Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Copyright and Copy-Wrong–someone’s work looks SO like mine

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Well, it finally happened.   Someone has made a couple quilts that look exactly as if the person saw my two quilts pictured here and copied them without permission.   And she is calling them “original art” and protected by “her copyright.”  Sigh.  I asked her nicely to give credit, she refused (letter below and boy is it mean–letter removed under threat of legal action by the author), so have written to Etsy to request removal of the two “copy” quilts.  Like I really wanted or needed this headache?  So I decided to write this post to share what has happened to me so that both new and experienced artists might learn from what has happened.  I would add that I totally *encourage* my students to use my patterns and make copies–that permission is given in the pattern.  But these are my original art, not patterened, and may NOT be copied nor derivative works made.  Read on!

I made this quilt, A Sense of Place::The Wall, in late 2006/early 2007.  It was published in 500 Art Quilts (ed. Karey Bresenhan, Lark Books), has been exhibited and is on my website and on my professional member gallery at SAQA.com

I made this quilt, A Sense of Place::The Wall, in late 2006/early 2007. It was published in 500 Art Quilts (ed. Karey Bresenhan, Lark Books), has been exhibited and is on my website and on my professional member gallery at SAQA.com

This is a companion piece, The Tree, which was in the FiberArt For a Cause cancer fundraiser (and sold on Gold Donor Day, thank you again K. McNeese!)

This is a companion piece, The Tree, which was in the FiberArt For a Cause cancer fundraiser (and sold on Gold Donor Day, thank you again K. McNeese!)

From the artist’s Etsy shop and website, it looks as though she is serious about starting a career in textile art (good for her), is working at it (ditto), but is still on the first part of the learning curve and hasn’t quite figured out what is “her.”  That’s fine–all of us have been at that point!  That’s how we learn.

QUICK UPDATE:  both Etsy and Pinterest reviewed the person’s postings, my work, and have removed the two items that were problems.  I have to give BIG kudos to Pinterest, which removed the pins of the two quilts in question in less than 3 hours!  and to Etsy.  Etsy responded so kindly — really impressed.  End of Update.  Moving on!

This kerfuffle started on Sunday evening when I received an email from someone I know by name and have met once, briefly, in person.  She wrote to tell me she had seen a piece that she thought looked just like mine and  the artist in question had them for sale on Etsy.  After checking out the Etsy shop and the artist’s website,   I then wrote to said artist and offered to let her continue to sell these works as long as she removed the “original art” and copyright notices since they appear to be clearly derivative of my work and credit me with the original design (and link to my website).   I’ll post my letter to her in at the end of this post, then her reply to me below that, but I will NOT publish her name, Etsy shop or website here. I SO wish I could share a link to her Etsy and Website because you’d see clearly why I feel the works, while not identical, are so clearly derivative (and yes, I have screen shots of her Etsy and web pages on my computer in case she decides to get litigious).  Once you read her letter, you’ll understand why–talk about vicious.  Sheesh.  Anyway, I feel fine publishing the content of the email because it was sent to me, and is therefore for me to do with as I see fit despite her request that I not go public with it (why?  wonder if she realizes how bad it makes her look?).  Unfortunately, she declined my  offer that could have solved this whole mess. I don’t know how I could have been any more gracious or helpful while still defending my own rights politely but firmly.

The artist, in her reply to my inquiry to her (through her website), was very angry, spoke about synchronicity (when two people in different places do the same sort of thing at the same time) and more.  I agree that synchronicity happens, but in this case the two pieces I found are so similar to mine which were made years earlier than hers:  colors, composition, subject matter (trees in winter), down to a wall of colorful stones fused onto black, a wall that extends across from one side to the other, that it defies credulity that this could be synchronicity.  Are winter scenes of trees with bare branches in snow common?  Sure!   Am I the only one who plays with a colorful palette?  Of course not!   But all of those things, down to the stone wall constructed in an identical manner?  Nope.  I’m not buying that one.  It is entirely possible she saw my quilt in the 500 Art Quilts book and was not aware that it was in her mind when she made her pieces.  But to say the similarity is synchronicity strains credulity beyond the breaking point.

There is a ton of stuff on the internet about copyright law in general and US copyright law specifically.  And I am NOT a lawyer.   But I do know that I and anyone I know who has seen her works and mine have immediately seen that her works **appear to be** a blatant copy.   I’m OK with people copying provided they do so with permission (she did not ask or have that), such as my students and people who purchase my patterns, and they respect the original artist and her legal rights.  In fact, I asked a few folks I know (some who know my work well, one who doesn’t) to make sure they see her Etsy listing to corroborate my version of events and tell me that they feel the works are copies–not identical but clearly copies. The artist –in her letter to me below (NOTE:  letter removed due to thread of legal action by the author)– even said perhaps I copied her and noted  that she made her pieces “a few years ago.”  Mine were made in late 2006, years before “a few years ago,” and the copyright statement on her Etsy listing says copyright 2013-2015.  Clearly I could not have copied what she made years later.  Whether she copied intentionally or unwittingly is not the point; she simply refused to acknowledge that her works are derivative.

Tuesday I wrote to Etsy to ask them to remove the two items in question since clearly the person who made them has furiously rejected my offer (see below) and won’t make things right on her own.  I don’t know what will come of it, but I am pleased to say that within two hours of hitting “send” on my email to the Etsy legal department I had an initial response.  I’ll post later with whatever transpires.

LESSON:  watermark EVERYTHING.

LESSON:  Go through the hassle of learning technology.  Just this past few weeks, in an online Photography class with Ricky Tims, I’ve learned how to embed my copyright information in photos, so henceforward all photos I post will have the copyright in the digital metadata.

LESSON:  Nothing will keep people from copying, or help those who don’t wish to listen or understand that what they have done is wrong.

LESSON:  You just gotta keep making your art and move on.  But you DO need to speak up, loudly, and defend your work and your rights.  So that’s what I’m doing.

LESSON:  For those of you new to art and art quilting, learn.  Learn all that you can.  Copy if you need to do so to learn, but be respectful.  And learn about copyright.  There are links below in my letter to the artist that take you to the source (for those of us in the US):  the US Copyright Office.

LESSON:  Document everything.  The fact that I blogged about these quilts in 2007 helps.  The fact that the metadata (digital encoding) on my photo files shows they were taken in late January 2007 helps.  I keep all my working drawings, patternings and notes in a manila envelope for each quilt, dated and tucked into a file cabinet.  Glad I do!  These two quilts were more spontaneous, but I do have the blog and photo info.

LESSON:  If something happens and one is as upset as this person clearly is in her letter below, perhaps one should stop and wonder WHY.  Perhaps she deep down realizes that the similarity is more than accidental and is upset that she has been caught out and called on it?  Who knows?

LESSON:  There are good people out there who alerted me to this.  We take care of each other.

So if you’re up for reading even more of this stuff,   my letter is below, followed by her response.  I leave you to draw your own conclusions.   Her words speak very loudly, but they may not be saying what she hopes.  They do say a lot about her.  It’s a shame, because she is clearly working hard and diligently at something she loves.  I hope she will learn from her mistake, and also learn that this is a small community and word gets around.  Again, I will NOT share her name.

My letter to her and her reply (with identifying information removed) are quoted below in their entirety.

On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 8:57 AM, Sarah Ann Smith <my email removed to nix more spam> wrote:
From: Sarah Ann Smith <my email removed to nix more spam>

To ARTIST
Subject: HerWEBSITE Contact Form

Message Body:
Hi NAME!  Welcome to the world of art quilting!   I stumbled across your Etsy listing of a couple quilts, the XXX-NAME-XXX series, that look exactly like copies of my A Sense of Place: The Wall and A Sense of Place:  The Tree works.   Hmmm…  not good!  Especially since you are claiming copyright to these as original works when they are clearly derivative of my copyrighted original works.

I’m not about to be a big bad meanie.  I understand that you are somewhat new to art quilts and perhaps don’t understand copyright, copyright law, and some of the nuances because, frankly, it is somewhat complicated.  I’ll add a few hotlinks to US government sites that explain it at the end of this message.

