Category Archives: Outsider Art

Blue Trees in Seattle

Which one of these blue trees doesn’t belong? The residents of Seattle have been wondering just that. Those who visit Seattle’s Westlake Park this summer are sure to witness a unique change of scenery.

Australian artist, Konstantin Dimopoulos is responsible for transforming the usually brown bark on these trees bright blue. No, she didn’t climb these trees and paint them blue. The blue coloring comes from biologically safe pigmented water.

As simple as the process may seem, its end result is quite complex. In fact, the park is other worldly. Anyone who witnesses these blue Seattle trees is sure to feel as if they have entered a strange new world. It’s a fairyland where one’s imagination can run free.

Another amazing aspect of this art project is that the blue trees will revert back to their natural color. The pigment will fade over time. The trees were turned blue on April 2, 2012. It is expected that they will remain blue for several months.  Visitors to this Seattle Park can see these blue trees for themselves throughout the entire summer season.

According to Dimopoulos, “Color is a powerful stimulant, and means of altering perception and defining space and time.”  Blue is definitely not the color that we associate with trees.  The striking color contrast forces one to consider what must be out of place and what has changed in the world. 

How does one relate to this type of change?  The phrase; stop and smell the roses comes to mind.  Maybe it is time to stop and experience how we relate to the natural world.  Thanks to Dimopoulos and her creative artistic expression, art has once again encouraged individuals to appreciate the art that nature provides us every day.  She has definitely put a new spin on the natural art we tend to believe will never change.

We all can agree with Dimopoulos that color is a powerful tool of perception.

Do these unordinary blue trees spark any emotions in you?  What do they cause you to consider?  Does the color blue make a different kind of statement than yellow or purple trees would?

Do you want to know more about Dimopoulos and her project?  To read more about the blue trees in Seattle’s Westlake Park visit the website provided below.

Images and story available at: http://weburbanist.com/2012/04/03/blue-trees-surreal-spectacle-coming-to-seattle-parks/

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Tips for Improving your Landscape Drawing Skills

Whatever your level of skill, these tips will help guide you in developing habits that will grow your abilities to draw and paint landscape scenery with just a couple of weeks of consistent practice.

Implement these for 15 or 20 minutes a day and the improvements will be greatly evident.

Tip No. 1 – Quick Impression Drawings

Get out of the house! Go to the zoo, the museum, a park, an apartment building complex, somewhere other than where you typically draw. Focus on drawing moving things. Drawing objects in motion will help you develop the flow. Every experienced artist can tell you about the flow. Your speed of drawing will increase by practicing these quick impression sketches, but will also help you to develop your perspective drawing skills and build up a repertoire of animals, objects, and people that you can readily access from your mental toolbox.

Tip No. 2 – Blind Drawing

This method is mentioned in all major drawing instruction books and often goes unnoticed or ignored by most artists. This method (also known as “blind contour drawing”) requires that the artist follow its subject with his/her eyes and not focus on the paper they are drawing on. This technique is a great way to keep your drawings vivid and has been dubbed the ultimate anti-stiffening tool in a professional artists bag of tricks.

Tip No. 3 Forget the eraser!

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

Every line you draw is a representation of your own handwrite. This is the unique signature of your artistic expression. Do you really want to erase that? Practice making every line work for you.

Tip No. 4 Take measurements!

One of the largest sources of complaints of growing artists is that their proportions are off. You don’t need to get fancy here. Use your pencil or other small stick, extend your arm as far as it will go (in order to ensure accuracy for each measurement), and note with your eyes how much of the length of your stick that particular object runs. Drawing roofs, chimneys, beaches, trees, animals, and many other things become much easier to make proportionate when you implement this small technique.

Tip No. 5 – Draw negative space

When you see a bale of hay, a fishing net, or long strands of hair, are you trying to individually draw the lines in the net, the fence, or the hair? Try implementing this technique and draw the negative space and see what objects it works best on. It’s a nifty trick that, when mastered, provides a faster, easier, and better looking drawing of more intricate items.

So grab your pad and pencil and practice, practice, practice! After all, this is the one surefire way to improve!

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Chalk Art Transforms the Sidewalk into a Canvas

For many, chalk brings back childhood memories of scribbling figures out on the sidewalk, playing hop scotch in self-made disproportionate boxes, and being saddened each time the rain washes everything away. Today, many professional and amateur artists never leave the driveway. There are many different mediums to work within, but one of the fastest expanding niches of chalk artists transforms the sidewalk into a canvas. Concrete is still king.

So what exactly is chalk and where does this stuff come from?

Chalk is a form of limestone, a soft, typically white, sedimentary rock. It forms from the accumulation of mineral calcites -which also makes it a porous rock, similar to pumice. This quality can make chalk a challenge to work with, leaving holes and unfilled patches on the canvas or pavement from a seemingly solid and even stroke. Still, chalk has a variety of uses: teachers use it on blackboards, gymnasts use it for grip, pavers use it for painting evenly lined parking spaces, and artists use it in a variety of forms from varying degrees of hard and soft chalks, to chalk pastels and even liquid chalk.

Using Chalk for Art

Working with the challenge of this porous mineral, artists have envisioned and developed increasingly complex and abstract ideas that have been executed by such famous sidewalk artists as Kurt Wenner. In fact, the work of Wenner and other artists like Ellis Gallagher and Julian Beever have created an overnight cult following in some major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Their work has been the center of many email chains, sparking interest all across the globe in their incredibly intricate, three-dimensional works of art.

Techniques for Chalk Artists

Some noteworthy techniques employed by many artists include various approaches to blending and the use of the “Wet Effect”. Dipping or soaking your chalk in a container of water for up to 6 minutes achieves this effect. This softens the chalk, making it malleable enough to work like paint. From here, the possibilities for blending and shading become endless.

So get inspired, grab a bucket, and give it a shot! If you don’t like what you come up with, there’s always the hose…

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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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