Art for the Non-artist: of Course It’s Possible

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Can a non-artist who understands the benefits of art learn how to teach others art? First of all, most people would ask at this point why someone would want to do that. The answer to that question has many angles from having an art workshop of your own to learning a valuable talent that will keep on giving for years to come. So, let’s explore that and then we’ll go over some points about how a non-artist can learn how to teach art.

A non-artist doesn’t have to miss out on the business explosion that will take place as art workshop centers start sprouting up throughout the country. Art workshop centers are the answer to education budget cuts that move to take art out of schools. They provide parents with an answer for making sure their kids keep art in their lives. Art workshop centers are also the leading rest and relaxation activity of baby boomers approaching retirement. They not only want to engage in art. They want to engage in the business of art as a supplemental income.

Art workshop centers are virtually anyone’s enterprise. When people participate in art, they feel the benefits almost immediately. They become relaxed and yet, focused at the same time. They have a relief from the world of stress that they must endure daily. Plus, they have a fun task that they feel is worth doing. Most people get stuck in the day to day routines of their lives and they look at their daily tasks as things they have to do instead of want to do. But, they feel guilty that taking time for personal reasons to work on an art project is leisure that they are not allowed to enjoy.

Even the non-artist can see that there is a need here. Educating the community on the benefits of art and making people understand that they need art in their lives is a first step. Then, you can provide the people of your community with a place they can go to learn and enjoy art. You can provide an art workshop center. A place that is totally involved in art, where everyone is there for art and where people can feel at home exploring art. But, the non-artist might not feel welcome in that community. So, we bring the non-artist into the community!

Learning art and becoming certified to run your own art workshop is not hard at all. I’ve taught plenty of people The Rivky Method tm. Some of my students had absolutely no artistic ability at all. But, it was great watching the light bulb go off on top of their head when they finally understood the basic concepts I was trying to teach them. They learned how to see an object for what it was. They learned how to transfer what they saw to a surface. And they learned how to look around and start viewing art through the artist’s eyes.

I’ve certified plenty of my students and now they are off running their own art workshops. It’s phenomenal to see the transformation. And I know that the benefits of art are getting introduced to different communities. I’m no longer leading my own campaign. Non-artists and artists alike are reaching out to people who want art, know that they need art and have no way of exploring art. From the parent to the child, from the retired to the lady just beginning, everyone can benefit from art. So, art workshop centers are needed.

Any entrepreneur would have recognized an opportunity by now. But, not just for the business people in our world. Art workshop centers are great for the stay at home mom. They are perfect for the person approaching retirement who just wants to find something enjoyable to do that will bring in some extra money. The only thing is that art workshop centers have a tendency to become very lucrative.

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The Art Of An Essayist By AC Benson – Key To Good Living

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An essay is something the writer writes himself. According to Benson, since the very birth of the essay as a genre in the hands of Montaigne, the essay has been a comfortable mixture of the personal and the subjective, and in fact has been the most personal of all genres. The personal touch breathes life and charm into the essay through the personality of the essayist. The charm is evident because the essay is something the writer writes himself where he lays bare his heart in a most confidential manner. An essay can be on a variety of subjects but it should above all exhibit an interest in life. It should reflect the pleasing personality of the author and also change the outlook of the reader. Thus Benson writes, Montaigne, the father of the essay in literature, while writing his essays is concerned with the ‘man Montaigne’. Thus the essay is a reverie for the essayist – it is a loose sequence of thoughts, irregular in nature which dwells on the moment and allows the writer to dwell within and correspond to himself. Montaigne employed such a technique wonderfully while he wrote his essays, presenting a certain mood of the mind, and infusing charm by being intimate and personal.

An essay is something the essayist does by himself. For the essay we may go back to Cicero or Plato. Cicero dealt with abstract topics with a romantic background. Plato discussed speculative and ethical problems of life and tried to find a philosophical interest. The English temperament lacks the charm of Montaigne. They are too prejudiced, secretive, closely guarded about their privacy. But Lord Brougham proved that one can maintain privacy at the same time display oneself.

Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici or Urn Burial contained essays of elaborate rhetorical style. Addison in The Spectator dealt with delicate humour. Charles Lamb dealt with the romantic and homely. De Quincy wrote impassioned autobiography while Pater used the essay for exquisite artistic sensation. In all these writings the common strain is the personal element, the essay reflects the personality of the author.

An essayist is not a poet. An essayist deals to some extent with humour. But humour is alien to poetry which is more of a sacred and solemn mood. The poet is emotional, reverential, excitable, in search of the sublime and the uplifted. He wants to transcend the mundane petty daily frets, the discordant, undignified elements of life. The similarity of the essayist with the poet is that an essayist can also make an effort to kindle emotion. But an essayist uses the commonest materials of life and transforms simple experiences with a fairy tale delicacy and romantic glow. Behind all forms of art whether, whether poetry or prose lies the principle of wonder, of arrested attention. It need not only be the sense of beauty, but also the sense of fitness, strangeness, completeness, effective effort. The amazement a savage feels on seeing a civilized city is not the sense of beauty but the sense of force, mysterious resources, incredible products, unintelligible things. He also sees the grotesque, absurd, amusing and jocose. The essayist deals with these basic emotions. He filters out the salient matters from these instinctive emotions and records them in impressive language.

So an essayist is a spectator of life. As catalogued in Browning’s poem “how It Strikes A Contemporary” the essayist’s material is watching the cobbler at trade, the man who slices lemon, the coffee-roaster’s brazier, the books on stalls, the bold-print posters on the wall, a man beating his horse or cursing a woman and so on. The essayist selects his setting, maybe a street, countryside or picture gallery. But once he selects he has to get into the heart of it.

The essayist must have largeness of mind. He cannot simply indulge in his activity whether of a politician or a thief with the sole objective of making profit. He cannot be prejudiced in his favours, i.e. he should not hate his opponents and favour his friends. If he condemns, despises, disapproves he loses sympathy. He must have an all encompassing mind to enjoy all he thinks worth recording, and not be narrow minded. Close jacketed persons like a banker, social reformer, forensic pleader, fanatic, crank or puritan cannot be an essayist. The essayist has to be broadminded but not moral. He must be tolerant, he must discern quality, he must be concerned with the general picture of life in connection with setting and people, not aims and objectives.

The charm of the essayist lies in translating a sense of good humour, graciousness, reasonable nature and in the effort to establish a pleasant friendship with the reader. One does not read the essay for information or definition, but to find an acceptable solution to a mass of entangled problems which arise in our daily lives and in our relationships with people. The essayist would take up some problem of daily life and delve into it to find out reasons for our fitful actions, reasons for our attraction or repulsion towards people and try to suggest a theory for it. Reading an essay a reader should be compelled to confess that he had thought in the same vein but had never discerned the connection. The essayist must realize that most people’s convictions are not a result of reason but a mass of jumbled up associations, traditions, half understood phrases, loyalties, whims etc.

The essayist must consider human weakness, not human strength. But while accepting human weakness he must try to infuse flashes of idealism in them. He should keep in mind that human mind in spite of weakness is capable of idealism, passionate visions, irresponsible humour which may shoot from dull cloudy minds. The task of the essayist is to make the reader realize his self worth, that every human mind is capable of getting hold of something big and remote which however may not always be clear in our minds. Human nature is indecisive, it vacillates. The confessed aim of the essayist is to make the reader see that every person has a part to play in life, they have an interest to take in life, that life is a game full of outlets and pulsing channels and life is not only meant for millionaires or politicians.

The essayist therefore ultimately teaches that life is not just about success but in fullness. Success may blur our vision of life and make a person full of self importance. What matters is how much a person can give than take.

The similarity between an essayist and a poet is that both perceive the greatness of life. But the essayist works with humbler material. The essayist is not a romancer because he does not deal with fancy but homely material. The essayist has to detect the sublimity of life. Life is not always exciting, not always expectant of something about to happen. There are monotonous gaps in between. An essayist’s task is to bring out something rich and strange out of those monotonous gaps.

Thus an Essay as a genre cannot be strictly classified too. It is like an organ prelude that can be moderated, modulated and coloured. It is to some extent criticism of life too. It is a learning process that teaches not to condemn the negative but perceive the fullness of life and encompass all experience. An essayist is an interpreter of life. He is within a short compass a combination of the historian, philosopher, poet, novelist. He observes and analyses life, colours it with his fancy, enjoys the charm and quality of simple things and endeavours to make others lead a better life.

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Art Games for Adults

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When it comes to family get togethers and neighborhood barbeques what better way to spend the season than playing some fun filled games. Share your love of art with your friends and family by involving them in some of the most celebrated art games of all time. Here is a list of art games for adults that you should take part next time you have a room filled with fun people.

1. Pictionary: This game is still one of the most loved art games to this day. As one of the best-known drawing games, Pictionary is a very fun game to play in any social setting. This needs three or more players and a couple of art easels with endless sheets of paper. How it works is one team member gets a word and has to draw out what it is while the other team member guesses what it is. This happens in 60 seconds flat and the teams alternate turns. You can purchase this game at any major department store. It comes in themed editions and it’s super affordable.

2. Barbarossa: This is a really fun game for three to six players in their teens or early adult age. What happens is each player has to sculpt a word in clay. You will get penalized if it’s too easy or it is too hard. The remaining players have to guess the word using a circular, movable board to ask questions. The key is, you have to have the gold to move. This is a great game to play with the family.

3. Cranium: This is a great trivia game that involves a lot of creativity. You wear one of four different hats: the Creative Vat, the Data Head, the Star Performer, or the Word Worm. The reason why this game is so dun is that you will be drawing, acting, sculpting, whistling, spelling, crying, laughing, whatever it possibly takes for your team member to figure out the answer. This game needs at least four or more players and it’s a hoot.

During the holiday season you may want to gather up the crowd for night filled of hilariously fun art games. Choose from the top three art games of all time or browse your local department store for more ideas.

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What Is Art Nouveau?

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Origins & Context

Art Nouveau was named after a Parisian shop (Maison de l’Art Nouveau), which opened in 1895, however the style defined in the history books took place between 1900 and 1914.

Life at that time, just before the Great War, was simpler; a horse-drawn carriage was still the main mode of transport and bicycling the latest craze; most women didn’t work though all households had domestic help; electricity and phones were available but TV and radio were not – the gramophone provided the in-house media entertainment. And for those who could afford it, the home was decorated in the latest style – Art Nouveau.

Two Styles in One

The work of the Art Nouveau period – Horta’s Paris Metro sign, Toulouse Lautrec & Klimt’s art, Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings, Gaudi’s mosaics – splits clearly into two styles. However, despite looking worlds apart, their essence came from the same place – namely it was organic.


In France, Belgium, Italy and Spain, the Art Nouveau style was curvilinear – everything looked as though it would wake up and grow as soon as you left the room.

Horta’s Metro sign in Paris beautifully represents the curvilinear Art Nouveau style – its organic swirls in the lettering depicting nature and growth. The idea of growing from seed to stem to plant can be seen in the flowing lines of many pieces of furniture and decorative items of this period. Furniture looked like it was growing naturally – handles made to look like tendrils; corners and fronts of cabinet decorated in foliage and balustrades twisted and turned to depict vines.


Glasswork also beautifully represented the natural shapes of the style and Emile Gall and Tiffany produced some graceful and ornamental pieces – lamps, bowls, vases as well as glass pieces designed for furniture. Furniture and accessories alike bloomed with emblems from nature – butterflies, grasses, birds and flowers.

Art & Jewellery

In the art world the works of Mucha, Cheret, Toulouse-Lautrec and Gustav Klimt dominated the period. Long flowing hair, entwined lovers kissing and beautiful women were their subjects. In jewellery, the same organic shapes could be seen; necklaces of flower trails; brooches depicting sirens – there was a sense of poetry and romanticism in every piece.


In Germany, Austria and Britain, however, the Art Nouveau style was distinctly rectilinear – with well-defined lines surrounding even the most delicate of decoration.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh – the iconic rose framed between strong black lines, the high backed chairs and industrial windows were trademark pieces and the Hill House in Helensburgh, just outside Glasgow, epitomises his residential interior style.

Fitted furniture

The furniture was specifically designed to fit the interior (something unheard of until then), which would have included built-in window seats, cupboards, settles and bookcases made from woods such as cherry, walnut, mahogany, satinwood and light oak.


The colours from this period were peacock blue, turquoise, emerald green, pale lilac, black and silver, white and pink. They were used together to form an ethereal look to walls and quite psychedelic effects in the glasswork.


The Art Nouveau style is still very much in evidence particularly in Barcelona in Gaudi’s work at Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, as well as his unfinished cathedral. In Brussels the style can be seen at the Hotel Solvay and in Paris at Maxim’s and the Vagenode Restaurant. Visit Glasgow and enjoy a stylish cup of tea in the famous Willow tearooms designed by Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.

