The Japanese Way of the Artist: Living the Japanese Arts & Ways, Brush Meditation, The Japanese Way of the Flower

The Japanese Way of the Artist: Living the Japanese Arts & Ways, Brush Meditation, The Japanese Way of the Flower

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Ikebana and tea ceremony, karate and calligraphy—all traditional Japanese arts and practices share certain ideals and techniques to achieve the same goals: serenity, mind/body harmony, awareness, and a sense of connection to the universe. This collection of three complete books provides H. E. Davey’s unique insights into the rich universe of these Japanese spiritual, artistic, and martial traditions while introducing the reader to practical examples of two Japanese forms of “moving meditation” that exemplify the union of art and spiritual growth.

Living the Japanese Arts & Ways presents 45 essential principles—like wabi, “immovable mind,” and “stillness in motion”—that are universal in the Japanese classic tradition. Revealing little-known, ancient, and powerful teachings that link all classic Japanese arts, it explains how they can beneficially transform your life. Living the Japanese Arts & Ways was the recipient of the Spirituality & Health magazine Best Spirituality Books Award.

Brush Meditation introduces beginners and non-artists alike to Japanese calligraphy, and shows how even the most elemental stroke of ink and brush reveals your physical and mental state. It’s packed with amazing examples of the author’s award-winning Japanese calligraphy.

The Japanese Way of the Flower examines practical methods for looking at nature and leads the reader through simple meditations as a prelude to learning how to create easy ikebana compositions.

This anthology contains an all-new introduction by the author. The entire text is complemented by diagrams, drawings, and photographs, plus information, resources, and glossaries of Japanese terms.

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The Strange Case Of The Pushy Void

Billions upon billions of galaxies, blazing with the furious, brilliant fires of a host of dazzling stars, trace out the heavy and gigantic filaments of the Great Cosmic Web–a structure that would otherwise be invisible to our eyes, were it not for these sparkling and revealing flecks of starlight. This mysterious Web, which is thought to be composed of the bizarre dark matter, accounts for more than 50% of the volume of the entire Universe, and these enormous filaments surround almost-empty Cosmic Voids–vast and very black spaces that exist between the invisible filaments of the Cosmic Web. Astronomers have known for decades that our barred-spiral Milky Way Galaxy–along with our companion spiral Galaxy, Andromeda–is traveling through intergalactic Space at the breathtaking speed of approximately 1.4 million miles per hour with respect to the expanding Universe. Astronomers have long assumed that dense regions of the Universe, heavily populated by galaxies, are pulling us through Space in the same way that gravity forced Newton’s famous apple to crash down from its tree to the ground below. However, in a groundbreaking study, released in January 2017, and published in the journal Nature Astronomy, a team of astronomers reported their discovery of a previously unknown Void lurking in our galactic neighborhood–and this secretive, long-hidden Void is the real culprit that is pushing our Milky Way, Andromeda, and the rest of the Local Group of galaxies swiftly through intergalactic Space. Even though both our Milky Way and Andromeda are large and majestic spirals, most of the 54 galaxies dwelling in the Local Group are dwarf galaxies.

Largely barren of galaxies, this nearby Void effectively exerts a repelling force that pushes our entire Local Group of galaxies through Space. Originally, astronomers attributed our Milky Way’s speedy journey through the Universe to the Great Attractor. The Great Attractor, situated about 150 million light-years from Earth, is a region of Space that contains about six heavily populated clusters of galaxies. Following closely on the heels of the discovery of the Great Attractor, astronomers were drawn to a considerably larger structure dubbed the Shapley Concentration. The Shapley Concentration is located 600 light-years away, in the same direction as the Great Attractor. However, there is an ongoing controversy about the relative importance of this duo of attractors, and whether or not they can really be the explanation for our Galaxy’s swift travels through Space.

The Universe is heavily populated with enormous collections of galaxies that are arranged within the gigantic Cosmic Web. The Cosmic Web itself is outlined by galaxy clusters and nodes that are bound together by long strings. This large-scale structure is extremely well-organized, and it reveals to the curious eyes of astronomers very busy intersections of galaxies swarming like fireflies around the enormous and almost-empty Voids.

