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Using Celebrities As Art Subjects

Published March 20, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The Practical Artist’s Blog

http://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

Have you ever been tempted to include a celebrity portrait in your art portfolio? Say you are entering a theme show and there is a celebrity whose very image just screams “I am this theme” i.e. General Patton or Pappy Boynton for WWII, Clint Eastwood or John Wayne for western art, Mohammed Ali, or an Olympic swim star for a sports theme, etc.? Well if you do use a celebrity without gaining the proper permissions, you could be sued for copyright violations under something called “the right of publicity” laws.

I became curious about this when a young artist used a drawing of a western icon as an entry in a local art show. I remembered reading about the case of a company being sued when they used President Obama’s image advertising a product on their billboard. I did some on-line investigating and found some interesting information. I discovered that public figures could actually copyright their image under some state copyright laws. This was especially informative to me because I had always thought that copyright was a federal law, not a state one. In my research, I discovered that both are true. In other words, you have federal copyright laws and the states can make additions to these laws that could affect us as visual artists. Copyright law may also vary from Country to Country.

What exactly are the rights copyright concerning publicity laws in regards to public figures? Public figures include politicians, celebrities, and any other person who has put themselves in the public spotlight or has greater than normal access to the media.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_rights, defines these laws, as “The right of publicity, often called personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one’s identity. It is generally considered a property right as opposed to a personal right, and as such, the validity of the Right of Publicity can survive the death of the individual (to varying degrees depending on the jurisdiction). In the United States, the Right of Publicity is a state law based right, as opposed to federal based right, and recognition of the right can vary from state to state. The Celebrities Rights Act was passed in California in 1985 and it extended the personality rights for a celebrity to 70 years after their death.” There are other portions of California’s privacy laws to protect non-celebrity individuals but they not the subject of this blog and may be covered later.

Further reading tells me that even if your artistic source matter is a photograph taken by you of the celebrity or public figure in question, you might still be liable for violation of the right of publicity act if you invaded the privacy of the person in question to obtain the reference photo. An individual’s right of privacy or publicity is infringed when their name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness appears in a work of art and (a) can clearly be recognized as the subject shown in the work, (2) the subject has not consented to their image being used, and (3) the circumstances under which the photo was taken fit one of the following scenarios. Invading the subject’s privacy by encroaching into their private affairs. This covers events occurring in private or semi-private places: i.e. someone’s home or an invitation only event. Invading the subject’s privacy by the public disclosure of embarrassing facts not generally known. For instance if you take a photograph of a celebrity and then use the photo to paint them in the nude, or publish a photo of them embracing someone not their spouse this might be construed as being invasion of privacy. Invading the subject’s privacy by commercial appropriation. Using President Obama’s image to sell a product on the billboard was a clear example of this type of invasion.

Now I am not a lawyer, but common sense tells me why take the chance? Even if you win, a lawsuit is expensive and time-wasting and just being dragged into court over something like this could damage your reputation as an artist. If you would like more information on this subject, there are several good sites on the internet.

 

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/can-i-sell-my-own-artwork-depicting-a-celebrity–435063.html

This is a Case out of New York State concerning a sculpture using Cheryl Teigs legs in a sculpture. Recent verdicts expand artists’ rights in celebrity depiction …

http://www.owe.com/resources/legalities/7-issues-regarding-use-someones-likeness/

 

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What is Oil Painting?

Published March 13, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments with a medium of drying oil as the binder. Commonly used drying oils include linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. The choice of oil imparts a range of properties to the oil paint, such as the amount of yellowing or drying time. Certain differences, depending on the oil, are also visible in the sheen of the paints. An artist might use several different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired. The paints themselves also develop a particular consistency depending on the medium. The oil may be boiled with a resin, such as pine resin or frankincense, to create a varnish prized for its body and gloss.

