If you like your winters icy cold, the Gaylord National's ICE! event is the place for you. At the National Harbor through January 10, ICE! features sculptures made out of specially designed lights, electrical systems, and two million pounds of - you guessed it - ICE!
Forty Chinese artisans were flown over to carve specially ordered blocks of ice into 10 different holiday scenes. There is even a two story ice slide!
These are a Few of our Favorite Things or What Supplies to Buy for the Artist in Your Life!
There is nothing more exciting for an artist than to receive a gift of brand new art supplies—the packages are pretty, the supplies smell good, and the prospect of creating with something new is tantalizing. Generally, an artist’s budget is rather tight and it is hard to justify a splurge, especially this time of year. This is where you come in!
For the artist just starting out, focus on staples. A variety of sketching materials including drawing pencils from hard to soft (2H, 2B, 4B, 6B) along with a soft charcoal pencil tied up in a bow attached to a sketch pad full of creamy white paper never goes out of style. Throw in a kneaded rubber eraser, a pink pearl eraser and a high quality manual pencil sharpener and you have a sketcher’s dream gift.
For the painter, whether beginning or more advanced, fresh tubes of paint and high quality brushes can’t be beat. Although many colors can be made if the artist has a good set of primary (RYB+Black and White) and secondary paints (Orange, Green), there are some colors, quite often in the higher price range, that add flexibility to the palette. Select a mid-tone blue like cerulean blue or cobalt blue, something in the pink/red family like rose madder, quinacridone red, or alizarin crimson, and hooker’s green or pthalo green/blue, or any of the wonderful (and more expensive) cadmium colors--cadmium red medium really pops on the canvas. Speaking of canvas, high quality premium grade canvas or luscious cold press watercolor paper are also nice treats for the artist. A red sable #8 round for watercolor or a #14 natural bristle bright for an acrylic or oil painter goes a long way.
For someone who works three dimensionally, high quality tools are the way to go. Sculpture House and Kemper tools are popular but you may have to ask your artist what he/she wants because so much will depend on the type of work.
Printmakers and bookbinders also benefit from high quality tools. Artists who work with paper can never have too much of it. There are fabulous decorative papers for bookbinders and collagers, lovely creamy white papers for printers, and high quality pastel papers for the pastel/charcoal artist in your life.
If you are unfamiliar with buying artist’s supplies, shopping at a local art store with well informed staff is key. In the DC area, two good options are Utrecht’s and Plaza Art Supplies. For online stores with fair prices and great variety, check out Dick Blick or Jerry’s Artorama. Take some time and enjoy the experience… the artist in your life will be pleased with your effort.
Looking for something fun and inexpensive (or free) to do with out-of-town guests? Take your friends and family to the National Museum of American History for a stroll down memory lane at the “Holidays on Display” exhibition. It focuses on parading culture and department store retail display, primarily between the 1920s and 1960s, when holiday displays were considered commercial endeavors equally rewarding for the American public. See numerous photographs, postcards and rendering illustration of parade floats and window displays—including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and Marshall Field & Company Christmas windows—as well as objects relating to the early creation of these displays. For more information, visit: http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibition.cfm?key=38&exkey=1404
Finally, if you’re on holiday overload, visit The Katzen Arts Center at American University for the Virtuelle Mauer/ReConstructing the Wall exhibition. This exhibition is virtual reality artwork, an interactive 3D computer graphic installation that enables users to experience a section of the Berlin Wall in its former complexity. The exhibit closes on Sunday, December 20, so this is your last chance to check it out! See http://www1.american.edu/cas/katzen/museum/2009-november-thiel-reuter.cfm for additional details.
It's been awhile since I really packed my bag with any of the big boys. I love using them, it's just that after a few hours of a five-pound camera pulling on my shoulder, I'm really not in much of a mood to take photos, anymore. More like I just want to find a nice, scenic outdoor cafe and people-watch with a beer. I realize that's not the hard-core approach to photography that I'm probably supposed to take, but not being much of a pack horse, I generally don't like to carry much; if it doesn't fit in my pockets or a small bag, then I probably don't need it. But, for this trip, I decided that a bunch of blurry photos from the Diana may not do Italy fair justice, so I selected the Bronica, too.
The Bronica is one of my favorite cameras. Not only does it shoot medium format, it's 6x4 frame squeezes an extra four photos on each roll. Losing out on the square format doesn't bother me; the sharpness of my photos really makes up for it.
So, I packed my bag with five cameras: the Bronica, the Diana, the Canon and it's extra lens, the little cardboard pinhole that I put together, and a digital point-and-shoot that I borrowed from a friend. I'm really happy that I borrowed that little digital camera, too, since it took the place of my cell phone to snap fast shots that I didn't want to waste film on or to make short video with. (Incidentally, in looking for a new cell phone, it must have a nice camera with video action. This has become a requirement, it seems.)
After the first day, my back hurt pretty bad, but it became barely noticeable after the second, even less after the third, and at the end of the trip I could feel the weight of my bag hardly at all. Despite walking nearly five miles per day for an entire week, having a twelve pound bag (I weighed it when I got home) strapped across my body was barely even noticeable. Although, I should clarify that switching things around during the week based on the conditions and where you go is important. I left the heavy cameras behind for the hike up Mount Vesuvius and for the Napoli Underground tour, which was very wise. That hike was hard enough on its own and I doubt I could've fit through the 18" tunnel in the Underground if my bag had been wider.
Vacations are my favorite form of escapism. Getting to leave the familiarity of my normal everyday life and experiencing another city and its culture, seeing amazing places that have shaped our history and simply sitting in a square people-watching, soaking it all up beats the heaviness of my camera bag any day. Ok, so I do that despite how much my shoulder might hurt; it's always nice to take a break. Having the right cameras with me makes people-watching even better.
Always carry a sketchbook with you and use it regularly. You may have heard this before from various art instructors over the years, but have you actually tried it? There are well-documented artistic paragons of virtue like Rembrandt and Andy Warhol who religiously sketched. But if you are like many, it just seems like too much trouble to tote a book with you wherever you go.
From the basic “It’s too heavy,” and “I just don’t have time to sketch right now,” to the more convoluted excuses such as the concern that you might draw badly and immortalize such an image in your sketchbook or your fear of drawing in public--artists are very creative individuals and the reasons given for not carrying such a book can be equally inventive.
As the Nike ad says, Just Do It! If you haven’t sketched in awhile, start small. Sketchbooks come in many shapes and sizes. Even a little spiral bound 4” x 6” book is enough to get you started. In the beginning, you’ll be rusty and a bit uncomfortable. Give it time. Start with some thumbnail still-life sketches using simple everyday objects. Blind-contour and gesture drawings are also a great way to loosen-up your sketching muscles. Or try focusing on strengthening a particular element of your drawing such as composition, line quality, or mark-making. If weather permits, take your book out into the garden--there’s nothing quite as nice as sketching outside. And when you’ve been going at it awhile, it is time to sketch in public! Try sketching on the subway, in a park or at a mall.
Sketchbooks aren’t just for drawing, they can also be used to record your thoughts on art or a project you are about to begin. Journaling, poetry, and any form of creative writing will complement your sketches. The occasional to do list is appropriate, too. After all, it is your sketchbook.