The black, mostly barren, and cavernous Voids have fascinated astronomers for years, and they have frequently been a target for those scientists trying to understand the small population of galaxies that inhabit these regions of near-emptiness. Indeed, the Voids are intriguingly empty, and might harbor only one or two galaxies. This contrasts with the hundreds of galaxies that are commonly observed dwelling within big galaxy clusters.

The Primordial Universe

The mysterious Voids of the Cosmic Web were first discovered back in 1978 in an important study by Dr. Stephen Gregory and Dr. Laird A. Thompson at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

Many scientists think that the Cosmic Voids were formed as a result of baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) in the early Universe, and this suggests that collapses of mass came on the heels of implosions of the compressed atomic (baryonic) matter. In cosmology, the BAO are periodic and regular fluctuations in the density of the visible atomic matter of the Cosmos. In much the same way that supernovae provide curious astronomers with a standard candle for astronomical observations, BAO matter clustering provides a standard ruler that can be used to measure the length scale in cosmology. The length of this standard ruler–which is about 490 million light years in the Universe that we observe today–can be measured by observing the large scale structure of matter using astronomical surveys.

Starting from what began as very small anisotropies caused by quantum fluctuations in the primordial Universe, the anisotropies grew larger and larger and larger as time passed. In physics, a quantum is the minimum quantity of any physical entity that is involved in an interaction.

The regions of higher density collapsed more rapidly under the extremely heavy pull of their own gravity–eventually resulting in the foam-like, large-scale structure of the Cosmic Web that is composed of Voids and massive dark matter filaments. Voids situated in regions of low-density are larger than the Voids that are located in high-density environments. Voids also seem to correlate with the observed temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation–which is the relic radiation of the beginning of the Universe. Hotter regions of the CMB correlate with filaments and colder regions with the Voids.

The primordial Universe was composed of a dense, searing-hot plasma that was made of electrons and baryons (protons and neutrons). Particles of light called photons, bouncing around brightly in the early Universe, were trapped, and essentially were unable to travel for any great distance before doing a dance with the plasma.

However, as the Universe expanded, the plasma cooled down to a temperature below 3000 Kelvin. This cooler temperature was of a sufficiently low energy to enable the electrons and photons in the primordial plasma to combine and thus create neutral hydrogen atoms. This era of recombination occurred when the baby Universe was a mere 379,000 years old. The photons interacted to a much lesser degree with neutral matter. As a result, during the era of recombination the Universe became transparent to photons, permitting them to decouple from the matter and stream their beautiful and beaming way through the Universe. This newly liberated light was finally free, and it has been dancing through Space and Time ever since. In other words, the mean free path of the dancing photons essentially became the size of the Universe. The CMB is the light that was emitted after recombination–and it is only now finally finding its way to the welcoming telescopes of astronomers on Earth. Therefore, images of this light that lingers, traveling to us from long ago and far away, reveals the Universe the way it was when it was a mere baby of only 379,000 years of age.

The Light That Lingers

On the largest scales, the entire Cosmos looks the same wherever we observe it–showing a foam-like, bubbly appearance, with extremely massive filaments of dark matter weaving themselves around each other to create the mysterious Cosmic Web. The otherwise invisible filaments are traced out by the brilliant light of stellar fires that sparkle within vast sheets of the tangled, twisted, and intertwining structure. The enormous, almost empty, and very black Voids–which interrupt this strange, transparent web-like structure–are traced out by the glittering flames of a multitude of stars. Because the Voids contain very few galaxies, this makes them appear to be almost empty, in dramatic contrast to the brilliantly lit, star-blasted heavy filaments of the Cosmic Web. The filaments braid themselves around these very dark, and almost empty, caverns, creating a twisted, convoluted knot.

