Many people feel that they are not at all artistic. Yet there are many things you can do to create artistic flourishes or decorations, on objects in your world, with a few simple household tools and very little artistic technique. If you can hammer in a nail, you could paint a primitive, and delightful, border design.
A border can provide structure to a loose, flowing design. It will frame the design which pleases the eyes’ sense of order. Not only that but a line or motif border can direct the viewer’s eyes to the rest of the design, whilst still allowing for “breathing room” – negative space around the design itself. This, in particular, applies to primitive or folk art/ traditional art.
Beginners can easily create borders by combining a few basic strokes with dots made with the handle end of a brush dipped in paint, or press a series of dots with a Q-tip cotton bud, or a worn pencil eraser to form a four or five-petaled daisy.
Here are a few ideas:
Elongate the dots made form dipping the handle of a brush into oval shapes to make flower buds.
Place two dots of paint side by side, pulling each to a point, with a fine brush or brush handle, to form a heart. Use the chisel edge of a flat brush to make carefree straight lines. These irregular lines result in a more primitive look, less rigid and more free-flowing than lines carefully painted with a liner brush.
Children can begin to develop an appreciation of border art by dabbling decorative edges on photo frames or the cover of study books. Cover the books with plain paper or card stock and arm the kids with a q tip or paintbrush as a “dotting tool.”
Rule some lines in pencil as a guide and let them create patterns in rows across the paper with Q-tips or brushes. You will be surprised as what they come up with. They are limited only by their imagination. And you can even incorporate apply a bit of mathematics at the same time, teaching division skills.
Something to remember when painting strokes and border designs is to aim for a flowing design. Otherwise, the rhythm of the design will appear disjointed and the eye will not flow smoothly from one section of the design to another.
Decorate an object with one colour and then add a solid, contrasting colour border design
A solid contrast border colour can be further embellished with geometric shapes, dots, stripes or swirls.
As your confidence and ability grows, build up each row upon row, to form an intricate border designs, based on basic shapes and form such as can be seen in this preliminary sketch below.
Around 1800, the Russian artisan brothers Kulikov, from the region of Gzhel, near Moscow in Russia, perfected a secret porcelain technique that was only previously used in China. It must have been difficult to keep that secret as it wasn’t too long before others from the area also began producing porcelain, and by 1917, one factory in Gzhel, produced 2/3 of all the porcelain in Russia and was the largest porcelain factory in Europe.
In Russia, the tradition of Gzhel porcelain continues today with a strikingly beautiful and traditional form of tableware and decorative porcelain, that is appreciated throughout the world.
Russian handicrafts: Gzhel porcelain factory near Moscow – In Russian!
The Gzhel Paint Technique
“Painting is made by special cobalt paints which is put on the raw un-glazed porcelain pieces. Then the painted products are burnt in the high-temperature ovens. As a result of burning the cobalt painting, almost black before burning, becomes bright and vivid blue. Then the products are coated with glaze and are burnt at second time. This technique allows to protect painting very well.”
The depth and variety in colour value in Gzhel painting is achieved only with the brush technique and the pressure of the bristles on the surface.
Tours of the Gzhel factory can be arranged for visitors. Paint your own masterpiece of Gzheli. As I won’t be in Moscow anytime soon, I decided to try out a little Gzhel on simple white cardstock. These motifs are quite easy to achieve for the beginner painter or folk artist. Pinterest has loads of inspirational photos.
If you’re able to master some basic folk art techniques, you might design a small sample of Gzhel art to enjoy for yourself.
What do you think? Is this traditional art form really something to ponder about?
When it comes to darning socks, almost no-one does it anymore. Cheap items and time poor couples with high disposable income, have relegated simple repairs to low priced essentials, to the pages of history books.
Shouldn’t we be overjoyed that we are freed from the yoke of menial tasks?
If so, why do I feel relaxed when making something with my bare hands; why am I so drawn to up-cycle items where possible, or feel desperate to create an individual item that was designed and made by me even though it is not so appreciated in today’s world? I am hopeful that design trends may come full circle and a retro movement will one day re- introduce hand made objects in preference to ready made, shop- purchased, mass- produced items? Or am I just ‘dreaming?’
Factory made items lack the durability and quality of hand made and not only do they not last, but are sterile and you can see them duplicated in almost every home. Is this really what we want? No need to travel except to see the difference in natural landscape as no cultural individuality will exist?
Children are not taught practical hands-on skills either at school or by their overstressed, time-poor parents, so we are fast becoming a consumer in all senses, and are no longer creating. Where will this end? Do we realise fantastic one offs such as this wood carving will no longer be obtainable?
For these reasons, and more, I am drawn to any hand-made items on my travels. For these are items usually developed from crafts, that have evolved, in a small locale and been handed down over many generations. They scream workmanship, love, beautiful, naturally-synchronous ‘form’ and function. They inspire me to create – more and more!