Art Appreciation, The Fundamentals

Going to the local art museum is a good, warming experience. Before getting out the car keys and whipping over to the art parking lot, you will find the trip much more enjoyable if you know a few basic artsy kind of terms.


1. Line — The visual element of Line is the foundation of all drawing. It is the first and most versatile of the visual elements. Line in an artwork can be used in many different ways. It can be used to suggest shape, pattern, form, structure, growth, depth, distance, rhythm, movement and a range of emotions. Quite often vertical lines suggest strength and leadership (as well as height). Horizontal lines try to tell you about distance and calm. Diagonal lines usually mean action of some sort will be happening.

2. Shape — Natural or man-made, regular or irregular, flat or solid, positive or negative. Etcetera.

3. Color and Value — The visual element of Color has the strongest effect on our emotions. It is the element we use to create the mood or atmosphere of an artwork.


1. Balance

2. Proportion

3. Pattern and Movement

If what you see is either off center, or leans in a direction (especially if the background trees do not lean), then movement or action is indicated. Note that portraits typically do not lean. All these three things might be summed up by the word “composition.”

A very smart English museum-tour bus driver told us that if you fold a picture of a painting into sixteenths, then unfold it, each of the sixteenths should more or less make the painting “happen.” For example, look at a picture of Rembrandt’s “Jeremiah.” Each sixteenth pretty much goes with Jeremiah. The fact that he’s off-center and leaning diagonally means he’s an action figure. Probably he’s worried about getting his “Lamentations” into the editor by the deadline. Perhaps he’s forgotten where he lost his shoes. Again.

I won’t fold Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” into sixteenths, though you can easily see that each piece “fits.” Note the diagonals on every figure but the central one: muskets and pikes, persons, dogs and chickens are going or looking somewhere, as a night watch crew should. The gent in the middle is clearly the watch commander – vertical lines and central position connoting strength.

Rembrandt’s picture of this old geezer, a Rembrandt self-portrait, though, veers from the rules. He’s off center and pointing diagonally, meaning he’s into action. Cripes, he’s older than I am, and clearly going nowhere because of his arthritis or leg cramps. This goes to prove that there sometimes is no point in the rules.

You should also do some research, or at least half-useful Google-clicking to take an intellectual trip through art history before heading out to the museum:

1. The Ancient World

2. The Art of India, China, Africa, the Americas and Japan

3. Western Art: The Middle Ages Through the Renaissance

4. Western Art: The Baroque Through the Nineteenth Century

5. Twentieth Century Art

Okay. After grinding out the fundamental intellectual groundings of art, we are now primed for that important art gallery appreciation visit. Once I found myself in the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York, sitting on a bench in a placid atrium facing this acrylic-on-aluminum plate painting, which was completely white. I believe that painting’s title was, “Acrylic on Aluminum, White.” Maybe not. I don’t remember, and neither does the curator. Composition ought to be easy as dump cake, and the artist needn’t have shown motion, because there isn’t any. The professional critic might call the composition “perfect.” It would be hard to argue that the proportion is out of whack. As for balance, unless the night crew smacks the thing during cleanup, one could hardly fault the work for fouls in this area.

At this point I had this burning wish to do a brilliant thing, the most meaningful action in this hallowed spot that I could think of. Since eating lunch inside the museum was forbidden, I wanted to do the next best thing — put on a beret, pull out my pad and begin sketching “Acrylic on Aluminum, White” for my next art class. Every now and then I would look up at the original to make sure my interpretation matched. I would never hold up my thumb over the pencil for proportioning, as that would clearly mark me as a crude amateur and bumpkin. Using peripheral vision to see if other museum visitors reacted to my art-student art appreciation, I would see that most would pass by quickly, probably so’s not to interrupt my view. I believe a small, but fanatic number would truly believe me and appreciate my appreciation. I would plan to get up and leave quickly, though, if either the actual artist, or a happy kibitzer wanted to sit down beside me and adjust my sketching with pointers.

