What Are Martial Arts? Answered By a Martial Artist

A Martial art is a combination of self-defense and combative skills, practiced similar to a sport. There are numerous different styles from around the world, each with their own methods and techniques. Though it would be easy to write an entire encyclopedia covering each individual style, we'll briefly examine two of the most-popular styles: Taekwondo and mixed martial arts (MMA).

Simply translated, Taekwondo means "the way of the hand and foot." The meaning is very appropriate as all of the techniques involve the hands and feet. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art practiced worldwide, and since 2000, has been a full medal Olympic sport. A typical Taekwondo student learns a variety of different kicks, punches, strikes and blocks. Students practice their techniques by doing "poomse" (floor patterns), "kyorugi" (free sparring), "hosinsool" (self-defense), and "kyuk-pa" (board breaking). There are numerous Taekwondo organizations, each with their own curriculum and varying styles.


The American Taekwondo Association is one of the largest martial arts organizations in the world, with over 1,500 associated schools and clubs. One of the unique programs the ATA offers is a complete competition for students with various physical and mental disabilities. In addition, the ATA offers a child safety program endorsed by AmberAlert.com and a bullying prevention program that was developed with Olweus (the #1 curriculum in the country). In addition to traditional Taekwondo, the ATA also offers Protech weapons training and ATA Xtreme martial arts (modern Taekwondo/gymnastics hybrid).

Within Taekwondo, students earn belts that signify their rank. All students start at white belt and progress through a range of colored belts before reaching the esteemed rank of "black belt." There is also a hierarchy of degrees (ranks) within black belt itself. Each organization's rank structure differs slightly, but on average, it takes three to five years for most students to achieve their first degree of black belt. Once a black belt, students must then meet a time-in-rank requirement in years equal to their degree. For example, a second-degree black belt must wait two years before being eligible to test for their third-degree black belt. This waiting period is in addition to a challenging set of physical and mental requirements. A Taekwondo black belt should be proficient at using their hands and feet to deliver kicks and strikes in addition to possessing solid skills in self-defense tactics. While Taekwondo has its strengths and weaknesses, a mixed martial artist ("jack-of-all-trades") can arguably be the most effective.

In recent years, there has been a surge of popularity in mixed martial arts. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has become a popular event to watch on TV. Fighters that train in a variety of martial arts styles are pitted against each other in a boxing-like atmosphere. To win the match, a fighter must knock out their opponent, and force them into "submission," or render them physically unable to continue the match.

Since there is such a wide range of backgrounds amongst the competitors, fighters must train in multiple disciplines. An experienced background in both a grappling/throwing and striking/kicking martial art is essential for mixed martial arts. Most UFC fighters possess knowledge in wrestling or Jujitsu as well as Taekwondo or Karate.

While mixed martial arts caters more towards younger men looking to bloody someone up, Taekwondo is widely practiced by both men and women of every age and physical ability. Anyone interested in martial arts training should research the different schools in their area and try a few classes before deciding which style is best suited for them. Be wary of schools that require you to sign contracts, as they can lock you into monthly payments, even if you decide that you want to stop training. Also, use discretion with schools that promise that, for a certain dollar amount, they will "guarantee" reaching your black belt. Many times, these schools will just promote students for the sake of making money instead of actually awarding rank based on merit.

Above all, remember to have fun and try to get the most out of training. Think of it as an investment in yourself!

What Are Martial Arts? Answered By a Martial Artist

Nick Zorn is a leading martial arts instructor who has helped hundreds of his students succeed in martial arts and has trained multiple state champions. For more information about martial arts training, visit http://www.myataschool.com.

(c) Copyright Nick Zorn, all rights reserved

You may republish this article on your website, newsletter, or book, on the condition that you agree to leave the article, author's signature, and all links completely intact.

Travel Guide to Kiev

The country of Ukraine includes a lovely secret that attracts a large number of guests from around the globe. It is a big getaway destination. It is exceptional for its outstanding mountains, architectural monuments, man-made attractions and also abundant cultural heritage. It's the most important country in the region of Europe. The capital city, Kiev, is one of its pride and joy. It is in the north main section of Ukraine, along the Dnieper River. It has a very active city life that only guarantees overall enjoyment and fulfillment to every traveler. Kiev has lots of exciting attractions and famous landmarks.

Kiev's major attractions are the Monastery of the Caves recognized as the Kiev Pechersk Lavra and the 11th century Saint Sophia Cathedral that happen to be probably the most sacred sites in the city and included in the 7 Wonders of Ukraine. An essential section of the city's culture is its different theatres particularly the Puppet Theater, Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Theater of Russian Drama, Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre, and the Kiev Opera House. In addition, it includes remarkable museums like the National Art Museum, Museum of the Great Patriotic War and the Museum of Western and Oriental Art among others.


Don't forget to go Kiev's architectural masterpieces (using your camera) for fantastic sites and landscapes of the historical Mariyinsky Palace, St. Michael's Cathedral and the Golden Gate. Its contemporary attractions include the enormous titanium statue of Mother Motherland, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the House with Chimaeras and many more. Additionally, you will undoubtedly appreciate terrific monuments just like those in the Independence Square in the heart of the city with the monument of the city's protector, Michael Archangel and its goddess defender Berehynia.

Great and respectful accommodations are also everywhere in the metro area, creating your stay in the city a hassle free. Your meals are also great in Kiev with lots of distinctive and delicious local dishes that will certainly turn out to be a gastronomic feast for the food enthusiasts as well as adventurers. You can also loosen up after a tiring trip in the majority of the entertainment spots for example bars in the metro area at night.

Climate: The city of Kiev is known for its continental humid weather conditions. June, July and August are the warmest months with temperatures up to 24.8 degrees Celsius in the day. The coldest weathers are experienced on the months of December, January and February and may move below freezing levels. Snow fall are heavy in mid-November that continues through the end of March.

Transportation: Kiev has one of the most extensive and highly developed public transport system, lead by the Kiev Underground Metro, commuter buses, trams and trolley buses but bus services are unreliable often. The funicular, a railway that ascends on high places and homes transports up to fifteen thousand passengers every single day. Cabs are also available however taxi service is not regulated and so you can be charge with a much overpriced fare cost. Suburban vehicles is provided by short-range locomotives called the elektrichkas, buses and private mini-buses

Travel Guide to Kiev

Ramon van Meer is a travel expert and owner of Lets Fly Cheaper, an Online Travel Consolidator. Lets Fly Cheaper offers Cheap Flights to Kiev with the best personal service. For more information about how to get the cheapest airline tickets like Munich Cheap Flights go to the website.

Venetian Mask History, the Moretta Mask

The Moretta mask is one of the most traditional designs of Venetian masks. Originating in France it was quickly taken up by the fashion conscious Venetian women who loved the way the mask accentuated the soft feminine lines of the female face. Its popularity was short lived as by 1760 it had disappeared.

The Moretta mask was oval in shape with no mouth opening, just eye holes.Traditionally the mask was worn with a veil so giving total anonymity to its wearer. Originally made of black velvet the features are expressionless. It was designed without ties to secure it in place relying Instead on a button a button sewn on the inside of the mask which was clamped in the mouth of the wearer, so keeping the mask in place and rendering the wearer mute. This is why the Moretta mask is also called the Servetta Muta meaning mute maid servant.


