Thursday, May 31, 2007

Whistler Month: Whistler's Venice

The Vegetable Seller
9" x 7.5", pen and ink on card
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Whistler originally went Venice after being awarded a farthing in damages and humiliated in the libel case against Ruskin and to make some money from a commission by the Fine Art Society to produce 12 etchings of Venice. In the end he stayed for nearly 14 months and produced a huge quantity of work and, it would appear, enjoyed himself so much he had to be bribed to return home!
Whistler arrived in Venice bankrupt in the wake of a sensational libel trial against John Ruskin in London. Venice proved both restorative and transforming for Whistler-it released a flood of creativity that enabled him to reestablish his finances, his reputation, and to a degree his personal life. His representations of well-known landmarks, including the church of Santa Mariadella Salute and the Rialto Bridge, as well as many minor courts, alleys, and back canals, established a new and original iconography of the city. Upon his return to London, Whistler exhibited his Venice works and graduallyreassumed a leading place in the Victorian art avant-garde ("Whistler's Venice" Bookjacket).
I acquired "Whistler's Venice" by Alastair Grieve after seeing the Turner, Whistler, Monet exhibition in Paris. I was hugely impressed by Whistler's pastel drawings and etchings of Venice and wanted to know more and this book delivers! It provides:
  • information about the 50 etchings and around 100 pastels of Venice he produced during a 14 month stay - locating each work on a detailed map and comparing it to photographs of location
  • reproductions of all the work
  • details about Whistler's methods and techniques - and comparisons with others working in Venice at around the same time.
The book gives good size reproductions of both pastels and etchings. I've provided a fair few links at the end for those who like to explore further and, immediately, below are some links to images of etchings on the Internet. (The pastels are much less easy to track down although they pop up in articles and books).
  • the Smithsonian Institution: Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
I think I've worked out why I like Whistler drawings so much. He seems to have a more refined approach to drawing than the one I use. I tried to do the above study very much in the style of Whistler - and to be hones did not find it too difficult. I have a bit more of a tendency to scribble - but that could be because I was using pen and ink rather than an etching needle and plate. [Note: I can't work out the provenance of the photo (from 1870) in the book which I used for the study. Its credit is "Carlo Nyer, photograph of vegetable sellers on Rio de S. Caterina c,1870, Osvaldo Bohm." The probelm arises as both Carlo Nyer and Osvaldo Bohm are photographers who both photographed Venice!]

His pastels are incredibly difficult to emulate. His line is so sparse and economical coupled with very limited use of pastel - often leaving lots of paper showing (both under and around the scumble). This makes them very much a 'sketch' in my book. I was going to do a pastel as well - and this post may yet be updated with a pastel "after Mr Whistler". [And it now is - however mine has far too much pastel on the paper compared to his!]

What did I learn from Whistler month?

I learned a quite a few things, including a lot more about his life which was simply extraordinary! I've read more than I've written here and, as an individual, he's a very interesting if rather self-opinionated person. However - focusing on the art:
  • I very much like the value and emphasis he places on drawing and in trying to develop new ways of representing scenes.
  • I also like his compositions - he tries to find a new perspective on familiar views.
  • His 'nocturnes' and flat simplified views which drew so much criticism at the time for their 'unfinished' state would not be out of place in any contemporary art gallery.
  • I very much like the ideas he had about simplifying colour palettes, as well as motifs, and of working in harmonious palettes. That's something I shall be exploring further in future.
  • I'm certainly going to be looking back at the sketches I made and photos taken in Venice with a view to maybe creating pen and ink drawings. His etchings and paintings of the River Thames will also be enormously helpful in developing the series I'm planning.

500 years of female portraits in western art

María Teresa (1638–1683), Infanta of Spain, 1651–54
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660)
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.43)
Permanent Colllection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Photograph Credits

Dee Farnsworth alerted me to this You Tube Video 500 years of female portraits in western art.

It was put together by eggman913 and is simply amazing. I do wish he'd publish a list of all the portraits included and who they were by. Maybe it will turn into one of those great competitions where people have to try and name them all?!

All you need to do is click on this link (and make sure that 'MP3/streaming' is not blocked by your security).

[Update - to include above image] I don't know if the Met version of "Maria Theresa" was in or not as I've only watched it once - but this video has made me spend some time looking at female portraits - and also made me think about wanting to look at more in the future and how they have developed over time - both on screen and in exhibitions. I'm greatly intrigued by all the portraits presented and the very many different ways of portraying the female face and head.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Apologies to anybody who subscribes through Feedblitz and didn't get any e-mails for 3 days (re posts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday) only to find that all the posts then arrived in one!

