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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Ice Carving is Cooler than Basket Weaving
Topic: Arts

Humanity can make art with anything. Clay, stone, metal, water, ice and one can be certain that there is art made of feces somewhere out there. In the future, humans might use the sun itself to create art, or frozen water spinning through space. If a person could make art with space itself, I am sure one of us would. Right now, we have to be content with ice carving, metalworking and basket weaving.

Though the latter is probably the safest of the three mentioned above, it is certainly one of the most boring. To be fair, as an art, basket weaving is good because it is also highly useable: one may have their pretty, woven basket to carry things in. One can sell the millions of baskets made per year and make a tidy profit. It could be a good business. But ice carving is much cooler - literally. Imagine going to a fancy dinner with a pretty ice sculpture centerpiece. Going near it might be a little chilly, but if your drink needs some cooling, one can always just grab an unnoticeably small amount from maybe the swan’s wing or beak.

Where metalworking involves high heat, heavy and sharp objects and dirtiness all around and basket weaving one has to put up with splinters, with ice carving, one has to deal with the cold. Talk about suffering for one’s art, eh? Numbness will be second nature to ones extremities and given time, the fingers will be able to operate without feeling. Because hands are fundamental to carving ice, one should always layer-up the other parts of one’s body. Thy feet do not need to be cold, nor does thy head.

An excellent thing about ice carving that metalworking and basket weaving cannot touch is the availability of materials. Unless, of course, you are between the latitudes of 23.5 South and 23.5 north, ice might be harder to come by. If you are anywhere outside of that region, the availability of ice is huge. It literally makes itself. Rather, the environment makes it for you, but you get the point.

Ice carving has been around for a long time. The earliest known record is from 600 BC, when Shensi warrior-farmers wrote about ice harvesting. But they only used the ice to keep their fish from going bad in the summer months, not for making intricate palaces or artwork. And if attacking a block of ice to create something beautiful is not enough, then how about this: you get to use a chainsaw. That’s right, a chainsaw.

Be very careful with that chainsaw. Especially in ice carving, chainsaws can be very dangerous - even lethal. If you saw Evil Dead II and noticed how Ash knocked the chainsaw back at the headless corpse wielding it, know that that is actual physics at work, not movie magic. Such a thing could happen to anyone. Be careful with chainsaws while ice carving your art. So if you like the cold and creating your own ice cubes, carving is for you.

This article was written by Theron Niewieroski on behalf of ISA Attractions, the ice kingdom is a 15,000 sq foot frozen wonderland made entirely out of ice. Gigantic ice sculptures of buildings, animals, people and places are beautifully recreated by an International team of expert ice carvers. To know more about the tools used in ice carving, visit

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Posted by brucem231 at 1:11 AM EDT
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Peach Melba and the Origins of Ice Sculpture
Topic: Arts

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see an ice sculpture—or several—on display at many events, including weddings, other parties and banquets at conferences. But how did ice sculpture get its beginnings as a table accompaniment, what are the current trends in this art, and what may change in the future?

Peach Melba: It’s said that the first ice sculpture associated with food events was created in the late 1890s. As the story goes, Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera star, was performing in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at Covent Garden in London. Her performance received praise from audiences and critics. The Duke of Orléans hosted a dinner party in Nellie’s honour at the luxurious Savoy Hotel, and the hotel’s highly-acclaimed French chef Auguste Escoffier created a new dessert— Peach Melba (as we call it in English)—for the occasion. The new creation—peaches over top of vanilla ice cream then topped with spun sugar—was served inside a tiny swan ice sculpture. Escoffier is said to have been inspired by the swan boat featured in the opera.

Practical and Pretty: Escoffier’s ice swan served two purposes. It was both practical as a serving dish and pretty as a presentation piece. Today, the use of ice sculpture at food events still serves one or both of those primary purposes. Today, we see massive sculptures used as decorative displays and also smaller pieces sculpted into serving bowls to keep buffet items chilled or as intricate carvings floating in punch bowls. No matter the purpose, ice sculpture brings something magical to any event, and even when the creations are practical, they are pretty too.

An Art Form:  Regardless of the specific purpose at a given event, ice sculpture is always an art form. Many ice sculptors get their training in culinary schools. There are even textbooks for these courses, including Ice Sculpting the Modern Way, Ice Carving Made Easy and Ice Sculpture: The Art of Ice Carving in 12 Systematic Steps. Some small training schools also exist. Artists in ice sculpting also have special tools of the trade. Some are large-scale tools for larger pieces, such as chainsaws and die grinders; others are smaller for more detailed pieces, such as chisels and picks. The most important tools, though, are imagination and inspiration. Without these, the ice blocks would remain just that.

