Summer is upon us! We’ve scoured Pinterest for TEN art/craft projects that can be done at home with a few, easy-to-find supplies and/or simple substitutions. Grab the kids, cover the table with some newspaper and let them go wild! Click the images to be directed to the projects.
On May 31st, the artist known as Christo, passed away at the age of 84, leaving behind him a legacy of work that brought joy and beauty to millions of people across the globe for over fifty years.
Christo was born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, on June 13, 1935 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria to a Bulgarian Industrialist family. He met his wife and creative partner, Jeanne-Claude (June 13, 1935 – November 18, 2009), in Paris, in March of 1958, they were married in October that year. It would be three years before Christo and Jean-Claude would complete their first collaboration and large-scale work, Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages, Cologne Harbor, 1961. Rolls of paper, oil barrels, tarpaulin and rope. Duration: two weeks.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude would come to be known for their larger than life, temporary, environmental installations often transforming mundane landscapes into dreamscapes.
In 1972, a bold, orange, 200,200 square foot woven nylon curtain was draped between two mountain slopes in Colorado. The installation,called Valley Curtain, remained for twenty-eight hours before a gale made removal necessary.
In 1983, off the coast of Miami, eleven islands in the Biscayne Bay were surrounded by 6.5 million square feet of luminous, pink woven, polypropylene fabric. The installation, called Surrounded Islands, was attended to, day and night, by 120 monitors in inflatable boats for two weeks while the public viewed the work from air, water and land.
In 1991, brilliant blue and canary yellow fabric umbrellas popped up in a valley in Japan and a valley in California, reflecting on the similarities and differences of two cultures. The installation, called The Umbrellas, consisted of 3,100 umbrellas, each 19’ 8” tall and 28’ 5” in diameter, was on view in each country, simultaneously, for 28 days before being disassembled and recycled.
The Floating Piers
From June 18 to July 3, 2016 thousands of people walked on the waters of Italy’s Lake Iseo. The Floating Piers, Christo’s most recent installation, consisted of 220,000 interlocking, polyethylene cubes covered in 100,000 square miles of shimmering yellow fabric.
Works in Progress
Christo’s current works in progress are The Mastaba, the only permanent installation ever designed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, the latter of which is set to begin installation in Paris in 2021. According to a statement made by his office, “Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always made clear that their artworks in progress be continued after their deaths. Per Christo’s wishes, ‘L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped’ in Paris, France, is still on track for September 18 – October 3, 2021.” However it made no mention of a timeline for The Mastaba.
“Christo lived his life to the fullest,” the statement went on to say, “not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories.”
Written & photographed by Saraya Cheney, Assistant Director – Programs & Marketing
Before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, many of us have already decided on our resolutions for the upcoming year. For 2020, I decided that I wanted to spend more time noticing the small shifts in the natural world, taking things in at a slower pace and try to create something, anything, at least once a week. While scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw a post from one of my favorite Virginia artists, suggesting that the start of the year was a great time to begin a “perpetual journal”. I’d seen her post about these journals in the past, was mildly intrigued, but never really looked into it any further. After reading her lengthy post, I realized that this style of journaling ticked off all of my “resolution boxes” while leaving a lot of room for my own creativity and need for flexibility. I didn’t know at the time that this journal would become a meditative practice and provide connection to a wider online community during the time of COVID-19.
What is a Perpetual Journal?
A perpetual journal, in very basic terms, is a type of journal that goes on until all of the pages are filled.
How is this type of Perpetual Journal different?
This style of journal was conceived of by botanical artist, Lara Call Gastinger and involves documenting the natural world, through all seasons and over many years, in whichever medium feels best to you.
How to set up a Perpetual Journal:
Buy, or make, a blank journal. It should be small enough for you to be able to carry it with you. I personally enjoy square shaped journals and am loyal to a particular brand that makes beautiful 5″ x 5″ hardbound sketchbooks. Whatever size feels comfortable enough for you to carry along will make this practice all the more successful.
