Friday, January 30, 2009

A Guide to Specialty Art Paper

Hi, my name is Michaela Blassnig from I hope you enjoy this fantastic article on choosing the right Specialty Art Paper. Read below and if you’re interested in finding out more, visit my website at

Creativity is a tricky endeavor. To get the right look, you need the right materials. As any artist knows, anything can serve as a canvas, but for the truly exquisite look, you need something special. In this short guide, we’ll explain some of the art and craft products available and some possible applications for these products.

Curious iridescent paper is certainly one of the oddest products on the market today. Normally, embossed iridescent paper is not so much a paper, but more like plastic or a thin, flexible and colorful metal, and as such, is well suited for sculpting and other crafts. Iridescent paper is often made by foil stamping and lasers on light-sensitive chemicals, and can only be used as a writing media with dry-erase or permanent marker. Curious iridescent paper, however, will absorb ink and can be used for any variety of projects from drawing, painting and writing to crafts such as collages, paper mache sculptures and scrapbooks with a little extra flair and texture.

Vellum makes a unique, translucent, and slightly iridescent paper for accenting crafts. Originally made from animal skin for scrolls, vellum has remained in common use to this day, especially in England, where British Acts of Parliament are still printed on nothing but vellum paper. Most modern vellum imitation is made from acid free cotton and is perfect for calligraphy and other projects requiring an antique or rustic look. Thin vellum paper and glue make a beautiful laminate for crafts such as scrapbooks and leaf catalogues.

One of the medium vellum cardstocks of note is Bristol paper, a smooth, heavy pasteboard of fine quality. Originally made from pasted rag paper in Bristol, England, this hard stock is often the choice paper for technical drawings, but offers intriguing creative possibilities. Bristol is unique in that it is thick enough to have two working surfaces "front and back" that will not interfere with each other and each side can serve as its own writing or drawing surface. Artists working with friction-based media, such as crayon, chalk, or charcoal will want to use a rougher texture board, while smooth finishes are generally more suited to other types of media, such as inks and watercolor.

For a breathtaking and unique look, silk paper provides a strong yet soft alternative to more mainstream options. Silk crafters have been making paper since the 2nd century, B.C.E., and it has stood the test of time. Originally a product of China, it is the oldest of all luxury papers and is still in major use today throughout the world. It is truly amazing to witness the limitless creative uses artists and craft persons have found for silk paper. Machine embroidery, three-dimensional sculpture, jewelry, quilting, book coverings, collage, and mixed media are just a few of the possibilities, and the list is limited only by the artist's imagination.
O''keeffe on Paper

Globalization and increased efficiency in paper production opens up a whole new world of possibilities to today's artist. While at times the sheer bewildering array of new papers may seem overwhelming, for the professional artist or graphic designer who is willing to take the time to explore such oddities as McCoy silk papers, Curious iridescents, or Springhill vellum bristol, the results can be quite gratifying.

This is Michaela from Thanks for reading this article on Specialty Art Papers! If you’d like to find out more, visit my website at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tips on Pencil Portrait Sketching - The Arabesque

In this commentary we assume that you sketch directly from life or from a proper photograph. In other words, we assume that you do not use the so-called grid technique. This technique relies on a grid sketched both on the photograph of your subject as well as your sketching paper.
Old Master Portrait Drawings

If this is the case, the first thing you will do is to create a line-drawing. And the very first part of your line-drawing will consist of sketching the so-called arabesque.

In pencil portrait sketching, the arabesque is defined as the entire positive form of your subject's head. In other words the arabesque is the outer contour of the head.

The arabesque includes the proportions, the form, and the symmetry of the head. This means that the arabesque expresses pretty much an overall likeness of your subject and often lots of expressive content.

In trying to realize the arabesque we confront our first test as an artist. That is, the test of "seeing the reality". Indeed, when we observe an object a complex mental process is initiated which in part falls short of the level of accuracy necessary to create an satisfactory portrait.

The mind, for good reasons (one is to preserve our sanity), instantly replace the very complex subject with the a symbol it has stored since childhood. For instance, we all know how a child draws a house. It really is more like a symbol of a house. But this is what the mind tends to bring up and often even adults sketch a house like they did as a child.

Evidently, it is these iconic preconceptions (a left brain phenomenon) that are the enemy of the draftsperson. You must teach yourself to ignore those symbols and really see what the reality of, for example, a house is.

Generally, learning to sketch is about the reprogramming of the mind's eye. To this end, there is a skill-set that has been developed over the centuries since the Renaissance.

Applying this new found skill to the arabesque is particularly important. "Striking" the arabesque is maybe the most important element in the production of a first-rate likeness. Once you have this skill down path all the rest will follow reasonably effortlessly.
Sargent Portrait Drawings: 42 Works

The first step in striking a correct arabesque is to force your eyes a bit out-of-focus. This situation is called observing with a "soft eye". With a soft eye proportions and form are more easily seen. It also helps you to avoid the invocation of the iconic preconceptions we talked about.

