Monday, September 14, 2015

The Art of Rest

Do you know how to rest properly, dear artists? After spending a long day at the studio, all of us need some rest.
It may sound counterintuitive, but the best thing for you is not go straight home and then plunge in bed. Yeah, you need some exercise. Studies have shown that our bodies rest better when we alternate physical and mental activities. The brain and body switch between both activities – when one of then rests, the other is active and vice versa. Don't fall asleep on your desk like the cat below, get moving!

Being active keeps you happy

You know all those grumpy people who leave their offices and studios only to go home and again, sit on their coach and watch some television. Don’t be one of them. Sitting is killing you, you know. Try to get up and stretch a bit every now and then. Even if you spend your day on your feet, try to switch that to more active exercise. But why bother?

Let me give you three reasons:
  1.   It gets your creative juices flowing! Yeah, it really does. Studies have shown that the best ideas are born in the strangest of places. What a better time to focus on your future work, when you are out of the studio. When you go hiking in the woods, or go running, your creativity levels hit the sky. I must admit that some of my best creations were conceived when I was out, running or walking. Simply the act of changing your surroundings from the studio to outside, your clothes from artists gown to sports outfit, and kicking the work shoes for sports trainers (I personally recommend the models you can find here), makes your brain switch to another level. The level of creativity you’ve always wanted. 
  2.  It boosts you happiness: Every time you exercise or even do some physical activity, your brain produces those happy transmitters called endorphins. No matter what is the activity, the result is the same – more happy faces on earth. 
  3.   It improves your self-esteem and builds character. Sport means discipline. It also builds character. It really boils down to have the right attitude and the willpower to exercise regularly and keep on moving after the others have given up.
Don’t wait anymore. Don’t get stuck with the creative block. Go out and try it. You will be amazed of the results.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Evolution to Good Grooming Makes Great Art

For centuries, women used to experience the intimate act of washing in ..well public places. Rich women almost never bathed alone. Some of the wealthier women featured in many of the artworks around mid 19 century. It’s worth noticing that although many paintings feature them, there are quite a lot of paintings with prostitutes and mistresses. The evolution of grooming from 15 to the end of 19 century is the theme of a though-provoking exhibition of the Musée Marmottan Monet, called “La Toilette and the Invention of Privacy” The exhibition consists of more than 100 different works (paintings and drawings) that reflect some of most intimate moments of the lives of these women. It is amazing how much time it took women to get real privacy. The exhibition and history these artworks represent is extremely interesting. It makes us question our perception of privacy and cleaning habits. Most of the works belong to French artists, but there are also other European countries represented at the museum such as Belgium.
Mr. Georges Vigarello, one of the curators of La Toilette exhibition said that the main goal was to trace and show the history of women’s toilette or how women groomed and prepared themselves in the period between the Renaissance to the beginning of the century. One of the front paintings from 1500 show a women taking immersing herself in a bath surrounded by at least 5 other people, including men. She is not shy at all in such an intimate moment. It’s worth noting that taking a bath or immersing oneself in water was extremely rare and the women mentioned above were most certainly preparing herself to her wedding ceremony. Apart from being very scarce in cities and houses up until the end of 17th century, it was also object of fear. It was though that immersing your body in water would cause fragility and even make you more vulnerable to plague and venoms. Hygienic effect were probably known, but disregarded. The paintings also reveal some other interesting scenes: the toilette itself. How appearance and grooming of women grew more and more important. It is amazing how the world of her boudoir (bedroom) and her grooming were perceived. The women frequently get dressed, applied make up and groomed themselves in front of others. In eighteen century this practice changes and becomes more private, as water becomes more common. People adopted new washing and grooming habits. Even though servants were still present while their masters washed and cleaned themselves, all other outside gazes were forbidden.
As time passed and the water become more and more common, new washing practices replaced the old ones and ultimately bathing and grooming become private. The paintings from that period show that there were new grooming tools and new washing habits. Everything changed: attitude, behavior, and tools. And then in nineteenth century water reached all floors and ‘cabinets de toilette’ were designed. The captured scenes of the toilette and bath now show more dynamic, use of sponges, rubbing and flow of water over the body.
The whole exhibition focus on capturing the cleaning rituals and traces the complete closing of the once open private space

Monday, December 1, 2014

How to Avoid Physical Hazards in Studio

There are a number of hazards around the work place and we have to be extremely careful to avoid them. While we’ve included links to authority sources in the article “Safety in the art studio”, I wanted to add something simpler and easily digestible. 

Wearing personal protective equipment /PPE/ is very important. Studios where artists handle hazardous materials should have eyewashes, safety showers, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits close at hand. Know where the personal protection equipment is located and how to use it.

The first step to controlling exposure to hazardous materials is substitution of materials used with safer ones. The second thing is to provide adequate ventilation or limiting the length and / or amount of exposure to dangerous materials. In case this is impossible or the control is no adequate, personal protective equipment has to be worn.

PPE has to be adequate to the work that will be done. The most common type of PPE amongst the artists are gloves and goggles. The gloves have to be worn to protect the hands from a variety of art hazards. The material of the gloves varies depending of the work to be done. For example leather gloves protect from fire sparks, cuts and heat; rubber gloves protect from variety of chemicals like solvents, acids and bases and must be selected according to the chemical which are to be handled. 

Goggles and windshields are used to protect the face and eyes from flying object or chemical splashes. Much like the gloves, the type of protections should be selected according to the work done. Face shield are typically used when the work requires extra level of protection. Remember, reading glasses do NOT substitute eye protection as they leave a gap between the eyes and the glasses which is potentially dangerous.

Respirators are another form of protection. These have to be worn when the studio cannot be adequately ventilated. When selecting respirator take into consideration the type of contaminants (gas or vapor), concentration of contaminants, level and duration of exposure.

