Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's in an Artist's toolkit?

For many beginner artists or hobbists they are unsure of what things to get to start creating art. Or if your someone looking at getting art materials as a gift, you may not have a clue what to get. So here is a list of basic materials depending on the medium you wish to work with. Or if you want to diversify your practise then starting with a bit of everything and it will lend itself to experimentation easier.

As some advice and from my own experience, buying cheap or 'student' quality isn't always good for those want to do well at creating. Often, lesser quality materials can create more issues for you. For example, student quality paint can be too water, lacks body, pigment and coverage. The colours tend to be off and not mix well into nice clear colours rather appear dirty.

So here is a list of things you may have as a starting point for your artist toolkit:

  • Charcoal -willow is soft in stick form and great for gestural drawing
  • Graphite - a range of tones works well for sketching shade and form
  • Ink pen - or an artline pen is good for illustration
  • Pastels - 3types to choose from; chalk, wax and oil all provide different qualities but can add colour to your drawing.
  • Kneadable rubber - like putty, it works well for picking up your powdery mediums
  • Paper stump - the pencil like style of compacted paper used for blending (use instead of your finger)
  • Tracing or carbon paper
  • Cartridge paper or pastel paper

  • Quality student grade acrylic paint.
  • Synthetic brushes - assorted sizes. Choose flat as a starting point and a liner for detail
  • Palette knifes - assorted
  • Gesso
  • Painting Medium
  • Bucket for water
  • Palette
  • Rag
  • Canvas

  • printing ink
  • Soft roller
  • Hard roller
  • Brayer
  • Lino
  • Lino tools
  • Watercolour paper
  • Clay tools (you can buy in packs)
  • Clay wire toogles (cuts slabs of clay)
  • Clay (Buff Raku, Terracotta.)
  • Kidney tool (looks as it sounds for smoothing)
  • Rolling pin
  • Boards (Plywood -for sitting clay sculptures on)
  • Sponge
  • Kitchen utensils (knife, fork, spoon)

Arts Education: Theorists and Theories

As a qualifed visual arts teacher, and someone passionate about the arts and education, I am interested in the theories behind artistic practise and creative knowledge development. By examining the many and varied ideas behind chrildrens' developmental stages, a foundation is provided for tailoring effective and efficient pedagogy and curriculum. (However having said that, I am not trained in Early childhood nor do I think I need to be to gage the average ability and capability of 2-5year olds). Syllabus and curriculm guidelines assist in planning anyway.

So whether you teach early childhood or senior, having background knowledge of theories and theories will make you a richer teacher. Here is a list of Theorists and a description of their theories about art and education:
  • Vygotsky
  • Halliday
  • Berstein
  • Lowenfeld
  • Eisnor
  • Gardner
  • Piaget
  • Erikson
  • Kolberg.

The following information is my summations from the information I have read and researched.
 You can find the detailed version here, Childhood Development and Art document. This information is for students and educational purposes ONLY and can not be distributed, published or passed off as your own.
Theory: Stages of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget was not a psychologist but a developmental biologist interested in observing the abilities of young children; studying their actions linked to interpreting their thinking and non-verbal forms of communication. Piaget was concerned with analysing how cognition changes over time as a result of a child’s interactions with people, places and objects, thus constructs the child’s knowledge from experience. His concern was for language and thought but also accounted for physical, emotional, perceptual and individual factors. 

Theorist: KELLOGG (1969, 1979)
Theory: Stage by Age

Rhoda Kellogg over 20years collected drawings from over one million children across the United States and other countries between the 1950s and 1970s. She analysed the drawings and concluded there are 20 stages  of ‘scribbles’ which form a child’s graphical, pictorial and non-pictorial foundation for creative development. 

Theorist: LOWENFELD & BRITTAIN (1987)
Theory: Stages of Artistic Development

Victor Lowenfeld, a professor of art education, and Lambert Brittain built on Kellogg’s theory of artistic development, however were more interested in a linear approach of creative and mental growth of a child through to adolescence. They considered aesthetic, social, physical, intellectual, and emotional growth reflected in children’s art and concluded children move through the 5 stages; scribble, preschematic, schematic, dawning realism, pseudorealism and the period of decision/crisis as they matured not necessarily reflective of their age.

Theorist: GARDNER (1983, 1991)
Theory: Developmental Phases - 8 Intelligences

Howard Gardner is an American psychologist known for his theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s interest was with the mental association of creative development. He theorised that creativity has needs during three developmental phases which influence one’s ability of spontaneity into adulthood.

Theorist: KINDLER & DARRAS (1979, 1994)
Theory: Multimedia Modes
Anna Kindler and Bernard Darras integrate the two ideas of physical and cognitive growth with social and cultural learning as a mode of artistic development. They suggest that children do not lose their approaches to art production as Lowenfeld and Brittain suggested but incorporate their knowledge and revisit it as they need it throughout their life. Kindler and Darras’ model of artistic development illustrates modes of behaviour rather than specific ages or stages of growth. For example, creating with an unfamiliar medium could result in a child or adult reverting back to an exploratory mode, using random gestures of mark making to experience the material. Once they are confident in their experience, a more detailed and graphic approach is employed. The model focus moreso on the process rather than the product produced by the child, examining the child’s movement and what the child says as they involve themselves in the creative process. Kindler and Darras put forward their theory that ‘art production is a multimedia blend of graphic, verbal and kinaesthetic communication that reveals the child’s thought processes’ (Koster, p. 63). 

