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Art Therapy

Anyone with a streak of creativity will vouch for the immensely engrossing nature and healing effects of painting, drawing, sculpting and other forms of artistic expression. Art therapy is utilized by trained professionals using ancient forms of self-expression as psychological tools to treat the troubled mind.

Art therapy is now a recognized form of psychiatric treatment used to resolve a range of psychological ailments and improve mental health. It is a relatively new approach to mental disorders, beginning in the 20th century. In the UK, the term was first coined by Adrian Hill, an artist who stumbled upon the therapeutic effect of art while he was recovering from tuberculosis.

The therapy is founded on the principle that helping a person express his innermost feelings through art leads to healing various disorders and promotes well-being. Expressing oneself through art allows a person to resolve emotional conflicts, lessen stress levels, heightens self-esteem, changes behaviour and increases self-awareness.

Art therapy finds application in a vast range of mental problems. Among children, it is used to treat those with learning disabilities or behavioural and social problems. Children who have undergone a traumatic experience often benefit by 'letting go' of their fear, pain and anguish through art.

Among adults, chronic stress is a common reason for seeking art therapy. Patients recovering from brain injuries and individuals suffering from depression, physical abuse and anxiety, whose verbal expression is hence impaired, are also ideal candidates for art therapy.

An art based therapy session can entail using diverse media from sketching, painting and collage-making to sculpture and pottery, coupled with counselling sessions and conventional psychotherapy.

A typical session differs from a regular art class as the attempt here is to give expression to images that occur within a person, rather than what he/she sees externally. Sometimes, art therapy sessions include learning artistic skills.

There are several 'tools' that art therapists use to evaluate a patient's emotional state and cognitive abilities. House-Tree-Person (HTP) is one such assessment where a patient draws images of a house, tree and person using only a lead pencil. Various questions are then put to him/her about the images: "What is the person in the picture doing?", "What is the weather like?" "Tell me about this tree." In the HTP assessment, the three images represent varied aspects of the patient and how she feels about herself. By looking at the drawing and answering such questions, the patient, along with the therapist is able to explore her inner thoughts and feelings objectively.

From helping cancer patients to cope with their disease to soothing stressed out executives, art therapy unlocks shutters in the mind and helps people heal themselves.


Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853 to a pastor in Groot-Zundert, Holland. Growing up in an atmosphere marked by religion and culture, van Gogh was a sensitive, diffident youth. After trying out varied jobs as a bookstore clerk, art salesman and preacher, Vincent finally found his calling as an artist.

During the late eighties, he joined his younger brother Théo, an art gallery manager in Paris. The emotional, edgy painter was a difficult person. His obsessive habit of painting all day followed by late night discussions on art with other painters soon affected his health.

Letters to Théo

Much of what we know about van Gogh comes from the artist's prolific letters to Théo in the years he spent away from Paris. Vincent was a lucid, expressive writer. His letters, carefully preserved by Théo were later compiled by the latter's wife Johanna van-Gogh Bonger and published as a book in 1914.


In Paris, Vincent met with Impressionist masters like Monet and Pisarro whose work dramatically impacted his style. It was Paul Gauguin who arguably influenced his work the most.

With ill-health dogging him in the late 1880s, van Gogh decided to move to Arles in southern France, hoping to establish a school of art with his friends. Gauguin accompanied him, but their friendship was doomed. One day, the temperamental Vincent chased Gauguin with a razor. Gauguin stopped him, but the scuffle ended with Vincent cutting off part of his own ear lobe.

Van Gogh's Death

It was the beginning of the end. Vincent swung between fits of depression and hallucinations followed by periods of intense lucidity during which he would throw himself into painting. He was admitted to an asylum for treatment. In May 1890, he seemed to recover and stayed with Dr. Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise. But in July that year, he shot himself in the chest and died.

Best Known Works

Today, the world pays homage to this tormented artist.

Thousands of his works sell as prints and reproduced art. Starry Night tops the list, an instantly recognisable image endlessly replicated on prints and varied merchandise and celebrated in song, too, Vincent, by Don McLean. Two related works, Starry Night over the Rhone and Café Terrace at Night continue to astound art lovers worldwide.

Van Gogh painted several series of works based on a single theme, Cypresses, Flowering Orchards, Flowers and Wheat Fields. He also created 37 self-portraits, among which Self-Portrait without Beard is one of the world's most expensive paintings.

The tremendous appreciation that van Gogh's works evoke in modern times makes it hard to believe that the artist sold just one painting during his life time!


How to Display Art Using Your Home Architecture

Every home has architectural features that can be enhanced or diminished by artwork. Knowing how to make the most of your home's architecture will help you create a stunning art display that brings out the best in your artwork and your room.

