The Best Basket-Weaving Kits and Supplies for Creating Beautiful Vessels

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If you’re looking for a new craft, consider basket weaving. Basket-making kits make it easy to get started, offering all the supplies and instructions you need in one neat package. Many people find weaving baskets to be calming, and it helps children develop dexterity and learn new skills. The best part, of course, is the final product, be it a simple kids’ creation or an impressive piece of home decor. Ahead, find our favorite basket-weaving kits, including challenging options, beginner favorites, and a few in between.

Traditional Crafts Coiled Basket Kit, Pine Needle
Many indigenous peoples such as the Chocktaw have long used pine needles to create strong and lightweight baskets. This kit includes the pine needles, binding raffia, steel needle, and coiling gauge needed to weave Read the rest

The Best Student-Grade Watercolor Pencils for Experimenting with a Malleable Medium

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Watercolor pencils are like colored pencils, only their pigments are water soluble, which means they will spread like paint when you wet them. This is a really fun medium, but it can offer a slight learning curve as you get used to loading water and applying pressure. If you’re relatively new to watercolor pencils or are on a budget, we suggest you purchase a set geared toward students. Student-grade pencils won’t offer the incredible colors or longevity of their professional-grade counterparts, but they are still highly capable and encourage experimentation with techniques like creating washes, working wet-into-dry, or vice versa. Get started with one of our favorite student-grade watercolor pencil sets, reviewed below.

General Pencil Kimberly Watercolor Pencils
General’s pencils sit at the top of our list Read the rest

Essential Books: 7 Noteworthy Surveys of Outsider Art

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Call it what you will—outsider art, folk art, visionary art, outlier art—but the artists associated with these overlapping and sometimes conflicting rubrics have two things in common: They are all visual autodidacts—self-taught, if you prefer—compelled for one reason or the next to create works of often astonishing impact. They also usually occupy a marginal place in society (sharecroppers, inmates, the developmentally disabled, self-proclaimed alien abductees, and so on). But this lack of education and fringe status are precisely the reasons why a certain aura has been conferred upon self-taught art as something unmediated by conventions, a direct expression of artistic insight free of cultural constraints. An overly romanticized bromide? Perhaps. But like all clichés, it possesses a kernel of truth that overrides whatever label you choose to use for … Read the rest

Jeff Koons Departs Gagosian, David Zwirner for Pace Gallery

Jeff Koons, the world’s most expensive living artist, has departed two major galleries that have long represented him and joined one of their competitors. In a surprise move, Koons will now be exclusively represented by Pace Gallery, which has permanent spaces in New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Palo Alto, and Geneva. He will no longer show with David Zwirner or Gagosian. The New York Times first reported the news on Monday evening.

Koons is widely known for his sculptures riffing on consumer objects and “low” art. Often containing a profane edge, these high-gloss works can be monumental in scale and have been known to command high prices. Koons’s auction record, set by the sale of his 1986 Rabbit sculpture in 2019, sits at $91.1 million. He has been the subject of numerous surveys and retrospectives, including one held at the Whitney Museum in 2014 that went on to travel … Read the rest

Artist Eric N. Mack on a 1971 Frank Bowling Essay About Black Art: ‘He’s Arguing for the Importance of Innovation’

For more than 50 years, Frank Bowling, who turned 86 this past February, has been making abstract paintings that not only push the medium in new directions but also fold in nuanced statements about colonialism, racism, and xenophobia. In the ’70s, Bowling was also known as a critic. For the April 1971 issue of ARTnews, he wrote “It’s Not Enough to Say ‘Black Is Beautiful,’” an essay that focused on the double standards to which black artists were regularly subjected. On the essay’s 50th anniversary, ARTnews enlisted Eric N. Mack, an artist in his mid-30s who works with abstraction, to look at the essay anew. “I feel like we should all feel lucky that Frank Bowling is still with us and showing, and not forgotten,” Mack said.

It is as though what is being said is that whatever black people do in the various areas labeled art is Art—hence Read the rest

Sotheby’s Auction Sets Record for 19th-Century Photography with Talbot Album

On Thursday, Sotheby’s set several artist records during an online auction devoted to major figures in photography. The sale, organized by auctioneers in New York and London, brought in a total of $4.38 million with buyer’s fees across 30 lots sold, realizing a 60 percent sell-through rate.

The top lot was a photographic album created by 19th-century British photographer William Henry Fox Talbot. Gifted by the photographer to his sister, Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford (née Feilding) in the 1840s, and passed by descent through the family, the collection is comprised of photographs and personal albums depicting scenes of Victorian Britain.

Six bidders competed for a trove of around 200 early photographs, moving the hammer price up to $1.6 million, with a final price of $2 million, four times its low estimate of $300,000. The winning bidder was dealer Hans R. Kraus Jr. The result set a new auction record for … Read the rest

For Soft Writing Days: Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil makes a bold claim in its name. Can one pencil really satisfy every single need? As John Steinbeck once observed, “A pencil that is all right some days is no good another day. . . . I have my plastic tray you know and in it three kinds of pencils for hard writing days and soft writing days.”

Equipped with a rich, B-hardness core, the Perfect Pencil might be best suited for those soft days, but Faber-Castell confidently calls it a “true all-rounder” for writers and artists. What makes this implement particularly notable is not just its ability to lay down silky-smooth, grit-free strokes but also its design: It’s equipped with a protective cap that doubles as a sharpener so a clean point is always immediately attainable. When flipped to cover the velvety eraser, the cap also extends the length of any pencil that’s worn down to … Read the rest

New Definitions: Kevin McNamee-Tweed at Steve Turner

Kevin McNamee-Tweed’s proclivity for the fragment and for small to very small formats can make his shows read like trails of clues. “Probable Presence,” an assemblage of nearly seventy works dated between 2019 and 2021, feels like an unspooling of partial disclosures, an aggregation of winks and nods. Throughout his drawings, paintings, and works in clay, McNamee-Tweed borrows words and images from vintage comics, art history, advertising, and other sources, replicating and repurposing each bit of material to archive wonders from the external world, and fashion an ongoing portrait of his domestic, psychic interior. Across media, he quotes and cheekily misquotes. One of his colored pencil drawings, Long Red Haired Woodpecker (2020), transforms a naturalist’s record of a hairy woodpecker into an incongruously sultry pinup by trading the bird’s distinctive red cap for a long, cherry-red tress. Another drawing, Blowing Bibbles of Sibbles (2020), recasts Chardin’s Soap Bubbles (ca. 1733–34) … Read the rest

Essential Tools: A Dozen Things Every Artist’s Studio Needs

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From ancient times until now, every artist has kept an assortment of necessary tools in his or her studio, and many of the objects found in contemporary work spaces would have been familiar to an artisan or craftsperson of medieval and Renaissance Europe or to a scholar-painter in ancient China. Just call to mind Ming dynasty painter Xie Huan’s Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden, with its image of an artist’s work table complete with brushes, a water container, and an inkstone. Despite the differences in ambience and setting, the functions of those implements were the same as they are today.

In our own era, tools for drawing or sketching are used by artists working in three dimensions as well as two. Inks and pigments, whether black or in … Read the rest

MOCA L.A. Senior Curator Resigns Over Museum’s Handling of Diversity Initiatives

One of the country’s most closely watched curators has resigned from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, accusing its leadership of being resistant to adhering to its commitment to diversity.

Mia Locks, who joined MOCA in July 2019 as senior curator and head of new initiatives, resigned from the institution late last month, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

One of the initiatives that Locks began at MOCA shortly after her appointment began was one devoted to IDEA, an acronym for inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. In an email from Locks to staff announcing her resignation on March 26, the curator said, “MOCA’s leadership is not yet ready to fully embrace IDEA,” according to the L.A. Times, which verified the email.

In an email to the L.A. Times, a MOCA spokesperson said, “We are working across our organization to fulfill our IDEA … Read the rest