Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Feature: Kim Minichiello

"Bird's Eye View" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello

Hi Everyone,

I have a fabulous Friday Feature today:))  If you've been reading my blog lately Kim has been a guest on my blog.  She filled us in on very important information about trademarks and copyrights.  So today I wanted to show you her fabulous works of art.  

To see more of Kim's work visit her website and blog

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

Since I was little, I can remember drawing or doing creative things.  My mom was a big influence, we always had a garden in the summer and I learned a lot about plants and horticulture.  She is an excellent cook and instilled in me a passion for food and cooking.  We also did a variety of needlework; sewing, knitting, and embroidery.  I feel all of these things are artistic endeavors, and I’m so glad I was exposed to them. 

I went to Purdue University, and received a degree in Environmental Design, which is Interior Design with an emphasis on architecture.  I took as many art classes as I could and was exposed to and became interested in textiles. I worked at a design firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, while attending college, and got a good foundation there in sketching and rendering interiors.  As a designer, I felt it was important to be able to illustrate your designs and ideas.  

Two years after I graduated from college, I got a job at Walt Disney Imagineering and became an Imagineer.  They were designing Disneyland Paris and I was part of that design team.  While working at Disney, I still pursued my interest in textiles and created one of a kind garments, home furnishings, and children’s clothing after my daughter was born. I also studied drawing and painting at The Art Center College of design, with artist Mark Strickland.   At that time, I decided to continue my relationship with Imagineering on a freelance design basis, to pursue other endeavors.  One of those was art licensing.  I co-founded a design studio with one other designer, where we created digital art for the art licensing market.  

In 2007, my family and I had the opportunity to move to Hong Kong.  Until that time, most of the painting I had done was for interior or architectural rendering or illustration, or all digital. I always wanted to live in Asia and was so inspired by my surroundings that I started painting for my own enjoyment. I met some artists there who I am still friends with, who taught and inspired me.  I also started plein air painting in both oil and watercolor in Hong Kong. Shortly after our time in Hong Kong, we moved to Paris, France for a few years.  I had worked and lived there previously, but this time I become a self imposed student of art, visiting museums, painting and sketching as often as I could and have continued to this day.

Where were you born?

I was born and grew up in a small town, Logansport, Indiana which is about 75 miles north of Indianapolis.  
"Tai Guardian" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
If you could live anywhere where would you live?

This is  tough because I have traveled and lived in some amazing places.  To be honest, I love where I live now in Florida. I live in Windermere, in the Orlando area.   I love tropical climates and Hawaii is also one of my favorites.  One thing I do miss though, is being able to walk to places as I did living in cities like Hong Kong and Paris. Here in Florida I pretty much have to drive everywhere.  I’m also a museum junkie and miss living in an area where there are a number of major art museums close by to visit regularly.  If there was a place like I live now, where I could walk for shopping and dining and have a major art museum or two near by, that would be perfect!  Anyone know where that is?

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

Right now I love painting things relating to Asian cultures. Even before living there I have had an affinity for them. I really enjoyed and was inspired by my experience of living in Hong Kong and traveling to Mainland China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Nepal.  The things that I saw and experienced in all of these locations really speak to me when I’m working on a painting. Through my paintings I am immediately taken back there and I can recall many wonderful memories.    

Could you talk about your painting techniques?  

I paint watercolor and oil, recently, I’ve been focusing more on watercolor so I’ll talk about that.  I’ll either use a photograph from my travels, or a plein air sketch as inspiration.  I’ll think about the subject for a while, what drew me to it, and design the painting in my head to get an idea of where I’d like to go.   I might use a number of photos for inspiration to come up with the final design.  I sometimes use Photoshop as a tool to work out design, size and composition or will sketch out my ideas on paper.  Then I’ll draw out the design on the watercolor paper, I really enjoy this process too.  Sometimes I’ll work out a color palette ahead of time and other times, I’ll dive right in.  I paint either wet on wet, or wet on dry or wet on moist to get the desired effect I want.  I’m not really a glazer, I like more direct painting to get in and get it done.  I pay close attention to value, hard and soft edges, and color temperatures next to each other. With watercolor, I try to have somewhat of a plan when I paint each area, but I also try to be spontaneous, and let the paint do what it wants, that’s the beauty of watercolor!  I find it to be a challenge and somewhat of a mind game to be in control and be intuitive and spontaneous at the same time.  That’s what I love about this medium.   I put my painting up and stand back from it often to make value judgements, especially when I’m working big.  The final phase I call the tweaking phase, where I’ll push and pull value and add details.
"Mayan Gate" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Once I took a color theory workshop with Pat Weaver, and have since used a more limited palette and mix more of my color. The three primaries I use most are, Aureolin Yellow, Permanent Rose and Cobalt or French Ultramarine blue.  That being said, I still can’t help having at my disposal a variety of other colors I’ve learned to like.  But, I usually mix my colors.   Indigo, Quin. Burnt Orange, and Quin. Yellow seem to creep into most of my paintings.

