5 ways to decorate with canvas art

In an instant, the art on your walls can dramatically change the look and feel of your space. The beauty of canvas art is the fact it’s, generally, lightweight making it a breeze to move around to suit your moods and decor changes. Depending on the look and feel you desire, there’s an absolute bucket-load of images to choose leaving no excuse for a dull room.

These days there are a range of ways to get the canvas printed, get it stretched by your friendly picture framer and have it on the walls or on an easel in practically no time.


Image source: wikimedia

The Humble Theatre Poster

Toulouse-Lautrec was one of the first Visual Artists to make posters into an art piece, way back in the late 1800s, designing advertising for the Parisian nightclub, the Moulin Rouge (Red Mill). Since then, we’ve fallen in love with theatre posters. To achieve the look of French salon style, hang prints by the master, himself, or vintage pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Gild frames in gold and silver and fill with black and white images of Paris or Provence. Buy some replica parlour chairs and an easel from a variety store and voila! You’ll could be instantly transported into 19th century Paris!


Image source: Pacific Northwest Travel

The Bold & the Beautiful

So you love a little drama. Then don’t muck around. Go big, bold and brassy! Show us your sass. Think black and gold or bright red. There’s no room for the shy and retiring here. Hollywood calls. You have choice in this category – Egyptian art would be at home here, just as much a huge black-and-white close -up of Marilyn sporting big red lips. Glamorous cushions of black and gold will add punch. Keep a spot reserved for an unusual sculpture or a large metallic pot.


Image source: Wall Art Prints

Snap, Crackle, Pop

With the recent explosion of photographs printed on canvas, the way we style our homes has changed for good. Clean- lined canvases of memories wake up our walls. We can take it even further and transform whole walls with forests, beaches or cityscapes to make our rooms pop or create a more contemporary feel with close focus almost abstract images where the scale of the works give the image a fresh appeal.

Romancing the Home

Not all of us can live with big bold images. Some of us go weak at the knees for lace, frills and lolly pink. The solution may be to add softness to a home with scent-filled vases of flowers in every corner and follow the theme onto the walls with Impressionistic pictures of gardens, or hang portraits like Audrey Hepburn, or retro posters.


Image source: Vanity Fair

Old School

Perhaps you are none of the above and prefer a good old-fashioned traditional or country homestead style. What can look sensational is a series of canvases in a row, depicting country life: herbs, specimens, horses, fox and hounds, and landscapes mixed with memories, vintage sheet music, and old musty books. Add soft neutral furnishings with the odd checked tablecloth or cushions, lots of traditional plants like lavender and roses and you have the perfect down-to-earth solution.

Multi pics

Image source: Wall Art Prints

Authors Bio:

Betti Hunter writes about Art and Interior Design. She is passionate about creating inspiring living spaces where people feel free to live healthy lives. As a hobby, Betti sources vintage clothing, reviving the 1950’s style.

Key Framing Points

Image courtesy of stock images from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stock images from freedigitalphotos.net

There are many things to take into account when framing artworks, the following points should give you some solid ideas about what to consider in the process if you want the item to hang on the wall for a reasonable length of time.

Always frame and mount the picture to make it look fabulous – People often get the picture mounted and framed to match their decor, however only do this if the picture looks fabulous as well. Generally a plain finish is good as it supports the image by not standing out, letting the image be the centre of attention.

Always use a card mat board never paper – Make sure the mat board is acid free. After all you want  your picture to last a long time, so do it right, do it once, why a board instead of paper, the board serves the purpose of keeping the image away from the glass, if you use paper even a slight warp in the image could cause it to touch the glass, the challenge with that is the image can adhere to glass over time.

The proportions should make the picture look good – Often a narrow border will make the image look strange rather than support it in a visually suitable way. Err on the side of generous rather than narrow. Then select a colour or texture for the mat that suits the image. The same goes for the frame.

Use the right tape – In the mounting process the use of archival tape is important, if you use masking tape to hold an image in place the chances are it will lose its adhesive qualities fast, ending up in the picture falling free from the mount. The aim is to have the image hang from the mount by tape hinges, this minimises any effect the tape may have on the material the image is on. Tape is also used to seal up the back of the frame, your framer should also use an acid free one for this purpose.

Limited edition prints – Avoid asking your framer to cut the print size down to fit a frame or to reduce the mat size because of cost, this can detract from the prints value. Often Limited edition prints will have been done on a cotton rag paper and may have a deckled edge, a printers impression (called a chop), these are all things which should be preserved to maintain the value of the piece.

Under glass – Many artworks are framed under glass, this provides protection, physically and chemically as well as some degree of UV stabilisation. Often the only thing not framed under glass is a canvas painting. If you think you can do it cheaply by not using glass think again.

How important is acid free framing? – The work you are getting framed holds some value for you, perhaps the look, $$ value, or it’s been done by an Artist you admire. Either way you want it to last, acid free framing means you want the piece to last. Acid in the framing materials (like those used to manufacture paper and std card) can effect the piece, causing it to discolour and become brittle.

That’s my list for now.


Steve Gray

Dear Art Student

You are probably about to start your studies for this year and are wondering what will be in store for you.

Perhaps you are just starting out in secondary school at maybe Yr11, your folks said yes to you doing Visual Art because you have taken on a bunch of highly academic subjects and this will be a welcome break from all that.

Perhaps you have done Yr 11 and you liked Visual Art for some reason and want to do more, something seems to be compelling you to carry on. Your folks are still happy(ish) for  you to have this as a break from other studies… Your Father wants you to go into accounting or some such, your Mother just wants you to be happy no matter what (sweet aren’t they).

The Art Teacher says at the parent teacher interview you should do Art because you are good at it… maybe it’s the first time you have heard that and it feels nice.

