The visual arts is a very broad field which this post will attempt to navigate. This is designed to encourage you to experiment with different mediums and submit work to our magazine that does not fall into the most obvious forms of painting and photography, although we love receiving these too!
If you’ve ever been to an art museum, you will know that the large majority of works you will find there are classified as paintings because they are the products of applying pigment and an adhesive to a surface.
The most common types of paint to use are oil, water and acrylic based. Watercolour paint is very portable as it can come in hard discs which you then apply water too. They are much more permanent than oil paint which is slow-drying. This makes it easier to reverse mistakes in oil rather than watercolour Another difference between these paints is that watercolour appears matte and dull whilst oil shows up glossy and bright. Acrylic paints are quick-drying like watercolours and can also be added to water for a more washed effect. With all of these, you can paint landscapes, portraits and still life images, typically on canvas.
Spray painting is also an amazing art form which uses aerosol paint, contained in a pressurised container. This can be sprayed through the air onto the surface. When this is done onto public buildings, it is considered to be graffiti. Banksy is a famous spray-paint graffiti artist who uses stencils to create his shapes.
Finally, I wanted to cover pointillism which is a really exciting neo-impressionist art form which involves adding dots of colour to a surface which, when viewed from afar, create an image in unity.
Drawing is another classic medium. In contrast to painting, it requires dry instruments such as pens, pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels and markers.
One of my favourite types of drawing is line drawing. This involves creating an image, just out of lines, without any shading or colour depth. You can create a continuous version of this if you don’t take your pen or pencil off of the page, or you can create a blind version of this if you don’t look at the page while you’re drawing. These are both fun ways of sparking your imagination and experimenting.
If you’ve ever been to the beach or a popular tourist destination, you might have seen people offering to draw a cartoon of you for a set price. This type of art is used for the purpose of humour, satire and caricature. Cartoons are also used heavily in illustration work, particularly for children’s books, graphic novels and comics. Manga is a popular Japanese form of cartoon creation.
Print-making is a really fun and messy graphic art form which I very much enjoyed doing in my own art lessons at school.
Let’s begin with screen printing which uses a fine material, like a mesh, to transfer ink to a page. Then there is lino-print which involves cutting an image out of linoleum which is then rolled over with ink and pressed down onto a surface. Wood can also be used for this technique! Etching is an image is cut into a metal plate. A resist is used before adding the ink. Then you pass this through a printing press in which the ink will transfer from the recessed lines onto paper. Collographs make prints out of collages. Simply put a plate with different textures on it through a printing press with ink.
Photography is a more modern art and the static equivalent of video and film making. As with paintings, photos can attempt to capture portraits of people, landscapes of nature and still life depictions of objects. I would like to draw your attention to some particularly interesting avenues you can take within photography. In contemporary society, it may seem like a lot of people are obsessed with food, whether its in regard to the various keto and atkins diet regimes you can follow, or the lifestyle choices you can make, such as veganism, or Great British Baking. This has led to the rise of food blogging and in tandem, food photography which is popularly displayed on Instagram. I would encourage you to explore how you can present food and play with colours to create truly unique artworks.
Another type of photography which is really important is the documentary type. This is a style of photojournalism which involves capturing historical events and environments around you and can stimulate some very interesting stories.
Travel photography is something that most of us do when we go on holiday, but if you attempt to take more candid pictures of life as it is lived in different cultures and settings, rather than just taking a selfie in front of a famous natural or manmade wonder, you may just find that your snaps become photographic travel art rather than just tourist pics.
Photography is also a great way to earn money and so commercial photography is quite common. You might experiment with how you can display a product within a frame to make it more appealing to a potential buyer and thereby work out the secrets of advertising.
Computer art is a medium we rely on for Spellbinder magazine as all of our illustrations are created this way. There are many different ways that you can create digital art so I will just give you a few to get you started. First of all, there is algorhythmic art which is generated by computer algorhythms. There is photo-painting which starts off with a photo out of which a painting is created; the painting itself should do more than the photo can achieve on its own. A pixelised display might be a sign of poor quality imaging when you’re watching television; however the tiny little squares of colour that make up our screens can be exploited for especially innovative effects with Pixel Art.
A rather specialised art form to consider is cartography, the art of making maps. This is also a science as it requires great precision and geographical research, but can nonetheless create some beautiful and useful pieces representative of our world.
Another important aspect of visual art is collage. This is a hybrid form in which multiple medias are used to create an image which often features overlapping fragments. This is something which can be done within traditional painting and drawing but also in digital art.
3D and Motion Art Forms
Although we cannot accept 3D or motion visual art for the magazine, for obvious reason, it is worth just noting a few examples so that you can explore them in your own time if you wish to.
Traditionally there is sculpture and ceramics, the former of which is making a form by carving or casting different materials, such as stone and plaster, and the latter of which is shaping objects out of materials, like clay, which are then fired at high temperatures.
One of my favourite artforms is architecture which is the design and construction of buildings and other manmade structures. A number of famous cathedrals and temples, palaces and castles, as well as towers and theatres have arisen of this tradition. There are a number of other art forms which fit into the category of design such as costume and fashion art. The craft of textiles is vitally important for this, but there are many other types of crafts too, including papercraft, such as origami and card-making, and jewellery making.
Just as photography is a relatively new static form, we also have motion pictures. The art of video and film making has been of utmost importance to the process of taking the acting world outside and beyond the theatre so that the stage space can be vastly increased and made more realistic, and so that plays can be enjoyed without the requirement of them being produced live.
To conclude, I hope that this has given you some new ideas of art forms to try. We would love it if you can comment with any other mediums you can think of so that we can update this resource in the future.
See also: Writing Routes
Amber Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief