Dive into art exploration

Published June 22, 2024
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed

Summer is all about sunshine, carefree days and endless possibilities, especially when you have two whole months of holidays. Many plans are made to spend the holidays productively but, unfortunately, most of the time is often wasted because the hot weather keeps us indoors.

Understandably, you end up using digital devices. While digital devices will always be around, these two free months will only come next year. There are so many creative indoors activities that you can indulge in and today we will tell you about some art activities that are also fun. We’ll explore lots of different art mediums such as paints, clay, pencils and charcoal. Who knows, indulging in art may bring out your inner artist — your ‘Picasso’ side!

I am sure many of you have a know-how of the stuff below, so let me give you some handy tips to polish your skills.

The power of graphite

We often underestimate the power of a pencil, but a pencil is the foundation of any sketch or drawing you see. From simple doodling to making detailed scenery by pressing it hard or soft; light and faint or dark and bold — this simple play of lines gives a face to your thoughts.

The colour buddies

For many, graphite is not as exciting as coloured pencils, because colours bring out the exact picture. But even then, you need to hold and grasp the pencil to make lighter and darker shades of nature, moods, emotions, etc.

The art of blending

Blending is a very important part of any art form such as simple graphite, water-colours, acrylics, colour pencils or even clay; the more you practice the more your blending gets perfect.

You probably have some old notebooks left over from last school year that still have blank pages. Take those notebooks out and use the empty pages for art practice. Experiment with blending and mixing different coloured pencils to create new shades and hues.

Building depth with layers

Whether you are using water, paint, acrylic, oil pastels or pencils; for a vibrant colours’ expression, you need to consider the technique of layering. This involves applying darker shades over lighter ones, this gives depth and intensity to your artwork. Remember, all it needs is your practice and the result will astonish you.

Acrylic paints

Acrylic paints are made with water, but after they dry, they become waterproof. This is different from watercolour paints which stay water-based. This unique property allows for a variety of techniques. You can use them like watercolours and can also create transparent effects when thinned with water. Furthermore, you can mix various additives to alter their properties and create a fusion. For example, pouring mediums can create fluid, cell-like effects, while gels can add texture and body.

However, for a durable finish, you need an acrylic polymer binder that works on canvas, wood or even fabric.

Tip: While acrylics are incredibly adaptable, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, before you even know it, they dry out, so you also have to be really fast while using them. However, if your work needs time, you must use mediums that come in the form of fluid, gel and paste, depending on your work then mix them with acrylic paints to slow down the drying process. The difference is that, unlike paints, mediums don’t contain any colour pigments.

Illustration by Faraz Ahmed
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed

Air-dry clay

Learn sculpting and modelling at home on air-dry clay, which is easily available and is cost-effective, before actually working with traditional clay. Air-dry clay doesn’t require any specialised equipment or skills. As the name suggests, this medium dries naturally without the need for drying it in the oven, fire and heat, which is an important part of using traditional clay to dry a model.

With air-dry clay, the possibilities of creativity are endless; you can make small figures, jewellery and decoration items. You can use simple tools like toothpicks, craft sticks and even jelly moulds (if your mum allows you to) to give details and shape to your model.

Tip: When not in use, cover the clay with a damp cloth. This helps the clay from drying out quickly and it also maintains its soft moulding consistency.

Water colours

Summer break is the perfect time to roll your sleeves and get as messy as you can. Watercolours are known for their beautiful blends and washes, they’re easy to use and create stunning effects.

Tip: Wet your paper slightly before applying paint. This helps the colours flow seamlessly and creates a gorgeous wash effect. When you feel you are comfortable, experiment with layering one colour over the other as it adds depth and richness. Too much water can make the colours look more smudgy and unclean, so a just a little at the start and add more as needed!

Charcoal

If you know sketching, charcoal is your step towards a more professional medium. Charcoal allows you to create rich, velvety black tones and dramatic contrasts. The stick can produce broad strokes that define the overall shapes and forms, and give a life-like effect.

When using charcoal, you’ll need a sturdy drawing paper or canvas that has a textured ‘tooth’ surface to grab onto the charcoal. The beauty of charcoal drawing is that you can continually revisit areas, layering and blending to achieve mid-tones.

However, charcoal’s powdery, smudgy nature gets your hands dirty in the process! It is ideal for creating dramatic portraits, moody still life compositions, etc. Watching a tutorial on YouTube will guide you how to use it.

Tip: Charcoal can be easily smudged with your fingers or a blending tool to create soft shadows and hazy effects.

Tie-dye

If you haven’t tried tie-dye yet, now is the perfect time. For this, you may need fabric paints, but if you are just experimenting, I would advise you to use your leftover watercolours to have an idea of what this art is all about. You can take any discarded light-coloured piece of cloth.

Or create vibrant and unique patterns on t-shirts, socks or tote bags and transform them into reusable masterpieces. There are many ways to make classic rainbow swirls and funky geometric patterns, you can watch the tutorial for that the possibilities are endless. If you haven’t got a t-shirt or tote bag, simply colour your old socks or rubber bands! The best part is you don’t have to be an expert to master it — tie-die creates magic of its own.

Take a class

You can also opt for art classes near you or ask your parents to find you something that is feasible for them and you.

Remember there are no rules in this artistic adventure! This is a perfect time to have fun, experiment and express yourself freely through art.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 22nd, 2024

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