Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brewery Art Walk this weekend

The Brewery is the largest Artists colony in Los Angeles (some say the world...). Twice a year, the Brewery opens its doors to the public, and yes, its that time again. I will be showing with Marina Massaro and Daniel Brooks. Please come by and say hello!

I will be there 11AM- 6PM Sunday. Loft E26.

(Directions here)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Painting for Mary Claire

Last weekend I delivered a commissioned piece to a client (and now friends) in Carmel/Pebble Beach. This was a difficult piece for many reasons. The painting is of three sisters, two of whom died when they were teenagers. It was commissioned as a gift to Mary Claire, the third sister in the painting. Obviously, I wanted to make sure I honored them all, but at the same time I was experimenting a lot with new techniques and being a lot less literal than I usually am with a painting. The photo I had as reference was very small and cropped differently from how I wanted to compose the painting, so I had to make a lot up.

Her husband Michael had asked me to unveil the painting at her birthday party. I was a little nervous about that (terrified, actually). Fortunately, it went well. She loved the painting.

Michael surprised Mary Claire with a painting for her birthday....

MC, Michael,& me...MC is taking another peak at the painting

Talking technique...

Birthday Party day 2... friends and family gathered at Mary Claire & Michael's and we hung the painting.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pieces of Art

I've been working on this commissioned piece for quite a while. It will be delivered to my client's wife this weekend as a surprise. So rather than post the whole thing, here are a few sections...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Exciting week in the world of Politics

Meanwhile, in the Senate.... you'd think the focus would be on the economy, since its on the brink of disaster and all.

Nah, they decided to take time on the last day of their session to pass the Sean Bentley Orphaned Works Act.

So now it goes to Congress.

More info here at the Illustrator's Partnership Blog.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Orphaned Works Act: Not dead yet...

If you are an artist, writer, photographer, musician, code-wrangler, in short anyone who creates anything subject to copyright protection, you may want to take note. Or, for those of you who just post photos on your facebook, myspace, or flickr accounts, and maybe have never heard of the Orphaned Works Act..... start thinking about whether or not you are OK with corporations mining your photos and using them for their ads. I know, I know, you're asking yourself, "Come on! who would steal photos of me and my friends and use them for commercial gain?! " *cough* Heineken. And yes, I've ranted about this again and again... but this thing wont die.

A few days ago, the Illustrator's Partnership posted their responses to the House Judiciary Committee on their blog (link here). The questions and answers are an interesting read. My favorite part of the post is this:
And on January 29 2007, twenty visual arts groups met in Washington D.C. with attorneys from the Copyright Office. The attorneys stated that the Copyright Office would not create these “indispensable” registries because it would be “too expensive.” So I asked the Associate Register for Policy & International Affairs:

Holland: If a user can’t find a registered work at the Copyright Office, hasn’t the Copyright Office facilitated the creation of an orphaned work?
Carson: Copyright owners will have to register their images with private registries.
Holland: But what if I exercise my exclusive right of copyright and choose not to register?
Carson: If you want to go ahead and create an orphan work, be my guest!
- From my notes of the meeting


The copyright office and the authors of this bill have been walking a fine line. You will notice if you read the bill, that it never mandates that creators register their work. I got a similar stance from Senator Feinstein when I voiced my opposition to the bill. Basically, the tone of the form reponse was: my dear, we aren't MAKING you register your work... & anyway, this is for works whose author cannot be found, and you're right here, so don't worry your pretty little head about this.... but hey--let me know if there's something else I can help you with!

I'm so confused....the Associate Register for Policy & International Affairs says if I don't register, I've just created an orphaned work....

The thing is, if they mandate, force, or impel a creator to register their work, they violate a couple of little international treaties they signed: the Berne Convention, NAFTA, TRIPS, WIPO and WTO treaties.

(Ooops! Maybe Carson should have thought that last comment through....)

The IPA & Capwiz make it so easy for you to voice your opinion on this. Their site will find your representative and send the letter for you. They'll even write it for you if you don't feel like writing your own. There are templates for artists, photographers, illustrators, etc. etc. there are even templates for friends of all the aforementioned creative types as well as a template for those who post photos on social network sites (scroll down to the bottom of the same link for both).

And as an added bonus, if you live in one of those countries whose treaty we will violate by passing this law, you can have your say too ( Link to international template and contacts here).

