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Curtisward
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Online Suppliers of Quality Art Materials. Afford to be Creative.
Online Suppliers of Quality Art Materials. Afford to be Creative.

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Great gift idea for an Artist - Khadi Sketchbooks https://www.curtisward.com/brands/Khadi__c-p-0-0-256-397.aspx
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Holly and Ivy straight from the garden given some Christmas glitz with Liquid Leaf Gilding Paints https://www.curtisward.com/Colour/gilding/paint_wax/Liquid_Leaf_Metallic_Gilding_Paint_35ml__p-8-60-203-101.aspx
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What do Fra Angelica, Crivelli, Bouguereau, Rosetti, Matisse, Da Vinci, Moore, Morris, Botticelli and Munch have in common? They have all created beautiful artworks inspired by the Christmas Story. With Christmas Cards still doing a roaring trade, what a chance to fill our homes with great art for a little while!
But it seems that art that is well...too Christmas for Christmas doesn’t have much of a market. Instead our walls and mantelpieces are adorned with photos of snow, robins and polar bears despite there being very few recorded white Christmases, robins being a common sight all year round and...polar bears?!
You may have thought that the first Christmas cards were full of Renaissance-style Angels and Byzantine-style Magi but the first Christmas card, produced in 1843 to promote the new postal service, centred on the feasting, family and philanthropic aspects of the festival and many other early cards favoured flowers, scrolling designs and, rather strangely, fairies. It was also early on that cards moved towards humorous or ‘cute’ illustration.
During the First World War, the need to reach out to those serving at the front saw a huge increase in Christmas card sales and many of the illustrations on these cards took on a patriotic feel with swags of Christmas foliage around flags and regimental emblems or soldiers gathered round Christmas Trees.
This increased demand meant that the tradition for sending cards was well and truly established and the production of cards became a real money spinner in the 20th Century. One image in particular really took off in the 1930s – Father Christmas. Based on the character described in Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, the illustrator Haddon Sundblom came up with an illustration of Father Christmas as the jovial, plump, red-coated figure we know and love today. Commissioned by Coca-cola, the colour of his coat was determined by the colour of the company’s logo and, although Santa had been previously and variously depicted as stern, gaunt, dressed in green or even an elf, the image of the Coca-cola Santa stuck.
From the 50s onwards, we have seen a move towards images of popular culture appearing on cards with Disney characters and pop singers making a Christmas appearance and, still popular, are the sentimental images of Victorian Christmases – in snow of course! I particularly look forward to receiving at least one card with a mail coach on it.
Today, a great number of cards showcase typography and digital illustration for a modern, forward-looking, streamlined, designer feel and, although, I love this type of Artwork, I will still be sending at least a few Renaissance Angels or Byzantine Magi! And, of course, some lucky family members will get one of my own designs...probably a drawing of a robin!
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Strong highlights and shadows can make a flat surface appear 3D. This plain paper mask was painted with Acrylic Paint to produce this skull design. Find out more at https://www.curtisward.com/blog/halloween-craft-skull-and-moth-masks/
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Did you know...that there is a tradition, going back to the Romans, of ensuring that we never get too big for our boots by being reminded of our mortality. In Ancient Rome, as a General celebrated his latest victory, this reminder took the form of a chant which basically said ‘well done. But remember you’re just a man and you’ll be dead yourself soon enough!’
The idea of the Momento Mori or reminder of death is seen throughout all cultures and religions. Some, such as the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’, is more about remembering the deceased and celebrating their lives. The festival is full of colour, gifts, flowers and brightly painted papier maché skulls and sugar skulls and probably dates back to 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. Originally celebrated in the summer, it was moved with the arrival of the Spanish to come into line with the Christian festivals of All Saints Day (1st November) and All Hallow’s (Holy Ones/Saints) Eve (31st October) – now, more commonly, known as Halloween.
The Christian Church had its own take on the Momento Mori – as a warning to live a good life lest you be damned in the afterlife – and it became a pictorial symbol in illuminated manuscripts, tomb decoration and architecture. A common image was that of a wealthy individual being portrayed as a decayed corpse or the Grim Reaper carrying off rich and poor alike showing death as the great leveller. The sins of greed, gluttony and avarice were particularly targeted and the accumulation of wealth and love of earthly pleasures became the central theme in Momento Mori still life paintings known as ‘Vanitas’. The Harmen Steenwyck Still Life - ‘An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life’ - shown above is typical of the genre. The books symbolise human knowledge, the musical instruments are the pleasures of the senses and the Japanese sword and the shell, both collectors' rarities, symbolise wealth. The chronometer and expiring lamp allude to the shortness and frailty of human life and all are dominated by the skull, the symbol of death.
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This painting - The Three Bathers by Cezanne - was once owned by another famous Artist. Find out which one on our 'Painters' Favourite Painters' piece at https://www.curtisward.com/blog/painters-favourite-painters/.
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When thinking about framing and displaying artwork, your choice of media will pretty much determine your options and there are various points you need to remember when storing your work too. At Curtisward, we offer a few helpful hints to make sure your Artwork is protected both in storage and on display. https://www.curtisward.com/blog/keeping-artwork-safe-in-storage-and-on-display/
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Tamara de Lempicka's style of painting encapsulated the stylish Art Deco look of the 1920s and 1930s. Referred to as 'the baroness with a brush', she was as glamorous as the socialites and movie stars she painted.
"My goal is never to copy. Create a new style, clear luminous colors and feel the elegance of the models."
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How do you apply Metal Leaf? The traditional way of applying metal leaf is to cover smallish areas of the surface to be gilded with size – a type of glue – and laying the leaf gently onto it, brushing away any surplus leaf with a soft brush and then smoothing and/or burnishing the gilded area. The benefit of using size – either acrylic or Japan size – is that it stays workable for very, very long periods allowing you to position and perfect the leaf. For further details, see our Gilding section at https://www.curtisward.com/Colour/Gilding__c-p-0-0-8-60.aspx
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