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Let the Royal Academy Summer Show Unleash Your Creativity

Running for nearly 250 years, the Royal academy Summer Show is the most democratic art exhibition in the world. In an otherwise rarefied atmosphere of exclusive galleries and elitist auctions, the Summer Show invites submissions from the public to make up almost half of the annual exhibition. Students, hobbyists and people famous in other fields (this year Harry Hill and Una Stubbs) have their work submitted anonymously to a panel who, at breakneck speed whittle down some 12,000 hopefuls to the final selection of 400, to join the work of established, invited artists.

The democratic nature of the event doesn’t stop there. Money raised from admission fees and from the sale of the works of art fund free places for students at the RA’s schools. We love this idea of encouraging everyone to have a go at being creative. It is there in all of us, we just sometimes need a little guidance to bring it out. To celebrate this we’ve put together some of our favourite ideas to get your creativity flowing:

Decoupage—the art of layering paper images onto a solid surface. Lord Byron was a fan and covered screens with images of another of his passions, bare knuckle boxing. Obviously not to everyone’s taste, but finding the images you like is part of the fun. The work is finished with layers of varnish, giving a warm, aged look, and giving the finished object strength, making it ideal for transforming furniture. Some of our vintage ceramic knobs would complement this style perfectly.

Block Printing—easily available, and one of the easiest forms of printing, either on fabric or solid surfaces. Many blocks will be Indian, with some amazing paisley patterns, or simpler, repeating batik styles. For a nice first project, how about block printing a length of wood about 15cm wide as a back board for some of our lovely new coat hooks?

Colouring In—don’t laugh, this is becoming a popular, therapeutic pastime for adults, and it works. If anyone has helped young children with their colouring books you will know how addictive this can be. And let’s face it, painting by numbers was always accepted by adults. Colouring in allows you to be far more creative, not being restricted to a colour guide. Good quality artist’s pencils are a joy to use, so get some key colours and a specialist colouring in book (check the Guardian newspaper who often run adult colouring in pages) and if anyone laughs at you doing it, give them a go, we guarantee they’ll get hooked too!

Back to the RA Summer Show, this year for the first time all of the exhibition is available online via the RA’s exhibition explorer https://se.royalacademy.org.uk so those that can’t make it this year can still get inspired for a summer of creativity.

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