Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Significance of Lascaux Cave Paintings

Lascaux cave paintings have made Vezere valley in France a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 1979. It is famous for the surrealistic images of animals that research reveals lived 15,000 years ago. They were part of the discovery made on 12 September, 1940. The caves were chanced upon by four teenagers, and their dog. After World War II, the site was opened to the general public. However, the increasing number of visitors resulted in an unprecedented release of carbon dioxide and visible damage to the paintings.

In 1963, the caves were officially closed to the public, with the intent of restoration and preservation of the art. Today, the Lascaux paintings are monitored regularly and the sites have been segregated on the basis of exhibit into:
Great Hall of the Bulls
Lateral Passage
Shaft of the Dead Man
Chamber of Engravings
Painted Gallery
Chamber of Felines
Lascaux II exhibits replication of the artwork depicted in Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery. Lascaux artwork can also be seen at Le Thot, Center of Prehistoric Art, France. Preservationists from the Archaeological Survey Department have been battling fungus and black mold since 2000. The climatic conditions within the caves are now monitored to preserve the exhibits.

Significance

Lascaux paintings are about 2,000 in all and while 600 of the animal figures can be identified, the rest are a trip back into prehistoric times. Geometric figures of equines, cattle, felines, birds, bears, rhinoceros, humans, and stags are dominant. The effect of the ‘bulls in motion’ give us an insight into the precision and dedication of the artists. The Paleolithic cave painters displayed unique perspective in the non-figurative images. The night sky depictions actually correlate with constellations. These ‘visions’ within paintings of humans and the sky also highlight the fact that the artists indulged in the ritual of trance-dancing.

These paintings are deduced as beyond ‘decorations’, since research reveals that they did not show any signs of prolonged habitation. This is indicative of the fact that the caves were used for preserving and transmitting information. Archaeological experts spotted realistic images superimposed for the ‘stampede’ effect. While the images appear linear, the sudden burst of colored and stylized detail speaks volumes for the versatility of brush and dynamic hand movement.
The primitive inhabitants immortalized their lifestyle, artwork, and crude tools via exquisite and exclusive renderings. Their hand at foreshortening, contrasting color schemes, and three-dimensional illusions brings many a modern painter to Lascaux each year. The paintings tell visitors a lot about the inhabitants of the era and the level of intellect through the fact that they used the cave walls to pass on vital information about animal and human life then.

Pastel Painting

A painting which uses a blend of powdered pigment and binder in the form of sticks, is known as pastel painting. The binder used to prepare pastels has a neutral color, whereas the pigments are same as the ones used in other coloring media. Pastels are easy to use in a sense that one doesn’t need to mix or blend them in a palette. They are just laid on paper without using water.

Pastels can be a good medium of painting, provided that you learn the proper techniques and modes of application. One can create many different effects and shades in watercolor painting even with oil pastels. The problem, however, with pastel colors is that the powder pigment once applied to the paper has to be protected from falling off (or else it may fall off like crumbs). The material used for oil pastels, in fact, lasts longer than watercolor; it is just about retaining the pastel color on the paper. It is generally done by protecting (not preserving) the pastel layers beneath glass.

Techniques

Variation in Pressure
The application of varying amounts of pressure with pastels helps in bringing out different effects. The technique is similar to pencil shading.

Creating Contours
The edges of pastel sticks are used to draw sharp lines. These lines are rubbed off to create contours. One can use pencil pastels instead of pastel sticks to make sharp lines. There is one more technique to create contours, i.e., to lay masking tapes on the paper leaving a gap to draw lines.

Scumbling
This technique is commonly used to create the effect of smoke, fog, etc. It is done in such a manner that the paper is colored with two colors in layers (one above the other). The upper layer is light in shade. The upper (light shaded) layer is created by using the side (flat) portion of pastels. Apart from atmospheric effects like fog, the scumbling effect can also be used to draw shadows.

Hatching
The technique of hatching can be simply described as the practice of laying down a series of lines. The purpose of using this technique is either highlighting, shading, or modeling. Cross-hatching is a variation of hatching, where the lines are laid close to each other except that they are at different angles. The benefit of using this technique is that the painting attains depth and it becomes rich in terms of colors.

Stippling
This technique is slightly different from hatching in the sense that dots are used instead of lines. The dots used for stippling could be of the same or different colors. A transition from one phase to other is depicted through the stippling technique. Stippling is similar to an impressionistic technique called pointillism.

Oil pastels are equally good for painting when compared to regular pastels. The oil pastel techniques provided below would prove helpful for the beginners.

Underpainting: It is the technique in which white papers are given a wash of oil pastel colors to remove white flecks. A rich color can be applied to the paper with this technique.

Blending: The blending technique is used for mixing different oil pastels on a palette. Creating smooth gradients is the objective here.

Perfect Sand Sculpting and Sand Art

Sand art and sculpting have become very popular in recent times. It remains to be an activity that has caught the fancy of children and adults alike. Take a stroll down any sandy shore, and you can see people reveling in festivities and celebrating sand sculpture and art festivals. This is where we can see budding talent all geared up to go beyond the ordinary in crafting their creations. This art has gone beyond magnificent castles with soaring towers. Today, the mere combinations of sand and water have gone complex with the various creative forms of sand sculptures being constructed by people for their sheer love of this art form. Myrtle Beach proudly showcases the world’s tallest and longest sand castle ever constructed. People have created masterpieces through sand sculpting. From prominent figures to cars, castles with moats, and fantasy lands, the themes are endless.
Tips to Build the Perfect Sand Sculpture/Castle
Before you begin the sculpture, you must first ensure you have the right tools. Ensure you have packed a long-handled shovel and a bucket. Try to include chisels, spatulas, apple corers, spoons, ice cream sticks, knives, and pastry brushes. The main idea is to improvise on the items used for sculpting. (Use a fork with the prongs broken off in the middle. This will make it easier to form columns in the sand castle). Next, you will need to include a spray bottle, as the sculpture needs to be kept moist to keep the surface firm whilst you construct the castle.
Once you have gathered all the tools, it’s time you hunt for the right location on the beach. First, keep a look out for the high tide line. You can test the formation of the sand before you begin. Pick up some sand and compress it in your hands and roll it into a ball. If the ball does not remain firm, it clearly shows that it is not meant for any such art. You also need to look for a place that is moderately away from the sea.

After you have found the ideal location, start digging. You need to keep digging till you reach wet sand. This would be your initial tough task. It needs to be done, as it is this wet sand that will give a firm foundation to your sculpture.
Now, you need to accumulate enough wet sand to start with the building and carving. This is known as the process of tamping. A form is basically used for tamping. This is what results in building towering structures. Use the form (box or plastic can sans the base) to begin your construction. Place the form on the spot. Now, add the sand and water into it. As you proceed further with the process, remember to tamp it firmly.

Kids’ Art Activities Winter Activities

Teach your kids how to make an igloo with sugar cubes and watch them squeal in delight every time they get one step closer to building it up. This winter activity not only will keep your kids engaged during their holidays, but will also lend and set the Christmas spirit right in the house.

Since Christmas is just around the corner, there are many winter crafts which are fun and interesting to make. Don’t let the holidays get in the way of the kids exploring their creativity. Make crafts more interesting for them by introducing them to an edible craft activity. That’s right! Teach them how to make an igloo with sugar cubes. It’s simple, inexpensive and, when flavored, tastes yummy! It can also be treated as a group activity at the science fair project in school with a number of children working on it.

As a kid, you might have made an igloo out of cardboard, but, making it out of sugar cubes makes it look more realistic. Get ready with a few materials and follow the steps mentioned below to create this masterpiece.

Materials Required
Cardboard sheet
Sugar cubes
3 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
2 egg whites
Directions
On the cardboard sheet, draw a circle of 7 inch diameter. Make sure you leave some place for the opening of the igloo in one area of the cardboard.
In a mixing bowl, add the egg whites and the sugar, mix them well so that a thick paste is formed. You can use this as the mortar to build the igloo.
On the circle, lay the base of the igloo with one layer of sugar cubes, but leave the space where you want to have the entrance.
Now, on this base, apply the white icing, or mortar, to each upper face of the cube and place the other layers subsequently in the form of rows. Make sure you keep reducing the number of cubes as you graduate upwards, since you want to make a dome, i.e, keep decreasing the circumference as you move upwards on the igloo.
Once the main igloo body is built, start working on the entrance which will have to be built vertically. So, keep about one layer of ice cubes and then build an arch as the entrance.
You can either build the igloo and the arch separately and then glue them together or build them simultaneously, but make sure they are symmetrical and uniform.
Allow it to dry for sometime and when it dries up completely, sprinkle some sugar to make it look like snow.
If you are preparing the igloo as an edible Christmas decoration, you can add candy and chocolates around it, to make it look attractive and delicious.