To teach your eye to improve your powers of observation you must always sketch first and check second. There is very little to gain from pre-measuring. The habit of pre-measuring of the size of your subject's head will hold you back later.

When striking the initial arabesque always use short straight, i.e., architectonic lines. This will impart a sense of the head's structure and the form of the underlying tissues and bones. Note that round or curving lines are iconic preconceptions.

Also pay attention to the symmetry of the head. The term "symmetry" in the context of sketching
and painting does not so much refer to the similarity of two parts but more to the attractiveness that comes from correct proportioning and rhythm.

After striking the arabesque (without doing any sizing) you can check the proportions. Take a measure of the largest
width (i.e., the width of the arabesque across the brow line) and set it off vertically starting at the bottom of the chin. The end point of the width as a rule ends up somewhere close to the middle of the hair.

The idea is to determine exactly where that end point is at. Best is to judge the shorter of the following two distances: (1) the vertical distance from the brow line up to the end point of the measure; (2) the vertical distance from the end point of the measure up to the arabesque. The shortest distance is likely to be the most accurate. Do not forget, the arabesque encompasses the entirety of the head including the hair.

With practice your eyes will develop this critical skill. Then, once the size and form of the arabesque have been established you are prepared to proceed with placing the so-called landmarks.
Author Resource:- Do you want to learn the secrets of pencil portrait draw? Download my brand new complementary pencil portrait draw tutorial here: target="_blank">Remi's Pencil Portrait Drawing Course. Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert draw teacher. See his work at Pencil Portraits by Remi: Visit Guidelines for Pencil Portrait Sketching - The Arabesque.
Ellsworth Kelly: Self Portrait Drawings 1944-1992

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Tips on Pencil Portrait Drawing - Situating Head Landmarks

A pencil portrait drawing from life starts with the "striking" of the arabesque. Striking the arabesque means drawing the outer contour of the head with the accurate proportions, shape, and thecorrect symmetry.

Once you have drawn a reasonably correct arabesque it is time to establish the main landmarks of the head. That means that we will appropriately establish the most important places of the head. These places will then be used as references for mapping out the rest of the head features.

Here is something that may assist you with this task: work with your eyes to some extent out-of-focus. This is called observing with a "soft eye". Somehow this makes it easier to appropriately decide forms and sizes. It also aids you with suppressing the predetermined notions we all have of certain entities.
Portrait Drawing

Let us suppose that we are working from a three-quarter head pose.

* The Brow Ridge - is the first critical landmark. To locate the brow ridge you must first take your best guess at where you think it is and only then check it by sighting.

Note that to coach your eyes it is better to first guess lengths, angles, etc. and check them second. There is nothing to gain from pre- sizing.

Sighting signifies to use your pencil with locked arm and checking lengths along the pencil with your thumb and index finger and one eye closed.

So then, first sight from the bottom of the chin to a point on the brow ridge (just choose an arbitrary point on the ridge. But once chosen you should hold on to it.

Now hoist your pencil so that your thumb is on your point on the brow ridge and make note of where your pencil point is. It should be a small distance above the top of the head. Mark on your drawing where you can best place that spot above the head. This point is called the "check-point".

Remember that whenever there is a choice, you should always measure the shortest distance because doing so tends to be more right.

Your point on the brow ridge should, if it was placed appropriately, be precisely halfway between the bottom of the chin and your check-point. If it is not รข€“ then correct the placement of your brow ridge.

* Jaw Hinge - Now you can tag the width of the face. In the three-quarter view the hinge of the jaw is an essential landmark. Again, take your best guess then check by sighting horizontally from the hinge of the jaw to the far edge of the cheek bone and vertically relating that measure from the bottom of the chin.

* Top Nasal Bone - Since we have already positioned the brow ridge we now only have to guess a short distance to fix the top of the nasal bone. If you established the hinge of the jaw appropriately, it should equal the distance from the bottom of the chin to the nasal bone. If you are off a little, then correct the placement of the hinge of the jaw. Again, suppose that the shortest length estimated is the right one.

Now that these main landmarks are positioned you can continue drawing the arabesque. I find it best to further resolve only the back, less, part of the head at this early point.

* Facial Angle - Lastly, you have to establish the facial angle which is the center line of the face. Draw a slightly arching line from the middle of the mental tubercle up through the center of the brow ridge.

The positioning of the facial angle is very critical. You have to feel your way through this as there is no way to correctly measure it.

