Monthly Archives: June 2017

How Art Is Essential In The Personal Life

Art plays a vibrant role in the personal life of the individual as well as in the social and economic development of the nation. The study of Visual arts encourages personal development and the awareness of both our cultural heritage and the role of art in the society. The learner acquires personal knowledge, skills and competencies through activities in Visual arts. When one studies Visual arts, he/she would come to appreciate or understand that art is an integral part of everyday life.

The role art plays in personal development and in the socioeconomic development of the nation have been explained below.

1. It fosters creativity:

Visual art education helps the learner to develop the ability to think, feel and act creatively with visual materials. The student also develops the ability to bring something new into existence. This desirable quality is acquired when the learner engages in practical lessons such as the designing and creation of an artefact in solving a problem or satisfying a need.

2. It offers a total education to the individual:

Visual art education offers holistic education to learners. Such education comes about when the learner produces an artefact in satisfying a particular need in the society. He engages in the organization and exploration of art materials, tools and techniques. Moreover, he gathers varieties of ideas, selects the key ideas, simplifies and analyse them, combine and separate ideas. These problem-solving activities help in educating the head (mental faculties) of the learner.

Also, when the artist uses the tools and materials he had explored and the techniques acquired in producing the artefact he develops manual or practical skills. This caters for the education of the hand.
Visual art education helps learners to appreciate works of art. When we see these artistic creations, they arouse certain feelings in us. Appreciation for the work would move us to talk intelligently and knowledgeably about it. This educates the heart. Owing to this, we can say that the study of Visual arts provides creative education of the head, hand and heart.

3. It helps in learning about our cultural heritage:

Visual art education helps the learner to build an appreciation for our cultural heritage handed down to us by our forefathers. This appreciation is acquired through the learning of the various histories of art and the study of art appreciation and criticism. These studies help the artist to understand the meanings and usefulness of our arts which embody our set of beliefs and ideologies. Thus, works of art are used in maintaining the ideas, knowledge and beliefs of a society as handed down from one generation to another. In this way, we learn about our cultural heritage.

4. Provides knowledge about aesthetics:

The study of Visual arts helps learners to develop keen ideas about beauty (aesthetics). Since the learner is taken through a lot of appreciation and criticism of various artistic creations, he/she develops ‘good taste’. He is able to distinguish between artworks that are aesthetically pleasing and those that are not. This helps the learner to take decisions and make good judgements.

5. Projects personal and national identity:

Visual art education helps learners to build self-respect and personal ego. When an artist produces works of art in and outside the society or country, it projects his identity or makes him known to his own countrymen and foreigners. This largely comes about when the artist exhibits his artistic creations during art exhibitions, fairs and bazaars. When an exhibition is organised outside the country and the artist partakes in it, it assists greatly in projecting his/her nation.

Also, since the themes or subjects of works from Ghana lavishly talk about our culture, it helps in making our culture known to other people of the world.

6. Helps develop subjective thinking for a cordial human relationship:

Skills needed in building a healthy family and human relationships are reflected in art activities. Through the organisation of various opposing elements of design such as lines, shapes, texture, tone, pattern and colour into pleasant relationships, the artist is able to develop a peaceful and cordial relationship with people of various characters and cultural identities.

The study of art appreciation which teaches learners to develop the ability to see ‘good’ in every artistic creation also builds in learners the ability to accept people as they are. This subjective thinking helps in the development of cordial human relationships.

7. Promotes cognitive, psychomotor and affective modes of development:

Visual art education promotes the cognitive mode of development in learners. Skills in thinking and reasoning are developed by the organisation of materials into art forms and critically appreciating them. This critical thinking helps in the cognitive development of learners.

Practical activities in Visual art help to exercise the muscles and keep the body healthy. This promotes the psychomotor development of learners.

The affective or emotional development of learners is nurtured through the appreciation of works of art. Practical lessons in art help the learner in cultivating desirable qualities like patience, long- suffering and tolerance, which helps the heart to be always healthy.

The Importance of Fine Arts in the Classroom

Fine Arts is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as being, “any art form, for example, painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, or engraving, that is considered to have purely aesthetic value” (Encarta, 2004). Though this definition is used in relationship with the arts in the regular world, in regards to teaching, fine arts is defined as a subject beneficial, not essential, to the learning process and is often phased out because of lack of time, little learning potential, and no money. Fine arts is simply seen as painting and drawing, not a subject studied by an academic scholar. Writer Victoria Jacobs explains, “Arts in elementary schools have often been separated from the core curriculum and instead, offered as enrichment activities that are considered beneficial but not essential” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 2).