Although oil paint was first used for Buddhist paintings by Indian and Chinese painters in western Afghanistan sometime between the fifth and tenth centuries,[1] it did not gain popularity until the 15th century. Its practice may have migrated westward during the Middle Ages. Oil paint eventually became the principal medium used for creating artworks as its advantages became widely known. The transition began with Early Netherlandish painting in Northern Europe, and by the height of the Renaissance oil painting techniques had almost completely replaced the use of tempera paints in the majority of Europe.

In recent years, water miscible oil paint has come to prominence and, to some extent, replaced traditional oil paint. Water-soluble paints contain an emulsifier that allows them to be thinned with water rather than paint thinner, and allows very fast drying times (1–3 days) when compared with traditional oils (1–3 weeks)

Traditional oil painting techniques often begin with the artist sketching the subject onto the canvas with charcoal or thinned paint. Oil paint is usually mixed with linseed oil, artist grade mineral spirits, or other solvents to make the paint thinner, faster or slower-drying. (Because these solvents thin the oil in the paint, they can also be used to clean paint brushes.) A basic rule of oil paint application is ‘fat over lean‘. This means that each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying. If each additional layer contains less oil, the final painting will crack and peel. This rule does not ensure permanence; it is the quality and type of oil that leads to a strong and stable paint film. There are many other media that can be used with the oil, including cold wax, resins, and varnishes. These additional media can aid the painter in adjusting the translucency of the paint, the sheen of the paint, the density or ‘body’ of the paint, and the ability of the paint to hold or conceal the brushstroke. These aspects of the paint are closely related to the expressive capacity of oil paint.

Traditionally, paint was transferred to the painting surface using paintbrushes, but there are other methods, including using palette knives and rags. Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists’ materials, enabling the artist to change the color, texture or form of the figure. At times, the painter might even remove an entire layer of paint and begin anew. This can be done with a rag and some turpentine for a time while the paint is wet, but after a while the hardened layer must be scraped. Oil paint dries by oxidation, not evaporation, and is usually dry to the touch within a span of two weeks (some colors dry within days). It is generally dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year. Art conservators do not consider an oil painting completely dry until it is 60 to 80 years old.[citation needed]

History

lthough the history of tempera (pigment mixed with either egg whites or egg yolks, then painted on a plastered section) and related media in Europe indicates that oil painting was discovered there independently, there is evidence that oil painting was used earlier in Afghanistan.[2][3][4][5] Outdoor surfaces and surfaces like shields—both those used in tournaments and those hung as decorations—were more durable when painted in oil-based media than when painted in the traditional tempera paints.

Most Renaissance sources, in particular Vasari, credited northern European painters of the 15th century, and Jan van Eyck in particular, with the “invention” of painting with oil media on wood panel supports (“support” is the technical term for the underlying backing of a painting). However, Theophilus (Roger of Helmarshausen?) clearly gives instructions for oil-based painting in his treatise, On Various Arts, written in 1125. At this period, it was probably used for painting sculptures, carvings and wood fittings, perhaps especially for outdoor use. However, early Netherlandish painting in the 15th century was the first to make oil the usual painting medium, and explore the use of layers and glazes, followed by the rest of Northern Europe, and only then Italy.

Early works were still panel paintings on wood, but around the end of the 15th century canvas became more popular as the support, as it was cheaper, easier to transport, allowed larger works, and did not require complicated preliminary layers of gesso (a fine type of plaster). (This style was known as a fresco painting: applying gesso, then painting over with tempera paint) Venice, where sail-canvas was easily available, was a leader in the move to canvas. Small cabinet paintings were also made on metal, especially copper plates. These supports were more expensive but very firm, allowing intricately fine detail. Often printing plates from printmaking were reused for this purpose. The popularity of oil spread through Italy from the North, starting in Venice in the late 15th century. By 1540, the previous method for painting on panel (tempera) had become all but extinct, although Italians continued to use fresco for wall paintings, which was less successful and durable in damper northern climates.

Brands of oil paint include: Winsor and Newton, Gamblin, Rembrandt, Lukas 1862, Lukas Studio, Old Holland, Michael Harding and Charvin. It is important that artists understand that not all oil colors are created equal. Many “student” brands on the market are really “hobby colors”. Water-soluble oil colors include: Winsor and Newton Artisan, Lukas Berlin and Woil water mixable oil colors.

Process

A traditional wood palette used to hold and mix small amounts of paint while working.

Oil paint is made by mixing pigments of colors with an oil medium. Different colors are made, or purchased premixed, before painting begins, but further shades of color are usually obtained by mixing small quantities together as the painting process is underway. An artist’s palette, traditionally a thin wood board held in the hand, is used for holding and mixing paints of different colors. Pigments may be any number of natural or synthetic substances with color, such as sulphur for yellow or cobalt for blue. Traditional pigments were based on minerals or plants, but many have proven unstable over long periods of time; the appearance of many old paintings today is very different from the original. Modern pigments often use synthetic chemicals. The pigment is mixed with oil, usually linseed, but other oils may be used. The various oils dry differently, which creates assorted effects.

Traditionally, artists mixed their own paints from raw pigments that they often ground themselves and medium. This made portability difficult and kept most painting activities confined to the studio. This changed in the 1800s, when tubes of oil paint became widely available following the American portrait painter John Goffe Rand‘s invention of the squeezable or collapsible metal tube in 1841 (the year of Claude Monet‘s birth). Artists could mix colors quickly and easily, which enabled, for the first time, relatively convenient plein air painting (a common approach in French Impressionism).

A brush is most commonly employed by the artist to apply the paint, often over a sketched outline of their subject (which could be in another medium). Brushes are made from a variety of fibers to create different effects. For example, brushes made with hog bristle might be used for bolder strokes and impasto textures. Fitch hair and mongoose hair brushes are fine and smooth, and thus answer well for portraits and detail work. Even more expensive are red sable brushes (weasel hair). The finest quality brushes are called “kolinsky sable“; these brush fibers are taken from the tail of the Siberian weasel. This hair keeps a superfine point, has smooth handling, and good memory (it returns to its original point when lifted off the canvas), known to artists as a brush’s “snap.” Floppy fibers with no snap, such as squirrel hair, are generally not used by oil painters.

In the past few decades, many synthetic brushes have been marketed. These are very durable and can be quite good, as well as cost efficient. Brushes come in many sizes and are used for different purposes. The type of brush also makes a difference. For example, a “round” is a pointed brush used for detail work. “Flat” brushes are used to apply broad swaths of color. “Bright” is a flat brush with shorter brush hairs. “Filbert” is a flat brush with rounded corners. “Egbert” is a very long, and rare, filbert brush. The artist might also apply paint with a palette knife, which is a flat metal blade. A palette knife may also be used to remove paint from the canvas when necessary. A variety of unconventional tools, such as rags, sponges, and cotton swabs, may be used to apply or remove paint. Some artists even paint with their fingers.

Most oil painters paint in layers known as “glazes”, a method also simply called “indirect painting”. This method was first perfected through an adaptation of the egg tempera painting technique, and was applied by the Flemish painters in Northern Europe with pigments ground in linseed oil. More recently, this approach has been called the “mixed technique” or “mixed method”. The first coat (the underpainting) is laid down, often painted with egg tempera or turpentine-thinned paint. This layer helps to “tone” the canvas and to cover the white of the gesso. Many artists use this layer to sketch out the composition. This first layer can be adjusted before proceeding further, an advantage over the “cartooning” method used in Fresco technique. After this layer dries, the artist might then proceed by painting a “mosaic” of color swatches, working from darkest to lightest. The borders of the colors are blended together when the “mosaic” is completed, and then left to dry before applying details.

Artists in later periods, such as the Impressionist era (late 19th century), often expanded on this wet-on-wet method, blending the wet paint on the canvas without following the Renaissance-era approach of layering and glazing. This method is also called “alla prima“. This method was created due to the advent of painting outdoors, instead of inside a studio, because while outside, an artist did not have the time to let each layer of paint dry before adding a new layer. Several contemporary artists use a combination of both techniques to add bold color (wet-on-wet) and obtain the depth of layers through glazing.