Current Trends:  In recent years, new trends in ice sculpture have gained popularity in the food serving arena. These are some examples:

·         increasingly large and intricate sculptures

·         coloured ice

·         lights embedded in the ice

·         flowers embedded in the ice

·         sculptured ice furniture

·         ice bars for serving drinks

The Future:  It’s hard to say what new ice sculpture trends the future will bring other than that more and more effort will be expended to dazzle party-goers and to develop new techniques. Because, as with any art, ice sculptors want to be able to present carvings that nobody has ever seen before. The possibilities are exciting and endless.


This guest post was written by Peg Burrup, on behalf of ISA Attractions offering exciting carved works up to 40 feet high in every imaginable colour. To know more about snowball fighting games, you may also visit


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Posted by brucem231 at 11:39 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 April 2013 5:57 AM EDT
Monday, 2 July 2012
Is Fine Art Photography Obsolete
Topic: Arts
In the age of Instagram, cell phone cameras, as well as videos taking over as a primary art form, it might be hard to understand what place or relevance fine art photography currently holds. Is it still a relevant art form? Can it speak to any part of our culture? Well, it might be said that in a time of photography as the everyman’s sport, fine art photography has become more necessary and more relevant than ever before.

Part of what makes art special is its extraordinary nature. Traditionally, the greatest and most recognized artists were those who were capable of producing work at a higher level of skill than your average person. Art has about having an unusual ability to capture the world, in a way that most people wouldn’t be able to. With that thought in mind, one might say that while photography and even cinematography in general is no longer an exclusive art, fine art photography remains as one of the one form of photography that is still above the skill of your average person. Fine art photography still stands out as something special and unique, and is therefore still a very relevant form of art.

The utter rampancy of do-it-yourself photography doesn’t make it any better or relevant than fine art photography. Think about it: when we look back on literary history, what stands out to us the most? Is it the juvenile short stories that everyone is required to write in grade school? Or is it the literary masterpieces that took time and a great deal of skill to write? Of course it’s the latter. Though we might occasionally stop to marvel at a piece of amateur writing, or a mundane, everyday journal entry, these fascinations are passing, and it’s always the deep and meaningful literary works that we remember and pass on to future generations. Likewise, in the future, it won’t be the self-styled photography of teenage girls on social networks that will examined and looked as tokens of our current cultural zeitgeist. No, it will be the thoughtful, professional, and inspired work of skilled work of fine art photographers that will be studied, analyzed treasured, and admired.

There is also a fear that our dependence on video formats – film, televisions, and, most recently, the viral video – will gradually phase out the relevance and popularity of fine art photography. Once again, this is an unfounded concern. It’s important to remember that there was once fear that film would make literature obsolete, as all story telling would now take place on the screen. That has yet to happen; books are still just as relevant and often supply material for screenplays. In the way, videos will never take over for photography. Fine art photography is a completely different art form and will remain relevant on its own.

So before you start mourning the loss of fine art photography to smart phone snapshots and Instagram photos, just remember that nothing can compare to a work of true talent, and that it is these works of talent and art that have always stood the test of time. Fine art photography still is, and always will be, relevant on its own terms.

Posted by brucem231 at 6:50 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 2 July 2012 6:53 AM EDT
Thursday, 28 June 2012
The History and Life of Chinese Acrobats
Topic: Arts
From 221 to 207 BC, long before acrobatic entertainment was even considered, a new Chinese government was formed.  This new government conquered the surrounding Chinese states creating a new unified China.  This area, called the Qin Dynasty was responsible for many changes. Among them being a stronger military force, the use of financial currency and the Great Wall of China.  The Qin Dynasty successfully increased trade and agriculture which inadvertently created the beginnings of the Chinese Acrobats. During the Qin Dynasty, farmers and trade workers found unique ways to entertain themselves during the winter months. As the workers farmed the fields during the summertime, they found ways to use their own tools to learn new talents.  Farmers used their shovels to practice balance.  Pottery workers learned how to spin their dishes gracefully.  Harvesters practiced diving through their hoops. Others taught themselves how to balance on chairs and climb poles.  As these they perfected their skills, these newly formed Chinese acrobats demonstrated their talents during the fall celebrations.

As these shows became more popular, these Chinese acrobats began to travel to other towns to perform for the villagers.  These village shows grew in popularity and the travelling Chinese acrobats were summoned to perform for their leaders and rulers.  Acrobat parent passed down their teachings of skills to their preschool children. These children were raised learning the very cultural and unique Chinese acrobatic skills; they perfected this art and passed it along their own children.  Hundreds of years and generations of acrobats later, they created what is known today as some of the most fascinating shows on earth.

When an audience views Chinese acrobats in action, they are watching a cultural art display that has been perfected over hundreds of years.  Many of the acrobats on stage have been practicing since they were very young children, generally around the ages of 4 years old.  Although the original acrobat bloodline is no longer around, the skills and performance displayed are the result of lifetimes of commitment to the art.  For these acrobats it is not just a job, being onstage is their lifelong passion and dream. The children grow up travelling with their parents around the world, they are schooled as they perform and they are educated as they travel.

These now world famous Chinese acrobats feature shows that seem to defy nature.  With their talents in flexibility, balance and focus, they have wowed audiences around the globe. In one show, a combination of hop jumping, balancing acts, plate spinning, bungee cord acts and feats of strength can all be viewed in stunning displays.  By committing to a lifetime of practice and perfecting this art, the Chinese acrobats never fail to stun audiences with their skill. The show is their school, their home and their life. What began as a simple pastime over two thousand years ago has transformed into a world famous cultural display.  Time and skill have converted these acrobats from travelling village acts to the world class performers they are known as today.

Posted by brucem231 at 2:09 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 April 2013 11:41 PM EDT
Thursday, 31 May 2012
Capturing History with Rock and Roll Images
Topic: Arts
Rock and roll has had a triumphant and tumultuous history. Through it all there have been an extensive amount of photos which captured some of the most important moments in music history. Music photographers, such as Baron Wolman, and Bob Gruen, and have immortalized rock legends on film. Their images communicate visually the social and cultural transformation of rock through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Now, these rock and roll images are sought after by collectors, and curators, and held as the visual pinnacle of the rock and roll age.

Rolling Stone magazine was the first major publication for rock and roll images. Jann Wenner and Baron Wolman, the first photographer for the magazine, launched the magazine in 1967, reporting mostly on the hippie counterculture of the time. Wolman revolutionized the way rock was photographed. His style was gritty, on the fly, minimalistic and real. His shots of bands like the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and the Who have become some of the most recognizable rock and roll images of all time. Recently, he was presented with a VIP Award at the Classic Rock Roll of Honor Awards for his contribution to rock and roll, where he smashed a guitar in honour of Pete Townsend.

Bob Gruen, a 40-year veteran photographer of the music scene, has photographed countless rock stars, such as Eric Clapton, Led Zepplin, and Bob Dylan. He was John Lennon’s personal photographer during Lennon’s time in New York City. His photo of John Lennon in a New York T-shirt has become one of the most famous rock and roll images of all time. In 2007, Gruen opened his exhibition, Rockers, in Sau Paulo, Brazil which featured over 270 rock and roll images, arranged in nine different areas, set to five background soundtracks. He has also published five books of his photography.

Several museums have held exhibitions in recent years, focusing the spotlight on the photographers of these famous rock and roll images. The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, which debuted near the end of 2009, was the first large-scale museum exhibition of its kind to honour photographers. It featured 175 photos from more than 100 photographers. More recently, the Portland Museum of Art organized Backstage Pass: Rock and Roll Photography, an exhibition of 268 rarely seen rock and roll images drawn from the largest private collection in the United States. The largest permanent installation of rock and roll photography exists at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, alongside countless pieces of rock memorabilia.

The rock and roll images of the 60’s and 70’s have changed how we view the world and they are visual reminders of this vital period in music history. The photographers who captured the rock movement on film immortalized a time of revolution and reinvention for generations. They were there every step of the way and are just as much a part of the social and cultural ripple effect as the rock legends themselves.

Posted by brucem231 at 11:37 PM EDT
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
The Benefits of an Artist Online Portfolio
Topic: Arts
The world runs online. Nearly every important task—and some not so important ones—can be done via the Internet. People pay bills, order things, send cards. People read online advertisements to find things to buy. They post online advertisements to showcase things to sell. Many people, though, do not think of the internet as a tool for advertising themselves. People who have not yet started to self-advertize on the internet could benefit from doing so, especially people in the creative arts. An artist online portfolio could help every artist with self-promotion.

Extra Exposure: Why is an artist online portfolio beneficial? The main reason every creative person should have an artist online portfolio is exposure. According to 2011 internet usage data compiled by Miniwatts Marketing Group, over 2.2 billion people worldwide use the internet, which is almost the population of China and India—the two most populated countries on Earth—put together. This number represents an increase of nearly 530% since 2000, and those numbers continue to grow daily. No other media in the world provides greater exposure to potential customers and employers than the internet. With so many potential viewers out there ready to surf the web for fast, easy access to what they want, every artist should create an artist online portfolio to showcase work and talents.

