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  • It's Carnival Time!

    January and February can feel long, cold and boring, especially for those of us who live in the colder climates.  That's why Carnival season is such a welcome celebration to break up the winter doldrums in northern climates and such an exciting time of year in warmer climates. I've channelled this theme in several of my sculptures and it's now one of the courses I offer in my in-studio and online workshops. You can find out more on my website at www.saracinocollection.com under "Open Classes", or for the online version through www.aforartistic.com

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    Available at Le Balcon D'Art www.balcondart.com

    Whenever we hear the word “Carnival” a few celebrations that come to mind include Rio de Janeiro, music and people dancing in colorful costumes and headpieces, or maybe Renaissance-themed dresses, powdered wigs and masks at the Venetian carnival. New Orleans famous Mardi-Gras is celebrated across North America. In Canada we have "Carnaval de Quebec" from January 27-February 12 and right here in the country's capital we have "Winterlude" from February 3-20th.

    But have you ever stopped to wonder, where does this celebration come from? Or, why do we celebrate it in the early months of the year? Here are a few fun facts  to help you understand this celebration better!

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    Available at www.saracinocollection.com

    Carnival season occurs before Lent and is traditionally held in areas with a large Catholic population. Lent is the six weeks directly before Easter and is marked by fasting, pious or penitential practices. Traditionally during Lent, no parties or other celebrations were held, and people refrained from eating rich foods, such as meat, dairy, fats and sugar. In the days before Lent, all rich food and drink had to be disposed of, so people threw a big party with the whole community to finish all of it. The celebration combined elements of a circus, a public street party and of course, masks. Some of the best-known traditions, including carnival parades and masquerade balls were first recorded in medieval Italy. The Carnival of Venice was, for a long time, the most famous carnival and considered to be the origin of Carnival.

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    "Arlecchino" Available at Studio 87 www.galleryongore.com

    From Italy, Carnival traditions spread to the Catholic nations of Spain, Portugal, and France. From France it spread to New France in North America. From Spain and Portugal it spread with Catholic colonization to the Caribbean and Latin America. (excerpts from latintimes.com)

    The exact origin of the name "Carnival" is disputed, but some state that the word comes from the Late Latin expression carne vale, which means "farewell to meat," signifying that those were the last days when one could eat meat before the fasting of Lent. The word carne may also be translated as flesh, so suggesting carne vale as "a farewell to the flesh," a phrase actually embraced by certain Carnival celebrants who encourage letting go of your former self and embracing the carefree nature of the festival. The last day of Carnival is "Mardi Gras"

    screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-2-14-40-pmThe six weeks of Lent in 2017 starts on March 1st. So between now and then is the time to celebrate "CARNEVALE"! And if you are feeling creative, sign up for my open in-studio workshop or the online class at www.aforartistic.com

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  • All About Polmer Clay

    When you think about sculpture you often think of two or three-dimensional forms carved in traditional mediums of stone or wood or cast in metal or plaster. My medium of polymer clay is still considered the new kid on the block. It's classified as a clay but contains no natural occurring clay minerals - it's actually polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the same material as the pipes under your sink. First developed in the 1930's it didn't make an appearance in the arts and crafts market until the 1980's. Originally snubbed as a fine art medium, polymer clay can now be found in major museums and galleries around the world.

    IMG_3468Polymer Clay is non-toxic and safe when used properly. It is a form of plastic and some people think of the term plasticizers and phthalates and naturally think of the health hazards associated with these chemicals. However in 2009 the US passed a law outlawing specific phthalates in children’s items. Because polymer clay is classified as a toy, the formulation was changed and phthalate esters were no longer used. Most polymer clay manufacturers had already switched to other plasticizers well before this date. Plasticizers are the chemical that is used to make a substance soft and pliable. Plastic is used in almost everything in our homes and offices and most plastics have plasticizers. Vinyl garden hoses, plastic dish ware and cutlery, your toothbrush, your shoes, even gum uses an edible version. But don't worry - today, modern plasticizers stay locked up inside plastic, making it safe.

    As with anything in life, it's a good idea to follow a few guidelines for the safest use of polymer clay. First of all don't eat it! As a matter of fact, don't eat anything that's not real food. Although it probably won't kill you, it's definitely not good for you. Don't eat off of it, either. Cured or uncured polymer clay should not come in contact with food in general. Cured polymer clay is too porous to be sufficiently cleaned which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you are using polymer clay to create pottery - remember - it is only for decorative display.

    Use tools or equipment that is dedicated to working with polymer clay. There are many kitchen tools that work really well with polymer clay like rolling pins, food processors, pasta machines and cake decorating tools. Once you've used it with clay, keep it out of the kitchen.

