Study: After Utagawa Kuniyoshi
coloured pencil on Polydraw film (see note)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
coloured pencil on Polydraw film (see note)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The first "unwritten" rule of any art competition - particularly an open competition - is that the rules have to be clear. After all "The rules are the rules" aren't they?!
The second "unwritten rule" is that when an organisation changes the rules in any way from one year to the next, it must make both the change and the interpretation of that change very clear in any formal and universal statement that is made about the competition ie "the rules".
Organisations get one go at this. The words on the piece of paper which says 'Rules' have to be very clear and not capable of misinterpretation (see unwritten rule number 1!). This is because:
- That's what gets sent out to members. I file mine away in my folder for competition entries and I guess many do likewise. It's the only thing I refer to before sending in an entry.
- That's what goes on the website and gets read on screen.
- That's what gets sent out to non-members who ask for entry details.
- That's what gets copied by members to friends, students etc who are non-members.
- Injunctions are always about 'please read all the details on the form carefully'.
There has been much thrashing of keyboards about the content of both the published rules and the ancillary statements as a result. There was much discussion in forums yesterday and doubtless there will be more today. I also know that discussion will be supplemented over the course of today by more than a few blog posts about yesterday's statements and discussions.
What we now need is absolute clarity and a level playing field for all potential entrants. There is a problem and we need to find a solution. The Chair of the UKCPS has invited views and this is my response over and above comments I've already made in the UKCPS Yahoo Forum.
I think there's a fair chance a number of people may not comment on what has happened due to concerns about or fear of not "upsetting people" and "ruining their chances of a prize". I've found that one of the advantages of having passed my 50th birthday is that those sort of concerns become of less consequence - and I do propose to comment. Read on!
What has changed
What has changed are the rules for entry to exhibitions run by the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) and the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS). Both Societies have sought to clarify the nature of the work which is eligible.
- The CPSA 'rules' are published and available on their website here, as a pdf document "Prospectus and Exhibition Information". The CPSA have changed both the specifications (page 2) and the method of submission - which is now via digital entry.
- The UKCPS distributed their "Rules on Eligible Works" for their two exhibitions with their March 2008 newsletter which arrived at most people's homes yesterday. UKCPS has an item about changes to the rules in its members' March newsletter. Unfortunately, this contains an interpretation of the rules which is not clearly stated on the form itself (ie it is NOT in 'the rules'). This interpretation was repeated on two internet forums yesterday.
What do the rules for CP exhibitions say?
First - what are 'the rules' stating in a formal way? In summary, both coloured pencil societies are now placing a much clearer emphasis on the total process of producing a pencil artwork - but attempts to define what this means is currently causing a problem.
CPSA Prospectus: specification
SPECIFICATIONSUKCPS Rules and conditions on eligible works
• Artwork must have been executed within the last 3 years and not previously hung in any CPSA exhibition (International or Explore This!).
• Concept, design and execution of the artwork shall be solely that of the artist. No work copied from copyrighted or published materials. No images produced by drawing over a digital reproduction allowed. No prints. No collaborations.
• Artwork must be colored pencil ONLY! Use of any other media (watercolor, acrylic, oil, ink, etc.) or artist prepared surface disqualifies entry.
• Acceptable additions: solvents (e.g., turpentine) and graphite pencil used under/between/over layers.
• Artwork must be two-dimensional on a single surface. No collage or montage.
• Framed size cannot exceed 32x40 inches. Mats must be white, off-white, tan, gray or black; frames should be simple in design (no ornately carved wooden frames).
• Artwork must be ready to hang by wire—no sawtooths. Plexiglas only. Absolutely NO glass or “clip on” frames.
• Information on submitted entry form regarding size and price cannot be changed. Artwork cannot be altered after submission of entry.
• CPSA, juror, and gallery reserve the right to disallow a work if it fails to meet the specified criteria.
CPSA Specifications For and requirements
The entry form, which contains rules and conditions of entry, is confusing. In my opinion, the whole document should be headed up "rules and conditions of entry" - but it isn't. As it is, only the first paragraph is described as 'rules'. Unfortunately I can't refer you to the document as it is not yet available on the website.
Rules on eligible worksIt then goes on to have a number of conditions. I can't see any merit whatsoever in splitting conditions from rules - but that's another issue!
The Annual United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society Open International Exhibition shall be of pure coloured pencil work only. Submission will be open to all artists. Coloured pencil does not include pastel pencils. It does include crayons such as Caran d'Ache Neocolour 11 or Derwent Aquatone. There shall be no restriction on how the pencils are used - all solvents including water are acceptable. graphite pencil may be used under or between layers of coloured pencil, but the pigment surface of the work should be 100% coloured pencil. Coloured support media are permitted, but any colour added to the ground should be done with the coloured pencil pigments. Pictures that have been accepted for any previous UKCPS exhibition will not be eligible.
UKCPS Notification issued March 2008
ConditionsWhat are the concerns?
The Society wishes to see work submitted for exhibition that is entirely the original work of the submitting artist from source and content to completion. The exhibition should show the compositional and drawing skills of the artists, as well as their ability to use colour from a pencil source. For this reason submitted work must meet a number of conditions:
UKCPS Notification issued March 2008
- The concept, design and execution of the artwork shall be solely that of the artist. The artist must have taken any photographs used for source material and no work can be submitted which has been executed in class or which has been assisted by another artist. No work may be copied from copyrighted or published materials including copyright free stock images, and no images may be submitted which have been produced by drawing over a digital reproduction.
- Artwork must be two-dimensional on a single surface (not collage or montage) and be capable of being exhibited, framedm in a traditional way.
- By submitting an etry, the Artist asserts copyright to the completed work...........
Concerns focus on originality of the artwork and intellectual property issues. These have included, for example:
- the extent of original work by the artist alone
- the use and display of trademarked logos in artwork
- the use of copyright images without seeking or gaining all proper permissions
- the extent to which an artist has 'copied' an image generated from a photograph taken by somebody else.
- Copyright lies in the process of generation not in the area of competence - so whether an image is generated by a professional photographer or a member of your family or your best friend an image produced by somebody else is subject to copyright. Copyright can be transferred and a licence for its use is required.
- If a licence has been granted then the issue is whether the drawing created as a result is significantly different, in both composition and detail, to enable it to be claimed as an original work of art. This is an area where coloured pencil artists who work in a hyper/photo-realistic way may come "unstuck".
- Firstly the people who work from photographs taken by other people - who are pretty fed up about all this as one could have predicted.
- Secondly, a notion was raised and discussed yesterday that competitive work cannot be displayed as part of "works in progress" (WIPs) on internet art forums. This is what Talking Point - the members magazine had to say - I EMPHASISE that at least part of what comes next is NOT what it says in the rules and conditions.
.....the UKCPS has decided to follow the changes brought in the CPSA for the exhibitions in the USA. This aims to ensure that the work accepted will be entirely the original work of the submitting artist. If you work from photographs, you must have taken the photo yourself. This change will exclude photos from all outside sources including copyright free galleries, books and magazines. The use of an image composed by someone else means that your artwork is not entirely your own and original. Similarly any work completed with outside assistance is not entirely your own work and this means the exclusion of work completed on courses and workshops and also work which has been displayed as a 'step by step' exercise over the Internet on sites such as Scribbletalk.com and WetCanvas.com where other artists comment and make suggestions. An essential point is that the completed image should demonstrate your own drawing skills. Copyright is becoming a very 'hot' topic these days abd breaches of copyright on images like logos and registered designs are increasingly the subject of legal action. We recommend that you seek advice if your picture includes a copyright design as a substantial part of the whole image.I'm entirely supportive of no copying from photos which are not your own and no submission of work which has been completed in a workshop or class or under the tuition of a tutor. I know of one (non-CP) tutor who saw one of her students win a major national prize through submitting work which had been completed in one of her classes using an image which she had created and for which the student received tuition during the course of the workshop! This point certainly needs to be emphasised.
Talking point - March 2008
However, there has been complete uproar about the comment regarding the notion of "assisted" and the internet art forums. I don't think "assisted" means "you can't discuss work in places where we can see it going on - even if you do discuss it behind closed doors or in groups which are not on the internet which think it's OK because this is what artists do".
The UKCPS Executive (as a minimum) needs to consider what they mean by "assisted" within the context of what is NORMAL artistic practice. Which is that you talk to people about your work. Artists are adult and autonomous. They are capable of listening and choosing what, if anything, is relevant. Otherwise you get into the ludicrous situation of trying to decide at what point you can no longer talk to anybody about your work because it might invalidate it for competition purposes!!!
One of the skills all artists need to develop is an insight into what is constructive comment and what is utter c**p. Seeing a work through other people's eyes can help you know what to do next. However the simple act of hearing comments does not make an artist prostrate themselves with gratitude, roll over and then leap up and put all those comments into action. Similarly, an artist may have already decided what to do next and might be interested to know whether others think the same way. Quite apart from these consideration there's the practical issue of introducing a condition which cannot possibly be policed. How on earth will UKCPS ever know about all the conversations which take place?
If this were to be introduced as a condition (and I emphasise that it is not a stated condition in the rules) then I think its most major impact would be on the artists/teachers who frequent internet forums or blogs. If this becomes the rule then all those who teach would have to become very disciplined and be constantly aware of the need to refrain from commenting in any way on pieces being displayed on the internet. So much for any aims a society might have for supporting the education and development of its members!
What do other art societies / art competitions do?
Interestingly - and by way of contrast - the terms and conditions for entry to the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts (which is the largest open exhibition in the world) confines its requirements as to ways of working and 'ownership' of the artistic process to the following statement about intellectual property.
Intellectual property rightsThat's it - there is no other statement about how an artwork is produced other than relating to size and what counts as two or three dimensional work! I interpret this statement to mean that the person submitting an entry holds all rights including any copyrights they may have acquired in the normal course of practice.
7.1 Each artist by entering a work confirms that they hold all intellectual property rights in the work.
Terms and Conditions for entering works to the Summer Exhibition 2008 (pdf file)
The BP Portrait Awards rules only state that the work must be original paintings in specified media and that "The work entered should be a painting based on a sitting or study from life and the human figure must predominate." It doesn't say that the use of photographs as source material is not allowed. The only real constraints in terms of artistic process relate to the mediums which are not permissible.
What I'm attempting to demonstrate here is that two of the most prominent national art competitions/exhibitions in the country choose to treat their prescription as to what is and is not allowed in a completely different way from the two coloured pencil societies. They place no limits on the nature of artistic practice or discourse or source materials. They just require that people respect the law of intellectual property and/or use a size and materials which 'fit' that particular organisation. In a nutshell, they treat artists as autonomous adults.
What's the solution?
My personal view is that I'm very much of the opinion that
- Artists should always be treated as adults
- the rules for entry in 2008 should be as stated on the entry form - and on the entry form ALONE. There should no comments which in effect introduce further conditions.
- comments about various people's views about how "assisted" should be interpreted - outside what it says on the entry form - should be withdrawn immediately.
One possible way round all of this in future is to take the lead from some of the more leading art organisations. The emphasis should be placed on artists being asked to certify on submission of their entry that the work is original and that they own all intellectual property rights to their entry.
The rules and conditions could clarify what this is ie work has not been copied from the work of others in breach of copyright or trademark, that they have not received any significant assistance with their work and that they understand that significant assistance for the purposes of the competition includes working from photographs taken by anybody else, work done in a class and/or under the direction of a tutor and work done jointly with another artist.
The really important thing is to avoid indulging the following fallacies.
- Fallacy #1: Artwork is always totally original. Artwork is very often derivative of other visual images and people often copy techniques initially and then make them their own - in their own style. Totally original concepts and methods of execution are extremely rare. As my Japanese Art project will demonstrate this month, there is a considerable amount of western art which has been very heavily influenced by images of Japanese Art - you will be surprised!
- Fallacy #2: Art competitions must always exclude entries which have been the subject of normal artistic practice. Normal practice involves showing your work to other artists, receiving critiques and then deciding, in an autonomous way, whether or not to take any action on the basis of those comments and discussions. In other words are artists are adults and competitions should expect them to act in an adult way.
Any UKCPS members reading this may well want to join the discussion on the UKCPS Yahoo Group - which is only open to members. For some reason, in group view, the discussion is buried in a thread about the newsletter Talking Point.
A number of artists intend to post on their blogs about this issue today. I'll be updating this blog post today to add in links to their posts below as and when they post. Check back for an update!
- Nicole Caulfield - New Rules for UKCPS and Why I believe in photo restrictions for competitions
- Gayle Mason - Changes to the Conditions of Entry for the 2008 UKCPS Exhibition
- Vivien Blackburn - Painting from photographs - good or bad? should they be your own photographs?
- S G Chipman - UKCPS rule changes
- Maggie Siefvater - Original Works for Exhibitions
- Japanese Art and Artists Project - a study of a drawing by Utagaw Kuniyoshi called "Ayus, Swimming Upstream with Hagi Branch 36.8x12.2 mid Tempo era (1830-1844).
This drawing was done as a study in Japanese drawing. I wanted to try and see whether film would work in terms of creating flat colour on one side and the drawn line on the other. It seems to have worked well although I find I can't work as I would have liked in relation to application of coloured pencil. The other test was of what it felt like in terms of drawing the sort of lines which one finds a lot in prints. They are very sinewy and sensitive and quite difficult to get right first time. For the watermarks I just studied his approach and then tried to apply it without copying. The aspect which is particularly effective is the two colours used which gets great depth. I'm not sure how apparent that is. I left out the seal and text.
- The deadline for people to purchase an entry form for the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts is today - Tuesday 4th March! Entry forms have to be completed and returned by 18th March.