Monthly Archives: February 2017

Christo’s Next Project Mastaba is the Biggest Statue in the World

With more than a few groundbreaking works of art under his belt at 82-years-old, Christo still radiates a tireless energy that shows no signs of slowing down. He still sketches everything by hand himself, and “when he’s in his studio, he’s standing, not sitting,” says Mathias Rastorfer of Galerie Gmurzynska, a Swiss gallery that exhibited a few of Christo’s smaller-scale works—wrapped sculptures from the 1960s and preliminary colored-pencil sketches of his greatest hits—at Art Basel Hong Kong this year. “He eats a piece of garlic every morning and goes up the incredibly steep stairs of his Tribeca studio ten times a day,” Rastorfer continued. “He’s the liveliest 82-year-old I know.”

It’s this tirelessness that’s made Christo and his late partner Jeanne-Claude’s larger-than-life career possible; the biggest hurdle to achieving their architecturally scaled works has always been the bureaucratic red tape that sometimes takes decades to overcome. “We always worked on several projects at once because we were never sure what would get permission,” Christo said when he met us in Hong Kong, directly off of a ten-day site-planning trip for another potential project in Abu Dhabi, UAE. “In the last 50 years, we realized 23 projects and failed 36 of them.”

Some projects were left unrealized by choice. Recently, following 25 years of planning through three administrations, Christo chose to abandon Over the River, a work that would drape swaths of luminous silver fabric over a 42-mile stretch of federally owned land. “Mr. Obama’s administration was very keen on the project, but when the new president was elected—and I do not mention his name—we decided not to do the project anymore,” he said, unwilling to work with President Trump.With Over the River abandoned and The Floating Piers—orange walkways set directly on the surface of an Italian lake that drew 1.2 million visitors last summer—achieved, Christo is now free to focus all of his energy on a project 40 years in the making: The Mastaba, a colorful mosaic of 410,000 oil barrels stacked in the shape of a flat-roofed Egyptian tomb. At 492 feet tall, it will not only be the largest sculpture in the world, but it will also actually eclipse the Great Pyramid of Giza by a full 11 feet—that is, if Christo can get the permission to build it.

What they do not tell about high school art

People may judge or mock you for taking a ‘mickey mouse’ subject

Art is often described as a ‘mickey mouse’ subject or ‘soft option’ by people who have little understanding of the subject. Art has a large practical component; there is the view that it is not intellectually demanding or academic. People may not realise the higher ordering thinking that is required when studying Art to evaluate, analyse and develop artwork and themes and at times produce comprehensive written projects in some areas of study. The subject may be discredited by the media, career advisors and fellow students.

Two of my “friends” do Maths at A Level and have repeatedly taken the mick out of me for doing A Level Art, to the point where I considered dropping it… – An A Level Art student, via The Student Room

In my own experience though, I find people usually appreciate the amount of effort that is required and admire your dedication to the subject, especially when you study Art at a senior level, where there are often written components such as a Personal Investigation / Personal Study or formal art analysis.

I have had friends who studied ‘academic’ subjects like Maths or Science as well as Art. I think people forget that these subjects can complement each other. This is very beneficial if you want to study something like Architecture, for example. In Art, you are also challenging yourself creatively, whereas in more academic subjects it is more about facts, understanding and objectivity. With a subject like Art you are expressing yourself in a different way.

For me Art was one of the most useful subjects in terms of teaching me life skills like time management, prioritising! As well as of course technical skills like Photoshop which have really helped me get jobs etc. – Nikau Hindin, A Level Art student from ACG Parnell College

If you are serious about pursuing Art, you need to get past what other people think of the subject. You are the one who will be studying it, if you find joy in doing it, it may be the right choice for you (read 9 reasons to study Art in high school).

You can’t just draw whatever you want

Some students are shocked to learn that you can’t just ‘draw whatever you want’. A very important part of most high school Art qualifications is drawing and observing. This means that it is important to draw things from life rather than photographs when possible. You can look at different angles and truly observe the object (read how to create an excellent observational drawing).