Alas, in my haste to get out for an actual lunch, I forgot to stop by the museum store. My best intentions were to purchase a postcard of “Acrylic on Aluminum, White.” Maybe a half-useful Google search will turn one up.

Art Shows And Festivals – 7 Strategies When Choosing Where To Sell Your Art

You have just spent the Winter months creating all of your gourd masterpieces. Now what? It’s time to get them out of your hands and into the hands of someone else. One way to get your art into the public eye and (more importantly) get it sold is to take a look at doing shows or festivals. But there are so many nowadays. Which ones should you do? To help in your decision-making, here are 7 insider tips for selecting where you will sell your art.

1. Location, Location, Location!(I’m sure you have heard of this before)

Things to consider:

A. Is the venue close and easily accessible to the public and vendors? Is it close to Metropolitan areas or is it out in the sticks? What is the probability that someone will drive out to the show and spend money on gas, food, lodging, parking and entry fee, plus spend money on buying your art?

B. Where is your booth or your art located at the event? Will it be visible, in the natural flow of foot traffic? Or are you hidden away and put in a last minute overflow area of the event?

2. Type of Venue

Is it an art gallery show, city/county fair or a “mom and pop” festival? What is the draw? Fairs and art gallery shows are usually well-funded and have budgets for advertising the event, along with large followings and a target list of qualified buyers (which is what you want). The more people who know about the event, the more people will show up.

“Mom and pop” festivals can be great! They usually take place on private property, but they generally have small to non-existent advertising budgets. They are generally less crowded and have a more relaxed atmosphere than the county fairs. They also tend to attract similar artists and niche buyers to your type of art. In other words, they may buy, but there will be less of them to buy. Therefore, consider how many other vendors and artists will be selling and competing for the smaller pool of buyers. Also, consider the fact that mom and pops put on festivals to promote themselves, their products, and provide a venue for others to do the same. Overall, mom and pop shows are a good place to network with other artists, find out where the “best” shows are, and build lasting friendships. For these shows, bring art in all price ranges (more in the smaller prices and less in the higher), plus offer supplies and information because the artists that attend are more likely to buy your supplies and info and just get their ideas from your art.

County/City Fairs are in the business to have shows and draw large numbers of people to their venues. They need the people through the gate to help pay for all of the advertising they put out. They are not necessarily as concerned with how many buyers specifically. They are more focused on getting a lot people to the venue. The philosophy being that they get the attendance, and it’s up to you to make the sale, regardless as to whether they are qualified buyers or just looky-loos. Although usually well-organized, the overall feel as a vendor/artist is one of non-emotion. You are more of a number and will rarely interact with the show organizers. The huge plus to these types of shows is the number of people and chances you have to actually sell your art. It’s a great way to get exposure and to increase your mailing list. It is also a great way to reach people who may be interested in your work but would not have found you otherwise. For these shows, bring art in all price ranges (a nice mix of low to high) and offer a free drawing to collect their information (for your mailing list, of course).

Art gallery shows are there to promote and sell art to as many people as possible. The draw for a gallery show is much more intimate. However, the buyers who walk into a gallery showing are more apt to buy, and better still, they are more likely to buy the higher priced art pieces. The art galleries definitely want to sell your art because they need to pay for their overhead. Therefore, the promotion and burden tends to rest on how well they can advertise and present each art piece. And due to the labor involved, they will spend more time, money, and effort promoting the higher priced pieces. Also, consider they have a reputation that they must maintain. Your effort to get into a gallery is limited by whether you are approved by the gallery staff. For these venues, select your very best. Keep in mind, however, that you will take a large cut in the price that you will receive. And remember that the ultimate price tag that is set for your art by the gallery must match what your art is worth to the buyer. You should never UP your prices to a gallery just to get more in the end. That will only hinder the sale of your work, not help. Go into a gallery, knowing that you may not make as much as you would normally on the piece but the likelihood of your work selling at that higher price is better.