Safety work boots are often overlooked part of the equipment. Depending on the level of protection required, there you can select steel-toed work boots that will protect you against heavy falling objects; waterproof boots is you work frequently in wet areas, boots with electrical hazard protection to prevent electric shock. One of the most important things to remember is to choose comfortable work boots that fit you just right. When you use them 8 hours a day, day after day, this is not something that is worth to neglect.

Other type of safety equipment:
Earplugs: If the level of the noise is higher than recommended, or you are exposed to loud noise for longer periods of time.
Hard hats: if you work with heavy or high standing objects, these provide extra level of protection against flying or heavy objects
Other garments such as coveralls, sleeves, aprons, knee pads are used to protect the body, legs or arms from chemical splashes, flying objects, fire sparks or molten metal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Hang a Painting

How to Hang a Painting

Sooner or later every artist will encounter the problem of where and how to hang a painting. The wonderful piece of art needs special attention, don't just hang it somehow. If you truly wants other to be able to fully enjoy the fine art, there is a simple rule you need to follow. 
The centre of the painting should be at 57" from the floor.
But why 57" you might ask. It is because the painting is best viewed if on the height of the eyes. Average height of the human eyes is exactly.. yes, you guessed it, 57 inches. 
This is a standard used by most of the art galleries and museums.

How to actually hang the painting?
  • Measure the height of the painting and divide it by 2 (A)
  • Measure the distance from the top of the painting to the hanging wire (B)
  • Substract A minus B (C)
  • Add the result C to the initial 57" (D)
  • Measure your final result D from the floor and mark it to the wall. This is the spot where you will hang your painting.
Let me give you an example. If your painting is 30" tall, your A will be 15" (30 divided by 2). If the wire comes 1" below the top of the painting, then B is 1", and C is 15" minus 1", which equals 14". Your mark should be at 14" plus 57" or your hook should be at 71" from the floor.

In case it sound a bit complicated just keep in mind that the center of the picture have to be at 57".
Happy hanging!

Art Recources

Comprehensive directory of art suppliers

Art supplies

Curry's Art Store - great selection of artist supplies. Proud to be serving artists for more than 100 years, since 1911. They offer competitive pricing and excellent customer service to all they clients.
Art Supplies Direct - Excellent artists supplies store, offering wide range of supplies for both professionals and newbies in the field. Family business with awesome customer service.
The Paint Spot- proudly Canadian, artist-run visual art centre which enable both pro and new artists to realize they artistic dreams
Above Ground Art Supplies - art supplies store with frequent sales. Staff of knowledgeable, friendly artists
Opus Art Supplies - the company started more than 35 years ago as a small picture frame manufacturer turned into comprehensive supplier of fine art materials.

General printers

The Printing House Canadian Printing Company since 1961. They offer extremely fast and quality printing services. They offer not only printing, but full-blown solutions from strategy and concept, to design and execution
General Printers - they will help you build your business or materialize your idea through their innovative print solutions
Parfield Printing - vibrant color, fast turnaround time. Overall great service

Large format printing

East Van Graphics - Full Color Printing in Vancouver, Canada, Offset Printing and Digital Printing. Price is calculated by square footage
Media Vision - they claim that they can execute whatever large format printing one may need. They produce vibrant and pixel perfect large format prints. Speedy and quality service. 

Graphic design

Big serve graphx - full force design and illustrations. Over 30 years of experience in the field.
Bishop Graphics - Graphic design, sign and print Shop. A to Z service, they will not only produce your graphic design, but can also hand you the printed materials.
MG-Markham Design - Graphic design for both print and web. A service that will fit your target and your budget!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Health and Safety In The Art Studio

Stay safe and pay attention to your Art ONLY

"Creating Art Safely: A Six-Step Process" is a though coverage of the health and safety hazards associated with the different forms of art. The brief but informative video was created by the experts from Rhode Island School of Design in collaboration with UE. An excellent resource with valuable information covering painting, welding, woodworking, and many other art forms.

Art creation is traditionally regarded as non-threatening, occupation. This is not true in the most cases, as artists encounter many hazardous materials or operations daily. Do you know that an artist may be exposed to the same level of hazardous materials or participate in dangerous operations very similar to those in industrial sites and labs? Materials include fumes, mists, dyes, solvents and operations are handling extremely sharp/cutting objects and machines, standing extreme heat, working machine with high level of noise or machines with sharp moving parts.

Furthermore, except for exposing you to physical and health hazards, your artistic work can also negatively impact the environment. It is extremely important to learn the basics of how to handle hazardous materials, when to use personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, aprons, face shields, masks; how to properly store and dispose of art waste. Of course, you will have to learn how to do that without impeding your artistic process.

Not enough? Wanna create beautiful paintings without worrying too much about the possible safety hazards in your studio? Worry no more. With our expert advice here, you will be able to focus on what is really important - your ART! We've compiled the top resources in the industry below. Check them out now.

Reference and readings:
- Safety Guide for Art Studios - straight-forward guide written by Thomas Ouimet a well-known expert at Yale university and published by United Educators
ACMI Certified Materials - a pdf list of more than 60000 art chemicals with low toxic risk. A very convenient guide to consult when you are trying to switch to using less toxic materials. If you want to quickly retrieve the products you are interested in, use their online form here
- How to handle Art wastes - full recourse with information how to identify, characterize, store and handle waste from the art studio. Many artists are not aware that much of the waste, generated at their studio is hazardous waste and have to be disposed of with the necessary care
- Safety for theater artists - a through guide written for the use of faculty, staff and students at Princeton University. It offers broad overview of possible safety concerns for those working at theaters, on stages, elevated platforms, electrical systems and ladders