It is sometimes frustrating not knowing exactly what is expected

If you are deciding whether to pick a creative subject at a higher level, it is important to realise that Art does not involve a list of facts or content to learn like other subjects. Mark schemes can involve imprecise and vague terminology. Because of this, you may be unclear about what is expected or needed to excel.

This is why I think it is important to look at examples of student work before selecting the subject and at exam board websites, as they often try to explain what is expected. Reading the official syllabus can be a great place to start. This will give guidance in terms of quantity of work required, deadlines and how things should be submitted. It is important to understand key terminology, such as ‘development’. This is how to go from one part of your project to the other to show how your work is progressing and does not appear disjointed. There are some great articles on this website which I used throughout studying Art which show what these words mean.

When viewing artwork on this website, remember that the Student Art Guide features the best work from students around the world. I think it is really important to not feel daunted by this (I know I did) but remember that you will have time to improve and refine your skills over the time you study a creative subject like Art.

The most important thing you can do if you are unsure about what to expect, is talk to your Art teacher. You will get an idea of the workload and the syllabus structure that your school or college follows. They can show you examples of current or past student projects, so you get an idea of the kind of work that people create. Also, talking to older students, although a daunting prospect, is highly beneficial, as they can tell you personally how they feel about it and answer any questions.

Your classmates won’t all be super talented – there will be a range of abilities

…It was intimidating to walk into a classroom full of people who share your passion but have attained more skill than you. But that’s just the thing; you are your worst critic. You just have to trust yourself and what you are capable of doing. – Kristia Bondoc, AP Studio Art student from Mt. Eden High School

There is often a misconception that everyone who takes Art at a senior level in high school must have a supreme level of ‘talent’. The presence of high achievers can be more obvious than in other subjects, where it is not always clear who is the best student. In Art, your achievement is laid out on the table for everyone to see. This can be nerve-racking…but also inspiring.

This is exactly how I felt at GCSE level. At this stage I was never 100% confident with my drawing. As a main component of any Art qualification, this was something I had to overcome. I was surrounded by people who I felt were ten times better than me. However, I think it is important to consider what you enjoy doing. Drawing does not automatically mean hours and hours spent on a stunning pencil drawing. I found that drawing in pen worked for me, as it allowed a looser style of drawing. There are many types of mark-making, and even if you don’t excel with one technique, you can build upon strengths in another. I was still observing, just in a more expressive way. I found other ways of recording ideas; this included photography. It was when doing GCSE Art that my passion for photography developed. During A Level (a qualification typically taken by 16-18 year olds) I developed a love of working in pen, experimenting with different types of mark making.

I know you are scared beyond belief that you can’t do this, but you can. I was once in your shoes, just as terrified. What is so frightening about joining this class is that you only see the artwork we produce once it’s finished. You don’t see how far our artwork has come. We all started in Art 1 or Advanced Art with the same potential. – Elizabeth Blancas, AP Studio Art student from Mt. Eden High School

There will be others who feel like you do about a particular medium. There are often students who feel that they are great drawers but weaker painters. Over time, skill with wet mediums often improves dramatically and students learn to work faster.

Working in a new medium means you can use it in a way that you enjoy. At the end of the day, all students have strengths and weaknesses. Some are above-average or average at the subject, but enjoy it. As with any subject, there are those who excel in all areas too.

…because you make so much art, you begin to transform into an awesome artist without even realizing it. I honestly did not expect to really love watercolor, I always thought that it was too difficult for me to use. – Kristia Bondoc, AP Studio Art student from Mt. Eden High School

In most classes there are a range of abilities and it is important to consider this, if you feel you’re not as good as everyone else. You will develop throughout the course and refine your skills and find a medium you enjoy to work with. No matter where your ability level begins, you can make tremendous progress in a year. Because of this, my confidence in the subject grew and I came to trust my creative decisions more.
Remember also that you don’t have to have the best skill level in your class to excel and that having the right attitude is just as important. If you are motivated and put the effort in you are likely to enjoy the subject more. If your attitude and effort are positive this will have a greater influence on your mark (read what makes an Art student excel and why some students never get high grades).

