Posts Tagged 'Art materials'

Material Girls (and a Guy)

To make browsing through our online collection easier, there are filters to see smaller samples so you aren’t wading through thousands of artworks. For instance, you can search through culture of origin or look at the period in which an artwork was made—maybe you enjoy 18th-century French, or you want to go back to B.C.E. But one place where you might not normally look is our section labeled “Medium,” which lets you know how each artwork was made and what it is made from. While there are plenty of works made with oil paint, bronze, and marble, there are also those made of neon, bone, and soda cans.

What better time to showcase the interesting materials in our collection than the same week we celebrate the original “Material Girl” herself, Madonna. Second Thursdays with a Twist on September 13 is all about Madonna’s style, music, and the decade she helped shape: the 1980s. Until then, you can learn more about the materials in our collection that, like Madonna herself, are anything but ordinary!

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Prostitutes, c. 1893–95, pastel on emery board, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.75

There are unique materials scattered among all the cultures that make up our collection. As you look at the different materials, some might stick out as interesting or odd, but for the artist making that piece it would not have been such a strange choice. This is the case in the pastel work by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in which he used emery board, or emery cloth, as the base. This has similar qualities to sandpaper—slightly rough and coarse compared to traditional canvas. Using a delicate medium like pastel on something that will rip apart the creamy texture was a technique he learned from studying 18th-century pastellistes. Lautrec used the technique to create the beautiful, modeled shadows on the woman’s back with the heavier application of pastel. Although today we might think of emery board as an interesting material, at the time the work was created it would have been somewhat traditional for the pastel medium.

Meg Webster, Untitled (Turmeric), date unknown, jade adhesive on arches paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Caroline and Michael Van Valkenburgh, 2017.47.3, © Meg Webster

Contemporary artist Meg Webster was influenced by the Land art movement in the 1970s and studied under Michael Heizer. This influence led her to work primarily in sculpture using natural elements like plants. Webster’s untitled work in our collection is not a sculpture but one of her works on paper. These works share the same focus on the earth and connection to nature with her use of materials such as soil, ash, beeswax, and spices. Untitled uses turmeric to create a textured, dyed element on the paper. She uses natural materials in this series, but on a more intimate scale compared to her room-sized works with living plants. Using natural elements to dye or paint isn’t new, but using turmeric in its raw form shows Webster’s ability to create art without changing the natural form of the materials she uses, while also giving the piece a multisensory effect through smell and the visually distinct color.

Deborah Butterfield, Horse #6-82 – Steel, 1982, sheet aluminum, wire, and tar, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Edward S. Marcus Fund, 1982.96.FA, © 1982 Deborah Butterfield, Bozeman, Montana

Artist Deborah Butterfield has been making organic sculptures of horses almost her entire career. She has experimented with many different materials to make the animals to scale. In her early career, she used mostly wood and organic materials. The horse in our collection is made from steel, sheet aluminum, wire, and tar during the period in which Butterfield used mainly found metals to make the horse’s form. Even though the materials are rough, she contrasts them by creating smooth, precise forms, making the inorganic look organic. Butterfield is still working today, and now combines the materials from earlier in her career. She finds wood to create the shape of the horse, and then casts the pieces in bronze and reassembles it, Combining the two mediums to make one sculpture.

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

Stick to It!: Five Ways to Use Contact Paper for Art-making

As August heats up, you might find yourself retreating to cooler climes, and you can only spend so long at the pool before the kids shrivel up! Beat the heat and keep the kids busy with creative art-making using one of my most favorite unconventional art materials—contact paper.

Contact paper is most often used to line shelves in the kitchen, but take it into the art studio, and you can create some art magic. Here are some of my go-to projects using this surprisingly versatile material.

Texture Collage

Use a piece of contact paper (sticky side up) as the collage base, and encourage your child to create using a variety of collage materials—cotton balls, feathers, sandpaper, tissue paper, sequins, felt, and more. This project works really well for toddlers because they don’t have to worry about managing glue in order to get their materials to stick to the paper. Older children might want to use some glue if they build up layers of materials on top of one another. The finished product is a touchable work of art!

Beach scene created with sand paper, tissue paper, cotton balls, and foam shapes

Beach scene created with sand paper, tissue paper, cotton balls, and foam shapes

Stained Glass “Windows”

One of my favorite art projects to do with kids here at the Museum is inspired by the Tiffany stained glass windows. We use clear contact paper and tissue paper or transparency film to create a stained glass window-effect. Cut two squares of contact paper and arrange pieces of colored tissue paper or transparency film on one contact paper square, sticky side up. The tissue paper and transparency film can be layered to create a variety of colors; tissue paper can also be crinkled and squished to add dimension and texture. When your window is complete, carefully stick the second contact paper square on top, sealing the materials in. Hang in a window to allow light to shine through.

Make Your Own Stickers

Contact paper comes in a variety of designs, making it the perfect medium for creating your own stickers. A few months ago in the Arturo’s Art & Me class, children made up their own imaginary creatures. They used permanent marker to draw the different parts of their animals on different kinds of contact paper. These pieces were then cut out, the paper backing removed, and the newly created stickers were stuck to a landscape drawn on wood. Contact paper stickers will stick to paper, wood, and glass.

Sand Paintings

Try your hand at “painting” with sand! Use a piece of contact paper as the base for the painting, sticky side up. Sprinkle colored sand onto the contact paper to make interesting designs and shapes. For more control over the sand, use small funnels. You can also draw directly in the sand using a dull pencil. Shake your painting around, and watch how the design shifts and changes. You can also add a piece of colored paper as a backing to add even more color.

Dry Erase Drawings

Contact paper can turn any printed image into a re-usable drawing board. Print out images of landscapes, faces, or objects on cardstock and then cover the image with clear contact paper. Give your child dry-erase markers and challenge them to add to the picture. They could add figures to a landscape, add accessories to faces, and transform everyday objects into crazy characters. Use a damp paper towel to erase the drawings and use again and again!

Find even more ways to use contact paper here and here!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

 


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