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Art, artists, collectors and the gold rush

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European art compared with Indian artArt, artists, collectors and the gold rush

A clever collector apart from targeting big profit also climbs up the socio-cultural tower and is viewed as the prince charming by ordinary mortals on ground. The success with money is as daunting as failure with it. But a true collector collects for love and love alone shall prevail. To be rich is not a curse, the curse is if it makes us fall.

Fundamental to high speculative profits is near monopoly accumulation. Decades early in Delhi I knew of consortium of investors/speculators many of them in top jobs in IBM and multinationals in India who would accumulate individual company shares. When the market had risen spectacularly and they dumped them to reap high profits. It worked quite a bit. In art the accumulation principle is applied with a caveat. Each artist may produce works of differing quality and aesthetic value. Here the role of collector, art advisers, dealers and galleries becomes crucial in buying the right kind of art. Autumn joys

Collecting unsung new artists is normally low risk but may offer possibility of very high return if the collectors are able to foresee the future growth and value of particular art or artists. When Durand Ruel (1831—1922)  the French art dealer supported and collected works of  Impressionists—Claude  Monet, Degas, Renoir, Manet and Pissarro and others there was hardly a value attached to them. Impressionism was not recognized as a new art movement then. In all Durand collected thousands of works of these artists straight from their studios to the extent of going near bankrupt. People must have thought Ruel to be nuts when he bought such visionary art. It is still the largest single collection of Impressionists art. But today this collection may be worth hundreds nay thousands of million dollars.

Charles. Saatchi  known to bulk collect works by artists he thinks have potential to go big time and then off loads wholesale at right time to reap big  He collected YBA, Hirst Sean Scully etc, and got richer by millions of dollars.. Collectors of the ilk of Aby Rosen collect large number of works from an individual artist. Remember bulk ‘collections’ of known collectors are worth much more than individual works separately sold belonging to an artist.

Bulk buying is not same as herd buying. Some names become fashionable for a short time and then take long vacation. When market was booming some artists’  paintings were touted in the art circle as a good buy (mind it not as good art) and everyone was trying to buy without knowing any thing about her/his work/history or art journey or in some cases about what she/he paints.. I hear many of such artists are in dire straights and so are all those who were buying their works more like a stock market hot tip. The collectors in many cases are not  able to sell them even for 20% of the price they paid.

Nearer home in India in 80’s Badruddin Daya a shoe-business magnate would buy up whole exhibitions of artists that were yet untested at highly discounted prices. Ashish Anand of Delhi Art gallery is also known to buy up whole collections from artists. But the obverse side too, I know of many bulk buyers who have lost quite a bit by ill advised collection of junk art  or I should say only junk. But who can tell you that you have junk if you are deep pocketed dollar billionaire. What happens if the genie in bottle vanishes and has to be replaced with a fresh sea catch it still is art if the artist /collector says it. And of course other lesser mortals willingly bite the bait. I remember Bertrand Russell in one of his books on nuclear holocaust said what would happen if a mad person become President of U.S.A. who would dare tell him that and he could jolly well blow up the world.

There is uncouth speculation and possible price doctoring in art market of today. If you look  at long, very long time  it took for the art of Van Gogh , Renoir, Manet, Monet, Kandinsky, Juan Miro etc took to arrive at the millions of dollar value in comparison to the very short period it took many of the present day artist celebrities to arrive at stupendous prices—selling  for  10’s or 100’s of million dollars. (many of them have turned their art into a factory produce churned out by coolie labour and only signed by them) Imagine and compare  the creative worth of a diamond studded platinum mould of a skull with the Sunflowers by Van Gogh. Van Gogh changed our life for good with his paintings; he imbued passion, romance and freedom of soul unheard of earlier in artistic expression. What does the diamond skull proclaim other than that it required a very rich person to create it and another very rich person to buy it with no talk of virginal imagination or creativity? Unfortunately quite a few middle level artists in India have come to imitating the path of the Western current market celebrities. I would call them market celebrities for their worth—real or doctored—is seen as price leaders and not necessarily imaginative path creating art leaders. No society recognizes its boorishness, its left to later generations to recognize it.

Like the totemic cult societies of yore one of the most secretive markets in the world is art market. The mechanism of price determination is therefore one most unreliable. Who are the price players and bidders is not visible. Allegations surface that the sellers and the buyers are proxies especially in auctions. When it comes to greed of making a fast buck quite few market players are Madoff like.

