September 19, 2018

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Salvator Mundi will not go on show at Louvre Abu Dhabi this month, for reasons unknown
Meet the Arts Organization Directly Aiding Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Victims, One Year Later
You Can Now Own a Genuine Work of Art by a Panda — If You Have $570
Rolling with the punches: how the art market bounced back
Gülcan Aydın: Creator of 100 percent natural art
Protesters decry neglect after Brazilian museum fire
Labour Party to put creativity 'back at the heart of the school curriculum'
(Too) Close Encounters: a Plein Air Painting Misadventure
Bob Ross revival inches him back into the art world
Sweden's Moderna Museet returns Kokoschka work to Jewish dealer's heirs
The Never-Ending Race To Concoct The Bluest Blue
11 Tips for Getting the Most out of an Art Class



Salvator Mundi will not go on show at Louvre Abu Dhabi this month, for reasons unknown
$450.3m Leonardo da Vinci painting was due to be unveiled at museum in two weeks but its display has now been delayed

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi will not be unveiled at the Louvre Abu Dhabi this month as planned, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced.

The oil on panel depicting Christ holding an orb (around 1500) has been the subject of ongoing debate and media coverage since it sold for an astonishing $450.3m at Christie’s New York last November.

It was due to go on show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on 18 September. The museum declined to comment on the reason for the delay in displaying the work and would not elaborate on the statement in the original announcement, which states simply: “Further details will be announced soon.”

No new date has been given for the painting’s display, although some speculate that the museum might be waiting for its first anniversary on 11 November.

Fresh evidence and theories continue to emerge about the Salvator Mundi’s past. New research by the 17th-century specialist Jeremy Wood, published on the front page of The Art Newspaper’s September issue, questions the painting’s early history and royal provenance. Additionally, The Guardian newspaper recently revealed Leonardo scholar Matthew Landrus’s theory on the contribution of Bernardino Luini to the Salvator Mundi. Landrus expanded on his theory in the September issue of The Art Newspaper, which can be read here. The Art Newspaper


Meet the Arts Organization Directly Aiding Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Victims, One Year Later
Whereas the American government is providing loans to Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria, Arte al Rescate is providing direct aid to victims by fundraising through the arts.

Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico when it made landfall in September 2017, killing 64 people and indirectly leading to the deaths of another estimated 4,600. When Puerto Rican authorities requested $94 billion to cover damages, Congress only approved $5 billion within a larger hurricane relief bill that allotted $36 billion to hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma. Defending the government’s lack of funding, President Trump told Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that Puerto Rico is “out in the ocean. You can’t just drive your trucks out there.”

Given the government’s halfhearted support for Puerto Ricans, many arts organizations have stepped up to fundraise on behalf of those affected by Hurricane Maria. Notably, MoMA PS1 hosted a relief fundraiser in October 2017. Looking to create a better long-term support system for Puerto Rico through the arts, Chicagoans Janice Aponte and Erica Sanchez founded Arte al Rescate (Art to the Rescue). The nonprofit organization sees art as the fulcrum between empathy and support. First raising money through a local art auction, Aponte and Sanchez have used their funds to directly help needy Puerto Ricans through the acquisition of building materials, education supplies, arts supplies, and direct financial aid. Hyperallergic spoke with Arte al Rescate to learn more about their crisis relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and how others can help their cause.

* * *

Hyperallergic: How did you both decide to create an organization like Arte al Rescate?

Janice Aponte: We formed our organization almost immediately in response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. The date of our incorporation was October 22, 2017, just a month after the hurricane and right before our first big event.

[Erica and I] know each other because we work together at the same real estate company for our day jobs. (I’m also a resident artist at Workshop 4200 in Chicago.) We both have family in Puerto Rico, so when Hurricane Maria happened, there were a lot of emotions going around the office. Our company became a resource and provided us some help at the beginning. Our idea at the time was to plan something small, an art fundraiser. Once the company stepped in, though, it became a large-scale event. We quickly decided to incorporate to monitor our finances. Now, we find ourselves with volunteers, capital, and a venue — all things needed to start the organization. It was just viral; Arte al Rescate continues to become a bigger and bigger thing.

H: When you organize these art auction fundraisers, who is donating work? Can anyone donate work?

J: When we had our first event in Chicago, we put out a call for artists on Facebook. I have a lot of friends that are artists, so the word spread. We ended up receiving pieces from all over the world. Artists from Argentina, London, Spain, México, Los Angeles, New York, Florida, Texas, Chicago — from everywhere. It was pretty amazing.

H: That’s unbelievable.

J: And that’s how it felt. When somebody reached out from London, we thought, “Oh my God, I can’t believe we’ve reached Europe.” People all the way from Europe were reaching out to help Puerto Rico.

H: But we should probably also address the United States’ response to Hurricane Maria. What was your reaction, in the midst of starting Arte al Rescate, to the Trump administration’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico?

Erica Sanchez: Personally, I felt disappointed by the response that the world saw from the Trump administration. Right now, there are hundreds of families in Puerto Rico that never received any aid. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth. These are American citizens. We are a small organization doing one-on-one missions on the island so that we know exactly where every dollar goes. That’s important to us because we personally have family and friends on the island that say how aid from larger organizations and government organizations continually fails to make it directly to people. For us, it’s not only important that our aid reaches them, but also that we keep awareness alive because the momentum around our country has been dying down.

H: What are people saying about the government money? Where do people think it is going?

E: The bigger problem, I think, is that money isn’t going anywhere. Some people are not able to receive funding to fix their homes because many of these homes have been passed down from generation to generation. Some elderly people are unable to prove they own their houses because of that, and are therefore ineligible to receive help. Besides, there is not a lot of funding being offered. Instead, the government wants families to take out loans. FEMA and other agencies are saying that they will provide loans. Instead of receiving funding or help to rebuild their houses, Puerto Ricans are receiving approvals for loans that they cannot afford to pay.

J: Right now, we are working on a school drive. I just spoke with a lady from Maricao who said that her area and the surrounding municipalities were hit extremely hard by the hurricane. Right now, anybody there that was middle class is now low income. These people are suffering. From the past three months, there have been 19 suicides in that area alone. At a nearby beach, there were once 33 small businesses that mainly sold food. Half of those businesses are gone today. They provided direct employment for 300 people there, not to mention the indirect employment that it generated. Now, all those people are on the streets.

H: What’s been the most gratifying experience since creating Arte al Rescate?