Break the journal down into 52 spreads (from January 1-7 through December 24-31) so that each two-page spread corresponds to one week. For example: January 1-7 would take up two pages, then January 8-14 would take up the next two pages and so on.
*You can start with the calendar year, but there’s no perfect time to start! Here are some other suggestions on when to start your journal: First Day of Summer (June 20th), an anniversary or your birthday
Draw, paint or write a nature observation. Be sure to include the year! I’ve decided to create my entire journal in pen & ink because that is the medium I work in the most but you can work in whatever medium you’d like, even mixing media. Just make sure that your journal is suitable for the medium you choose.
Return each year to add more observations until your journal is full!
There are no hard and fast rules dictating what should be included in your perpetual journal once you’ve set it up. A spread will have observations from multiple years. Weeks, or months, may be “missed” when life gets hectic. You can spend minutes or hours on your entries, it’s entirely up to you. This is for your observation, enjoyment, connection and growth!
If you are on social media, and would like to connect with others who participate in sharing their perpetual journals online, use the hashtag #lgperpetual journal. There is a large community of incredibly friendly artists and observers who enjoy the natural world and connecting with one another virtually!
Ghostly women, potential murder plots, and hidden images… we’ve chosen six of the most mysterious works from art history for you to explore!
Young Hare, Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a 16th Century “Jack-of-All-Trades” and master of many. Skilled in painting, various forms of printmaking, and drawing, Dürer created a number of technically challenging works that boggle the minds of contemporary art critics even today. Dürer created his works in a time of much political and religious turmoil, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses sparked a reformation and Suleiman the Magnificent was on Europe’s doorstep. Yet, Dürer’s works exude a beautiful stillness, or otherworldliness, while still speaking to the historical context of the time.
His painting, Young Hare, completed in 1502 is one of his most beloved works. It has been much discussed due to its simplicity, subject and one detail that many even fail to notice, until pointed out…the mysterious details hidden in the hare’s right eye. Are those white brush strokes the artist’s studio windows as so many suggest? And what of the darker figure just to the right of the white strokes?
If you enjoyed Albrecht Dürer’s Young Hare, and are curious about other works, you might enjoy this article.
La Primavera, Sandro Botticelli
Painted around 1480, Sandro Botticelli’s La Primavera (Spring) is his second most popular piece, after Birth of Venus, which he would create a few years later. While La Primavera‘s origin story is murky, it was believed to have been commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, a member of one of Florence, Italy’s wealthiest families, as a wedding gift for his wife.
The work centers around Venus, beneath a blind-folded Cupid. To the far left, Mercury uses his caduceus to disperse gathering clouds while the Three Graces dance to his right. On the Far right, Zephyr uses his breath to transform Chloris into Flora, bringing about the birth of spring. The lush scene conjured by Botticelli’s brush is adorned by *”at least 138 identified”, and accurately portrayed, plant species. Though art historians have been able to identify many of the mythological figures represented in the piece, the true meaning behind the painting remains a mystery.
*According to Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy, where the work is on permanent display
If you enjoyed the painting, you might enjoy visiting the Gallery Degli Uffizi website to experience their “Factories of Stories” series based on La Primavera. These fictional pieces allow you to experience the work in a whole new way.
Arnolfini Portrait, Jan van Eyck
The Arnolfini Portrait, painted by Flemish artist Jan van Eyck in 1434, is another painting rich in symbolism and detail but where the intended meaning is a mystery. At first glance, it appears to be a fairly straightforward depiction of a wealthy husband and his expectant wife. Upon closer inspection, we are left with more questions than answers as we soon find that what we thought to be an expectant wife is a woman holding a heavily-draped dress. Is this painting merely a display of family wealth? A portrait to mark the occasion of entering into a marriage contract? Or something more?