Perhaps you have completed Yr 12 and are looking at what courses to do. Your Mum’s words of ‘being happy’ seems to suit you more than some career choice your Father has in mind. Besides, the Art Teacher said you were good at it and the word career seems so, well, final, and long term.

“I want to do art Mum” (words which will may haunt you forever) – Your mum goes into bat for you, your Father tells you he loves you and with gritted teeth he says “whatever makes you happy” followed with “I just hope it’s the right decision” (the guilt starts early but now you start to notice it’s cruel bite).

Now with excitement and a dose of trepidation you stumble forward, the course is signed up, you spend the summer break telling your friends, you get a little arty in the way you dress and wear you hair, it’s all part of it right? Mind you any thought of drawing, taking photos or any visit to an Art Gallery seems like some form of imposition.

Then things get underway, you don’t realise it yet but the teachers talking at you may have had exhibitions (possibly quite a number of them), they have probably struggled to make any decent cash from the sale of their work, and they may suggest that “It’s art for art sake” and their argument then seems to get clouded in various forms of justification for the arts some of which may proclaim it as a lifestyle.

It’s all heroic, you, them, their stance on Art, learning about cultural things your circle of family and friends may never seem to grasp (philistines!)

Paint on canvas, clay in kilns, metal beaten into submission, computer graphics that defy logic and a bunch of theory work you just want to sleep through (the arty parties can do that to you)

Before you know it the study is finished, the folio is bulging (or not) and there you are standing all alone, as if on the edge of a massive cliff. The wind howling about you ready to push you off at the slightest misstep. Then words from the seemingly not too distant past echo in your mind ‘I just hope it’s the right decision’ and ‘Just be happy’.

There you stand pondering what next. Will I make it as an Artist, will I get that magical ‘creative position’, or will I be resigned to a life of working in an Arty Shop, or some other form of job you so willingly describe as slavery, which you could have done all those years before with or without a ‘qualification’.

Life unfolds before you, time fleetingly drags you into the unknown with a clear disdain for any dream you may have. In a stupor of positive energy you grab a list of Galleries to go visit. You tuck your wares under your arm and fall headlong into the misery of trying to get galleries to take you on board.

It’s then that you realise you know so much, yet so little about the whole “Visual Art thing” and that your qualification only stands as a reminder of a small part of your ongoing education and connectedness to art. It’s then you realise the hard bitter battle you have started and may not win (ever). It’s then that you realise your heart is an object to be trampled on and kicked aside by others who take a deep breath and say “Oh, here we go again, another ex art student… sigh.”

You also realise this journey is more than a qualification, more than a piece of paper with your name and a stamp of approval. No, you are just beginning to realise the world owes you no favours but gives you endless opportunities to explore, make statements, hold a flame of truth aloft and forge forward with hope and a rickety confidence stemming from who knows where.

Your journey has begun, travel well young person. Learn much and learn often, give everything your best and hold your head high. This thing we call Art is a beast to be reckoned with, which can test every fibre of your being and in exchange it MAY give you great gifts, but don’t hold your breath, if fact you might do well to give up now, walk away from the alluring beast, stand aside and let it pass by. Pay it no disrespect as it does pass, and you will live a life less tortured free from the shackles of it’s malevolence.

However if you do let it pass by will you ever know the ecstasy which can come from the angst ridden beast? Will  you ever know if you are the next Picasso or Rembrandt? Will you ever know if this thing which started out with your Art Teacher telling your parents ‘you are good at Art’ can give you an enhanced spirit, a sense of belonging, an edge in making sense of this crazy crazy world.

Go forth in this bizarre world and make your mark, but do so guided by more than just a throw away subjective line about your skills, or your retaliation against your Fathers advice and guilt throwing. Go forth in the world with wonderment and joy, explore deeply and rigorously and let all that it presents fill you with ecstasy. Then and only then, will you be able to hold true to your ideals of Visual Art, creative life and all it has to offer.

What is art?

This art stuff… What is it anyway?

Don’t you love it when people ask, and you decide to show them, you take them to a gallery and end up with a sore head. Or if you are a student and you think you have it all figured out, think again. Visual Art is many things to many people and I figured I would weigh in with some starting points to consider, so next time someone quizzes you about what art is… throw this at them!

Visual Art may be…

Art seems to be more about a person making objects as part of an ongoing process than it is about creating things of beauty, it will certainly challenge us and as a part of our cultural fabric it becomes a device which can lead us into fresh territory to explore the real and abstract in ways we may feel unsure about.

Don’t expect Art to soothe your soul, it may in fact disrupt your soul, interrupt your rational thinking and aggravate you to no end.

Perhaps “Art” is therefore more about moving or adjusting people intellectually and or emotionally more than it is about notions of Aesthetic sensibility…

Lets combine what art is with some of the benefits or features it may provide.

Visual Art –

Combine this information with this article, and you might just develop a solid starting point to appreciating what this ‘art thing’ explores.

There, now  you know what art is! 🙂

Consider taking this list with you to an art gallery and inviting the good staff there to indicate which of these descriptors best fit to the works on display… you might cause a stir, now wouldn’t that be fun! 🙂 Perhaps you could become a conceptual artist in the process, who would know?

Visual Art and Community Connectedness

Visual Art plays an interesting role in the community and if you ask practically any Artist they will probably agree, yet to the wider community you may have a challenge on your hands trying to convince them of that. The challenge is multi-fold, getting enough people involved and engaged in exploring it (viewers) and enough Artists to create and exhibit to the wider community, then follow that with selling the benefits to the sponsors and supporters of these sorts of initiatives.