3. Juried or Non-Juried

This can work for you in two ways: If you are just getting started, and your art gets juried in with better art and well-known artists, it gives your art more credibility and possibly increases its value. It also feels good and builds confidence. If you go to non-juried shows, and your art is mixed in with beginners, stay optimistic; your art has a better chance to stand out! Either way, you will want to have an eye-catching and appealing display to draw the people and buyers to your work.

4. Age and Credibility of Show

How many years has the show been on? Is it a new show or has it been around for many years? Chances are, if a show is new, it may have some bugs to work out and may not be run as smooth as a seasoned show. Plus, the likelihood is greater that not many people may know about it or attend. On the other hand, if Martha Stewart decided to put on a show/festival next weekend, chances are that it is going to be a huge draw! Find out who is putting on the show and who are the key sponsors. This could make a difference in the show’s success. On the flipside, no matter how seasoned or long an event has been held, if the promoters or organization is difficult, unorganized, not very accommodating, or only has a self interest attitude (not care whether you sell anything or not), they bank on making their money from you the vendor and public entry charge. No matter what, they are going to make their money. Otherwise, they would not put on the event, which is OK as long you make money also. Trust your gut feeling. If you have or get a negative feeling about a show, then chances are, so do others (artists, vendors, attendees), and quite possibly, you should reconsider.

5. Word of Mouth

Ask anyone who has been to the show/festival you wish to attend. Ask about their personal experience; whether they were a vendor/artist or viewing (buying) public. Was the show worth the effort? Would they do it again? How were they treated? Can they offer any recommendations? These types of questions could save you a tremendous amount of money, time and head or heartache.

6. Facilities: Indoors or Outdoors

Venues such as fairgrounds and art galleries tend to be very clean events. Usually held indoors, protected from the wind, sun and dirt/dust (which can be devastating to your art and health), have nearby parking, places to eat, clean bathrooms, first aid and are generally vendor and public friendly. Mom and pop festivals, if outdoors, can be dusty if not on pavement or grass. You will be exposed to the elements in one way or another. However, there are those who make the effort to accommodate the vendors and viewing public. They generally do very well and are usually fun to attend. They provide shaded or large covered areas to display your art such as a barn or massive canopies (keeping the elements like sun/drizzle, falling branches, and birds with digestive disorders away from you and your art) They will generally have concrete or grass flooring (handicap accessible), nearby vendor and easy public parking, food, and clean bathrooms. All these should be normal at any event. If the promoter/director cares about you and the facilities, you will most likely have a good show and come back again.

7. Costs

What will it cost you when it is all said and done? Consider the time and money it takes for you to prepare, before, during and after the festival. Before you even leave your studio, it starts costing you. Application and registration fees, making and sending photos of your art to get juried, commissions or percentage of sales (which can eat your profits) getting booth set ups, gas, food, lodging, more gas, and other incidentals like buying art or more supplies. It all starts to add up! So estimate as close as you can, what you think you might spend and the minimum of what you realistically think you can sell and see if it is worth it to you. If you manage to break even, had a good time, met some new people and gained some experience, it may be worth it. The hope is to have a good time, sell art and make a profit at the end of the show. The drive home becomes a lot shorter and sweeter.

The bottom line is, shows are a lot of work overall, and you want to do well personally, professionally, and financially. If you need to, make a list of pros and cons for each show. You are the only one who can decide which shows to do or not. Use these tips in making a decision on a show that is good for you and a win/ win for all involved. And most importantly have fun!

Displaying Large Glass Art Pieces

Large glass art is truly a treasure. Perhaps you’ve been the lucky recipient of a beautiful glass art gift. Maybe you won a lovely piece of antique glass art at a recent auction or picked up a new set of artfully blown glass at a local art gallery opening. Or perhaps you make your own large glass art pieces. Either way, you’ll want to make sure your art is properly displayed. Displaying large glass art can be a little tricky. Let us help you out.

When displaying large glass art, you have several options. The first option is to purchase a case for your art. These are available in many sizes and you can also have them specially made for extremely large pieces. They are great because they protect the piece from dust and other damage and still allow everyone to see it. These cases are also available in many styles, so you don’t have to compromise your room décor.

Another option for displaying large glass art is to hang it. Many people choose to hang their large glass art because it is too big for a case, or because it really adds a lot to a room. Hanging colorful glass catches the light and makes for an extremely elegant décor choice. You can hang your piece like a chandelier in your dining room and you’ll feel like you’re eating in a 5-star restaurant every day. Or hang it over your bed for a truly amazing wakeup call.

Displaying large glass art is no easy task. You should consider hiring a professional to display your art if you are at all worried about not doing it right. If you choose to display your glass art in a case, then you are probably safe to set it up on your own or with the help of a friend. If you are interested in hanging your art, however, it is best to hire someone to do it. A team of pros can ensure your art is secure and get the job done safely.

Children and Art – Embracing the Picasso in Every Preschool Child

We all love to create…whether it be a masterpiece in the kitchen, a great journal article for the newspaper, a collage of scrapbooked photos or an architecturally designed skyscraper. Where is our desire to create fostered or quelled? Usually in our early childhood years. We have a responsibility to see the creative potential in every child and to provide an environment that will allow this to flourish. I would like to suggest some ways we can successfully do this in Early Learning environments.

Value Children’s Artwork
Imagine an art gallery with paintings, photos and sculptures in a muddled mess with little information, description or care taken to how art is displayed. It just wouldn’t happen because artists would soon stop providing artwork for that gallery. If we want children to continue to explore the artist inside them, we need to value their creations.

We can value children’s artwork by writing about what they have drawn, painted, or sculpted – a description or a story that the child tells. Simple considerations such as providing good quality paper / materials; using neat handwriting when writing on their artwork; and asking questions about specific parts of their artwork shows children that what they have done or are doing is important. How we display children’s work reflects what we think of it and adding colourful cardboard frames or mounting pictures (with the child’s permission) is actually treating the artwork like a masterpiece. When a child’s work is valued, they are much more likely to continue creating.

Focus On The Creation, Not The Process
“Wow” you say, “I thought we were meant to focus on the process, not the product”? What I am suggesting is different. Provide activities where the child can focus on the art of creating and arranging, and not on having to master the skills of cutting, gluing, or even holding a brush. For example, provide large black pieces of cardboard and colourful items such as feathers, flowers or pop sticks. Allow the child to arrange the items in any pattern they desire. Talk to them about what they are doing. A photo can be taken of the end result so that a ‘product’ or memory is kept, but the focus is on the arranging and the pattern making.

Provide Variety
We are all familiar with providing variety in materials and variety in the environment (indoors / outdoors/ bright colours / peaceful surrounding). Have you considered providing a variety of perspectives? Children do not need to be sitting at a table or standing at an easel to paint or draw. They can be lying on their backs looking at the sky and drawing on a clipboard. They can be painting while lying on their side on comfy cushions. Don’t limit children to easels and tables.

Use Music To Enhance Creativity
Music is a powerful tool for helping creativity to flourish. We can be transported to other worlds through music. Use a variety of loud, brash music; jazz; classical; and music from other cultures. It is interesting to compare children’s paintings when different music is playing and how this affects their art.

Foster A Creative Mind In All Areas Of The Program
Provide activities which encourage imagination and invention such as the dramatic arts and outdoor play. Children can even be imaginative in meal times by being encouraged to pretend they are having ‘tea with the queen’ or eating bush tucker. Play language games that encourage children to invent new words and make up rhymes. Children need to be given freedom to ‘think outside the square’.