Staircase Art Display

The walls around a staircase are perfect for hanging long vertical groupings of picture frames. The eye will flow with the artwork from one floor to the next whether it is a wide stairway or a narrow circular stairway. Consider a grouping of six framed floral photographs hung vertically in pairs. Another idea would be three elongated simple black picture frames hung staggered on the wall following the rise or fall of the staircase.

Elegant Art Display

For a dramatic and elegant effect, frame six pieces or artwork in matching frames to display. Elegant artwork does not need to be expensive. The drama and elegance comes from the choice of picture frame. Pressed flowers or dried leaves make a wonderful display when framed in matching wood picture frames. Depending upon your wall space you can hang a grouping of six picture frames horizontally in two rows of three pictures or vertically in three rows of two pictures.

Consider Shapes and Sizes

If you have large or odd shaped walls, you can create a very unique art display. You may not have a long vertical piece of art for that narrow angled wall, but if you have three horizontal pieces of art that are the same size, you can hang them in a vertical line about three inches between each picture frame. A grouping of picture frames will be more cohesive and have more eye appeal if the picture frames have a similar finish that ties them together.

Consider Windows and Doors

Windows are considered by designers to be "living art." French doors or a wall of windows could be the focal point of a room. This is why it is important to take windows and doors into consideration when you display your art. If there are a lot of windows or doorways in your room, hang only one large picture frame or a grouping of picture frames on one wall and leave the rest free of artwork. This will eliminate a cluttered look and be more restful to the eye.

The beauty of a stained glass window stands on its own and should not have other artwork hung nearby. Artwork hung on the wall should not compete with the windows and doors of a room.

Importance of Balance

Balance between artwork and furniture is important when decorating a room. If you have a table, desk or dresser sitting next to a large piece of furniture like an armoire, balance the smaller piece of furniture by hanging a large piece of artwork or mirror over it. The artwork will add height so the smaller piece of furniture isn't dwarfed by the large piece of furniture.

Let the architecture of your home be your guide when creating art displays, and remember these pointers for using that architecture effectively. You can complement the personality of your home with your choice of artwork and how it is displayed. A room balanced with artwork and furniture makes for a comfortable, inviting room.


Metal Artwork For Walls

Nowadays, the trend of placing metal artwork for walls in homes and offices is fast transforming into the love for their beauty, durability and functionality. Homeowners and decorators are in agreement over the benefits that can be enjoyed with metal artwork and, thus, both are spreading the good news about these things of beauty to their family and friends. In this article, we shall discuss these numerous benefits.

Beauty of Metal

Metal may look hard, harsh and even hideous in its raw state. Look at the wrought iron bars, the copper plates, the aluminum canvasses and the bronze panels, among others, strewn around an artist's workshop like so much junk fit to be thrown away. The image is definitely not one of beauty.

However, the image starts to shift when the artist starts to work on the raw materials to make metal artwork for walls. The iron bars are shaped into whimsical butterflies, beautiful flowers and fantastical creatures that appear to magically emerge from out of the blank walls. The copper plates are painted like cloth and paper canvasses to make ethereal landscapes of the seasons with fall as the most compelling of them all. The bronze panels are done in abstract forms that seem to call out to the soul.

Metal artwork takes on so many forms that every style will find the perfect artwork to love. Homeowners and interior decorators can choose from metal artworks in categories from abstract to ultra-modern; from wrought iron to iron wall grilles; from animals to flower wall art; from nautical to solar themes; and from small wall sculptures to large metal panels depicting epic scenes. Browse through the stores and sites selling metal artwork for walls and you are bound to find many objects of beauty worthy of a place on the walls of your home and office.

When choosing from among many choices in metal artworks, there are two routes to take. First, select the artwork to complement the existing decor so that there is a unity of look in the area. Second, choose the artwork to make a bold statement or a daring contrast in the area. The choice depends on the design sensibilities of the individuals who will see the metal artwork on a daily basis.

Durability of Metal

Metal is a desirable material for artwork because of its durability. Wood can be attacked by termites, plastic can melt and paper can turn acidic under normal circumstances, all of which means that the substantial investment poured on the artwork will be for naught.

With metal artwork for walls, this is not so. Artists take great care to ensure that their artwork will live on for generations to come. Said care of which includes using anti-corrosion materials. Add in the natural durability of metal and the artwork should be enjoyed for years and years to come.

Functionality of Metal

Many metal artworks are also imbued with certain functionality along with the beauty expected of art. For example, metal wall hooks are made into whimsical, fantastical and beautiful shapes so that these items can serve a functional purpose of a place to hand coats, jackets and ties as well as be a thing of beauty in the home.