Community based art initiatives show up in some interesting places. Pop up galleries, public murals (and graffiti), online galleries, through to organizations engaging the wider community by supporting Art activities in the community where there are a hundred and one ways  the community can get connected to Contemporary Visual Art.

Be it a school offering to connect Visual Artists with their students (Artist in Residence programs) or in a shorter term burst (an exhibition in the school by Contemporary Visual Artists from the wider community). Or community festivals where Contemporary Visual Artists have the opportunity to connect with the community

Perhaps it’s a series of community therapy sessions for communities which have been through massive group trauma (bush-fires or floods). Or even a simple exhibition as part of a fete or another community event.

Whatever the community connection, the aim is to cause some level of communication to take place, perhaps to instil a notion of community pride, an acknowledgement of the role Contemporary Visual Arts can play or a cultural connection at a personal or group level.

All of this is fine as a concept, but the task then becomes to figure out ways to make that communication effective and find ways to connect in ways which will be of value to both parties, the Artists and the wider community.

How then do Contemporary Visual Artists communicate their visions, their concepts and ideas to an audience which may be indifferent to having objects presented to them which can confront or at the least tackle their own ideas of what’s suitable to look at and make sense of.

I often think there are people to blame (perhaps Art Teachers) for not providing students with suitable knowledge to go forth in the community and appreciate what they see (if even to a small degree.) However I could say the same of high level Science and Maths as just a minor starting point examples.

Should we therefore stop connecting to the wider community even though we have excuses to do so? Should we stop creating Contemporary Visual Art for the community because ‘they might not understand’?

Perhaps the answer lies in seeing youngsters in an Art Gallery being given a cultural ‘shot in the arm’ by well meaning parents. The child’s wonderment and eager viewing through innocent eyes should be the catalyst by which we start measuring the value of things, and having the opportunity to explore that which is visually intriguing and getting fresh views on the world as we know it.

Perhaps the answer lies in Art being for Art sake and the Artists playing Hermit and hiding away, buried in a maze of self consciousness and avoiding connecting in any way.

Whatever the answer I hope the notion of connectedness to the wider community becomes a topic of exploration, so you can test constantly explore the value of Contemporary Visual Art and push it’s meaning/s (or not) due to the community being given wider exposure than might normally be the case.

Visual Art holds a place (although sometimes tenuous) in the psyche of a culturally aware community. I believe we should look to any opportunity to see it, meet with it, tackle whatever it might be it is aiming to communicate (or not) and take in its cultural significance so we as individuals and as a nation can sense some level of connection to Contemporary Visual Arts and what it has to offer.

Community Connections – Cultural Diversions

Visual Arts is a cultural endeavour people either seem to either love or loathe and that can be an interesting conundrum when it comes to community wide cultural development.

Visual Art can be a therapeutic device to assist in a healing process, as a way of communicating and exploring personal and wider cultural concepts. Therefore it can play a strategic role in connecting individuals, organisations and groups to the cultural fabric of the community.

There are possibly a few challenges to overcome for it to stand out as a ‘device’ the community can readily take on.

On so many levels the community can benefit from Visual Art as it can allow connections and exploration to take place. But the challenge seems to be making the wider community aware of its value.

To appreciate the wider benefits of Visual Art this link can give us a range of starting points to take into account.

How do we cause people to appreciate and value Contemporary Visual Art and investigate it as a viable device to connect and explore with?

These are starting points to getting the ball rolling, but surely there are many more? Are there any resources you know of you can recommend? Please add them by making a few notes in the comments.

Fascinated with Visual Art?

Have you ever been to a big museum and watched children looking at art?

Some are keen to move on, others giggle at the ‘rude bits’ and some just seem to become totally engrossed. For me it was somewhere in between, I got a splinter in my foot because I took off my new shoes to slide about on the polished floor, thankfully mum had a pair of tweezers buried deep in her hand bag.


Wandering about in the gallery I had two opposing forces to contend with. My Fathers Engineering perspective was one of logic and sensibility, Mum on the other hand was a bit more open to things.

I saw a few rude bits, a ripped canvas (It was meant to be that way) and was in awe of the stained glass ceiling in one space, perhaps more to the point I marvelled at people lying on their backs in public! Then there seemed to be an endless array of old and seemingly dusty Art and Artefacts.

It would be many years before I took a strong liking to Visual Arts and visit that gallery again, but the memory of that wintry Saturday afternoon will last a long time.

There is a great sense of satisfaction watching people discover objects in a painting, being asked to look for more ‘things’ and think about who, how,why,what and where. Especially the young with their innocent minds and fresh approaches.

What drew you to being involved in Visual Arts? Was it a memory of a gallery or museum visit? Was it because someone significant to you was an Artist?

The Responsibility To Help Others Find Art

If you believe Visual Art is important then perhaps there is a way you can assist others to appreciate it too.

Maybe you are new the the Art scene and are still finding your way, or perhaps a seasoned Museum and gallery visitor. Whatever the situation there is still something in all Visual Art zealots which causes them to appreciate the benefits of exploring Visual Arts. If you can somehow pass this on to others by exposing them to the rich cultural resources available in many books and galleries, then you may well have given someone a seed of love for all things creative and or cultural.

I’m not too sure if showing art to others is a highly responsible thing or simply something to strongly consider. Either way, sharing the bounty you find, can open minds and allow others to find out for themselves if Art is a thing they might want to know more about.

About Creativity…


noun /kre-ativitite/

  1. The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work
  2. The ability to create
  3. The capacity to produce something which is both unique and useful
  4. The production of previously non-existent information. All new items of information are based on preceding ones, and they are “new” because they restructure the preceding items and/or insert foreign informational elements (“noises”) into them.
  5. The ability to think imaginatively and originally
  6. Is the ability to produce something new, to generate unique approaches and solutions to issues or problems or opportunities.
  7. The experience of thinking, reacting, and working in an imaginative and idiosyncratic way which is characterized by a high degree of innovation and originality, divergent thinking, and risk taking.
  8. Using imagination and expressing oneself in art forms.


noun /ine-va-SHen/

  1. Innovation is a new way of doing something or “new things which are made useful”. It may refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. …
  2. A new method, idea, product, etc



Can be many things, to many people…

A notion.