Feel free to pass the info along...

Friday, August 22, 2008

A ray of light...

The Association of Research library reported today that the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008 (S. 2913) has stalled ( link here).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Argentina Part 2

I didn't take many pictures during the second part of the trip....
and for the first time in a very long time, I didn't paint-- at all (some people call that a vacation....)

You can't see them but there are Condors in those cliffs.... right next to that crack in the rock...near the white spot....

A fearless helicopter bird*

We had him eating out of our hands....
Afterwards there was a beautiful hike down... in the dark... under an incredible star filled sky....past rabid man-eating killer cows and possibly a vampire or two (maybe a few werewolves too). The car mysteriously moved farther and farther away but we made it through. Still it was one of my favorite hikes.

View from Los Gigantes

* don't know the actual name but it sounds like a helicopter when it goes whizzing past your head...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Punta Alta

Yes--- I'm breaking the silence.

I just got back from a few weeks in Argentina ( I lucked out and got to go again!) . I spent the first half with my friend Ken Colorado who invited me down to help him out on a sculpture project. We spent a few days in Buenos Aires where he introduced me to Andrea Juan who shares Ken's goal of bringing attention to climate change through art. Afterwards, Ken and I went to Punta Alta to work on the ice core sculptures with Uretec.

An ice core sculpture with text from Lynne Cox. Lynne is an amazing woman who among many many incredible feats swam in the waters of Antarctica for 30 minutes without a wetsuit.... normal people die after 10 - 15 minutes in water that cold.
(If you click the photo it gets larger & you might be able to read some of the text).

Ken and Roberto discussing the project. Roberto is the owner of Uretec and a wonderful person.... even if he doesn't like the way I make coffee ;0)

More ice core sculptures, these have writings of Russian & Argentinean scientists.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Orphaned Works: Yep, there's more

An audio interview with illustrator Brad Holland.
"If you have never paid attention to copyright law, now is the time"

Lawrence Lessig on the U.S. Copyright Office Report on Orphan Works .

"I think this both goes too far, and not far enough."
Note that this refers to the Copyright Office Report; this video predates the 2008 bills. More on his blog here.

(Thanks for the link "Pseudonym")

More on the Orphaned Works Act of 2008

I devote a certain amount of time each day to “research”. Its’ my attempt to stay informed about what is going on in the artworld. This week its ALL about the Orphaned Works Act. I can’t help it. I’m fascinated.

What is this about, really?

It’s been suggested that this all started in 2003 with a NYT op-ed piece by Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig (link here). Lessing contends that the Supreme Court decision to allow Congress to set the length of copyright protection “stifles freedom of expression by preventing the artistic and educational use even of content that no longer has any commercial value”. Lessing doesn’t seem to like the fact that there is a lot of artwork laying around out there that is not being “commercially exploited”. He also brings up the dilemma faced by museums and educational institutions when they want to produce an exhibit which includes sound or images with unknown copyright status. A possible solution he suggests is a database modeled after the US patent registry: Register each piece of artwork at $50 per entry. Registration must be renewed every 3 years*.

Eventually, Senators Leahy & Hatch requested a report from the Copyright office. The copyright office conducted a study and in 2006 released its 217 page report (get your free pdf here!). I’m only partially through it but so far it is very interesting.

The copyright office wanted to know if Orphaned Works was really a problem and if so, how much of a problem. They were pleased with public response: 850 statements were submitted. 722 of those were individuals; the remaining were aggregated comments from institutions/corporations. Later, a group was invited to a roundtable to discuss the issue. [just an observation:850 responses is all they could get? 850 is enough to alter national copyright laws?]

About the museums and educational institutions: These entities would like to display artwork and sounds of unknown copyright status. They would like to post their collection on the internet so that it is accessible to the public. They are willing to perform due diligence to find the copyright owner. In the event that the owner cannot be located, they would like to display the work anyway to educate the public and preserve our cultural heritage. Should a copyright owner surface and object to the usage of their work , these intuitions are perfectly willing to immediately remove the content. In return, they ask not to be sued. This seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable request, and shows respect for the creator. I have no problem with the request or the solution.

