The Arty bit with Barry Whitehouse of the Artery

Look after your brushes – an artist’s greatest tool Unless brushes are looked after properly, they will spoil and lose their shape, leaving them useless. These simple rules must...

Look after your brushes – an artist’s greatest tool

Unless brushes are looked after properly, they will spoil and lose their shape, leaving them useless. These simple rules must be followed to maintain a well-shaped, soft brush:

1. ALWAYS clean your brush after use and point up the brush hairs to their natural shape using your fingers. Particular attention should be paid so that no paint has accumulated at the base of the bristles.

2. Keep the brush in an upright position and never rest it on its hairs. If they are stored for any length of time, make sure that they are thoroughly dry and clean to prevent mildew. Put them in an air-tight container to prevent an attack from moths or grubs.

BRUSHES FOR WATERCOLOUR should be cleaned with cold water until there is no trace of colour in the water. They should then be dried by stroking in the direction of their point with a clean rag or tissue.

ACRYLIC BRUSHES should be rinsed in cold water. Using finger tips or the palm of your hand, work it thoroughly so that there is no paint left. Even though this is a water-based paint, once dry, it is difficult to remove.

BRUSHES FOR OILS AND ALKYDS should be cleaned with white spirit and stroked on a dry rag or tissue to get all the oil off the bristles. If the paint dries, nothing will remove it from the brush well enough so that the brush can be used in the same way.

There are many new soaps and lotions that can be purchased that help preserve the life of your brushes. Also remember to never leave your brushes standing face down in water or turps as this will bend the bristles and permanently damage their shape.

Art Surgery

A look at futurism – a modern art movement of the Edwardian Period.

Futurism was an Italian art movement of the early twentieth century that aimed to capture in art the dynamism and energy of the modern world. The most important Italian avant-garde art movement of the 20th century, Futurism celebrated advanced technology and urban modernity. Committed to the new, its members wished to destroy older forms of culture and to demonstrate the beauty of modern life – the beauty of the machine, speed, violence (!) and change.

Although the movement did influence architecture, most of its adherents were artists who worked in traditional media such as paint and sculpture in an eclectic range of styles inspired by Post-Impressionism.

The Futurists were fascinated by the problems of representing modern experience, and wanted to have their paintings prompt all kinds of sensations – and not merely those visible to the eye. At its best, Futurist art brings to mind the noise, heat and even the smell of the metropolis.

Unlike many other modern art movements, such as Impressionism and Pointillism, Futurism was not immediately identified with a distinctive style. Instead its adherents worked in an eclectic manner, borrowing from various aspects of Post-Impressionism, including Symbolism and Divisionism. It was not until 1911 that a distinctive Futurist style emerged, and then it was a product of Cubist influence.

The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall simply be the dynamic sensation itself. Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rapidly changing. We would at any price re-enter into life.”

  • Manifesto of Futurist Painters, April 1910

‘The City Rises’ is often considered to be the first Futurist painting. Here, Umberto Boccioni illustrates the construction of a modern city. The chaos and movement in the piece resemble a war scene as indeed war was presented in the Futurist Manifesto as the only means toward cultural progress. The horse racing in  the foreground while several workers struggle to gain control, indicates tension between the human and animal.

The horse and figures are blurred, communicating rapid movement while other elements, such as the buildings in the background, are rendered more realistically.

At the same time, the perspective teeters dramatically in different sections of the painting. The work shows influences of Cubism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism, revealed in the brushstrokes and fractured representation of space.

In Boccioni’s painting Dynamism of a Cyclist, it can be seen how the preparatory sketches started to morph from an almost ‘normal’ drawing of a cyclist, becoming much more futurist – before the final painting takes on a total futurist tone, where the cyclist becomes part of his landscape.

Giacomo Balla was fascinated by chrono-photography, a vintage technique whereby movement is demonstrated across several frames. This encouraged Balla to find new ways of representing movement in painting, and Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash is perhaps his most famous experiment. The work shows a woman walking a small black dog, the movement collapsed into a single instant. Displaying a close-up of the feet, Balla articulates action in process by combining opaque and semi-transparent shapes.

Inspired by his voyage through coastal Anzio, Gino Severini created this painting to draw a parallel between the sea and the human form. The figure is undistinguished from the water, becoming an inseparable component of the contiguous surroundings. Severini incorporates the Divisionist technique of stippled brushstrokes; flat planes and cylindrical shapes converge, shattering traditional approaches to representing three-dimensional space.