FAMILY LIVING

How to Get Your Family Interested in Art and Music

(StatePoint) When school budgets suffer, often so do arts and music programs. Families can make up for scaled back opportunities in the classroom by bringing both music and art into the home.

Art Corner

Create a little art studio in your house with a few key supplies. Drawing pencils, sketchbooks and watercolors are great basics. As skills progress, you can expand these supplies to include acrylic paints, charcoal and more. For those into crafting, check out sites like Pinterest for creative ideas and step-by-step instructions. While many community centers offer opportunities to receive classic art instruction, there are a number of online tutorials that can help you learn basic techniques from the comfort of your home, and for free.

Make Music

Research has shown that listening to classical music can have many positive benefits on the brain and body, from improving one’s mood to boosting performance on tests, so, get exposed to all the greats, from Mozart to Beethoven to Vivaldi.

September is National Piano Month, and an excellent opportunity to encourage your family to learn to play classical music with the right gear. These days, it’s possible to get the concert grand piano tone with modern technology. New models of keyboards, such as the Celviano AP-270, a stand-up keyboard from Casio, is equipped with an 88-key Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard with simulated ebony and ivory textured keys to reproduce the feeling of an acoustic piano.

Explore Your Community

Take a field trip! Go to a museum or art gallery. Attend a live concert. Being inspired to create art and music is easier when you have real life examples to admire. Encourage everyone to talk about what they heard and saw and what they liked best.

Whether or not your school has comprehensive music and arts programming, you can enhance whatever lessons the classroom offers on weekends and in the evenings.

 

The Health Benefits of Art

Creating and interpreting art can be intimidating to the average person, but science proves you don’t to have possess artistic talent to reap the numerous health benefits art has to offer. Whether your masterpiece is worthy of hanging in a museum or on the fridge, art gives you the freedom to release your inhibitions and try something new without the fear of falling short.

Viewing and producing art can have significant positive impacts on the mind and body. From reducing stress to improving quality of life, art is a powerful health tool that is helping people of all ages worldwide.

Art Reduces Stress

Making and viewing art can reduce cortisone levels that contribute to stress. A 2016 study analyzed saliva samples of 39 healthy adults to test cortisol levels before and after 45 minutes of art making. The results indicated that creating art led to a significant lowering of cortisol levels. Participants also stated that they felt more relaxed and free of constraints after the art-making session and were more eager to continue producing art in the future.

If you don’t feel comfortable making art on your own, or prefer guidelines to help with creation, break out your colored pencils and try an “anti-stress” adult coloring book. Adult coloring books have become a popular trend in recent years and are proven to be therapeutic and relaxing to the mind. Similar to meditation, coloring allows you to focus on one thing at a time; this helps to alleviate anxiety.

Art is Good for the Mind

Because art is not an exact science like math, people can learn to develop creative problem-solving skills when creating art. Even medical professionals rely on art to sharpen their minds. “Enhancing Observational Skills” is a museum-based program that is now required class for first year Yale medical students. The idea is to teach students how to observe and see clearly in order to later care for their patients in the best way possible.

Creating art can also improve self-esteem. When you finish a project, you experience a sense of accomplishment and happiness. This applies in the art arena as well. When completing a work of art, these same feelings occur and can lead to heightened dopamine levels.

Art Can Improve Quality of Life

Art has been proven to be a powerful therapeutic tool. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are most commonly subjected to art therapy as a way to improve focus and communication skills that are affected by the diseases. Creating art stimulates the senses and can even assist in the recollection of seemingly dormant memories.

Art is also a popular therapy for cancer patients. In a study, children who were going through painful cancer procedures and were exposed to art therapy ultimately expressed more positive and collaborative behavior. Adults and children alike who go through traumatic experiences often internalize the pain they feel as a result. Art and art therapy allows people to express and release the experiences that are too agonizing to verbalize.

Travel: The Walled Off Hotel

Banksy is famous for his social commentary. His latest statement arrives not through a piece of street art, but instead an actual business. The Walled Off Hotel sits just feet away from the wall that separates it — and the rest of Bethlehem — from the West Bank of Palestine. It currently has ten rooms, customized with artworks by Banksy, Sami Musa, and Dominique Petrin, and ranging from the barracks-like “Budget” to an ornate “Presidential” suite. The hotel bar is decorated with security cameras and slingshots, and should you need reminding of the point of the whole thing every room offers “views” of the wall just steps from the front door.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art To Release Thousands of Classic Works Online

In a move sure to have art aficionados rejoicing with excitement, New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art is gearing up to bombard the web with classic works from its vast archives. While these historic pieces remain under tight guard, the Met has decidedly agreed to lift any licensing restrictions on its own photography of these artworks — allowing them to be freely viewed and used online.

