Tag: art

The fascinating history of paint-by-numbers kits

By Emma Taggart for My Modern Met 

You probably remember “Paint-by-Numbers” kits from your childhood, but do you know the history of how they came to be? A mix between a coloring book and painting on a canvas, painting by numbers allows anyone to create a detailed work of art, even if they’ve never taken an art class. The simple art sets were first invented in the 1950s and they still remain popular for both kids and adults today. Despite this, very little is known about their original creator, Dan Robbins

Robbins was a Detroit-based commercial artist who began his career working for the art departments of various car manufacturers. In 1949, he started working at Palmer Show Card Paint Company alongside the company’s founder, Max Klein. At first, Robbins was hired to illustrate children’s books, but Klein soon tasked him with a new, more urgent mission: sell more paint. His solution was to devise a hobby kit that would promote the sale of Klein’s paint products.

Where did the idea come from?
Robbins based his concept on Leonardo da Vinci’s teaching system of numbering sections of his canvases for apprentices to complete. “I remembered hearing about how Leonardo da Vinci would challenge his own students or apprentices with creative assignments,” Robbins recalls in his autobiography. “He would hand out numbered patterns indicating where certain colors should be used in specific projects such as underpainting, preliminary background colors or some lesser works that did not require his immediate attention.”

To create each kit, Robbins first painted an original artwork, and then placed a plastic sheet over it and outlined the shapes for each hue and shade. Each segment was then given a number and corresponding color. After trial and error, Robbins’ Paint-by-Numbers kits were born, and were introduced to the public with packaging that proclaimed, “Every man a Rembrandt.” Post-war, they were launched during a time when American people had more time for pursuing leisurely activities, and the concept quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

The first paint-by-number kits
Robbin’s first ever Paint-by-Numbers kit was called Abstract No. One—a vibrant, abstract still life that paid homage to the abstract expressionists of the era. Unfortunately, the design wasn’t commercial enough to appeal to the masses, so Robbins, Klein, and a new team of artists started to produce less abstract landscape and portrait hobby kits that proved to be more popular.

The public’s response
Palmer Show Card Paint Company was renamed to Craft Master, and the company quickly grew to 800 employees who worked around the clock to produce 50,000 Paint by Number sets a day. In 1955, around 20 million kits were sold in America, and finished works hung proudly in homes across the country. Even President Eisenhower’s presidential appointment secretary, Thomas Edwin Stephens, curated a gallery of Paint by Number pieces made by administration officials in the White House.

However, not long after its initial success, Craft Master went bankrupt, as it couldn’t keep up with the demand. Although Craft Master remains the iconic pioneer of the paint by numbers movement, numerous rival companies soon emerged and started producing their own versions of the hobby kits.

What did the art world think?
While the consumers’ response was positive, Paint-by-Number kits triggered a strong reaction from the art world. They were criticized for oversimplifying the creative process and undervaluing the work of “real” artists (some Paint-by-Numbers designs were based on famous paintings). One anonymous critic in American Art wrote, “I don’t know what America is coming to, when thousands of people, many of them adults, are willing to be regimented into brushing paint on a jig-saw miscellany of dictated shapes and all by rote. Can’t you rescue some of these souls—or should I say ‘morons?’ ”

Paint-by-Number kits meant that art could be infinitely copied, leaving many wondering if they could even be classified as art at all. However, the concept unsurprisingly caught the attention of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol who is known for his love of repetition. He become a dedicated fan and collector of Paint-by-Number canvases.

Despite the backlash, Robbins wasn’t overly concerned about the negative response of art critics, because he achieved his dream of bringing art to the masses. In his 1998 memoir—Whatever Happened to Paint-By-Numbers?—He wrote, “I never claim that painting by number is art. It is the experience of art, and it brings that experience to the individual who would normally not pick up a brush, not dip it in paint. That’s what it does.”

Paper cut: the ancient stencil art of Sanjhi

By Soma Das for Hindustan Times 

The stencil art of Sanjhi has its roots in Indian folk culture and is associated with Vaishnav temple traditions.

As an eight-year-old, paper artist Jaishree Pankaj Shah would watch intently as her grandfather made hand-cut paper designs or stencils to decorate the swing of Lord Srinathji. That was her first lesson in the Sanjhi paper craft.

Sanjhi is an art form rooted in the folk culture of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, and later became an integral part of Vaishnavite traditions. It was patronised as a refined art form in the 15th and 16th century, and was practised by priests in Vaishnav temples.