While much of the symbolism in this portrait can be compared to other common symbols used in art at the time, such as the oranges for fertility and the rosary beads for piety, we are left to wonder how they all fit together. However, even if we know the common symbolism of the day, interpretations will remain mysteries without written records. Here’s one art history major, turned comedian’s take on the portrait.
Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve aka “The Ambassadors”, Hans Holbein the Younger
The Ambassadors was painted in 1533, amidst the tumultuous political landscape of Henry VIII’s England. Hans Holbein the Younger’s works earned him a place in the controversial Tudor King’s court around 1535, as he would complete the famous Portrait of Henry VIII in 1536 or 1537.
While The Ambassadors is another painting rich with religious and political symbolism, the most mysterious portion of the painting is the cream-colored “smudge” that sits in the center of the lower portion of the panel. At first glance, it appears to be a mistake but when looked at from an acute angle, this “smudge” becomes a fully-formed human skull. Known as anamorphic art, this technique was not unknown at the time but it was not widely incorporated either. Many art historians have commented on Holbein’s intended meaning, most settling on the idea that it serves as a memento mori, a constant reminder that we all grapple with the fragility of our own humanity.
Find out what the National Gallery in London has to share about The Ambassadors here.
The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn
Arguably one of the most famous paintings in the world, Rembrandt’s Dutch Golden Age masterpiece, commonly referred to as “The Night Watch”, was completed in 1642. Rembrandt was well-known when he was alive, regarded as one of Holland’s greatest artists, and was at the height of his career when he was commissioned to paint “The Night Watch”, yet, he died penniless in 1669, and was buried in an unmarked grave. Is it possible that this piece unveiled a murder plot that lead to Rembrandt’s downfall?
The Old Guitarist, Pablo Picasso
Completed during Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period”, The Old Guitarist is one of his most popular works from that period. While the meaning behind the work itself is not much of a mystery, what physically lays behind the painting was until the Art Institute of Chicago took x-rays and performed technical examinations of the piece. What prompted the examination? The visible outline of a “ghostly woman” found just above the neck of the Guitarist. It wasn’t unusual for artists, especially Picasso, to reuse the canvases of failed paintings but what was it about the woman that made him want to change his subject? Why didn’t he, or couldn’t he, remove her completely? Who was she? Again, we’re left with more questions than answers.
To explore more of Picasso’s Blue Period and The Old Guitarist you can read this article.
If you enjoyed this post you might like to explore more odd details hidden inside of famous paintings in this article by the BBC.
There is a whole, wide and wonderful world of Zines out there! We’re going to give you a very brief introduction to zines, teach you the basics of how to make one and send you on your way to “self-publishing”.
What is a “Zine”?
A zine is a self-published booklet that is, generally, about the size of a half sheet of paper, though it can be smaller or larger. They are filled with any number of things, from short stories and recipes to mimicking magazines or newsletters, and have a circulation of under 1,000 copies. The most current style of zine can be traced back to the 1930s when creating sci-fi fanzines was a popular pastime. Zines are created all over the world and there are a number of conventions held where zine publishers gather to sell and trade zines to collectors. One such gathering is held in Richmond each October, called Richmond Zine Fest.
Let’s Get Started on Your Mini-Zine!
Here’s what you’ll need…
-Piece of copy paper (8.5 x 11 makes an 8-page mini-zine)
-Something to write with
-Anything that you might want to use to embellish your zine. You could use markers, paint, stamps, colored pencils, crayons, collage, washi-tape, etc.
When it comes to creating and embellishing your zine, the sky is the limit. However, the point of a zine is reproduction. If you plan to reproduce your zine for distribution, make sure that the materials you use will remain flat when placed on a copier and won’t cast severe shadows when copied.
If you do not plan to reproduce your zine, you’re making a “one-off”…feel free to go wild!
Fold your sheet of paper in half, then into quarters and finally into eighths. Now unfold your paper completely. When you do, your piece of paper should look something like the image below.
Fold your paper in half and cut a slit halfway across the middle from the fold, as shown in image below on the left.
Fold your paper along the crease that has the slit and push the ends in towards one another. The sections will fold in to form a booklet with eight pages. You might need to straighten out some of the folds as you do this step.
You now have an eight page mini-zine to fill with your amazing ideas! What will you fill your zine with?
Some things to consider:
-Do you plan on reproducing this zine? If so, how will you reproduce it? Photograph and manipulate in a computer? Make copies? Scan it?
-Are you going to make a series of related zines? What will the concept be and how will you layout the content?
-Are you planning on making this a “one-off”? If so, make sure to document your process through photographs so that you can share the creation of the zine with the recipient.
If you’re interested in learning more about zines and how to make them, there are many wonderful references available online. We Make Zines is particularly helpful website as it served as our reference for this post, and even provides several templates, in case you find yourself lost or want to try different styles of zines.
As always, if you make a zine, don’t forget to post your finished works on social media and tag us (@GloucesterArts) on Facebook and Instagram so we can see what you’ve created. If you’re not on social media, send an email to email@example.com and we just might feature you in a future Weekly Roundup email!
Local Artist, and 2019 Annual Juried Show first place prize winner, Theresa Wells Stifel, was scheduled to have her solo show in our gallery during the month of May. However, with the spread of COVID-19, her show, like so many others, was cancelled. Theresa has had to adapt and change, releasing her May show online and, we are excited to announce, she is currently creating a new body of work to be shown at Arts on Main this September.
We reached out to Theresa to get some background on her recently released online show, get a glimpse of her process, and her incredible studio space!
AoM: How did the concept for this body of work come about? Was there one particular thing that sparked the idea or did it just unfold painting by painting?
TWS: My current show, that was slated to be at Arts on Main in May of 2020, is titled “Nerida”. Nerida is a name derived from the Nereids, or sea nymphs, that were referenced in Greek mythology. I have always been a beach lover, having lived in California and Bermuda when I was young. Even as I lived in Northern Virginia our family’s happy place was at the beach, usually the Delaware shore. When we moved to Gloucester County, a couple of years ago, we were mesmerized by the water views everywhere. Not surprisingly, I have been painting more of the blues I see out my window every day! The women in this show are inspired mostly by photos I have seen or have been shared with me. As you can tell, from their not- terribly-modern-attire, vintage style is always an inspiration to me.
AoM: Your work involves a lot of layering and the combining of a variety of media. Can you tell us a little bit about your process and how it developed?
TWS: I revere the craftsmanship, intricacy, and beauty of bygone fabric, vintage fashion and notions. I used to do a lot of sewing so I would haunt flea markets and thrift stores for damaged old goods that I could refashion into something.
Being able to integrate them into my work, so they take a new function as art (rather than end up in a land-fill), makes me happy. It became a challenge to use every little, tiny scrap so I began incorporating waste and vintage ephemera papers, into my paintings and not just my collage or sewing work.
AoM: Can you give us an idea of what the process might look like?
TWS: Usually I lay down a background of color, then add ephemera. If I am doing figural work I then block in the figure and decide how abstract or detailed the person will be. I say “decide” but truly, I make it up as I go along depending on how each overlay looks and feels to me. I then add other layers to balance the composition or fix perceived mistakes. Sometimes this takes more than a few rounds of painting other times the composition can be fairly sparse. The last step can be added ephemera, stitching or vintage finds. An average painting has 5 to 12 layers. Because of the drying time I tend to work on more than one piece at a time. I then varnish and wire my piece for hanging.
AoM: Tell us about your space…
TWS: My space is a drywalled double car garage with beautiful windows and an exterior door. I am so lucky to have high ceilings to stack my supplies high, a heater for the winter time, concrete floors to sling paint on with abandon and beautiful light to work in. The light comes in handy for photographing my work for social media and our web store. There is no comfy chair to sit in, no computer or tv to distract me. It is a space dedicated to creating.