Online Portfolio Options: Once the decision to create an artist online portfolio has been made, what options are there? Artists can choose from two main methods of creating an online portfolio. First is a stand-alone website. With this method, the artist uses a free domain name or purchases one and then creates a website that includes the portfolio. This method works for many people, but for others it has disadvantages. It can be time consuming to create a good website, especially if the creator is not tech savvy, and later has to keep the site updated. A larger issue, though, is access.

One of the main ways traffic is channeled to a personal website is through name recognition. Before internet users can find a specific person’s website, it is helpful if they already know that person’s name. The end result is that customer connection potential is missed if the artist is not already well-known. Yes, the artist’s site might be found through a keyword search, but it is harder, it takes internet users more time to arrive there, and users may stop at another website from the search results before the artist’s name is even seen.

The solution to these issues is the other main method for creating an artist online portfolio: websites that contain “portfolio banks.” With these sites, the structure of the portfolio is often already in place, so the artist needs only to upload documents, images or other digital files into it, which is faster and easier than creating a full website and requires much less upkeep. In addition, the likelihood of a potential client or employer locating that artist’s portfolio is increased because name recognition is not a factor.  The client or employer simply accesses many portfolios from the bank in one session, or, on some sites, can explore multiple portfolios by searching for specific criteria.

Keys to Artistic Success: One key to an artist’s success is exposure to as wide an audience—clients or employers—as possible. The key to wide exposure is the internet. This is why, regardless of method, every artist can benefit from an artist online portfolio. Every click on the portfolio’s contents is an opportunity to make a sale or win a job.

Posted by brucem231 at 11:38 PM EDT
Friday, 4 May 2012
Graceful Chinese Acrobats
Topic: Arts
Art is something that takes many different forms, many of these forms quite unexpected and surprising. For many people, the term “art” typically conjures up images of paintings and sculptures. However art is even wider in scope, with things like architecture and poetry falling under this broad and diverse heading. The performing arts include things such as dancing, acting, and singing, all of which allow an artist to convey a message with their voice or body. Acrobatics is an art form that is especially engaging and fascinating to view. Whether in groups or individually, acrobats display immense flexibility, coordination and bravery for the audience at hand. Acrobatics is a beautiful combination of dance and gymnastics with an extra element of agility. Onlookers of acrobatics will delight at the beauty and poise of the human form and hold their breath in apprehension of the daring feats that are being performed. Chinese acrobats are particularly skilled and showcase a form of acrobatics that has been around for thousands of years and is world-renowned.

Chinese acrobats are well trained in the art of acrobatics and are certainly a sight to be seen. Acrobats who practice Chinese acrobatics often train for many years and from a very young age. The development of flexibility is crucial to being an acrobat, as is the learning of rhythm and balance. The muscle coordination required to carry out daring stunts and acts takes a great deal of time and patience to develop. Though Chinese acrobats make their craft look entirely natural and effortless, in reality, the high level of performance they exhibit is incredibly difficult and requires a great deal of skill.

This type of acrobatics originated approximately 2000 years ago. It is a large part of Chinese culture and history that is often further showcased in other forms of art, such as painting and sculpture. Today, people worldwide greatly enjoy this wonderful facet of Chinese culture. The unison that Chinese acrobats display is perfectly timed. Routines carried out by Chinese acrobats are often daring with many acrobats flying many feet into the air and landing with grace and poise. Somersaults and leaps through the air will have you leaving the show breathless. Chinese acrobats often use no props, supplying only their bodies as the performance piece. Some displays of acrobatics feature items such as chairs and tight ropes to enthrall the audience even further.

There are several exhibits worldwide that feature acrobats throughout the year. Many Chinese acrobats are in high demand and tour worldwide, captivating and exciting all of the audiences they encounter. Performances can be very different and two are never the same. Many Chinese acrobatics performances feature only two acrobats, working entirely off one another to effectively engage audiences with thousands of people. Other performances feature a large amount of acrobats, often synchronized and working in groups to create a large image for the audience. Whether in small or large groups, these acrobatics often tells a beautiful story conveyed entirely through the body and background music.

Posted by brucem231 at 11:20 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 April 2013 5:37 AM EDT
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
What Do Fine Art Photographers Do
Topic: Arts
You might not be familiar with the term “fine art photography,” but odds are you are familiar with and have enjoyed the work of some fine art photographers. Photography is a fascinating art, one which takes years to master.