A solution.

A beginning.

A pathway.

An opportunity…

Creativity can…

Allow us to explore.

Start innovation.

Engage our senses.

Give meaning.

Provide clarity…

Creative approaches

Explore options.

Push boundaries.

Tackle problems.

Mess with our minds.

Spark our imagination…

Creativity, it’s all in the mind…

It’s all about how we process and handle information which comes in to our heads via our senses.

Sometimes it’s just having a different view or interpretation on things.

Creative approaches can seem silly or stupid to some, while others savor the viewpoint and will be led further.

Need a boost? use the Creativity Accelerator! – if that doesn’t work then there is a problem….

But how do we explore it?

Is it something we are born with?

Is it something we can readily teach/learn?

Is it easy to explore?

Are there many resources?

Where do I start?

Exploring Creativity

Perhaps start by teaching that it’s okay to make mistakes…

It’s okay to explore outside boundaries…

It’s okay to be silly and stupid, in the right context…

It might provide ideas which lead nowhere… but then again what if it leads you to an exciting new discovery?

Deeply observe things and then explore interpreting them in words, images, sounds, thoughts and even tastes.

BE OPEN! (to ideas and options)

BE FOCUSSED on the task (observe – meditate – single minded activity of any kind)


Do an online search to find creativity boosting activities.

Compile a list of activities which are short sharp, easy to implement and explore.

Encourage others to do the same and compare notes.

Find things which work and then find ways to push their boundaries.

“Creativity is often a dialogue between concept and material.

The process of artistic creation in particular is not just a question of thinking of an idea
and then finding a way to express it.

Often it’s only in developing the dance, image or music that the idea emerges at all.”

Ken Anderson…

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking – Not thinking in a straight or linear fashion, having divergent thoughts not associated with the original idea, notion or course of action.

Outside the box thinking – hoping to solve a ‘challenge’ by taking a different route. Example free brainstorming, where whatever comes to mind as the idea is explored is jotted down to later see if there is an association to the main subject which this “lateral” approach may uncover.

Excuse me your
creative streak is showing…

Do we ask students where their ‘creative streak’ comes from, what it’s about or anything to do with creativity?

How do we cause people to think about creativity in ways to make them want to explore it and do their own research?

How do you foster creativity?

(explore possibilities)

(determined – compelled – fixated – enraptured)

Students do fashion – blog

A couple of secondary students have jumped in to the spotlight with an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about their fashion blog. take a look. Well done guys!

Dear Teacher…

I sense there is an unease, a challenge, a difficulty but I am not overly sure if it’s just me or others are noticing it too.

It was always an issue when I taught and as a student… Art Theory.


Any time the Art Teacher came up with information which had to be written in Art Class the students TURNED OFF. then magically switched on again when the prac work was back in action.

So how then do educators give both the prac side and the “theory/history” side a workout in a way which suits the audience (I’m thinking secondary students mainly but leading on from there too).

Lets take a look at what happens.

Is there a better way, are Teachers doing more than JUST handing out info for students to struggle with the writing side of things? Are we causing students to be deeply engaged in learning, in Visual Art… or are we merely ‘going through the motions’ rather than searching for excellence.

Lately I have come across ‘game mechanics’ this is the science (and art) of engaging players in computer games and the various ways the developers use to get people in, to get them “addicted” to the game. (I was addicted to Pac Man as a late teen). Ibeleive it offers GREAT insights into ways we can develop things to be more engaging, to be more in depth, to provide information which students will find far more engaging in the long run.

I’m interested in what can be done to ensure students time in Art class is useful, informative, ‘fun’, engaging and generally of value. I would love to see things which were perhaps more short sharp shocks of info they can get their teeth into and move on from there.

Perhaps instead of a big sheet of ho hum text there could be small Art Cards, picture on one side, info on the other which they have to write about. What about short sharp tid-bits of info on Artists interesting factoids which get students thinking and wanting to explore further.

If you are thinking about handing out a sheet which will take a lesson or two to complete, then I HOPE you will think twice and explore a fresh approach.

Do you have ideas? Have you seen better approaches… Share in the comments below!

Steam Punk Insects

Arthrobots is a site showing the work of Tom Hardwidge, amazing creativity and very detailed skills. Is it art or artefact… You tell me.

Thanks to Jo Morgan for sharing this with me,
do you have any Visual Art sites our readers should know about?

Artist interviews a few new ones…

Here are some artist interviews you might want to check out.





Exhibition – Brain art exhibition and unconference

From Silvia Damiano…

Dear Readers,

I want to share with you a venture I am undertaking with my daughter Relmi (photographer and graphic designer), who is 21 years of age.

We are putting together the “First Annual Brain Art Exhibition & Unconference” at Global Gallery in Paddington march 2011. There will be a Brain Art Competition for 15 – 19 and 20 – 30 year olds. Take a look at the website and see what you think.


I am currently searching for more ways to connect with lots of people who want to get involved in a project like this so feel free to let people have the link.

Regards Silvia

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Exploring Culture in Visual Art

Culture, generally refers to “Patterns of human activity and the devices, which give such activities significance and importance.”

With this definition in mind, Visual Artists might find themselves saying, “So when am I not exploring culture…” Great point, and while you are pondering that let me get on with some other bits… Thanks…

Patterns of human activity, things we might do repeatedly, things, which have significance or importance, which are repeated.