Once the facial angle is positioned proceed with drawing the arabesque carefully observing the shape of the mouth area, the forehead, and all the other features that are articulated in the shape of the arabesque.
Art Of Portrait Drawing

With this, we have positioned all the fundamental landmarks that will assist us with the mapping of the rest of the features such as the ears and nose.
Author Resource:- Download my brand new complementary pencil portrait sketch tutorial here: target="_blank">Pencil Portrait Sketching
Course. Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert sketching teacher. See his work at Pencil Portraits by Remi: Visit Tips on Pencil Portrait Drawing - Positioning Head Landmarks.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Instructions on Pencil Portrait Drawing - Drawing Children

The drawing of children demands freshness and directness of purpose. Regrettably, there are not too many quick and ready rules. Let us just say that kids' portraits demand a keen and patient eye.

For those who intend to do professional portraiture the good news is that kids' portraits can be lucrative. There are very few artists who can capably sketch children.

Soft lighting works best for portraits of children. The kid could be looking toward a intense light source. This sort of light source will light up the kid's face and create an introspective facial expression. The value stretch goes from light to medium with the eyes really dark.

Addressing the facial proportions of children in a general sense is somewhat of a waste of time. Their facial proportions change dramatically within a six month time span.

Suffice it to say that the younger the kid is the smaller the face in relation to the head. The eyes also appear larger although this can be deceiving. A kid%u2019s nose can be very difficult to sketch %u2013 there is nothing really to latch onto. And the mouth is extremely subtle the same width of an eye. Again, we must stress that these proportions are only a general rule and individual face proportions can vary. The above general rules can be used for comparison purposes when you do your own careful observations of a particular face.

As always, start your sketch by striking the arabesque and then correcting the height/width proportions as necessary.

After establishing the primary facial proportions (i.e., the brow, nose, mouth, etc.) block-in the major light/dark patterns. Then, stump down the graphite using your fingers or a stump. To render and re-shape the lights utilize a clean kneaded eraser.

Now the features are carefully placed, measured and partially sketched. There are two things to remember here:

1. Your pencils must be very sharp, and

2. At this time, you should never fully finish a feature. Sketch each feature no more than 50%.

Once the features are sized and situated as best you can, you can now further develop them. Do not neglect the hair and sides of the face. All should be brought up together. As you proceed to sketch you should always be on the lookout for mistakes in proportions and value.

In conclusion, the basic processes used to sketch a kid's portrait are of course always the same. Above, we listed most of the differences in proportion and shape between an adult skull and that of a kid. Your mood when drawing a kid should be one that reflects the innocence and the softness of a kid.

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Seven Little Kids
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About the Author: Do you want to learn the secrets of pencil portrait drawing? Download your copy of Remi's Free Pencil Portrait Drawing Course here.

Remi is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert drawing teacher. See his work at

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Art Collecting: The Essentials On Authenticating And Attributing Art

You can find art for sale almost anywhere, most of it coupled with a variety of forms of certification, documentation, authentication, provenance, attribution, and all other claims that the piece is by this artist, etc. But guess what? None of these papers, claims, certificates of authenticity, documents or even tall tales mean a thing if they're not stated, authored, or else traceable to or directly associated with accepted, recognized, and qualified authorities about the art in question, and also the artist themselves.

So here are some of the essentials to know on attributing and authenticating art, how it works and who the people to be trusted are.

They’re All Connected-Not!

One of the most pervasive problems in selling art deals with "attributed" art. It’s so common that every kind of unqualified individual would attribute artworks to different kinds of artists, sad to say 100% of these attributions are considered to be worthless.

How come? Simply because in the art industry, legitimate attributions are only made by known and recognized authority figures that have legitimate authority on the attributed artists’ names.

Defining "Attributed"

Officially and technically speaking, "attributed" means a specific work of art, which is most likely an original, is at the hand and is certified by a qualified authority on the matter. Take note that your keywords here are "qualified authority". Thus, if the attribution is done by an unqualified person, then it would be meaningless.

Who Are The Qualified Authority?

A qualified authority is someone who really knows what he/she is talking about and has the proof to anything he/she says. Qualified authorities are those people that have deliberately studied the artist under consideration, have already published papers about the artist, and have curated major gallery shows or museums catering the works of the artist.

They can also be someone who have taught courses about the artist; bought or sold at least dozens or even hundreds of artworks by the artist; have written magazine articles, books, or catalogue essays about the artist, and the like.

The artist him/herself can also be a qualified authority, along with his relatives, employees, direct descendants, and heirs. Also, people who have formal, legal, or estate-granted sanctions or entitlements in able to pass judgment the artist’s works are considered to be qualified authorities. Most importantly, they should be recognized throughout the whole art community to the people in charge when it comes to the matter of dealing with works by that artist.

Who Are Not Qualified?

The list of people whom are not qualified could take forever to complete. However, here are some of the general characteristics of those unqualified people who most likely say that they are qualified.