J: We just sponsored a man called Don David in Fajardo. There’s a community activist called Martin Bryan Aldarondo who I saw posting on Facebook about Don David, who was working on getting some financial help to complete a purchase for materials to fix his roof [which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria]. Just to give you an idea, this man was sleeping in the corner of his home under a tarp. The rest of his roof was gone. The man refused to leave his home — he didn’t want to leave his home — and so he was sleeping in a corner. Between Martin, his neighbors, and his coworkers, he had raised $600 in funds, but the project was going to cost a lot more than that. So we stepped in to help purchase the rest of his materials. This past weekend, they built his home and even named it after him: The Don David Mission. They finished the roof this past weekend and we have pictures to document it. We are so excited that David has a roof, that he’s covered.

H: How should people who are seeking aid or who want to help Arte al Rescate contact the organization?

J: The best way to contact us is by our email, [email protected] Our info is also on our website and on Facebook where people can direct message us. Hyperallergic


You Can Now Own a Genuine Work of Art by a Panda — If You Have $570
Yang Yang is creating 100 black and white paintings to raise funds for a book on the Vienna Zoo’s panda population.

Yang Yang, a panda in the Schönbrunn Zoo (also known as the Vienna Zoo), has been painting minimalist, gestural abstract works from a cage — and you can own one, for €490 (~$570).

The zoo started the project in hopes of raising €25,000 (~$25,000) to produce a book based on the family of panda bears in the Vienna Zoo.

The book, Pandas, will feature illustration and photography, and be published in German and English. It will trace the journey of the panda family to Vienna, beginning with negotiations with China to first receive the bears (one of whom was Yang Yang) in 2003, to the most recent additions to their family, a set of twins named Fu Feng and Fu Ban. The question will answer a number of questions for zoophiles about the pandas eating habits, medical care, etc, with photographic spreads of the bears Long Hui, Yang Yang, Fu Long, Fu Hu, Fu Bao, Fu Feng, and Fu Ban.

To raise the funds, they are pre-selling the book, offering postcards, tickets to the museum, chewed bamboo sticks, photography workshops, and yes, paintings by Yang Yang.

While, it may be extremely cute to see a paintbrush between a panda’s paws, it is distressing to see her paint in such a confining space where she reaching out behind bars. She was specially made a bamboo brush to fit her hand, and makes drawings with finger-painting ink on paper.

The zoo advertises that the bear will paint exactly 100 editions, complete with a certificate of authenticity.

Eveline Dungl, the zoologist who supervises her painting, said in a press release:

Yang Yang really enjoys painting. She often can’t wait to get hold of the brush as soon as it’s within reach and off she goes. She’ll even paint several pictures at once when she feels like it. And then she’ll take a break to get her reward of carrots and sweet potatoes. Her style always varies: from lively to subtle.

Admittedly, I’m skeptical, and I would really like to know more about the proprietors of these sparse “Panda Paintings” (perhaps the same bunch enthralled by dolphin masterpieces). Nevertheless, the zoo has surpassed its goal of €25,000, and is now hoping to expand the book’s size and print run by raising €35,000.

Following years of outrage against SeaWorld after the highly publicized 2013 documentary Blackfish, which has left the company in financial ruin, it’s surprising to see the maintained success of the zoo industry. With all of the funds raised, we can all hope they’ll at least upgrade her studio space. Hyperallergic


Rolling with the punches: how the art market bounced back
In September 2008, Damien Hirst sold £111m of art as Lehman Brothers collapsed, triggering a financial crisis. A decade on, what has changed?

Ten years ago, on 15 September 2008, Damien Hirst sold £70.5m of his own work at Sotheby’s in London, a ballsy move by an artist, bypassing the usual middle-men. The same evening, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York and the Dow Jones fell by 500 points, triggering an implosion of global stock markets.

Hirst’s sale, mawkishly (or perhaps ironically) titled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, totalled £111.4m over two days, and became an emblem of the decadent pre-recession contemporary art market. Then came the sober years—global art and antiques sales, calculates the economist Clare McAndrew, fell from $62bn in 2008 to $30.5bn in 2009. Even in 2017, at $63.7bn total sales were still 3.2% lower than the $65.8bn in 2007.

Yet, the speed of the art market’s recovery post-recession was remarkable. Despite falling 40% between 2007 and 2009 – one of the biggest declines since the early 1990s, MacAndrew says – it bounced back in 2010, largely due to the emerging Chinese market. “Following the 1990s crash, it took about 15 years for the market to get back to its late 1980s, pre-recession levels as it was just dependent on demand from the US and Europe,” she says. Market durability lies in a broad footing after all.

Contemporary art’s Rococo
Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of post-war and contemporary art for the Americas, refers to the pre-Lehmans boom as “the Rococo of contemporary art”. He recalls the November 2008 and spring 2009 auctions (when he was at Sotheby’s) as “gruesome: everyone lost money, people were dumping guarantees left right and centre”. In 2009 he says, “volume was down 60-80%, and sale totals fell from around $500m to around $100m”.

Certain artists whose markets were booming pre-recession are tainted by association. Hirst, of course, but Rotter adds Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami: “Their prices are still struggling to get up to the levels of 2007-08.” According to the analysis firm ArtTactic, all of the top ten prices for Hirst’s work were recorded in 2007-8, six of them during Beautiful Inside My Head Forever. Lullaby Spring (2002), which sold at Sotheby’s London in 2007 for £9.6m ($17.2m, with fees), remains Hirst’s auction record in dollars, and was then a record for a living artist.

Some collectors who bought at the top of the Hirst market remain aggrieved—works that have come back to auction have had shaky results. For example, Midas and the Infinite (2008), a butterfly painting, sold in 2008 for £825,250 ($1.2m), then in 2011 for £601,250 ($790,376, down 37%) and last year, in Hong Kong, for HK$7.9m ($836,438, down 33% from 2008).

“There are still those who think they overpaid then for their spot painting or shark,” Rotter says, “but this is a long game and Damien is not a one-trick pony—he’s been making since the 1980s. Those sharks and spots will be in all the art history books.”

In step with technological innovation, fashions are changing ever faster. “Market shifts have accelerated,” Rotter says, “For example, in 2014-15 minimalists like Agnes Martin and Donald Judd were in vogue. Now, it’s the opposite—colourful, figurative paintings, hence the revival of Cecily Brown, who no one was looking at for ten years.” Figuration and abstraction, Rotter says, “always relieve each other. There will probably be a swing back to abstraction soon.” That said, Rotter thinks the crash “opened people’s eyes to the fact something happened before 2000. Top collectors are not as segmented in their view anymore.” He should know—Rotter was bidding for the buyer of the Salvator Mundi.

Shifting tastes aside, overall post-war and contemporary art has leapt in value. Peter Gerdman, ArtTactic’s head of research, says: “Average prices for works sold during evening sales have risen 413% in London between February 2009 and March 2018, and 373% in New York between May 2009 and May 2018.” Two of the biggest movers, Gerdman says, are Jean-Michel Basquiat—whose highest price was $5.8m (with fees) up to 2009 climbing to $110.4m in 2017—and Christopher Wool, whose high was $1.8m in 2009 compared to his current record of $29.9m in 2015 (all with fees).