With a good work ethic, the workload is manageable (not impossible)

Many students select Art thinking that it will be a fun subject where you hurl a bit of paint around and scribble with brightly coloured crayons. Students who enter under this misconception suffer a very quick wake-up call. Art can indeed be fun, but it is also an unimaginable amount of work. It requires constant and ongoing effort. Many students spend more time on their Art homework than they do on all of their other subjects put together. – From the top 10 mistakes made by Art students

Some people truly underestimate the workload, but with the right attitude, the workload should not scare people off. With a subject like Art, the work is continuous. Your ideas evolve with the project and so does the type of work you do. It’s not so much that the workload is unmanageably enormous, but that it is continuous, and you can’t get away with working hard just before an exam.

At A Level, I had five hours of Art a week and was told for every hour in school we should spent an hour out of school. However, it really is down to how much effort you are prepared to put in. Five hours of work may be a beautiful pencil drawing but it might also be several expressive paintings. It is also important to consider that it should be quality over quantity (although obviously you need sufficient quantity to meet the assessment objectives, and that this doesn’t mean that a disorganised student can expect to submit only a handful of pieces and still get a great grade). This is something I learnt from GCSE. Quality of the work is much more important than how much you do, as you may spend time on something that does not show any development or experimentation. The submission of weaker pieces can bring your grade down overall, so it is far better to aim for a manageable quantity and execute it well, than to produce masses of lower quality work.

Time management is important. If you can keep on top of a project the workload seems less overwhelming. Again, there are great resources on this website to help, such as how to stop procrastinating and get your Art homework done.

Equipment and materials can cost a lot

Art is different to other subjects in the terms of equipment and materials. You are typically lugging around sketchbooks (something you’ll get used to) other art supplies and various still life items. It is important to consider the cost of these materials if you are contemplating taking Art. Subjects like Photography and Graphic Design, in particular, require you to print a lot, in addition to initial stationery and camera costs.

You have to think for yourself

In younger years at school, Art classes are often very directed. However, by the time you get to senior high school, students are usually required to be more independent and think for themselves. I really enjoyed being more independent when I did A Level Art, because you learn to think for yourself and trust your creative decisions.

Art class is relaxed – it will become your home away from home

Being surrounded by other creative people who enjoy Art as a subject can be very motivating. It gives you a chance to talk about your work and see how other people develop and interpret a theme or project. For me, the atmosphere of the classroom for other subjects was different. I always felt very relaxed when I did Art, as it was different to my other subjects that were heavily textbook or essay based. In some Art classes you may even be able to listen to music while you work and there are always great discussions going on.

Then AP Art happened. This absolutely perfect class, it was what I needed without even realizing it. I thought I would be the one person who didn’t talk to anyone and nobody wanted to talk to. It was the exact opposite. I could express myself without fearing judgment, every week, every day. It felt good, and it felt right. I had found people that I cared about, but more importantly, I felt that they cared about me….[]…I found a family where I least expected it, in high school. – Alec Bates, AP Studio Art student fromMt. Eden High School

You will quickly become comfortable talking about your work to others. This might mean presenting your work to others and sharing your process from the start to the end of a project. My teachers at my school did exercises like this and I found is hugely beneficial as a confidence booster. It also gave me the chance to gain feedback from others, which as an artist you may not always agree with, but constructive criticism never hurts. You can learn a lot by listening to other talking about their process.

If you are considering taking Art, having completed A Level Art I can say it is one of the best choices I ever made. I have grown so much as a person and my confidence with working in different mediums has improved. You challenge yourself if you choose it, because you have to think independently, creatively and methodically about how you will develop a project. I thoroughly recommend taking it because the possibilities of what you can do are endless.