I don't know quite what happened and I'm not sure that the people at Feedblitz do either. However it looks like about half the Feedblitz subscribers didn't get their e-mails - including me.

I subscribe myself as a way of checking whether feeds are working properly and what the e-mails that people get actually look like. Having said that, I'm disappointed to report that it still took me 3 days to realise I hadn't had an e-mail! Well they do come early morning and that's my excuse.

Also, since the problems with my feeds being scraped I've had to reduce my feed to the short version. I hope you don't mind about this. Clicking the link takes you to the blog and the full version of the blog post. I was also using the e-mail as a way of archiving the blog posts separate from the blog itself - however short feeds don't really work for this purpose. I hope to be able to get back to full feeds again in the future.

I think (fingers crossed) that we are now back to normal again. Any time you think you may be having problems, do let me know (see contact details) and I'll investigate it.

Sketchbooks Online 2: The Smithsonian - Curator's Choice

One of the comments made earlier this week in relation to "Sketching for Real", is that one of the things that can hold people back from trying to keep a sketchbook is the belief that all images in a sketchbook are perfect. However, anybody who keeps a sketchbook on a regular basis will tell you all about the false starts, the wonky perspective and all manner of dud drawings and notes and try-outs which also make it into their sketchbooks

It's therefore very educational to take a look now and again at the sketchbooks that have ended up in museum archives - to see what these actually look like as a digital facsimile.

Mosque, Tangier, 1884 (John White Alexander 1856-1915)

Visual Thinking - The Curator's Choice provides access to the digital version of some of the sketches and sketchbooks of artists which can be found in the Smithsonian Institute Archives of American Art - and covering a period of nearly 150 years.
Sketchbooks in the Archives of American Art form a vast repository of ideas, perceptions, inspirational imagery, and graphic experiments. As personal records they afford an intimate glimpse of an artist's visual thinking and reveal aspects of their creative process.....

Sketchbooks are as varied as the artists who keep them.
Curator's choice of Sketchbooks in the Smithsonian
I've reordered the sketchbooks chosen by the Curator so they are now in the order of an artist's date of birth. The earliest sketchbook dates back to 1849 and the latest is from 1986. Bear in mind that these are just a fraction of those kept in the archives.

I found lots to interest me. My best advice is to take a look at random and see what appeals to you. You can also browse by date and artist (in alphabetical order) and subject (although the latter seems to be experiencing a big at present.)
Worthington Whittredge (b. 1820 d. 1910)
Sketchbook, 1849

Walter Shirlaw (b. 1838 d. 1909)
Sketchbook, ca. 1859

William Michael Harnett (b. 1848 d. 1892)
Sketchbook, 1870

John White Alexander (b. 1856 d. 1915)
Sketchbook, ca. 1884

Willard Leroy Metcalf (b. 1858 d. 1925)
Sketchbook, ca. 1881

Robert Henri (b. 1865 d. 1929)
Travels in Europe, Aug. 29 - Sept. 27, 1891

Oscar Bluemner (b. 1867 d. 1938)
Painting Diary, 12 June 1911-30 January 1912

Harrison Cady (b. 1877)
Harrison Cady Sketchbook, ca. 1943

Palmer C. Hayden (b. 1890 d. 1973)
Palmer Hayden Sketchbook with Studies of Sailboats in France., ca. 1929

Lena Gurr (b. 1897 d. 1992)
Sketchbook No. 7, 1930

Reginald Marsh (b. 1898 d. 1954)
Sketchbook No. 27, 14 July 1942-2 Nov 1947

Isabel Bishop (b. 1902 d. 1988)
Sketchbook, ca. 1950

Fairfield Porter (b. 1907 d. 1975)
Sketchbook, ca. 1950

James Penney (b. 1910)
Sketchbook, 1932

David Park (b. 1911 d. 1960)
Sketchbook, ca. 1960

Elmer Bischoff (b. 1916 d. 1991)
Sketchbook, ca. 1950

Harry Bouras (b. 1931 d. 1990)
Sketchbook, 1986
  1. The funding for Visual Thinking: Curator's Choice was provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Women's Committee.
  2. Accreditation for the image used for this post is as follows. The image is from the sketchbook ca. 1884 / John White Alexander, artist. 1 v. : graphite and ink ; 11 x 20 cm. John White Alexander papers. Archives of American Art.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whistler Month: Thames Views

Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge (circa 1872-5)
Oil on canvas, support: 683 x 512 mm frame: 922 x 760 x 83 mm painting
James McNeill Whistler