Wherever we look in the observable Universe, we see exactly the same thing–the same bizarre pattern, where brilliantly starlit, majestic galaxies are seen swarming like summer fireflies around the borders of the almost, but not quite, empty Voids. This complicated, twisting and transparent Web is generously sprinkled with matter of both the “ordinary” atomic kind, and the exotic and mysterious dark kind. Indeed, observers have found it a challenge to determine whether the regions of luminous matter and dark filaments, lit by the fires of starlit galaxies, encircle the black and almost empty Voids, or if the Voids instead surround these very massive starlit filamentary strands of the twisted, mysterious stuff. Indeed, the two components are so inextricably tangled up together that the entire construction resembles a natural sponge–or, alternatively, a honeycomb. It has been proposed by some cosmologists that the entire large-scale structure of the Universe can be best described as only one immense filament, lit up by the stars, and one huge Void, with both twisted around each other into a mean Cosmic knot.

Our Universe is mysterious. We cannot even see most of it. The myriad of galaxies and enormous galactic clusters and superclusters are all embedded within halos of the exotic, non-atomic, ghostly dark matter. Even though the dark matter is invisible, most cosmologists think that it is really there because it exerts an observable gravitational influence on those objects that are visible–such as stars and clouds of glaring hot gas.

The most current measurements suggest that the Universe is made up of approximately 27% dark matter and 68% dark energy. Dark energy is even more mysterious than dark matter, and it is an unidentified substance that is causing our expanding Cosmos to speed up in its expansion. The origin and nature of the dark energy is not known, but it is frequently thought to be a property of Space itself. Less than 5% of our Universe is composed of the so-called “ordinary” atomic matter. Atomic matter accounts for literally all of the elements listed in the familiar Periodic Table. “Ordinary” atomic matter is truly extraordinary–it composes literally all of the Universe that human beings on Earth find familiar. It is also the stuff of stars, and stars brought life into the Cosmos. We are such stuff as stars are made of.

Modern scientific cosmology began with Albert Einstein who applied his two theories of Relativity–Special Relativity (1905)and General Relativity (1915)–to the Universe. At the start of the 20th century, it was thought that our Milky Way Galaxy was the entire Universe, and that the Universe was eternal and static. But now we know differently. There are billions and billions of galaxies, and our Universe is dynamic–not static. The Universe was born approximately 13.8 billion years ago–and because it had a definite beginning, it might also end.

The large-scale structure of the Universe, as revealed by the mysterious Cosmic Web, may have been born with no true physical differences between areas of higher density and areas of lower density. This is a possibility because if the current large-scale structure of the Universe is really the result of random fluctuations on the quantum level, occurring in the neonatal Universe, this is precisely what the most straightforward models suggest. According to this viewpoint, some domains of the primordial Universe received a much greater density of matter than others simply as the result of chance. The distribution of wealth in the neonatal Universe was random–some regions were lucky, some were not.

The Strange Case Of The Pushy Void

The existence of the newly discovered pushy Void was earlier proposed by astronomers at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. However, obtaining important observation confirmation of the absence of galaxies proved to be a difficult endeavor. Until the 2017 study, observations primarily focused on the detailed distribution of galaxies–that is, where the galaxies are situated, and how much pull they inflict on our Milky Way Galaxy. In this recent study, the team of astronomers, led by Dr. Yehuda Hoffman of the Hebrew University’s Racah Institutes of Physics in Israel, working with colleagues in the United States and France, tried an alternative approach. Rather than observing the positions of galaxies, they used the motions of the galaxies instead. The astronomers created a 3-dimensional map of the galaxy flow field, and used this to calculate the underlying mass distribution that is composed of both luminous matter and the ghostly dark matter. This method revealed the overdense regions that pull on our Galaxy–as well as the underdense regions that give it a big push.

The region of the Universe that is traveling coherantly away from the pushy Void and toward the gravitational attractors is enormous–reaching across more than a billion light years. This amounts to a tenth of the radius of the entire observable Universe. The Laniakea supercluster of galaxies that was discovered by the same team, and described in a 2014 Nature paper, is embedded within this flow in a way that has been compared to a “cork in a stream.”

“Through 3-d mapping the flow of galaxies through space, we found that our Milky Way Galaxy is speeding away from a large, previously unidentified, region of low density that we call the Dipole Repeller, as well as towards the known Shapley Concentration. It has become apparent that push and pull are of comparable importance at our location,” Dr. Hoffman explained in a January 30, 2017 University of Hawaii Press Release.