Allow Time For Children To Create
Don’t allow programs to dictate how long a child can be creative for. Encourage children to take a project approach and give them places to leave their art to come back to at another time. Free flowing meal times allows children some freedom to continue in an artwork that has captured their attention.

Be Creative With Children
Allow time to sit with children and be an artist yourself. Model experimentation with colours and patterns, textures and form. Be with children in the moment and have fun being creative!

Challenge Children’s Perspectives
It is common for children to draw similar pictures or make the same dough sculpture over and over again. This is a learning tool children use, but there is nothing wrong with challenging them to look at things differently from time to time. For example, many 5 year old children draw a blue line at the top of their page for sky and a green line at the bottom for grass. Take them out into nature and discuss how the sky and ground form…introduce them to “the horizon” and see where this takes them in their next drawing.

Reflect on what you as an adult enjoy when you are being creative. Is it lots of time or space? Is it new and exciting materials? Is it other people to talk to while you create? Is it solitude and quiet? Consider how your program can embrace the artist which lies in each child and encourage the next generation of Picassos.

Discover Art in Brussels

There’s more to visiting Brussels than digging into a giant bowl of mussels with fries on the side. Discover all the incredible art & culture Brussels has to offer.

Having survived numerous battles over the past hundreds of years, much of Brussels was rebuilt in the19th century. What survives of the historical area of Brussels is a small few blocks in and around the Grote Mark’t area.

Despite its rough history, Brussels is a great destination for art lovers. Whether you’re interested in art, art history, architecture, oriental art, or royal art collections, Brussels’ art scene is bustling with many venues that every traveller can enjoy.

If you’re travelling to Brussels, here’s what you need to know about Brussels art: where to go, what to eat, and where to stay.

See arts & design in Brussels

You would have to spend at least a week to see all of the art galleries and museums that Brussels have to offer. Here’s a rundown of a few of the top must-see Brussels art spots:

Musees Royaux D’Art et d’Histoire was founded in 1835 and houses important art pieces from civilizations from around the world.

Musees Royaux des Beauz Arts de Belgique is one of Brussels’ architectural treasures, built in 1887 as an example of Beaux-Arts architecture. This museum offers over 20,000 artistic works and many from Flemish painters. On the same campus, you’ll also find four other museums: the Museum of Ancient Art, the Museum of Modern Art.

Constantin Meunier Museum and the Antoine Wiertz Museum: These two museums showcase smaller art collections by these Belgian artists.

Musees d’Extreme-Orient offers a collection of Japanese and Chinese art, porcelain, artifacts, and even pavilions to match the museum’s themes.

Horta Museum is located in the home of Belgian architect and designer, Victora Horta, famous for his Belgian Art Nouveau style prominent throughout Brussels.

Belgian Comic Strip Center is dedicated to the history and development of the comic strip and its Belgian roots. Also showcases works from Tin Tin and the Smurfs – both Belgian comics.

Eat where food is a form of art

For some people, food isn’t just food: it’s a completely unique art medium all its own. One of the top restaurants in Belgium is L’Air du Temps in Eghezee, Belgium, a 45-minute drive from Brussels. Here, Chef Sang-Hoon Degeimbre creates delicious, colourful masterpieces of art on plates using fresh herbs and vegetables from the restaurant’s own garden.

Stay at boutique art hotel, Hotel Bloom

If you’re visiting Brussels to discover its art galleries and museums, then consider staying at the chic, design hotel: Hotel Bloom. Located on Rue Royale, this hip, elegant, boutique art hotel brings the art gallery to you with one-of-a-kind frescoes and rooms designed by talented young artists from the European League of the Institutes of the Arts.

Luxury accommodations meet artistic savviness and inspiration at Hotel Bloom where you can also take part in this design hotel’s unique offerings like its 5km or 10km running tour, its state-of-the-art fitness room, the hotel’s own BLOOM fragrance, scented candles, or music by DJ Cosy Mozzy created just for the hotel.