“During the Bhadrapad (monsoon) season, the temple floor would often be decorated with banana leaves cut into various shapes and sizes. The art later evolved into paper stencils with floral and geometric designs,” says Shah. “Sanjhi artworks were used to decorate temples, nat-mandirs and kirtan sabhas during Vaishnav festivals such as Holi, Janmashtami and Jhulan.”

At an exhibition at Artisans’ in Kala Ghoda, Shah is showcasing 45 Sanjhi panels (some are three dimensional and as tall as 20 sq ft) depicting the Raas Leela, and inspired by the architecture of the Vaishnavite havelis and jharokhas of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The traditional art form was quite daunting as the paper cuttings were made directly without sketching or tracing.

To make a Sanjhi, Shah sketches a rough outline of the motif and then fills in the details while making cuts. She then glues the parts together on a coloured sheet of paper or silk before framing the work. “Each work is intricate, and it takes between a week to two months to make a panel,” she says. The traditional art form was quite daunting as the paper cuttings were made directly without sketching or tracing.

The art form of Sanjhi still manifests itself in places where Vaishnav culture flourished. “At Mathura, Vrindavan, West Bengal and Odisha — which are home to Vaishnav communities and Radha Krishna lore in visual and performing arts — you can find this art form reflected in various traditions that work with silhouette and stencil forms,” says Shah.

Artist creates paintings, sculptures with fabric

In the hands of Benjamin Shine, a piece of tulle isn’t just for making fancy dresses and curtains.

Using nothing but an iron, the British artist turns the fabric into amazingly realistic paintings and sculptures.

Shine sculpts, presses and pleats the huge single piece of tulle, whose transparent qualities give the portrait more texture and depth. By layering in this way, the artist obtains different tones and shadows that enable him to realistically depict everything from objects to portraits.

Source: The Citizen

With a sharp eye for detail, Bilal Asif carefully labours over his quest for a pointedly unusual world record – crafting the largest swing ever made from pencils.

Asif combs over his creation inside his studio in the southern megacity of Karachi, fine-tuning details with a razor blade and mulling new decorative additions.

“My main objective was not only to make the pencil swing but I aspired to make it with as much creativity as I could,” said the artist.

By January, Asif plans to register his work for the Guinness Book of World Records. He has used up to 30,000 pencils in total, cut into more than 100,000 pieces.

The swing rests on massive posts resembling pencils, while colourful pastel designs give the structure a touch of South Asian flamboyance, drawing striking similarities to the artwork decorating the ubiquitous “jingle trucks” that barrel down roads across Pakistan.

Striving to break world records is the norm in neighbouring India, which holds a suite of peculiar Guinness plaudits including the largest number of people to sing a national anthem in unison.

But Pakistan, which split from India at independence from Britain in 1947 and has viewed it as an archrival ever since, has yet to match its neighbour’s enthusiasm for quirky world record glory.

The achievement would cement a goal sketched out since Asif’s youth, when he began collecting pencils from all over the world.

“Some people criticise my work but I don’t react to them,” he said.

He likes to point out that the swing is not just about breaking records, drawing a line between his art and his quest to promote friendship abroad.

“This is not only a world record but this is a message of peace from the whole Pakistan to the other countries through this art,” Asif adds. “This is my aim.”

By Emma Featherstone for The Guardian

If you go down to the beach today, you may get a surprise: a smooth pebble painted with a colourful picture (cartoon characters and animals are common) or uplifting message.

Pebble painting, or “rocking”, is a craze that seems to have begun in the US with Megan Murphy’s The Kindness Rocks Project. She came up with the idea after collecting heart-shaped stones and pieces of sea-smoothed glass from the beach, seeing them as “rare treasures or signs and messages” from her deceased parents. “Finding them made me happy and I wanted to provide others with a similar experience.”

Now, a thriving international community of amateur artists decorates rocks before hiding them in public places.

The UK-based Facebook group Love on the Rocks has amassed more than 64,000 members since Vicki Poledoles Stansfield, from Essex, started it a year ago. “I suffer with anxiety and I was looking for a quiet hobby with no skills, that was free, and that I could do at 2am when my mind is racing,” she says.

Jacky Burns, who lives in Morecambe, is another enthusiast. She has some tips for first-timers: “Decorate a pebble using acrylic paint or permanent pens, then seal it against the weather (using clear nail polish or varnish) and write the name [of a dedicated Facebook group] on the back. Hide it in a safe place and wait for someone to find it and post on your group, then watch its journey.”