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

This is hard, there are so many but I’ll try to be brief!  I would have to say first my family is a huge inspiration to me.  My husband is a designer, artist, and plein air painter, and my daughter is an actor and performing artist.  I’ve learned so much about painting and the theatre from them.  I love that my husband and I share the same passion and he is so supportive of my art career.  As far as workshops, my friend and fellow artist in Hong Kong, Isabelle Lim, was a huge inspiration, taking a watercolor workshop with her, I got that light bulb or aha moment where I really started to understand watercolor and fell in love with it. Likewise for Janet Rogers, where I  learned to stretch myself and paint more spontaneously and loose.  Last year at the Florida Watercolor Society convention, I took Nicholas Simmons’ workshop, and he inspired me to paint big, which I’m really enjoying.

As far as favorite artists, I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit museums all over the world and study and see in person a variety of amazing work.  Whenever I stand in front of a: John Singer Sargent, oils and watercolors, Joaquin Sorolla, Edouard Manet, Edouard Vuillard, Franz Bischoff, Edgar Payne, and most of the French Impressionists, to name a few, my heart skips a beat!

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

I think first and foremost my family and watching my daughter become the creative, talented, independent person she has become.   Starting my creative career as a designer and my time with Walt Disney Imagineering, I’ve had the opportunity to work on almost every Disney Park and travel all over the world either doing research for projects or living where the parks were being built as part of the installation and design team.  A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to design the stained glass windows as part of the castle suite for Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom.  Most Imagineers can’t say that they have had the opportunity to work on a Disney Castle!  Even though I have been painting a number of years for my own enjoyment, I just recently put myself and my work out there to start my fine art career.  In just a years time, I have gotten juried into Florida Watercolor Society, Central Florida Watercolor Society, Women Painters of the Southeast, and Georgia Watercolor Society’s Annual Exhibitions, all on my first attempt.  I’m very proud of that and feel honored to be in the company of so many talented artists.
"Lion Dance" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
  1. Have my work juried into one of the biggies, NWS, AWS, and International Shows in China and Europe, and win an award in a juried exhibition.
  2. Teach, possibly do a workshop in France, and make many new wonderful artist friends.
  3. Write a book or get published.
  4. Continue to travel the world and paint and live internationally again.
  5. Do a plein air event.
  6. Judge or curate an art exhibition.
  7. Have my art bring enjoyment to people, make them stop and look at things in our amazing world in a different way, and acquire a number of collectors so that my art will go to good homes.
  8. Stay healthy and continue to paint as much as I can.
Sorry that’s more than 5 but you said to dream big!

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Show up and paint, don’t make excuses that you aren’t good enough or why you can’t paint that day, etc.  Paint and get to know the medium you enjoy working with. Play and try different techniques and methods, make some discoveries until you hone in on the methods and materials you prefer.  Be a perpetual art student, read magazines and books on all aspects of painting, and study works of other master artists. Try to discover why you are you drawn to their work?  Take workshops or classes from artists whose work you admire.  I have never taken a workshop where I didn’t have some take away that I use in my painting practice.  If your goal is to get into juried shows.  Don’t give up, we all get rejections.  Judging can be subjective, even Nicholas Simmons said at the critique for last year’s FWS Exhibition, if he had judged the show on any other given day that the award results may have been different.  

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Two recent things come to mind and are resonating with me.   I attended Lori Putnam’s demo at the Women Painter’s of the Southeast Exhibition, she was also the judge for the show.  She said while judging she would be looking for paintings that were painted from the soul versus the ego.  That really made me stop and think.  I took this to mean that if we as artists have a personal connection to our subject matter, our personalities will shine through our work.  When I am connected to my subject matter I enjoy the painting process a lot more and I feel the end results are better. In other words, paint what you love and enjoy the process.

The other piece of advice, I just read in the current issue of Plein Air magazine.  Ken Auster says, “Teachers keep telling you to paint 100 pictures, as a way to get better and find your style.  I’m here to tell you 100 bad paintings won’t get you anywhere.  Effort without critical thinking, will just perpetuate bad painting.  Hard work has to be combined with reading art books, looking at museum paintings, studying with good teachers and honest criticism from yourself and from others with more experience.” 

You have owned your own company and delved into the world of art licensing, where you worked with over 35 manufacturers, Target, Stein Mart, etc. Can you talk about your experiences with this?

