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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Graffiti Art History

The meaning of the term ‘graffiti’ is: drawings or words that are scribbled or scratched on a wall. It has been derived from the Greek word ‘graphein’, which means ‘to write’, while the term ‘graffiti’ itself is the plural form of ‘graffito’, an Italian word. This art began making its way on public walls in the latter part of the 1960s. However, graffiti as a form of unsolicited messages has existed forever, with the ancient cave paintings, dating back 40,000 years to the Upper Paleolithic era. Right from those times, drawing has always been a means of human being’s deep need and desire to communicate.

Various Styles

Technically speaking, graffiti is a kind of art that is made on a building or wall. When graffiti drawings first started appearing, which was in New York City, the tools used to create them were usually spray paints or wide-tipped markers, which were used basically to draw ‘tags’, or the writer’s name, and not any art as such. This was done to make themselves known all over the city. The bigger and the more colorful they could make their tag, the more attention they got. This gave rise to graffiti ‘wars’ springing up, with each artist trying to outdo the other in making their tag bolder and bigger. However, once these artists figured that anybody could spray on huge letters, style began making its appearance.

To people who are unfamiliar with the art, all graffiti seems the same. However, there are several distinctive styles. Most of them are about using particular fonts to create letters or characters.

  • Tagging: It is used mainly for displaying penmanship, and is considered as lacking in artistic form.
  • Blockbuster: Large sized block letters are used.
  • Wildstyle: Interweaving graffiti letters with designs.
  • Throw-Ups: This type of drawing that is done very quickly using few colors.
  • Bubble Letters: Large letters written in a rounded style.

Each of these styles can be used to create various types of graffiti:

  • Hip-Hop: Reflecting African-American culture, this is considered to be the most traditional types.
  • Challenge: The intention of this type is just to express that somebody ‘was here.’
  • Poster: Drawings made on posters that have people’s pictures on them.
  • Aircraft: Drawing tags on airplanes, usually on the dirt on it.
  • Tree: As is apparent from its name, the paintings are done or carved on trees.
  • Invisible: It is a purely symbolic type, like the logos made on computer microchips, which although are there, can’t be seen by anybody.

History

Although the art of drawing graffiti letters began in the 60s, the period between 1971-1974 is generally regarded as the era when most of the pioneering work in graffiti was done, since this was the time when this form of art began spreading and getting publicity. For some of the youth of that time, it was a means through which they could vent their angst at a world, which they found oppressive, and as a way of rebelling against a society, which they thought was unjust and corrupt.

However, for others, these graffiti characters were simply a pleasurable means of expressing their creativity, just as a unique art form. Like conventional artists, they used walls as a canvas, onto which they poured their souls, their dreams, their hopes, and their fears with a spray can of bright colors. It was during 1975 to 1977, that the art of drawing graffiti reached its peak, with standards of drawing graffiti letters being established. As the 70s slipped into the 80s, being a graffiti artist became more challenging, as the authorities began clamping down harder on them, since it was considered vandalism, as most of the graffiti was made by gangsters, who were young and usually poor. This was known as the ‘die-hard’ era, as graffiti culture withdrew under cover.

Today’s graffiti culture is referred to as the ‘clean train era’, as many artists are taking their art from the subway walls and the insides of train cars, into studios and galleries, with the establishment increasingly viewing it as a genuine art form. And hence, these days, some cities have provided particular areas to graffiti artists, where they are allowed to display their art. The trouble with this is that a previous work has to be painted over in order to use the space. Therefore, good artists usually do not use such spaces. One of the most important features of drawing graffiti is that each piece of art has the artist’s name. Spray paint is the medium used, and there are particular techniques that have been established for drawing graffiti letters.

Different media is used to create each of these types of graffiti. Although this writing style is being legitimized, and some of it may be getting into more established forms of displaying art, such as studios and art galleries, purists are of the opinion that it is only the ones that show up on train cars and public walls are the true form.

Creating Graffiti in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a photo editing software that most of us are at least slightly familiar with. Most popularly this editing software is used to retouch photographs that are printed in magazines and print ads. But, it is completely possible to use Photoshop to draw graffiti. The software has several painting and drawing tools which in combination can be used to create different graphics. Creating graffiti in Photoshop is not very difficult and once you have decided on which graffiti style you want to recreate, you can easily do so.