The lack of verbal communication this mask imposed meant that Venetian women had to use their body language to communicate. It encouraged coquettish behavior, the tilt of the head,the fluttering of eye lashes, the touch of a hand all became an intricate part of flirtation.Its expressionless face meant that the female wearer had to use her body to communicate, much as a mime artist would today. When worn, the Moretta mask accentuated all the attributes that Venetians considered to be the height of desirability and femininity. 

The moretta mask was worn to gambling houses, for affairs and when visiting convents where vows of silence were observed.

Thankfully todays Moretta masks are designed with ribbon ties to secure it. The button has been left in an era where women's views were seen as unimportant and where they were judged on their physical attributes alone. They can be crafted from leather, cloth or paper mache. Most are still blank in either black or white as tradition dictates. If you wish for one that is a little more decorative there are designs that have been embelished with gilded macrame and crystals. Although not historically correct these do look superb when worn and also make lovely wall decoration. The leather Moretta masks are probably the most comfortable, allowing the skin to breath and molding to the shape of the wearers face.

Although simple in its design and somewhat inconvenient to wear, this mask still holds a fascination for us today. Its expressionless fa├žade imbibes its wearer with an ethereal look which captivates our attention wherever it may be worn.

Venetian Mask History, the Moretta Mask

Mikaela Parry is owner of http://www.venetianmasquerademasks.co.uk an online shop specializing in masquerade masks. If you wish to learn more about the fascinating history of Venetian masks or purchase one then please visit our shop.

The Five Characteristics of a Good Poster

A poster is a strong advertising technique when designed properly. Every good poster has several things in common. A poster that is missing any of these characteristics is likely to underwhelm you with its performance. Keep these five characteristics in mind as you design your next poster printing project.

1. It Does the Job Quickly
A poster's job is to communicate your information quickly and efficiently. Many beginning businesspeople think that they need to pack as much as they can onto their posters. However, trying to put too much information, or too many images, into your poster will make it look complicated and cluttered. A cluttered poster cannot "talk" to its viewers quickly, which prevents it from doing its designated job. A good poster is simple yet effective. It tells everyone who looks at it what they are supposed to know right away.


2. It Gets Attention
Obviously, a good poster is attractive enough to bring in your target customers. You have to incorporate elements into your poster that will entice your target customers to look at the poster and get the information you want them to have. It is usually a good idea to include offers on your posters to gain attention. Or, you can throw in some interesting information that pertains to your subject. You can also include a picture or image that is attention grabbing.

3. It is Convincing
As we already said, you do not want to include too much information in your poster. However, you have to give your readers enough to convince them that what you are saying is accurate. Use short but strong statements to back up your claims. Be careful not to overextend yourself. Do not make claims or exaggerations that you cannot defend. In fact, not making any claims at all is usually a good idea. Just use what you need to get your message across.

4. It Effectively Uses Color
Black and white posters are not nearly as effective as color posters. A poster that incorporates color into its scheme will attract many more viewers. Full color brochures are much more powerful and will have a much stronger impact on your customers. Try to use color in a strategic way, however. Using the wrong colors could backfire on you.

5. It is Simple
Some of the most effective posters are surprisingly simple. Some posters do not even have any text at all, just some well placed images and strategically chosen colors. I'm not saying you shouldn't use words on your poster - you should - but always try to keep your poster as simple as you can, while still conveying your message. Each poster that you design should have one strong message; do not try to do too much with it.

The Five Characteristics of a Good Poster

Visit this site for more information on poster printing.

How Much to Tip a Tattoo Artist

A lot of people are not aware of the fact that you should indeed tip your tattoo artist. This is something that is not really advertised or talked about and unfortunately a lot of people are not ware of this, so many tattoo artists do go without getting tipped after tattooing someone. So if you are getting a new tattoo don't forget to tip your tattoo artist. If you do not have any extra money explain this to them and try and stop by at another time and drop a little something off for them. Tattoo artist are like waitress, they rely on their tips to pay their bills. A tattoo artist is only paid a percentage of what you pay for the tattoo.

When it comes to tipping a tattoo artist the rule of thumb is to tip them anywhere from 10-20%. Of course you can be the judge on which percentage to tip them. If they did a great job with your tattoo, you were greeted when you walked in and they people there were helpful, and the artist was friendly and was willing to work with you then you should tip closer to 20%. But if you feel that they tattoo was done well but the people there were not very friendly, then tip 10%. But always always, leave a little something for the artist no matter how small of amount it maybe. Also no matter how small of a tattoo you get or if your tattoo only takes 10 minutes, you still need to leave something.


So when you are budgeting some money to get a tattoo be sure to set a side something extra for a tip.

How Much to Tip a Tattoo Artist

Your Tattoo Friend


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Free Printable Face Painting Pictures

Children love having their faces painted! Whether it's at a carnival, fair, or community fun day or at home just for the fun of it, it's a definite favorite. There are many different things you can do with face painting. There are unlimited ideas when it comes to what types of designs you can paint. Here are a few tips when it comes to face painting designs, and a few things to remember.

There is no need to run out and purchase face painting designs with the amount of information available to you today on the internet. You can find free printable face painting pictures on some really great sites. From simple designs such as flowers and cherries, to elaborate and beautiful fairy, princess and superhero designs, children love each design.


When using paints and other decorative things on the face, you want to make sure that it's all safe. You don't want to use regular acrylic paints like some do, because they can actually irritate a child's sensitive skin. Instead, go for a paint that is made specifically to go on the skin. This will keep the child a happy camper.

When using glitter to add to the effect of face paints, make sure you never use aluminum glitter. This can be extremely unsafe for the child's skin and eyes, and it's rather easy for a child to rub some of the aluminum glitter into his or her eye. Avoid this by using glitters that are safe for the skin, such as body glitter. There are many free printable face painting pictures that you can add glitter to and it will make the design stand out and be much prettier. The same thing goes for stick on jewels. Make sure that there is nothing in the glue or jewel that could irritant the skin.

A great idea is to learn how to face paint for your child's birthday party. Professionals will charge up to 0 an hour to do this for you. You truly can save a ton of money by doing it yourself. If you don't know what to paint look for free printable face painting pictures. Face painting really makes a birthday party special, and the designs that you paint will be priceless to the child. The children will really love having the designs on their faces.

Face painting is great fun for the child being painted and the one doing the painting. It can be an inexpensive, artistic and fun way to celebrate sports teams, school spirit, birthdays, and even holidays!

Free Printable Face Painting Pictures

Face painting can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a lot of hard work. And finding face painting ideas that haven’t already been done many times before is very difficult. So unless you can take time out of your busy schedule to register for a face painting class (if there is even one available in your area) you should visit http://www.FacePaintingUniversity.com today, to discover a treasure trove of face painting ideas!

Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper

If you are searching for character theme wallpaper, there are a wonderful variety of Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper products that can be purchased in offline stores and online such as Amazon. They come in an interesting range of patterns, colors and quality and are a great way of decorating up walls to accommodate your little girl's favourite character.