Recovery and acceleration
The accelerated financialisation of the art market has defined the post-Lehmans decade, as indicated by the growth of the art financing industry, the building of freeports for tax-free storage of art, and development of financial products such as auction guarantees (still quite rare in 2008, now ubiquitous).

Financialisation, according to Amy Cappellazzo, the chairman of Sotheby’s fine art division, is “the next stage of any marketplace once it starts to attract big capital… an inevitability that comes with growth”. Increasingly, she says, collectors are paying with borrowed capital—“20 years ago there was none of that, ten years ago there was very little”. Fractional ownership of art, she thinks, will also become much more common.

Initially developed to allay risk, ironically Christie’s and Sotheby’s in particular have become beholden to their guaranteeing system as they compete with each other for top-end consignments. A squeezed commission margin on two guaranteed paintings dented Sotheby’s 2018 half-year earnings—Modigliani’s Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917), hammered down on one bid to the third-party irrevocable bidder for $150m in May, and Picasso’s 1932 Buste de Femme de Profil (femme écrivant), which was guaranteed in-house and had an irrevocable bid, but sold under the $45m estimate on a single bid of £27.3m ($36m) in June. Both deals, evidently, cost Sotheby’s.

Anders Petterson, the founder of ArtTactic, thinks the 2009 crisis helped to elevate art “to an alternative asset class for wealthy individuals who were looking for asset protection and diversification, as well as emotional and social returns”. Banks, he adds, “are increasingly offering loans against art, enabling more capital to be freed up”. A cuddly relationship with the finance world could be a double-edged sword. An increased dependence on the financial markets, Petterson says, is “a trend that I believe will shape the art market over the next decade, both in terms of opportunities as well as heightened risks”.

The future: Asia and data
The exponential accumulation of price data over the past decade has contributed to art’s asset class status. “The more data you have, the clearer the trend lines for deciphering which artists are hot,” Cappellazzo says. “Data won’t supplant academic knowledge and a keen eye, but it is a useful analysis tool.” Working out how to leverage that data remains the challenge. Blockchain, which was itself invented in 2008 (see p54-55 for more), will “transform the market” Cappellazzo says, although “for it to work, it requires everyone to comply and offer up their data”.

Still, speculative investment in emerging art is risky. “I think in a few months there will be a hard reality check for those who have been buying young artists who haven’t had steady price development,” Rotter warns. Canice Prendergast, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, says: “I’m surprised how long it took collectors to realise that investing in emerging art is, for the most part, a hiding to nothing… the recent closure of lots of smaller galleries is a reflection of this.”

While auction houses bemoan lack of supply on the secondary market, at the emerging end supply outstrips demand and, Prendergast predicts, “a significant correction”.

As the axis of power and wealth tilts away from the West, all agree that the future lies in Asia. “The rise of China is the single most important thing that has happened in the world in my lifetime,” Prendergast says. Despite President Trump’s tariff on Chinese goods, China, and Asia as a whole, can only become more powerful in every market. The West is in the late stages of an economic boom and when the next crash comes—and it will—Asia may prove a saving grace, for the art market at least. The Art Newspaper


Gülcan Aydın: Creator of 100 percent natural art
Gülcan Aydın, an illuminated manuscript and marbling master who lives in Düzce, uses materials such as soil, plants, trees and bird feathers as paint, paper and brushes in her art

Gülcan Aydın is an illuminated manuscript artist who lives in the Düzce province. Aydın creates this art along with water marbling with the paints, papers and brushes that she produces after processing natural materials which she collects from nature. She uses these all natural objects to create her art supplies, such as producing ink from fruit, paint from soil, stones and plants, paper from trees and brushes from bird feathers.

She is a senior student at the Traditional Turkish Arts Department of Erzurum Atatürk University Fine Arts Faculty. After collecting materials from nature, she pestles them in order to thin them at her 10-square-meter workshop located in the attic of her house. Pestling for an hour or sometimes for days, Aydın crushes the materials with patience with a tool called "destiseng," which was used in the Ottoman period to crush traditional paints.

At the end of this process, the senior student separates the paints that come from nature in line with their colors and uses them in illuminated manuscript and water marbling.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Aydın said that she tries to transfer her art to the next generations and to produce real artworks.

Noting she did an internship on marbling with İbrahim Sami Özen during university, Aydın explained, "I have continued this training for four years. Later, I focused on material production [which was] different from my friends."

She said she received certification in 2016, and added, "I was mostly dealing with the production of materials while my friends were advancing in marbling. I could not feel satisfied with only marbling, my heart always wanted to do the production part. I loved it and I was really curious. So, I continued with material production. How are paints produced? Can an illuminated manuscript artist produce his or her own brush or paper? These were all the questions from which I started my journey."

Aydın said the techniques that she applies were used by our ancestors centuries ago. "I made my paints from soil, stones and plants. I produce my own paper and brush. Actually, our ancestors did it centuries ago. When I do all of them, I know that the materials are 100 percent natural. It is not possible for such work to disappear with these materials. The works that we produce with such materials will carry over. Therefore, we can totally say that we produce artworks. When you look at traditional art [today], there is nobody who produces his or her own materials. A paper is produced in 10-15 days; paint is made in a time period that can take an hour to a week. You need to know what feather you should use to produce a brush. The difference between the one who produces all of these and others who buy everything is really important," she said.

'My works are literally mine'

Aydın highlighted that technology develops quickly, but the equivalents of the materials that were produced centuries ago still cannot be produced. "Some people say that this artwork was produced centuries ago, and there is no possibility to make it again. But, it is not true. It is not something like that. Artists can produce enduring works. My mission is about this. I want to train equipped artists who can produce all of her or his stuff after I finish my school. We need artists who know what to bring together."

"For me, you can say that she produces her own works from stone. My works are literally mine. I know every process of my works, I know how I make them, which processes they go through, which problems I have during their production and which level they will be at years later," said the artist. Daily Sabah


Protesters decry neglect after Brazilian museum fire
Amid melee at Rio's National Museum, museology students begin project to digitise the institution

Hours after an immense fire consumed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, a crowd of protestors gathered in front of the wrecked institution on last night (3 September) to protest the financial neglect that led to its demise. The 200-year-old historical building lacked an efficient sprinkler system—a result of years of incremental budget cuts by the Brazilian government—and was quickly gutted when the blaze erupted shortly after the museum closed to visitors on Sunday (2 September).

Police officers shot tear gas at protestors who attempted to the enter the building during the protest. The scale of damage to collection and building has not yet been assessed, but aerial photographs of the museum offered little hope, and a video by an anonymous poster showed a grim aftermath. Although the facade of the building has mostly survived, much of the roof collapsed and the interior of the 13,000 sq meter museum, once filled with important scientific and anthropological artefacts, is packed with charred rubble.