I worked with one other designer and a licensing agent.  Analyzing trends in the current market place, I created art using Photoshop and Illustrator, sometimes using vintage imagery.  Compiling different themed collections that could be licensed for a wide variety of products, by a variety of manufacturers my art was used on, home furnishings, textiles, decorative accessories, and stationary to name a few.  The products made by the manufacturers were sold in some of the stores you mentioned.  I would get royalties, that you share with the agent if you are working with one,  from the products that sold.   In the licensing world royalty percentages can be small, you have to have quite a few contracts and sell a large quantity for a substantial income.  It helps if you have that one image or style that really resonates with the marketplace.
"Joss Sticks" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
You worked for Walt Disney Imagineering, what was that like?

It was great on so many levels.  First I met my husband there! :-)  I got hired during the design phase of Disneyland Paris for Discoveryland and Main Street, and got a chance to meet and work with some of the classic artists, designers, and authors that knew and worked with Walt Disney, Herb Ryman, John Hench, Bill Evans, Frank Armitage, and Marty Sklar. I had the opportunity to see a lot of Disney art.  Dorothea Redmond’s, watercolors for one, are amazing.  It was inspiring and energizing to be surrounded by so many creative and talented artists and designers.   We had the opportunity to take art classes to keep up painting and drawing skills, attend guest lectures and events at the studio. I loved Disney before working there, but I came to appreciate Disney history and the legacy of Walt Disney even more.  I learned to incorporate storytelling into design, paying close attention to and incorporating elements down to the tiniest details. Mainly, I did interiors for shops, restaurants and attractions. During some projects, I had the chance to design custom furniture, hardware, fabrics, drapery trimmings, and wallpapers for various projects.  Working on Animal Kingdom, the design team would go on research trips to Asia, to immerse ourselves in the culture, and photo document countries we visited to help us to re-create similar environments in the park.  We would also seek out and work with local artisans and craftsmen to create elements that would eventually be part of the overall design. One highlight for me, was working with Disney Artist, Frank Armitage, who was a background artist for Jungle Book and Sleeping Beauty, designing murals for Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom. Overall, it was hard work, with many long hours, but a once in a lifetime experience.

How did you get involved with creating textiles?

In college one day I passed a room with floor looms and padded tables for silk screen printing and was curious, so I took the class.  I enjoyed the silk screening process and while I worked in Indianapolis, I approached an Indiana artist, Marilyn Price, who did textile work creating large wall hangings incorporating silk screen printing, hand painting and quilting.  I became her apprentice for a number of years, and we are still friends today!
"Lotus Nocturne" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello


Chocolate or vanilla?
I assume you are talking about ice cream, so it would be both swirled together. But, I love pure dark chocolate!

Your dream vacation spot?
The next great place I haven’t been, or someplace tropical, or somewhere beautiful or culturally stupendous to inspire me to paint!

Book or movie?
I love both!  But, I would have to choose books, because they don’t make movies of art books!  With books, I can seek out and read whatever I’m interested in!

Favorite author?
This is hard... I read a lot, more non fiction than fiction.  My favorites are history relating to various cultures, travel, historical fiction, books about artists, and all my art mags!

Favorite movie?
I love old classics, but two of my favorites that are more current are Lost in Translation, and Midnight in Paris.  I also love period dramas, like the Merchant Ivory films, and documentaries on art, artists and designers.   I also really enjoy Wes Anderson’s movies, my two favorites are Moonrise Kingdom, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, and of course, Disney and Pixar movies.  

Romance or comedy?
A period drama with both romance and comedy.

Favorite dessert?
Rhubarb Pie

Night owl or morning person?
For productivity, late morning.  My favorite time of day is early evening, dusk, or in France aperitif hour!

Such a fascinating interview.  Thank you so much Kim:))

Have a great weekend everyone!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Spin the Bottle and Emerald City

"Emerald City" 11" x 14" watercolor by Carrie Waller BUY NOW 

"Spin the Bottle" watercolor by Carrie Waller BUY NOW
Thought I'd feature a couple of paintings today.  I'm getting closer to painting as our house is on it's way to being unpacked.  We had our first company this weekend, we had a few hiccups, some things still packed away that haven't been found, but we'll get there:)


Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Feature: Elizabeth Floyd

"Still Life with Sunflowers and Apples" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd

Today I have a wonderful feature, Elizabeth Floyd.  I found Elizabeth's work through blogging a few years ago.  I have followed her since I first saw her beautiful still life paintings.  Since that time she has had a beautiful little girl and it has been fun to see how that journey has had an impact on her art.  I'm sharing her artist's statement below:

As an artist, I am inspired to share my fascination with others, developing scenes that evoke emotion, spur a remembrance, and find a way to communicate an observed detail.  I view the process of painting as an opportunity to display layers of contemplation; each layer representing design fundamentals that, when combined, become a cohesive message.

When composing and painting a work of art, I search for two aspects important to me.  The first is to determine the sense of meaning conveyed in the individual objects of a scene.  The second is to explore how the composition can harmoniously communicate a combined, deeper sense of meaning when the whole is composed together.  It is this process of investigation and discovery that draws me in and inspires me to paint.

To see more of her work visit her blog and website. 

"Summer's Bounty" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd
 How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?
It has been a circuitous route in becoming an artist.  For years it was a very deep and hidden secret I nurtured, not sharing it with anyone because I grew up in a family that acknowledged my artistic bent, but did not encourage it. They wanted me to pursue a more practical career… so I have a business degree, that I have never used directly, and I went on to get a Master’s in Architecture degree as well.  This was the closest thing to a fine arts degree I was brave enough to go after when I was in my early twenties.

After grad school, I moved from Texas to DC, to start anew in a place where I knew no one.  I wanted to see what would happen.  Within a year of moving to DC, I met my now husband, and within a year and a half we had married, but it took almost two more years before I shared with him that deep in my heart I really wanted to be an artist, not the architect I was.

The loving and supportive man that he is, he asked how this career shift might be accomplished.  I had just turned 30, and for the first time in my life I had shared this most precious dream, and the most wonderful thing was that it was encouraged!  So I began taking classes at the local art league, mostly figurative classes because I liked how rigorous they were, constantly asking more from me.

Over the next five years, I took classes, started my blog, and painted during every free moment I had.  We also began to cut back on luxuries and saving up, so we would be able to adapt to the day when I left architecture.  Then in just under five years from the time I shared my secret, I made the transition to art, and I have never looked back.

Where were you born?
I was born in Texas, but now call Northern Virginia home
"Autumn Reflections" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd
 If you could live anywhere where would you live?
I live where I want to live, Northern Virginia

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
I have to say whatever I am painting at the moment is my favorite thing to paint, however I do favor still life and landscapes.  I am inspired to capture the sense of beauty found in my subject.  My goal is to share this interpretation of beauty found in the scenes and objects that populate my life, hopefully speaking to others and encouraging them stop and pause, and maybe appreciate a detail that would normally be overlooked.

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 
I like to paint in a thoughtful, deliberate way.  I work in a very direct wet into wet manner, however I also believe that the beauty of working in oil paints is to take advantage of the medium and to paint in lots of layers. 

Some of my favorite paintings will be worked on over a series of painting sessions, sometimes for two weeks, and sometimes with months between sessions, thus allowing the painting to develop.  Some paintings just need that time to breath.  With each new layer of paint, a quality of depth is achieved, making for a more rich viewing experience. 
"Still Life with Crabapples, Hydrangea and Canning Jar" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I do not have any go-to colors or paints, I use a large palette of colors, 2-3 whites, and then typically I have 30-35 colors squeezed out on the palette for every painting session.  Because I try to paint every day, paint is hardly ever wasted.

Each color has its use, I often select a paint for a particular passage based on what I need at the specific moment, is a transparent or opaque paint required, does it need to be warm or cool in color temperature.  So I find it to be very important to understand all the characteristics of the paint on my palette, as it helps inform my decisions.
"Lemon and Silver Cup" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd
Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I have so many favorites, all for different reasons, but at this moment I have to say Franz Hals.  I just love his control, his sensitivity to his sitters, and the amazing bravado brush handling.  It looks so controlled however if you step close to his work, you see how impressionistic his technique was. 

What have been some of your crowning achievements?
It may not be directly related to art, but I have to say having my first child last year is something I am most proud of.  She has made me a better person, and as a result I think my work has evolved also.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
Hmmm, there are a lot of things I want to accomplish in life… They all seem to revolve around art and family…  1) I want to make sure I always grow as an artist, never stop exploring and learning how to better express myself.  2) And then there is the desire to better balance the demands of caring for my family while also wanting to be in the studio painting.  3) Along with my desire to teach my daughter to be an engaged little person, recently I have had a strong urge to start teaching workshops.  So this is my big dream for 2013, I want to teach some still-life painting workshops.  4)  And if the local workshops go well, I would love to then graduate to teaching workshops in beautiful and exotic places like in the Bahamas, Mexico, or Belize… somewhere warm, tropical, and full of color.  How fun would it be to paint all the tropical flowers and fruit found in one of these locations!  …5)  Oh, I cannot really think of another thing, I just want to keep things together and make the most of the daily moments that make life so special.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Be true to yourself, ALWAYS!

And while always listening to yourself, be willing to study and emulate great artists.  Strive to copy a masterpiece or the techniques of an admired instructor, because you will learn tons by trying to paint like another, you will be learning the craft of art making by deductive reasoning which asks so much more of you.  By learning all you can and becoming so proficient with the medium you predominately work with that it becomes second nature, you will be free to express yourself with ease.   Enabling you to follow your own path with the skills picked up along the way.
"Petunias II" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
Slow down and really look at what is in front of you.  Slow down and work in small areas if that is what it takes for you to understand the details.  As you get better at seeing, you will be able to absorb larger areas at a time.  Slow down and enjoy the process, don’t think of a painting as a race, something that needs to be completed in an hour, a day, or even a week, allow the experience to be your guide.
"Posy of Flowers" original oil painting by Elizabeth Floyd
Chocolate or vanilla?  Vanilla

Your dream vacation spot?  A warm sunny beach with crystal clear and turquoise water

Book or movie?  Book

Favorite author?  Anything by Jane Austin

Favorite movie?  We are entering the Christmas season, and I love to watch “Nightmare before Christmas” this time of year

Romance or comedy?  I like rom-coms, hence why Jane Austin is my favorite author…

Favorite dessert?  Chocolate chip cookies with homemade vanilla ice cream

Night owl or morning person?  Night owl turned into a morning person

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Copyrights, everything an artist needs to know

"Hopper" watercolor by Carrie Waller

Today's guest blogger Kim Minichiello is discussing copyright issues. Last week she covered trademarks and it is important to know the difference.  There is a lot of great information in this post that every artist should read about.  I've sprinkled a couple of my paintings in that I questioned about copyright issues.

Without further ado here is Kim,

When Carrie and I were conversing on Facebook about the trademark issue with the Ball Jars in her painting, she posed a question that related more to copyright than trademark, so I will be addressing it in this article.  First, let’s start with the basics.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is a form of protection to authors of “original works or authorship” including artistic, dramatic, musical, literary, architectural and certain other types of intellectual works.  Any of the above types of original works would be the “intellectual property” of the artist, author, etc.  

The work must be original and be in fixed tangible form of expression.  Among those things which are copyrightable are: pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, dramatic works, pantomime and choreographed works, motion pictures and audiovisual works, sound recordings, computer programs, and architectural works.  

Items that are generally not copyrightable include works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression, for example; names, short phrases and slogans, variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, or, lists of ingredients.  Some of these, as discussed in my previous article, can be protected by trademark.

How is copyright protection obtained?

A tangible original work is copyrighted the moment it is created. In other words, it is protected the moment it is expressed in a fixed format.  The fixation doesn’t have to be directly perceptible as long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device, for example music or movies.  Publication is no longer required for statutory copyright protection, however in order to enforce a copyright, the work must be registered in the U.S. Copyright Office.  What this means is, if you wanted to file a copyright infringement suit against someone who violated your copyright, you would have to have registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Essentially, you are always protected, however you must register to pursue any legal course of action if your copyright was violated.

This can get quite expensive to register your work.  Here is the link that breaks down the fees for registration: (Some fees are lower if you do it on line.)  However, I have heard of some artists grouping their works into collections and protecting many images for the same fee.  For example, if you had created a book in Blurb of your work you could register the book and I believe all the images in the book would be protected.  This way you are only paying one fee for several images.

Notice of Copyright, is my work still copyrighted if I don’t indicate it is with the word copyright before my name or the symbol, ©?  

Yes, there was a law passed in the United States that no longer requires you to add a copyright notice for works first published on or after March 1, 1989. Your work is still copyrighted, however, it is highly advisable to indicate a notice on your work, especially in this digital age.  Works published before March of 1989 still require a notice to be protected. 

What is a copyright notice?

A copyright notice generally consists of three elements, all of the elements must appear together:

  1. The symbol, © (the letter “C” in a circle), and/or the word “Copyright,” or the   abbreviation, “Copr.” 
  2. The date of first publication
  3. The name of the owner of the copyright in the work. 

The year may be omitted from certain works.  I feel many artists don’t like to include the year in their notice one reason being, if you have a body of work for sale, it easily identifies which pieces are older and may not be as appealing to buyers.  Therefore, you could probably omit the year in your notice.  If you were to register the work, the year would be in the registration.
"The Night Before Christmas" watercolor by Carrie Waller
Where should I put my notice on my work?

This is personal preference.  Some put it directly as part of their signature on the front of the work.  If you don’t do this then you must put it on the reverse side for 2D work or on the bottom for 3D work.  I have also read or heard a lot of back and forth discussions on whether you should include what is called a watermark copyright notice on any images you would post on line and put on your web site, blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., again, this is personal preference.  Same artists feel it detracts from the work and don’t use it.  Some want it to be very obvious by placing it in the middle of the image, or across the whole image, and some use a discreet mark in a corner or bottom of the image.

Ownership of Copyright

The copyright of a work immediately becomes the property of the artist who created it.  You may allow others to use your work with your permission in writing, or through a licensing agreement, or if you choose to, you can transfer your copyright but this must be done in writing.  If you do commissions, technically this could be considered a “work for hire,” which means the person is hiring you to do the work, and it is considered the employer, not the employee who would own the copyright.   Therefore, it would be a good idea to stipulate in your written agreement that you still own the copyright to a commissioned work.   You may be okay, however, giving the copyright to the person who commissioned you to do a painting, or maybe adding an extra amount to the price of the work to cover what you feel your copyright is worth could be a solution, if the person commissioning the painting would like to own the copyright.  

It also may not be clear to collectors who purchase your work that they own the original artwork but you still own the image, and have the right to use that image if you wanted to sell prints of it or use if for licensing.  

Many people don’t understand this and feel that once they own your artwork they can use it for other purposes other than it hanging on their wall and this is not the case.  For example, say someone buys a floral painting from you and they think it would be a perfect image to use on their daughter’s wedding invitations and thank you cards.  They do not have the right to do this without your permission and if they did it would be an infringement of your copyright.  However, you could work out an agreement where they could pay you a fee to use your image for that purpose.  This is essentially what licensing is all about, but that is a whole other topic!  

How long does a copyright on a work last?

For works by individual authors or artists, the term of copyright is the life of the creator, plus 50 years after his or her death.  The term for copyright for works for hire is 75 years from the first publication, or 100 years from creation whichever is longer.

So you may be wondering, if I can’t bring legal action against anyone unless I register the mark why go to all the trouble to indicate the notice on my work or register it with the U.S. Copyright office?

By putting the mark on your work you are making it clear to anyone that sees it that you are aware of, an own the copyright to your work.  If there was ever a question that some one violated your copyright, they couldn’t pose a defense of innocent infringement.  Your mark is clearly there.  It is sad but registration is not a condition of copyright protection, but it does have some benefits and one can register anytime within the life of the copyright.  The benefits are:

Establishes a public record of your copyright claim.
It is necessary for any infringement suits.
If made before or within 5 years of publication it establishes a presumption in court as to the validity of the copyright.  
If made within 3 months after publication and prior to infringement, statutory damages and attorney fees are available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise the copyright owner may try for only actual damages and profits.  

I know this article is getting long, but I feel this is an important topic and I wanted to be sure to address Carrie’s question which was, “What about if you use another person’s art as part of your composition, for example, a still life with a postcard of another artists work or a book that has illustrations incorporated into the piece.”  This question touches on the subject of fair use. Fair use is a limitation in copyright law that allows someone to use a copyrighted work for certain purposes, such as criticism or parody, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research.  There are also 4 factors considered to determine if a particular use is fair.  They are:

  1. The purpose for the use, is it intended for commercial or educational purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
  3. The amount of the copyrighted work used for your purpose related to the original copyrighted work as a whole.
  4. The effect of its use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

There is a lot to think about and consider here.  The distinction between fair use and infringement is not clearly defined and is more than likely determined on a case-by-case basis.  

Carrie could use another person’s art, as part of her composition be it a post card or a book that has an illustration as part of her piece and claim fair use, but there are things to consider relating to the 4 points above.  

  1. If Carrie would be creating her work to sell then yes, it would be for commercial purposes.  In the case of the book, the purpose of her using the book in her work is different than the purpose of the book itself, same with the postcard.
  2. The nature of the postcard or book is important, the year it was created is a factor, is it still a viable image in the current market place and is the original copyright owner still making money from it. If so then they wouldn’t want someone else using it and making a profit from it.  Is the copyright of the image still current or has it been renewed if necessary to still be protected?  If not, then it would be safer to use it. It may even be in the public domain, better yet.
  3. How much of the original postcard or book/illustration would appear in Carrie’s piece?    The less that is used in relation to the whole, then it’s a better argument for fair use.
4. For a book, the copyright would be for the book, Carrie isn’t making money off the author’s story, she is just painting a picture of the book itself.  For the postcard, she isn’t reproducing the card, and selling it as a card, she is painting a picture of the card in her painting.  Therefore, in my opinion, she wouldn’t be harming the copyright owners market.  

There really isn’t a cut and dry answer to Carrie’s question.  But, if Carrie considers the factors for fair use and does some research regarding current status of ownership of the copyright and proves “due diligence” in seeking information about the original copyright owner then she would be safer.   Or she could even ask for permission from the original owner to use these items in her work.   

A recent case involving fair use is the case between artist Shepard Fairey and The Associated Press and his use of their picture of President Obama for the HOPE poster he created.  I’m not going into the specifics in this article but if you are interested, you can research this topic on the Internet.  It is interesting!

Another thing to keep in mind is that other countries don’t have the same copyright laws that we do in the United States.  I am basing information in this article on U.S. copyright information.

In summary, copyrights protect the work of artists, authors, and designers.  Most artists do not have the resources nor would want to spend the time to register all of their work, however your work is still protected. Taking someone to court for infringement of copyright can be a very expensive endeavor and may not be within your financial means.  However, you still have protection.   If you find that someone is violating your copyright you can ask that they cease and desist using your image for their purpose and inform them that you are the copyright owner.  The bottom line is, it isn’t fair for someone other than the original author or artist to make any monetary gain or claim authorship on work that isn’t theirs.  If you would like to use the works of others in your own work, claiming fair use, either ask permission if it’s relevant, or show due diligence in searching and coming to the conclusion that it’s okay. 

I want to thank Carrie for giving me the opportunity to post these articles and I hope that I have helped clear up any questions that fellow artists may have had regarding copyrights and trademarks.  If anyone has anything to add or would like to start a discussion, feel free to contact me or make a comment on my blog or Carrie’s. Happy painting!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Belle Fleurs

"Belle Fleurs" watercolor by Carrie Waller

This is a  commissioned piece that I've recently painted.  I have painted this painting before.  I had 2 clients interested in the same painting, so what do you do in that situation.  I have encountered this problem a couple of times.  I decided I would never paint the same painting in the same size.  So this piece is quite a bit larger than the first rendition.  And it's quite a bit different.  When you paint at a larger size you can get more of the little details in.  I also worked out an interesting technique for blending the background.  Once I laid down the pigment I was able to use several dry brushes to softly blend the colors together.  It worked really well and I'm thrilled to have another technique in my repertoire.

Last week I had a guest blogger Kim Minichiello, she did a post on trademarks, you can read that here. It is invaluable information and something every artist should know.  This Wednesday I will have the follow up article about copyrights, so stay tuned and check back on Wednesday.  I'm so glad to have these questions answered.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Feature: Alvin Richard

"Kool Aid Days" original work by Alvin Richard
This week I'm featuring Alvin Richard.  I found Alvin's work through surfing blogland and it was love at first site.  I find Alvin's work so inspirational.  I love how each composition very thoughtfully tells a story.  I think the first painting I ever saw of Alvin's was 'Sheriff Woody & Crayolas'.  His blog post had me in tears by the end of reading it.  When I found out that Alvin's work was going to be at a gallery in Atlanta I made the 3 hour trek and saw his work in person, it is amazing!  I think this man's work is genius and he inspires me to be a better artist on a daily basis.

To see more of his work check out his blog
'Sheriff Woody & Crayolas' by Alvin Richard 10 x 12

How did you get your start?   

I started out like most artists, drawing from an early age. In school, I only had art classes in grade 2 and 3. I rarely drew just for fun. There was always some kind of class project that required illustrations, birthday cards to do for students of our next door neighbor who was an elementary school teacher. I entered many contests, most of which I won or received a prize. I however stopped drawing after completing High School. I went on to nursing school and became a registered nurse at age 20. Soon after graduating, I purchase my first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera and started doing amateur photography.

At age 24, I took a 30 hour perspective drawing class. My first Christmas as a married man, my wife Suzanne surprised me with a set of watercolors. The only paint I had ever used until then was gouache (tempura) and oils from ‘’Paint by number’’ kits. I quickly found out that I had an immediate rapport and understanding of transparencies and soon after started painting with acrylic paint. I am completely self-taught as a painter. I’ve always viewed my artwork as an extension from doing photography. This is probably why I gravitated towards realism and hyperrealism. I was never exposed to fine art as a child. I discovered art in my early twenties. When I started to travel, I took every opportunity I had to visit art museums and galleries. I’ve had the good fortune to go to Europe six times and travel extensively across Canada and the United States. In the process, I’ve viewed some of the most celebrated paintings and artists in the world.

My talent was probably passed on by my father. He was a brilliant craftsman, could practically build anything and had a very creative outlook. I had an uncle to who did Folk Art and a great uncle, Leonard Richards who painted frescos in churches in Massachusetts.
'Pops on Pop Art'  acrylic by Alvin Richard 12 x 16

What’s your artist journey so far?

From the get go, I did not really wanted to become a Sunday painter. I had loftier goals. I knew that if one day I was going to have anything the resembled an artistic career, that I would have to invest a lot of time and effort.  In the process, I found my way and own voice in order to say what I wanted to say with my art. It’s been a long journey, one of self discovery, 24 years in the making. I sometimes have to pinch myself, to do a reality check by how far I’ve actually evolved technically and with opportunities that are currently being offered to me. This leads me to believe that I’m on the right path.

Where were you born?

 I was born is a small rural community hospital in Rexton, New Brunswick Canada. It is now a historical museum. I grew up in Cap-Lumière, NB, a small fishing community along the Northumberland Strait.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

 Probably a large city like Vancouver,  Manhattan/ Brooklyn, Chicago, Paris or London, in a nice downtown loft apartment with great views, a large studio, with nearby parks and green spaces….a guy can dream right!
'A Cat and a Fish Tale' acrylic by Alvin Richard 8 x 10

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

 Still life that explores popular and mass culture. It’s quite evident that I like to paint glass, metals, reflective surfaces because they have a WOW factor. But that becomes secondary. I’m more interested in the conceptual aspect of creating the imagery. You can paint a pretty picture and have nothing there. It all has to gel together somehow for me; I need to feel an inner connection with the subject matter.

Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint?

A painting entitled Buoy-O-Buoy, 2004. These buoys used in this painting are to locate lobster traps. They had been painted with glossy marine paint. Some had peeling paint, paint running, lots of texture, and lots of colors…. It was dedicated to my father who was a lobster fisherman for a great part of his life.

Which was the most difficult?

 I would have to say an early painting entitled At the clothesline, done in 1990. It was during this painting that I stopped mixing white with colors and started to paint in transparencies. It took me nine months to complete, and the starting point of what was to follow. A more recent painting would be Sparkling Treasures which was a commission work.  With a piece like this, you really have to learn to see it properly, break down the imagery and rebuilt it in your head. My hand is only holding the brush; it’s the brain that actually does all the work.
"Famous For More than Fifteen Minutes" by Alvin Richard
Do you have a favorite artist?  /

When I started to paint, it was Alex Colville, later Mary Pratt. These are the two artists that had the most impact on my work. They are both celebrated Canadian artists.  They have a link together as teacher/student at the Fine Art program of Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Who has been your biggest inspiration? Lloyd Fitzgerald, another New Brunswick artist from whom I learn to paint in transparencies from an 11 page letter he sent me. He would become a mentor to me for a decade (1989-2000). We corresponded through letters. I actually only met he once. There are a lot of artists around the world which I admire greatly, but with these three, I share a closer sensibility of regional ideals. 
'Empty Coke Bottles' acrylic by Alvin Richard 11 x 14

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

 To remain curious. To always seek out for answers. To investigate what I am painting and to establish a deeper connection with the subject matter. What I find most fulfilling is the conceptual aspect and what I learn during the journey getting there.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

 I have a weakness for the primary colors; I’ve been painting with Liquitex Acrylic paint since Day 1.
'Sally Blowing Bubbles' acrylic by Alvin Richard 10 x 12

Do you ever get artist’s block?

I do, especially if I am away from the brushes for too long. And what do you do to overcome it? I consult my therapist……JUST KIDDING! ……I just follow the advice of the Nike ad……JUST DO IT!

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

1-      Retire from my full-time job in 2017 and paint full-time.
2-      Revisit parts of Europe again, especially Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
3-      After a 10 year hiatus, to run my 23rd marathon.
4-      To move into a loft studio that has beautiful windows with great natural lighting, two drawing tables, lots of shelf space for props, art books.
5-      To have my artwork included in a major Hyperrealism touring exhibition and acquired by a major art museum……sorry but you did say  ‘’ DREAM BIG’’.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Make short and long term goals.  When opportunity knocks on your door, make sure you’re someone’s at home...….so practice, practice, practice. Submit your artwork in juried shows. Don’t get discourage when a submission is rejected (I have a large pile in a box under my desk).

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

If you stick with it, it will all come to you in time – Lloyd Fitzgerald
"Our Past, Present and Future according to Seuss" by Alvin Richard

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, hands down!

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Sunny beach, since our house growing up faced the sea. I love the sound of crashing waves.

Book or movie? I love to read but I don’t have enough time . The weeks prior to the Oscars, I become a movie buff and try to see all of the major nominees….especially best film, actors, actress and screenplays. 

Favorite author? Living – J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood / Dead- Carol Shields

Favorite movie? Field of Dreams

Romance or comedy? Romantic comedies, but I prefer drama.


Night owl or morning person? Night Owl

Cakes of cupcakes? Cakes