Some rocks have crossed continents, like the one found by Ian Hines in a south London park, which he later left in Morocco. Others spread a message.

Nikki Lunn, from Stockport, has planned a tribute for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack. With council permission, she is encouraging people to leave rocks painted with the symbolic worker bee and the hashtag #lovemcr in certain city spots on 22 May.

What is it about the movement that has captured people’s imagination? “People are looking to connect with one another,” says Murphy.

Paper perfect

Artist Yulia Brodskaya is a highly regarded paper artist and illustrator who uses two simple materials – paper and glue – and a technique that involves the placement of carefully cut and bent strips of paper to make lush, vibrant, three-dimensional paper artworks.

Brodskaya started working as a graphic designer and illustrator in 2006; however, she quickly abandoned the computer programs in favour of paper art.

“Paper always held a special fascination for me. I’ve tried many different methods and techniques of working with it, until I found the way that has turned out to be ‘the one’ for me: now I draw with paper instead of on it.”

Soon after discovering her passion and unique style, Brodskaya earned an international reputation for her innovative paper illustrations. Her modern take on the paper craft practice has helped her build an impressive list of clients in just a few short years. She is frequently invited to speak at design conferences and design schools around the world. Her original paper artworks are owned by Oprah Winfrey, Ferrero, Hermés, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Paramount Pictures, Country Music Association, Wimbledon, Mr Issey Miyake and numerous other private collectors.

Source: Art Yulia

There are easy ways to boost worker productivity that won’t break the bank or take up much office time.

Adding plants, art and colour to workplaces are proven ‘quick fixes’ to make offices better work places for employees while driving sharp rises in worker productivity.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, workplace specialists who consult across Africa, says that research showed that making sure offices had these elements typically boosted productivity by 25 to 30%.

“The recent trend to creating sanitised, Spartan, uncluttered offices, simply do not make people more productive. The lean, pared down office is not best for concentration or worker comfort despite the zeitgeist thinking that no distractions means greater concentration.

“A green office says to employees that their employer cares about them and their welfare. Adding plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”

Another factor that made offices better places to work was the right use of colour.

“Bland grey, beige and white offices induce feelings of sadness and depression while purple and orange workspaces also contribute to feelings of gloominess.”

Trim noted that scientific studies have shown that colours don’t just change our moods, they also profoundly impact productivity for better and for worse.

“That’s why it’s best to decorate your workplace with a vibrant mix of stimulating hues that increase output and spark creativity.

“Restful green and calming blue improve efficiency and focus. They also create an overall sense of well-being.”

Trim says that red was a particularly alarming colour for the workplace and should only be used to draw employees attentions to something. Yellow should be added to places where creativity is a demand of the job and can complement the greens and blues.

A third factor that has proven to enhance productivity was art.

“An enriched space makes people feel much happier and work better and a very good way of doing this is by using art.

“This doesn’t mean dreadful ‘motivational posters’, which say things like “there is no I in team” or ‘whatever the problem, be part of the solution’, because these don’t work at all.

“Art doesn’t make every person who looks at it inherently more creative but it gets them involved on a more intellectual level.

“Aesthetic in the truest sense means energy-giving which is what a workplace needs, rather than a bland, industrial environment which can be more like giving workers a dose of sleeping pills,” says Trim.

She notes that a study by Dr Craig Knight who studied the psychology of working environments for 12 years at the University of Exeter. He showed that they had never found that lean offices created better results and the more involved people were in the enrichment process, the more they are able to realise a part of themselves in the space.

“People spend most of their lives at work and being in an office can become very routine. But if they are surrounded by plants, judicious use of colour and pleasing art it can create a work environment with a sense of intrigue and engagement, “ Trim adds.

Another advantage of good workplaces was that it help retain staff and reduced the amount of sick leave people took.

Art by eraser

Artist Milind Nayak is presenting his graphite-on-paper for the first time at the Modernists of Bangalore exhibition, currently on at Art Houz.

He thinks the black-and-whites are hard to sell. But he makes art for himself, not for others. So it doesn’t matter to him if not many like his works.

“I always used to draw, bind the sheets and keep the books,” he says, talking of his love for art. “These works are independent of colour. They are my biggest treasure.”

Only recently did he feel it was time to show some of the display he had made in 2008.

Nayak has worked with graphite sticks and an eraser. “Graphite is the purest form of carbon. It has got a sheen that other materials don’t. I got addicted to it,” he says.
But he has created these pieces using the eraser more than graphite.