Now, what about commercial interests? Not surprisingly, it’s a little different and nowhere near as respectful:
“the proposal would limit the ability of the copyright owner to obtain full injunctive relief in cases where the user has transformed the orphan work into a derivative work like a motion picture or book, preserving the user’s ability to continue to exploit that derivative work. In all other cases, the court would be instructed to minimize the harm to the user that an injunction might impose, to protect the user’s interests in relying on the orphan works provision in making use of the work.” [U.S. Copyright Office Report on Orphan Works pp 11-12]
Boy, those users (vultures) sure are well protected. I wonder how many of the 850 respondents worked for Time Warner, or any other major studio?

Its the commercial usage that I strongly object to. Its that these bills not only open the doors but invite abuse. I dont have a problem with museums, libraries, researchers, art students (or any students), other artists etc. using the artworks as long as it is not for profit. But if the work is taken and reproduced for anothers profit, its theft. Period.

What about that database? Well, it turns out they looked into that as well and it will cost the Copyright Office upwards of $35 million. That’s kinda pricey for their budget right now so they don’t want to do it. Those 850 respondents were concerned about the search costs in finding copyright owners…. Maybe there is a solution on page 200 that doesn’t involve charging artists $50/image renewable every 3 years. I haven’t gotten to that page yet…

So there is a big push to get these two laws into effect quickly. Why? Well, its an election year. We get a brand new president (Yipeeeeeeee!!!) and with that brand new president comes changes. They don't want to risk possible changes to the Sub-Committee.

* I came up with what I thought was a very high figure: $10/image in my post yesterday. Lessig has since changed his figure substantially. To be fair, his point is not to establish a price but to make copyright owners more active in maintaining their rights. I see too many holes in this method to agree.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008

There's an old saying-- "You know a politician is lying if his lips are moving." I try to give them a tiny bit more credit. Not much but a little....

But the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my B.S. detectors go on high alert whenever a politician claims to be inspired to action because of a little old lady in [fill in the blank with vague out of the way location that implies humble origins....]

I'm a bit on the dorky side, so when I get emails that say 'this horrible bill is being introduced to Congress, we must stop it now....' I actually go find the bill and read it. If its a particularly amusing piece of legislature, I'll also try to find transcripts. The statements tend to be equal parts hyperbole, melodrama, and pompous posturing (even if they happen to have good intentions, I still find it amusing).

This is a particularly good one from Senator Leahy, in reference to the Shawn Bently Orphan Works act of 2008:
"In practical terms, then, what does this mean? It means that a woman in Vermont can restore a wedding photograph of her grandparents, even if she cannot locate the photographer to get permission to do so. It means that a library can display letters of American soldiers wrote during World War II, even if the library cannot contact the soldiers or their descendents. It means that museums can exhibit Depression-era photographs, even if they cannot determine the name of the photographer. "

Yes, please, lets talk about this in practical terms..... I would love to see the statistics on how many people have been threatened with copyright infringement for restoring personal family photos. While we're at it, how many have actually gone to trial, much less won?

Shouldn't these "concerned" Senators be working on something more important, like I don't know, something that is costing us a lot more money and actual lives... perhaps healthcare, or possibly a war? When a senator moves, its typically in response to money or an election (yes, I am being cynical but this is my soap box....). What lobbyist could possibly be interested in "Orphaned" works of art?

Whether or not the intent of the bill is to protect our "cultural heritage", the way it is written opens a massive loophole that I think is extremely harmful to artists.

Just for a moment, I'm going to put myself in the fantasyland of the authors. I'm going to pretend that this really is about that poor scared lady in Vermont who is afraid to fix grandma's torn wedding photo. I'm also going to suspend disbelief and pretend that a database of every piece of artwork by every artist in the United States is not only feasible but is easily searchable with keywords. I have a photo of my grandparents that was taken on their wedding day in 1930. I'm really worried that if I scan it and photoshop the tear out, the photographer will find out, be angry, and sue me. I think Ill use this handy government database to find the photographer and ask if it is ok to fix his damaged work of art. Hmmmmm... what keywords shall I use? "Grandma's wedding photo" oops, I got over 6,000,000,000,000 hits for that, maybe I should narrow it down. How about "White satin dress, black tuxedo, man standing, woman seated, wedding, 1930 " This should be easy, how many photos could possibly fit that description?