Less than 40 days before the fire, an architect wrote to the federal public ministry of Rio de Janeiro to report that the building had been neglected and asked for urgent measures, detailing exposed wires and other constructional issues, according to documents published by G1. In the letter, the architect, whose name was withheld, wrote that important archives “could catch fire at any moment and it’s a miracle that [a fire] hasn’t already happened”, adding that “it’s urgent that firefighters visit” the building.

Brazilian president Michel Temer and former president Dilma Rousseff are being faulted for a failure to adequately maintain cultural institutions in Brazil like the National Museum, with some accusing them of mismanagement of public funds that flowed to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2014 World Cup.

More than 20 years ago, the World Bank allegedly offered $80m to renovate the National Museum. The offer was reportedly turned down by Israel Klabin, a former mayor of Rio de Janeiro who presided over the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, which manages the museum, and objected to a condition attached to the donation requiring that the museum be converted to a private non-profit association. In an interview, Klabin writes that the fire was the “result of an archaic model of governance that does not allow the modernisation of the country”.

Meanwhile, museology students of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro have partnered with the Peruvian museological laboratory Museofilia to launch an initiative to build a digital archive of the museum’s collection and are asking visitors to send in photos. Museums across the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution Archives have stepped up to support and promote the project on social media. Images can be sent to [email protected]

The National Museum was the oldest scientific institution in the country and held around 20 million artefacts spanning 11,000 years, including various early indigenous works of art, the largest meteorite ever discovered in Brazil and the oldest human skull discovered in the Americas, nicknamed Luzia. The status of the institution’s most important works remains unknown.

Reactions from the São Paulo biennial (7 September-9 December)
At the launch of the 33rd Bienal de Sāo Paulo on Tuesday (4 September), Eduardo Saron, the vice president of the biennial foundation, said: “This is catastrophic, I’ve cried a lot. It is a defeat for all of us, for mankind. We are lacking a state policy for culture. There is no overarching policy for heritage. Maybe the death of this museum will force the government to move forward.”

“Our government does not care for its heritage; it is despicable. These [destroyed] items were from all over the world,” said Danilo Miranda, the director of the non-profit cultural and business body Sesc (Serviço Social do Comércio), at the launch. “We are currently going through an electoral process [a presidential election will be held next month], and I have not seen one word on art or culture.”

The Brazilian artist Letícia Ramos is showing a selection of works at the Pivo exhibition space in Sāo Paulo (Universal History of the Earthquakes, until 27 October). She conducted much of her research for the show at the National Museum. “It’s difficult to talk about the fire at the National Museum. I’m shocked. The museum had the most important collection of history and science [material] in Brazil. The documents, the cultural history could be revisited, restudied, rewritten—we had access to [these archives]. The National Museum was a guardian of all of these things.” The Art Newspaper


Labour Party to put creativity 'back at the heart of the school curriculum'
Pledge comes at a time of decline in arts subjects in schools

The Labour Party is pledging to put creativity “back at the heart of the school curriculum”. This promise was made to coincide with a conference held today at London’s Royal Albert Hall organised by the charity of the Prince of Wales, Children & the Arts.

A Labour Party spokesperson says that there is deep concern about “the decline of arts subjects in schools” since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, particularly for students from “disadvantaged backgrounds”. Labour is therefore pledging to provide an additional £160m a year for cultural activities in primary schools. It also promises to review the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) performance measure to ensure the arts are not sidelined from secondary education and to launch a creative careers advice campaign.

According to Tom Watson, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, “every child, no matter what their background, should be able to access the wonder and enjoyment that arts and creative endeavours bring”. The Art Newspaper


(Too) Close Encounters: a Plein Air Painting Misadventure
A case of mistaken identity added some unexpected excitement to Daniel Marshall's recent plein air painting trip.

“I travel a lot,” says watercolor artist Daniel Marshall. “Workshops, demos, plein air painting events, and tattoo jobs keep me on the road two weeks out of every month. I owe thanks for this particular adventure to tattoo clients who flew me to Tyler, Texas, where I also snuck in some plein air painting.

“As this was my first trip to the area, I was grateful for the warnings about the “locals” — fire ants. Usually, snakes present my greatest worry when I’m painting outdoors, but by the time I hit the ground in Texas, the prospect of meeting these tiny powerhouses of pain terrified me.

“My first day out to paint, I came across a farm with a pair of 100-year-old barns, and found myself drawn to the unique shapes and fantastic shadows. Although the farm was located on a heavily traveled road, I found a safe spot, with good composition options across the street. After a check for the infamous fire ants, I got to work.

“I had such a great experience and there was still so much to explore at the site that I went back the next morning. This time, I ventured across the street from my previous day’s vantage point, now without even a fleeting thought to the menaces I’d been warned about, and wound up standing directly on top of a giant ant hill. Of course, it wasn’t until I was midway through my first wash and felt a strange sensation on my thigh that I realized what I’d done. I looked down to see my feet and legs covered in ants. My worst nightmare had come true! I started jumping around, swatting frantically at my shoes and pants, before realizing it was too late; they were already inside my jeans. In a panic, I stripped to my unmentionables on the side of the busy road.

“About this time, I began to wonder why the fire ants weren’t stinging me. On closer inspection, I discovered that they were, in fact — you guessed it— just regular ants. In my defense, everything is bigger in Texas. I’ve been chased by cows, had paintings graced by bird droppings, and enjoyed countless other mis-adventures. I feel like Benny Hill music follows me everywhere I go; it certainly could have accompanied my “ants in my pants dance” in Tyler, Texas.” American Watercolor


Bob Ross revival inches him back into the art world

On the occasional lazy Saturday growing up, my brother and I sat on the floor by the TV and broke out Crayola watercolors to recreate tranquil Bob Ross landscapes. With reruns of “The Joy of Painting,” Ross’s show from the '80s, flashing on the screen, we’d try to recreate his forest scenes with snow-capped mountains, glistening pools and wispy clouds, as he urged us on with murmurs of encouragement.

“Think like a cloud,” he’d say. “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”

Bolstered by kind words, we created art that belonged not in the Smithsonian, but in the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville, Massachusetts. But despite our lack of talent or adequate painting supplies, Ross was the only reason we’d pull out our paint sets outside of art class at school. And we weren’t alone.

In a Bob Ross revival brought on by the release of the book “Painting with Bob Ross” this year and Netflix adding his tutorials to its collection in 2016, people of all ages have broken out old art supplies. Though he died in 1995, Ross lives on in T-shirts, Chia Pet plants and bobble heads. His bushy hair and soothing voice also live on in 3,000 artists who’ve completed a certification course at the Bob Ross Art Workshop to become “Certified Ross Instructors.”