When the image is finished and has dried for up to a year, an artist often seals the work with a layer of varnish that is typically made from dammar gum crystals dissolved in turpentine. Such varnishes can be removed without disturbing the oil painting itself, to enable cleaning and conservation. Some contemporary artists decide not to varnish their work, preferring the surface unvarnished.

 

Eggs & Rabbits For Easter – How Did That Happen?

Published March 6, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

We live in the world so we can’t help being influenced by it. Do you find yourself painting seasonally? By this, I mean are you inspired in the spring to paint flowers or using an amber themed pallet in the fall. Since it is getting close to Easter, I thought I would include some information about traditional ‘Easter Art’. Most of the “Easter Art” I found when I researched this blog was of two varieties. The old masters of course painted images of Jesus and the Resurrection. This is not surprising when you consider that a lot of art back then was commissioned by the Church. The card industry has been trying to establish the idea of sending cards for Easter for years. Vintage Cards usually had Angels, Easter Bunnies or kittens (when did they arrive in Easter traditions?), huge eggs and sometimes chickens. Like the kittens, I suspect they were included for their “cuteness” not because they are traditional subjects for Easter. Easter traditions are long and varied; on the one hand, we have the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Christian), Passover (Jewish), and the Spring Equinox (Pagan). Many families only attend services on Easter Sunday (Oh, excuse me the new PC is “Resurrection Sunday”). The new PC form is an attempt by Christianity to distance itself from Easter’s pagan roots. When it was first being established, Christianity found it expedient to co-opt some pagan celebrations and incorporate them into the new religion. Traditionally Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, very close to the Spring Equinox. In old Europe, the prevailing spring festival was a Saxon fertility celebration in honor of the Goddess Eastre, (earlier spelling was Eostre, derived from the Saxons’ Germanic heritage) a Teutonic goddess of dawn, spring and fertility, whose sacred animal was a hare. The hare is often associated with moon goddesses; the egg and the haer (old spelling) together represent the god and the goddess, respectively. Pagan fertility festivals at the time of the spring equinox were common—it was believed that at this time, male and female energies were balanced. One of the main reasons the new Christian religion disapproved of the spring equinox celebration so much was the belief (not entirely unfounded) that it encouraged a freewheeling orgy.

Colored eggs, which we also associate with Easter, are of an even more ancient origin; eggs have been symbols of rebirth and fertility for so long no one can say when this tradition began. So where did modern traditions come up with the idea of a rabbit who brings eggs? There is a myth that says the goddess Eostre was passing through a forest one winter and found a bird dying in snow from hunger and cold. In pity, she turned the bird into a hare because hares have warm fur and can supposedly find food more easily than birds. Poor science here, but it sounds nice; The rabbit survived the winter and when spring came, it laid eggs because it used to be a bird (obviously, the change had been only skin deep). The appreciative Rabbit then decorated the eggs it laid as a sign of gratitude to Eostre. German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the tradition of seeking decorated Easter eggs with them to America and the Easter Egg Hunt was born.

Like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter has its traditional food; Ham, special breads, and of course Chocolate. Easter egg hunts were fun as a child, but I do remember that my mother refused to allow us to eat the eggs because they usually had been lying out unrefrigerated and she was afraid of food poisoning. It’s no wonder really that merchants keyed in on these fears and decided that Easter was an untapped gold mine (gold foil that is). They began wrapping chocolate bunnies and eggs in colorful wrappings and the Cadbury Easter Bunny was born. The toy makers couldn’t let this slide of course so they began marketing plastic eggs that could be stuffed with other candy and Easter baskets with toys. There is also the Easter Parade held in almost every town. Then of course, there is the fabled Easter Bonnet. As a child, I always got a frilly hat and a new dress for Easter, which was dutifully worn, to the family get-together on Sunday afternoon.

 

All these items are infinitely usable as subjects for art; food such as eggs, ham, chocolate bunnies make good still life set-ups. If you are into figure are, children hunting Easter Eggs make a great subject. Or if you really want to get into the theme, there is always the resurrection or spring equinox as subjects.

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