Therefore there are a lot of things, which could fall into these category’s, the Artist using these to communicate and or explore “stuff” about them could find some interesting starting points, here are a few, I am sure there is more.

Take any of these and consider ways to utilise them as a starting theme, then figure a few ways to make art with the “cultural” starting point. VCE Studio Arts can have a component which tackles this very subject.


© Steve Gray 2010+

How about this as an example, War – There are many ways to depict war in art, but what if I was to collect copies of war time newspaper articles and create a collage of the cut up articles… I could cut out shapes of guns and overlay them, I could make patterns out of the collage of guns, the result is a starting point on the theme of war. Of note here is the way I can explore the idea and fit it to the cultural theme, therefore I can explore the theme in a range of ways which may lead me to examining the topic at a deeper level and hopefully communicate that to others visually.

© Jesse Nivens 2010+

So there’s a start, you could take almost ANYTHING you are interested in and explore it this way. Perhaps a collage might lead you to thinking about a drawing or painting, or ideas for photographs themed from the collage.

By following a train of thought, then exploring it further, you could be creating your own level of significance and importnace about something, so you would be creating your own culture! I figure that’s why art is a called a cultural activity. Hmm if I use that sort of thinking sport could be art… or at least the catalyst to the way we might explore the culture of sport.

Activities to take the concept further;

Exploring the definition of “Culture”.

  1. Find at least five definitions of the term culture (Dictionary and or Internet search) and from those distill a series of points to assist in strengthening your understanding of the term “culture” (make sure you do all this in your visual diaries to reference it later on.)
  2. As you explored the definitions of culture, did anything relate to a topic or subject of interest to you? Do a quick brainstorm and see what happens, based around your interests, asking the question, “What things am I interested in which can clearly relate to “culture”? (Make your brainstorm, at least 21 points long).
  3. From your brainstorming, pick out a few points which are of strong interest to you… Now jot a few points in your visual diary on ways you might be able to use these points.
  4. Create a word based mind map of whats been happening since you started this process.
  5. Make a purely visual mind map to go with the text based one, perhaps search the net for images you can copy and paste, print out and then paste into your visual diary.
  6. Make some notes and or drawings on any key themes you have come across which might be showing up… Are there any strong enough for you to explore as an art work?

Further concepts…

  1. Look at the project 1000 journals this will give you a range of ideas on how others have created journals and make a mini journal on your efforts so far for exploring “culture”…
  2. Create a large drawing using one of the pages from your mini journal as inspiration. (tape together a bunch of pieces of paper to make the image BIG.)
  3. Write about the process thus far in your visual diary and the things you have discovered, what has stood out to you?
  4. Select two of the interviews on Contemporary Visual Artists at our sister site. Take notes about their work and their way of working and how they explore the concept of “culture?”…
  5. Create a few quick drawings or actual pieces in any medium to abstractly explore some more random notions about the term culture.
  6. The culture of various societies is often developed from their history, can you find any links to what you have done in this exploration of the topic and the history of your social background (Country of origin, social position etc.?)

Copyright © Steve Gray 2011+

Stencil art centipede…

Every now and then something comes along to amaze, intrigue etc…

Regionalis exhibition starts soon…

The exhibition starts on Aug 19 2010, will you be checking it out too?


Your own art book…

I have been looking into this sort of book publishing site for a while and I saw one that seems quite good, impress your friends, psyche out the gallery guys! you download some software, create your book, upload it and sell it online…

Here’s one I prepared earlier called Urbane. Check it out and see what others are up to while you are there. 


The thought of having my own glossy “coffee table book” was to good to refuse, oh and if you want just one, then so be it! the possibilities are endless!

What is art?

While out jogging one afternoon it came to me, an epiphany; ” There is a simple, comprehensive definition of “art”, it’s an acronym for itself”.

The Aesthetic Rendering of Thought.

In order for Art to exist, the following three (3) criteria must be met. First of all, there must be some sensory manifestation (Rendering), fugitive or permanent, which is based upon a creative, intellectual process (Thought) with the intention of a beautiful or pleasurable (Aesthetic or Anti-aesthetic) action, or reaction, in one or more of the senses and/or psyche.

Encircled within this definition are more than the traditional concepts of “art”: painting, sculpture, ceramics, writing, architecture, drama, music, dance, and photography. It’s now easier to understand why cooking can be included as an “art” and more than just a craft.

Robert E. Bear is a professional educator and national award winning wildlife artist. He has been recognized in Who’s Who In America, Who’s Who In American Education, and National Honor Soceity Outstanding American Teachers. He has created the Star Poster Progra, the game of Gig’l(TM), and the team sport of Bearball(TM). His additional writings on art and eduation, as well as, paintings may be seen at http://www.ursidaeenterprises.com

Matrix concept

Coming to terms with the wide array of works and styles in the art world is a challenge at times, this “matrix” MAY provide some useful starting points for us to explore with. Where do you “fit” as an Artist? Using the comments facility at the end of the post, feel free to add information I can use to improve this.

Note it is intended to provide a guide to appreciating various “categories” of art in the market place rather than a device to indicate if a style “better than another”. Perhaps it’s “best” use may be for a beginning investor or collector wanting to appreciate what they are looking at and if it may have a possibility of increasing in value due to critical and or peer review.


This “matrix” has been through several versions starting at No: 7 (the previous 6 were for my eyes only and took a while to gain a format which I felt worked for a wider public audience.) this one is currently version 9.1.


Analytical Frameworks

I have just been introduced to the Visual Art Analytical Frameworks which is a device utilised to analyse artworks for students studying Visual Art at VCE (Australia) levels. This framework device looks at four areas to analyse works buy and it can offer readers of the matrix another way of exploring artworks, I would like to think the two could be utilised together to enable a faster understanding and greater depth of analysis could happen.