He adds, “I draw first, and then begin working with the eraser until I get what I want.”

Nayak is inspired by nature. The vivid hues in his work speak of his audacious flirtation with the colour palette and the enjoyment he derives from it.

He constantly tries to reinvent his technique, and has experimented with different media, like watercolour, oil, oil pastels, graphite, photography and digital printing.

He says he has been in and out of the art movement. He took a break between 1983 and 1999.

“I quit to support my family,” he says. “I did photography. I learnt a lot from the process. I am not into the ideological format. I stand alone, paint alone. I was going bald. So I thought it was time to come back.”

Nayak is among the few artists across the world who have seriously explored oil pastels as a medium. One of his most cherished experiences is working with a palette knife.
The artist explains that the elusiveness, force and intimacy that entail ‘painting’ with a knife are unlike those of working with a brush.

In such works, Nayak tried to move away from formal representation and step closer to abstraction. He did not, however, dispense entirely with the formal structure.

He says, “The knife technique evolved with the need to remove colour. I used it for erasing. It creates more tones and adds grace.”

Nayak likes to live and paint dangerously. “You can’t be static throughout life. You need to evolve,” he says.

Nayak was born in Udupi in 1954, and is a self-taught artist. Over the last 15 years, he has established himself firmly on the country’s visual art scene.

He says the only artist who has impressed him is his mentor G S Shenoy.

“He taught me that to become a good artist, you need to be a good human first,” he says. “I owe all my works to him. We were good friends even though I was 16 years his junior. When I took a break, he was very angry with me.”

He has had over 35 solo exhibitions, including three in USA. He has also participated in several group exhibitions in India and abroad.

By Akhila Damodaran for www.newindianexpress.com

Australian artist Erica Gray, winner of the 2015 3Doodler Fashion Award, has picked up her 3D printing pen again to create Forms Organic, a wearable sculpture inspired by organic figures and animalistic imagery.

We first became acquainted with the 3Doodled creations of Erica Gray in November. At that time, Gray, a versatile and talented artist based in Queensland, Australia, had recently finished working on two incredible pieces for the World of WearableArt Show in New Zealand, both of which required the use of 3Doodler’s world famous 3D printing pen.

Infinity, a black PVC-coated lycra piece with 3Doodled ABS detailing, was complemented by Crystal Matrix, a stunning white structure made from five intersecting 3Doodled ABS sections. After wowing audiences at the New Zealand exhibition, Crystal Matrix would go on to scoop 3Doodler’s Fashion Award at the inaugural 3Doodler Awards.

3d Doodle 2

Participation in the World of WearableArt Show motivated Gray to continue sketching with the 3D printing pen, and the tail-end of 2015 saw the artist getting wild with a nature-themed project called Forms Organic. An expression of animalistic imagery, the now-complete wearable sculpture possesses a skeletal structure, polymer teeth, nylon tail, and claws, with the main body of the piece “3Doodled around, through, or within those elements”.

Taking a few weeks to complete, Forms Organic evolved naturally from Gray’s initial sketches, with that partially freeform approach reflected in the organic fluidity of the 3D printed artwork itself: “My sculpted works are often themed on organic forms and animalistic imagery,” the artist told 3Doodler, “and this piece captures those fluid forms as well as some more rigid skeletal sections.”

Although Gray’s 3Doodled wearable artworks represent expressions of passionate creativity, a lot of practical planning and focus is required to get them finished. For Forms Organic, the artist had a strict deadline to work towards, having booked her model for a specific time period—a pressure which helped the 3Doodling designer to keep her focus. Gray also had to check her creative impulses at times to ensure that the piece could actually be worn by a human model. “It took a little longer getting the intricacies of the fit right for a moving subject,” she explained.

Gray’s 3Doodling process involved both stencils and freehand drawing. For some of the joints, the artist used roughly sketched stencils. Layers and layers of ABS filament could then be built upon these foundation layers in order to emphasize the underlying shapes. Although Gray’s commitment to bespoke pieces gives her a natural inclination toward freehand creation – such as the 3Doodler affords – she also plans to use a desktop 3D printer for some of her upcoming works. A growing range of 3Doodler filaments could also see the artist experimenting with a wider color palette than has heretofore been seen on her work.

Gray admits that Forms Organic was designed with a particular show in mind, but plans to keep its identity under wraps until an official announcement can be made. We can’t wait to see more of her 3Doodled work.

By Benedict for www.3ders.org

 

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