Tate Collection: Presented by The Art Fund 1905

I've found the most superb site for anybody interested in how the Thames featured in the work of Turner, Whistler or Monet. The Tate Gallery has a 'Thames Views' micro-site within the bit of the website dedicated to the Turner, Whistler, Monet exhibition in 2005. This is the
It provides:
  • a map of the locations of all the paintings and etchings done of the River Thames and its environs click on any of the locations and it produces the images associated with the location.
  • a list of walks - taking you to key places associated with the artists and their work. The walks also list the works associated with each location on the walk which you can see if you click the relevant link. There are also links to extracts from the audio tours. The walks are as follows:
    • Walk 1: Lots Road, Chelsea to Battersea
    • Walk 2: Tate Britain to Embankment via the South Bank - taking in Westminster Bridge (etched by Whistler) and the various views of the Houses of Parliament (by Monet)
    • Walk 3: Charing Cross to Waterloo via the Hungerford Bridge, Savoy Hotel and Waterloo Bridge
I have a mini obsession with 'walking the walk' and finding the locations that artists have painted in. In pursuing this I've travelled to and visited Monet's studio, house and gardens at Giverny, located the sites around the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum in St Remy where Van Gogh resided for a time and painted some of his most famous pictures, visited Cezanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence, and some of the places in Provence associated with his paintings, and last September I visited Winslow Homer's base at Prout's Neck and Rockland, Maine - the summer home of the Wyeths. However, despite living in London, I've never before been able to do an informed walk of the places where artists worked along the Thames - but I will be doing this summer!

Some of the etchings and works by Whistler that I like the best are:
  • the Thames set of etchings. The Thames Police is perhaps not the best in a pictorial sense but for those of use who know the current architecture associated with the HQ of the River Police, we can experience some nostalgia for things past........
Thames Police from the Thames set 1859
intaglio print, plate 15.2 x 22.2 cm, sheet 18.4 x 22.4 cm
James McNeill Whistler 1834-1903
Collection of the National Gallery of Australia
  • the Nocturne paintings such as the one of Old Battersea Bridge (top) . The Nocturnes were criticised by many as 'unfinished' and were completely unsaleable after the libel case. I find them very atmospheric - which is, of course, what Whistler was painting.
  • the Little London etchings of the panoramic view of the City of London and River Thames from his room on the sixth floor of the Savoy Hotel.
  • the etchings and paintings done around Wapping
Eagle Wharf from the Thames set 1859
intaglio print, plate 13.6 x 21.4 cm, sheet 16.0 x 23.8 cm
  • the painting of Wapping. However I think that the Tate Gallery have located the site of this painting incorrectly. The Public House called The Angel (which I know well) is actually located in Rotherhithe - and the view from the balcony over the River is of Wapping. I probably like it because I have sat on that balcony myself quite a few times over the years.......
I also found the "River of Dreams" interview exploring the impact of the River Thames on artistic vision to be very interesting.

Low Tide, Pool of London
20cm x 30cm, coloured pencils on Saunders Waterford HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The image above is my effort at emulating Whistler's simplified and more abstracted approach to painting the Thames.

"Low tide, Pool of London was developed from a very quick sketch of Shad Thames, Tower Bridge and the Pool of London done on a sketchcrawl in March this year. I didn't have my camera with me on that trip but was able to take photographs for 'sizing' on a walk by the Thames at Easter. These indicated that my sketch sizing in the gale that was blowing at the time had been more than a little off! I'd like to try this again but do a monochromatic drawing next time.

The work will be on show at the Fine Line Artists Exhibition in Ontario during June.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Sketching for Real - Advice and Workshops

Sunday Afternoon in the Park
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've updated my website to include files (in Word) of the class on Sketching which I taught online in May 2006. I now have a page on the website called "Advice on Sketching" where you can find
  • an article on Starting to Sketch with coloured pencils
  • Sketching for Real - an online class with three assignments
You may download and print out the information in the files listed on Advice on Sketching - for your private, individual and educational use only. Teachers may provide a note of the URL ( in any list of websites they provide as useful information.

No licence is granted for commercial use:
  • you may NOT use the material in the files in any workshop which charges a fee
  • you may NOT use the material in the files to generate an income
  • you may NOT reproduce the material online without my written consent (see 'About the Artist' for contact details)
If you don't have Word, you should be able to open the files using the Google 'Docs and Spreadsheets' function. If you try the assignments out I'd love to know how you found them and what you produced as a result.