You can purchase all kinds of character products for children that incorporate leisure and household products, such as dvd's, videos, toys, games, bedding, posters, books, clothing, stationery and of course, Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper and borders.


The characters of Strawberryland are very popular among children and adults too and they now include a greater collection of dolls than when they were originally introduced in the 1980's. They all have their own individual personalities and characteristics which are portrayed well in books and on television.

Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper and borders are bright and colorful and display the characters amongst the strawberry vines. The sun shines on their dwellings and helps the fruit to grow well.

There are also some other items which can be included to help create the environment of Strawberryland. They include exciting products such as bedding and other accessories, curtains, lamps and posters.

However, whatever type of product you are considering purchasing, it is a very good idea to do appropriate research online and in offline stores to get the necessary information about what products are available in order to be able to decide on the right Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper to suit your child's requirements.

Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper

You can get more information about Strawberry Shortcake Wallpaper at Strawberry Shortcake Products on Andrea Scott's website at www.characters-and-products.com.

4 Museums in Amsterdam You Can't Miss

Amsterdam is perhaps one of the most exciting cities in the world. Renowned for its famously historic canals and beautiful hotels, Amsterdam has developed from the small town which existed in the area in the 12th century to one of the largest metropolises that exists today in all of Europe. Located close to many Amsterdam hotels, the museums are known for their beauty and history. The following are four which you absolutely cannot miss!

The Van Gogh Museum


The Van Gogh museum contains the largest exhibit of the famous Vincent Van Gogh's drawings and paintings. The museum contains paintings such as "The Potato Eaters", a "Sunflower" painting, and "Bedroom in Arles". The museum also contains exhibits of some of the contemporaries of Van Gogh during the period of Impressionism which are unmistakable in their beauty and magnificence.


The NEMO museum is the largest of the Netherlands' science centres and is displayed within a building that was modeled after a sinking ship. The museum is highly accessible as it is located right across from the central station in Amsterdam. The museum contains numerous exhibits including many interactive displays which provide hands on learning opportunities. The museum consists of five floors with plenty of exhibits that can be enjoyed by the entire family. From the top floor, it is also possible to view the gorgeous architecture and landscape of the city from a phenomenal viewpoint.

The Amsterdam Dungeon

The Amsterdam Dungeon is an excellent testament to the history of the city, featuring torture exhibits including a torture chamber where presenters "demonstrate" the devices on tourists. The Dungeon also features a Spanish Inquisition video which discusses the impact of the Inquisition on the Netherlands during the 16th century. Although it is not exactly a "rated G" trip as the torture techniques which were utilized were quite gruesome, the trip can be enjoyed by the entire family, who might just learn something too.

The Kattenkabinet

Translated as the "cat cabinet", the Kattenkabinet museum is a museum dedicated to works such as paintings and sculptures which all depict cats and kittens. The artists of the pieces are quite famous themselves with some of the works being crafted by Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec just to name a few. This is an excellent place to visit for visitors, both young and old, even if you claim to be a dog instead of a cat person!

4 Museums in Amsterdam You Can't Miss

Sam is an expert in hotels reviews and has reviewed many locations around the world, Amsterdam hotels are among his favourites.

Decorative Wall Painting Techniques

Do your walls seem dull and uninviting? Do you long for a cozy, welcoming room? Consider decorative wall painting techniques, such as sponging, ragging, stenciling or stamping. Even if you have no experience, you can brighten even the dullest room quickly and cheaply with one of these easy decorative wall painting techniques.

Before painting your room, pick out a color scheme for your walls. When you chose your paint, remember that many painting techniques use two shades of one color. If you are using one of the techniques that does use two shades of color, you can pick a darker color than you normally would chose for your base color, since the lighter top color will make the final result much lighter.


To sponge or rag a wall, paint on your base color and let it dry thoroughly. Then, dip your sponge or rag into the lighter paint color and sponge or drag the lighter color over the base coat until you are satisfied with the effect. If you are unhappy with your final result, you can repaint any areas that you don't like with the base coat. Once the repainted area is dry, repeat the faux painting technique.

If you are considering using a decorative painting technique such as stenciling or stamping, you may just want to create a wallpaper effect by stamping or stenciling a simple design over your base coat. However, you may want to go a step further with your project and use stencils or stamps to create a faux brick or stone wall. You don't need to be an artist to create one of these faux finishes. Just follow these simple steps. First, paint the walls with the color you chose for the mortar between the bricks or stones. Once the base coat is dry, stamp or stencil your bricks or stones over the base coat. Once the brick or stonework is dry, spatter a bit of the darker color over your faux art to give it depth and make it appear more realistic.

Creating faux effects such as making your walls look like they are made of plaster or suede can also really make your room stand out. You can easily learn how to create these seemingly difficult finishes at your local paint store. Paint bases that automatically give a suede or textured effect to the walls are a shortcut that even artists use to create fun finishes.

Finally, no matter which decorative wall painting technique you choose, remember that it is just a few layers of paint. You can always redo the finish on your walls as you learn more about the art of decorative painting.

Decorative Wall Painting Techniques

This article was provided courtesy PaintSplashes.com where you can find tons of information on faux painting and interior painting ideas and techniques.

Arts and Crafts Style Decorating

The terms Arts and Crafts and Mission Style are often used synonymously today. They refer to a style of home design and furnishings emphasizing natural materials, especially wood, and showcasing a pronounced geometry in the design. Their tremendous revival in popularity stems largely from their association with hand-crafted elements (though many knock offs are manufactured by machine), a rarity in this technologically advanced age. The pieces offer an heirloom quality and a patina that deepens with age. Arts and Crafts furnishings and interiors are also typically very durable and classic with a timeless appeal. They suit today's desire to simplify and get back to basics. Arts and Crafts interiors are an ideal marriage of function and aesthetic, spaces are designed to work for those living there. To create your own Arts and Crafts interior, there are several elements to consider, both in materials and design.

The materials of an Arts and Crafts interior, while not limited to nature, emphasize wood, stone, glass (made from sand), ceramic tiles (made from minerals/earth), and textiles (using wool, cotton, or linen fibers, and, of course, leather) Much of the visual pattern comes from the grain of the wood selected. Traditionally oak was used, but currently natural cherry is frequently enjoyed. The oak tends to have golden brown gleam, while the cherry is redder. Both darken naturally with age, this is to be expected.


Flooring, all architectural trim/molding, doors, stair rails and stiles, and exposed structural supports are all typically wood, oak most prevalent. Waxed or oil finishes prevail. Joints are pegged or hand-crafted metal hardware is used. Door knobs, cabinet pulls and the like are again hand-crafted wrought iron or bronze in black, umber, or verdigris. Many are square or rectangular shaped and are hand hammered. For a lighter look, some homeowners today are opting for a soft brushed pewter or nickel finish. Once you have the guidelines, you can bend them to suit. If an alternative to a wood floor is desired, tile or slate would be appropriate substitutes. The tile should be large and laid in a linear pattern, not on the diagonal.

To balance and complement the visual depth of the wood, walls are often treated with a textured paint, or plastered (the old bungalows have original plaster.) A good bet is the river rock finish that Ralph Lauren paint provides. Paint schemes bear an influence from nature with goldenrod yellows, burnt sienna browns, cimarron and Indian reds, sage and moss greens, and a neutral palette of earthy tans, toasts, and beiges. The overall feeling has a harmony, a continuity of all elements working together, none upstaging the other. It is about creating an organic home, one that works within its environment and makes the most of its surroundings both outside and inside.

Fireplaces have wood or stone mantels, with stone, ceramic, or occasionally brick surrounds. The wood is oak with a golden stain, usually waxed or rubbed, not polyurethane. Satin or matte finishes rule. Stone is field stone, stacked dry or with mortar, it presents a terrific textural visual. River rock may be used instead and the round smooth stones provide a counterpoint to the rectilinear geometry otherwise present. Ceramic tiles will typically have a motif from nature, perhaps a leaf or acorn, or have an iridescent finish. Today glass tiles are also used to great advantage. Brick, when employed, is smooth faced and laid in clean horizontal bands. Again, one of the clear features of an Arts and Crafts interior is the linear quality. The feeling that the house is part of a bigger view, part of the horizon, is all an effort to be from and of the earth.

Historically, many of the Arts and Crafts and Mission homes sported art glass windows, or at least many panes. This enabled windows to be left uncovered and still appear decorative. Today, art glass windows can be cost prohibitive except in select areas, so if treatment is desired for either privacy, light, or heat control, simpler is better. This translates to options such as a plain Roman shade, silhouettes, wood blinds, or panels on either tabs or rings, on a decorative rod (wood or wrought iron), with finials. If tiebacks are desired consider sisal tassels, simple and bold, or a band of the same fabric as the drapery. No trim or other decorative element is required. Fabric patterns may herald nature, such as a leaf print, or be based in geometry. There is a wide range on the market today including historical prints by William Morris and designs by Frank Lloyd Wright. The same may also be found in wall coverings, though use them sparingly, as they are often busy and distracting. Arts and Crafts and Mission styles today both represent a desire for a wholesome, hearty lifestyle, a return to yesterday's values.

Furnishings in the Arts and Crafts home are wood, occasionally with a wrought iron or ceramic tile accent. Glass is rarely used. Tables being functional as well as good looking, often have at least a drawer and a shelf for storage. Shapes are squares, rectangles and octagons, though today more rounds are available. Again the geometry created by edges is most apparent. Sofas and chairs are often wood backed with exposed wood arms and cushions that can be readily cleaned or changed out depending on the season. Flexibility and adaptability are prime features. Mission style goes a step further and often offers sofas or chairs with a deep wood shelf surround, acting as the arm and a table (Frank Lloyd Wright design), which gives the illusion of a built-in piece. Leather is frequently used or fabrics in natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool. Rich colors and geometric or patterns drawn from nature abound. The most significant interest comes from the combination of elements, again, no one piece dominating. Busy patterns are used sparingly, increasing longevity and flexibility of the furnishings. Resources for furnishings include Stickley, American Impressions by Ethan Allen, and Cotswald Furnishings, a superior resource for hand-crafted furnishings and more in Atlanta.

Lighting in an Arts and Crafts or Mission home is critical, especially with all the dark woods and depth of color schemes popular. While ceiling lights, including recessed can give a good general light, it is far more effective and pleasing to adopt a wealth of luminaries. Torchieres (floor lamps that give uplight, and are best placed in corners) can provide valuable general lighting, while table lamps and floor lamps provide invitation and welcome. Accent lighting can be done with mantel lamps, sconces, and dresser lamps. The two most common types of lamps are the mica and metal designs, the body of the lamp being hammered bronze or copper, the shade a sheet of mica; and the art glass lamps with wood or art glass bases and shades of glass in geometric patterns and a squared coolie shape. Other lighting options include a wealth of reproduction lighting through several lighting sources such as Arroyo Craftsmen, and Yamagiwa (available through designers; they also have an outstanding line of Frank Lloyd Wright designs.)

Accents, accessories, and artwork should be kept to a minimum to allow for a fuller appreciation of the architecture of the home and materials of nature showcased. This is a good chance to provide balance to the predominance of wood with elements in glass, ceramics, and metal. Both bowls and vessels are readily available in all materials mentioned here. Iridescent ware in both ceramics and glass provides an airy complement to the weight and depth of the wood.

© 2005 Melissa Galt

Arts and Crafts Style Decorating

Melissa Galt, Lifestyle Designer, Speaker, & Author, is the owner of Melissa Galt, Inc., a full service interior design firm based in Atlanta. She has been decorating clients’ homes all over the Southeast for more than a decade, making their interior visions come true. She speaks to audiences nationally , on how to use design as the catalyst for “creating the life you’ve always dreamed of”. Melissa is the creator of Design Destinations, a free monthly guide to designing your signature life. To sign up for her FREE monthly newsletter, visit http://www.melissagalt.com/.

Trainspotting Analysis

Trainspotting adapted from Irvine Welsh's novel and made by the Shallow Grave team of writer John Hedge, producer Andrew Macdonald, and director Danny Boyle, giving us characters and moments that are unforgettable. Ewan McGregor plays Renton, an on-and-off heroin addict who can't decide whether to clean up or regress in the company of his loser friends in working-class Edinburgh, and later in London. The film was produced in 1996.

Trainspotting in reality refers to a session of dark linear mark or track that is left in the veins after shooting heroin. The first thing is that heroin users mainline along their arms and inject up and down on the main vein. "Station to station," they call it. For addicts, everything narrows down to that one goal of getting drugs. "Trainspotters" are like that, obsessively taking down the numbers of trains.


The five main actors in this film are all males and with a life threatening drug habit. Trainspotting can be classified under four different types of film genre including: drama, comedy, crime and drug culture. "Trainspotting" is classified as drama since it is a serious story due to the drug habit and several scenes that showed the real lives of junkies, and graphic images of injecting heroin. On the other hand it can be classified as comedy especially when Spud goes to an interview high on speed and other funny moments that are there to lighten up the seriousness of the film. This can be classified as black humour. Surely Trainspotting can also be out under the crime and drug culture genre due to the story in itself and the characters This film gives us a very vivid and real picture of a heroin addict's every day routine.'Choose Life...' the film's most famous quote means a lot. Those portrayed in Trainspotting are the ones that need to understand choosing life; they are the ones that this phrase was penned for and who are these people living a life less ordinary? They are addicts in Scotland, living lives that are synchronized around getting what they need. For three of them, heroin is their mode of addiction, for another passivity, and for the last aggression. They are a mad quintet, pissing away lives that could maybe amount to something.

In the beginning as we are introduced to our humble narrator Renton (McGregor). We can see that he is on a road to nowhere, stealing CDs from a shop in hopes of making a little cash to pay for the next hit. His home away from home is a drug dealer's apartment ( Mother Superior) where he is issued a regular platter of needle, spoon, lighter, and heroin beside his best mates Sick Boy (Miller) and Spud (Bremner). They are as troublesome as he is, though Spud is helpless in his addiction while Sick Boy is just there to compare metaphorical sizes.

Movies about drug addiction are certainly nothing new, but this film makes everything look different, almost like it is the first film to deal with the subject. Trainspotting is brave and frequently hilarious; it's dark, smart and stubborn. It's more than one of the best 'drug movies' ever made; it's arguably the finest film to come out of the UK

Ewan McGregor plays the main character; Mark Renton. He introduces the film Trainspotting with an extremely energetic scene, the former scene accompanied by Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life', along with Renton's sarcastic narration, which rejects our weak, mechanical existence in favour of the joys of heroin. Iggy pop is Renton's hero. He even has a poster of him in his room. When he goes clubbing, we notice that his heroin habit has been going on for a long time as he doesn't recognize any of the new songs at the club. Diane makes him notice this, and Renton starts to realize that heroin has taken so much out of his life.

"People associate it with misery, desperation and death, which is not to be ignored. But what they forget is the pleasure of it, otherwise we wouldn't do it" He is undoubtedly appalled by society and the materialistic satisfactions it offers. He later compares heroin: 'imagine the best orgasm you ever had and multiply it by a thousand and you're not even there' However, after a few minutes into the film he decides to quit heroin. The viewers may conclude that it is time to move on in life, yet he could not live life without heroin as we see through out the film his various unsuccessful trials at quitting his habit

Renton has a serious drug habit, and due to his unemployment must sustain is by shoplifting and petty theft. When he was on methadone, he had his 'last hit' and this resulted in an overdose. This simply shows an effort to avoid being compliant. In fact, it is this determined attitude which possibly explains heroin's over Renton. He states, "We'd inject Vitamin C if they made it illegal"

Even though he manages to kicked his heroin addiction and starts a new life in London, his old circle of friends are not easy to get rid of and Renton ends up getting involved in a drug deal, and sells 4 kilos of heroin with his 'so-called' friends. Towards the end of the film, he betrays the others by escaping with the money. This shows the viewers that he decided to 'choose life', be 'just like us' which is a doubtful aim; the qualities of which the film questions the whole time

Renton is dreamy, sharp, troubled, and calm, seemingly all at the same time, and you never know where you are with him, as he never knows where he is with himself. It's an understated portrayal of an essentially rootless character - yet a magnetic one.

Johnny Lee Miller plays the part of Sick Boy who is portrayed as a handsome guy who has the habit of talking nonsense and bombarding his mates with trivia about Sean Connery. He is a womanizing James Bond wannabe, who is highly intelligent. Sick Boy is the one who seems least affected by his heroin habit. In fact, when Renton tries to quit heroin, Sick boy does the same just to spite him In the film Trainspotting Sick boy is the one who trivializes heroin and seems to have no problems with his addiction contrary to the rest of the crew.

"The film only touches on the question of how far his persona is genuine or just social camouflage" . Sick Boy's behaviour in the final parts of the film show how the death of his baby has affected him and made him more crime prone. He starts to deal in drugs, pimping and becomes an all round con. Renton states that when Sick Boy's child passed away, something inside Sickboy must have died and never came back .

Later in the film, Renton escapes to London to start a new life, while Sick Boy and the rest of his friends remain in the Scottish capital. When he visits Renton unexpectedly, he immediately sells Renton's television without consent and he also offers to sell Renton's passport. Sickboy is so fixated with his new criminal career that he never even bothers to think about Renton's feelings. "He becomes obsessed with developing useful contacts for that elusive 'big deal', and sticks a finger in any pie on offer" He becomes a manipulative pimp and drug-pusher at every opportunity and wouldn't hesitate about taking advantage and manipulating anyone for the purpose of self-advancement. All through out this ordeal Sick boy remains as vain as always.

Tommy, played by Kevin McKidd, contrasts vividly with the other main characters. He is portrayed as athletic, finding pleasure walking in the countryside, weight lifting and watching football rather than making use of drugs. As the film progresses, there is a drastic change in Tommy, turning him into the worst of the bunch with a "rapid and fatal" descent .

Tommy's relationship with his girlfriend Lizzie does not seem to be progressing well. The strain of finding their homemade porn film missing because Renton "borrowed" is the final straw for Lizzie and breaks off the relationship. When his efforts to patch up his relationship fail, Tommy falls in a depression and resorts to drugs. Sadly enough (black comedy), it is Lizzie, the very person whom Tommy loves that causes his death. With the increased use of heroin, Tommy contacts HIV. His initially clean and tidy apartment becomes filthy. His final tentative to regain Lizzie sees him getting her a kitten, which she refuses. Tommy is found dead due to an infection from the kitten's faeces . This has a social connotation as HIV and AIDS due to heroin abuse was on the increase and booming in 1996.

Clarke considers this character's story helps to create an ethical perspective in this film, giving the audience something to think about. Anyone can fall victim to drug abuse, even youths considered as 'good'. Clark states that Tommy is portrayed as free from drugs on film whereas makes use of amphetamines in Irvine Welsh's novel. This could be credited to the fact that certain individuals would prefer watching the film rather than reading the book thus the message has to be harsher to get across. The same can be said of Tommy's behind-the-scene drug use. As the film proceeds, Tommy's health aggravates thus shocking the audience. In the end, without Lizzie, Tommy "chose not to choose life" but heroin and death .

Begbie considers himself better than any of the rest. This is seen clearly when he lectures his friends after Renton narrowly escapes imprisonment , and trys to appear mature in front of Renton's parents and when he claims that never would he "poison" himself with chemicals. Alcohol can also be considered as a harmful chemical to the body, but Begbie doesn't see it as such. Begbie takes a commanding attitude when with his friends, for example in the final pub fight scene when he orders Renton to bring him a cigarette or during the hallucination scenes as well as during his stay with Renton in England.

Spud, the "amiable, childlike loser" as described by Clarke, is played by Ewen Bremner . Clarke considers Spud's life as brimming with wrong choices, including his choice of drugs which is considered unsuitable to his weak character . During his six-week relationship with Gail, they never had sex. On the night she wanted to have sex with him, Spud was too drunk to do anything. On awaking in Gail's bed the following morning, he finds the sheets soiled. Spud's bowel contents end up smeared on Gail and her parents whilst eating breakfast .

Clarke compares other scenes from the film. Spud gets incarcerated for shoplifting while Renton emerges practically scot-free. Similarly, Diane sees Spud lying intoxicated under the pavement during the letter scene whilst the others appear lucid . Also, despite various threats, Spud is the only member of the group to be injured by Begbie. Nonetheless, it is inevitable for everyone to love Spud. The audience sympathise with him. Renton wishes he ended in prison instead of his friend. In the end, he leaves money only for Spud because he pities him.

Kelly Macdonald starring as Diane is young but wise beyond her actual years. This is shown especially when she deals with men. At first, Renton sees her at a nightclub rejecting the advances of a man by drinking both drinks and leaving, and secondly when Renton approaches her outside the club and responds to his weak chat with a coldly cruel speech that leaves him completely dejected. However, when she leaves the taxi door open for Renton to go in, it becomes clear that the negative response may have been purely a tool to create sexual power over him.

Later in the film, after a night of passion with Renton in her bedroom, Renton and the audience are amused and disturbed to see Diane changing from her silver dress into her school uniform. The audience understands the position Renton has found himself in. He ought to escape from this situation or else face the consequences since she is underage. However, Diane has once again the power over Renton in this situation because if she tells the police, Renton will face prison. She knows the law and blackmails him to meet her again . Diane also seems to be more knowledgeable about modern culture. In fact she emphasizes that shooting heroin, listening to Iggy Pop and the fact that Renton and the main protagonists are still in Edinburgh are outdated, "Times are changing, music is changing, even drugs are changing" .

Establishing sexual power over men is also seen in other women in the film. In a nutshell, Trainspotting's male characters are ready to drop their usual secure façade and jeopardize embarrassment to fulfill their sexuality. The women in Trainspotting seem to be more than happy to coerce. For instance Spud's girlfriend refused to sleep with Spud during their six-week relationship but she later admitted to Lizzy that she wants to sleep with Spud yet she loves watching him suffer. Lizzy is also seen as ridiculing and sexually controlling her men. She would not deny herself from having sex with Tommy since it is her only pleasure she gets from him. However, later in the film, when Thomas could not find the highly intimate private video, Lizzy was ashamed. She was so furious with him that she left him .

Alison, played by Susan Vidler, is a typical drug-craving mother. She is self-centred, completely neglecting her daughter. When the baby is found dead in her cot, Renton narrates that they did not know who father her baby. This furthers the belief that she is quite immature and lacking in morals, having sexual contact with all male members of the group. On discovering her daughter's death, one of her initial reactions is to take heroin.

Mother superior is the group's heroin provider. Although he is seen administering the drug to the friends, he himself is never viewed making use of it. Mother superior cannot be considered completely as friend to them because he ultimately wants money for the drugs he provides. However, when Renton overdoses, Mother superior calls for a taxi and provides money for it. This can be interpreted as a friendly gesture but also as helping Renton to avoid getting in trouble. Mother superior knows the different characters of the group. This can indicate that they have all be using drugs for quite a while, thus frequenting Mother superior's place often. During the film, the characters are seen shoplifting to sustain their drug habit. The need to steal might have been initiated by Mother superior demanding hard cash.

The bond Renton has with his friends is just the common goal of shooting the next hit. When he is not on drugs he has to face reality, which is, maintaining relationships, meeting girls and everyday responsibilities. The film portrays what seems to be united group. However, there is a fear of Begbie because of his violence and alcoholic tendencies as well as him being the older of the lot. Sickboy, Renton, Spud and later on in the film Tommy all have a heroin addiction, thus their preferred method to solve problems is taking a hit. Begbie solves his by drinking and fighting. The group share stolen money and tend to shoplift in groups. When they go to the clubs, they party together. Still, in the end Renton calls the rest of the group "so-called friends".

The relationship between Renton and Spud can be thought of the best within the characters. As mentioned before, Renton cannot help liking Spud. Renton is seen giving his friend hints before Spud's job interview. Even though it is considered wrong, Renton offers Spud some speed to put him at easy. When both of them are caught shoplifting, Renton wishes he went to prison instead of Spud. In the same scene, he admits feeling lonely, although being surrounded with family and friends. At the end of the film, Renton felt sorry for Spud because he never harmed anyone or said a bad word about his friends. Thus, he left money only to Spud. This relationship is further supported by the fact that Renton asks Spud if they would take the money and go. Renton could have more easily grabbed the bag and left before Spud would have reacted in any way.

Renton has a good relationship with Tommy as well, thinking of him as one of his best friends. Tommy also considers Renton a friend by confiding with him the problems he had with Lizzie. Renton felt sorry for Tommy when he found his HIV positive friend living in a horrible, filthy apartment. He tried to make amends by giving money to Tommy to pay the rent. This relationship is somewhat ironic because Tommy's downfall is caused by Renton when he stole Tommy and Lizzy's video. From the beginning, Renton and Sickboy's relationship does not seem strong. Renton is slightly jealous of Sickboy. This impression is born by the fact that Sickboy can easily overcome heroin just because Renton is trying to quit. Sickboy does not seem to have any problems dating girls in the disco scene whereas Renton did not like the females around him, except for Diane. Towards the end of the film, Renton states that Sickboy would betray him off as well if he thought about it first. Sickboy himself admits the fact.

Spud and Tommy are seen alone talking about sex a highly private issue since they both have a girlfriend. Their girlfriends also seem to be in confidence with each other. They are comfortable sharing problems: Spud - no sex in a six-week relationship; Tommy - forgetting Lizzy's birthday. He had a ticket for Iggy Pop for the same night. When Tommy dies, Spud sings him a song. This little act shows how much Spud cared for Tommy. Begbie's relationship with Renton is slightly contradictory. Begbie trusts Renton enough to confide with him when he went out with a transsexual without knowing at first. However, Begbie threatens Renton on several occasions, his aggressive nature taking over all emotions. Renton pleases Begbie mainly because he fears him. Renton tries not to oppose Begbie because he is "a psycho" At the end of the film Renton states that he did not care that he betrayed Begbie.

The relationship portrayed between Mother superior and Renton cannot be termed as a friendship because ultimately Mother Superior's business consists of selling drugs to Renton and the rest of the group. Still their relationship runs deeper than the normal dealer-user relationship. Mother superior could have easily dumped Renton somewhere instead of calling a taxi to take him to hospital. However, some may doubt the gesture as generated due to friendship. The audience could believe that paying for the taxi is a little price to pay when compared to all the trouble Mother superior could get if found with a dead body.

Trainspotting could be described as conveying an anti-drugs message, which is portrayed through "character studies rather than a patronizing preach" This film presents its audience with more than one view of drug Throughout the film, the youth characters are frequently seen cooking heroin and injecting the latter into their bodies (, however it also portrays the pain, agony, melancholy and unhappiness that are derived from this drug addiction . One could say that this film is a warning about the fears and perils of drug addiction, mainly heroin addiction .

Trainspotting's anti-drug message mainly lies within the film's ability to illustrate and tackle the reason as to why young people are attracted to drugs. Furthermore the film's power and success into presenting the audience with the negative results, damage and consequences that derive from this type of addiction convey this anti-drugs message more clearly. The film portrays these negative results and damages constantly throughout the film. The film and its characters enter a world of neglect, dieing babies, AIDS, anxiety, depression, boredom and hopelessness. Moreover the other anti-drugs message that derives from this film "goes beyond causes and consequences in explaining that serious drug abuse is itself beyond cause and consequences: Renton asks, "Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?" .

Trainspotting deals with the mid 80's heroin subculture of Edinburgh, "when Pakistani smack had glutted the UK market, becoming, for thousands of ordinary people mired in unemployment, a cheaper means to oblivion than alcohol". It analysis the likelihood of youth subcultures to surpass "their social class contect and form(ing) a class of their own" In this film even "nonravers" are portrayed as drug users, both in a literal sense ("state-sanctioned chemicals like alcohol or tranquilizers") and in a metaphorical sense ("TV, videos, computer games, the adrenaline rush of football violence") .

Hebdige (1979:100) maintains that "style is an intentional communication." Barthes (N.D.) as cited in Hebdige (1979:100), differentiates between "subcultural" and "normal styles." The subcultural style collects those insistent mixtures of clothing, music, jargon and so on, and nearly exhibits a corresponding connection to "the more conventional formulae (normal suits, ties, twin sets, etc.)". The clothes that individuals wear are selected within the constraint of preference, taste, cost etc. Such choices embrace a wide range of messages, which are communicated through the delicately assorted distinctions of a number of "interlocking sets" such as status, self-image and class. Subcultural styles distinguish themselves from normal styles as "they are fabricated and they display their own codes," and this is constantly portrayed throughout the film (Hebdige, 1979:100-101). Through the clothes worn by the characters in the films, they are portraying the message that they do not belong to the "normal culture" but they belong to a class or subculture of their own; "I speak through my clothes" (Eco, 1973 as cited in Hebdige, 1979:100).

Trainspotting can be described as dark humor, but junkies' world over priced the film heartily. It's a film that is mainly about people that do not want to belong. Trainspotting is not the first film about heroin, but the first one that is a 'slap in our faces are both the grim realities of life at the tip of a needle and a freewheeling, pop-music-fueled glorification of the addicts' smack-happy existence' .

The Trainspotting soundtrack was wildly successful in the international charts after the release of the film itself, in the 1990's. The music score is mainly composed of popular music. Sometimes the film takes the semblance of a music video, with conversation kept at a bare minimum. The scene and the soundtrack are complete and enough for the viewer to understand. This is used several times and for different purposes .

In the first ten minutes of the film, we are transfixed; watching as the anti hero Renton and Spud race through the streets and a voice over begins:"Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television; choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. . . ."

This litany goes on and then we get a view of Renton lying in heroin stupor and the voice over ends with:

"But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?"

Accompanying this powerful scene is Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life'. 'Lust for Life', in which the lyrics, are markedly subordinated to Renton's voice-over after the thumping opening few bars, so much so that the only lyrical fragments that can be heard are the opening line 'Here comes Johnny Yen again...' and the choral refrain ('I gotta lust for life'). Incidentally, Iggy Pop is renowned for his past heroin abuse and is mentioned quite a lot in the film. The two eventually come to signify each other - Mark Renton is the central character of the film, and Iggy Pop is the most prominent artist on the soundtrack album. Iggy Pop's music also lends a sense of rebellion to the film. We can notice Iggy Pop's poster in one of the scenes too

Renton's knowledge of new music is limited and this is seen when they go clubbing. Renton is ill at ease; he hasn't been out for a long time and is not in touch with the current music scene. This is where we have the inclusion of the songs Born Slippy and 'For what you dream of'. All this shows how Renton has been so wrapped up into his heroin habit that he is totally put of touch. The only song Renton recognizes is a song originally by Blondie called "Atomic' (an 80's song). The shift in emphasis is evident in Trainspotting itself as, although the musical character of the score gradually shifts from the proto-punk of Iggy Pop through to the more recent waves of dance music

Some of the music was recorded purposely for the film. For example Pulp's "Mile End", which accompanies Mark Renton's moving into a London flat. The lyrics of the song describe the state of the flat he moves into:

"It smelt as if someone had died
The living room was full of flies.
The kitchen sink was blocked
The bathroom sink not there at all..."

Another song created by the group Leftfield for the film is ironically called 'The final Hit'. Throughout the film Renton takes many of his so called final hits. It is mainly an instrumental track, with harmonic chords which contrast with a dark, almost overpowering rhythm track. The contrast between harmony and rhythm may represent Mark Renton's mixed feelings at this point in the film - he desperately wants to give up heroin, but the feeling it gives him is too pleasurable.

As a whole the music used in the film is full of irony. For example when Renton is hallucinating that he is disappearing down the 'dirtiest toilet in Scotland', we hear a mellow piece of ambient music by Brian Eno, aptly called Deep Blue Day. The film takes a surreal twist here and we enter a world of soft sounds and images as Renton swims in a blue ocean. This all contrasts harshly with the reality of Renton digging into a filthy toilet to find his heroin suppositories, while he vomits uncontrollably

All of the songs in the soundtrack of Trainspotting have become significant to people who saw it and associate the songs to the film; to heroin. At this time, the term heroin chic was having great impact in the world. Heroin chic was a trend in the 90's that characterized the "thin, sickly look of junkies. Blank expression, waxy complexion, dark circles under the eyes, sunken cheeks, excessive thinness, greasy hair" were seen on runway models showing the 'heroin chic' look and promoted in popular magazine and fashion circles as 'chic'. This fragile, thin, and drug-addicted look was well-liked in the fashion world. In fact, in 1997 it was the basis of the advertising campaign of Calvin Klein. The heroin chic fashion provided debate and anti-drug groups protested. "Fashion designers, models such as Kate Moss and James King, and movies such as Trainspotting were blamed for glamorizing the heroin chic look and lifestyle"

Former US President Bill Clinton condemned the heroin chic look and the 'heroin chic' fashion photography for sending a message that using the drug is 'glamorous' and 'sexy'. He said, "You do not need to glamorize addiction to sell clothes." As he saw it, the glorification of heroin "is not creative. It is destructive. It is not beautiful. It is ugly. And this is not about art. It is about life and death. And glorifying death is not good for any society" Not surprisingly much of the mainstream press and the dailies were horrified by the apparent glorification of heroin use in the film Trainspotting. Junkies were presented as righteous heroes choosing freedom over the tyranny of consumer society. Suddenly all values were inverted as viewers and readers were invited to identify and empathise with low-lifes who would think nothing of spending all day watching telly and shooting heroin. Trainspotting helped a new morbid fascination with the drug heroin by portraying powerful role models in the movie. For years heroin has been very popular in the lives of young celebrities for example River Phoenix (who died of an overdose in 1992).

Trainspotting was a great hit and could be seen of more than advertisement than a film. Even years after the film was released, the film about heroin addiction is was of the best marketed films that portrays cultural images of the heroin subcultures. Trainspotting has received a cult following. The film addresses both the problems of heroin addiction from a user point of view to an anti-drug point of view. Trainspotting manages to shock us, terrify and disgust us one moment and make us laugh the next. Trainspotting does not really have a plot but simply follow the daily lives of this group of junkies

Drugs are the main focus of this film. In the 1990's a new wave of music and drugs started to emerge. Heroin was seen as old-fashioned (Iggy Pop). With the film Trainspotting heroin was given the spotlight. Characters like Sick Boy and Renton became idols for rebellious teenagers who wanted to experiment in drugs, felt disillusioned, unattached from society. Trainspotting became the bible to this new generation of heroin junkies. They had a soundtrack and idols to emulate. On the other hand one could have viewed the film as it is; an ironic and cynical peep hole into the lives of a group of heroin addicts. The tragedy of the film is apparent to the viewer, but than it is up to the individual to interpret it.

Trainspotting Analysis

The Famous Chinese Artist - Zhang Xiaogang

The Chinese Surrealist and symbolist artist Zhang Xiaogang has gifted Chinese art by his unique use of Western classical art to create an individual yet indigenous art technique. His famous "Bloodline" works provide an effective criticism of the exaggerated Chinese emphasis on collectivism. His "Amnesia and Memory" series is a wonderful depiction of recollection and forgetfulness. His subjects by their very lack of expression tell a lot, and this is probably where Zhang's greatness lies.