“There was a hint of the Void from studies of the distribution of rich clusters of galaxies that emit X-rays, discussed in articles over a decade ago by Dale Kocevski, Harald Ebeling and myself at the University of Hawaii, but the statistics were not sufficient to be convincing,” commented Dr. Brent Tully in the same Press Release. Dr. Tully is of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.

The researchers, by identifying the Dipole Repeller, were able to explain both the direction of our Galaxy’s motion and its velocity relative to the rest of the Universe. They expect that ultra-sensitive surveys in the future at optical, near-infrared, and radio wavelengths will directly identify the few galaxies expected to lie in this Void, and directly confirm the Void associated with the Dipole Repeller.

This study appears in the January 30, 2017 issue of Nature Astronomy.

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Source by Judith E Braffman-Miller

Japanese Street Fashion- a Blend of Contemporary and Traditional Trends

Fashion is a blend which comes to us again and again after having some changes in the style of people of ancient times. Japanese street fashion has come with flying colors. Youth has welcomed it because it is a blend of traditional and contemporary trends. They are not losing their traditional trend which is directly related with their culture rather they are accepting a new one. Being fashionable does not mean relating yourself with designers’ clothes and accessories, its all about feeling good from within as well as looking good. Fashion enhances your confidence level as well as it shows that you are up-dated.

Japanese street fashion has different style and trends. Youth like to be up-dated according to the era in their dressing patterns and make-up. Bright colours, eccentric patterns, hand-made garments, heavy jewellery, mixing and matching jeans and tank tops with traditional wear like kimonos, are in fashion now a days. Youth of Japan can be seen wearing Lolita, Kogal, Cosplay, Ganguro styles on streets showing the changes they are adopting as globalization is making all the trends mixed up.

All these styles have different look and different purposes. For instance, Lolita style has many subcultures Punk Lolita, Gothic Lolita etc. both give a different look. With Punk Lolita chains, beads, lace and wristbands are popular accessories along with pink and peach colour prints; whereas Gothic Lolita gives the look of Victorian age having dark colours, black make-up, heavy brooches, and ribbons. Another style is Ganguro in which the art of dressing is similar to North American. It consists of light or dark tanned bodies, bleached or dyed hair, summer dresses and platforms. All this gives a look of western style. As western countries are developed and known as fashionable countries around the world, people try to westernize themselves.

One more style is the Kogal style which is mostly used by the Japanese women to show their various tastes through the wealth they have. Some rich parents also spend on their daughters to adorn them with this extravagant style. They keep latest mobile and other accessories with them. They adorn themselves with big boots, skirts pinned very high, dramatic make-up and the latest in American fashion brands. Cosplay attire also requires a lot of money to be spent and can be seen in amusement parks, nightclubs and many high profile Cosplay parties. These dresses are influenced with Hollywood movies and characters like manga, anime, fantasy movies and video games. All these trends let you be with modern era and you can choose one for yourself also, according to your needs and pocket.

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Source by Article Manager

uxcell 5-Piece Painting Knife Set

uxcell 5-Piece Painting Knife Set

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Every artist needs a good selection of palette knives. This 5-piece stainless steel set offers assorted shapes and styles at a reasonable price. Use to mix paint such as acrylics and oils for canvas painting, but also excellent for applying paints using thick paint palette knife techniques. Features natural wood handles and stainless steel blades.Product Name : Artist Painting Spatula Set; Material : Stainless Steel, Wood
Color : Silver Tone, Dark Brown
Size : Longest one:8.75″ in Length, Shortest One: 6.85″ in Length
Net Weight : 83g
Package Content : 5 x Artist Painting Spatula Cutter Set
Versatile 5-Piece palette knife set
Assorted shapes and styles for a variety of techniques
Stainless steel blades with wood handles
Primary use is to mix colors
Also excellent for thick paint applications

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5 Tips to Establish Yourself As an Artist

Any artist that’s interested in marketing and selling their work at galleries, art festivals or online must know a few things before they begin. This article will discuss five major components beginner artists should think about before they embark on their journey as a successful artist. The first is believe in yourself. Second is create artwork that sales and third is become a business. Lastly, find a place to sell your work to help build your name and creditability. Let’s take a look at each one.

1. Believe in yourself. One of the most common negative trait many artists have is not believing they are a good enough artist. This is a bunch of bologna. If you have sold any artwork at all you are good enough. You may have to work on a few things but you have to start believing in yourself. I know an artist named Eric McCray who said he put a sign up for himself that said “Believe in Yourself” until he became the artist he wanted to be. So please, believe in yourself and tell all the negative thoughts in your head to shut up!

2. Create artwork. Create 20 to 30 pieces of artworks that are all consistent with each other. Don’t paint landscapes, portraits of pets, and abstracts. Choose your niche and stick to it! When collectors and galleries see your work they look for consistency. It shows that you are a professional. Also create art that sales. Don’t create art that is boring, dull or dark. People like to feel uplifted so please create your art accordingly.

3. Become a business. Set yourself up as a business. Get business cards, business licenses, separate checking accounts and etc. The worst thing you can do is be at an art show and you don’t have any business cards. You are completely missing out on sales. Next, get a website to help promote yourself as an artist. Website are fairly inexpensive these days and can be easily set up in no time. Also, read information about starting a business and have an entrepreneurial mindset.The more you learn about running a business and using different sales technique the better. Selling art is not just about applying to art shows,, selling on Etsy and being represented in art galleries but about marketing yourself nonstop using various marketing strategies that will help propel your business. I encourage you to read more books about marketing and selling as much as you read books on creating art. This will help you build the right mindset to run a successful business.

4. Find places to sell your work. Apply to art shows, art festivals, gift shops, galleries and the like. Do not go to libraries, coffee shops, or restaurants. People don’t go to these places to buy art. Just like real estate where location is king, same goes for finding places to sale your work. You have to place your art in front of people who would be willing to buy your art without any problem. Make sure you consider locations that are conducive to your market. You also want to put your art in front of people that pertains to your niche. If you paint birds you may want to sale at bird shows or several gift shops. Since I paint images of musicians playing different instruments I apply to music festivals. Do you see what I trying to get at.

5. Build a name for yourself. When you begin to sell your work at festivals, galleries or online set in motion your brand. Market yourself in such a way that when people think of art, or your niche, they think of you. The more you put your art in front of people the more chances of galleries and other art venues seek you out. You can also build your name by giving yourself a nickname like “the bird painter” if you paint birds. This could serve as your brand when building your customer base. I use a slogan that says “Jazz Up Your Life” since I paint musicians playing jazz music. When ever I do an outdoor show I have a sign up with that slogan above my tent. People respond to it very well.

Using all these tips can create a major impact for anyone trying to sell their artwork in their local area. There are a plethora of information out there that will mention many of these tips over and over again simply because they work. The more you focus on just creating art without planning on how to market and sell your artwork you will lose out. So please take head to these tips and move forward to becoming not just a good artist but a successful selling artist.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Ahmad Austin

Sanding Skirting Boards – Preparing the Surface Before You Paint Them

Whilst there are manufacturers offering customised skirting boards – typically those with sanded and painted wood finishes – there are people out there wanting to paint the materials after they are installed. Well, if you are one in this list of individuals, you should learn how to prepare the surface in such a way that they will look favourable before you actually paint them. Do-it-yourself enthusiasts dictate that sanding skirting boards are important before going to the next critical step.

Sanding will actually prepare the surface of the skirting boards by getting rid of the bumps or imperfections on the surface. Typically, all you need is a specialised sand paper to help you achieve the outcome you want. If you want the boards to serve its purpose aesthetically, you should learn about this technique. There are tips to take note of in the process.

Preparing your skirting boards before you paint them

When sanding your skirt boards, there are two processes to consider. The process depends on the type of material you have used. To make you understand about what these processes are, look into the following explanations.

  1. The use of modern equipment. Aside from relying on sandpapers to sand the surface, there is one modern gadget you may use to spruce up your skirt boards. This is known as the electric sander. Remember that this electric gadget may only be utilised for flat surfaces. For uneven portions, traditional sandpaper should be used.
  2. Sanding old skirting boards. There is no exemption on sanding old baseboards. Simply put, even if the paint of the old board is in good shape, there is still a need to sand them. This is to make sure that the new paint will stick to the surface. As for old skirting boards that are already in a very poor condition, scraping and sanding off of the chipped or cracked part will be required. The cracked portion should be filled with the so-called flexible wood filler. Wait for the filler to dry before sanding the surface.

Preparing the surface of the skirting boards – things to do other than sanding

Sanding is not the only crucial thing you should go through before painting your skirting boards. You must also consider other steps to make sure that the surface is prepared. Here are two more things to take note of:

  1. Apply knot-sealing solution. The knot-sealing solution is responsible not only for sealing knots but for preventing your paintwork from damages. You must apply several coats of this solution before painting the woodwork.
  2. Make use of masking tape. The masking tape should be placed over the board to protect your walls and floors during the painting process. Make sure that you do not leave the masking tape too long on the surface though as it may cause some marks once the paint dries up.

The sander, knot-sealing solution and masking tape are three materials that will prepare your skirting boards before you paint them. The task may seem time-consuming and daunting but it will make the surface look better for the purposes it will serve. If you have any queries regarding these techniques, never hesitate to ask professional help. This will make your skirting boards look better than you have ever-imagined.

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Source by Luke Wildman

Formalism in Art – The Significance of Forms

Formalism – The Concept and History

Different art historians give credit to different artists and critics for proposing the concept of Formalism. Greek philosopher Plato (428 BC-348 BC) made a reference of ‘edios’ (forms) in his Theory of Forms or Ideas. According to him, human eyes can see an object as a fundamental form, modified by the plurality of its existence. For instance, color red is a form, which can exist in various tones and shades. We do not perceive each one of these variants as different factors, rather as single color (factor) in different settings. Around the late nineteenth century, French writer and painter Maurice Denis (1870-1943) argued in his article ‘Definition of Neo-Traditionalism’ that the visual aspects of an art work is more significant than its theme. English painter & critic Roger Eliot Fry (1866-1934) and English art critic Arthur Clive Heward Bell (1881-1964) took the idea forward. During the early twentieth century, the duo promulgated the sensory distinction between ‘significant form’ (structure and arrangement) and representational factors in an artwork, giving priority to the former.

Style and Influences

Formalism emphasizes on the style of execution, like brush strokes, color combinations, lines, light, and other structural aspects. In effect, such works are measured in the terms of their perceptual impact, instead of their sentimental force. Abstract art genres Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (particularly, the works of Paul Cézanne) were the significant influences on the development of Formalism.

The Artists and the Artworks

One of the most prominent works in Formalism came from German painter Josef Albers (1888-1976). His highly acclaimed series ‘Homage to the Square’ (1965) was composed of over one thousand paintings created over a period of twenty-five years, commencing 1949. He famously called this series ‘platters for color,’ where superimposed squares in different colors created the desired Formalist appeal. Albers did not attempt to represent any emotional undercurrents, definite theme, or storyline in this series. The focus here was to create different optical responses for the fundamental form (square) in varying situations (color combinations). For example, some paintings may appear bright and optimistic, while others may seem gloomy. Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) developed a new style of Formalism known as ‘Neo-Plasticism.’ He painted oil canvas variants of thick black grid partially painted in the three primary colors namely, red, blue, and yellow. Examples of this style include ‘Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow’ (1930), ‘Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red’ (1937-42), and ‘Composition 10’ (1939-42).


Formalism continued defining the Modern Art landscape until the 1960s. Most of the abstract styles and artists have supported the dimension in one form or the other. Genres, like Structuralism, Constructivism, Color field painting, and Geometrical Abstraction have been on its forefront. Therefore, Formalism is considered the most significant factor leading to the transition from traditional Representational Art to the Modern Art.

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Source by Annette Labedzki

The Appreciation of Fine Art

The term “art appreciation” is one that is heard quite often, and most colleges and universities offer a course or a series of courses under that name.  But how does one “appreciate” art?  For that matter, how does one appreciate opera or classical music?  Most people would be able to recognize the inherent beauty of these art forms even if they lacked an in-depth knowledge of them.  But with greater understanding of these subjects, the more your enjoyment of these art forms can increase, and fine art is no different.

To explain how one can enjoy a greater familiarity with art, I’m going to take a different approach than I usually do: I shall teach by example, using a painting that is well known to everyone, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” or “La Gioconda,” as the painting is known to the Italians.  I have had the rare fortune of seeing Leonardo’s famous painting in the Louvre Museum in Paris; it is arguably the most renowned work of art in the world.

When introduced to the Mona Lisa at the age of eighteen, I have to admit that I was not as impressed by it as I should have been; after having viewed the Baroque spectacle of the Rubens Room, with its huge tumultuous canvases, Leonardo’s small, quiet panel was something of a disappointment to me.  Perhaps I can be excused for this, given my youth and the fact that this painting has suffered from considerable overexposure in modern times.  Fortunately my opinion of Leonardo’s painting improved over the years as I learned more about art in general and Leonardo’s work in particular.  And this is a fine example of how deepening my understanding of art allowed me to revise my attitude about this remarkable painting.

The Mona Lisa is a small easel painting, approximately 18 inches by 24 inches, done in oil paint on a wooden panel.  Commissioned by the sitter’s husband, a Florentine merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, the artist worked on the portrait from 1503 to 1506, taking it with him from Italy when he traveled to France to join the court of King Francis I.  Like most of Leonardo’s work, it remains unfinished.

When I look at reproductions of the Mona Lisa today, the first thing that I notice is the soft and gentle rendering of the forms, created by Leonardo’s “sfumato,” an Italian term that refers to the gentle transition between light and dark.  This effect was made possible by the use of oil paint, still relatively new at the time, rather than the more traditional tempera.  This, along with the muted color scheme and the strange landscape in the background, gives the composition an air of mystery and subtle drama. 

The figure of the woman is characterized by obvious grace and beauty, and the gentle melancholy of her eyes is reinforced by the famous “smile that doesn’t smile.”  One side of her mouth is higher than the other, giving an ambiguous expression.  This is also found in the face of St. Anne in Leonardo’s “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne,” also in the Louvre. In fact, St. Anne bears a noticeable resemblance to Mona Lisa, suggesting that the artist was painting an archetypal female, rather than a portrait of a specific individual.  This may have been why the portrait was rejected by the lady’s husband.

The landscape in the background seems less realistic than one would expect from Leonardo, considering that his scientific study of the natural world combined with his artistic sensibility made him a master of landscape.  This is instead a dream world, with winding roads overshadowed by dark cliffs and a sense of foreboding, a world both graceful and turbulent.  Along with its atmosphere of mystery, it is also a land that is devoid of human beings; we see evidence of Man’s activity, such as the roads and the aqueduct, but not Man himself.  A welcoming world this is not; contemporary accounts describe Leonardo as reserved and secretive, and undoubtedly the cold world that Mona Lisa inhabits reflects the wariness that the artist felt towards his own society.  And as every work that an artist undertakes is a portrait of his own psyche, the contrast between the serenity and elegance of the woman with the ominous background may reflect the duality of Leonardo’s soul; the reserved and dignified exterior, concealing the turmoil within.

The Mona Lisa represents Leonardo’s mature style, and was imitated by many of his pupils and later artists; none of these efforts could equal that of the master himself.  Perhaps only Raphael, with his unsurpassed ability to absorb the influence of other artists, realized the grace and refinement of Leonardo’s style without resorting to mere imitation.  For five hundred years the Mona Lisa has been seen as a consummate example of the power of the painter’s craft; its ability to engage and enthrall generations of admirers is unequaled, and the mystique that surrounds this painting is matched only by the brilliance of the man who conceived it.

As you can see, the previous six paragraphs constitute a critical appraisal of the Mona Lisa, and it will be evident that my perceptions of this painting are highly personal.  Each individual will be affected differently by this marvelous painting, and this is the way it should be.  Every work of art is a personal experience; a way for the viewer to find his own answers to the questions that the artist poses.  The viewer is not a passive participant; the viewer is as much a part of the artist’s work as any element on the canvas itself.  To this end, the artist should never make his message too explicit: it is left to the viewer to complete the painting.

One can also make a more technical assessment of an artwork, taking into consideration such things as design, composition, technique, color and medium, and how the artist used these to convey his idea to the viewer.  To evaluate a work of art in this manner requires a familiarity with those subjects, and I have written about some of these topics in previous articles.  It is also helpful to know something about the life and personality of the artist, as well as the time period and the society in which he lived.  These factors have a major impact on the artist’s style, subject matter and technique; understanding these considerations gives us a sense of how the artist viewed the world around him, and perhaps how he viewed himself.

No single work of art exists in isolation: it must always be viewed along with the rest of the artist’s body of work, and within the broader history of art itself.  An acquaintance with other examples of the artist’s work allows us to see how his ideas and style evolved over time; also by gaining an insight into one work by the artist we may better understand another. We also need to see how the artist’s work fits into the larger context of art: how he was influenced by his contemporaries; how his work was influenced by earlier artists; and how subsequent artists were themselves influenced by his art.

The impact that the artist’s work makes on the viewer validates the efforts of the artist; a painting that has no effect on anyone is a failure.  As a teenager, standing before Leonardo’s small painting, I could appreciate its obvious greatness.  Nonetheless, my ignorance allowed me to miss a great deal of what it had to offer.  As I expanded my knowledge and familiarity with art, I was able to correct that unfortunate situation and to see the Mona Lisa for the treasure that it is.  I hope that my experience with this legendary painting will help you to undergo that same transformation, not only in regard to the Mona Lisa, but with the whole of the world’s legacy of fine art.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Charles Griffith

Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism

Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism

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A superbly illustrated overview of the major movements in the visual arts from Impressionism to Post-Modernism.

Modern Art is an authoritative introduction to every important development in the visual arts from the late nineteenth century to the 1980s. Eight critical essays by noted art historians shed light on topics from Impressionism to Dada, Art Nouveau to Pop Art. The essays are ordered chronologically, and each thoroughly examines the historical context―political, social, and technological―that shaped the movement under discussion.

The text is accompanied by more than 400 color illustrations of the work of some of the most celebrated figures in art history, comprising an invigorating multiplicity of visual styles. Anyone seeking a gallery of the masterpieces of twentieth-century art, together with an informed survey of the period, will find no better single volume. 400+ color illustrations

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

What is Contemporary Tattooing?

In modern times, the art of tattooing has become largely youth-driven, dominated by young tattooists with training in fine art and culture. Their clients are similarly young and often adorned with bold loud designs on their arms, hands, legs, and bodies as well as multiple piercing.

Contemporary tattooing first came about during the hippy 1970s when anti-establishment youths began to wear tattoos as a symbol of resistance to law-abiding, middle-class values. Coincidentally, at the same time new tattoo artists appeared equipped with different types of training.

Before, it was typical for new tattooists to apprentice with an experienced tattooist, learning the ropes the slow way. But with this slew of counter-cultural sentiments, many new and young tattooists simply ordered a machine and some basic supplies and got started on their own.

With their presence, new tattoo images began to emerge which appealed very much to this younger, rowdier audience. These tattoo designs were mostly inspired by “exotic” cultures such as Japan, Borneo, Samoa and North America rather than stemming from traditional sources like North American and European designs.

The rise of contemporary tattooing is turning unstoppable. Long unpopular and stigmatized in the West, tattooing has been given a new positive spin that is more associated with well-respected cultural traditions.

Slowly and steadily, modern tattooists and promoters of tattooing successfully reintegrated tattooing into modern Western society. Tattoos shifted from a mark of stigma used by bikers, criminals, gangsters, and the military to a mark of individual expression. A new elevated status was thus born.

Over time, contemporary tattooing brought about two lasting and significant changes in the world of tattooing. First, the general tattoo designs changed radically by moving from traditional badge-like designs that have been common for hundreds of years in the West to non-Western designs which target large swathes of skin.

Second, contemporary tattooists started to give preference to customized tattoo designs which were created by them rather than use tattoo flash or something taken off the wall of a tattoo studio. Tattoo customers are strongly encouraged to design their own tattoos with the assistance of these new-fangled tattooists.

Ironically, the transformation of our views on tattooing is possible because a tattoo’s historic position as a stigmatized sign was never really fixed, and eventually the negative status of a tattoo eroded over time, giving rise to contemporary tattooing.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Kumcheong Tang

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