Apr
2
2013

The Art in Advertising

 

Art as a selling tool: selling as an art form!

 

Art is a medium of expression. More than one artist has described painting as a way of speaking, language without the words. Many works of art present a new perspective, sometimes making sharp insights about society.

Advertising is also a visual means of conveying a message, though it is much more specific. The only message advertising really tries to get across is: Buy this product! Advertisements attempt to persuade the viewer to action, one that is solely centered on commerce.

We may be inclined to think art and advertising are opposed to each other, that they stand for completely different things. While this may be true at times, their relationship is much more complicated than that. Art and advertising draw from each other in ways we may not always recognize.


Just as art imitates life, advertising imitates art. And some art, in turn, imitates advertising. Of course, none of this would have been possible if not for the birth of consumerism. Consumerism has been defined as "the consumption of goods without a compelling or essential requirement." It adheres to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We've got food. We've got shelter. Now what? We're bored and we want to feel good about ourselves. So we buy things.

This concept has been credited to Edward Bernays, a nephew and disciple of Freud, who linked sexual needs and desires to consumer products in the 1920s. Since these early days, advertising has often been accomplished through a visual means. One of the earliest commercial illustrators was Norman Rockwell, who created ads for Jell-O and Orange Crush. His Four Freedoms series was used to promote war bonds during World War II.


 

It doesn't appear that many people questioned this practice, for decades, until the counter-culture of the 1960s. At that point, artists and activists were questioning everything and the world was in a general upheaval. Art really came into its own as an expression for new ideas. New media, even, were presented.

Notably, Andy Warhol had a lot to say about consumerism through his art. He mocked mass production with his Campbell's soup cans, his iconic duplication picture of Marilyn Monroe. He closed a gap between art and commerce by bringing commerce into the artistic conversation. He immortalized American brands like Campbell's and Tide. Interestingly, he also appeared in a television commercial in Japan, in an advertisement for TDK cassettes.

 

 

While Warhol tended to goad commercialism, another artist whose work seemed to have not much to do with consumers, also appeared in commercials. Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí was commissioned for TV ads for Alka-Seltzer and Lanvin chocolates.

 


 

In the old days, the pre-modern era, an artist only appeared in his art by way of self-portrait. Warhol and Dalí were essentially commissioning their faces — the famous white mop of hair, the pointy mustache — their personal characteristics helped to develop their brand. They demonstrated that art and advertising feed off each other. Art makes a statement about the world; advertising makes a statement about a product. In this, the post-modern era, most media is a comment on or a reincarnation of something else. Now more than ever, there is a symbiotic relationship between art and advertising that must be sustained.

 

What are your opinions on art, advertising, and the growing links between the two? Are there any more examples you can give us of commonalities between them? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Mar
29
2013

Plein Air Painting - How to Travel with Art Supplies

 

How to bring your supplies with you in the field!

 

 

Thus far, we've covered what plein air painting is, where to go to paint, and what to use for painting it. We've got one last problem though: how do we bring all our materials out into the field for plein air painting — wherever that field may be? Well, over the centuries artists have developed some very clever and convenient methods for travelling with art supplies, and they've only gotten better with time!

 


 

Easels

To start with, let's pick something to paint on! Whether you're drawing on a pad of paper, painting on a watercolor block, or sketching with oils on canvas, a support is needed for any surface you plan to work on. Many artists stand while plein air painting, so a portable easel is a good choice. Special easels, often called French easels, were developed to provide not just support, but storage, and include drawers and compartments for carrying paints and brushes within the easel. However, French easels can be a bit of a hassle to haul around, so if you're not in need of the storage as well, a simple travel easel can suffice. And conversely, if you plan to sit whilst painting, whether at a table or on the ground, a selection of table easels and drawing boards could be just the ticket! The key is to decide how best you like to paint, and choose the perfect plein air easel to match your style.

Recommended Plein Air Easels:

French Easel

Travel Easel

Drawing Board


Palettes

Painting palettes can be as basic as a plank of wood, or an incredibly complicated and specifically sculpted piece that's an artwork in itself. Whichever style of palette you prefer, however, it is an absolutely necessary plein air painting supply! The surface on which you choose to mix your paint depends much on which painting medium you're using. Watercolors mix well in a palette with wells so water doesn't spill everywhere; oils blend nicely on smooth surfaces; and acrylics work great in a palette with an airtight seal that keeps them wet and workable. The choices are virtually limitless, and many artists like to keep quite a few palettes "in rotation" at any one time, to maximize their painting options.

Recommended Painting Palettes for...

Watercolors

Acrylics

Oils


Solvent Containers

Very few paints are used completely alone — with no mediums, water or solvent mixed in. Using water or solvent widens the effects achievable in any given paint, but poses a problem for transportation. We can't just bring a water bottle into the field and paint directly from it, nor lug a whole can of turpentine everywhere we go. Luckily, we have many options open to us for bringing fluids and mediums plein air painting, without spilling them all over the place. As with palettes, which container you choose depends on your paint — and hence whichever medium or solvent you plan to use with it!