First off, you should watch out for those who think that the piece they are selling is by this certain artist just because the work ‘looks like’ it is done by that artist; also, those who think that the piece is by that artist because they saw some illustrations from art books that are similar to the piece at hand.

Additionally, sellers that answer you with "that is what the previous owner told me" kind of questions are not to be trusted. You really can’t rely on tattle-tailing to very if the work is an original or not. This is just the same if they say that the work is by such artist because the previous owner is rich and famous.

You should also watch out for art appraisers, since they only appraise and not authenticate; unless they have qualifications to do so. Take note that appraisal and authentication are two different things.

So, if you’re planning on buying a so-called original, then you must make sure that the person you’re talking to is a qualified authority, or better yet, the artist himself!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Beauty of Art

The Beauty of Art

Author: Lattes Wield

Art for Arts Sake?

Dear reader, before i begin my tirade of self assured blathering i would ask you to hold this question in your mind before you let your eyes scan further across the pre-mentioned text. What is Beauty? By which i mean what is it to you personally and also what is it to society? How do we view and value it?

Beauty for no sake except its own is the only form worth pursuing, when beauty has a dual purpose it detracts form itself, let me explain further as i realize i have launched into my thoughts without taking the time to go into detail. If a beautiful object such as a painting or sculpture or a fine building has a primary or secondary function other than to be beautiful it ceases to be so, and thus falls into the well worn trap of being merely practical.

Many people suppose that all beauty can have a purpose, A flower is comely to attract bees, as is a female to attract males at first glance it would well seem that every natural beauty has a purpose or a side agenda which was in place firstly thus leading to the need for a form of beauty, and so mankind emulates his perceived surroundings and assigns all beauty a sub-task for which its beauty is just the mode of delivery for its purpose or job. If this is deemed to be true then beauty must have no value in itself and therefore cannot truly be beautiful. Man finds it almost impossible to create something of beauty without attaching to it a subtle meaning or silent message. The human race feels lost and shudders to think of a purposeless universe twirling and pulsating in all its perfect majesty for no other reason than IT IS. A good example is Mona Lisa's smile by which i mean the painting not the much later but also very brilliant movie, Back to the painting of the Mona Lisa, most of us rather than look upon it and say to ourselves she is as she is, we look for a hidden meaning in that most beautiful smile, a hint of sadness? a glint of buried despair perhaps?

Mans natural love of creating beauty is governed and oppressed by this need for functionality, a grand cathedral cannot be built for its own sake, it must always be in homage to a god or gods or idol, we view the beauty of women as the same in homage to another whether man or woman but hardly ever for its own sake. Monuments of old are scrutinized until a reason, any reason is found for the creation of something of beauty for why would man create beauty unless it had a hidden meaning? was symbolic? a purpose? and so man has limited itself to what it can create it has to represent an existing symbol, theology, mode of thought, house of power or cultural identity.

when will man ever create beauty for only itself to be beautiful free from the mental block and conditioning, to put the depths and intricacies of our minds and souls into physical matter without the constraint of needing to represent or be symbolic or give a message. We have sadly lost many fantastic and sublime minds to this mode of thought for example Bernini the great sculptor himself who most agree is a maker of beauty and pure emotion translated into delicate marble was still for all his skill restricted by this when he began a work he always started with a theme or thought such as pain, anguish, ecstasy, or a person or event, but never did he simply start with one word to guide his hand, beauty, his works are alas only a shadow of his emotional strength they are the hollow shell of the beauty he could have produced if free within himself, it is the same for many young women today in a different sense but no less true.

Many misguided young women nowadays shape there beauty to societies current perceptions of it or to the opposite sexes proscribed ideas about modern beauty sadly almost never does she view it through her own self effectively becoming a mere social mirror again a brief fluttering reflection in the flickering lights of what her true beauty is. Many advocate isolation to obtain a true understanding and eye for beauty, there is great value in this as being isolated you have no need of mirroring or projecting the thoughts of others such as the media or the fashion houses into your concepts this is why many monks and saints favoured hermitage it was much easier they found to connect with the pure spiritual beauty of god free from expectations or dogmatic notions.

All great people who create beauty have no sub task for example. Two women Cleopatra and Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra who is know to have been in spirit and body very beautiful is often viewed as ugly and immoral due to the fact that she used her beauty as a mere political tool, while Marilyn Monroe who once proclaimed she didn't wish to be rich or famous just wonderful is for all her imperfections and so called dubious morals viewed as almost saint like as beauty personified. Showing that the only way to create something truly beautiful is to set out to do that and nothing but.

Anything else is a pointless endeavour a waste of many a magnificent mind and always ends in failure by being a shadow of what it could be. Let us embrace beauty for what it is there would be no limit to what wonders we could achieve.

Thank you for taking the time to wade through this article any comments whether for or against would be most welcome.

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