Why is Abstract Art So Popular?

Abstract art is popular because it has a purpose in this world both for the artist and the viewer. Many people collect abstract paintings to beautify their surroundings, as an investment, or to update their lives with contemporary culture. They often feel a connection with the colors, the forms, texture, or energy that the artwork gives off. The artwork changes their living space and creates an atmosphere worth living in.

For the artist, creating the artwork can be an expressive means to channel creative energy and emotion. The action of painting is actually considered therapy and very meditative for many abstract artists. The evidence of this has been documented to be especially true in today’s modern fast pace world.

Abstract art also covers a broad spectrum of painting styles. The general understanding is that this type of art does not depict anything in the natural world and the subject is simply a visual language of color and form. While this is true of non-representational works (which I love to create), this is simply not true for all abstract art out there. The word “abstract” means a departure from reality, but this departure can sometimes be only a slight one. This in-turn leaves room for partially abstract landscapes, figures, seascapes, etc. to be categorized as abstract art.

The beauty of abstract art, both for the artist and the viewer, is that anyone can take what they see and interpret it however they want. Of course this is true of any type of artwork, but considering the nature of abstract artwork, the creative mind has even more freedom to roam and interpret what is appearing before the senses. Abstract artwork is a non-traditional free art form that resonates with the feelings and emotions of today’s contemporary artists and art collectors. As long as this is true abstract art will continue to be so popular.

History of Ear Gauging in Tribal Civilizations

A study of the history of ear gauging indicates the practice to be as old as recorded human history. For males, this form of ear piercing has been a symbol of status, while for women, in addition to being used as means of bodily decoration, it has also been employed to signify the attainment of womanhood.

Ear gauging, which is also referred to as ear stretching, is the stretching of ear lobe piercings to larger diameters than that of the original piercing. It is a form of body enhancement or beautification that many young western people adopt to look ‘different’ from the usual crowd. However, this is not a modern form of body piercing, since it has been around for as long as archaeological records exist.

In many cases, ear gauging has been used historically to indicate the standing of members of a specific tribe, and in many respects this is still the situation today. Stretched piercings have been, and still are, a reflection on the individual’s sexual capability and also their superiority over other males in the tribe. The larger the stretching, the more important the individual.

Otzi the Iceman is a prime example of mummies known to have stretched ears. This is the earliest known example of ear gauging, Otzi having 7-11 mm ear piercings during 3300 BC. It has been suggested that the stretching of the ears noted in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, may have been caused by the weight of the gold jewelry he wore, but this is mere supposition.

It is supported, however, by the fact that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang people of Thailand use this ‘gravity’ technique to stretch their piercings. Let us have a look at the ear gauging practices used today by various cultures.

A. Mursi Tribal Women

The Mursi is an Ethiopian tribe where the women are obliged to wear plates in their gauged ears and on their bottom lip. About a year prior to her marriage, or at about 15 years of age, a Mursi girl’s lip will be pierced by her mother and a wooden peg pushed through the incision.

Once healed, the peg is changed for a larger diameter one. Eventually, the peg is replaced by a plate of clay or wood, and this plate is successively changed for larger diameter ones until the required diameter is attained – from around 8 – 22 cm in diameter (3 – 9 inches). Once these plates have been secured, she receives a higher degree of respect than those without them, and is known as a ‘Bhansanai’.

These lip and ear plates need not be worn permanently, but are an expected adornment during special occasions such as during weddings and other celebrations, and when they serve food to men. Today, young women can generally make their own decision as to whether or not they follow this tradition.

B. The Masai People of Kenya

The practice of ear gauging has been common among Masai men and women for thousands of years. In recent years, however, most young men have not been following this custom, although you will still find many Masai women wearing ear decorations made from stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, wood and animal bones.

The original piercing is carried out using a thorn, sharpened twig or a sharp knife point. Once healed, ear gauging is then carried out by wearing increasingly heavy jewellery that pulls the lobe down and stretches the piercing. This is the traditional way of gauging ears in the more primitive cultures, although many Masai today will use proper ear gauging techniques, such as their own versions of insertion tapers or taper spikes. Beads are a common form of ornamentation, although plugs made from bone, tusks and wood are also used.

C. The African Fulani Tribe

Fulani women from Nigeria and Central Africa tend to use smaller diameter ear gauges, and decorate them using large gold domes or hoops carrying earrings. A Fulani child will have her ears pierced at around 3 years old, although they may not be stretched until she is older. The gauges used by Fulani women are relatively small compared to the Masai and Mursi, although the jewellery can be larger.

D. Asian Hill Tribes

Of the various hill tribes, the only two known to practice ear gauging are the Lahu from Thailand, and the Karen-Padaung (Longnecks) from Myanmar (Burma) and also the Phrae province in Thailand. That latter tribe are best known for their neck rings, offering the appearance of long necks, but both cultures believe the ear to be sacred and the more jewellery they can wear on the better. By gauging their ears, they are able to wear the maximum amount of jewellery they believe possible.

E. Mexican and Central American Civilizations

In Mayan and Aztec society, ear gauging was regarded as desirable for males. There are many Mayan representations of men with flares and ear plugs (ear spools) in gauged ears, and the material used was indicative of the social standing of the wearer. Jade ear plugs were worn by the higher classes, while the rest would use bone, stone, wood and other materials. In central Mexico, the craftsmanship of the Aztecs is evident in the ear gauging plugs and ornaments of gold and silver, though the lower classes would adorn their stretches earlobes with shells, copper and wood among many other imaginative materials.

Ear gauging has been carried out worldwide, and among other notable areas involved in this practice are Japan, where the Ainu used ear jewellery made from shells, bone and a ball and ring known as Ninkari. There are many other cultures worldwide where ear gauging was a part of their life, and even today many people regard ear stretching as a fashion statement and a way of expressing their own personality and individuality.

Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials

The most important thing to keep in mind after your body piercing has been performed is that you have essentially just sustained an open wound, and you should be caring for it exactly like you would a surgical wound or injury. That is, with the same kind of care, cleanliness and attention that you would to a serious injury to make sure that you don’t scar or get an infection. There are two different types of body piercings to consider: non-oral and oral.

Non-oral body piercing aftercare Keeping your piercing clean can’t be stressed too much! It just can’t. Twice a day, every day, without fail. No excuses. Use a mild antibacterial soap that doesn’t have fragrances in it, such as Provon® Antimicrobial Lotion Soap or Satin® Therapeutic Skin Cleanser, both of which are approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). The best place to clean your piercing is usually in the shower, where the warm water will help you loosen and remove those crusties around the base of your jewelry. Use a cotton swab or a Kleenex to remove these, and then throw the swab or Kleenex away. Never use a washcloth — these things are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria! The same for bath towels after your shower! Then, with clean hands, gently cleanse the area with the soap and turn the jewelry so that the soap gets in the piercing and let this sit for a minute or two. After rotating it again, rinse thoroughly with warm, clear water. Make sure you get all of the soap out to prevent irritation. The rinsing is very important, so try to be thorough without irritating the area. It often helps to cup your hands and drizzle water over the area, since the shower stream can be a little too hard to aim directly on the area. Don’t forget your sea salt soaks After cleansing, a sea salt soak helps to draw out any piercing infection and impurities while soothing the area and calming any inflammation that may be present. Mix about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Using a disposable cup, soak your piercing in this for ten minutes the first time, and five minutes each time after that. If your piercing is in a location that makes this difficult, apply the solution with cotton swabs, tissues or some other disposable product that’s soft and clean. Never use a hanky, washcloth or any other item that is going to be reused. Always pat your piercings dry with cotton balls, cotton swabs or tissues — don’t rub them, pat them. This reduces irritation and possible tearing of the skin and helps promote healing. Although it seems to be a minor step, keeping your piercings dry is actually an essential part of piercing aftercare because it reduces the opportunities for bacteria to breed (they love a warm, moist place to play). If you aren’t sure about mixing your sea salt soaks properly or it’s too inconvenient, there’s a new alternative on the market that’s less messy and is portable. H2Ocean® Piercing Aftercare Spray is a pre-mixed sea salt solution containing lysozyme, a natural antibacterial that is gentle to the skin. Simply spray it on the area and allow to drip dry; it’s easy to use because of their patent-pending compressed air delivery system that produces a fine mist. This product is guaranteed to heal navel piercings in only a month and a half if used regularly and is highly recommended by numerous piercing communities like BME and Prick magazine. H2Ocean® also comes in a portable size for your pocket or purse, which makes piercing aftercare away from home easier. X-pressions Piercing Aftercare Spray is also available for both oral and non-oral body piercings and is a mild antibacterial solution with purified water in a non-aerosol, pump spray with a pleasant, peppermint flavor. Once a day (not more often, because you’ll be unnecessarily irritating the area), check that the ends of your piercing jewelry are firmly screwed on. But wash your hands with antibacterial soap first. And now, a few “don’ts”

  • Don’t ever put hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a piercing — they are too drying and will delay healing.
  • Don’t ever use Neosporin on a piercing — it can actually trap bacteria. Read the label; it actually says, “Not for puncture wounds.” Guess what? A piercing is a puncture wound.
  • Don’t ever remove your piercing jewelry before the piercing is completely healed, which may take months or up to a year. If you suspect a piercing infection, see your piercing professional or doctor first.
  • Don’t sleep on your piercing until the initial healing phase is over.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing over your piercing during the initial healing phase.

Oral piercing aftercare During the first three to six weeks after an oral piercing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial agent after every meal to kill bacteria and make sure not tiny food particles aren’t lodged around your piercing just waiting to fester and turn into problems later. There are several excellent products on the market for this, including APP recommended Biotene and Tech2000 Dental Rinse; these have the proper ingredients and have the right potency to get the job done without being too strong. Don’t bother with mouthwash, because it’s not strong enough to do anything but cover your bad breath, which won’t be much consolation when you have a swollen, tender tongue because of improper aftercare. You can also use a commercial antibacterial rinse, but dilute it so that it isn’t too strong. If your tongue develops a whitish or yellowish look, your mouth rinse is too strong and will slow healing. Sea salt rinses … ahh! Mix the familiar warm water solution of 8 ounces water to ¼ teaspoon sea salt and swish this in your mouth for 15-20 seconds after drinking anything other than water and after smoking. It’s not only an aid to healing, but can be very soothing to the pierced area. If your oral piercing is sore or swollen, you can find some relief by allowing crushed ice to melt in your mouth. Popsicles, ice cream and the like also work, but will need to be followed up, like everything else, with a sea salt rinse (or H2Ocean®). Brush, brush, brush You can keep your tongue and piercing as clean as you want, but if you don’t brush your teeth well, you’ll still have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Try to brush your teeth three times a day during the first several weeks of healing. Buy a new soft-bristle brush that will be gentle on your piercing. Don’t use a brush that you’ve already used before your piercing, as it will harbor old germs. You should also gently brush the balls on the ends of your piercing jewelry to prevent the natural build-up of plaque on your jewelry. Oral piercing “don’ts”

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum or use snuff or rub during the healing period; these increase the risk of piercing infections astronomically.
  • Don’t play with the piercing jewelry or click it against your teeth; this can cause cracking of your tooth enamel.
  • Don’t engage in any activities, including kissing, that exchange body fluids during the initial healing period of several weeks.

General tips to improve healing success Proper piercing aftercare is the primary reason for a successfully healed body modification, but your overall health and how well you take care of yourself is also a contributing factor. If you are run-down or your immune system is compromised, you will not heal as quickly and you will be more prone to infection. For that reason, you should keep in mind a few things whenever you have any kind of piercing in order to help ensure that your piercing aftercare measures are given the best chance of success:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Eight glasses of day at the very least.
  • At least eight hours of sleep a night
  • Try to limit the amount of stress in your life
  • Vitamin C and Zinc supplements to help speed the healing process
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables, and a multi-vitamin if needed
  • If the pain bothers you, take Ibuprofen. If you are comfortable, you are less likely to fidget with the piercing.

Signs of trouble Even with excellent piercing aftercare, there will be some swelling at the site of a piercing for a few days. You’ll also have some clear, watery discharge and perhaps some mild bleeding. The bleeding will usually stop within 24 hours, while the discharge may last for several days or weeks. This is simply drainage of the wound and actually helps prevent piercing infection. Signs that the piercing is in trouble include:

  • Discharge that becomes noticeably thicker and is yellow or green in color. This is a sign or infection and should be checked by a doctor.
  • Inflammation that lasts longer than a few days, with redness and irritation. See your piercing professional or doctor.
  • Red streaks from the piercing site and a fever, along with body aches. See your doctor.
  • Hives, redness, itching and irritation around the piercing, which may signal an allergic reaction to the piercing jewelry. Your piercing professional can try replacing it with an alternative metal.
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing after your piercing, or a feeling that your mouth or throat are swelling closed. Seek emergency attention immediately!

So how long does all this healing take? If you perform your piercing aftercare properly, your body piercing will heal cleanly and leave you with a beautiful new piercing with no scarring, migration or keloids. The time it takes to achieve this, however, will vary depending upon what kind of piercing it is. The general timeframes listed below are just for reference. All of these depend upon your individual body’s response, how much stress you are under and a thousand other variables. Earlobe or Eyebrow: 6 – 8 weeks
Genitals: 4 weeks – 4 months
Labret/Lip: 6 – 8 weeks
Navel: 6 – 18 months
Nipple: 3 – 6 months
Nostril: 3 months – 1 year
Septum: 6 – 8 weeks
Tongue: 4 – 6 weeks
Cartilage: 3 months – 1 year Disclaimer: All piercing aftercare information provided herein is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a guideline for body piercing aftercare, but a starting point in making an informed decision concerning body piercing. If you have any questions or proceed with a body piercing, please be sure to discuss the procedure with a medical or piercing professional and get complete and clearly understood piercing aftercare instructions at that time. Evaluseek Publishing claims no responsibility for the accuracy of this content, which is based on the general consensus of the piercing community, which is constantly evolving and changing. This article on the “Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials” reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

Using Bitumen In Art

An ever-increasing amount of artists throughout the entire world are using bitumen as they are beginning to discover the many ways in which this medium can enhance their artwork.

What is bitumen? Bitumen can be described as a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid which is found in most crude petroleums as well as in some natural deposits, sometimes termed asphalt, it is thick and heavy and has to be heated or diluted before it will flow. The primary use of bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder for the aggregate particles.

Bitumen is often utilized in artwork in the following way: If you wish to add another layer of interest to your painting, try painting bitumen over the surface area, after which you can wipe back selected sections of the bitumen with turpentine, you’ll then see how the impressive effect can add another interesting dimension to your creation. I suggest that you use a test canvas first for experimenting, once you have achieved the desired effect and the look that best suits you then go forth and incorporate this amazing medium into your artwork, it will transform your art into something which is compelling and uniquely yours.

Bear in mind that bitumen could also be painted over various surfaces so for all those artists out there who love texture and layering, you will discover that this really is a fantastic medium to layer over a textured surface, for example: If you are using foil as a medium on canvas and you have painted the desired colour that you are wanting over the foil, you could then paint over the colour with bitumen, wipe it back with turpentine and see how bitumen can showcase the texture and once again add another level of interest and intrigue to your artwork.

The possibilities are endless and once you start experimenting with this particular medium you will begin to see how the many ways in which you are able to use it in art is merely limited by the imagination.