There are more pitfalls in art market structure but  it definitely does not mean white winged angels do not exist. Otherwise how you have such stupendous collection of art gifted to state museums or exist in private museums. There are smaller mortals who have become legends for their visionary collections and at times against tremendous odds. Dorothy and Herbert Vogel have collected thousands of art works with their very modest incomes from jobs of a postal clerk and Brooklyn librarian. They lived in one bed room apartment and stored thousands of art works from likes of Christo, Andy Warhol and Donald Judd They gifted away all their collection to Museums all over U.S. Imagine they used one  spouse salary for their living expenses and with the other they collected art. They are a legend and to me and of course to many around the globe they are in line with Frick, Solomon Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and others who gifted so much art to humankind. I hope some of the Indian billionaires are listening.

Viktor Vijay

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Haitian Art: Most Appreciated and Recognized Form of Art in the World

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Haitian art is the perfect representation of the history and culture of Haiti. Haiti has always been known for its complex tradition, hardships and political problems. Due to the effect of colonization, the Haitian culture and history reflects the African, Catholic, tribal and Voodoo culture. Like most of the art forms, the Haitian art also focuses on daily life and day-to-day activities of the Haiti and its people. The paintings made by Haitian artists clearly depict daily life and happenings of the city. Apart from this representation, the painting of the artists reflects the steep mountains and bays of this coastal town.

Some Haitian artists were also strongly influenced by the religion and lifestyle. The religion brought by the European and the religion of the indigenous people was keenly reclined to represent it over their paintings. Haitian paintings perfectly represented the human, culture, daily activities and life of the people in the abstract human forms.

Representation of Culture and People by Talented Haitian Artists

The Haitian artists perfectly represent the culture, people and their life in the paintings. The Haitian artists to depict most of the paintings used primary colors. Haitian art is one of the known arts which had used the most prominent and vibrant colors to depict intensely the life and culture of Haitian. Haitian artists are acknowledged for their all-around talent and creativity in their art. They are known to craft amazing Haitian paintings, Haitian sculptures, wood sculptures, wood and metal cravings, voodoo flags, art posters and metal art along with media drawings.

Despite misery and poverty, Haitian artists have depicted the joyfulness of the people in their painting. They display the culture of the people who include different shades of life. Haitian paintings are known to perfectly express the history, the landscape, the beauty, the struggles, the joy and daily activities of the people. Haitian art includes lot many things such as paintings, Haitian sculptures (both wood and metal), basket weaving, pots, recycled metals, sequined Voodoo flags, murals and canvas.

Know How Haitian Art Emerged

The beginning of remarkable Haitian art was in the year 1943. De Witt, an American English teacher, was the first person that has marked a remarkable step in the emergence of Haitian art. He had a passion for painting using especially the watercolor and he started making the paintings to depict the life of poor peoples. Seeing the poverty of the people had made him to offer a place where these poor people can showcase their talent fully. In this manner, he gave a platform to all inspired painters to help them develop their creativity in order to earn their livelihood.

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Acting: Is It Art or Craft?

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You’re an actor – or on your way to becoming one. Do you think of yourself as an artist? Or do you regard acting as a craft? The difference between arts and crafts has been hotly debated for a very long time, especially in the visual arts. What does the distinction mean in the world of acting?

The difference between art and craft is partly a product of recent times and is often tied to modern aesthetic judgements. If you like it a lot it’s art. If you want to put it down, call it craft. Alternatively, you might think of the amateur actor as a craftsman and the professional, who has had acting training, as more of an artist. Some might even argue that the art of a dramatic work lies mainly in the writing and direction, and that actors are largely craftspeople who deliver the artistic product. But there are other ways you can see it.

A useful way of distinguishing art and craft is to think of craft as something that potentially anyone can learn. It’s that component of your capacity as an actor that is developed through teaching, by learning methods and techniques (at drama school and in acting training) and honing those techniques in practice. Artistry is harder to pin down, but typically refers to that indefinable quality that exceptionally skilled or gifted people possess. It’s what Robert De Niro or Cate Blanchett have in spades and a lot of other actors don’t possess to the same degree. No doubt that is what you aspire to in your acting career.

There are other ways of looking at the art : craft distinction as well. You can think of the art of acting as a question of individual style. Someone who not only masters a technique but also makes it his or her own might be regarded as an artist rather than a craftsperson. Art is what happens when it you have mastered your craft and are able to add something that is uniquely yours. Each of your performances is larger than the sum of its parts and we can call the difference ‘artistry’.

