Friday, July 26, 2013

Benefit auction for Wardensville Scholarship Fund Association

The painting I did for the Wardensville Scholarship Fund Association benefit is now on display in the lobby of Capon Valley Bank, along with information about making a bid on the painting, which will be sold at auction on Sept. 14 during the Wardensville High School Alumni Dinner. All proceeds from the auction will go to WSFA.

"Warriors Win" - 12"x12"
As usual, I have stressed mightily over this painting, particularly since it's being used for this public fundraising event. So far reactions have been positive. I hope that trend continues, and I hope the painting auction raises funds for WFSA.

One of the most complicated parts of this painting was the original drawing, particularly of the basketball net. Initially, I tried to draw each strand...and ended up getting really confused. So I started over, and instead concentrated on drawing the spaces between the strands -- essentially breaking it down into a bunch of abstract shapes. That approach worked. I suppose it's the same as when you draw upside down, or in reverse, to trick your brain into focusing on raw shapes, rather than what the brain thinks it is seeing.

The other difficult part was in the development of the painting itself, as I kept battling the balance between the foreground and background elements. I used contrast and edge sharpness/softness as my main design tools in this battle. I'm still not sure how successful I have been, but in time I'll have a better sense of it. It's difficult to assess a painting when it's still under your nails and in your dreams.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Copyright and trademark: A guide for artists

I'm been very conscious of legal issues in relation to art since the beginning. I had a high school teacher who told us that the safest thing we could do regarding reference materials for paintings was to stick to images we photographed, rather than using others' photographs.

I've followed that advice every since.

I once did a painting, also while in high school, that was based on a photograph I had taken of a bunch of vintage items stored in a cousin's barn. Among the items was an old Pepsi sign. I really liked the painting, but I always wondered if I should have included the Pepsi sign.

In recent years, I've read about controversies at large national and regional watercolor shows concerning entries that utilized stock photographs as sources. I've also read about the plagiarism controversy and lawsuit regarding the Associated Press and artist Shepard Fairey, who designed the famous HOPE poster from the 2008 presidential campaign, based on an AP photograph of Barack Obama. You can read about the settlement between Fairey and the AP here and about the related criminal proceeding against Fairey here.

So I took note when I read on artist Carrie Waller's blog that she recently had a painting rejected from a show because the show organizers were concerned that her inclusion of iconic canning jars infringed on the manufacturer's trademark rights. Read about her account of the painting's rejection on her blog:

"Anticipation" by Carrie Waller
Image used with the artist's permission.
In a follow-up to that post, Carrie made contact with another artist, Kim Minichiello (  and, who is familiar with such legal issues because of her experience with art licensing. Kim subsequently wrote two guest blog posts on Carrie's site that explain copyright and trademark issues as they pertain to artists.

I heartily suggest that all artists should educate themselves on these important issues, and the posts on Carrie Waller's blog by Kim Minichiello are a great place to start!

To learn more, click through the links below:

To learn about

To read about

I also encourage everyone to look at Carrie and Kim's respective websites. They are both fine watercolorists! I also thank Carrie and Kim for allowing me to share their information on my blog.