Someone who saw your work immediately recognized the pieces as a take-off of my work, so it is clear that you were inspired by my work.  THANK YOU for liking it so much you wanted to copy these pieces.  We all learn by copying those who came before us.  However, to be blunt, it is not right for you to state that your SERIES NAME pieces are original artworks and subject to your copyright.  In fact, that is illegal (check those links at the end of this message).  In asserting such a claim you are in fact infringing on my copyright on my original artwork, created in 2004.

Because you are just starting out and probably do not understand fully how copyright works (for example, changing something 10 percent is a fallacy, copyright is still copyright), I am willing to let you display these works on your website and sell the existing works if, and only if in any place where they are published (including your website and Etsy shop), you remove the statement that they are original and copyrighted by you , and add a statement that they are “based on original artwork by Sarah Ann Smith at www.SarahAnnSmith.com” and that I have “given NAME  permission to sell these three works only.”  Further, you may not make any further works based on my artwork.   I know each piece takes a lot of time, and respect your right to earn a living.  But I also need to protect my own ability to make a living from my art.

Here are three hotlinks that may help you understand copyright:
http://www.copyright.gov/
http://copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html
http://www.cendi.gov/publications/04-8copyright.html

This link http://copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf  talks about Copyright Basics and is quite helpful.  It says in part   “Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusiveright to do and to authorize others to do the following:
• reproduce the work in copies or  phonorecords
• prepare derivative works based  upon the works”

Your quilts fall into the “derivative works,” and are therefore not legal.  As I said, I’m willing to let you sell these, as long as you remove the statement that they are original to you and add a statement that they are based on my work, with a link to my website.  These statements need to appear any place on the web or in a gallery/craft show/shop, wherever, that you display or sell your NAME OF SERIES pieces.

Your work is lovely, you clearly love color and fabric as much as I do.   I’d like to encourage you to keep learning and listen to your own muse.  No one can make YOUR art as well as YOU do.   Copying is a good way to learn, but making your own original art is even better.

I’ll check your website to make sure you have complied.   Thank you for attending to this promptly!  We’ve all got better stuff to do –like make art– than deal with copyright violations!  Cheers, Sarah Ann Smith.
This e-mail was sent from Artist’s WEBSITE

And here is her astonishingly virulent reply to me, in its entirety, but I have removed names ( it’ll be obvious where):

 

LETTER REMOVED, 3:37 pm March 13, 2015 under thread of legal action by the author.

 

And back to me:

Enough said!  I find it curious that she refused to even go look at my works, since she would have seen the similarity instantly.  Maybe she didn’t want to know the truth???  At coffee with my BFF yesterday, I showed her the other person’s pieces on my phone, and (because they were little on the phone screen) my BFF at first thought they were mine!   How clear is that?   Anyway, let’s hope Etsy does the right thing.  I am sure the artist will not remove  one that is on her website, but frankly that one is simple a generic winter scene and doesn’t have the stone wall, so it doesn’t bother me.  It’s the two on Etsy that are clearly deriative.  Now, on to more fun things to do with my life!

 

Photography with Ricky Tims

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

ERK!  Gosh it has been a LONG TIME.  I’m sorry!   I didn’t realize I hadn’t been here in so long.  As you might gather by my extended absence, I’ve been busy.  I’ve been prepping a new workshop that will debut in full in North Carolina in April (see my Teaching/Classes page for the workshop listing)–email me if you need a link to sign up, they’ve got an awesome online system, did a test-run of the class with a local group, have been working on a bazillion samples and writing an article for MQU (Machine Quilting Unlimited), did a quick trip to California because I’m now on San Domenico School’s (my old high school) Alumni Council

The lesson for Week 4 is to get a photo that is "sharp as a tack."

The lesson for Week 4 is to get a photo that is “sharp as a tack.”

AND …..ta daaaaaaAAAAA drum roll…. taking an online year-long workshop with Ricky Tims to improve my photography, Photoshop and Lightroom skills (the latter two were non-existent and I’ve improved to rank beginner).  So today I’ll share about week 4 of Ricky’s Photography class. In the next week or two I’ll get you caught up on the rest!