What is missing in classrooms is the lack of teacher knowledge of the benefits of maintaining an art- based curriculum. Teachers “have very little understanding of the arts as disciplines of study. They think of the arts instruction as teacher-oriented projects used to entertain or teach other disciplines” (Berghoff, 2003, p. 12). Fine arts expand the boundaries of learning for the students and encourage creative thinking and a deeper understanding of the core subjects, which are language arts, math, science, and social studies. Teachers need to incorporate all genres of fine arts, which include, theater, visual art, dance, and music, into their lesson plans because the arts gives the students motivational tools to unlock a deeper understanding of their education. Teaching the arts is the most powerful tool that teachers can present in their classrooms because this enables the students to achieve their highest level of learning.

From 1977 to 1988 there were only three notable reports demonstrating the benefits of art education. These three reports are Coming to Our Senses, by the Arts, Education and Americans Panal (1977), Can we Rescue the Arts for American Children, sponsored by the American Council for the Arts (1988), and the most respected study, Toward Civilization, by the National Endowment for the Arts (1988). These three studies conjured that art education was very important in achieving a higher education for our students. While these studies proved the arts to be beneficial to the learning process, it was not until 2002 when the research analysis of Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development “provided evidence for enhancing learning and achievement as well as positive social outcomes when the arts were integral to students’ learning experiences” was taken seriously by lawmakers (Burns, 2003, p. 5). One study, in this analysis, was focused on the teaching of keyboard training to a classroom in order to see if student’s scores on spatial reasoning could be improved. It was then compared to those students who received computer training which involved no fine art components. This concluded that learning through the arts did improve the scores on other core curriculum subjects such as math and science where spatial reasoning is most used (Swan-Hudkins, 2003).

This study shows how one little change in the way students are taught through the arts can have a powerful impact on their learning achievements and understandings. Another study showed at-risk students who, for one year, participated in an art- based curriculum raised their standardized language arts test by an average of eight percentile points, 16 percentile points if enrolled for two years. Students not engaging in this form of activity did not show a change of percentile (Swan-Hudkins, 2003). Though this may not seem like a big increase, at- risk students were able to use this style of learning to better understand their learning style thus bettering their learning patterns. The most interesting case study in this analysis involved the schools of Sampson, North Carolina, where for two years in a row their standardized test scores rose only in the schools that implemented the arts education in their school district (Swan-Hudkins, 2003). Teaching the arts needs to be incorporated in every teachers daily lesson plans because, based on these studies, students who are taught through the arts raise their test and learning levels.

Due to the high volume of attention President Bush’s, No Child Left Behind Act, has required in schools, teaching the arts is left behind. Another reason for the lack of arts in the classroom author Victoria Jacobs explains, “Given the shrinking budgets of school districts around the country, art specialists and art programs have disappeared from many elementary schools” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 4). Fine arts are being seen as non-educational or an extra-curricular activity. Therefore, when there is a lack of money in school districts, this subject is easily being cut. Teachers need to find a way to incorporate the arts into the classroom rather than rely on outside activities and Jacobs suggests teaching “through the arts… with a means of using the arts successfully and in a way that it is not just “one more thing” they must include in the curriculum”

Sponsoring the Study of Art: Learning From The Renaissance Age

One of the enterprising, most important and breathtaking professions and area of study is Art. The great impacts exerted by art in our lives as humans are very severe such that scholars in the field synonymously interchange life with art and vice versa. This is true because from personal adornment through to the enhancement of our societies and the carrying out of our everyday activities pivots on art. It is, however, sad to realize how people rate and value art today. Art receives low patronage and recognition in the pool of other disciplines. Students who would want to pursue the study of art due to their awe-inspiring talents in sculpture, graphics, leatherwork, basketry, ceramics and the other vibrant fields of art do not receive the due sponsorship. These young enterprising artists end up shattering their great talents and resort to engaging in petty chores like cleaning, helping in construction works, housekeeping, and trading. The situation is escalated even in developing countries in Africa. The patronage of art is so low such that students from affluent homes who would want to pursue art are discouraged by their parents and even mocked at by their mates as timid students. The few who courageously take up the cross of art lack funding from funding agencies who prioritize the sponsorship of the so-called sciences and maths! Yet, the multi-million question we must ask ourselves is that ‘Are the other disciplines better than art?

Some argue that health sciences, economics, mathematics, and geography are enterprising because their industries have been established already and those professions are well paid and as such highly respected. Moreover, they are pursued by academically giants and gurus who had higher grading points. Though somehow true, these professions are no better than the arts. A retrospection into the renaissance age stresses this assertion.

Staunch scholars who were well versed theoretically and practically in various fields of human endeavor like Science, Mathematics and Engineering pursued art in the renaissance age. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci who was a leading figure in art, particularly painting and sculpture, was a scientist and engineer at the same time. He reckoned that art played quintessential roles in the society that either surpassed or equaled the sciences and maths. Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello and the other great artists in that era were brilliant scholars! Even today, great scholars and students who attain high grading points study art. This clears the wrong notion that art is pursued by the academically weak and as such receives low patronage and sponsorship.

In addition, art received great sponsorship in the renaissance period. The Medici family from Florence in Italy sponsored art programs, seminars, workshops and competitions that were to hunt for talents in art. Projects in art received high sponsorships from governmental authorities, famous personage and wealthy businessmen in the society. This great support raised the patronage of art and its recognition was commonplace. The situation is different today. Art programs and workshops aimed to raise the standards of art receive low or no sponsorship from funding agencies, institutions and wealthy well-meaning persons in the society. This situation must cease if we want to realize the advancement in our societal, national and global development.

Art must be associated with respect and status in our societies due to the great impact it wields on societal events and activities like its counterparts in other disciplines. In fact, the so-called successful fields of study like architecture, engineering, mathematics, and the health sciences depend on art in the discharge of their duties.

The time is now for scholars, governments, funding agencies and well-meaning personage in the societies to support and fund art programs, education and other activities that would assist in its development. The accolade of art is still true today that ‘art is life’. Sponsorship of art is greatly needed and it must be attended to with all seriousness to facilitate and speed up the grooming of young talents, arrest the unemployment crisis of the numerous young persons and unemployed in societies to make our world a better place. Indeed life is art, and art is life!

Abstract Arts & Abstract Paintings

FOREWORD

I remember a while back, when I was faced with a very pressing situation requiring my instant attention. I was being interviewed live, on a major television station at prime time, along with showing a series of my slides in connection to the opening of an art exhibit. As soon as they wired me up, and situated me on stage, and only a couple minutes before going live, the very charming gentleman, who was to interview me, whispered to me the following: “I have no idea what to ask you, what do you suggest?” I said, no problem, if you ask me only 3 simple questions, I will handle the rest. He was relieved, and quickly jotted down the questions. The green light came on, we went on live, and wrapped up a flawlessly smooth and successful interview. Off camera, the crew came on the stage with big smiles, and acknowledged both of us; but they praised the interviewer, for surprising them as an art connoisseur!

DEFINING AESTHETICS

Aesthetics as a set of principles and branch of philosophy deals with questions concerning beauty and artistic experiences. As far as our general understanding of it is concerned it is a highly nebulous field, subjected to tremendous degree of misinterpretation, particularly in the field of abstract art. In any field of humanities where less accurately is known about that field and its principles have not been precisely formulated, the more authoritarian the field becomes. In the field of arts, with no exact fundamentals accurately developed, the techniques and approaches are wide open for the artists to imagine, explore and create their art.

The artist is also subjected to the “laws” of commerce, where various schools of divergent opinions begin to “teach” the artist “how” to be an artist and paint a certain way, citing the field’s critics galore as she listens with an open jaw in lieu of reason. The “authorities,” in the field of visual arts, most of whom have never painted any paintings themselves but are very “fluid” and “cultured” by having memorized a few standard opinions and artistic works and projects of humanitarian nature, analyze the paintings for the artist every step of the way, each time the artist presents a piece of her art for a critique, mainly to discover what’s wrong with her art and how she should fix it according to these “professors’s” brand of “expertise.”