Sketching Workshops - for real!
I've been invited in the past to deliver 'face to face' workshops in the USA. So my plan for this year includes investigating options for using my teaching credentials to deliver workshops on sketching in the UK and overseas. I'm currently thinking about the development of a 'face to face' workshop based on Sketching for Real which will focus on developing skills and confidence in sketching and how to work towards sketching 'on location' and in public. The other thing I'm developing is a brief for groups interested in inviting me to visit them!

So now for the market research bit:
  • Do you think there is a demand for workshops on sketching?
  • What, in your experience, are the main things that people find difficult when it come to sketching?
  • For people wanting to learn more about sketching what are the things you most want to learn about and/or develop your skills/confidence in?
  • From your perspective what's the ideal length of a workshop on sketching? How about a weekend, five days or a fortnight?
  • when answering please indicate whether
    • you've ever taken a workshop before
    • and/or ever been taught to sketch (and if so, how)
    • and/or whether or not you'd like to or not.
Next week I'm going to be featuring the workshop and blog developed by another artist. I'm sure you'll find it absolutely fascinating as I did!

[Note: I'd just like to finish by saying that at the top is a sketch I did at the end of last month - which was the hottest April on record. Today we are nearing the end of a month which has been one of the gloomiest, windy, rainy Mays that I can ever remember!]

Sketchbooks Online - a Summary

Anybody who keeps a sketchbook will know that one of the joys of getting together with other artists is being able to inspect their sketchbooks while they do the same with yours. It's just so very stimulating to be able to see different people's approaches to keeping a sketchbook. With the wonders of the Internet, blogs are in part replacing the bound sketchbook. However the Internet also allows us to have an insight into those sketchbooks of artists which have been left to museums and have now been converted to digital images.

This blog post aims to :
  • provide one place (see below) which lists all the posts on this blog which highlight online sketchbooks or sketchbook exhibitions. The blog posts also provides links to digital versions of sketchbooks which are now kept or have been displayed in museums.
  • update the summary every time I post a new blog post - as will happen later this week.
  • store the link to this summary in the right hand column and in Resources for Artists - Drawing and Sketching (my squidoo lens of links) - which also includes art history links to drawings and sketchbooks on the Internet.
Switzerland 1870 sketchbook
(one of 46 drawings and watercolours in this sketchbook)
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925)

Black impressed cardboard cover Various media on off-white wove paper
8 x 11 1/4 x 1/2 in. (20.3 x 28.6 x 1.3 cm) (closed sketchbook) 8 x 11 1/8 in. (20.3 x 28.3 cm) (sheets)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Gift of Mrs. Francis Ormond, 1950 (50.130.148)

Summary of the "Making A Mark" posts about sketchbooks

The following posts on this blog all contain links to either exhibitions of sketchbooks and.or drawings of various artists or links relevant to a particular artist.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Useful Tip: A simple way to evaluate colour accurately

Yesterday Gayle Mason provided a very useful tip on her blog "Fur in the Paint" about how to evaluate colour while developing her realistic portraits of dogs and cats.

It needs to be be said that she arrived at the "Useful Tip" after some trial and error - she passes quickly over some and refuses to come clean on others
While drawing a Rough Collie in pastel I have been known to take the painting and hold my own Collies fur against the board. Now nice tempered though my dogs are, this does not come on their list of 'what shall we do today'. They usually struggle which results in the said fur being left all over the painting. All I will say in conclusion is be very careful how you try to remove dog fur from pastel
Now that's not the tip - that just explains one of the reasons for the title of her blog. This is her tip........

House Paint help with my New Cat

......on a recent visit to the local DIY store I spotted the answer to all my problems. There, sitting quietly in a display cabinet was a rainbow of colours, the paint sample cards.

I released several of these into my custody, then went back and obtained several more. The samples are free and looking at the amount thrown onto the floor the ones I took had moved onto a better life.

They are perfect, I punched a hole in the side of each colour and now I can place the little strip over whatever reference I'm using. This can be a photograph, or my dogs or the grass outside, the possibilities are endless.

Now wasn't that useful?

Gayle tells me they can also be used to help provide a baseline for making corrections to a scan in order to get the colour right in the resulting image.

Visit Gayle's blog to follow her development of a wonderful apricot coloured Norwegian Forest Cat called Shred that she is currently drawing.

If you've got a useful tip and would like me to highlight it as part of this occasional series on useful tips then please use the comments function to post a comment and a hyperlink.