The reality: This opens a giant loophole. With this bill, it would now be legal to find a piece of artwork/logo/photo/whatever and use it for a book cover/t-shirt/movie prop/ coffee mug/whatever. All they have to do is "try" to find the artist when they presumably dont know the title of the work or the author. "can, red, white, label" Darn, didn't find it.... let me try this database.... don't see it! Guess that means its mine!! Andy Warhol's soup cans? Never heard of it.

A private enterprise will more than likely be enlisted to create the databases. Obviously they will charge for its use. Do they charge the artist or the user? Nothing personal, but now this is a business. The artist is a built in customer base with no choice in the matter if they want to protect their property. The artist will continue to create and thereby bring in more revenue. Let's say its $10/image. I'm a relatively young artist at the beginning of my career. Even so, I have a couple thousand paintings and drawings. Lets say I have 2,000. Thats about $20k. For a person to prove they have performed due diligence in finding an artist, they need to search two databases. The cost to protect my work just doubled (unless the government approves more than 2 databases....then it goes up). But hey, its worth it right? This will prevent someone from stealing my work (wave the magic wand that makes me forget that my work was already protected by law for free, without registering and with much stronger penalties for infringement).

By the way, who is Shawn Bentley anyway? Shawn Bentley worked with Senators Hatch and Leahy to author this bill. Sadly, Shawn Bentley passed away so they named the bill after him.

Very sad. So is it rude to ask? Seriously... who is this guy? He was a lobbyist for Time Warner.

If the authors were really concerned about protecting family photos and ensuring that museums and non-profits were able to "preserve our cultural heritage", I would think there would be more written in the bill specifically mentioning these issues.

Instead there is a lot written that insures that the onus is shifted from the copyright infringer to the copyright owner. It also takes away an artists right to define how their work is used after the infringer tries to find the artist.

Instead they provide a laughable definition of "Reasonable Compensation"
(4) REASONABLE COMPENSATION- The term `reasonable compensation' means, with respect to a claim for infringement, the amount on which a willing buyer and willing seller in the positions of the infringer and the owner of the infringed copyright would have agreed with respect to the infringing use of the work immediately before the infringement began.

A willing seller? What if I never would have sold my work to be used in that manner? There must be something in there to protect the creators of the original work right? Something to protect the integrity of the art?

Um... no actually:

        `(A) GENERAL RULE- Subject to subparagraph (B), an award for monetary relief (including actual damages, statutory damages, costs, and attorney's fees) may not be made other than an order requiring the infringer to pay reasonable compensation to the legal or beneficial owner of the exclusive right under the infringed copyright for the use of the infringed work.

For added smoke and mirrors, there is a second, nearly identical bill as well. One is going to Congress, the other to the Senate. The devil is in the details, my friends....

The Bills:
Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008
Orphan Works Act of 2008

Want to say something about it?
write your senator and congressman, if you don't know who they are, you can look it up here:

Or there are some online petitions, here is one:
Illustrators Partnership

More info in case my rant wasn't enough already...
Articles/ Blogs:
Animation World magazine

David Rhodes commencement speech.
Leahy is "disappointed" :o(


Association of Research Libraries reports bill is stalled

Friday, May 02, 2008


6 x 8 oil on canvas board:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Last night I went down to the Mint to check out CAST! .The Mint has a great monday night scene-- with the added bonus of no cover charge. Loved it; CAST were absolutely fantastic. I'm really glad I went (almost didnt). I talked to Nick (bass) & Karma (drums) a little afterwards, both very cool guys.

I did a few little sketches while I was there and then today did quick paintings off the sketches. A nice little challenge... the paintings are mostly from memory so the likeness isn't there but I had fun with them (I wanted to play around with acrylic on paper.). The sketches are about 2" mostly looking to capture the gestures, the paintings are about 20 x 24",


(they had a great set up: I could actually see the drummer!)


When paintings go bad....

