to Russian art and you see a terrific mixture of experiment and thought. The number of avant-garde movements is almost exhausting: the white spaces of the suprematists chasing the abstract; the Cézanne-influenced “Jack of Diamonds” group pursuing the real; the great slashes of pink and green of Aristarkh Lentulov and the cubo-futurists. It is like staring through a mirror into an alternative history of art, one that resembles but does not replicate the timeline we are used to in the west.

Many of these paintings are coming to the Royal Academy, including the works of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. His father was a shoemaker (the family name came from the grandfather’s profession as a maker of vodka), and his style was influenced by his earliest art teacher, an icon painter. Petrov-Vodkin developed a system of using only three colours and of creating a line of perspective that showed the curve of the Earth. He was an important teacher and in 1932 became the first president of the Leningrad Union of Artists.

Petrov-Vodkin accepted the tenets of the revolution, but he was an essentially religious man who saw it as a kind of hell that had to be survived before a better life emerged. The tension in his beliefs emerges in a striking painting called The Petrograd Madonna in which a mother cradles her child, turning her long-suffering gaze towards us, as if reluctant to give her child to the country’s future and the suffering of the world.

For artists, particularly after the first five years of post-revolutionary fervour had died away, the truth was never pure and simple; no wonder Stalin preferred the smiling certainties of female tractor drivers and monolithic workers. Kliment Redko’s Uprising of 1925, simultaneously sanctifies the recently deceased Lenin and suggests a prison is about to encompass Russia. Stalin is in the ranks of possible successors, slightly smaller than Trotsky. It might seem like a painting of praise, but its meaning is ambiguous.

That’s perhaps why, when Stalin’s purges began, it was taken from the walls and hidden behind a wardrobe until 1927 and then stowed away in a basement where it stayed until the 1970s. Many of the paintings now on the walls of the State Tretyakov – preserved and donated to the state by the collector George Costakis – could not be exhibited and were hidden in basements. One panel by a constructivist was used as a window shutter. In dangerous times, any art that did not toe the party line, art that was questioning rather than propagandist, was hidden from view.

Some paintings are still deemed difficult. In the basement stacks, a curator pulls open a huge metal frame to reveal another painting by Petrov-Vodkin – Lenin in His Coffin, from 1924. The artist was one of the few given permission to paint at his funeral, but the portrait has rarely been seen. Its clear-eyed view of a man lying dead, his head on a red pillow, eyes closed, skin waxy, contradicted the beliefs encouraged after Lenin’s death that he could come back to life, resurrected as a latter-day saviour. To this day, his body in the mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square is kept flexible, his skin in good condition, just in case.

That the painting will be shown at the Royal Academy is a great coup for the exhibition’s organisers. But their celebration of art in the post-revolutionary period stands in stark contrast to Russia’s plans to mark the anniversary of the revolution. The commemoration of October 1917 is problematic in a country at once proud of and troubled by its past.

Everywhere you go, the contradictions are obvious. Stalin’s bust still holds pride of place in Red Square and people pose for selfies beside it; his distinctive figure forms part of a Russian doll set for tourists that includes models of Lenin, Yeltsin, Gorbachev and Putin. Yet in the state-funded Gulag History Museum also in Moscow, visitors are reminded of the brutal system of work camps in which more than 18 million people, many of whom were imprisoned for their political beliefs, were held between 1930 and Stalin’s death in 1953.

One of those was Punin, arrested on accusations of “anti-Soviet treachery” in 1949 at the apartment he shared in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) with the poet (and his lover) Anna Akhmatova and his wife. He died in Vorkuta Gulag, near the Arctic Circle, in 1953, outliving Stalin by just a few months. Today his former apartment is a museum commemorating Akhmatova, whose striking face gazes down from a mural at the entrance outside. Inside, Punin’s coat hangs in the hallway, brown and broad-shouldered, a sudden reminder of the personal cost of a life spent proclaiming the value of art and the truth it represents. As curator of the Hermitage, he had in his lifetime protected many art collections and important paintings, standing up to the Soviet authorities who labelled them bourgeois and elitist. He is, says Murray, “the unsung hero of the Russian avant garde”, referring to the title of her biography of him.

His granddaughter Anna Kaminskaia is waiting to greet Murray in the apartment. She was 10 when she saw Punin arrested, barely old enough to register what was happening other than that “he was my grandfather and I loved him”. She proudly shows a picture of him holding her – a bundled baby – in his arms. Kaminskaia loved Akhmatova, too, accompanying her to Oxford when the poet collected her honorary degree in 1965.

In recent years, Kaminskaia has guarded Punin’s reputation and tried to get his book, Art of the Revolution, published. When she attends the opening of the Royal Academy show next week, it will be a vindication of sorts – a reminder of the personal histories that lie behind the complex story of the art of the Russian Revolution.