Art and the choice of Materials

Corinthos by Barbara Hepworth, Tate Liverpool.jpg

The choice of materials used in a work of art are one of the key elements of a sculpture. The materials in the sculptures of Barbara Hepworth are allowed to show through and are made very prominent.

Task 1

You will need: Pen, paper

Think how you could use just line to create the impression of different materials. Wood, brushed metal, rust, limestone, ice. A really good web site for material inspiration can be found here.

selection of textures

Another material at the artists disposal is the objects that exist in the world. Ready made objects have been used as art objects in their own right. Cornelia Parker here has combined ready made objects with existing works of art. The connotations in the original sculpture get subverted in a very witty intervention here.

The Distance (A Kiss With Strings Attached), 2003.jpg

Task 2

You will need: An object to make a still life, pencils, paper, wax crayons(optional)

Select an object to make a still life study. Pay close attention to the materials that the object is made of, and make a visual record of these materials. Think of different ways you will you record the textures. For example, you could make wax crayon rubbings of the surface. You could look up close at the surface and blow up a small section of the surface.

Tromp l’oile is where an artist uses paint to create the illusion of materials in the real world. Giuseppe Arcimboldo takes the creation of illusion and forces us to perceive the objects in a different way.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo Fire Kunsthistorisches Museum.jpg

Task 3

You will need: paper, paints, pencils, crayons (optional)

Create a portrait in the Arcimboldo tradition. Concentrate on making the objects as close to the object as you see them, matching materials as closely as you can, but be careful to arrange them in the shape of a face.

The materials in the sculptures by Barbara Hepworth are notable for their solid permanence, the creation of sand mandalas by these Tibetan Buddhist monks couldn’t be more ephemeral.

Task 4

you will need: Salt, dark colored paper or card, coloured chalks

Make your own sand mandalas, using salt, don’t be to precious with your designs, the fact the result is ephemeral is part of the process. Experiment and see what effects you can achieve. By mixing chalk with the salt, you can create different colours.