Julie's new project - A Family Portrait

The Oakley Family Home
copyright Julie Oakley

Check out Julie Oakley's new 2007/8 drawing project -"A Family Portrait". Here's the challenge:
This is probably going to be the last year that all of the members of our family will be living in the same house, as my eldest child, Flo, will be off to university in September 2008. This is also the twentieth year that Robin and I have been together. So, every day for the next year I am going to celebrate our family by creating ‘portraits’ of each member of the family. I intend to interpret the brief very, very loosely, have fun with lots of different styles and techniques and may sometimes create pieces that take longer than a day. (Julie Oakley)
Check out the family. Her last family portrait (see above) is now somewhat old but the names and faces will be very familiar to all those who followed her 2006/7 project One Mile From Home.
A portrait a day looks to me like a commitment to one drawing a week each!

I think it's a really super project and is what I would term a real legacy. I'm sure Julie will be creating a book for each child at the end of it and what a super record that will be for each of them to have as they grow up and then have families of their own. I wonder how many bloggers will join in with this project?

The portraits are also being posted on Julie's other blog "Julie's Pictures" and if you want to comment on a portrait or read any associated text then that's where she'd like you to do it. This blog also contains her other sketches /drawings she makes - and she continues to walk and sketch.

On 13th June Julie and I are going to meet up for the first time. I'm a Member of the National Portrait Gallery and, before I knew what her new project was, I invited Julie to come with me to see the Private View of the BP Portrait Award which is held the day before the exhibition opens on 14th June. (This link includes images of the shortlisted candidates for the prizes. The exhibition runs to 16 September.) I'm now ticked pink by the relevance of the invite and we'll just have to see whether any of the portraits on show provide Julie with any ideas for her Family Portrait project.

[ Note: I don't know quite how I managed this but I seem to be back to back with three portraiture blog posts on the trot!]


Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Tate Times Drawing Challenge for young artists

The Tate Gallery and the Times Newspaper are collaborating this weekend to stage an exhibition - the Tate Times Drawing Challenge as part of UBS Openings: The Long Weekend at the Tate Modern. Young people between the ages of 11-18 were asked to send in an A4 drawing of themselves in pen, pencil or fixed charcoal. The challenge received over 1,000 responses.

Yesterday, the Times Online (25th May 2007) had an excellent article about the Tate Times Drawing Challenge Shortlist by Rachel Campbell Johnston. This places the challenge in the context of the importance of the self-portrait in identifying artistic talent and the preference of judges for drawing from life rather than photographs.
The self-portrait is fundamental to Western art history. Over the centuries it has become a touchstone of talent..... A self-portrait can be about ruthless honesty. But, equally, it can be all about ways of dissembling. Artists can rival actors when it comes to obscuring or embellishing themselves.Think of the difference between that public face that you practise in the mirror and that embarrassing grimace in the camera snap. The construction of an image involves dozens of decisions. To study a self-portrait is to understand how an artist wants to be seen.
A jury including Tate Modern’s Head of Education, Anna Cutler; The Times’s critic Rachel Campbell Johnston; UBS’s curator Joanne Bernstein; Artist and Professor of Drawing at Chelsea College of Art, Stephen Farthing; and the artist Grayson Perry, have selected the best to show. It's extremely interesting to read the Judges' comments about what they were looking for in the selection process - and you can also watch a video of the judges explaining the criteria they used in arriving at their choice of the final shortlist (click on first paragraph of the Times article).
The judges tended to prefer the pictures in which the artist had really tried to look in a mirror rather than copy the surface of a photograph. “Drawing a self-portrait is not about copying your face, it is about developing a memory for it,” says Stephen Farthing, professor of drawing at University of the Arts, London. “The best images,” he says, “are those done by someone who has spent time drawing from life, not just trying to make pictures that look as if they are finished.” Most of the most obviously perfect images were passed over by the panel. “The distortions and quirks are where the subconscious leaks out,” Grayson Perry says.
I liked the Times coverage of article, picture gallery and video - but had a few problems getting the video to load - but was very pleased when it finally worked. I think it's a pity that there are no links to the Times coverage on the Tate website - with the original site at Tate Online or Tate Modern.

The Times Online article webpage for 25th May 2007 includes the Picture Gallery of the Tate Times shortlist (click the box just to the right of the text at the top of the article). Be prepared to be very impressed by the quality of some of the work compared to artists of any age - compare these self-portraits to that done by Constable aged 30 (see top) and with Rembrandt's self-portraits as a young man done in his early 20s. Then take another look at the self-portraits in this Drawing Challenge and note the ages!

I think this is an excellent idea for a competition and it's great that it produced so very many responses. Let's hope it gets repeated.