Wherever you stand in this endlessly arguable debate, most people agree that there is no art without craft. In your acting career, you would probably rather be seen as an artist than a master craftsperson. The thing to remember when you start out in acting is that everyone begins in the same place: learning the craft and the ‘tricks of the trade’. For almost all successful actors, this begins in the classroom or actor’s studio.

From this perspective, acting lessons deal in the craft of acting. It doesn’t follow, however, that your acting training doesn’t also concern acting as an art. Without a doubt, some of the artistry we admire in the performances of celebrated actors is also learned. It’s just harder to label. Acting training will also help you recognise what artistry looks like – even if you can’t pin it down. Perhaps another way of seeing the artist is as someone who, perhaps subconsciously, sees, understands and internalises that which cannot be taught.

Your acting lessons are about learning the nuts and bolts of the job. But drama classes are also a key environment for developing the ability to appreciate quality. That will help you, as an actor, to fine-tune your own performances, extend your scope and up your game. In this and other ways the art v. craft distinction breaks down. Method acting is a technique that is taught in academies and actor’s studios. It is also one that is associated with many of the actors we regard as great artists. That probably isn’t just coincidence, and the art and craft of acting can be tough to separate.

As an aspiring or novice actor you can set aside thorny questions and academic debates about acting as an art if you wish. Answers will surely take shape as you learn the craft that is always the foundation stone of all good acting.

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Some Of The Many Different Ways Art Is Expressed

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Art is defined in the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Addition as skill acquired by experience, study or observation. In other words art can be described as seen through the eyes of the beholder. Many forms of art have appeared over the years and newer more abstract art of modern days is often described as contemporary art.

Art over the centuries has taken on many forms. From Leonardo DaVinci to Jim Morrison, art can be determined by the desire of others to enjoy a particular form. People have been collecting famous works of art for a long time. Today many new artists skilled from personal experience have been sharing their view of beauty throughout the world.

With society changing everyday the evolution of art has become a source of particular negative views. More and more contumacy artist are making their works available to the public and as the world changes so does the view of art.

Today’s generation of adults have experienced much political and social change, making a great amount of expressive ideas to take the form as art. Although different people can view different things while looking at art, many people have changed the form of the canvas. For example, tattooing has become increasingly popular in the twenty first century. People have discovered they can express themselves by way of a permanent tattoo on their skin. When you see someone with tattoos all over their skin you may begin to form an opinion of an undesirable person.

However, if you should sit down with a person who has many tattoos on their body you may hear a beautiful story of struggle, heartache, love or even accomplishment. People have begun to put the feelings and life views out as an artful expression in the form of a tattoo.

Another form of contemporary art is the canvas paintings and photographic expressions of an abstract nature. With so many different opinions on what is and what is not art, the artists of today are not afraid to show more impressions of the unrest over the last century. The art is more real and sometimes more graphic. Due to the graphic and sometimes explicit paintings and sculptures in recent years people struggle to find a freedom through art. Art museums and exhibits are often censored for the public. Private viewings have become the norm for explicit expressions of art.

Thanks to the variety of impressions of the world around us we can view artistic expressions in raw forms. The social and political struggles in life prove to be a place for observation of the human race that deems different styles and expressions of contemporary art. Never before in history has there been more variety of expressive art shown in contemporary art.

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The Meaning of Art

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When I refer to “art” here, I am referring specifically to visual art, and more specifically to painting because that’s what I do. But I’m sure it applies to other forms of art as well.

Art can have very concrete, literal meaning to it—the more representational a work of art is, the easier it is to attribute a meaning to it. Everyone understands realistic representations of things from real life—for example, paintings of trees—when looking at one, you can say, “It’s a painting of trees, and trees are lovely to look at—that’s the obvious purpose of this art; no mystery there.”

Autumnal Giants II

This is why purely abstract art tends to appeal to a smaller audience. It is common to want to know what you are looking at so you can place a literal meaning on it. But art, even art that is fairly straightforward in its subject matter, has a larger and deeper meaning that goes beyond the literal.

This larger and deeper meaning is not intellectual in nature—it is emotional. All you need in order to “get” art is to look at it and become fascinated, motivated, influenced, impressed, inspired, or otherwise stimulated by it. All you need is to feel a connection to the art.