Recently, fans and artists have been campaigning to throw out elitist distinctions between high and lowbrow in order to give Ross’s work a place in art history — something I think he deserves, if not for his artistic talent, for the effect he has had on young artists and on the way people, artists and non-artists alike, experience art.

During his life, Ross’s work was dismissed as kitschy and derivative. His art never made it to museum walls or auctions and instead were sold on eBay. But in this new Bob Ross Renaissance, people are pushing the Smithsonian American Art Museum to put Ross’s work on display and give him space in the “serious” art world.

The kids who grew up watching Bob Ross are now entering the art world, and they’re trying to pull him with them through those golden gates. British artist Neil Raitt grew up watching Bob Ross and collected his instructional books in art school, treating them like step-by-step manuals. Now, Raitt is a world-renowned artist who coats his canvases with Ross-style cabins surrounded by glimmering water and scrubby trees.

Honestly, I don’t know enough about what sets great landscape painting apart from good landscape painting to know if Ross belongs alongside Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. I only know that Ross inspired even me, lacking any painting ability, to pick up a brush, and I know his legacy lives on in the art world, even though he was never allowed through its gold-rimmed doors while he was alive.

I do know the art world prizes the distinct and unusual, but the point of Ross’s work is to teach others how to mimic his style. And during a time when graffiti was entering the art scene as edgy, uncultured art, Ross’s work faced an uphill climb as lowbrow art in a highbrow category — landscape painting.

But the humor and charm of his permed hair and hippie vibes still captured the hearts of the masses. And in each 26-minute episode, his laid-back nature and the backdrops of his idyllic landscapes made viewers feel calm and included in the intimidating world of art.

And Ross always injected a pleasant dose of imagination into his realistic paintings. Never showing footage or photos of sunlit forests and raging rivers to paint from, Ross taught us to look at an just empty canvas and fill it up with detail drawn from imagination.

As he dabbed his palate and swished his paint, Ross reminded us of our own artistic power. He told us each painting was our world, where we made decisions. He was just showing us how. And with our newfound agency and confidence, we forged ahead, taking our painting wherever we wanted to go.

With Ross, art became fun again, and he showed us painting could and should be accessible to everyone. He broke down hierarchies that made many too scared to really engage with art — an empowering idea that, when paired with his earnestness, has kept Ross’s fan base alive and growing.

In 2013, the YouTube channel Epic Rap Battles of History released a fictional video rap battle between two artists — or at least, of actors playing them. On one side was Bob Ross and his “happy little trees.” On the other was his perceived opposite, Pablo Picasso.

In one stinging verse, “Picasso” spit, “With zero training, you made millions teaching people how to suck at painting.” That sounds more like a compliment to me. Indiana Daily Student


Sweden's Moderna Museet returns Kokoschka work to Jewish dealer's heirs
The 1910 portrait of a marquis was sold by Alfred Flechtheim’s employee after the dealer fled Nazi Germany

Sweden’s Moderna Museet returned a painting by Oskar Kokoschka to the heirs of Alfred Flechtheim, who was one of the best-known dealers in Europe before he fled Nazi Germany in 1933 following a stream of hate articles in the press.

The 1910 painting, a portrait of Marquis Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac, is known to have been in Flechtheim’s gallery in the late 1920s and was sold by Flechtheim’s former employee, Alex Vömel, a member of the Nazi party who profited from his employer’s plight.

“He lost the painting because he was Jewish,” the Moderna Museet said in a statement. “It is of utter importance to the Swedish government as well as for us in the museum that there are no works that have a problematic provenance,” says the museum’s director, Daniel Birnbaum. “We are happy and relieved the Kokoschka painting now returns to its true owner.”

Flechtheim was one of the earliest collectors of Pablo Picasso in Germany and represented Paul Klee, George Grosz and Max Beckmann as well as the French Cubists. He fled first to Zurich, then Paris, and then London, where he died in 1937. His Dusseldorf gallery was liquidated and his private collection sold.

His great-nephew and heir Michael Hulton, who is seeking to recover paintings from museums in Dusseldorf and Munich, welcomed the accord and expressed gratitude to the Moderna Museet for applying the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-looted art. Those non-binding principles urge museums in signatory countries to seek “just and fair” solutions with the original owners or their heirs for any Nazi-looted works in public collections.

“I am the last in the line of my family and have a great responsibility for my family’s legacy,” he says. “Moderna Museet and its team have joined the growing ranks of museums and individuals who are recognizing the looting of the Flechtheim collection under Nazi terror which started in 1933.” The Art Newspaper


The Never-Ending Race To Concoct The Bluest Blue
In an underground lab in California, scientists created a new hue called Quantum Blue. It’s the latest result of humanity’s obsession with harnessing pure color.

BERKELEY, CA: There are no windows in the underground laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley’s Hildebrand Hall. No portals through which to see the sky. The bluest things in sight are the cobalt-colored lab coats worn by two chemists huddled around a beaker of white viscous liquid, its temperature slowly climbing.

On a Monday afternoon in August, the blue-coat technicians watched the liquid with a spellbound intensity. Their resident leader, a woman named Olga Alexopoulou, was positioned in an adjacent room the size of a small walk-in closet, illuminated only by the phantom glow of ultraviolet light.

Inside, she slowly peeled back a sheet of aluminum foil to reveal four glass microscope slides, a globule of liquid the size of a thumbprint on each. Like alien droppings, they glowed underneath the UV bulbs with a cinematic ferocity.

“The average person has never seen this kind of purity of color,” Alexopoulou told me.

Alexopoulou isn’t a scientist. She’s an artist. But, inside the tiny lab in Berkeley, shaded from the unceasing clamor of the world outside, she and her methodologically-inclined counterparts are on the same curious quest: They are attempting to engineer a new pigment of blue.

Over the course of 10 months, Alexopoulou has project-managed her secretive team from Istanbul, communicating through email and Skype to check up on the mysterious liquid. According to Alexopoulou, the blue she’s after is different than all the man-made blues that have come before it. Hers is “the blue of the future,” a pigment that dazzles in its sheer purity and depth, emitting a radiance more often associated with neon lights than the contents of a tube of paint.

With an undeniable weight of seriousness, Alexopoulou has dubbed her pigment Quantum Blue.

Humanity’s fascination with blue predates Alexopoulou by millennia. Blue pigments rarely occur in nature, and many of the blues that do exist ― a bird’s plume, a butterfly wing ― appear that way due to optical illusions that have evolved over time. Humans, enamored by these fleeting hues, have long been eager to harness them.