The 10 most important steps you can take for ace high school Art

1. Dream of success

Most people spend their days fretting about the past or worrying about the future. They carry around an inner critic that belittles their skill, intellect, appearance, decisions, actions and worth as a person. The human capacity for anticipating the future based on the events of the past has resulted in us dominating the planet; it is also the leading of cause of misery. If you are depressed, worried or anxious, read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (Amazon affiliate link). He will remind you that what has already happened has gone and will only ever exist as a memory experienced in your mind now. Similarly, the future is an imaginary concept that can only be considered in this moment: now.

Worry shackles you. It leaves you paralysed with fear. Instead of contemplating negative outcomes – transform your inner critic into an advocate. Treat yourself with the wisdom and kindness that you would show a child, sibling or friend. Imagine an outcome so awesome that your parents, teachers and friends are filled with pride. When you realise that achieving something great is entirely possible, every facet of your brain begins to work together and your feet begin to move towards this goal.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

The mind is everything. What you think you become. – Buddha

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. – Napoleon Hill

2. Get enough sleep

80% of the teenage population is estimated to be suffering from a lack of sleep according to a 2006 poll by the American National Sleep Foundation. Even worse, we don’t know it. As sleep deprivation increases, the body adjusts in order to cope and we don’t register the feeling of tiredness – especially if we try to stimulate alertness with caffeine, junk food, artificial lights or digital screens. Average sleep hours are estimated to have decreased by two hours per night over the last fifty years; primarily the direct result of electronic devices disrupting our circadian rhythm – the natural cycles that prompt us to wake and sleep.

Chronic sleep deprivation causes a dramatic reduction in performance in just about all areas of life. An article published by The Indiana University School of Medicine titledNeurocognitive Consequences of Sleep Deprivation, by authors Jeffrey S. Durmer and David F. Dinges states that:

…profound neurocognitive deficits accumulate over time in the face of subjective adaptation to the sensation of sleepiness.

In other words, the longer we suffer from sleep deprivation, the worse our brain becomes, but we don’t realise this.

…the mean functional level of any sleep-deprived individual is estimated to be comparable to the 9th percentile of non–sleep-deprived subjects.

In the Beginner Guide to Overcoming Sleep Deprivation James Clear explains that:

…if you get 6 hours of sleep per night for two weeks straight, your mental and physical performance declines to the same level as if you had stayed awake for 48 hours straight.

Sleep deprivation – even mild sleep deprivation – reduces your performance, alertness, memory, ability to retain and process information and affects motivation and mood. It makes you slower, less efficient – and worse at making decisions. If you think that you can even remotely perform to your potential in a high school Art subject (let alone anything else) while gaining insufficient sleep, you are mistaken. Stop texting, Facebooking, chatting online and surfing the net at night. Get a free blue-light blocker app on your cell phone and use it after darkness falls. At bedtime, turn off all lights and electronic devices (don’t sleep with these near you) and sleep in total darkness.

Prioritise sleep, for your own sake. Make it a challenge, and measure the effect it has on your Art projects and your life.

3. Eat well (and stop dieting)

Like the rest of the world, teenagers are image and health conscious. This often leads to restrictive dieting, excessive hunger and other ongoing eating issues such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder (conditions estimated to be rampant in modern society).

Recent Canadian data demonstrate that nearly one-half of Ontario teenagers attending public school feel unhappy about their weight…[]… It is not surprising, therefore, that strategies aimed at changing one’s weight and shape are also extremely prevalent. Canadian cross-sectional data suggest that more than one in five teenage girls are ‘on a diet’ at any given time. American, Australian and British data also suggest similar high rates of attempted weight loss among adolescents. – from a study published by the Canadian Paediatric Society

Dieting has – at best – a 98% failure rate. Restricting calories mutes your brainpower, makes you tired, erodes willpower, ruins your mood and is the leading cause of eating disorders. Eat like a normal person: satisfy your appetite with a combination of nourishing food and easily absorbed energy. Never, ever starve yourself. (If in doubt – or if you need saving from some part of the dieting/bingeing cycle – watch this YouTubevideo by Bree and read Brain over Binge – a genius book by a woman who cured herself of Bulimia and binge eating instantly, after years of struggle – Amazon affiliate link).