  • Firstly you will need to choose the background image that you will be working with. You can either choose an image that is already present on your computer or upload an image that you have clicked. We suggest that you use an image with a brick like texture as it seems more authentic.
  • The next step in the process of creating graffiti is to open a new file on Photoshop. To do this, open the software and select the option for File and then click on New to open a new file. You can also import the image that you have uploaded for the background.
  • If you are creating a new file, then you will need to specify the width and height of the image. Remember to set the mode of the image to RGB and the option for Content to White. Once you have selected all the right options, you can click on OK.
  • Next, you will start with the process of creating the graffiti. You will need to click on the icon for New Layer in the Layers palette. This palette appears on the right side of the screen. Always remember to rename the layers that you open so as to make it easier for you to navigate.
  • Next, go to the Tools palette on the left hand side of the screen and choose the Pencil tool. The Pencil tool and the Paintbrush tool are interchangeable so if you cannot find one, then just click on the visible tool and choose the tool that you want.
  • Once you have chosen the Pencil tool, you will need to choose the exact option that you want for the texture of the lettering. We suggest using a splatter brush that will make the graffiti look like it has been spray painted.
  • Next, you need to actually write the text that you want for the graffiti. Click on the option for Color Picker, choose a color and then click on OK. You will need to click on the layers palette and drag the mouse so that you can type in the phrase that you want.
  • Now, open a new layer in the palette and rename the same. Choose a different color and a different brush to make another graffiti design so that you can see the difference that is created by color and brush.
  • Once you have made a design that you are pleased with, you can save the file.

This is just one of the methods that you can use to create a graffiti like image in Photoshop. While selecting a font for the graffiti text, remember to always use a font type that matches the style of graffiti. Learning to draw graffiti in Photoshop is easy and as you become more familiar and proficient with the software, you will get better at the creating artwork using it.

How to do Graffiti Art

  • The first thing you need to do is observe. Go around the town and look at various artist’s graffiti work. If you can’t find graffiti anywhere in your town, then do an image search for various styles of graffiti writing. Save some images that you like and would like to draw in a similar style. You can take out the prints of these images and keep tracing on them, to get a feel of the lines of the alphabets and background design.
  • Copy a graffiti style that you saw on the internet and to learn graffiti letters keep scribbling these letters. Also, watch the kind of color the artist has used, the way the shadow is placed under the alphabets, the kind of backgrounds are sketched behind the graffiti letters, etc. Pick up a style of simple graffiti font, rounded bubbles font, or edgy hooks and barbs-like font are quite popular. Then on a piece of paper draw a small word with number if you prefer. Draw a thumbnail graffiti sketch of the word on one corner of the paper.
  • Then using a pencil draw a bigger sketch on the paper. Behind the letter draw the shadow. Decide an angle of the shadows, and follow the same angle for all the letters, this will give a 3D raised appearance to the letter.
  • After you are done with this, draw a background for the letters. Twisted overlapping arrows, fire, bubbles, and blocks are commonly used as graffiti backgrounds. So, you can pick a similar theme, and even give the background a shadow to give a 3D appearance.
  • Make sure you maintain good proportions of the letters with each other and the size of the letters and background with each other. You can use an eraser to make corrections.
  • Now, once you are done with you pencil drawing, you can consider taking a backup of your sketch. You can take a photocopy of the sketch, in case you make mistakes while coloring your drawing.
  • Use ink to color the shadows, you can also use a black sketch pen if you don’t have ink. Then fill up the letters with a color which is bright and stands out nicely. You can even make a three or two colored theme while filling up the letters, or use more colors to give a gradient-like effect.
  • Then fill up the background with colors, which are not so bright, otherwise they can steal the attention from the main characters which you want to give focus on. There you are done with your first graffiti sketch. This way keep practicing for 2 – 3 months, till you get the hang of graffiti letters. Then create your own cool graffiti font and write down letters from A to Z. Then make a graffiti drawing with colors using your own style.
  • Once you have developed your own style to draw graffiti, it is time to execute your art on a real wall.
  • Make sure you select a site where graffiti is legally allowed, or you can get in trouble.
  • Buy spray cans of colors which you have used in your drawing. Keep a scanned copy of the graffiti drawing in your computer, in case your original drawing gets ruined. If your original drawing has come really fine, consider laminating it so that even if something spills on it you can just wipe it off.
  • On the wall slowly and neatly draw the letters, the background, and 3D shadows. Then fill them up with colors.
  • Avoid going crazy with the colors, as you can ruin the graffiti. In initial stage it is good to stick to less colors rather than more.
  • Once you are done with your graffiti, draw your signature on the bottom right corner.

Patterns for Canvas Painting

Nature
Once you think of nature, you can get several ideas to fill up your canvas with. Flowers, leaves, branches, roots, landscape, roads, waterfalls, sun and many more such ideas would come to your mind. You can think of painting a specific season. Also, painting a scene in three different frames, as it would appear during early morning, day time and nighttime is a great idea. Various painting techniques can be used for making each artwork.

Human Figures
Human faces are the most common canvas art ideas. Painting a scene where a few people are involved in a task is another painting idea. Why not try something unique? Consider painting a task that is not commonly painted. How about a painting showing a hand holding a canvas and another hand working on it with a paint bush and colors? How about painting just the feet of a dancer which are graced with musical anklets? Try it sometime!

Objects and Instruments
Apart from the aforementioned ideas, you can paint objects and instruments as well. A set of pillows placed over each other on a decorative bed sheet can create a colorful painting. How about drawing a set of musical instruments together? Believe me, this makes a classic painting ready to be framed to enhance your wall decor!

Ready-made Patterns

Beginners can replicate a ready-made pattern and then compare their artwork with the original piece. Also, some of you might be searching for ready-made patterns which can be ordered and then framed as desired and hung on walls. So, here are some places which you can check out to buy such patterns.

You can find amazing patterns in almost all categories when it comes to online shopping, like at ‘alibaba’. Order the desired size and number of pieces of the pattern you like. You can also checkout ‘indiamart’ which has a number of unique patterns. At ‘thefind’ you will find some of the best patterns in various design categories like nature, still life abstract print, etc. Some classic patterns are also being sold at ‘ebay’ at low prices, which can be a good deal. You can also search for more websites selling such patterns and if you are lucky, you might also find some of them selling patterns free of cost. Make sure you check the right category of pattern as most of the websites have separate category of oil paints, acrylic paints, etc.

Painting a classic pattern on canvas with those artistic strokes is not an easy task for all. So, with these ideas, you are sure to have an artwork ready to beautify your interiors. Explore your creativity, look around and you are sure to find some unique ideas to be brushed down on a piece of canvas!

Abstract Expressionism Art

History

The artists related to this movement were a group of very diverse individuals, who came together in New York’s Greenwich village. The major ones were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lee Krasner, Mark Tobey, Kenneth Noland, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, and William de Kooning. Their works vary greatly; from the brooding melancholic works of Rothko to the more flamboyant pieces of Pollock. This movement promoted the painting of abstract work instead of any representation. It was greatly criticized by the critics who considered it to be too avant-garde due to its lack of figuration and bold brush strokes. Due to the depression, and crisis brought on by the war, the artists started to depict human vulnerability.

Description

Several artists during the above mentioned period, started experimenting with different shapes and colors. They broke away from conventional painting styles, and painted huge canvases in blue, orange, red, or other bold colors. The movement is characterized by splattering of paint and powerful brush strokes. The artists preferred larger canvases that were positioned on the floor over canvases that were easel bound and moderate. The focus of this art was not in mere portrayal of objects, but the expression of emotions. There was in fact, an almost aggressive application of paint, which created a highly intense and dynamic imagery. Jackson Pollock created a revolutionary new technique of splattering and pouring thinned oil paint into a canvas, which was laid on the ground instead of being supported by easels.

Broadly speaking, this art consisted of two streams – Color Field Painting and Action Painting. The former was developed during the early part of 1960s, and involved creating art that was based on simplified and larger than life color dominated fields. The compositions were huge colored areas with no recognizable forms or signs. The artist’s goal was to create a work of art, which was sublime and ethereal, rather than plainly beautiful. Rothko in particular painted soft blurring rectangles of luminescent color, which never failed to impress the viewers. In addition to Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly and Helen Frankenthaler were some other painters, which were associated with this type of painting. Action Painting arose prior to Color Field Painting (between the 1940s and 1950s), and was practiced by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline.

This movement peaked between 1942 to the mid 50s. It shifted the focus of the art world from Paris and Europe to America. This greatly influenced new generations of artists, who created their own art based on their individual expressions. By late 1969, the interest in this movement began to wane, and new movements such as minimalism and pop art, strongly began to influence the art community.