Earlier weeks focused (pun intended) on Selective Focus, Find a Line, and Windows.  We’ve also learned about organizing in Lightroom, using Photoshop, getting our copyright information into the metadata (basically digitally encoding it into the image so that if someone tries to remove the visible watermark, the copyright stuff is still embedded into the digital file/info..don’t ask me how, that is way above my pay grade!).

This shot was (duh) indoors, before I went out.  I think of this as "chaos, clutter, artist at work."  I've also taken some sketchbook courses online over the past year, and am learning to work more with watercolors.  I want to loosen up, have my art quilts be a bit more spontaneous (well, everything in my life pretty much could benefit from me being less of a control-freak).

This shot was (duh) indoors, before I went out. I think of this as “chaos, clutter, artist at work.” I’ve also taken some sketchbook courses online over the past year, and am learning to work more with watercolors. I want to loosen up, have my art quilts be a bit more spontaneous (well, everything in my life pretty much could benefit from me being less of a control-freak). Anyway, this photo is “tack sharp” from the closest edge the window and even into the view.  It was challenging because of the brightness outside, so I had to lighten the interior in Photoshop.

Since I’ve been crazy busy, I didn’t get out early enough this week to get the shot I wanted.   I got home from California between two storms, thankfully.  I got in before the “Big” Blizzard early in the week that dumped about 0-4 feet of snow—drifts around the house made it nearly impossible to figure how much we actually got.   Then yesterday, Friday, it started snowing again.  So I went out in the snowfall before it got too windy and thick to take pictures.  And took a few indoors, as well.  Eli will be pleased that I did NOT share the one of these with him trying to get out of camera range!

I totally love our view and took many photos.  I also learned a few things (some of which I knew but had forgotten) about taking pictures in "weather."

I totally love our view and took many photos. I also learned a few things (some of which I knew but had forgotten) about taking pictures in “weather.”  This is standing near the top of our driveway, looking down to the neighbors.  Our driveway is just this side of the line of dark green pines that partially obscure the neighbor’s house.

As for photography in weather,

  1. –a plastic bag around the camera  keeps it from getting wet from  melting snow
  2. –a lens hood to keep snow off the lens would have been a brilliant addition.  Next time.
  3. –a cloth (lens or cotton or linen) to wipe off the wet-from-snow lens would be good, too.  Fleece (my preferred garments in winter) don’t soak up enough water!
  4. –it is impossible to feel the timer button on the camera in gloves.  Why a timer?  Even with a tripod, if you are going to have a slow shutter speed (1/40 second or slower), using a timer helps avoid any wigging of the camera.  So gloves came off.
  5. –even if it is relatively warm for winter and snow (28 F, or about -1/2 C), even my fingers eventually get cold!
Looking West-Northwest to the pergola/walk-through to the big meadow.  There was a falling down fence when we moved in 4 years ago that is now pretty much fallen, but the posts are good snow-depth markers.

Looking West-Northwest to the pergola/walk-through to the big meadow. There was a falling down fence when we moved in 4 years ago that is now pretty much fallen, but the posts are good snow-depth markers.  I LOVE how you can see the streaks of snow falling in this shot…look above the pergola infant of the big tree.

A VERY large old apple tree (apples taste like yuck, but the deer and turkeys like them) and a huge birch tree on the stone wall/hedgerow between the big meadow and the downhill meadow.  Meadow is codeword for big open space that we don't mow but once or twice a season.

A VERY large old apple tree (apples taste like yuck, but the deer and turkeys like them) and a huge birch tree on the stone wall/hedgerow between the big meadow and the downhill meadow. Meadow is codeword for big open space that we don’t mow but once or twice a season.  This is where a cloth to wipe the lens would have been really useful.  But I like the photo so much even with the blots on it that I’m sharing.

The trees and scrub at the bottom of the big meadow; the driveway is to the right of these.

The trees and scrub at the bottom of the big meadow; the driveway is to the right of these.  Again, going for sharp through the entire depth of field–at least as sharp as the atmospheric conditions allowed.   Taken, as are all of these, on a tripod.

Eli is the only one (so far) to have tried out my Christmas snowshoes.  Got a quick snap of him going by just on the bottom side of the driveway--pretty much along the property line.

Eli is the only one (so far) to have tried out my Christmas snowshoes. Got a quick snap of him going by just on the bottom side of the driveway–pretty much along the property line.

So now I need to get to work in the studio…more samples to make for articles and classes!  Hopefully I won’t be AWOL for a month (absent without leave) before I get back and blog again!

 

 

Published in Inspirational Quotes Illustrated; More watercolor lettering with Val Webb

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Two years ago I was taking a lettering class online with the wonderful Val Webb.  One of the exercises was to choose and illustrate a quote.   Back then I wrote about it.  Then in late 2013 Lesley Riley put out a call for entries, North Light wanted to publish an expanded version of her self-published Quotes Illustrated.   The new book is called Inspirational Quotes Illustrated and is available at Amazon and directly from Lesley here (don’t forget to check out other good stuff from Lesley here).

Lesley's new book really is inspirational!

Lesley’s new book really is inspirational!

I have loved lettering since I was required to write with an Osmiroid Italic nib pen in junior high and high school (gotta love Catholic schools!), and I love reading and good quotes, and I love art.   All of these come together in this book.   There are some new-to-me quotes that may become favorites, there are some wonderful artists whose work I have admired included, some friends (waving at Deborah Boschert, Norina Morris and Jamie Fingal!) as well who are wonderful artists.

One of the things I really love is that the pages are perforated so you can easily remove a page to mat / frame and enjoy on the wall.  The page numbers are tucked into the center of the book and remain there–they aren’t on the part of the page that comes out to otherwise detract from the artwork should you wish to frame it.  Cool beans!

A two page spread featuring artwork by Jill K. Berry (left) and Holly Dean.  If you look closely in the center, you'll see a small bit of orange...

A two page spread featuring artwork by Jill K. Berry (left) and Holly Dean. If you look closely in the center, you’ll see a small bit of orange…

Gina Rossi's crow/raven takes my breath away!

Gina Rossi’s crow/raven takes my breath away!

And here's my page, on the right, with

And here’s my page, on the right, with a collage by Lesley Jacobs on the left.  If you right click this image, you can see the perforations and the page numbers in the center.

Original blogpost from February 8, 2013:

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison.  Class by Val Webb, more info here.

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison. Class by Val Webb, more info here.

Oh my but I am having fun.  Of course, it is also a ton of work to make a page like this one (it took all day), but if you had asked me when class began back in late November if I would be able to do this in just  a couple of months, I would have laughed!   But lookit!  I did it!   I can’t hardly believe it!  This lesson is what Val Webb (click here for her blog) calls “crazy quilt” lettering, with rolling lines and many colors and little bits of art insterspersed with the writing.   Fortunately, I’ve been a bit behind and have benefitted from Val’s constructive comments for others pieces before I got around to working on this.  I had the wit to send Val my “first draft” before I spent a ton of time painting only to discovered I should have done something different.

First draft of the Thomas Alva Edison quote.

First draft of the Thomas Alva Edison quote with the lettering going all the way across the page.

Val commented that when you have a wide motif in the center as with the overalls, it is hard for the eye to jump across to continue reading.  She suggested re-working the design to read as if it were two pages in a book.  Brilliant!  Took time, but I got it done.  Here’s the series of photos shoing my progress:

Testing out colors, letter shapes, and so on.  Since I live in Maine and the guys wear Carhartt overalls, I opted for the Carhartt color instead of old fashioned demin.  As you can see, I originally intended to do the letters in yellow, green and blue.

Testing out colors, letter shapes, and so on. Since I live in Maine and the guys wear Carhartt overalls, I opted for the Carhartt color instead of old fashioned demin. As you can see, I originally intended to do the letters in yellow, green and blue.  I also tested out a color for the silvery metal at the bottom of the light bulb, and getting a yellow fade for the light bulb.

Decorated Watercolor Lettering with Val Webb.  Working away at the dining room table.  I even managed to NOT blotch and drip or smudge! And I'm happy I was able to lift the color on the knees to make the fabric look faded and worn by work.

Working away at the dining room table. I even managed to NOT blotch and drip or smudge! And I’m happy I was able to lift the color on the knees to make the fabric look faded and worn by work.

The yellow and green letters are done, so I decided to break for a late lunch.  When I took the photo, I realized I had picked up the colors in the placemats I made, and decided I liked the idea of the warm plummy-red better than blue, so changed my color scheme.  So glad I did!

The yellow and green letters are done, so I decided to break for a late lunch. When I took the photo, I realized I had picked up the colors in the placemats I made, and decided I liked the idea of the warm plummy-red better than blue, so changed my color scheme. So glad I did!

And one more time, the photo from the top, repeated for comparison here:

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison.  Class by Val Webb, more info here.

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison. Class by Val Webb, more info here.

I like the way this turned out so much I am tempted to get a custom mat to fit into a standard sized frame and hang it in my studio!

 

 

 

 

England 2014: Thursday the 14th

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Thursday was a travel day for us, with the morning spent in London at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, and wending our way to East Anglia for our week on the road with our BritRail passes.   The trains are lacking in quaintness now (no more compartments with sliding / slamming doors and wrought iron overhead luggage racks), but they are modern, clean and fast, and go nearly EVERYwhere!

The view of the alley behind our hotel in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington  part of London.  Notice the silver car on the left.

The view of the alley behind our hotel in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington part of London. Notice the silver car on the left. The cool funky one.

So we went down to see what it was.  It’s a Morgan, a make I’d never heard of before.   I now know why:  I could save every penny I earn for the next two decades and I’d still not be able to afford one.  It is a new car made to look old–really cool, roadster old.

The Morgan.  Oh my.  Beautiful REAL wood dashboard, leather everywhere, oh my.  I remember the ferries to San Juan Island...so low-slung it probably couldn't get on/off the ferry!

The Morgan. Oh my. Beautiful REAL wood dashboard, leather everywhere, oh my. I remember the ferries to San Juan Island…so low-slung it probably couldn’t get on/off the ferry!  Made by hand.  I’m not sure Tom Cruise could even afford one of these!  According to Wikipedia there is a six month waiting list to buy one, but has been measured in years at some points!  We chatted a bit with the guy in the photo who worked there…if I recall, they start around 200,000 pounds sterling.   Start at that price.   As I shall never be a Saudi prince, I don’t think I can afford one.

Next we went on to the National Gallery.  Eli was enchanted with the street artists.  This shot is from the entrance to the gallery which overlooks Trafalgar Square.  Though it doesn't look too crowded, it was.   An English friend had been the day before and said the crowds in London were as thick as she had seen in some 70 years!

Next we went on to the National Gallery. Eli was enchanted with the street artists. This shot is from the entrance to the gallery which overlooks Trafalgar Square. Though it doesn’t look too crowded, it was. An English friend had been the day before and said the crowds in London were as thick as she had seen in some 70 years! I love England, I love London, but I think if/when I return it will be in early February to avoid the hordes of tourists.

It's not the best photo, but I have always been captured by this painting of the Execution of Lady Jane Gray.   The silk of her gown glows.

It’s not the best photo, but I have always been captured by this painting of the Execution of Lady Jane Gray. The silk of her gown glows.

Just look at the mastery in the painting!

Just look at the mastery in the painting!

And a close up of the velvet gown of Lady Gray's lady in waiting.

And a close up of the velvet gown of Lady Gray’s lady in waiting.  It was fascinating to see what bits were in exquisite detail, and which were less finely detailed, like the straw (see first photo), causing your eye to focus on the sharply defined items.   The luster of the pearls, too, in the rosary she holds here.

An Odilon Redon...look at that seductive color.

An Odilon Redon…look at that seductive color.  The face in the lower right, the soft and crisp edges.

Eli, of course, wasn’t as enchanted with the art, but humored me.  He is a good traveling companion.  He grasps the concept of Mom needs to see some stuff, Eli gets to see some stuff.  We allow for the other person’s interests.  What a concept!

As I was whizzing through one of the galleries when Eli had temporarily disappeared (it turns out to find a men’s room, which of course is located in the distant basement reached by stairs at the end of the building so it takes forever to get there and back), I snapped these two photos while searching for my disappeared son:

I think this was one of the Cranachs, the Elder?

I think this was one of the Cranachs, yep, Cranach the Elder.

Look at the detail on the textiles!

Look at the detail on the textiles!  Think quilt designs!

Back in the Impressionist rooms were a couple Van Gogh paintings.  Love this humble village.

Back in the Impressionist rooms were a couple Van Gogh paintings. Love this humble village.

Does this Van Gogh look vaguely familiar?  Add a night sky with sworls of gold and you've got Starry Night....

Does this Van Gogh look vaguely familiar? Add a night sky with sworls of gold and you’ve got Starry Night….I LOVE being able to go up close and see the brush strokes.   I may need to try to do a sky like that in a landscape quilt.

And of course I had to take a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, though I prefer my dragons friendly and alive, thank you veddy much.

And of course I had to take a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, though I prefer my dragons friendly and alive, thank you veddy much.  By Gustave Moreau.

And how can you not LOVE a nation that has a sense of humor.  There were some wonderful mosaic floors in the National Gallery (so many people forget to look UP and then look DOWN):

A pub sign that says Rest and be thankful in the mosaic floor.

A pub sign that says Rest and be thankful in the mosaic floor.

And my very favorite of the mosaics:  MUD PIES!

Mud Pies mosaic floor, UK National Gallery, London, England

Mud Pies mosaic floor, UK National Gallery, London, England.  And I’m sorry this is sideways–Photoshop Elements and whatever are NOT cooperating with letting me turn it right side up.  Anyway, ya gotta love a nation that will made a mudpie mosaic!

In the afternoon, we took the train to east of London to Woodbridge, because the next day we were going to the site of the Sutton Hoo burial ships.  I shared photos of some of the phenomenal artifacts that are housed in the British Museum earlier, here.

We stayed in a small B&B at the Station House, and our room was literally on top of the train station in Woodbridge, in East Anglia / Sussex.

We stayed in a small B&B at the Station House, and our room was literally on top of the train station in Woodbridge, in East Anglia / Sussex.

Our view looked over the train tracks to the river.  Apart from a group of 30 or so inebriated 20 somethings heading to the last train at about 10 pm, it was lovely!

The view from our room to the river, across the tracks.

The view from our room to the river, across the tracks.

There is beauty everywhere:

Flowers popping up by the picnic table

Flowers popping up by the picnic table

We wandered about the small town, which Eli and I decided was about the same size as Belfast, Maine, just north of us.  Eli found a shirt and pullover jacket for school!  And I spotted this pillow in the window of a shop–so want to pull out my paints and play and sketch!

Don't you just love hedgehogs?  If you do, you'll like what we did a week later.  Stay tuned!

Don’t you just love hedgehogs? If you do, you’ll like what we did a week later. Stay tuned!

And we had the most scrumptious dinner–one of the best I’ve ever had.  I think it was called the Table restaurant.

Dinner--Eli had salmon, I had massuman (?) curry.  SLURP.  I was well behaved and did NOT lick the plate.

Dinner–Eli had salmon, I had massuman (?) curry. SLURP. I was well behaved and did NOT lick the plate.

And since dinner was so good, we had dessert.

Chocolate mocha pot de creme with fresh mint (homemade) ice cream, with crushed chocolate cookie bits

Chocolate mocha creme anglaise with fresh mint (homemade) ice cream, with crushed chocolate cookie bits.  At least I thought to snap a picture after just the first bite.  Because it went as slowly as I could manage, which wasn’t too slow at all.  SLURP.

As you can see, I continued to exercise Herculean restraing in not licking the plate, but managed quite well with my spoon.

As you can see, I continued to exercise Herculean restraint in not licking the plate, but managed quite well with my spoon.

Next trip when I get to London, I shall schedule some alone time so I can dawdle to my heart’s content in the art galleries, but it was a wonderful day.  I got to see the painting I most wanted to see again (Jane Gray) as well as more.  And finish with a top notch supper in a very pleasant small town.

tea and ink, creativity and watercolor

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Of late I have been busy with many things, one of which is Sketchbook Skool, an online cast of a gazillion students and, each term, six different teachers.   This past week’s lesson was with Brenda Swenson, and the use of single colors of watercolor on paper, letting them mix and play has been a revelation.  Since my last post, about the new Series 1400 of Quilting Arts TV, featuring little ol’ me in three episodes talking about making a quick bag as a gift, machine quilting, and correct needles/thread, was the last post, I thought I’d continue with the Series 1400 theme, creativity and inspiration.  (To see the information on the series and the ongoing bloghop, please click here to read about the series and visit all the creative, inspiring bloggers who just happen to be guests on this season!).

The completed sketch by me--contour drawing with fountain pen with non-waterproof ink and watercolor.

The completed sketch by me–contour drawing with fountain pen with non-waterproof ink and watercolor.

To begin at the beginning, we were to do a contour drawing, 3 minutes, of an item.  Then 6 minutes for two items, and 10 minutes for three.   Here’s what I did in my “everyday” sketchbook, which happens to be a Stillman & Birn Epsilon, 7 x 10 inch size.  This sketchbook has a hot press finish, about 100-lb paper; they are available at Binders Art Supply in Atlanta (google up the website) and Dick Blick (ditto), among other places.  I didn’t know where I put my Tombow marker (water soluble), so decided to use my Flex Nib (Noodler’s Creaper pen) fountain pen with R&K Alt Goldgrun ink (LOVE); both pen and ink came from the wonderful Goulet Pens.  (Note:  I’m not advertising, just anticipating questions!)

Timed contour sketches of fiestaware pitcher, tea-for-one teapot/but from my friend Marie many years ago, and a bottle of deAtramentis Roses scentted ink (heavenly color AND scent, also from Goulet Pens).  I used R&K Alt Goldgrun in my fountain pen.

Timed contour sketches of fiestaware pitcher, tea-for-one teapot/but from my friend Marie many years ago, and a bottle of deAtramentis Roses scentted ink (heavenly color AND scent, also from Goulet Pens). I used R&K Alt Goldgrun in my fountain pen.

Today, I rushed a bit and the pitcher is seriously tipsy, but I’m pleased, especially with the way the reds and black merged on the label on the bottle.   And the more I practice / make art, the more I am embracing  the idea that I do not need to be absolutely freakin’ perfect, that the wobbles and imperfections are what give something individuality, just as our handwriting varies from those cursive letters above  the blackboard back in second grade.

Here's the in progress, with the items behind the sketchbook on a dining table that I should have tidied before the photo but of course did not.  Truth in blogging.....

Here’s the in progress, with the items behind the sketchbook on a dining table that I should have tidied before the photo but of course did not. Truth in blogging…..

Notice the difference between this page and the one at the top–what a difference a little “framing” makes!  And I LOVE that green ink!

And for more inspiration, I just had to add this.  Last night thunderstorms rolled in, so of course we lost satellite signal and everything started to pixillate.  Immediately I tried taking a photo with my iPad (on which I was trolling FB or playing solitaire), but the camera just c ouldn’t capture the incredible colors.  So I dashed madly for the camera in the next room and got this photo at the last second before the picture returned to normal.  THIS is inspiration…aren’t these colors glorious?  I’m not much of one to enjoy abstract art, but this is enough to make you want to grab tubes of paint, several palette knives  and go to town.

Our pixillated TV screen.  Isn't this incredible?  The COLOR!

Our pixillated TV screen. Isn’t this incredible? The COLOR!

So that’s my life the past 48 hours (plus helping to hang the quilts for Maine Quilts, the annual quilt show here).  Art and inspiration!  And check out my previous post (link above) if you’d like to scope out the bloghop for the new Series 1400 of Quilting Arts TV, featuring yours truly in three episodes!

As for sketching and watercolors and contour drawings, I have a lot to learn, but it is so much fun, and it inspires me to make more art, including of the textile kind!