I admit to a tad of generalization here for making a point; but does any of this ring a true bell for you? Can you think of an artist you know who is or has been on this ship? I lived and survived through it all, trusting and believing that there had to be a logical and more nurturing way to free imaginative impulses so that the artist could paint as freely as he wanted. Something within me, was telling me, that something was inherently not quite right with the constructive criticisms that were to “teach” us how to view our own world of art, through the eyes of the “critics,” excuse me, the professors. I had viewed this “school of thought” as an authoritarian method of teaching that smothered the thoughts, emotions, or efforts of the artist, but could not quite articulate the problem I was sensing at the time. I discovered later, that this mechanism of controlling thought through teaching, was only one of the elements in our society, which inherently brings about the suppression of the arts that stifles the creative impulses of the artists at the expense of the whole culture.

Artists are often “accused” of having their heads up in the clouds, and living within an unreal world of imagination. This brings about the necessity of taking a good and thorough look at just how reality bites. Plowing through several fields of study in search of a tool to measure the aesthetics and the creation processes can leave us empty handed, until we splurge into the field of philosophy to examine our thoughts and reasoning.

THE ART OF THINKING AND REASONING

Thinking and reasoning is a social activity for most people. They require the engagement of external forces as the individual is as much a part of society as the society is a part of the individual. From the moment of birth, the social labyrinth of customs, beliefs, languages, values, religions, politics, and other traditional ideas are all well positioned to mold the child into the image of those who the child is surrounded with, and it is thoroughly based upon faith and belief. So masterfully the operation is instilled into the society as social heredity that even science has often mistaken it as being genetic.

English philosopher and author Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and another English philosopher and mathematician Issac Newton (1642-1727), and others have developed ways of thinking and reasoning that requires a fact in order to be proven must be measured, sensed or experienced. And when we thrust this into the realm of mind and spirit we find our willingness reduced in accepting facts based upon faith or belief.

For this reason, in appreciating life, and creating anything within it such as art, looking for answers and solutions exterior to our own sentient qualities, intellects or experiences is to lose concept of our own truth, values and individuality. And the artist, very often, bears the brunt of this philosophy of “independent thinking” and frequently subjected to criticism by those who have a firm grip on the traditions of status quo.

But the artist moves on, knowing where the roots of criticism lie, and reasons that people who resort to “criticism” operate in the absence of true understanding, and since no knowledge can exist in the absence of understanding, there we arrive at the presence of “ignorance.” Thus, knowing the basis and the mechanism behind criticism, often serves as a tremendous source of empowerment and consolation for the artist to continue with his art on the grounds of certainty and knowledge of her art and transcend through the highest echelons of culture called: aesthetics!

Art Paintings From Your Photo

The market for Chinese contemporary art has developed at a feverish pace, becoming the single fastest-growing segment of the international art market. Since 2004, prices for works by Chinese contemporary artists have increased by 2,000 percent or more, with paintings that once sold for under $50,000 now bringing sums above $1 million. Nowhere has this boom been felt more appreciably than in China, where it has spawned massive gallery districts, 1,600 auction houses, and the first generation of Chinese contemporary-art collectors.

This craze for Chinese contemporary art has also given rise to a wave of criticism. There are charges that Chinese collectors are using mainland auction houses to boost prices and engage in widespread speculation, just as if they were trading in stocks or real estate. Western collectors are also being accused of speculation, by artists who say they buy works cheap and then sell them for ten times the original prices-and sometimes more.

Those who entered this market in the past three years found Chinese contemporary art to be a surefire bet as prices doubled with each sale. Sotheby’s first New York sale of Asian contemporary art, dominated by Chinese artists, brought a total of $13 million in March 2006; the same sale this past March garnered $23 million, and Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale of Chinese contemporary art in April totaled nearly $34 million. Christie’s Hong Kong has had sales of Asian contemporary art since 2004. Its 2005 sales total of $11 million was dwarfed by the $40.7 million total from a single evening sale in May of this year.

These figures, impressive as they are, do not begin to convey the astounding success at auction of a handful of Chinese artists: Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun, Cai Guo-Qiang, Liu Xiaodong, and Liu Ye. The leader this year was Zeng Fanzhi, whose Mask Series No. 6 (1996) sold for $9.6 million, a record for Chinese contemporary art, at Christie’s Hong Kong in May.