AoM: Do you ever get the equivalent of “writer’s block” for artists? If so, how do you push through it?
TWS: I don’t know if it is good or bad but I NEVER have “artist block”. I have a million ideas in my head, a million thoughts and plans to pursue. I will say, I occasionally have “artist reluctance” when I am working on a piece and it is in the “ugly middle” and I will just walk away from it. Sometimes for days. Sometimes this will happen with a commission when I have a preconceived idea of exactly what I want, what I need for the piece to be; so of course, that is when you tighten up and lose it. I have been known to scrape faces off of portraits and start completely over multiple times. Other times I will finish something for the sake of calling it finished and then I am haunted and dissatisfied. One of the most liberating things I have learned is that I am the only one who decides when a piece is done. There is great freedom to take an “ok” painting and completely obliterating it with a new layer of paint. Ironically, I just won a prize here at Arts on Main with a painting that had two “failed” paintings under the one you see! The juror commented on its ‘depth”. A great lesson was learned with that one.
AoM: Have you always been creative? Did you grow up in a creative family?
TWS: I grew up in what I would call a handy, creative family. Anything we needed or wanted we could pretty much figure out how to make it. Fashion, jewelry, accessories, furniture, home décor, so of course art. We could figure out how to make it.
AoM: How did that kind of creative, DIY spirit influence you and your work/path in life?
TWS: Growing up in a Do-It-Yourself kind of family, art didn’t enter into my career plans at all. Being creative was never seen as an end goal, more as a means to an end to create what you wanted for yourself or a gift.
AoM: So, did you end up pursuing art in college?
TWS: School was always business focused, money was not to be “wasted” on fun or creative endeavors. That would have seemed “frivolous” in my family. My business development background and creativity combined when I opened a 3,000 square foot vintage retail shop and art gallery with artist studios on the upper floors. There, I encountered working artists, art teachers, and amateurs that were compelled to create. The wonderful variety of habits, skills and practices that I encountered with my “crew” really opened my eyes that one could be creative for a career.
AoM: How has your creative journey changed over the years?
TWS: My artistic journey has been seemingly dependent on time and attention. The thread of creativity is always there, it manifests in different ways at different times. I like to switch up media, techniques, formats and applications. There is a tension between wanting to acquire a certain level of skill versus feeling like if I do too much of one thing, work starts to feel stale and less joyful. It was hard to give up my retail business as I thrived with the bustle of community but being able to concentrate on just my practice has helped my work grow exponentially. It feels good.
AoM: How has being in quarantine affected your work and business?
TWS: I am blessed that my family both near and far are healthy. Physically I am in my Gloucester “bubble”. My daily routine is the same as it was before. The quarantine obliterated events that had been in the works for a year. Some will be rescheduled, some are just gone. I choose to concentrate not on lost revenue but the opportunity that time brings. Time to get things online to try to sell them there. Time to work on commissions. Time to support creative friends and their endeavors if only from afar. My nature is to concentrate on the positive. I must confess though to be concerned about the future. I love the community of art. Sharing with friends, going to events, visiting galleries, festivals and museums. With pneumonia scarred lungs I am in the high risk category. How will I participate in the events I love? Will those events come back? Time will tell.
AoM: What is the best thing you’ve done for your artistic career?
TWS: The best thing I have done for my artistic career is just holding my breath and trying. So enter the show, introduce yourself, write the blog post, reach out to people, go to the museum, and just do the work. I used to worry whether everyone, anyone would like my work. I have finally done enough work that I realize I only need one person to like it and take it home. So do what you love and then find the people that love it too.
AoM: Where would you like for the next steps in your artistic career to take you?
TWS: I would love to do more commissioned work. I would love to be part of a larger creative community here in Gloucester. But the best next steps lead to the studio!
You can find out more about Theresa and her beautiful work by visiting her website TheresaWellsStifel.com or StifelAndCapra.com. You can also find her on Instagram via @theresawellsstifel and Facebook