I did these a month or so ago (maybe more). Underneath these paintings of 3 of the guys from Stampead are 3 landscapes that did not turn out as planned (they are euphemistically called "learning experiences" ). I dont like to throw out paintings so they get recycled/reused. Seems much more environmentally conscious than having a bonfire. So to make it fun for myself, I set up some "rules". In this case, 20 minutes each; no drawing on the canvas, no getting caught up in "likeness" and except for one accent color each, its all mud (all the left over paint on my palette from a previous painting mixed together) ... oh yeah, no paintbrushes either, just a palette knife 'cause I have a hard time painting with them. Yep thats what I do for fun..... But I really like the way they turned out. Much better than what's underneath them. Some of the landscapes show through; its probably most obvious in the bottom one.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Plagerism & Copyright Infringement

The double edged sword of posting your work on the internet and making it accessible to anyone: on the one hand its a method to promote your work and to participate in community dialog; on the other, it leaves you open to theft of your work.

It happens often, to writers & artists whose work is taken to build websites, presumably with a goal of generating cash by using other peoples' work and names to entice traffic that turns a profit (advertising that pays by the number of hits to a site).

Some infringement is by people who don't know any better. Most is by people who convince themselves that there is a grey area* the size of the Sahara when it comes to "referencing", "borrowing from" or "paying homage to" an artist.

If the offender is in the U.S., there is a chance to do something about it. An example is House Industries, a font house whose illustrations were stolen and reproduced (I think it was on t-shirts or glasses). They found out (a lot of the scum bags think no one will notice) and sued. The happy ending is that up until that point, House was a couple of guys working out of an apartment. The settlement provided the cash flow that helped turn them into the successful company they are today.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets the happy ending. This morning I read about a blatant theft that even the most self delusional person could not convince themselves was "OK" or "in the grey area": a publisher took the interviews of Darren Di Lieto, along with the work of dozens of other artists from a website and published a book which is being sold for $100. The book even includes a CD of the artwork. Unfortunately, the publisher is in Hong Kong (presumably-- the contact info on their site is fake).


More info:
Some artists whose work was stolen by Azurebook's Colorful Illustrations 93°C:
Luc Latulippe
Jeff Miracola

*The "grey area" is actually a three part calculation:
  1. Can I make money off of this?
  2. What are the odds of the artist finding out?
  3. Can the artist afford to hire an attorney to come after me?

What is art?

Some great quotes/references:
  • "I love it the fact that theres that Elephant at the zoo painting..."
  • "Now the monkey that throws poo, hes making art...cause he's living in the experience" (gotta admit Im unfamiliar with this one)
  • "The gorilla* don't know what he's doing. That's a monkey painting, dude."
  • "Some of that modern art sometimes getting waaaay out of context man, they trying to push the limit, trying to be the next Van Gogh or whatever..."
  • "I hate how people don't think that Dogs playing poker is high art..."
  • "It's Pop Art, isn't it?"
  • "Just because you say its art doesnt mean its art. For instance, in central park? that moron with the flags? That was not art."
  • "Look at that painting on our wall over there, by Jackson Pollock**" -"It's hideous!"
  • "My biggest pet peave in the whole world, is dolphin art I reeeeaaaaaly don't like that...."
  • "Oh!, Who's the guy on TV? Hi, the happy squirrel, lets make some happy clouds, we're gonna get the big fanning brush...."
  • "I think modern 20th century art, if you don't discuss comic books, you're just a snob or a fool."
  • "My face looks kinda lika a Picasso ..."
    (this clip of Picasso painting is in French but you dont need a with it)
  • "I consider ballet or interpretive dance, ala Matha Graham or something like that, yeah, that's artistic..." (and a cut off video)

*much was made about the subsequent auction....and sale prices)
** a fun site where you can (Make your own art)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Chantry Flats...

(along the stream)

Sturtevant Falls

view from the cabin

the cabin (Thanks Greg! ;o)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chantry Flats

A friend of mine lent me his cabin up in Chantry Flats; a few sketches:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Brewery Artwalk

The Brewery Artwalk is this
Saturday and Sunday, April 5 & 6th, 11AM - 6PM.
642 Moulton Ave. # E26, Los Angeles, CA
(directions to the loft are on my website:

The Brewery is the largest Artists colony in Los Angeles. Twice a year, the Brewery opens its doors to the public, and yes, its that time again. I will be showing with Chris Tellez and Daniel Brooks. Please come by, and say hello!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

More Musicians

Earlier this week, I got to hang out with the band Stampead at their studio while they rehearsed for their next album. Very cool guys and it was really nice of them to be so accommodating; especially considering they were only a few days away from going into recording. Thanks to Jill for setting it up.

A few sketches: