Category Archives: ancient history

A Color Manual Ahead of its Time

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books Before technology made color automatic, creating the perfect hue required a rather systematic approach.

Prior to the days of RGB values and hexadecimal strings, humans used creative means to create color options. Depending on the medium, artists might have mixed paints and in some cases, added water to achieve lighter tones.

A Brief History of Watercolor

The concept of watercolor may be as old as time itself but it didn’t become a well-known, consistent art medium until the Renaissance.

Albrecht Dürer was considered the father of the trade. He was a German painter who had much influence throughout Europe in the 16th century. Often times, Dürer chose to use watercolor when bringing landscape settings to life.

In an age when art was held with high value, watercolor quickly became a popular art medium. It became so popular, that in 1692, during the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, a man by the name of A. Boogert wrote an 800 page color manual, by hand.

A Medieval Color Manual

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books Predating Pantone (the modern-day authority on color) by nearly 300 years, Boogert compiled a comprehensive account of how to achieve different colors when adding water to paint. He explained how using one, two or three parts water would create three varying tones of the same hue. He organized each page by meticulously positioning varying shades of the same color.

This book was recently brought to light by medieval book historian, Erick Kwakkel. He noted that another scholar knew of the book’s existence and he only gave it a platform in the limelight because of his personal notoriety.

Ancient Art Trumps Modern Convenience

Regardless of how it came to the world’s attention, the book entitled, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, is causing art enthusiasts to take note. While the concept of the book does not seem groundbreaking, it is causing a multitude of 21st century RGB-HEX artists to imagine the painstaking amount of work and attention that went into deciphering and mixing hundreds of hues.

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books It would be nice to say that this book greatly contributed to how we use color today. In reality, the book was collecting dust before Kwakkel came across it a few weeks ago in a French database. Even though the book may have been the “most informative color guide of its time,” it was not widely distributed. Since the book was written by hand it has been assumed that the manual never made it into wide circulation.

Nevertheless, A. Boogert’s color manual recently made a splash. Upon its unearthing, much of the art community paused and shared thoughts about what it would be like to mix colors without technology.

Read more Segmation blog posts about historic art.

Color Symbolism in Medieval Christian Art

Art in Ancient Egypt

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Ancient Egypt Arts

Ancient Egyptian art is highly symbolic and merges abstract style with naturalism. This post serves as an overview of the many phases and transitions of ancient Egyptian art, mostly concentrating on styles of art between 3000 BC and 300 AD.

At this time, art was not just a compliment to function. The main motive for art creation was to assist survival. In this sense, it was a tool for explaining life and teaching survival skills to those who lived in a time before written words.

One of the best examples of survival art comes from ancient Egypt. Painting, sculpture and architecture mostly originated along the Nile River, where quality of life was dictated by the river. To simplify this: life was good when the river flooded and bad when it dried up. The effects of these conditions were evident in various art forms of ancient Egypt. Stories about prosperity and famine were told through hieroglyphics that were either carved or painted onto walls.

Painting

Hieroglyphics are also called pictographs. They were carved into walls, sandstone, quarts, and granite. In other circumstances they were drawn onto papyrus, the Egyptian form of paper.

These markings were symbols of the unfolding history in Egypt. In fact, artists worked with the intention of preservation, in addition to making survival tactics known.

However, these pictures were unique in the sense that they often merged animals and people. For some time, ancient Egyptian art showed humans as stick figures but put much detail into depicting animals. This heighten state of symbolism allows researchers and historians to better understand the psychology of ancient Egyptian culture.

Sculpture

One insight about art from ancient Egypt is that there is a “form follows function” mentality. While detail was important in engravings, works of sculpture were abstract. Objects of focus were more geometric.

For instance, in some of the earliest sculptures, women were often shaped round because of their status as “child bearers.” Men took on a more true-to-life look because of their ability to hunt, gather and lead.

In both types of sculptures, a subtractive method of carving was used, meaning the objects had no faces or just simple features. This is especially apparent in later sculptures which made men and women indistinguishable.

Ancient Egyptian sculptures weren’t about the represented object; they served as history records as well as symbols of eternity. In fact, the “ka statue” was crafted with the intention of being a resting place for the spirit of an individual after he (which was more common than she) past onto the next life.

Architecture

Many Egyptian artifacts exist today, but one of the most significant surviving masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art are the pyramids. They were built during the time of the Old Kingdom, but lacked a stability necessary to keep thieves away. However, not only were the structures fascinating, they were also decorated with symbolic carvings on the outside walls.

Another form of architecture after the pyramid was the funerary temple. Because of it’s geometric form and use of columns, these were considered innovative works of art. Also, many temples had frescoes painted on top of dry (and sometimes wet) plaster to make the art and structure more durable.

Aside from that it was a place where the pharaoh would go to worship his (or her) god. When that individual passed away, others would go to that temple to worship the late pharaoh.

The art of ancient Egypt ushered in a time of reigning power in Greece, which continued to influence art in culture, allowing paintings, statues and architecture to further evolve.

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Cold Case Paintings: When Mystery and Art Collide

When we hear the phrase “cold case,” we don’t apply it to paintings. However, the combination of mystery and art might be the type of subject matter that many of us find intriguing.

Five years ago a portrait of a women clad in Renaissance attire was re-discovered. The finding of this painting made headlines then, and it may be making headlines once again. The reason for this is that many believe the painting is the work of Leonardo da Vinci. If so, the portrait is worth far more than the $20,000 it originally sold for. Experts believe that if the painting is in fact a true da Vinci, it could be worth upwards of $100 million dollars.

Are you hooked yet? If you are, then you will be happy to know that NOVA has devoted a whole program to solving the mystery of who created the portrait of the Renaissance woman.

Be prepared to encounter a new group of experts; individuals focused on combating the world of art theft and doing their part to identify fraudulent pieces.

How do you identify the creator of a newly discovered piece of art? You will have to watch the program yourself to learn the tricks of the trade, but don’t be surprised to see these art experts tackle the mystery in the same manor that criminal investigators attack unsolved murders and missing persons report.

You will have the chance to follow the debate surrounding the portrait of the Renaissance woman. The debate is quite intense between those who believe the portrait was created by Leonardo da Vinci and those who do not. You will also be immersed in the world of art mystery and discover the actual techniques that experts use to identify a painting’s origin and creator. Put you knowledge to the test and learn alongside these expert art investigators.

Click on the link provided below to watch the mystery unfold for yourself! If you are an art enthusiast who is always up for a good mystery then be warned… you might just find yourself glued to the screen.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/mystery-masterpiece.html

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Mosaics: Creating Art with Technique

Mosaics are images or patterns created by way of placing small stones, pieces of glass, or other small materials together to form a piece of decorative art.

The earliest known mosaics were found in a temple in Mesopotamia, dating all the way back to the second half of the third millennium BC. Their significance in religion, story telling, and decoration are evident in nearly every culture and corner of the world.

How to Lay Mosaics

There are over a dozen techniques for laying mosaics, but the three most common are the direct method, the indirect method, and the double indirect method.

The Direct Method

In the direct form, images and designs are constructed by directly gluing each piece to the supporting structure. This method works very well for shaped surfaces such as vases or pottery. One of its disadvantages is in work on larger scale pieces. It is less practical for an artist or assembler to remain on site working for hours in this way, especially if the pattern is to cover entire walls, ceilings, or other large surface areas. For jobs like this, the indirect method is often employed.

The Indirect Method

The indirect method is when an artist is using a backing paper or mesh to adhere the stones or materials to, and then adhering the finished parts of a piece on site.

The Double Indirect Method

Some of the most famous mosaic works belong to cathedrals, temples, castles and museums across the world.

The Irano-Roman floor mosaic in the palace of Shapur in Bishapur is famous for its intricacy, while pieces like “A Deer Hunt” found in Greece at Pella are significant culturally for their portrayal of man and gods.The double indirect method is similar in that it involves using a separate medium to place your materials on, but requires that you don’t adhere them right away.

This way, for more complex images, the artist can see his work as a whole, instead of just as its being developed.  From there the operator must place another piece of paper on top of the finished work so it can be transferred to its final surface. This process can damage your work and requires much practice before it can be executed properly.

Mosaics offer a fun and creative way to represent events, ideas, and people. What will you make?

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Art in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian art is highly symbolic and merges abstract style with naturalism. This post serves as an overview of the many phases and transitions of ancient Egyptian art, mostly concentrating on styles of art between 3000 BC and 300 AD.

At this time, art was not just a compliment to function. The main motive for art creation was to assist survival. In this sense, it was a tool for explaining life and teaching survival skills to those who lived in a time before written words.

One of the best examples of survival art comes from ancient Egypt. Painting, sculpture and architecture mostly originated along the Nile River, where quality of life was dictated by the river. To simplify this: life was good when the river flooded and bad when it dried up. The effects of these conditions were evident in various art forms of ancient Egypt. Stories about prosperity and famine were told through hieroglyphics that were either carved or painted onto walls.

Painting

Hieroglyphics are also called pictographs. They were carved into walls, sandstone, quarts, and granite. In other circumstances they were drawn onto papyrus, the Egyptian form of paper.

These markings were symbols of the unfolding history in Egypt. In fact, artists worked with the intention of preservation, in addition to making survival tactics known.

However, these pictures were unique in the sense that they often merged animals and people. For some time, ancient Egyptian art showed humans as stick figures but put much detail into depicting animals. This heighten state of symbolism allows researchers and historians to better understand the  psychology of ancient Egyptian culture.

Sculpture

One insight about art from ancient Egypt is that there is a “form follows function” mentality. While detail was important in engravings, works of sculpture were abstract. Objects of focus were more geometric.

For instance, in some of the earliest sculptures, women were often shaped round because of their status as “child bearers.” Men took on a more true-to-life look because of their ability to hunt, gather and lead.

In both types of sculptures, a subtractive method of carving was used, meaning the objects had no faces or just simple features. This is especially apparent in later sculptures which made men and women indistinguishable.

Ancient Egyptian sculptures weren’t about the represented object; they served as history records as well as symbols of eternity. In fact, the “ka statue” was crafted with the intention of being a resting place for the spirit of an individual after he (which was more common than she) past onto the next life.

Architecture

Ancient Egyptian ArchitectureMany Egyptian artifacts exist today, but one of the most significant surviving masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art are the pyramids. They were built during the time of the Old Kingdom, but lacked a stability necessary to keep thieves away. However, not only were the structures fascinating, they were also decorated with symbolic carvings on the outside walls.

Another form of architecture after the pyramid was the funerary temple. Because of it’s geometric form and use of columns, these were considered innovative works of art. Also, many temples had frescoes painted on top of dry (and sometimes wet) plaster to make the art and structure more durable.

Aside from that it was a place where the pharaoh would go to worship his (or her) god. When that individual passed away, others would go to that temple to worship the late pharaoh.

The art of ancient Egypt ushered in a time of reigning power in Greece, which continued to influence art in culture, allowing paintings, statues and architecture to further evolve.

Be an Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

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4 Reminders Why Art is Important

Art is important. It is of the highest value to our individual selves and an intrinsic part of culture. However, in the 21st century, we often find ourselves taking art for granted. This is why it is important to be reminded about just how important art is to us.

After exploring the history of art and opening ourselves to the reality of its importance, we’ll take a look at 4 reasons why art benefits everyone.

Why do we take art for granted?

Think back to the first time you walked into an art museum. Remember how magnificent everything appeared, with the halls full of paintings, photographs, sculptures, mosaics, and so on? Large spaces set up with exhibits allowed art to tell a story, highlighted an artist or explain a segment of history.

But when was the last time you entered an art museum and experienced breathtaking art up close?

In the past century, the introduction of technology has brought fine-art into our homes. This only advanced with the evolution of technology, computers and the internet. It also allowed another branch of art to form — digital art.

However, the only way to advance art from the point we are currently at, is to look back at the history of art and acknowledge what it has always done for us humans.

4 reminders why art is important

Art is individual

Art appeals to the senses

Art is collective

Art is ritualistic

Individual— Art has the ability to evoke special feelings inside of an individual.  The fact that art makes people feel special is undeniable and relates directly to every human’s need “to embellish, decorate and personalize,” writes Cathy Malchiodi. In her recent blog post, What is Art For? The Restoring Power of Imagination, she explains how important art is to an individual because of our unique taste for aesthetically pleasing design and appealing imagery.

Sensory

The reason why people have different tastes in art is because art has the ability to stimulate our senses. It is believed that art practices, in general, came about as a health-giving behavior. This means that art makes people feel good; it encourages them to be lively and brings playful qualities to difficult circumstances. Before visual art, humans used other forms of art to stimulate their senses like rhythm, story telling, order, pattern, natural color, and body movement. Nevertheless, all art forms, with an emphasis on visual art, give humans a sensory experience that can lift the spirits of any individual.

Collective— While art does wonders for an individual in the sense of growth and sensual stimulation, art is actually a community experience. After all, it is most often created to be enjoyed by others — not just the artist. It speaks to a time and place, and engages all who relate to it’s message. Even though reactions to art differ, coming together for the purpose of art has been, and always will be, a center point of human community. It is where we can gather to celebrate or grieve life’s most important events and issues. Not to mention, in the 21st century as all times before, it gives people reason to come together.

Ritualistic— People who gather together to create and critique art have more unifying interactions and ceremonies than groups who don’t. A evolutionary ethologist, Ellen Dissanayake, makes the point that historically, people who came together for the purpose of art “…were able to survive longer than those who did not engage in using art.” Art rituals have been part the human experience since its beginnings. In fact, much of history reflects that people have always come together for the purpose of art. Do you remember studying Tibetan sand paintings? Or Native American totem-polls? These were sacred rituals for cultural groups at certain times throughout history. Malchiodi points out how these rituals were founded in human survival-instinct because “they help us make meaning of life as well as reduce life’s inevitable stresses.”

Hopefully, these 4 reminders refresh your memory as to why art is important. It is likely that you have personal reasons why you appreciate art. Segmation wants to hear about those moment. Comment below and share with us about why art is important to you.

Top image made available by Torley on Flickr through Creative Common License

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Nicolas Poussin – French Classical Painter

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Nicolas Poussin (1594 – 1665) was a French classical painter. His style consists of clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color. He is considered the greatest French artist of the 17th century and one of the founders of European classicism which has its roots in antique and Renaissance heritage.

Many of his works show an authoritative interpretations of ancient history and Greek and Roman mythological figures as well as biblical scenes. Our collection patterns includes two self portraits, the set of his Four Seasons, paintings, and wide cross section of other pieces. These include Adoration of the Golden Calf, Nymph Syrinx Pursued by Pan, Ideal Landscape, Israelites Gathering Manna, The Judgement of Solomon, and A Dance to the Music of Time.

This set contains 30 paintable patterns.

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