Which self-portrait did you like best?

Note: The image at the top is a self-portrait by John Constable which forms part of the Tate Collection. It is now generally recognised as the finest portrait of Constable and was executed in pencil in 1806 when the artist was 30
This pencil sketch is Constable's earliest dated drawing from 1806, the year of his most prolific output, and one in which he appears to have worked predominantly in pencil and watercolour. .....Constable made this drawing in March, when he was presumably in London. A profile self-portrait such as this requires the use of two mirrors. Terry Riggs 1998, Tate Collection

Friday, May 25, 2007

Derwent Drawing Pencils and 'Drawing a Head'

Drawing a Head 24th May 2007 - Clelia
coloured pencils on Winsor and Newton Lana Tints Grained Surface Pastel Paper 160gsm

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Two versions of the model I drew yesterday in my Drawing a Head class. The first was done in my usual coloured pencils the first two sessions (approximately 75 minutes) and the second was done using Derwent Drawing Pencils at the end of the session in the last block of 30 minutes.

Derwent Drawing Pencils are fat and creamy with (I'm guessing) lots of wax content. I'm saying this because I found it difficult to use my ordinary oil-based pencils (Faber Castell Polychromos and Lyra Rembrandt) over the top of them.

They're great to use in a class like this and I love lots of the colours which are wonderful for skin. However I would like to see them expand the range to include more greens and specifically ones which help more with portraits. Derwent recommend their use for animal portraits as well and I can well imagine they'd be useful for this too - if one could solve the sharpening problem - see below.

This is the colour chart which you can download from the website. Note the colour chart provides an indication of lighfastness and that they are all at the top end on the Blue Wool lightfastness scale. Here's what Derwent have to say about them.
Drawing is available in 24 subtle shades, including a wide selection of traditional sepia tones together with soft neutral greys, greens, blues and creams.
One downside - there is the perennial problem of finding a sharpener which can cope with big Derwent pencils. Last might saw me sat next to the big waste bin with my scalpel and my DDPs - trying to sharpen them. Frankly this is not an easy job. I've never seen a Derwent pencil sharpener - has anybody else?

If you click on either/both of the images you'll see the marks I made while drawing. It feels more and more like a sculpture exercise using hatching. The drawing is better in the first - but I'm quite pleased with the form and values of the second - even if the drawing was a bit off. And I did like using the Derwent Drawing Pencils for the second one. I don't have the complete set as yet and last night I needed to add in a warmer red from my CPs into the second drawing to reflect the skin colours and the lighting situation. So I need to check the ones I've got and see whether there are some warmer reddish tones which I've not yet got e.g. I don't think I have "Ruby Earth".

I tried an elephant grey paper this week from my pad of Windsor and Newton Lana Tints Grained Surface Paper. My pad has 6 assorted colours and the manufacturers state it has a high cotton content and is acid free and light resistant. (I'm never very sure of the difference between lightfast and light resistant - but presumably there is one). I'm still trying to find the colour of tinted paper which works best with my coloured pencils. I'm beginning to think a lighter shade and maybe one with a greenish tinge to it might work better for me. Lana Tints comes in 30 shades altogether - but apparently they are not available in the USA or Canada.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

To copy or not to copy - what is the law?

12.5" x 9.5", pastel on Rembrandt pastel board
available for sale at the Fine Line Artists Exhibition in Ontario, Canada in June 2007
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
People often assume that because information is readily accessible on websites, it can be copied or reproduced. This is not the case. Anyone wanting to publish material posted on social networking sites, or other sites, needs to check the site's terms and conditions to see who owns the material and whether it can legally be reproduced. (Alice Gould, 'The blogosphere, the law and the printed word' Media Guardian 23.4.07.)
Regular readers will be familiar with fact that last month individual blog posts on this blog were copied in virtual entirety. The spammers were obviously oblivious to the law or were reckless in flouting it. They certainly weren't reading the copyright notice on this site! I've been taking a bit of an interest in copyright and digital issues ever since.

I'd love to reproduce an article I read last month in the Media Guardian in its entirety - but I can't - because of legal restrictions. If you're writing a blog or otherwise putting your own material into the blogosphere, I'd highly recommend you bookmark Alice Gould's article "The blogosphere, the law and the printed word" for reference purposes. Alice Gould is the intellectual property partner at commercial law firm Wedlake Belland. The article was published on April 23rd 2007 and can be read in full if you register with Guardian Online. It neatly summarises some of the things a blogger needs to know about copyright law and what you - or others - can publish on the internet.

What follows is my interpretation of some of the key points relating to copyright derived from various authoritative websites on the internet, (with my comments in parentheses).

In essence
  • you cannot copy what you like simply because it's on the internet and accessible. Copyright law applies to the internet and blogosphere and those who publish on it.
  • if you want to copy you need to check first with the publisher who owns the copyright to the material.
  • you cannot assume that fellow bloggers / forum members don't mind their work or their e-mails being copied; material should not be copied or reproduced without the author/creator's consent
  • don't assume that the copyright provisions (or lack of them) of your country apply in the same way elsewhere (a lot of work has been done over the years to try and harmonize provisions but there's still some way to go. )
  • 'fair use' provision (within the legal definitions of some countries) provide some scope for copying without permission (reviews and educational use can potentially be 'fair use')
  • where permission is not obtained and you have a legitimate and legal reason you can only reproduce without permission if "less than a substantial part" has been copied. (Bottom line - your blog post cannot be 'scraped' in its entirety without your permission. Your new 'watch me work' painting video cannot be reproduced in its entirety on someone else's site. The critical issue for me of blog posts being scraped is that it can separate the material from the original copyright notice which indicates the status of the material. Some people reserve all rights - and some grant limited permission to copy. You can try and limit the scope for an article being scraped by only publishing a shortened version of it. Also try posting a copyright notice every time you post details of an image. After the event ask the website/blog owner to remove it if it concerns you. If they don't respond or you can't locate them then you can serve a proper notice on others to get it removed - a topic on which I will write further based on my experiences last month)
  • if material is copied (where this is legal):
    • it MUST give full attribution to the original author (some are very precise at to how attribution should be made.)
    • it MUST NOT be distorted
  • the law relating to privacy and films and videos on the internet is very complex (Remember 'ignorance is no defence'! For me this comes into the category of 'don't even go there')
  • you can avoid claims for copyright infringement by asking the author/artist/creator for permission to copy. (Don't be afraid to ask people for permission. Lots of people are happy for their work to be reproduced as long as you ask permission and then make it clear that they produced it. When asking for permission be clear why you want to use the material and how it will be reproduced. If somebody asks you you might give written permission on the basis that it must be attibuted to you and it can be used one time only as requested. I always file all permissions I give.)
I'm not a lawyer and this is not in any way a definitive statement of the law as it relates to copyright. If you want professional advice you need to find somebody properly qualitifed to advise you.

Having said that, there's a lot you can do to find out more for yourself. If you're concerned and want to know more I suggest you check out the article, search on the internet for relevant sites (some of which I have listed below) and check out the terms and conditions concerning copyright on the sites on which you publish your work. You may also want to explore the use of Creative Commons Licences for your material and work.

Finally, for my and your further reference, I keep a number of links to websites relevant to copyright and intellectual property in the relevant section of my squidoo lens "Art Business: Resources for Artists" and will update this as I find more.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Update: Google and Blogger developments

Interior, Pink Tulip #2
8" x 8", coloured pencils on Saunders Waterford Hot Press paper

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This post provides some useful information for bloggers about recent changes in the way Google searches, how Google now isolates hot trends in search terms and some techie stuff to do with testing and tweaking Blogger.

Last Wednesday, Google made a change to the way its search functions operates. It has introduced 'universal search' which means they've taken the separate silos which were operating for different types of media ( Images, Maps, Books, Video, and News) and combined them into one big silo. I'm keeping an eye on the analysis of what this all means but it looks like it might have significant implications for where people now rank in Google on specific keyword searches.

Google Inc. said on Wednesday it was combining its different Web search services into one Universal Search service that would present Web sites, news, video and other results on one page. Universal Search means that standard Google searches will draw results from separate Google properties that target information about books, local information, images, news, and video.............The combined search includes any site indexed by Google's services, such as YouTube, Google Video and independent video sites like (Reuters 16th May 2007)

Yesterday Google launched a new service called 'Hot Trends'. (Now who guessed that 'who won American Idol? would be in the top five searches today? Here's what you get to see when you click on this search term - UK audience look away now!!! OK - so I looked....drat - too early!). By way of contrast here's the result for 'colored pencils'.
Google says the Hot Trends are not the terms people are looking for most frequently—of course, many of those search terms are boring ("myspace", "ipod," "games", "weather", etc.) or things Google doesn't necessarily want to publish. Instead, Google analyzes search queries and presents searches that are deviating the most in relationship to the past traffic. So, if a search term paddles along with a few hundred queries a day and suddenly jumps to a million queries a day, it's deviated significantly from its past search pattern and might pop up on Google Hot Trends. (Digital Trends 22.05.07.)
Also, you can check 'hot trends' on a specific day in the past and also work out what is 'hot' where - which might be helpful to marketing into your own local area (checking out what people buy and when)
In addition to viewing the top search terms by country and city, you can view the top "subregions" (e.g. states within the U.S.) across more than 70 countries. (The official Google Blog: What's hot today?)
Navigation links to other Google services are also being introduced at the top of each browser page.