 

Recommended Containers for...

Water

Turpentine / Mineral Spirits

Mediums


Bags & Carriers

While we could go plein air painting with nothing more than a French easel, various bags, packs and carriers certainly make field life easier. Whether you need to carry extra paper and canvas, snacks and sunglasses, or every tube of paint you've ever owned, chances are you're going to need a way to haul it around. Tote bags and satchels are perfect for sketchbooks and small supplies, with their wide array of pockets. Carts and bins are great for rolling heavy items and large canvases across rough terrain. And there are even special carriers designed for hauling nothing less than a whole easel! Going out into the field for plein air painting doesn't need to be a hassle, if you've got everything packed up and ready to go!

Recommended Carriers:

Tote Bag

Rolling Cart

Easel Carrier


Seating

Wherever we go when plein air painting, however we get there, chances are after a while we'll want to sit down and have a rest — or we may want to spend our whole painting session sitting. Since bringing armchairs and drafting stools into the field isn't really an option, a good portable seat is invaluable. From a basic folding canvas stool to a comfy chair with included storage, finding a seat out in the open doesn't have to mean plopping down in the dirt!

 

Recommended Portable Seating:

Stool

Chair

Seating with Storage


And there we go! By now, we know all about plein air painting, where we should go, what we should use, and how we should bring it with us. And just in time, because plein air painting season is here!

We hope you've enjoyed our tips and trips through plein air painting! What are your plans for the season? Spring into plein air season, and tell us about it in the comments below!

Mar
27
2013

Plein Air Painting - Which Paint to Use

 

Best mediums for drawing and painting en plein air!

 

In our series on plein air painting thus far, we've covered the definition and history of outdoor art, as well as some popular places for creating it. But what should we use when painting or drawing en plein air? Today we'll discuss the pros and cons of some of the most popular plein air painting media, so you can choose for yourself what to take into the field!

 


 

Pencils

Pencils are perhaps the most basic of plein air media — and some of the most versatile! Whether using plain graphite, charcoal pencils, or vibrant colored pencils, drawing pencils are capable of rendering all the detail of nature, as well as overarching impressions of its greatness. In addition, the set-up for drawing en plein air is perhaps the simplest of all: your chosen pencils, and a pad of paper with a stiff backing are technically all you need!

 

Recommended Drawing Pencils:

Graphite

Charcoal

Colored


Pastels

Pastels are a unique medium, bridging the gap between dry and wet media. Artworks done in pastels are called "paintings" for a reason, as the pastel artist can get as much depth of color and expression as from wet paints — but all from a comparatively "dry" media in stick form. For plein air paintings in pastel, all that's needed would be the chosen pastel (soft, oil, or semi-hard), a pad of heavyweight, stiff pastel paper, and if so desired, water (for soft pastels) or solvent (for oil pastels) and a brush to wet-blend directly on the artwork surface.

 

Recommended Pastels:

Soft

Oil

Semi-Hard


Watercolors

Many people immediately think of watercolors when they think of plein air painting: of the "wet media" options, watercolors are the most portable, as well as being — essentially — specifically developed for outdoor painting. To paint plein air with watercolors, a few more supplies are needed: paints, brushes, and water, obviously; a block of watercolor paper; and some form of easel or support system. Many brands of watercolor paint have convenient, inclusive sets designed for travel that make bringing paints into the field an easy exercise.

 

Recommended Watercolors:

Artist Watercolors

Student Watercolors

Watercolor Sets


Acrylics

Acrylic paints are the newest addition to the plein air painting repertoire, and in themselves are also a very versatile one. Acrylics can be thinned down to resemble watercolor, or laid on thick for oil-like impasto techniques, and they dry to permanence comparatively quickly. For artists using acrylics to paint plein air, a larger, more cumbersome set-up is needed, including canvases, paints, palettes, water, easel, brushes and more.

 

Recommended Acrylics:

Paints

Mediums

Sets


Oils

 

Oil colors are the classic plein air painting medium, the one preferred by artists like Monet and Renoir, and the one most frequently thought of when considering the subject. Oils are ideal for capturing the play of light over a landscape, but certain preparations and precautions need to be taken when painting en plein air with oil colors. In addition to all the necessary painting supplies of paints and medium, easel and canvas, the oil painter also needs a way to bring wet canvases back home once the plein air painting session is done. Additionally, modern alkyd and drying mediums can speed the drying time of oil colors.

Recommended Oil Colors:

Oils

Mediums

Sets


So there you have it! A brief overview of the most popular plein air painting and drawing mediums. From the most basic set up of pencil and paper, to a full-blown portable oil painting studio, any artist can enjoy creating art outdoors in any medium they prefer. And stay tuned for next time, when we discuss the best way to bring all your art supplies with you when you travel!

What about you? What's your favorite drawing or painting medium for working en plein air? What is it that you like or dislike about it? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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