1. The Formal Framework – Visual analysis – Technique – Style – Symbolism and metaphor.

2. The Personal Framework – Reflects the artists life – Links to other aspects which may relate to the artists life.

3. The Cultural Framework – The influences of time and place – Connections to contexts and cultural purposes.

4. The Contemporary Framework – Exploring contemporary issues.

If you were to follow these frameworks for analysing artworks I guess it would be possible to negate various aspects of hobby and simple decorative work and find yourself wanting more from an art piece when you realise there is more to be had than just the formal framework. A viewer could do well to use these four points in discussing works with artists and soon be able to asses the merit or otherwise of the artist and their works.

I would love to hear from students, artists and general readers about the four points listed, the matrix and or the whole lot! (check out the comments section at the bottom of the page, its a simple link.)

Copyright © Steve Gray 2011+

Creativity Starts Here, Or Not…

I came across this website years ago and was blown away with the simplicity of what Michael Hewitt Gleeson chats about. His 10 part email training is simple and as effective as you might want it to be. Simply put it’s about thinking, but not in a heavy science kind of way, this is practical material you can use daily, regularly, easily.

I urge  you to take a look and see if it can assist your creativity to be all it can be.


Oh and it’s free!

Note when you have a look you will notice it’s not an art site, nor does it mention art in any way, but the principles for developing creative approaches are in here, so go take a look, sign up, get the emails and let us know what you think.

Creativity is… And?

Here is a little snippet of an article on creativity from Linda Naiman at Creativity At Work feel free to explore her website and find more information on creativity.

I define creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. Innovation is the production or implementation of an idea. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.

“Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being…creativity requires passion and commitment. Out of the creative act is born symbols and myths. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness–ecstasy.”
— Rollo May, The Courage to Create

“A product is creative when it is (a) novel and (b) appropriate. A novel product is original not predictable. The bigger the concept, and the more the product stimulates further work and ideas, the more the product is creative.”
— Sternberg & Lubart, Defying the Crowd

That’s a basic foundation to work from, now the question could be, how do we develop it? Or perhaps the question should be why should we develop it?

Why indeed, the artist or the student of Visual Arts is a person interested in creating things anew and exploring options around subjects and concepts, so the notion of creativity and fostering it should be of high value, especially if you get writers block or you see a blank canvas staring back at you in times of creative drought.

So understanding creativity is one thing, developing it is another, and as such I will leave the development of it for another time. Essentially creativity, it’s develoment and understanding is vital to the artist and finding ways to over come challenges in the development of concepts and subjects is an importnat set of skills to learn.

Visual Art Diary – Art Journal

Many Students have these, and most have them because they are told they have to as part of their studies, perhaps VCE Studio Arts. Ok get over it, you should use one because you want to, not as a have to. Many Artists use them as a way to create lasting record of things they want to record, often from their daily encounters with life.

So what’s the value, the benefit, the reason… Well most people who have one, will have seen the benefit and should be able to tell you, it’s for exploring, writing, gathering, recording, giving you points to reflect on and not just as a sketch book, it’s more than a diary to write in; note the title “Visual Diary” or “Art Journal”.

Here’s a quote from the Victorian Curriculum Board…

A visual diary may take any form that supports the student’s individual design process and is reflective of the key knowledge and key skills as detailed in the study design.

The design process can be presented in a variety of ways that suit the student’s needs or the art form being developed. The visual diary may contain a record of work in development in the form of photographs, sketches or screen dumps. It will contain a record of trials and explorations throughout the design process; these should be in the form of annotations and evaluations.

The student’s ideas, as outlined in their exploration proposal, must be reflected in their visual diary.

My suggestion is to see the Journal as a way to keep things together, so when you want to show how a work of art, or your thinking has developed, you have the “evidence” rather than just having some new art tangent you have miraculously plucked from “thin air”.

In simple terms it’s a diary on steroids, not just a collection of past events, but of present thoughts and ideas as well, that you can reflect on and use in the future. A personal resource of information (it can include anything and everything you can think of that fits on to a flat page.)

Do a bit of internet searching and you will probably find lots of outlines for how to create a journal, but the key to creating one is making it work, and that’s simple, get one and use it all the time. Example, I bet you have a mobile phone with you all the time, same with this, you can even have a small one so you can carry it with ease then add your entries to a big one if you want. If the first one gets filled up grab another one and add to that to. One thing I will say, NEVER throw out rip out any part of the diary, keep it in tact, you never know when some info you were going to throw out will be useful.

The Journal can be great to have at an interview for courses of further study, as it can reaveal a great deal about HOW you work and back up the actual work.

If you want to see journalling on steroids (go on take a look…) check out the 1000 journals website and see how others have tackled Journal writing on a massive scale!

And here’s a video to give you more ideas…

Finding out More

When you want to know more about Visual Art there are plenty (these days) of ways to explore, once all you had was art galleries and a library or two. Now you have access to the internet, which means you have a great way to explore techniques, styles, find inspiration, learn about artists, history, theory and much much more.

So to use this all to your advantage start searching and make a great list of sites that are or could be of value to you. Bookmark them, make favourite lists, then break it down into categories so  you can easily find the things you have find in the right place. store these lists, back them up on paper (in case the system dies…) that way you will be able to explore the extensive world of Visual Art with ease.