On 4 May 'old' Blogger was officially declared dead. The folks at Blogger are now concentrating on new features and guess what they've even finally admitted that they don't have enough people and need to recruit!
But we've got a classic problem that comes with growth - there's too much to do, and too few people to do it all. (Blogger Buzz 16th May 2007)
They're even developing user experience research and want to pay us to test Blogger for them.........

Blogger has recently introduced 'autosave' - potentially really useful. Save your new post when you start and that way hopefully autosave will work. I found out the hard way that it doesn't work when you close Blogger inadvertently in mid-post and you haven't yet hit the 'save' button! (I keep thinking they must have the publish and save buttons round as I know I seem to keep wanting to use the wrong button. How about you?)

Yesterday I found what looks like a really useful blog - full of 'Blogger' tweaks. I sent the URL to fellow 'tweaker' Susan Borgas (Arts and Stuff) in South Australia and asked her to take a look at it and she agrees with me - potentially very useful. What I personally like about it is that of the posts that I read, the text about making changes to the code seems to be written to a consistently good standard and each post shows you screen dumps of what the code looks like before and what it looks like after. It's the closest thing I've seen yet to an 'Idiot's Guide' - a blog as a manual of 'how to'. Susan is tweaking widgets as I write. ;)

The blog we both like is called Tips for New Bloggers and is designed for Blogger users. Today's post tackles the nitty gritty behind the three column blog for one of the Blogger templates.

Note: The image is of my second drawing of the interior of a pink tulip. This makes a pair with the one posted in Art Shops in London. (see left). Both are 8" x 8" and when I finally sort out a printer I'll be selling them as a pair as well as individually.

If you were buying a square flower print what size would you go for?

Now I just have to plan the next few flowers - choosing two and three blooms at a time. I've got some great photos ones of the life cycle of some pink peonies which I took recently and need to sort out.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Crackskull Bob goes into print........twice

Crackskull Bob has cracked it. Wally has worked out (a) how to produce a book of his sketches of downtown Norfolk, Virginia and (b) how to get published in a column in a real print newspaper.

Many congratulations to Wally - and I'm posting this here to provide an incitement to others. It has to be incitement rather than incentive as his thoughts can verge on the anarchic at times!

I've been following Wally's sketchbook in two incarnations - in and around the various eateries in Norfolk, Virginia and thereabouts - ever since I first started blogging.

The latest version which has been around for some time now is Crackskull Bob. Wally was one of the very first people to be added to my blogroll and he has entertained me greatly ever since with his unique perspective - that's his views, not his drawings of buildings. His drawing is pretty good too and he does a mean digital life drawing class as well as excellent drawings from life of people waiting in queues and sitting at tables!

"Downtown" - the book of the blog
A little while ago he announced he'd produced "Downtown" described as 'A Downtown Norfolk sketchbook with snotty commentary'. It's available in two versions - print and on-line. I have to say, having downloaded the free on-line version for a nose around, that I'm very impressed - and that's not just because he included a reference to me and this blog!

Wally used, an e-book publisher which has been around for some time and isn't the latest e-business which is trying to rip you off.... It's been recommended to me by a few people now.

Wally says very little about the process he used but seems to be pleased with the output. Now go and pester him for more information about how he did it.

The sketchbook column
He's also just announced that he now has a regular sketchbook column every Sunday with The Virginian Pilot. Well he didn't exactly announce it - he waited until the comments started arriving before actually making it clear he'd finally got a column! As one of the people commenting on this new initiative put it
As a newspaper guy, I can tell you that having this much space devoted to one, incredibly talented guy, is a BIG deal. Papers give up space like I give up my covers on a cold night. chuckrose1
Now if you'd like to congratulate Wally and generally pay homage at his feet.
Incidentally, for those of you who have yet to start blogging and/or have got fed up with your current set-up, check out the software for Wally's blog. Everytime Blogger starts misbehaving I go and take a long hard look at Squarespace. It usually works and Blogger starts behaving again. Got to keep these blogging software monsters on their toes! ;D

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