Zhang Xiaogang, who paints large, morose faces reminiscent of family photographs taken during the Cultural Revolution, has seen his record rise from $76,000 in 2003, when his oil paintings first appeared at Christie’s Hong Kong, to $2.3 million in November 2006, to $6.1 million in April of this year.

Gunpowder drawings by Cai Guo-Qiang, who was recently given a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, sold for well below $500,000 in 2006; a suite of 14 works brought $9.5 million last November.

According to the Art Price Index, Chinese artists took 35 of the top 100 prices for living contemporary artists at auction last year, rivaling Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and a host of Western artists.

“Everybody is looking to the East and to China, and the art market isn’t any different,” says Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia. “Notwithstanding the subprime crisis in the U.S. or the fact that some of the other financial markets seem jittery, the overall business community still has great faith in China, bolstered by the Olympics and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.”

Key Art Concepts in Various Ages

Art is a human creative skill or talent, which is demonstrated through imaginative designs, sounds, or ideas. Key Art Concepts have always been an integral part of our histories. Lifestyles, Events, and Cultures, of an era or civilization have been the Key Art Concepts, depicted through the prevailing art forms of those times.

Different Key Art Concepts have evolved thorough different eras, with the changing artists’ perceptions of processing, analyzing, and responding to various art forms. Their creative expressions have been explored by their creation, performance, and participation in arts. Each historical era has given novel contribution of historical and cultural contexts for developing the Key Arts Fundamentals of the relevant period. Visual Arts help artists assimilate the Key Arts Concepts of Symmetry, Color, Pattern, Contrast and the differences between 1 or more elements in the composition. The Key Art Concepts of Visual Arts help understand and distinguish between the dimensions such as, Symmetry & Asymmetry, Positive & Negative Space, Light & Dark, Solid & Transparent, and Large & Small.

A perusal of different ages, throws light at the diverse Key Art Concepts prevalent in those times. The Pre-Historic Art / Paleolithic (2 million years ago-130000 B.C) Key Art Concepts can be deciphered from the Stone Carvings on the ancient Cave Walls. The art works depict hunting, nomadic life, and the flora & the fauna of that age. Greek and Roman Key Art Concepts were considered the epitome of Art in the ancient period. The traditional Greek Key Art Concepts spread throughout Central Asia, due to the conquests of Alexander the great. This affected the existing Art Concepts of Central Asia for the next few centuries. The Hellenic influence in those times was extremely strong in these regions. Key Art Concepts of this phase include but are not limited to Column Bases and Architectural Details (typical of Greeks), Numismatics, Ceramic, Plastic Arts, and Terracotta figurines of semi-nude Greek and local deities, heroes, and mystical characters.

Medieval and Renaissance Art runs from Byzantine Period, to Romanesque, to Gothic Styles, to the beginning of Islamic Art, to Renaissance and to the acceptance of Christian Art.

The history of Modern Art started with Impressionism and continued its revolution with time. These artists preferred to paint outdoors and studied the effect of light on objects. These Key Art Trends continued until the early 18th century. Vibrant colors were introduced to Art to bring pictures to life. This Key Arts Fundamental was called Fauvism. Expressionism was the German version of Fauvism. The subsequent Key Art Concepts revolutions were Art Nouveau and Art Deco Movements. They were novice Art concepts with high decorative styles.

The Art Nouveau Concept stresses on decorative art. It was later termed as first modern Key Art Concept. For the first time, art dealt with modern Psychology and Sensuality. Art Deco was a design style, which was a follow up of Art Nouveau. These Key Art Fundamentals dominated the mass production of fashion, furniture, jewellery, textile, architecture, and interior decoration artworks.

Anon came up with Cubism, where images were converted to cubes, or other geometrical figures. Surrealism followed, emphasizing on the unconscious mind and the interpretation of dreams. A potential Key Art Concept, Abstract Art, then reached this. Abstract Art is all about creativity with abstract joining. Pop Art Movement and Optical Art Movement brought art back into the daily lives of masses, through simple sketching and comics. They considered abstract art too sophisticated and elite for the general masses to appreciate. Modern art gave way to Photography, Visual Graphics, and 3D Animation in the later years.

Through ages, Key Art Concepts have been in charge of the various art forms. These Art Concepts reflected the influence of Cultures and Psychology of all times. The Key Art Concepts help artists understand how the critics & the historians go about their practices, how they make selections, interpretations, and judgments.