Theorist: ERIKSON (1956)
Theory: 8 Stages of Development
Erik Erikson was a developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development. His stages of psychological development reflect successive challenges from infancy to adulthood. Erikson’s theory was conceived through extensive experience in psychotherapy ranging from various socio-economic backgrounds and age groups up to adulthood. His Eight Stages of Development theory suggests that every stage consists of a crisis to be faced, and it’s the resolution humans surmount that results in our development. He also suggests that each stage is like a foundation which requires the former to satisfactorily be accomplished to move onto the next. 
 *Note that taking aspects from each theorist is best practice.*

I am very passionate about art and education and I hope this information makes it clearer for anyone interested or studying it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Crayon Painting

I have recently discovered melted crayon art!!!! I know, where have I been??? Or more importantly, where have you been if you too haven't heard of it. It seems to be poluting google images when you do a search, and that so many people are trying it. So since I discovered it, I have wanted to try it too.

Here is a very simple kiddy version. I have tried using very cheap crayons, drawing onto a canvas, then using my hairdryer to melt the crayon, and used an old hogs hair brush to help 'blend' the melted wax. Here is the results of my Crayon Bird Painting 

1. Draw crayon on canvas

2. Melt with hairdryer

3. Use a brush to smooth/ blend melted crayon


 Here was another experiment using Oil Pastels. The before and after:

Before melting

After melting


Saturday, March 3, 2012

How to write a (general) artist statement

Writing an Artist statement seems to be the scariest thing for most artists I've talked to over the years. It is not vanity to freely talk about yourself. You have too! You have to be able to describe who you are as an artist, especially if you want to apply for grants and the like. Whenever you meet someone and they ask 'What do you do?' and you repy 'I'm an artist'. People don't just stop there, they want to know more.

Having an artist statement not only validates what you do and what your art practice is about to yourself, but helps you express that to others. I find if you say 'well I dabble in everything', Say it so it means something: "I am a multi media artist; I work with all mediums and do not restrict myself to specialising in just one".

But before we go on, I must clear up the confusion on the difference between an Artist statement and an Autobiography. They are different. The two can be meshed into one, but most arts organisations or employees want these separate as one is about what you DO and the other is about your LIFE history not necessarily artistic practice.

So how to write your artist statement? 
Some people find it hard to just start writing about themselves. 
  • I LOVE to BRAINSTORM. I use this tool for alot of concept writing. 
  • Ask friends and family to describe you as an artist and your art style.
  • Use headings: Brief Background about me, Art Medium, Art Style, Art Technique, Inspiration and Influences
  • Make it interesting, show your personality in it. This does not have to be a formal piece of writing, and yes you should use FIRST person -'I', 'My', 'Me'. 
Writing your artist statement -answer questions like: 
  1. Describe your medium and style e.g. "I am a contemporary acrylic painter."
  2. Where do you live e.g. "I live in Brisbane, Australia; surrounded by the coastline but bordering close enough to the bush to be inspired by the encompassing environment"
  3. Describe your subject matter e.g. "I like to paint decorative landscapes using bold hues to manipulate reality into something more beautiful through saturation."
  4. Describe your style e.g. "I like to use a palette knife with texture medium to add areas of interest and detail and other times I use the brush in an impressionistic way."
  5. What other mediums interest you e.g. "I use a range of other 2D mediums to play and experimentation such as gouache and ink, pastels and occassionally printmaking".
  6. What other subjects interest you e.g. "Scapes such as landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes, and cityscapes for example are subjects I often explore. I also enjoy creating my own still lifes, photographing them and painting."
  7. Where does your inspiration come from e.g. "I am inspired by my surroundings, the environment, the location of where I live and the flora and fauna that are present."
  8. What art movements and/or artists influence your work e.g. I admire the Impressionists greatly; Artists such as Monet, Turner, Degas and Van Gogh are all favourites."
  9. Do you have a process to create your work e.g. "I am very organised and plan my work. I can not jump straight into a painting without thorough planning"
  10. Summarise your art practice in a few words as a 'catch phrase' for you
  11. Expand on all these points to make it longer
Check out my own Artist Statement here

When and where do I use an Artist Statement?
  • On your website or other social networking sites
  • In your portfolio/resume/CV
  • when applying for funding or exhibition application
  • For yourself -to have a clear understanding of your own arts practice and to help you express that to others.
Layout -Make it eyecatching!
  • Use one of your own images as a watermark or
  • Use a header with a number of your images or
  • Use a template from Microsoft Publisher or Word 
  • Use no less than 12 point font if you can avoid it
  • Choose a nice clear font, nothing too curvey so it makes it easy and pleasing to read
How long should it be?
That is up to you. But I think 1/2 to 1 page is enough. Less than half a page and I won't think you'll have enough information. More than a page and you are blabbing and not being concise.
Break your page up into smaller paragraphs

Make your own catch phrase or statement to summarise your art if you want an extra zing.

Links to other resources 

Here are some other fun links to generate a spoof artist statement: