Monthly Archives: May 2021

Copyright Protection

There will be no video for this watercolor how-to art tip. I have had a rather lovely week, but it has been chock full. On Sunday last (Mother’s Day), we hosted my mother-in-law for a Mother’s Day party, in our home! It was the first time she was able to visit in over 15 months, due to the pandemic, since all in attendance are now (finally) fully vaccinated.

Monday, I painted a half sheet watercolor of my favorite ducks from the canal – a white pekin duck and his two hybrid male offspring.  I can’t show the painting yet, because… well, that will be the focus of this blog post – standby. I painted the ducks using a spontaneous pouring method. You can see the source photo below. I painted them in preparation for my pouring workshop coming up in a week or so.

Tuesday, I taught a class on Photoshop Elements at my studio, which was totally fun. All participants learned some exciting new skills – including me <smile>.

Wednesday, I went plein air painting with the Latimer Art Club. A group of about seven painters met at the River Fork Ranch Conservatory in Genoa. I was actually very pleased with my painting effort, but I can’t share it yet, because… well, that will be the focus of this blog post, right?

Thursday, my brother and I hopped in the new art mobile and traveled to Sacramento to see the American Watercolor Society Traveling show on display at the Sacramento Art Center. If you have an opportunity to go, I would make the effort. They have 40 paintings from this year’s AWS selected artists. Some wonderful watercolors, indeed.

Friday, I painted again in preparation for my watercolor pouring workshop, this time using a layered pour method. I interpreted my image of three goldfinches decked out in their bright yellow plumage for spring. See the source photo.

Saturday, I painted again using the layered watercolor pouring method, this time I pulled out my Brusho® pots. Brusho® is a watercolour crystals medium that has a range of bright and transparent colors, perfect for pouring in my opinion. This time I painted a scene from Montreal of a woman walking her dog. It is not finished yet, but I have good start. I can’t wait to get back at it today.

I had to stop painting to rush to a birthday party for my Little (Big Brothers and Big Sisters), followed by a graduation party for a fantastic young man, who had finished his degree in Education at UNR.

Whew! What a wonderful week, chock full of exciting stuff, art and otherwise. So you can see, no time for video editing. Instead I’ll talk about registering copyrights.

Most American artists feel their artwork is protected by U.S. copyright law once it is created. And that is true. However, if there is ever a dispute about a copyright, or if someone else uses your work or claims it as their own,  artists have little protection in the courts if it is not registered with the copyright office. I am by no means an expert on the process, but I have been registering my artwork with the copyright office for about 6 years now.

There have been lots of changes since I have been regularly registering my work. Now there is apparently a small claims court for copyrights (since the end of 2020)! Exciting news. Unfortunately, my dispute for 2015 is beyond the statute of limitations (3 years), so I won’t be able to take advantage of the new small claims option.

But to register your work, you will want to become familiar with “the rules”. Essentially we can register a creative work as published or unpublished. Once a work has been published, it can no longer be registered as unpublished. If there has been a print made and distributed of a piece of artwork, that is then a published work. There is some question about whether posting on social media, distributing in an email/text, or posting on a website constitutes publishing. Since it is unclear to me, I have decided not to print, post, or distribute an image of any work I create until after I have it registered with the copyright office. Why? Mostly, due to the difference in cost. I can register up to 10 unpublished works for $85 (all have to be unpublished, of the same type of creative work, and completed in the same year). We cannot register a group of published works, unless they are part of a set and can’t be sold individually – such as a set of calendar images. Published works have to be registered individually at $55 each. So, the choice is to spend $8.50 an image, or $55 an image. You can do the math.

So, once I have ten paintings, I register the titles and images with the copyright office, using the tool. Now that I have been doing it a lot, it is pretty routine, and I just include the cost of copyright registration in my painting prices. So far, I have registered 50 paintings in 2021. I don’t register everything – but definitely most of my work.

Next week, I may have the next group of 10 ready to register. Check my social media pages for the paintings associated with these source photos. Photographers can register a lot more than 10 unpublished images as a group. I sometimes register a group of photographs with the copyright office as well. Since most watercolor competitions require us to work from our own photographs, it is a good practice to protect your source photos as well.

Anyway, that is why I delay posting new works on social media or email, until I have them all “protected” with the copyright office.

Mother Dear for Mother’s Day

Mother Dear, watercolor, 12″x9″

My father began an obsession with black and white photography in the mid-to-late 1970s. He had a lot of “hobbies,” and he never did anything halfway. If he was going to do a thing, he was going to do it right. His obsessions may have been short-lived, but when he was in the enthrall of one, he was “all in.” He had a bunch of 35-millimeter cameras and all sorts of lenses and filters. This was well before digital photography was possible. He loved the darkroom.

All in the family acted as his models from time-to-time, under the heat of his tin-can spotlights and make-shift photo studio. The black and white photograph of my mother that served as the starting point for this portrait really captured the personality of our mother (but I can’t seem to find my digital copy of it right now, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Ha!)

I started the painting as a demo during a portrait workshop, therefore, I do not have the first stage of the painting on video. After the workshop concluded, I saw my mother looking out at me and felt quite happy with the portrait, and posted it on social media. One of my brothers said something wasn’t quite right. Everyone’s a critic, right? After staring at it for a few days, though, I agreed. Back to the studio. I only recorded video on the second stage of the painting.

After a few weeks of looking at it some more, I decided it still needed something. The last stage I did not record, but I added the darks on the right of her face (See first image).

I’ve excerpted a 3-minute section of the second stage of the painting process.

Supplies questions answered before you ask for this tutorial:

Paper: 140 lb hot press watercolor paper, sized to 12″x9″
Paint: Sap Green, Manganese Blue Hue (in this segment)
Brush: #18 Round by KingArt 9020 Series.

Click the image below to watch the clip.

Pigment Strength and Paper State in Watercolor

I have been teaching watercolor lessons now for about 11 years. I started with a small class of four students in my Salt Lake City studio, just after I had graduated with my BFA in painting and drawing from the U

Video Preview

niversity of Utah. After moving to Nevada in 2017, I started teaching with two colleges. I now teach watercolor classes to matriculating students (those receiving credit toward a degree)  for the Western Nevada College as well as for the Truckee Meadows Community College community education program, called EPIC.

THEN in 2019 I opened a studio with a business address in Carson City, where I teach private classes and workshops. Through through the years, l I have learned a lot about introducing folks to watercolor painting (and I still have much to learn).

Hands down, though, the most challenging aspects of watercolor painting are understanding how to vary the pigment strength and learning about when to paint on wet, dry, or damp paper. In this video I talk about brush control methods and timing. Why do we paint light to dark? How do we achieve a fresh wash of paint? How do we achieve soft, lost, or hard edges?

In this quick 3-minute summary of a longer video I touch on the broad points.  I have excerpted parts of a longer 25-minute tutorial.  I have the  complete video available on my Patreon channel, where paying subscribers will have access to both this 3-minute WHAT video, as well as the full-length video. My expected official launch of the Patreon Channel will be June 15th. I still need to populate  the channel with lots and lots of videos before I can call it “official.” I may change my mind about a subscriber platform as well. I have to ponder and research some pros and cons. For now, enjoy some free content on the Patreon channel.

Supplies questions answered before you ask for this tutorial:

Paper: 140 lb hot press watercolor paper, sized to 12″x16″
Paint: Transparent Pyrrol Orange by Daniel Smith
Brush: #18 Round by Kingart 9020 Series 9020.

Let’s watch the short clip, shall we?