Five-thousand years ago, craftsmen created what’s thought to be the first artificial pigment, Egyptian Blue, by mixing limestone, sand and azurite. This is the usual form a pigment takes, a dry powder substance that, when mixed with a liquid or other medium, constitutes a paint or ink. Later came ultramarine, ground from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, sourced from a particular mountain range in Afghanistan for centuries. The ultra-expensive pigment was primarily reserved for representations of the Virgin Mary’s holy robes.

In the 17th century, indigo, a natural dye, became a hot commodity import across Europe and Asia, despite its tendency to dim over time. In the 18th century, an alchemical accident became an artistic miracle when a paint maker’s contaminated potash turned his potion from cochineal red to the melancholic tone known as Prussian Blue. It’s the stuff of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period.

French artist and blue soothsayer Yves Klein crafted his very own International Klein Blue (IKB) in 1960, collaborating with paint supplier Edouard Adam to yield a paint formula that protected the intensity of its ultramarine pigment base through a synthetic resin binder. He coated canvases with his titular hue, which, according to curator Kerry Brougher, “seemingly [opened them] up to immaterial realms.” It now adorns the bald heads that comprise The Blue Man Group.

Then, in 2009, chemist Mas Subramanian accidentally concocted YInMn blue by fusing yttrium, indium oxide and manganese. The resulting pigment, considered the first new complex inorganic blue to be commercially manufactured since cobalt 200 years before it, absorbs red and green light waves while reflecting a “superblue” both vivid and durable. Crayola’s newest crayon flavor, Bluetiful, is based off the shade.

Alexopoulou, whose work is represented in Turkey by the gallery Istanbul Concept, is well versed in the landmark events of blue’s past. As a painter, she often incorporates the traditional recipes for Prussian Blue and Ultramarine in the gestural seascapes or street art murals she creates. In 2011, she traveled to Jingdezhen, China, to study the 14th-century technique of painting ceramics with cobalt blue pigments.

Blue is the common thread that weaves Alexopoulou’s fine art career together, the itchy obsession that keeps drawing her back.

With Quantum Blue, Alexopoulou shifts her attention from blue’s history to its future. Her ultimate goal is to create a new pigment accessible to artists like her ― not just industrial manufacturers, the target audience for YInMn. By doing so, she hopes to cement herself and her creation as “a part of the history of art,” she said.

For now, however, the pigment remains tucked inside an underground lab, its physical isolation mirroring the overall project’s detachment from the more chaotic concerns of today. Droplet by droplet, the pigment comes into being, and, at least for now, remains quarantined in total darkness.

At a Korean fusion restaurant in Berkeley, Alexopoulou, 38, her dark hair tied tightly in a ponytail, discussed the origins of her Quantum Blue project between bites of grilled vegetable salad. It was the first week of the university’s fall semester, and the joint was buzzing with the excited murmurings of students back from summer vacation.

Across from Alexopoulou sat color historian Maria Chatzidakis, whose dark bob was accentuated by two strips of white hair framing her face. Next to her sat Arunima Balan and Joseph Swabeck, both fifth-year Ph.D. chemistry students at UC Berkeley.

Quantum Blue isn’t entirely novel, Alexopoulou and her brigade of blue disciples explained to me over dinner. Humans have encountered hues like it before; think blue morpho butterflies, whose wings glow iridescent with the help of microscopic scales. Or the period of a day known as the blue hour; that brief twilight before sunrise or after sunset, when the sun hovers significantly below the horizon and indirect sunlight casts a fluorescent blue blanket across the sky.

Alexopoulou, who grew up in Athens and summered on the Greek isles, spent countless evenings transfixed by those moments at dusk when sea and sky looked like they’d been plugged into an electric socket. Up until now, only nature had the power to conjure such a sublime glow, she said.

So what Alexopoulou and her team sought to do is channel the effect through a pigment that’s both reliable and reproducible, allowing artists to represent the most bewitching nature-made blues with unprecedented integrity.

For the scientists involved, Quantum Blue offered the rare shot to introduce nanoscientific principles to a larger audience in a digestible way. While Alexopoulou’s motives are romantic, Swabeck and Balan’s veer toward the utilitarian: They are trying to market their research in the most effective way possible.

“People can relate to art,” Balan said. “People cannot relate to quantum dots.”

Together, Alexopoulou and her team hope to patent their creation, getting in on the $30 billion pigment industry and expanding the quantum dot paint process to include the other colors of the rainbow.

“If we can make it work with blue, we can make it work with anything,” Swabeck said.

It wasn’t until 2017 that Alexopoulou’s project began to take shape. She was at a dinner party when she overheard a fellow guest, a professor, discussing quantum dots ― nanoscopic crystals that emit color with a startling intensity. Her ears perked up. After years of researching the most potent blues that art and science had to offer, Alexopoulou had a premonition of creating her own. Was nanoscience the unlikely answer to her artistic dream?

Quantum dots are extremely tiny particles of semiconducting material, 10,000 times narrower than a human hair. Because of their diminutive size ― only a few nanometers across ― quantum dots have the unique ability to convert light into color with striking efficiency and force. The effect is fluorescent, just like “the blue hour.”

Quantum dots are frequently used in biomedicine to tag and track particular cells in the body like teeny tiny post-its. However, they’ve recently gone more mainstream thanks to Samsung’s high-end quantum dot televisions, billed to project images so vibrant they yield an experience akin to “watching real life on your TV.”

Alexopoulou had an idea: What if she could use these buzzy, scientific particles for her own artistic purposes? What if she could create the first pigment out of quantum dots?

The sky was white the day I visited the lab, making every blue detail on campus pop like a rare gem: The cobalt logo on a USPS truck, the turquoise recycling cans lining the sidewalk, the cerulean stripes on a bro’s plaid shirt.

Inside the windowless basement of Hildebrand Hall, we wore safety goggles at all times and were carefully instructed to not lean on anything, as every surface in the lab is considered to be contaminated. Signs reading “DANGER” adorned the walls and a ceiling shower-head offered instant, aqueous relief in case of emergency. It seemed the mission to create a new blue wasn’t just a scientifically demanding mission, but a potentially life-threatening one.

“When we do chemistry, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to not die,” Swabeck explained.

The lab was built in 1966 and has been accruing random leftovers of the scientific experiments conducted within it ever since. “Things don’t change in a lab,” Swabeck corroborated. “It’s basically a slow accumulation of stuff.” Shelves overflowed with vials, beakers and bottles of chemicals turned sepia with age. Glass panes and open counters were cluttered with handwritten chemical formulas and the occasional doodle. The space ― akin to a secret testing facility on “Stranger Things” ― felt almost too nostalgic and campy to be real.

The lab is Swabeck and Balan’s terrain. Underground, they said, it’s easy to lose track of time; they often arrive before sunrise and leave after sunset, missing daylight completely. Without phone or internet access, they’re cut off from human contact and current events, focusing solely on matters of the most elemental variety. They’ve also gotten really good at crossword puzzles.