Start searching and share your findings with  your classmates. Not sure where to start? grab an art history time line and start exploring the various art styles through the ages and note the things that grab your attention. Keep building ideas from that and seeing where things developed from, note key artists and historic events that happened at the same time. Now that you have started you will probably not stop, as there is so much to explore and be fascinated by. Any key things that stand out, drop a comment in…

So You Finished Secondary School Art…

You finished YAY! but hang on a minute now there is tertiary studies, what have  your teachers told you about that? Maybe not much, except for the fact that most tertiary institutions you will need a folio of work to gain entrance. It’s a bit late to panic, and knowing what they want to see in the folio to give you the edge is like guessing the length of a piece of string…

If you have read this article early you might be in luck. You see I would like you to have the best chance you can to get into higher level study (if that’s what you want…) So may I suggest that you add to your portfolio of works well in advance, so you can prune out any works, which are not as good as you would hope and get on with presenting your best work (what does that mean anyway?)

In the VCE+ section of this Blog you will find a range of practical exercises that you could do at home, these could be works to bolster your folio by adding depth to the theme’s you have been working on. For instance if you were into a theme that included people and their emotions and had created some larger works, which had taken you time… what’s stopping you from exploring the theme further with some smaller works, which might look at details or some other tangents of your main work.

I guees the thing is making sure you have works to show the interview panel which will give you the edge, so you can put your best foot forward. Knowing what they want to see is another thing altogether.

Artist Web Sites… 8 Things to consider.

In putting together this Blog site I have looked at probably 50 – 100 sites now, some for art galleries and some for “artists” from the high end contemporary ones to leisure painters and lots in between.

After looking at so many I have come to the crashing reality that my own site is not all it can be (a few more tweaks yet!) however I have found there are MANY sites that are a down right pain in the butt to look at! Simply put they have a few things that annoy the daylights out of me… In this list I highlight a few and give a few pointers you might like to consider yourself.

  1. Splash pages – Don’t waste my time, get me to the site, and give me a good dose of your best when I get there! What’s a splash page? Well it’s like in a  book when you open it up and get the title page, not yet to the text and so you have to flip another page to get started… Usually it says “Click here to enter…”
  2. Flash sites – If your web dude says “We’ll do it in FLASH!” you might think it sounds great but folks unfortunately its not overly useful for search engines to find them (not enough text usually) and they can take a while to load… (anything over a few seconds and I am out of there!) Sure your web dude will show  you some snappy creative bits but hey that’s not always useful for the end user to find and use your site.
  3. Dud’s – You see the small pic, “Click here to enlarge” so you do… “Error image not found” ARRRGH! not good guys, check your site is operational, or if an image has been taken off, take off the link to it. Do this regularly even if you have not added things to it, and don’t think for a minute that your web dude (or dudette) will do it for you.
  4. Failure to make it useful – Do some research on artists websites and see what the “big guys” are doing, Art Galleries for instance are acutely aware (or they should be) of how to market to the end user, and the good sites seem to belong to the good galleries. The same with artists, think big time artists (cutting edge, avant garde, contemporary, edgey, street wise) you can find them via edgey art – culture – type magazines on the web that have a link to the artists site if they have reviewed them. VERY USEFUL, some of the ones overseas are really up there and happening in relation to the latest technology, design and making a decent impact, yet your “web dude” may not know about them. Heck find one or three and show the web guy what sort of look you want and utilise the research others have done.
  5. Blog – This is all about keeping connected to the end user, the buyers, the galleries, the patrons of the arts, students, teachers you name it. Many of the sites I have seen recently have either failed to keep their blog active (if they have one) or have put lame entries about some kids birthday party they went to… That might be fine for Twitter, or a forum, but not so big for your blog. A blog can also show a work in progress, which can be a fabulous way to engage a possible patron.
  6. Fast loading pics – I get there, I want to see it and I want to see it now, not in five minutes time. Have the site checked by people on a range of computers with varying download speeds, from dial up to high speed broadband. Then make sure the images load fast on all of them.
  7. Know your aim – Is the site for selling, your ego, keeping people informed, making comments about the world around you? Know the aim and set your site up to do one of these well (the other things can be a side consequence).
  8. Get subscribers and do the math – My web guy did this early on for my blog, and I can (some how) check to see how many people are following my blog. It lets people know when I have posted a new article or interview on the site. Also have intstalled Google Analytics and know your stats, the best site in the world with only two people looking at it in the last 6 months is not useful, in fact it’s a waste of money. It’s one thing to be able to be seen 24/7/365 but another thing entirely to be found and regularly checked out. If you are not getting visitors, put your marketing hat on and figure out how to inspire people to go to your site. Being active in Vis Art forums and having links to your site from there is one way, look also at social networking sites…

So make it easy on the viewer and easy on yourself. If you are aiming to sell your work, the end user will want to be able to to connect with your site fast, get a look at what’s going on and go from there.

Art Can…

“Soothe the soul • be awe inspiring • relax us • aggravate • communicate • annoy • colour our world • build skills • raise awareness • form ideas • scintillate • shock • inform • make us laugh • show a way forward • tell us about history • imitate nature • give us an outlet • fill a space • cause dissent • create unrest • make us think • create miracles • inform us • teach us • lead us • create passion • build character • be three dimensional • tell stories • build esteem • give us culture • alter our environment • keep us human • infuriate • give us a place to hide • show us how to explore • build our vocabulary • hold us back • light new paths forward • ease our pain • show others our thinking • make the dark light • make the light dark • increase our knowledge • hold us true to ourselves • influence our thinking • manipulate our feelings • teach us about others • show us other views • give us energy • cause us to explore • show us new worlds • cause us to be introspective • make us extroverted • cause interest • build wealth • health • strength • make us sing • cause us to rejoice • mislead us • take us anywhere • drain us • be unconscious • make us incompetent or competent • illustrate • paint • give form • cause us to write • be two dimensional •  massage the mind • brighten the world • make money • build metaphors • break down barriers • build bridges to new experiences • persuade  • liberate • be useful • fascinate…”

Are there more? Of course! Drop a few suggestions into the comments box, take the link below.

Geometry in Art

Throughout the history of Visual Art there has been a series of reference points to the use of geometry in art and quick search on the net will show many examples of Persian tiles and mosaics, Indonesian Batiks with repetitive patterns, Japanese screens with patterns, right through to Op Art and in the digital age in the use of fractal formulas to create designs and images of intrigue and great visual depth.

It can be an interesting area to explore and often the designs have stemmed from nature, with floral patterns, symmetrical flowers, sea shell sections and crystalline structures, there are many ways that geometry manifests itself.

Finding ways to explore geometry is limitless and can often give designers and artists an intriguing source of inspiration and starting points. Look up the work of Bridget Riley, M.C. Esher or Victor Vassarely as a start…

What is Contemporary Art?

Contemporary art is a term used a great deal, but what does it mean? Let’s take a look at some possibilities and explore a bit further from there.

“The art of the late 20th century and early 21st century, both an outgrowth and a rejection of modern art. As the force and vigour of abstract expressionism diminished, new artistic movements and styles arose during the 1960s and 70s to challenge and displace modernism in painting, sculpture, and other media.”
Fine art registry – Glossary of terms.

“Contemporary Art encompasses all art being done now. It tends to include art from the 1960s or 1970s through the present.”
Tennyson Gallery – Glossary of terms

“Contemporary art can be defined variously as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II. The definition of the word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of art produced since World War II.”

Some Contemporary Art Movements, styles, variations.

Abstract Expressionism
Bay Area Figurative Movement
Lyrical Abstraction
New York Figurative Expressionism
New York School

Abstract expressionism
Bay Area Figurative Movement
Colour field
Computer art
Conceptual art
Hard-edge painting
Lyrical Abstraction
New York School
Nouveau Réalisme
Op Art
Performance art
Pop Art
Post minimalism
Washington Colour School

Ugly Realism
Video Art
Arte Povera
Land Art
Body Art
Feminist Art
Yunnan School
Bad Painting
Post Minimalism
New Image Painting
Nuovi Nuovi
Ascii Art
Aboriginal ‘Dot Painting’
Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru
Mühlheimer Liberty
Trans avant-garde

Free Figuration (Figuration Libre)
Neue Wilde
Chicago Imagism
East Village
Appropriation Art
Mail Art
Graffiti Movement
BritArt / Young British Artists (“yBa”)

Net Art
Information Art
Arte factoria
New Media Art
New Leipzig School
Tiki Art
Post colonialism
Cynical Realism
Internet art
Young British Artists

Environmental impressionism/expressionism


Post Conceptual Art
Relational Art
Software Art
Sound Art
Street Art
Ungraven Image
Videogame Art
VJ Art

The above list is created from a range of resources on the internet (Wikipedia is but one), the validity of any of the categories listed above is probably rather subjective in many cases, so in the end it comes back to you and your research to be able to “verify” what’s listed and not just accept it as “fact”.

Lets explore the  notion of contemporary works of art and their categorisation further. Note in the opening quotes, the idea of any art created now can be classed as contemporary. As true as this is there is another factor or two that needs to be explored here. Take a look at a range of art you might see every day in peoples homes, framing galleries, or as posters etc. the works are often decorative, things of “beauty” to decorate not so much to push boundaries and or cause people to think.

Note the lists above do not have a category for decorative art, fantasy art, art therapy, nor leisure painting. What needs to be mentioned is the role of art curators, art critics, artist’s peers and the like have in supporting artistic directions, styles of art and or groups of art. In a sense art that communicates on a deeper level could be a way of summing up “serious art” and in this case contemporary works. Therefore some of the categories left out are probably no considered “High art” although the artists may have very serious intent.

In exploring the fractious and nebulous world of art, take in all comers, and check out where they “fit” in the scheme of things. It’s important to be able to measure and find a place for things, push boundaries and check out what’s taking place so you can explore things in their right context. Perhaps from this article you can create a checklist of things to consider when viewing an art work to see if it is indeed a contemporary work of “value”, decoration or a piece of therapeutic merit.

Painting on Paper

A video about painting on paper, I like the process the artist uses, rather prolific and an interesting way of working.

The Art Student and the Value of Art

There is an ongoing question about the value of art, and a quick search on the “Internet” will show some results. But of equal note is the notion of art students doing their bit to come to terms with how something that may not have mass value or appeal is a useful niche market to pursue especially in challenging economic times. perhaps the title of this piece should be “The Artist and the value of art”.

So is art something which is vital, a need or is it a non vital want that merely fulfills the desires of those who wish to express their status, and buy in at the highest they can afford and hope for the best, or are they connected to the work at some higher level? Perhaps they just “like it” and have the $$ to splurge (ignorance may well be bliss!)

So ask yourself about the value of art and the pursuit of it, explore the notion a bit at least, you may well be chasing a noble cause or causing a noble chase!

Art Matrix

Here is a link to a discussion on an art matrix device. http://www.artforum.com.au/vtopic9601.html

Perhaps it’s something that could be debated further here in our comments? Your thoughts?

Interesting Resources

I came across a couple of resources which may be of value, can anyone tell me if they are? esp if you are a member…



I found things a little difficult to navigate but the potential seems to be there.

Ok when I sign up to something I expect it to be useable, hell I am reasonably web savvy… So when I get lost in a site trying to figure things out surely others might too, is that good? short answer… no.

Brian the Angry Art Teacher

This was a neat little find and one I will put in the links as well, a good laugh for the Art Teachers among us, and a learning opportunity for the Students!

Brian The Angry Art Teacher

Art Elsewhere

Amazing what you can find when you go looking… some amazing things lurking in here