Italian Renaissance art and artists

Mention the Renaissance art and one is immediately reminded of Michelangelo lying on his back on rough planks, held up by scaffolding and painting the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling; and the enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Italian culture can be experienced in the Roman architecture which can be seen in the ruins, which still remain in many parts of the country… The prescripts of the Roman Catholic Church, the distinctive taste of Italian food and wine, but most of all, in Italy’s art.

The Renaissance period was a time of great cultural upheaval which had a profound effect on European intellectual development. Having its beginnings in Italy; by the 16th century, it had spread to the rest of Europe. Its influence was felt in various aspects of intellectual pursuits such as philosophy, literature, religion, science, politics, and, of course, art. The scholars of this period applied the humanist method in every field of study, and sought human emotion and realism in art.

Renaissance scholars studied the ancient Latin and Greek texts, scouring the monastic libraries of Europe for works of antiquity that had become obscure, in their quest for improving and perfecting their worldly knowledge. This was in complete contrast to the transcendental spirituality that medieval Christianity stressed. However, that does not mean that they rejected Christianity. On the contrary, much of the greatest works of this era was devoted to it, with the Church patronizing a lot of the works of art. However, there were subtle changes in the manner in which they began to approach religion. This affected the cultural life of the society, which, in turn, influenced the artists of that period, and was hence reflected in their art.

In Raphael’s School of Athens, for example, illustrious contemporaries are depicted as classical scholars, with Leonardo da Vinci being given as much importance as Plato had in his time. The development of highly realistic linear perspective was one of the distinctive aspects of art. Giotto di Bondone (1267 – 1337) a Florentine, was regarded as the greatest Italian painter just prior to the Renaissance period. He is thought to be the first artist who treated a painting as a window into space. He abandoned the rigid Byzantine style, and developed a more naturalistic style of painting.

Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 – 1446), is considered the first great architect of the Italian Renaissance, and Leon Battista Alberti, was another pioneering theorist of Renaissance architecture. It was only after their writings were published, that perspective was formally accepted as an artistic technique. The development of perspective characterized a wider movement of incorporating realism into the arts. With that objective in mind, artists of this era also developed other techniques, such as examining light, shadow, and, as was made famous by Leonardo da Vinci, studying the human anatomy.

The inherent reason for the changes incorporated in artistic technique was a renewed interest in depicting nature in its natural beauty, as well as to resolve the fundamentals of aesthetics. The pinnacles of this can be seen in the works of Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519), regarded as the most versatile of geniuses; Michelangelo (1475 – 1564), a Florentine sculptor, painter, and architect; and Raphael (1483 – 1520) whose works embody the ideals of High Renaissance. The techniques that they pioneered have always been imitated a great deal by other artists.

Italian Renaissance art can be described as the artworks that were created during the early 15th century to about the middle of the 16th century. Even though the artists of that period were usually attached to particular courts, and had allegiance to particular towns; nevertheless, they traveled all across Italy, often holding a diplomatic status, and propagating philosophical and artistic ideas.

Renaissance art is usually split up into four periods:

  • Proto-Renaissance, which lasted from 1290 to 1400. This period has its beginnings from the paintings of Giotto, as mentioned above, and includes the works of Taddeo Gaddi, Altichiero, and Orcagna.
  • Early Renaissance, which existed during 1400 to 1475. This period is embodied by the works of Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Piero Della Francesca, Verrocchio, and Uccello.
  • High Renaissance period, from 1475 to 1525, belonged to the great triad, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
  • Mannerism period, from 1525 to 1600, is represented by Andrea del Sarto, Tintoretto, and Pontormo.

Florence is the city that is credited as being the cradle of Renaissance art. Some other great artists of this era include Titian, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Donatello, Brunelleschi, and Bellini.

Aboriginal Art: Five Most Fascinating Facts

Based on their ‘Creation Myths’
Every art form that is Aboriginal, is primarily based on their ancient myths and legends. Even the modern pieces of Aboriginal art are based on ‘the Dreamtime’, a set of their creation myths. These ‘Dreamtime’ myths, which are more than 50,000 years old, are a great storehouse of their oral heritage which has been handed down from generation to generation. Interestingly, our only source of the ‘Dreamtime’ stories, of course other than the Aborigines themselves, is Aboriginal art, owing to the fact that we have no written sources of the same.