“They are on a path that can be a hard and lonely one, learning how to create new knowledge,” Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s Samsung distinguished professor of nanoscience and nanotechnology, told HuffPost.

Alivisatos is the fairy godfather looming over Quantum Blue’s creation myth. Alexopoulou emailed him shortly after the 2017 dinner party, explaining her idea. Alivisatos, a sucker for art-meets-science hybrid projects, said yes. “There are really deep connections between what happens when we invent new material ― particularly one that affects color and how we perceive it ― and what’s possible with artistic expression,” Alivisatos said.

“Those things should be connected together more than they are.”

A hugely influential figure in the nanoscience community, Alivisatos assigned Balan and Swabeck ― his students ― to assist Alexopoulou on her task. He also offered up his lab and all its resources for the cause, essentially relieving the pigment-concocting process of its monetary costs.

Dressed appropriately in blue lab coats, Swabeck and Balan prepared the quantum dots, executing a procedure they’d completed hundreds of times throughout their grad school experiences.

A row of oversized black rubber gloves protruded, ghostlike, from enclosed hubs whose reactive contents couldn’t touch open air. Balan stuck her hands inside two of the gloves and into the glass box, mixing metal salts in organic solvents with the impaired dexterity of Frankenstein’s monster baking in oven mitts.

Balan then brought the potion over to a fume hood and set the liquid ― contained in a round-bottom beaker ― to heat to 300 C. The team huddled around for an admittedly anticlimactic glimpse of the whitish liquid in action. “A watched cad never complexes!” Balan joked, shooing the onlookers away. Eventually the temperature peaked and Balan injected elemental sulfur into the brew. After a brief waiting period, one more sulfur injection, and then... a lunch break.

The process of concocting a perfect blue required painstaking accuracy at every step.

Swabeck and Balan have methodically refined the hue over the past year, sending Alexopoulou photographs of their samples along the way. “Too much purple,” she responded one day. “Too much cyan,” another. Alexopoulou is queen bee, remotely nudging her workers in the right direction. Together they inched closer to zeroing in on a blue that would look just right.

In employing nanoscience for artistic means, Alexopoulou and her team are continuing a tradition that extends back to the 10th century. Stained glass artisans unwittingly discovered that adding gold chloride to molten glass yielded a brilliant red tone. Similarly, silver nitrate produced a vibrant yellow. Centuries later, scientists analyzing medieval stained glassworks realized that the gold and silver nanocrystals were, in fact, acting as quantum dots.

Though it’s the nanocrystals that provide Quantum Blue’s vibrant tone, the true innovation resides in the binding agent holding them together.

In other pigments, sticky substances like egg yolks, resin and oil serve as the glue that truly turns colored fragments into paint. For Klein too, finding a binder that would protect the vibrancy of his color was the paramount challenge. In Alexopoulou’s case, she needed a binder that would give the quantum dots a paint-like texture without dampening the intensity of the blue.

Chatzidakis, the most soft-spoken member of the team, is in charge of this pivotal concoction. A conservator, lecturer and color historian, Chatzidakis is an expert in the recipes of historical hues. Yet Quantum Blue presented a new challenge, something “like science fiction,” she said. It was the chance to create a blueprint, instead of studying a preexisting one.

Alexopoulou, Chatzidakis, Swabeck and Balan all refused to discuss the contents of the evasive binding agent. This is, effectively, where the money is.

Pigments have become an unexpectedly active pocket of the art world, thanks to recent technological advancements in chemistry and physics. “Labs now have the ability to control matter on very tiny scales,” Alivisatos said. “And that allows us to control what the overall experience of interacting with light is like in a way that was not easy to do before.”

Members of the art world have taken note. In 2014, five years after the surprising creation of YInMn blue, Surrey NanoSystems introduced Vantablack ― reportedly the darkest artificial substance ever created. Made using vertically aligned nanotubes, the black is “so black that it makes reality look Photoshopped.” In 2016, British sculptor Anish Kapoor controversially won exclusive rights to use Vantablack in an artistic context, a move which riled up his peers. In response, artist Stuart Semple created what he dubbed the world’s pinkest pink and made it available to all artists ― except Kapoor.

Quantum Blue might be the next major development in the race for the next big pigment. However, YinMn blue creator Subramanian, a professor at Oregon State University, expressed skepticism at the colorant being defined as such.

“I think what they are trying to do is to take quantum dots and embed them in a certain material, so it can be used in art,” Subramanian told HuffPost, noting that he couldn’t come to final conclusions without knowing more about the chemistry involved. “When we discovered a new pigment — YinMn Blue — it was a totally new chemical compound.

“Still, it’s a fascinating concept.”

When asked if he was worried about any potential competition with his own blue hue, Subramanian said, “I’m not worried about that.” In part, this is because Quantum Blue needs a UV light to activate its tone; in daylight, it appears yellowish white, meaning artworks featuring the paint must be exhibited in the dark. YinMn blue, on the other hand looks blue in any environment. “You can see [it] under a visible light, for example, sunlight.”

On the last day of August, Alexopoulou created her first painting using Quantum Blue. Rendered on a 15-by-20-centimeter glass canvas, it depicts a beach on the Greek island of Aegna during twilight, the blue hour, she said. The piece is certainly “abstract,” as Alexopoulou described it, featuring only a few gestural brushstrokes to represent the clouds and cresting waves.

The piece ― created in under two hours ― doesn’t photograph well, in part due to Quantum Blue’s ethereal intensity, which is difficult to accurately capture on film. The seascape isn’t likely to transport your psyche to a remote Greek isle anytime soon, but Alexopoulou’s medium was bound to be more intriguing than her final produc

After its completion, the quantum seascape was packed up and put in storage, where it will lie dormant until its public debut at Tokyo’s UltraSuperNew Gallery next March. Until then, the glass sheet will stay “confined in darkness,” as Alexopoulou put it, to protect the pigment’s luster.

Perhaps one day, Quantum Blue will be as readily available in art stores as navy or cerulean. Or maybe it will remain in the purview of elite artists who can pay the right price. Either way, it might only be a matter of time before Quantum Red and Yellow follow in Blue’s footsteps. For now, the sole manifestation of Quantum Blue lives where no one can see it.

Right now, Alexopoulou said she’s in the early stages of patenting the creation, beginning a process that could take months. She intends to reach out to manufacturers and distributors to discuss next steps, though she refused to provide details due to “complicated legalities.” Regardless of the future, Alexopoulou felt the experiment was a success when she saw the little vial radiating blue.

What’s the good of a new color if no one is there to see it? Blue’s earthly scarcity has always contributed to its mystique, its perceived spirituality and magnetic force. According to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, blue has “a peculiar and almost indescribable effect on the eye.” Writer William Gass dubbed the shade the “color of interior life.”

“Blue is always under a mystery veil,” Chatzidakis said.

Quantum Blue may be an unprecedented color, but its creation perpetuates an artistic tradition as old as the landscape or the nude: The eternal stumbling towards a newer, deeper, bluer blue. Klein said the color, like the sea and sky it stains, is “beyond dimensions.” It appears our human desire for blue in all its elusive glory is just as boundless.

“We love to contemplate blue,” Goethe wrote in 1810, “not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.”

Who would have thought the poetic statement would manifest itself so literally? If only the 19th-century statesman could see the scene that unfolded deep underground that August East Bay morning. Lab coats and goggles and bubbling stews, a mission at once incredibly niche and impossibly zealous. Taking a page from the butterflies’ book, fabricating and harnessing an utterly new blue ― again. Huffington Post


11 Tips for Getting the Most out of an Art Class

If your artwork feels stale or you’re experiencing creative block, one solution might be to step out of your routine and take a series of art classes or a workshop. Below, we share some considerations to keep in mind as you go about finding a class that’s right for you, and for making sure you’re getting the most out of the experience.

Choose the right class
Workshops are taught across the world, in every medium, by instructors ranging from relatively unknown artists to internationally acclaimed masters. In comparison, more traditional classes, which often occur weekly and stretch out over the course of weeks or months, are typically led by instructors in your area.

But regardless of whether you want to travel abroad for a short-term workshop or commit to a recurring local class, choosing the right one has more to do with you than with the location or the teacher. Before you begin your search, determine what you want to learn. Be as specific as possible—it will help you avoid the trap of taking a workshop with someone simply because you like their art.

Perhaps you want to loosen up your style or learn a new medium or technique? Or maybe you want to try out plein air painting or sculpting in clay. Identifying what will help you most in your creative pursuits, before you begin looking for a class, can be instrumental in narrowing down the vast art class offerings out there. In other words, if a class doesn’t address your goals, don’t sign up. With patience—and the internet—you’ll find one that’s designed to teach what you want to learn.

Make sure you have the right materials
After enrolling in your class, study the supply list that your instructor provides. Rather than waiting until the last minute—and risking not having the right materials at your first class—determine what you need to buy early on, and start shopping as soon as possible. If you’re considering substituting materials on the list, get in touch with the instructor first. They’ve put together a list designed to align with what they’re teaching; tinkering with it could make your experience in the class more difficult.

You should also examine any tools you already own that you’re planning to use to ensure that they’re in good condition. If you’re attending a painting workshop, for example, you’ll have more success with brushes that are crisp and flexible than ones that are worn down, stiff with old paint, and loose in the ferrule.

Prepare mentally
Before you begin a class or workshop, prime yourself to be open, curious, and adventurous. Leave your own rules about how to make art at home, and plan to accept new methods and ideas, without judgement.

One helpful mental exercise is to remember how you felt when you first started making your art. Perhaps you were engrossed in the process and the end product was only a part of your excitement; maybe you took pleasure in handling the materials. Some of the work you made during that time might still please you, while others you may want to forget. Prepare yourself for either outcome, and remember that the end products are not the point—take advantage of the opportunity to hone your skills and learn new processes.

Get to class early
Something as simple as arriving at your class before the studio fills up can make a difference. You’ll have time to find a good spot, set up your workspace, and meet the instructor. A calm start also means that you’re able to focus on the introductory instructions and absorb more than if you arrive in a flustered state. Just remember that your teacher has also likely arrived early to set up without haste, so give them the space to do so.

Keep notes
Your notes will be gold in the months ahead, when you’re alone in your studio and trying to remember the methods you learned and advice you received. Take the time to jot down step-by-step instructions, and snap some pictures, too.

Keep your ears open
During class, try to find a balance between focusing on your work and listening to your teacher’s instructions and feedback. This includes conversations happening with your classmates—it can be extra learning for you. If you hear your teacher offering a piece of advice over and over again, make a note. It could be a key concept that may help you with solving a problem in your own work.

Ask questions
Get involved in your learning by speaking up when something is unclear. If you’re struggling with a technique, it’s likely that someone else is, as well. Remember, though, that your instructor has to address everyone’s questions, so be patient and aware of the other students in the room.

Take risks
Cautious, timid, anxious efforts will result in cautious, timid, and anxious art. Decide to be fearless; the only things at stake are some art supplies. Remind yourself to focus on the process, not the end product, and take a bold approach to creating. You’ll learn much more by diving deep into new methods and materials than you will by cautiously dipping a toe.

Expect an emotional roller coaster
Prepare yourself for some ups and downs as you learn. You might be excited at the start, as you begin working with new techniques, then frustrated when things don’t go smoothly. You might feel anxious about grasping a new method, and possibly even envious of your classmates’ success. Don’t let ego become a part of the equation; instead, embrace the feelings that you’re having. Uncomfortable scenarios can shake you out of your old habits and help you grow as an artist.

Be productive beyond the studio
Whether you’re taking a short workshop or a long-term class, get to know the other students. You have a rare opportunity to spend time with like-minded peers and fellow artists. Join them for dinner and make new friends.

The evenings during a workshop, or the days between classes, are also time to review what you learned. Reread your notes, and think about what you created. What went well? What didn’t? What questions do you have? What should you focus on in the next class? And, importantly, are you learning the thing that you came for? These review sessions will give you clarity and purpose for your next learning day.

Bring what you learned back to your studio
After finishing a class or workshop, resist the urge to immediately launch into a major project. Instead, take time to process your experience. Reread your notes and expand on them while the information is fresh; look at the work that you made for clues as to what you’d like to explore more deeply. If you learned about color, for example, you might ease back into your work by making color charts or doing small, simple color studies. After so much activity and risk-taking, it’s important to give yourself time for reflection and consolidation.

With preparation and the right frame of mind, you’ll be able to reap the full benefits of taking a class, and it will continue to unfold in your mind and work for months to come. Artsy

Business for Sale

The Art Store, Inc. of Lancaster
Art Supplies & Custom Framing, est. 1989
29 East King Street

Lost East King Street lease, and decided time to retire from retail. We have made a great living in the art materials business over the past 29 plus years in Lancaster which has a great arts community with many art schools including Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, Franklin and Marshall College and Millersville University.

Buy inventory and move to a new location in Lancaster Pennsylvania, or where you are already located.
There are many local working artists and Gallery Row on Prince St. The business opportunity in Lancaster remains very strong and viable for a new owner. Tourist area with many restaurants, music venues and convention center plus new businesses locating to downtown bringing over 800 new jobs this year.

Contact David Pinkerton via email at [email protected] or by phone 610.207.2710.