If you are looking for beautiful, durable and functional decor, look for metal artwork for walls and you will be supremely happy with the choices.


Celebrated British Caricaturists - Part One

This list includes both British born artists and those who were born elsewhere but did the majority of their most important drawings in the U.K. The selection is listed in chronological order by date of birth.

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

He was born in London and apprenticed to an engraver where he studied his trade. He became a painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist and has been accredited with pioneering sequential art or the cartoon strip.

His output ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures known as "modern moral subjects". His most famous works are no doubt "The Harlot's Progress" and "The Rake's Progress".

Isaac Cruickshank (1756 - 1811)

Cruickshank was a Scottish painter and caricaturist who was born in Edinburgh. Cruikshank's first known publications were etchings of Edinburgh "types", from 1784.

His water colours were exhibited, but in order to make a living it was found that it was more profitable to produce prints and caricatures. He was responsible in part for creating the figure of John Bull, the nationalistic representation of a solid British yeoman.

Isaac Cruikshank was a contemporary of James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson, and he was part of what has been known as "the Golden Age of British Caricature.

Thomas Rowlandson (1756 - 1827)

Thomas Rowlandson was an English painter and caricaturist. He was born in London and after he left school he was educated at the Royal Academy. He was thought of as a promising student and if he had continued his early diligence he would have made his mark as an artist.

But he inherited £7,000 from a French aunt and dived into the dissipations of the town (he was known to sit at the gaming-table for 36 hours at a stretch).

He quickly squandered his inheritance but the friendship and examples of James Gillray and Henry William Bunbury seem to have suggested caricature as a means of filling his stomach and purse.

He also produced a collection of erotic prints and woodcuts, lots of which would nowadays be thought of as pornographic .

James Gillray (1757 - 1815)

James Gillray was a British caricaturist and printmaker who achieved immense fame for his etched political and social satires, mainly in print between 1792 and 1810.

Some of his best known caricatures were directed at the Royal Family and George III in particular. He is also responsible for probably the most famous political cartoon of all time.

It was entitled "The Plum Pudding in Danger". It was published in 1805 and shows Pitt and Napoleon carving up the plum pudding of Europe.

By 1811, madness, no doubt exacerbated by his excessive life-style, was overtaking him and he passed away in 1815.

George Cruickshank (1792 - 1878)

George Cruickshank was born in London, the son of the famous caricaturist Isaac Cruickshank and started his working life as apprentice to his father.

He later started out as a caricaturist in his own right and was even paid £100 in return for a promise not to satirize George IV. In later life he turned to book illustrating and illustrated "Sketches by Boz" and "Oliver Twist" for Charles Dickens.

After creating palsy he died in 1878. Punch in his obituary said "There never was a purer, simpler, more straightforward or altogether more blameless man. His nature had something childlike in its transparency."


Western Wall Art

Many people love the look at the feel of the West, and the Southwest specifically. It's very easy to create a room or a home that is based around a western feel. One way to accomplish this is to first make sure that the walls are painted in colors that are found in the west, or that are inspired by the west. These might be colors such as gold, mustard, peach, terra cotta, or earth brown. Then, a person can hang up western wall art of all sorts. Since this style of decor is very popular, there will be lots of options to choose from, when it comes to art to hang on the wall.

For example, a person can hang framed photos. These photos can be pictures of mountain ranges, adobes, or of desert vegetation, such as aloe plants and cacti. Some people want to capture the environment and the terrain of the Great West. They will hang photos of the big blue sky, with its rich cloud patterns. They might also hang photos of the dried clay earth. In fact, photos of dried and cracked earth is a very popular image that people associate with the West. Another popular image that people associate with western art is photos of sand dunes in the desert.

Western wall art doesn't have to be restricted to photos, although there are plenty of them on the market. One can also hang up paintings. One of the most popular Western artists is Georgia O'Keefe. There are lots of her reproductions for sale that can be hung up in a home that features western art. There are also many other visual artist who offer paintings for sale. Beyond paintings or photos, craft objects can be used for western art. Lots of crafts are made from iron and from copper in the west. These crafts are very popular to hang up in a home featuring western art.

For example, people buy iron and copper works of art, such as crosses, or stars. The Lone Star comes from Texas, and nothing represents the Old West like anything Texan. Speaking of other objects that come from Texas that can be used for western wall art, many people hang Longhorn cattle horns in their homes. But the use of horns isn't restricted to Texas, to Longhorn cows or even horns. Many people hang moose, elk or deer antlers as well. They also use animal pelts or woven Mexican blankets for western wall art as well.

Western wall art items are plentiful, and they range in a wide variety of prices. Lots of truly amazing artisan items can be purchased and displayed in the home to create a rich and relaxing atmosphere.


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