Born in 1958 in Kunming in the Chinese province Yunnan, Zhang Xioagang is a contemporary Chinese surrealist and symbolist artist. Zhang's works are much sought after by foreign collectors. He is particularly well-known for his "Bloodline" painting collection - portraiture which depicts uniformity, and challenges the Chinese obsession with the collective. China's political disturbances and Western painters such as Picasso, Dali and Richter have influenced his work.


Zhang took up the study of oil painting at the Sichuan Academy of Art. While studying there, he gained an understanding an interest of western painting. Surrealism and Cubism had an enduring impression on him. A visit to the Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany assisted him in finding his own individualistic style of art. He became a member of a group of young avant-garde artists who became important in the 1980s. In 1985, he co-founded the avant-garde movement "Current of Life."

Zhang gave his initial solo exhibition in Chongking, at the Lost in the Dreams Gallery of the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts. Zhang has been able to harness the techniques of western classical art to create works with a Chinese identity, which suit local needs. Zhang gives importance to brushstrokes and color and utilizes flat unidentified backgrounds and dramatic illumination effects to idealize his figures. His "Bloodline" portraits which he started work on in the 90s depict Chinese people, a major inspiration for which are photos discovered by the artist, of his mother as an attractive woman in her youth. The subjects in these paintings are expressionless, commonly with haunting dark-pupiled big eyes and in a stiff pose. The lack of facial expression is a portrayal of the false appearance of calmness which conceals emotional turbulence within. It is a criticism of the exaggerated importance which the Chinese give to the collective, with souls suffering under the might of public standardization.

Zhang has two trademark gestures - a little red line that links the different figures in the picture and then winds off the side of the canvas, and irregular color patches. Zhang interprets the color spots as brief feelings of passion and hope in an otherwise gloomy everyday existence.

In 2007, "Bloodline: Three Comrades" was sold for ,112,000 at Sotheby's in New York. The "Amnesia and Memory" series is another important body of work from Zhang. The series investigates the complicated link between memory and forgetting and how it affects an individual's mind, how past recollections are continually changed in the present. "Tiananmen Square" critiques the tragic happenings of 1989 and fetched .3 million in 1993, at Christie's auction house in Hong Kong.

The Famous Chinese Artist - Zhang Xiaogang

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Painting Light

I teach students how to paint and draw light. I am also a lighting specialist. My fascination with light encompasses, not only the commercial, retailing aspect, but the artistic as well. Once drawing and painting skills are developed to the point where students can accurately put down what they see, creating light and shadow is studied and faithfully delineated subject matter emerges in a world of space and volume.

Basically, the depiction of light and shadow is accomplished by using dark and light colors in painting and tonal gradations in drawing. For a beginning student this often requires some visual skills.. First, I tell the student it is necessary to convert what they see to a two-dimensional vision that they can translate to a two-dimensional surface like a canvas or a sketchbook page.


Seeing objects two-dimensionally can be done in several ways. The easiest (and most time-tested) is to construct a grid in front of the subject matter--that could be actual objects, a photo or a picture. This can be done most simply by holding a pencil vertically and horizontally against the viewed objects, comparing their shapes to the vertical and horizontal lines of the pencil.

Another time-tested method is to literally construct a grid on plate glass or Plexiglas and place that grid in front of the objects. Now the viewed objects are intersected by many squares (depending on how large or small the squares in the grid are.) Each quadrant (square) of the grid can then be painted or drawn independently and upon completing the entire grid, the composition of objects is finished to compose an accurate picture of the objects.

Light and shadow are more easily discerned and created with this grid method. How objects are illuminated can be defined on paper or canvas by observing and re-creating light and shadow at play in each quadrant. In accomplishing this by shading and highlighting, illumination and therefore, volume is created, the illusion of the three-dimensional space is created, reborn on a two-dimensional surface.

Accuracy, as well as light and shadow were not always the motivation behind depicting artful images. Before the Renaissance, art works in Europe depicted objects ( figures, landscapes, buildings) in a flat space. There was no light and shadow. Figures were delineated and colored in a style much like a coloring book. These images translated well to stained glass windows and mosaics. Their simplicity of line and color contributed to the strength of the iconography, often of religious significance.

With the discovery of perspective, space and volume became important to artists as well as the depiction of light and shadow. Symbolic icons and images described by line gave way to depictions of illuminated space. In perspective, objects recede and advance in a two-dimensional space that is totally visually believable. To augment the receding and advancing figures with directional light and shadow completed the believability, creating a world the eye could explore as a simulated, illuminated three-dimensional environment.

Spiritual light, the vehicle of infinity was often expressed with the use of gold leaf in Medieval altarpieces. The warm, glowing, reflective surface behind religious figures imbued the work with a rich and reassuring statement-the glory of heaven and God's power. A more earthly light replaced gold leaf in the Renaissance. Spiritual figures were bathed in sunlight and swathed in shadow. The light that illuminated the humble shepherds was the same light that shone on Jesus and his followers.

It is interesting to me that the journey a beginning drawing or painting student takes often replicates the historical transition from the Medieval use of line and color-in style to the Renaissance application of illuminated space and volume. And, with more advanced students, their journey often continues to repeat the contemporary return to line and color-in, the preference for depicting flat, shallow space and solid color.

I find this reassuring. The art world is wide open, brimming with many styles, images, materials and skills. For today's artist, everything is available, to use towards a creative purpose. All of history as well as the latest technological/digital images are ready to be researched and developed.

Painting Light

Lois's website offering free online art classes and many art resources, includes a gallery of her own paintings and pastels, as well as her videos demonstrating a wide variety of skills and techniques in the lessons:

Posters As Architectural Presentation Boards

Architectural presentation drawings are crucial and need to make the right impression. They usually serve as marketing materials that architectural firms use to sell their design services to clients. Clients usually decide on employing an architectural firm's service based on the impression clients gather from the initial presentation drawings.

Drawings can be presented in a variety of ways but in architectural presentations, large scale formats are usually prepared to establish scale relationships of the design. Architects usually print poster sized drawings using in house office printers. For a small scale firm with no in-house resources, online printing companies can provide convenient, fast and reliable poster printing services. Some uses of poster printing in architecture include:


o Posters as Concept Boards- Concept boards illustrating the architectural theme, design inspiration or concept are usually printed as posters.

o Posters as Schematic Presentation Drawings-Schematic or study drawings are usually also printed as posters to illustrate initial studies done by the architectural firm. These schematic drawings are usually fully rendered and show building site or environmental factors that affect the proposed building design.

Poster printing services can accommodate various architectural printing needs. Customers can select from the list of standard poster print sizes that corresponds to a specific architectural scale and formatted paper size. Presentation drawings are usually fully rendered using graphic design software such as Adobe or Corel Draw. Online printing companies today accept customized designs done on these design platforms. Some companies are even prepared to offer digital layout services and free digital proofing before actual printing. Online printers use full color digital printers that can print one to 50 sheets. Rush print jobs are offered and can be printed as fast as one day later. For added convenience and value, some poster printing companies offer mounting services on gator boards, ready for presentation. Online printers usually print posters with a matte or high gloss finish, for a polished, professional look.

Posters As Architectural Presentation Boards

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