Cocoon II

Most people do feel a connection when looking at art (not all art, of course, but the art that particularly appeals to them personally.) Putting this feeling into words can sometimes be difficult, but just because you can’t always explain it in concrete terms does not mean it’s not real or important, and it does not mean you are missing anything. If you look at a piece of art and feel nothing, all it means is that particular piece of art is not meant for you. If you look at enough art, you will learn what you like and what has the most meaning for you.


The artist has the job of living, feeling, and processing her unique experience and then finding a way to express that to others. The viewer may or may not get the same feelings that the artist meant to express—and that is okay. One of the fun things about art is how different people interpret it differently. Art is the physical manifestation of a mysterious human force: imagination. If it sparks your imagination or puts you in a certain mood, then you “get it.”

Golden Leaves

And that’s nice… But how does all of this apply to real life? What is the point of art—what is its use? Well here’s where choice comes in. Once you look at enough art to realize what you like, what you connect to, you get to make the choice to surround yourself with those things that inspire you and help you in your life.

Messenger at Dawn

The trick is to figure out what you really, really love—when you find it you will know. If you realize that a certain shade of red makes you happy and energized, making the conscious choice to put something of that color in your living room so you see it every day will, in theory, make you a more happy and energized person. When your spirit feels heavy and sad, art can help lift you out of that. When you feel bogged down by apathy or lost in painful frustration, looking at art can bring you back to yourself and help you keep going. Deliberately creating a mood in your immediate surroundings can help you to create the life that you want, in a very tangible way.

Lotus Pond

This interpretation of art’s meaning is obviously the result of my optimistic, existential outlook on life. I try to apply my energy—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual, towards personal transformation and growth.

But art has a myriad of uses: it is used as a tool for psychological healing, a symbol in spiritual rituals, an impetus for political or social change, an expression of inquiry, a form of entertainment, evidence of status or identity, a reminder of what’s important, and most commonly, a simple celebration of beauty.

You can decide what meaning art may have in your own life. It’s up to you! So, what does art mean to you? How will you choose to use it?

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Sun Tzu and the Art of Winning Negotiations

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To many of his colleagues, Sandro is an old China-hand. Having been working in various cities in China for the past 7 years, and has more working experience here than most of his Chinese colleagues.

One of the key success factors that attributes to Sandro’s career success in China is that he takes time and patience to listen and understand his Chinese colleagues, suppliers and partners. While some of the business practices in China may be very different, even contradictory, with the ones in his native Germany, Sandro has always been patient enough to understand why certain things are done in certain ways, and then seek to get his Chinese counterparts understand why some things have to be done the international way.

Hence, when it was time to negotiate a major deal with a key supplier, Sandro decided to have his Chinese Project Manager take the lead in the negotiations. As Sandro had not had the experience negotiating for such a large project in China yet, he thought it may be a good idea to learn from the local expert.

The Chinese Project Manager, Mr. Chen, shared with Sandro his negotiating strategy, which is to divulge nothing and squeeze them for the lowest price. And that was what he did.

Halfway through the negotiations, Sandro found things to be diverting away from his goals, such as:

• While the company does have a policy of minimising purchasing costs, there have been frequent cases of suppliers increasing prices unilaterally because they just realised the agreed prices were below their costs. If the buyer does not agree to the increased prices, the seller will cut the supplies. And since the agreed prices were below costs, the buyer then could not find other alternative suppliers to supply at such prices too.

• One of the key requirements for this deal is to have the supplier commit on various quality and delivery guarantees, which are critical for the buyer’s production. However, these issues have not been discussed as Mr. Chen fears discussing such issues will then increase their buying prices. Mr. Chen thought it best to secure the best price, then state these requirements after the price have been agreed. Sandro knows that if these requirements are stated after the price has been agreed, the supplier may not honour their quality and delivery guarantees because the price they get does not cover the costs of additional work.

Having these observations in mind, Sandro was wondering if there’s a better way to get long-term commitment to negotiated agreements in China.

Formulating Your Negotiating Strategy

“The victorious army plans for victory before fighting, the vanquished army fights before planning for victory”, says Sun Tzu in the Art of War. The same principle applies to formulating negotiating strategies as well. We can use Sun Tzu’s 5 elements:

• The Way: Your Goal or Desired Outcome

• The Climate: External Factors beyond Your Control

• The Ground: External Factors within Your Influence

• The General: The People Conducting Your Negotiation

• The Method: How Should the Negotiation be Conducted

To start with, you will have to define what the goal , or desired outcome, is for the negotiation. The most primary concern you need to have is if you just want to win the negotiation, or would you like to have a sustainable outcome of your preference.

Interestingly, while it is often mentioned that Chinese business people expect negotiated agreements to be re-negotiable later should there be some unforeseen circumstances arising, most Chinese negotiators tend to view a signed contract or agreement is an indication of negotiation success. They often are too myopic to see that if the agreement is not sustainable in the long term, or that if it is deemed unfair, their negotiation adversaries will want to re-negotiate. As such, the negotiated outcomes are NOT sustainable

Hence, to reach a sustainable negotiating outcome, you will have too consider a few more factors, such as:

• What is the negotiating outcome you want to achieve, besides price or immediate gratification?;

• What is your best-case, second-best case and worst case scenarios?;

• Why should your adversary agree to your demands or requests?;

• What are you willing to give in return for what you get?;

• When to walk away and negotiate with someone else instead?

The next question then is: would it be safe to tell our adversaries what we want?

The best victory is the one that is won without fighting

In simple terms, negotiation can be defined as: getting others to give you what you want, by giving them what they want.

The problem is, most of us would like others to give a lot MORE of what we want, while we give as little of what they want. While the reason behind such thinking is to control costs or maximise profits, there are however some flaws in this logic:

• It doesn’t mean that if you give a lot more of what they want, it will cost you a lot. There are some things that you can give at minimal or zero costs to you but may benefit your adversary a lot;

• Many times, the costs of NOT getting what we really want (apart from lower price and immediate gratification) is higher than the savings of giving as little of what they want; and

• Sometimes, you need to educate your adversaries to understand what sustainable outcome that is what they really want too!

As Sun Tzu says, “The best victory is the one that is won without fighting”. If you want your adversaries to give in to your demands or give you a lot of what you want, you may want to make your adversaries feel that:

• When they give you what you want, they will get what they really want (besides price and immediate gratification);

• You will make sure that whatever deal you make with them is something that they will be happy with, even if it’s made in your best interests;

• You make the conscious effort to shift from adversaries in the the negotiation, to being partners in the long term.

Sun Tzu also says, “Use conventional methods to get organised, but use out-of-the-box methods to achieve victory”. Talking endlessly about price will end in a stalemate, but if both parties are willing to explore the reasons why they want what they want, they might be able to come up with a creative solution that meets mutual needs.

There is a Chinese expression called “words spoken from the bottom of one’s heart”, which is actually quite common between buyers and sellers whom have done business together for a long time. It goes back to the Chinese ideal of taking care of the welfare of your business partners, even if they may be your negotiation adversaries. The trick is to make your adversaries trust you quick enough for this effect to happen.

Know Yourself and Your Adversary

When we mention we need to win the trust of our adversaries, it doesn’t mean that we are just being nice and sacrifice all our profits. Hence, Sun Tzu says, “Know yourself and know your adversary, a hundred battles fought and not be imperiled in any”.

What this means for the negotiator could be:

• You can’t win with ALL adversaries. Knowing whom you can trust, and get them to trust you, is key to getting winning outcomes;

• You don’t just learn about your adversaries by talking to them only. You can get more information about your adversaries (including if there’s a huge need for you to give them what they want) from their colleagues, business partners or industry news in general; and

• In negotiation, knowing your adversary could be just as important to let your adversary know you. If the adversary is someone whom you do not know, start with disclosing less sensitive details in smaller deals.

In short, while there are overwhelming tips, techniques and other resources on how to win in negotiations, there is only one thing in the minds of your adversaries, and that is “Why should I let YOU win?”.

Here’s one last little story to illustrate why it is important to get your adversaries to want to let you win, rather steamrolling over them. We often see some unreasonable and rude guests in hotels or restaurants who make unreasonable demands to the service staff in very rude ways, knowing that because they are paying the money, the service staff will just have to say “yes” to most of their rude demands. While some service staff merely suffer in silence, some experienced service staff know how to get back by secretly spitting or adding other unmentionable “ingredients” into the food of the rude customer.

The moral of the story: even if you have overwhelming bargaining power, you may still want to make your adversaries wanting you to win. As in the Art of War, “To win, use reason to connect with your people, and use discipline to implement your strategies”

by c.j. Ng

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Source by CJ Ng

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