In a statement released by Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the museum, “Increasing access to the Museum’s collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas. We thank Creative Commons, an international leader in open access and copyright, for being a partner in this effort.”

How Tattoo Artists Could Help Reduce Skin Cancer

Tattoo artists may have a role to play in reducing cases of advanced skin cancer, researchers say.

That’s because tattoos can sometimes hide skin cancers, and make it harder for doctors to diagnose these cancers early, according to a new study.

The researchers found that tattoo artists typically don’t have a standard way of dealing with the moles that they may see on their clients, and contrary to what doctors would recommend, many will tattoo right over a mole if a client requests it.

Meanwhile, less than a third of the tattoo artists (29 percent) said they had recommended that a client see a dermatologist for a suspicious skin lesion.

“Our study highlights an opportunity for dermatologists to educate tattoo artists about skin cancer, particularly melanoma, to help reduce the incidence of skin cancers hidden in tattoos,” the researchers, from the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal JAMA Dermatology. Tattoo artists could also be taught how to recognize a suspicious skin lesion, and encourage their clients to see a dermatologist if they have such a lesion, the researchers said.

There have been several cases of people who had tattoos that concealed skin cancers, the researchers said.

In the new study, the researchers surveyed 42 tattoo artists during the summer of 2016, and asked them about their approach to dealing with moles and other skin lesions or conditions on their clients.

More than half (55 percent) of these tattoo artists said they had declined to tattoo skin with a rash, lesion or spot. When asked why they declined to tattoo skin in these cases, 50 percent said it was because they were concerned about the final appearance of the tattoo, while 29 percent said they were concerned about skin cancer. Another 19 percent said they were concerned about bleeding in their client’s mole.

When asked how they dealt with moles, about 40 percent said they tattooed around moles, but 43 percent said that they either tattooed over moles, or did what their clients asked them to do regarding the moles. About 70 percent said that their clients had never asked them to avoid tattooing over a mole or skin lesion.

“There has been a significant rise in melanoma incidence among young adults, some of the most frequent tattoo customers, making surveillance by tattoo artists especially important,” the researchers said.

Future studies could follow tattoo artists over time, and examine the effect of skin cancer education in this group, they said.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and the first sign of the disease is often a change to an existing mole, such as in its size, shape or color, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Art Basel Electrifies Miami Beach

Miami Beach boasts sunny beaches, iconic Art Deco architecture and glitzy nightlife, and all that becomes the backdrop for art from around the world when Art Basel comes to town.

Founded in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland, Art Basel is now an international affair with additional art shows staged in Miami Beach and Hong Kong.

At the Miami Beach show Dec. 1-4, top dealers from galleries around the world showcase their works, up-and-coming artists display their creations and outdoor installations add an additional thrill for revelers, who come to the festival for the people-watching and the parties as much as the art on display.

More than 200 well-known galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa showcase work from masters of modern and contemporary art. Pieces by emerging artists are also on display.

Paintings, sculptures, photographs, films and installations set the foundation, while large-scale artworks, film and performance art “become part of the landscape” at area beaches and parks.

Works by more than 4,000 artists are on display, ranging from the creations of emerging artists to more well-known artists.

More than 70,000 people attend the Miami Beach fair each year. Museums and galleries across the city also hold special exhibits and events in conjunction with the art show.

Street art is part of the event, too. You can check out more of the artists’ work below and online at the Art Basel twitter feed.

Meet The Artist Selling Human Skulls Online

Zane Wylie has purchased dozens of human skulls. He carves the bones with intricate designs and sells them on his website, RealHumanSkulls, for thousands of dollars. But the art of bone carving is complex: It’s both technically difficult, and it’s increasingly tough to find legally obtained skulls for purchase, as major online retailer eBay prohibited the sale of human remains this year.

Wylie, who uses this pseudonym for his skull caving business, didn’t carve the first human skull he bought, which he nicknamed “Yorick.” Instead, he carefully studied it. “I was in a program that studied fine muscle movements in the human face,” he told Vocativ, and he purchased the specimen to help support his studies. Though he said he was glad to find an excuse to buy a human skull, which had long intrigued him.

Wylie was fascinated by skulls as a young boy — he had a particular interest in Marvel’s “Ghost Rider.” As an adult, he realized there was a thriving online marketplace for bones and bone carvings, and he decided to try his hand at the art. After experimenting on deer and goat skulls, he moved to the big time — carving on a real human skull.

“I wish I would have clocked how many hours it took me [to carve] the first one,” he said. “And it wasn’t just because the equipment that I had wasn’t the best. It was because I was just so paranoid about doing something wrong and disrespecting what I was carving.”

The hours of work paid off, and the intricately decorated skull sold quickly on eBay. After this initial success, Zane purchased more skulls and soon started a full-fledged business, complete with homemade over-the-top promotional videos.

Wylie operates out of his garage in suburban Virginia, and he said that he doesn’t mind neighbors checking out his work, though they aren’t always very enthused about it. “I’m probably not doing much for the property values around my neighborhood,” he said. “But the neighbor kids stay away, and that’s okay by me.”

With demand for his skulls growing, supply became an issue. In July, eBay changed their terms of service to prohibit the sales of human remains. This decision came on the heels of a Journal of Forensic Sciences investigation that found over 400 examples of skulls offered for sale on the site, 80 percent of which were classified by the researchers as medical or teaching tools.

Wylie said that while concerns over purchasing bones stolen from graves are valid, a close inspection can usually distinguish between legally and illegally obtained remains. “It takes a lot of work to get a skull to the condition to be a medical skull,” he said, referencing the professional cleaning and labeling process that medical specimens undergo. And their pristine condition makes them easy to identify as legitimate. He recalled one skull seller who contacted him over email, offering photos of his wares. Wylie said when he saw dirt visible inside the skulls, “it was obvious that it was grave robbing.”

But, thankfully for Wylie, the eBay ban didn’t end the skull trade. Instead, sellers shifted to platforms that do not prohibit their sale, like Instagram and Facebook, in addition to long-established retail outlets like The Bone Room and Skulls Unlimited.

For now, there are still reputable outlets from which to source these calcium canvases, and the skull carving featured here is currently available. Happy Halloween shopping.

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Stop Asking People with Tattoos These Questions, You’re Probably Being Annoying

1. Did it hurt?

Any time somebody’s poking you repeatedly with a needle, it’s going to be really uncomfortable. A tattoo is essentially a puncture wound that is then filled with ink, and if you’ve ever lodged something into your skin that wasn’t there to begin with, it’s going to hurt a little. But some body parts are less painful, some people are more tolerant of pain, and after you go under the needle a few times, that buzzing sensation is less anxiety-inducing because you know what to expect. The tattoos I got on my ribs hurt like crazy, but the one I have on my inner arm was prickly at most. And it may itch and burn afterwards, but if you take care of it, it’s really fine.

2. Don’t you regret them?

For the most part? No. Chances are really good the person spent time thinking about the design they wanted, and whether it’s artwork, a quote, or even a tribal armband, it means something to them. Over time, tattoos also reach beyond their symbolism, and also commemorate moments in that person’s life and who they were at the time they got the tattoo. Who you were when you decided to get a tattoo with your brother, who you were when you had a quote inked onto your foot, who you were when you were 22 and confused and curious and scared—those are all valid aspects of your past, and those tattoos serve as reminders of your past. They ground you to who you are. Why would you regret who you were and who you are today?

(I admit that there is one tattoo I regret, but I got it when I was 16 and it’s in a rather inconspicuous location on my body. This is also why there are laws prohibiting teenagers from getting tattoos, but I deliberately went to a shady shop that didn’t ask for my ID, and this one’s on me. I take full responsibility for that poor life choice.)

3. Don’t you respect yourself?

Yes, I do. And yes, you should always respect yourself. Whenever anyone asks you this, it’s really safe to assume that they may not respect you. And you know what? Cool. They don’t have to respect you, which makes it easier for you to make a judgment call and not include that person in your life. If they can’t respect that you made such a decision over your own body, chances are really good that they won’t be able to overlook the other things on which you disagree as well. If you think your body is a temple and it’s disrespectful to get tattoos, then don’t get them, that’s fine. People with tattoos don’t think less of people who don’t have tattoos. But my body is a temple, too, and I will decorate it as I see fit; my design aesthetic just happens to involve tattoos.

4. How are you going to feel about them when you’re old?

Who’s to say how we’ll feel about everything when we’re old? Sometimes people switch political ideologies throughout their lives. Sometimes people change their mind about a certain food. It’s the same thing with tattoos. I don’t know how I’ll feel about them when I’m old because I’m not old yet. And it’s very possible that I could regret them, and it’s very possible that the ink might not age all that well and I’ll get wrinkles and things will sag and I end up needing surgery over and the doctor will botch the tattoo, and, and, and. But much in the same vein of whether or not I regret my tattoos, I would like to think that I’m not going to regret who I was at 24 when I begin to reminisce as an old, wrinkled, and yes, tattooed woman.

5. Does that mean you only date other people with tattoos?

Often, people with tattoos are no more or less attracted to another person solely because they have one. Some people have a thing for people with tattoos the way other people have a thing for blondes or brunettes or short people or tall people, but a person’s personality, sense of humor, and heart should trump everything else. It’s shouldn’t be a deal breaker if somebody else doesn’t have tattoos. And chances are, if two people who have tattoos are dating, it’s coincidence—tattoos are growing increasingly common in our society, after all—and only one of the likes and dislikes they share. (If it’s all they have in common, there’s a major problem.)

6. But what does it mean?

Are you ready for a long story? Are you ready for something really deep and meaningful and introspective? Because if you ask somebody about this, you have to genuinely be interested in what that person takes to heart. You have to be open to the idea that something could have spoken to them in a way that has completely changed their life, even if it leaves you entirely unfazed. And just as you might feel guilted into having to react appropriately when somebody shows you what they believe to be the funniest video clip of. all. time, nodding your head politely and saying, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” when they tell you about a memory they have of their dad or their favorite poem is like slapping that person in the heart. They just shared a deeply personal part of themselves with you. Treat that knowledge with care and respect.

7. How much did you pay for that?

This question is all about the delivery. If there’s even a hint of the derisive “… when you could have spent your money on something else?” hanging at the end of that inquiry, it won’t matter to you how much or how little somebody spent on a piece and now you’re just being a little nosy. A tattoo is an investment, though, and it’s smart to actually spend decent money on something that is going to hopefully last your whole lifetime. If you really think you can haggle with your tattoo artist for a cheaper piece, chances are good you’re going to end up with a tattoo that looks cheaper. If you’re really dedicated to the concept of the piece, you’ll pony up the money for it. If you’re really hesitant to spend the money, then chances are good you may not even want the tattoo itself.

8. What do your parents think about them?

Here’s the thing about this question: this suggests that all parents will have the exact same reaction about everything their children do. My mom hates them, personally, and my dad is a pro at that mild headshake that speaks volumes of what he thinks about them, but not every parent is like that. Some parents even have tattoos themselves—we’re not the first generation to get a little ink crazy. And I am fully grateful to my parents for creating my body, carrying it around, clothing it, feeding it, and protecting it until I was shoved out of the nest and into college, but my parents also taught me that my body is my body, and I can do what I want with it as long as I respect myself in the process. I wasn’t all that worried about what my parents would think when I got my tattoos, because their bodies weren’t going under the needle. Mine was.

9. Would you ever get them removed?

Maybe years from now, but A, it’s expensive; B, it takes time for each procedure; and C, the results are often questionable at best. It’s very possible that surgery will progress to a point where tattoo removal is a lot more accessible to those who regret their tattoos, but I also went into getting my tattoo with the full knowledge that each one was a very permanent, very final decision. And unless you see brochures from a dermatologist’s office lying around my apartment, chances are very good it’s not on my radar.

This Man Making LEGO Food Sculptures Is an Artistic Hero

LEGO play-sets all come with a warning that they should not be used by children under four, as the small pieces make for quite the choking hazard. However, such a warning is applicable to those of all ages who find themselves face to face with the work of Tary, a Japanese artist who has created LEGO sculptures of food so realistic that one could actually drool.

Using a wide variety of colored bricks from preexisting LEGO sets, Tary has wrought creations from all manner of food groups and cultures. The key to these success of these sculptures is his attention to detail, such as the gooey cheese slowly dripping off his slice of pizza sculpture, or his ice cream cone that seamlessly melts into a puddle. The traditional Japanese dish of shrimp tempura over a bowl of rice even won him the first place prize in an original LEGO model contest.

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Why We’re Obsessed With Tattoos, According to a Tattoo Artist

Everyone seems obsessed with tattoos these days. In fact, nearly half of millennials have them, according to a 2010 Pew Research study. What once was associated with biker gangs or punks and considered unacceptable in the workplace has now become a worldwide trend—and tattoo artist and reality TV star Megan Massacre has been a major part of this phenomenon.

An artist all her life, Massacre took up tattooing during college and has since been featured on TLC’s NY Ink and America’s Worst Tattoos. She’s since continued working at Love Hate Social Club in New York’s Lower East Side, where NY Ink took place. She’s also one of the tattoo artists showcasing her work on Tattoodo, a site co-founded by Miami Ink’s Ami James for people to read about tattoos, browse designs, and hold contests for artists to design tattoos based on users’ descriptions. Tattoodo recently launched an app that’s basically Instagram for tattoos, letting people post and search for the designs and artists they like.

While she was filming a new tattoo-related reality show in Australia, we chatted with Massacre about what’s behind the current tattoo craze, and how she became a part of it.

What was it about tattoos that first drew you in?
Massacre: The first time I actually thought about tattooing, I was in high school. A classmate came to school with a tattoo, and everybody thought it was so cool. I also thought it was so cool, but being an artist, I was like, “I could do a better job.” I was very interested in art from a young age and wanted to learn every kind of art there was. That was the first time I saw tattooing as an art form, because at that time, most people didn’t think of it that way.

Why wasn’t it recognized as an art form then?
We didn’t really think about it because of the stigma surrounding tattooing. A lot of the types of people that you saw getting tattoos were involved in gangs. There was a lot of negativity surrounding it. People thought criminals got tattooed, so I think a lot of artists shied away from it and never really looked at it from that perspective. In the past decade, you’ve seen a huge shift in tattooing to an actual art form that many artists have become interested in.

How did that shift occur?
When I first started tattooing a couple years before Miami Ink came out, it was very stigmatic still. I had a bunch of tattoos, and when I went outside, when I went grocery shopping, people would look at me weird. They wouldn’t want to walk through doors that I held. I would have people coming up to me that I didn’t know, being like, “You’re going to regret this.” Then, a couple years later, the show Miami Ink came out, and all of a sudden, people started looking at it differently and realizing we’re just normal people like everybody else. It made it sexy. It made people who weren’t interested in tattoos actually think about getting one. Also, obviously, musicians and sports players made tattoos very cool.

It also seems like online communities like Tattoodo have played a big role in popularizing tattoos. How have you used them?
Personally, as an artist, I love Instagram and all different kinds of social media. I follow tons of tattoo artists, but it’s actually hard to keep up with all the artists. If I’m looking for something in particular from a particular artist, the Tattoodo app is really nice and consolidated, and it’s constantly updating. There’s also a cool new feature where you upload a photo with information about the tattoo, you put what body part it is, and then you hashtag the style so that it’s really searchable. If I have a studio in New York and I’m looking for a black and gray artist, I can look up the hashtag #BlackAndGrayTattoo and find all the black and gray artists that are out there. I’m always traveling and working and doing all kinds of stuff, and I want to be able to access the information very easily. It helps me keep up with my own industry.

How did you first get involved with Tattoodo?
I first heard about it a couple years ago when one of the artists told me about it. It’s a community dedicated to tattooing from an artistic standpoint, whether you’re one of the artists or a tattoo collector who appreciates tattoos. A lot of it is blog-related, exploring all the different facets of the tattoo industry and new technology in the tattoo industry, talking about tattoo trends. It’s really interesting to see all of this stuff that’s relatable to the artist and the collector in one spot.

The contests for customized tattoos seem like a really cool idea.
The contests are really cool because there are so many people who want to get tattoos by some artists and it’s also pretty expensive, but the contests give people the chance to get tattoos who haven’t had a chance before. Maybe they live in a completely different country, but the contest allows you to get flown to wherever the artist is.

What is it about tattoos that makes them important to enough people to form all these communities?
It’s a way of expressing the things that you love most in life. People express themselves through color and clothing, and tattooing is just another way to customize yourself. You’re born a certain way, but as you grow older, you kind of fall into the skin that you feel comfortable in. You get to change yourself.

Do any of the tattoos you’ve created stick out as the most meaningful?
The best stories are the kinds where tragedy is overcome. They other day, I tattooed a woman who is a cancer survivor. When she got the news, it was terrible not only for her own health and safety but for the well-being of her kids. People like her wear tattoos like badges of honor. She got initials for her kids.

What advice would you give someone considering a tattoo?
There are some people who put a lot of thought into it and some people who are just on a whim like, “I’m going to a tattoo shop.” That’s cool and all, but think about it, because it’s obviously very permanent. Then, even if your tattoo gets old and doesn’t look as good as it used to, you’re still going to love it because you’re going to love what it stands for.