More than just Art
The Aborigines did not seem to believe in the philosophy of ‘art for art’s sake’. On the contrary, the Aborigines wrote through their arts. We get a large number of references with respect to their day-to-day lives, festivities and celebrations, modes of pastime, religious beliefs, social structure, hunting practices and so on. Apart from being a mode of expression and depiction, art was also used as a platform to maintain secrecy. After the colonization of Australia, the Aborigines felt that their spiritual and clandestine knowledge was in danger, and so it was thought that there needed to be a system with which they could hide it from the eyes of ‘outsiders’. The famous Aboriginal dot paintings resulted from this fear. It is believed that the dots were purposely made over holy symbolic depictions so that they could obscure the sacred knowledge.

More than what Meets the Eye
The depictions of Aborigines were naturalistic, as well as abstract in nature. The term ‘naturalistic’ refers to the depiction of natural surroundings, flora and fauna. So, we have depictions of animals, plants, people and other natural phenomena in various forms. On the other hand, the term ‘abstract’ refers to depictions, which may seem unrealistic at a first glance, but may in actuality possess much deeper connotations. So, we also have a huge array of drawings with geometrical shapes and symbols, which we, as the ‘other’ may not understand, but the Aborigines would definitely do.

Use of Natural Colors and Stabilizers
The colors used for their paintings were obtained from natural and locally available materials, predominantly ochre, a natural mineral, which was ground on a stone slab while adding small amounts of water and stabilizing agent. Red, yellow and white colors were obtained from different pigments of ochre, and so we see a wide usage of these colors in Aboriginal paintings. Black was obtained from charcoal, but was rarely used owing to the complicated procedure of making it. Olive color, which can be seen in some of the paintings was obtained by mixing black and yellow colors. It is very fascinating how the ancient Aborigines figured out a natural resource in the juice of an orchid plant, which could be used as a fixative to avoid flaking or peeling of the paint. Modern Aboriginal artists on the other hand, use artificial colors as well.

The Aboriginal Art Movement
Modern techniques of depicting Aboriginal art forms on canvas and paper, came into being some 40 years ago in 1971, when a school teacher named Geoffrey Bardon, noticed a group of Aboriginal men telling stories and drawing symbols in sand. This caught his interest and he encouraged those men to depict their stories on canvas and paper, two media, which were completely alien to them before that day. Thus started the famous ‘Aboriginal Art Movement’ which encouraged more and more Aboriginal artists to present their works before the world and become famous. Some non-Aboriginal artists also showed their interest in this art form, and began to practice it. Not surprisingly, Aboriginal art is considered to be the most inspiring contemporary art of the 20th century.

Intriguing Facts

♣ Bark paintings are the oldest forms of Aboriginal paintings. However, not many of them survive today due to natural disintegration of the bark.
♣ Aboriginal art symbols are collectively known as iconography. Aboriginal people traveled long distances across their country and recorded information regarding their travel in the form of symbols.
♣ A particular Aboriginal art symbol would have multiple meanings. Only an Aborigine, who knew his history and culture would be able to decipher what symbol had what meaning in what context.
♣ Numerous Aboriginal paintings have been discovered on sacred sites. This throws light on their sacred connotations.
♣ As remnants of the ancient Aboriginal culture, we have what has been termed as ‘aerial landscape art’ created across the Australian deserts. These cannot be figured out easily from the ground level, but a bird’s-eye view of these sites gives us a feel that we are actually looking at wonderful sculptures.
♣ The X-ray style paintings are one of the distinctive features of Aboriginal art. Apart from the outer bodies of the animals/humans, the internal organs and bones are also depicted in them. This also shows that the ancient Aborigines did have an idea of animal/human anatomy.
♣ There are two museums, which have been specially dedicated to the Aboriginal arts and crafts. These are the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, located in Utrecht in the Netherlands, and the Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, known as the Kluge-Ruhe.
♣ Body painting is an art that is of great cultural significance for the Aborigines. The motifs, which are painted on their bodies, particularly during religious ceremonies, not only signify their social status, but also depict totemic symbols of various clans by which they can be identified.
♣ Aboriginal art forms include their sculptures and specially carved pearl shells called ‘Rijis’. Sacred patterns are carved on these shells, thus giving them religious affiliations. We also have a number of small sculptures of imp-like creatures, locally known as the ‘Mimis’. They are believed to have taught the Aborigines’ ancestors to hunt and to make use of fire. Hence, they are revered beings.