may’s art movement: art nouveau

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Art Nouveau (French for New Art) was a movement that swept throughout Europe and the United States from the early 1880s through 1915. The movement began in Britain, but was quickly taken up by other art centers as a response to the Industrial Revolution. Artists, craftsmen, architects and others consciously decided to work together to bring art into everyday aspects of life. They were unhappy with the utilitarian and mass produced lifestyle that they Industrial Revolution had sparked. With all of the mechanical advances made during this time, things could be mass-produced in factories instead of hand made by craftsmen which lead to a more homogenized and less thought out set of dishes or hairbrushes, etc.
The artists and artisans of the art nouveau movement also wanted to break down the hierarchy of arts that said fine art (such as painting and sculpture) were separate from home design and the more functional items that filled the general publics houses (often referred to as the applied arts). By embracing architecture, graphic art, interior design, and most of the decorative arts (such as jewelry, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils, and lighting), the founders of the movement hoped to create a world that was more beautiful to live in. According to the philosophy of the style, art should be a way of life. For many well-off Europeans, it was possible to live in an art nouveau-inspired house with art nouveau furniture, silverware, fabrics, ceramics, and jewelry, etc.
Artists took the plant forms they saw in nature and then flattened and abstracted them into elegant, organic motifs. Common elements of the period were controlled but swooping lines with rich design flourishes and stark contrasts. As the movement grew, the materials used became more lavish and the construction was highly skilled and detailed. This made many products more of a luxury and therefor not readily accessible to the general public. (However, the design motifs were also used in mass produced objects as well.) Louis Comfort Tiffany was a leader of the movement in America (often it was referred to as “Tiffany Style” in America). His intricate stain glass lamp shades are an excellent example of the art nouveau ideals.
Advertising was another interesting frontier during this time. (Railroads, and the telephone were newer innovations and made it much easier to move products and information great distances. You can imagine that life really changed around late1800s. This was the time when many things we take for granted today were being invented.) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters advertising the Moulin Rouge (a dance show) and other venues and products are considered to be the first of the modern format for the poster or billboard.
Art nouveau works were not all uniform in style. One artist, Siegfried Bing, said “Art Nouveau, at the time of its creation, did not aspire in any way to have the honor of becoming a generic term. it was simply the name of a house opened as a rallying point for all the young and ardent artists impatient to show the modernity of their tendencies.” Yet, it is easy to see a unifying style across this movement that did bear many different names in different countries at the time. This lavish style was ultimately the downfall of the art nouveau movement. As World War I unfolded, people turned to more functional design and the sweeping nature-inspired lines of art nouveau were replaced with modern, sleekly industrial designs of Art Deco. However, the graceful nature-inspired designs continue to show up in design today and the idea of infusing everyday life with art and beauty is one we should continue to uphold.
Today we will do just that as we try to redesign everyday objects and make them more beautiful. Use one piece of paper to brainstorm ideas and make rough sketches of how you could change some of the items you use everyday. Then take one or two of those ideas and make a more refined sketch of what that item would look like.
There are colored pencils on the cart as well as some colored paper to make it more interesting, but ultimately, this is a thought activity; just be creative and have fun with it!
*If there is time, encourage the students to share their ideas.

april’s artist: miquel barcelo

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Miquel Barceló, was born in Felanitx on the island of Majorca, Spain on January 8, 1957. He studied art there briefly in the Arts and Crafts School of Palma de Majorca before enrolling at the Fine Arts School of Barcelona in 1974. After a year in Barcelona he would return to Majorca to protest with “Taller Lunátic”, a conceptual vanguardist group that fought against (in the arts, not actual fighting) the notion that “painting is dead” and the move to more contemporary practices like art installations and performance art.

In the 1980’s he traveled extensively throughout Europe, United States and West Africa and would eventually set up studios in both Paris and Segou, Mali. These cultural influences can be seen in his work. After a series of exhibitions in the early and mid 1980s, Barceló’s popularity grew to the point that his work was shown in the most prestigious galleries and museums including the National Gallery of Modern Art Pompidou Center in Paris.

As homage to his homeland, Miquel Barceló crafted a mural of approximately 300m² for Majorca´s San Pedro Cathedral Chapel in 2004. He covered the walls of the chapel with terra-cotta and painted them with images related to the miracle of the loaves and fish from John in the Bible. Also in 2004 a series of watercolors, illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy, were shown at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Barcelo was 47 years old and the youngest living artist ever to have their work shown in the Louvre.

His biggest commission was the domed ceiling of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber in the UN’s Palace of Nations in Geneva. It features multicolored stalactite forms figuratively dripping from the ceiling. Barceló explained that the dome represented “a sea and a cave, in absolute and apposing union” He said the idea came to him “on a day of immense heat in the middle of the Sahel desert” in Africa in where “the mirage of an image of the world was dripping towards the sky…. flowing drop by drop”

Now in his sixties, Miquel Barceló continues to split his time working in Paris, Spain, and Mali today. His work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and cast iron.

Today we will try some sculptural painting of our own. Show the students the different materials we have to add texture to their paintings. Tell them to lightly sketch out the design you want to make on your canvas board. You will want to keep your design somewhat simple and add one or two of the materials to give it a different texture. You may want to do something representational (a picture of something, made to look realistic) or abstract (a picture that is not of anything recognizable). You may want to paint the background first or you may want to add the joint compound to build up ridges or shapes and then carefully paint on top of that.

Some hints to help make these paintings more successful:
-Give the joint compound some time to dry by working on other areas before painting it.
-Paint very lightly over the compound. If you press into it, it will make marks. I often tell my students to just lightly tickle it with the brush.
-Lightly press the yarn or fabric into the compound or wet paint to help it adhere to the board.

*When setting up, I recommend getting there a few minutes early to fill water cups. (I usually do a cup per pair of students–it is less to clean up.) After I have given the discussion part of the lesson, I pass out the boards and while students are sketching their design, I pass out the water, brushes napkins and plates. Then I go around with the paint and give them small (dime sized) dabs of paint. I tell them they can always have more, but often this is all they need so we start with this much. Give the students that want it a spoonful of joint compound (they can have more if they need it, but it’s best to start small) and let them come get the other items off the cart as needed.

*Please wash the brushes very thoroughly with a small amount of dish soap and put them in the container with the brush tip up. (If you put the brushes down, it bends the bristles and they loose their shape and don’t work well.)

april art classes

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I hope you are having a great spring break! I have been excited to take it easy for a few days! I am also excited to focus on drawing skills this month. Each class will focus on one subject and hopefully your little artist will come home making big strides on how to draw more realistically! All classes are $20 and open to any age 5+ unless specifically noted.

Friday, April 14th 2:00-4:00

Animals-we will learn how to accurately map out and proportion basic types of animal bodies. Then we explore how to show the details that bring a sketch to life. We use artist grade colored pencils and the fun techniques that can change their texture to make animal portraits on bristol.

Wednesday April 19th 2:00-4:00 Advanced class (ages 11+)

Figure drawing- We will learn the correct proportions to draw the human figure, then how to manipulate them to stylize for manga, comics, and forced perspective drawing. We will use graphite and artist grade colored pencils to create several styles of work.

Saturday, April 22nd 2:00-4:00

Faces- We will focus on each facial feature and how to realistically draw it. Then talk about how to observe the little differences that make each face unique. We will do self portraits with graphite on bristol.

Friday, April 28th 2:00-4:00

Stylization- We will use the skills we have gained over the month to help us “break the rules!” In this class students will learn how to observe reality then manipulate it to create cartoon, manga, and kawaii, as well as how stylization is used in fine art. We will work with a variety of media.