To perform your best in any high school subject, your body and brain need to be well fed (you might not believe it, but this is also the way to achieve an optimal physique). Please. Do it now.

4. Stop poisoning yourself with addictive substances

You might be surprised how many teenagers compromise their high school performance as a direct result of taking drugs or engaging in other harmful behaviours. Many countries have a crazy youth culture that involves experimenting with alcohol and other addictive substances (those which – by their very definition – offer the fleeting illusion of pleasure in exchange for long term pain). These cause the deterioration of physical health and a depression of your mental state. Very often this is compounded by foggy memories, social embarrassment, regret and a lack of sleep.

If you can’t convince yourself of the detrimental nature of such substances, remind yourself that have the rest of your life to destroy your brain and cripple your productivity. Don’t destroy your chance of getting into a good university and throw your life plan off-course right now. At the very least, save partying for end-of-year vacations, when the damage is less likely to directly impact an assessment of your academic ability that you will have to live with forever.

5. Get some sunshine

Sunshine exposure triggers the development of vitamin D in your skin; helps with bone strength and resistance against diseases. It has been linked to higher levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that promotes a good mood and regulates appetite, sleep and memory.

Humans are not designed to be trapped inside, under artificial lights, for hours on end. Kick a ball outside. Lie in the sunshine for 10 minutes and see how this changes your mood, your outlook and your approach.

6. Make your workspace beautiful

Art students often become allured by the notion of beautiful chaos, but, in the context of your workspace, mess usually begets more mess.

Nine in ten (90%) Americans admit that unorganized clutter at home or at work has a negative impact on their life. Their productivity (77%), state of mind (65%), motivation (53%) and happiness (40%) are affected when there is disorder. – from a study by OfficeMax

Organising your room and desk makes you feel accomplished, confident, motivated, relaxed and in control. Studies show that, in most people, tidy work spaces increase work capacity and strengthen willpower. When too many things are present in an environment, we are less able to focus.
These photos show an organised art space designed for a young, pre-teen artist. Equipment has been stored in glass mason jars attached to a strip of recycled wood above the desk. This leaves items easily accessible, while the work surface remains clear. Photo credit: Philip Harvey

This doesn’t mean that you need to create a sterile environment, or organise things at the expense of working. Art students benefit from being surrounded by images, materials, artwork and inspiring subject matter. You should also remember that, according to the New York Times, a study by Ajilon Professional Staffing has linked messier desks to higher salaries. You don’t need to be extreme or obsessive, but if the mess has got out of control or your environment doesn’t stimulate creation, a change can be highly beneficial.
When he was seventeen, Seth was loaned a historic 1850s style grocery store building, with bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. He hung discarded metal objects on the walls, welding these together and sculpting other objects from the pieces. This building creates a huge and inspiring environment to create art. Photo credit: Jessica Salmond

If your space feels claustrophobic or you are drowning in clutter, read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo (Amazon affiliate link).

Note: Recruit someone to help you with this step if necessary. Whatever you do, don’t use this as an excuse to put off actually getting your work done.

7. Every day, do the most important thing first

A surprising number of highly successful individuals practise the habit of waking early and doing the most important task of the day first. The first few hours after you awake are deemed to be the most productive, because you are alert and able to summons high levels of focus and willpower. Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning (Amazon affiliate link) shares the notion that a great life is made up of a series of great days…and that the best way to create a great day is to start with a great morning. If you are in the habit of staying up late to work on assignments, try waking up early instead. This will improve your sleep quality and lead to a productive before-school routine (allowing you to get work done at a much faster rate than you did while exhausted at night – even for self diagnosed ‘night owls’). This sets your day up as you intend to continue and primes you for success.