Fine art photographers are those who approach photography as an art, much like painting. While many other types of photography, such as photojournalism and portrait photography, serves the purpose of documenting events, fine art photography is about creating an image that will stir up an emotional response in the viewers. It’s about presenting images in a way that is new, stimulating, and evokes different feelings than a mere documentation would.

While there are different paths to becoming a fine art photographer, many aspiring photographers choose to study the art in a post secondary institution. Photography programs are available in many different lengths and intensities – certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, graduate studies – aspiring photographers can choose from a number of different paths to their career.

Studying the art in a university setting gives aspiring fine art photographers a chance to experiment with their craft, playing around with different tools, effects, settings, and themes, all of which are an important part of creating a piece of photographic art. They will also have the chance to study with professionals who have experience and clout as fine art photographers. There is nothing like watching an expert practice their craft to learn it yourself.

Some photographers choose to forgo post secondary training altogether and go for a more applied or hands-on approach to their training. Some apprentice other experienced photographers, so that they can get a feel for how to use equipment, set up a shot, adjust lighting, and manifest an idea or inspiration. Though apprentice work might at first deal with only the technical aspects of bringing another photographer’s vision to life, this practice is an important part of learning how to bring your own artistic visions to life. One must first understand the skills and tricks of their craft before they can understand how to take an artistic or creative idea and make it happen.

Some fine art photographers work independently right from the beginning. The advantage to this is that they have unlimited time to focus on their own ideas. The downside is that because they don’t have an expert to teach them their craft, there will likely be a little bit more trial and error involved in bringing an idea to life.

However fine art photographers choose to educate and train themselves, there are certain things that can’t be learned. Artistic vision and creativity have to occur naturally. These are qualities that can’t be taught or transferred from one person to another. They’re also the qualities that separate fine art photography from other genres of photography. Creativity and vision are what lie at the art of a good piece of fine art photography, so it is important that the aspiring fine art photographer have these qualities before they pursue their career.

Posted by brucem231 at 6:37 AM EDT
Monday, 23 April 2012
Some Quick Thoughts on Band Photography
Topic: Arts
I couldn’t find the one book that would lay out all the instructions I need and would have in turn, offered here in this blog about band photography. Perhaps I missed it as I perused the library shelves, but really, all you (or I) need is a band and a camera, right? Gather up the guys and maybe gals in the band, get them under the lights and in focus. Click!

It sounds so simple. Looks simple too, when you watch it depicted on TV, all those top model contests, but instead of taking pictures of lovely women in a wide variety of fashion outfits with all the accessories, no, we’re taking pictures of bands. So we need the musicians, and their instruments, and a location for the shoot, and an idea of a message that the picture should convey. Starting with, who’s in the band, what instruments do they play, what style or genre of music do they play in. Where do they hail from? Britain? Sweden? America? Canada? Japan? Who’s the frontman? Front woman? Are they advertising a concert, a tour, a CD release? An in-store appearance?  Maybe this photo will be uploaded on a fan’s blog, maybe on the band’s website or social media home page, maybe released to the media to be used over and over again, a part of the band’s marketing plan, to impress their band’s brand on their target audience’s brains. See how important band photography can actually be?

Ok, so now we’ve got the band, they’re on set, the instruments are set up, and some ideas have been tossed around earlier over coffee in Styrofoam cups. Get some classic, professional photographs first, something to fall back on if the experimental stuff doesn’t quite pan out. Straight on shots. Profile. Group line-up photos, you know, basic band photography looks; just like you’d see in the… which book?

What kind of look are you going for? Classic, contemporary, or nouveau? Is there an influence from a previous band that this group is trying to emulate? How best then to get across this band’s own identity? Maybe just a prop offering a hint as to who the band’s influences are, like a t-shirt. Now, will your own photos be in black and white or color? Vivid, saturated, or faded? Filtered, distorted…what, you just want to play in Photoshop? I understand! Well, you can do anything you want in band photography, take a picture of the guys with fingers in their noses or other taboo gestures; hey, maybe that’s expected with the type of music they play and the crowd they play to. Argue with success when you get there. Just take the picture!

Band photography can certainly be a fun foray in your photographic portfolio, and if you are a musician looking for a photographer to help you sell your band’s message, look, brand, identity, music, albums, concerts, etc… work with each and every photographer, get a feel for the variety of styles and work they all offer and have fun on the shoots, be cool. Who knows—perhaps the chemistry between band and photographer might show up in the pictures…. Click!

Posted by brucem231 at 11:21 PM EDT

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