    Don't burn it! The temperature that it's baked at should never go above 275 degrees.  If polymer clay is overheated enough or accidentally burned, the PVC will break down and release toxic fumes so it's important that your oven temperature is correct. An oven thermometer is all you need to ensure your temperature is accurate. As long as clay is baked at the correct temperature, there are no "fumes" to worry about.  Never, ever use a microwave oven to bake polymer clay and don't use toaster ovens - the temperature fluctuates too much and the heat source is too close to the clay. You don't need a special oven, your regular kitchen oven is fine especially if you regularly clean it. It's okay to cure clay and bake food in the same oven, just not at the same time.

    IMG_0511There are so many things I love about this medium. It's an oil based product so it doesn't dry out. This means I can take my time working on a sculpture. I can create whimsical sculptures or add fine details for hyper realistic sculptures. I can play with skin tones and colours. It accepts paint. Once it's baked it's very strong. I can work in any size from miniature to life size. I've been classified as a Master Polymer Clay Artist, I guess mostly because I've been working with this medium for more than 20 years. My style and technique has improved and developed over the years. Some of my earlier work had a very primitive look, but with practice and persistance I've developed as a figurative artist. As per Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers", "You need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good." Even American rapper Macklemore wrote a hit song about it, rapping that "the greats weren't great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot." 

    If you are interested in learning more about polymer clay and trying your hand at sculpting, I offer several classes in polymer clay, from beginner to advanced.  Polymer Clay is so versatile - many jewelry artists use it to make intricate beads and patterns. You can use it to create molds or for stamping projects, card making, creating figures, figurines, action figures, fantasy etc. It even has commercial applications and is used to make decorative parts for furniture, picture frames and more. The possibilities of polymer clay are still being explored and people are coming up with unique and creative ways to use this medium. For a full list of available workshops visit my website at www.saracinocollection.com

    One last thing . . . in this day and age, plastics, polymers and resins are part of everyone's life, from our homes to our cars - from our clothes and personal products to our food containers. What is important is that we all take responsibility in how we use these products and how we dispose of them. Recycle . . . recylcle . . . recycle! Recycled plastic is now being used in innovative new ways like creating building blocks for the construction of homes.

    Sources: https://thebluebottletree.com/polymer-clay-safe/

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  • Art as a Tax Incentive

    I’m sure you’ve walked into an office and seen some beautiful artwork on the walls or sculptures in the lobby. Did you know that if you operate a business in Canada, buying original artwork qualifies as a tax deduction provided that certain criteria are met. Primarily, the artwork must have been created by a Canadian artist, it must cost over $200 and it must be displayed where it will be seen by clients.IMG_1122


    Some business owners rent art so that they can rotate and introduce different pieces throughout the year, and of course this can be used as a business expense, however investing in Canadian art can be even more beneficial from a tax point of view. Many companies take advantage of the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) to build their own private collections. If you’re a professional or business owner, you can purchase original Canadian art, immediately claim the HST then amortize the artwork over 3 to 5 years.

    IMG_9623This is definitely something worth talking to your accountant about. Not only would you be surrounding your work space with beautiful artwork and building a valuable asset for your business, but you would be supporting and encouraging Canadian artists. One more thing – don’t limit yourself to just paintings on the wall, add a few sculptural pieces and your office will cover all three forms of visual art.

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  • Creative Summer Fun!

    Screen shot 2016-06-22 at 1.59.32 PMThe kids are home for the summer. Are you looking for things you can do together to keep them busy without defaulting to television and electronics? Or maybe a little something for you to do to get away from it all. How about art classes in polymer clay? Polymer Clay is an ideal medium for both kids and adults – it doesn’t dry out until you bake it – there’s no mess, and you don’t need any special equipment – just your regular kitchen oven. It’s non-toxic, easy to use and a lot of fun.

    I’m offering four in-studio projects this summer. All four projects are 3 hour beginner classes and everyone leaves with a finished sculpture. All supplies and tools are included.

    Art classes are becoming more and more popular as a way of disconnecting from technology, calming our minds and rediscovering our creative sides. Space is limited so book soon, or get in touch about booking a private art party in your home. Put a group of six or more friends together and I bring everything to you.

    Get in touch via email at maria@saracino.ca or give me a call at 613-425-1729

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  • The Ultimate Selfie . . . A MINI !

    IMG_3985Historically an aristocratic tradition, today, getting your portrait done is more than an exercise in vanity it’s an opportunity to be a part of the artistic process. On Tuesday night, I unveiled a series of mini portrait sculptures interpreting the street fashion photography of Katie Hession from YOW City Style. Although easily recognizable, these 12-14″ figurative sculptures are also about capturing the personality and essence of the subject. Christened the YOW MINI, these little mini portraits are the Ultimate “Selfie”. This unique collaboration of art and street fashion made the evening a huge success.

     “Andy Warhol’s portraits in the 1960s mark the last time the genre ofIMG_4727portrature could have conceivably been called avant-garde—and yet the best portrait painters and sculptors are still highly sought after, charging massive sums, and commanding profound respect among the very wealthy. It’s a prolific segment of contemporary art that’s been hiding in plain sight for years.” James Tary, 2015 http://www.bloomberg.com

    Screen shot 2016-06-09 at 3.37.44 PMIMG_4730IMG_4725Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I am best known for my realistic yet whimsical figurative sculptures. I try to capture those everyday moments in time that feels familiar and that we can connect with on a personal level. My medium is polymer clay and textiles. I like to say that I channel Norman Rockwell’s illustrative style through sculpture. My usual portrait commissions are in the 20-24″ size and take anywhere from 30 to 50 hours to complete. However, the YOW MINI is a condensed, more affordable version. Only $500 they are the ultimate gift to mark those special birthdays, anniversaries or milestones, or simply . . . the ultimate “selfie” to celebrate you.

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  • The Thunderbird Project

    I want to share with you a project I will be working on over the next couple of months. It's called "Thunderbird" and it's a permanent installation at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa. I am excited and very honoured to be the Art Director of the installation. What's particularly special about this magnificent relief sculpture is that it will be a collaboration with you and anyone who supports the Wabano    Centre. Photo on 2016-03-03 at 16.05 #2 Together with Allison Fisher,  Director of Wabano, we have come up  with a woodlands inspired design that  represents the year of the Thunderbird.  The installation is a 3' x 8' relief sculpture  in polymer clay and wood. I'm holding a  maquette of the design in this photo and  below is another actual polymer clay  maquette. The  Thunderbird symbolizes  power and  provision, but also i  indomitable spirit and  transformation.

     The collaboration is a team effort between the Wabano staff, and  myself but also includes the general public and supporters of the  Wabano Centre. I will be teaching four art workshops at the  Wabano Centre, the dates and times are listed below. This is an  opportunity for you to participate in creating something beautiful  and a symbol of respect and support for Ottawa's Aboriginal  community. The cost is only $25. which includes the class and all s  supplies, a boxed lunch or dinner and a printed tutorial to take  home. If you enjoy participating in art nights or paint nites, this is a  great value and a great way to unwind, connect with friends and  have fun, all the while taking part in something spectacular. During  the workshop you will learn how to create a feather relief in  polymer clay in the colourful woodlands style. You will have the  opportunity to make at least two feathers, one to take home, the  other will become part of the art installation. Over 100 feathers will  be part of this wall sculpture! As a contributing artist your name  will be listed on the wall plaque as well as on all printed paper  merchandise. The installation will be officially introduced at the  "Igniting the Spirit" Gala, which takes place on June 21st. For  more information on the Gala please visit  http://www.wabano.com/events/wabano-events/igniting-spirit-  gala-2016/

    The workshops will take place at the Wabano Centre, located at 299 Montreal Road in Ottawa. Join us and be part of this inspiring art collaboration. To reserve your spot in one of the workshops please email me directly at maria@saracino.ca 

    Available Dates:

    Tuesday April 12 - 6pm to 9pm

    Saturday, April 16 - 1pm to 4pm

    Tuesday, April 19 - 6pm to 9pm

    Saturday, April 23 - 1pm to 4pm

     

    The meaning of the Thunderbird as a Native American symbol varies according to the tribe and geographic location.

    “Among the tribes of the Great Lakes, the Indians recognized supernatural spirits (Manitos) in all physical phenomena, animals, trees, rocks, or cosmic forces. Some dwelt in the sky, some on earth, underground, or underwater; some were helpful and others malevolent, such as ghosts, underwater monsters and cannibal ice giants (Windigos), and spirits were placated through prayers. Over all was a paramount deity, Kitchi-Manito, although this concept may be the result of Christian influence. Of major importance were the Sun, Moon, the Four Winds, the Four Directions, Thunder, and Lightning. Two great Manitos, the Thunderbird and the Underwater Panther, are dominant in Great Lakes mythology. The Thunderbirds were a class of spirits associated both with war, and with rain to nurture crops.” (Excerpt from North American Indian Tribes of the Great Lakes by Michael Johnson)

    Thunderbirds are the rulers of all airborne species. These manitos could bestow many blessings on human beings including success in war.  Thunder and lightning were created by the flashing of their eyes and the flapping of their wings, bringing the rain that made the earth fertile. Besides power and provision, other symbolic Thunderbird meanings include indomitable spirit and transformation.

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