…both success and failure are largely the results of habit! – Napoleon Hill

Either you run the day, or the day runs you. – Jim Rohn

8. Don’t wait for motivation. Get your homework done

Once you have established a regular routine for working on your art, and learned how to paint and draw quickly, you will find that it is possible to steadily complete homework tasks and never get behind. If you have lost control of your Art homework – read how to stop procrastinating and get your Art homework done.

9. Make art about something that matters to you

Interpreting a topic in a way that has relevance and meaning for you – and allows you to tell your own story – can be the difference between muddling along with boredom and disinterest and racing through a project with excitement and joy.

Use first-hand resources. Aim for powerful, emotive artwork, even if the subject matter itself is set by your teacher and describes the most mundane objects you can imagine. Focus on the message and the ideas: express a tiny (or huge) part of your world.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe

If you need help coming up with a great topic, read Art Project Ideas: a guide to subject matter selection.

10: Understand every word of the marking criteria

If you don’t understand how your work is assessed, you are fighting blind. Don’t be so naïve as to assume that great work deserves great marks. You might write the most amazing essay in an English Language class, but if this doesn’t answer the question, you will fail. To achieve full marks in Art, you must meet the marking criteria completely. In most cases, this involves a combination of technical skill; competent handling of media; a range of artistic processes and techniques; development of ideas towards well-balanced, resolved compositions (read more about development here); and the expression of personal ideas.

If you don’t understand the terminology that is used within your assessment criteria, ask your Art teacher to explain and keep asking until the meaning is clear.

Home Where Art is Made Acts of the People Artist Maud Lewis

There’s no rain in her clouds, no gray in her shadows; Maud Lewis’ small paintings are bright with sunshine, and filled with blue skies, crystal snow and calm waters. Now, a new movie tells the true story of a painter from Nova Scotia whose joyful works hardly hint at the difficult life she led.

Lewis had rheumatoid arthritis, which made it difficult for her to work, even as a young woman. To support herself, she took a job cooking and cleaning for a peddler — a man she would later marry. In the film Maudie, the couple is played by Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. (Critic Bob Mondello says the film is remarkable.

Lewis had no formal training, but she got her start painting Christmas cards with her mother, which they sold for 25 cents. As an adult, she used leftover house paint to brighten walls, bread boxes, cookie sheets — even the stove — with butterflies, tulips and swans. Canvas was expensive and hard to come by, so Lewis painted on beaver boards and Masonite — and she did it all from her own imagination.

“I’ve never seen any paintings from other artists,” said Lewis, who died in 1970.

Lewis painted what she saw — cows, horses, cats, oxen — “often with a very cheeky sense of humor,” says Shannon Parker, Curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax. The gallery has 55 of Lewis’ paintings in their permanent collection.

“She’s a local artist, who, if we didn’t collect them — especially in the beginning — nobody else would have,” Parker says.

Lewis became known in the late 1960s, as passing tourists saw her sign: “Paintings for Sale.” These were landscapes, painted on boards. She charged $2.00, later, $5.00.

“She was very hesitant to ask for more money,” Parker says.A writer learned about her, there was a magazine article, then the CBC interviewed her, and eventually she couldn’t keep up with the demand. She began selling her pictures while they were still wet. Now her paintings sell for $8,500 to $20,000.

Lewis’ entire house — a work of art in and of itself — now has a permanent home in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. After Lewis and her husband died, the pint-sized house started to fall into disrepair, but it was saved, restored, and moved into the gallery in 1998. In the years before she died, Lewis told the CBC she rarely left home.

“Contented right here in this chair,” she said. “Ain’t much for travel anyway. As long as I’ve got a brush in front of me, I’m all right.”

Parker thinks Maud’s popularity and her story is a work of slow magic.

“They didn’t have a lot of money,” Parker says. “They had no running water, they had no electricity. [She] was very limited in what she was able to do with her life. And yet her artwork was what she wanted to do and it’s something she was able to do. And touched so many other people. That’s pretty amazing.”