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Ways to Decorate Your Home with Abstract Art

Today, art has become much more available and popularized among all categories of buyers. Therefore almost every family has a picture or two in their home. Among all wall décor options, modern abstract art is probably one of the most frequent choices. Why is that? There are several reasons that mak e us so thrilled with abstractions.

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Why we love abstractions?

Today, art has become much more available and popularized among all categories of buyers. Therefore almost every family has a picture or two in their home. Among all wall décor options, modern abstract art is probably one of the most frequent choices. Why is that? There are several reasons that make us so thrilled with abstractions.

First of all, they are colorful and eye-catching. When coming into the room, you will probably notice a vivid mess of lines on the wall faster than a traditionally painted landscape. For second, abstract art

is very suggestive and thought-provoking. It can be anything you want it to be. For instance, you can see a scientifically inspired spectrum of sundown energy here or view it as a panorama of the sunset sky minimized to pure color. You can spend hours looking for hidden meanings encoded in bright colors and geometric patterns and still doubt your guesses. And finally, it appeals directly to our senses and emotions. Unrestricted by realistic, immediately recognizable shapes, abstractions confront us with raw associations and thus easily evoke our interest.

So adding a couple of nice abstract paintings to your interior will only benefit it. However, you should use them wisely to create a beautiful and harmonious room design. Hopefully, these recommendations will help you make the right choice!

Tips on using abstract art in your interios

  • Pick a theme of the painting according to your preferences and desires. Would you like it to be a geometric or color-driven abstraction? Perhaps you are a fan of minimalist art? The choice of theme directly influences the look and atmosphere of your place.
  • Consider the color scheme and general style of the room. The painting you choose should be in line with your interior design and enhance its strong sides. For instance, modern abstract textured art will add visual weight to your room, while very bright abstractions will make it look more contemporary.
  • Abstract paintings can be combined with both similar-style and classic wall décor. Just make sure the colors and images of the paintings you are going to group together match well.
  • Most people believe that abstract art is only for contemporary apartments. But nearly any classically design room can benefit from abstract paintings as well. Well-selected abstractions can be used to set off heavily ornamented furniture and refresh the interior.
  • Modern design trends encourage creative use of art in room design. For example, you can hang it frameless or lean it against the wall on your bedside table.

If you are still clueless, you can start by decorating your place with this bright yet unobtrusive abstraction called ‘Sundown Energy.’ Services like ours are created to assist people like you in making their homes lovelier and cozier! We hope, you will succeed in it.

The TrustoCorp Art Collective

Since at least 2010, an artist or art collective called TrustoCorp has been creating artistic pranks satirizing American life and culture. TrustoCorp has managed to retain its anonymity despite receiving quite a bit of media coverage since its inception. At the time of this writing, the identity of the artists behind TrustoCorp remains unknown. In fact, no one even knows how many people belong to this collective. What we do know is that TrustoCorp’s satirical product labels and street signs seem to be a perfect fit with the world we live in.

In 2010, TrustoCorp started creating product labels and packaging and placing them in and amongst real products on store shelves. One humorous example was a soda can that the artists ‘stocked’ near sugary sodas in supermarkets. The gold, blue, and yellow can featured the TrustoCorp logo above the words ‘Nose Job in a Can’. Underneath the product’s title were printed instructions for use: ‘Step 1. Grab Can. Step 2. Smash Face’.

Along with satirical product labels, TrustoCorp has created imitation street signs and attached them to posts in cities across the US. New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco have discovered TrustoCorp’s signs on their streets. The signs are made of metal and designed to look similar to official street signs. For example, a black sign with a white arrow mimics the standard ‘One Way’ sign, but instead reads ‘One Day’. Underneath the arrow in smaller type, these signs add messages like, ‘When Hell Freezes’, and ‘Things Will Get Better’.

The collective’s website, TrustoCorp.com, maps locations in Manhattan where the street signs have appeared. The careful observer will note that, when connected, the locations form the shape of, perhaps, a fist raising a middle finger. Altogether, the TrustoCorp phenomenon seems like something that could only have happened in a futuristic sci-fi novel, but the group’s success indicates that the future is here.

Just what kind of a world we’re living in is the subject of TrustoCorp’s art; the collective seems to be poking fun at many elements of American culture, including the fast food industry, big business, the financial sector, and religion. At a gallery opening in New York City, the group created a carnival-style game where people attempted to knock over plates that displayed images of cultural ideals. The game was rigged so that religion, big business, and a few other plates could not be knocked over-a symbol of the hegemony of these institutions over the American way of life.

TrustoCorp’s aesthetic tends toward a retro-kitsch look. Blending retro styles with design that evokes official signage and packaging lends to the group’s appeal. The style strikes an essential balance between whimsy and social commentary, which has probably had something to do with the astounding degree of publicity that TrustoCorp has generated. The artists are not unrealistic about their activities, however. Their public statements are few and far between, but they have expressed the modest aims of breaking up the monotony of daily life and giving people something to smile about.

The art collective seems equally realistic about its chances of having a lasting impact. In homage to their clear ideological predecessor, Andy Warhol, the group created a street sign establishing a ‘Fame Limit’ in the style of parking regulation signs. The Fame Limit, of course, is 15 minutes, and according to the sign, it’s strictly enforced weekly from 9pm to 5am. Maybe that’s a signal that the artists of TrustoCorp haven’t quit their day jobs just yet.

How to Spray Painting Art

Most people commonly confuse graffiti with spray paint art. While it is true that the basics of both are the same, there is a stark difference between the two. Graffiti is more random and does not involve much thought regarding the artwork, design, or colors. Spray paint artists, on the other hand, pay more attention to all these aspects, and try creating meaningful pieces of art. They also utilize various other tools like brushes, sponges, and stencils to incorporate many shapes into their painting.

A Step-by-step Guide for Beginners

Step 1
To begin with, you need a proper ventilated place to practice. You can choose the wall of your compound, a garage, or a driveway for this. Once you have finalized the location, gather all the materials you will need, lay out newspapers or an old cloth at the place, and take out anything you don’t wish to get the paint on.

Step 2
Take the wooden piece or poster board to the place, and tape it onto the wall on the edges, with the help of masking tape or painter’s tape. This will make it easier for you to remove the board or the piece of wood, once you are done with. Before you start working, wear all protective gear to prevent any paint from falling on your body parts. Gloves and face masks are a must, to protect your hands from the paint and also to prevent intake of any hazardous paint fumes.

Step 3
Since you are a beginner, use spray paint cans for your work. Apply pressure with the help of your fingers on the nozzle of the can to control the rate at which paint flows out from it. You can adjust as much as you want, and see the effect it has on the texture and shading of the paint. Apply a coat of paint on the poster board or wooden piece, and cover it with a glossy magazine page on top. When you take off the magazine page, you will have a different texture of paint at the particular spot. In the same manner, make different layers on the painting surface.

Step 4
To incorporate shapes in your art, use normal household materials. You can form circles using cups and glasses; squares and rectangles can be created using small boxes and so on. Try looking for varied shapes from various daily use items found in your house to create unique and innovative shapes. You can also make use of a stencil.

Step 5
For making straight lines, try using clay-modeling tools. This will also be useful in providing additional texture to your paint. Wood or metal scrapers are useful for making buildings in the painting. You can experiment with these tools by applying many layers of paint on them, and keep learning new ways to make your art more creative.

Points to Consider

While purchasing cans, ensure that you purchase ones of the similar brand. Also, pick up as many colors as possible to make your artwork more lively.
When you set out for doing your artwork, wear old clothes, or clothes used often so that you don’t feel bad, even though they get dirty.
Make sure you wear rubber gloves and a face mask to prevent hands from getting wet in paint and also to avoid inhaling any toxic fumes.
It is advised that pregnant women and people suffering from respiratory disorders keep away from doing any spray paint art.
While you are still a beginner, don’t rush into practicing all possible techniques. Take it slowly, and gradually move on to complex methods, once you are comfortable with the basic stuff.

By following the instructions discussed earlier, try mastering the art yourself. Similar to all forms of painting, spray painting too, requires a lot of practice and patience till you master it. You should find a large enough space, and remove time from your daily schedule every day to improve and polish your skills.

Learn different Graffiti Styles

Graffiti is a highly developed art form and to learn a graffiti style you will need to keep sketching different graffiti letters for a few months till you get the confidence to develop your own style. To learn to draw graffiti styles you will need to observe a lot, and keep copying other artists’s work till you get familiar with the various styles, so that you can come up with your original style.

How to Draw Graffiti Styles

  • Assuming you are a complete beginner to graffiti, it will be good for you to start by observing various graffiti style forms for inspiration. Look around the city for various graffiti artwork on the walls. Carry a digital camera with you in case you want to shoot the artwork and then later on sketch it. If you can’t find much artwork to observe and get inspired, then search online. You will come across various different styles of graffiti.
  • Find 5 – 6 different styles of graffiti style writing and save the images of these graffiti styles. Some of the popular styles are Chinese graffiti style, Bboy styles, Soft bubble lettering, Flava, Oldschool, Wavy, Throwup, etc.
  • Each style has its own set of characters. With a quick image search on the Internet you might even find A to Z letters of some styles. In Throwup style the letters are very curved and fat, while in the Chinese style the letters are very edgy and bold looking, in Bubbles style the letters are also very round and fat with very little space is between the letters. This way you can make observations for different graffiti styles.
  • If you like some styles, then observe them and try to copy the sketches in a rough way. First only draw characters imitating different style. If you like the hooks and barbs kind of letters more, then practice drawing these kinds of graffiti styles more. If you like the more smoother-looking character then Wavy, Bubbles, and Throwup are good styles for you to practice on.
  • Once you had enough practice with drawing these letters, it is time to develop your own unique style. Go with a style which is inspired from a certain style or scribble a lot to come up with a style which is totally unique and new.
  • Sample few graffiti letters to decide which should be your style. Then draw A to Z letters of the style you like. Make sure the letters are neatly drawn and are identified as one style.
  • Then draw words, numbers, words with numbers etc., using these graffiti letters. Draw a word, give it a 3D shadow depth. Then look at different background designs and give a background design which is popular like zigzag arrows, bubbles, blocks, or flames. You can also add a background which matches your word if you wish.
  • Then use ink to fill up the shadows and use colors which can be sketch pens or color pencils to fill up the letters. Use bright one or few colors to fill up the letters. Then color the background and you have finished your first graffiti letter which reflects your original graffiti style.
  • If you wish to paint this word on a wall, then make sure you select a site which allows you to draw graffiti, so that you don’t get into trouble.
So, follow the above steps to develop your own graffiti style, and then use spray cans to draw your graffiti on the wall. With practice you will be able to create your own unique and great-looking graffiti style. Good luck.

Traditional African Art

Any work of art, to be appreciated, has to be understood in context of its cultural origin and culturally cherished values. You cannot view a piece of art in isolation of its origin. In fact, it would be appropriate to say that sometimes the culture speaks through art, and art helps us in understanding a particular culture better, in whatever form it may be. Ancient traditional African art, considered for a long time by the western world as primitive and unevolved, is now being hailed as aesthetic and meaningful. Part of the change in perception is due to the efforts of contemporary African artists and the diaspora, who have tried to blend the traditional with modern, using new creative mediums to express the ideas behind these antique works.

Traditional African art forms mainly include masks, sculptures, headdresses, carvings, dolls, cooking bowls, and jewelry. Most of it was made out of wood, as wood was available in plenty (from trees in West and Central Africa) and used a lot in day-to-day life. Traditional African art, in general, was more practical rather than ornamental, in the sense that the objects were meant to primarily serve practical purposes, not decorative. In addition, the arts were a means to reflect the beliefs, workmanship, and status (the more elaborate the work, the higher the status). For example, a mask (of an ancestor or a god) would be worn as part of a rite of passage by a young boy entering the stage of adulthood, or during a war, when the wearer could derive courage and strength from the mask. Similarly, bowls which were meant for cooking, were made artistically to weave some cultural or social value into it. A lot of the meaning attached to the art was symbolic.

Earlier, the Westerners undervalued African art. However, once they comprehended that this was not just a random art-form to adorn walls but had deeper meaning embedded within it, their perspective towards it changed. Artists like Picasso, Matisse, etc were greatly influenced and inspired by the geometric and abstract qualities of this simple yet complex art form. African art depicts the relationships between people and the unseen forces. It strives to attain a greater understanding and knowledge of the world by combining the seen with the unseen.

The 5 Elements

African art is both simple and complex. It is based on 5 basic elements, which are like common strands running through different works of art throughout the different regions of the continent. It aims to help the people understand their cultural, religious, and social beliefs through their unique designs. It reflected the belief systems, ideas, and values held by various African communities, and encouraged the younger generations to adopt them via various art forms. These elements include the following.

The Use of Human Figure
African art is an artwork created not just to please the eye but also to uphold religious values, and this is why the ‘human figure’ is given prime importance. This art deals with the spiritual and moral aspects of human lives. African artists considered the human figure to have a high aesthetic and religious value and associated it with true beauty. Through human figures, the artists didn’t want to portray a specific set of people. They rather aimed at conveying ideas pertaining to the reality of life. Spiritual beliefs, morals, and principles of life were conveyed through these portrayals. The artists even used animal figurines to put their ideas across.

Luster or Luminosity
African figure sculptures have smooth finishes and glowing, well-polished appearances. As per the African belief, a rough and irregular surface indicates ill-favored, unattractive, hideous, and morally-tarnished images. Thus, the artists made sure that their sculptures were polished well, with no irregularities on the surface, so as to be luminous. The human sculptures are also laden with jewelry to enhance their beauty. Sometimes, intricate designs are also made on the artistic pieces. Interestingly, in many of the African languages, there is only one word to describe both ‘beautiful’ and ‘good’. So, obviously, what is good is beautiful and the reverse is also true.

Composed Demeanor
The African sculptures generally have a calm, cool, and composed look. They are designed in such a way that they appear to be in control of themselves. Dignity, self-respect, elegance, and self-esteem radiate from them. These qualities tell us that the artists wanted their artistic creations to be well-mannered, rational, and logical, with straight and upright postures. Emotional outbursts and expressions were not entertained.

Youthfulness
The days of youth were considered to be the prime days of one’s life and hence the artists included this aspect in their art. Since youth symbolized energy, strength, activity, fertility, and tremendous vigor, the artists imbibed these attributes in their creations. They did not want to depict any negative vibes and endeavored solely to promote positive attitudes and attributes.

Symmetry and Balance
This element is the only one which has some similarity to the Western or other forms of art. This refers to the materials used in balance and proportion to create artistic pieces, while the previously mentioned elements focused on the culture, religion, morals, and aesthetic values.

African art works include a wide range of items, namely animal art, body art, masks, jewelry, pottery, textiles, weapons, sculptures, baskets, currency, and bead work. These stunning objects are highly-sought-after nowadays, and adorn the homes and offices of connoisseurs across the globe. So, the next time you come across any piece of African art, stop to think about the idea that went behind making it. Find out which reality of life the African artists were trying to depict through their artwork. Identify the elements involved in the unique pieces and endeavor to appreciate their aesthetics.

The Minimalist Art

The earlier artists that were regarded as minimalist stood against anyone who tried to brand them as self-expressionists. Indeed, minimalistic art had much contrast to Expressionism. The art revolved around mostly simple geometric figures – uniform and symmetric, often cubic, stripped from their complex surroundings and thrown onto the canvas, using unmixed paint right from the tube.

Minimalism – The Masters of Less

Black Square
One of the earliest art that came to be defined as ‘minimal’ came from Kazimir Malevich, known as the Black Square. The painting describes just that – a black square on a white canvas. Originally derived as a concept in Russian Suprematism, the oil on canvas, as described by Kazimir, depicts the purity of an emotion. The black square represents the feeling, while the white background is the void that lies beyond this feeling, waiting for the feeling to end, to take hold of you once it does.

The Movement
In the words of one of the greatest in the Minimalist Movement, Frank Stella’s, “What you see is what you see” quote can be considered as the way to look at minimalist artworks. Of course, what you deduce from what you see is the result of opinions. His work, “The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II”(1959) hinted at his commercial influence. Ad Reinhardt explains the Minimalism as, “The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. The laying bare of oneself is obscene. Art begins with the getting rid of nature”. David Burliuk, a Russian Avant-Garde artist, wrote: ‘Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic – the subject being the painting itself.’

A View of the Minimalist Movement, 1960

Origins
The real Minimalist Art Movement can be believed to have originated around the late 60’s in New York City. This can also be considered around the same time as the beginning of Literary Minimalism. The art depicted an extreme form of simplicity, often coming with a bare-all-without-baring-much attitude, giving minimalist artworks the hard-edge look that defines them. The main characteristics of minimalist art are what separate them from expressionist art – no form of cultural gestures, no representation of any strong public opinion, and absolutely no point of self-explanation of the artist through the painting or the sculpture.

The Names
Through time, the art came to be known as “ABC art”, “literalism” and “Reductive art”, with “Minimalistic” as the most prominent. The word was, however, rejected by most artists in the Movement. One of these was Donald Judd, the man famous for his ‘box art’ structures and installations. One of the people on the forefront of the Minimalist Movement of the 1960s, his work featured at “Primary Structures”, a historic group exhibit held at the Jewish Museum in New York, 1966. Alongside him were Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and Sol Lewitt, other important names of the Movement.

Other Art Forms
Although minimalism can be related to other art forms like Pop art or Land art (it may be debated on which is a derivative of which), minimalism holds its own style of headstrong artwork that is simple to see, yet provides a view into the human minds as heavy as (maybe even heavier than) the others. It still adheres to the concept of beauty being in the eyes of the beholder, but it does so in such a simple manner that we can discuss the effect of the work for hours.

The Passing of a Movement
It was at the end of the 1960s that the Minimalist Movement came to a slow and steady pace, if not been disbanded altogether. Artists moved on, critics fangs bared, attacked all minimalism, calling it frugal, confused and sometimes, ‘minimal’ in the derogatory sense. The most noteworthy critical remarks about the Minimalistic Movement can be found in an essay written by Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood” (1967).

Towards the end of the 60’s, minimalist artists ended up redefining the concept of minimalism, using sculptures and Land art to almost eliminate the difference between object and the art of that object. This includes the “Light and Space” movement influenced by John McLaughlin. The works often included installations with materials like glass and resin. All works that pertained to the idea of minimalism, created after the Movement came to be known as “Post-Minimalism”.

To a minimalistic artist, less will always be more. They would refrain from an object having to share space, along with the viewers interest, with another object in the same canvas. They believe this to be a cause for unwanted confusion. It was, is, and hopefully will still continue to be, the belief that changed Modern Art.

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.