Do you love Pinterest? I do. Do you look at artwork on Pinterest and get inspired? I do.

Recently, however, I noticed that some inspiring pins are ending up as finished paintings with eerily few innovations or changes. An internal debate began about whether this is copyright infringement, or merely an easy way to nail down a composition that you find pleasing so that you can get to the painting part. A little research revealed that it might or might not be illegal, depending on whether the new work is the same size, whether the copied painting has been copyrighted, and whether there have been "enough" changes to declare it original.

As I'm considering all of this, it dawns on me that I am not squeaky clean and above reproach either. Last year I did three paintings that might fall into this realm.

1. My painting, Extra Vivid, was inspired by the "pin" that follows it:

Are these two paintings identical? Would you say that mine is a rip off of their technique? I think that there are enough differences in these two that I am safe from legal prosecution. (I don't think I even looked at the inspiration painting after I got my paints out.)

2. The second one is a bit stickier of a situation. Verdant Hillside was inspired by the one following it as well. Is it too much like the inspiration to be original? I would love your opinion.

3. My painting, After the Rain, was based on the blue boat. Your thoughts?

What conclusions have I come to? In all three of these cases, I used a crutch because I didn't know what I wanted to paint and it was easier to scroll my Pinterest inspiration boards and copy something than start from scratch. I think all three are a bit mine, but this isn't the way that I want to choose my subjects in the future.

My Pinterest boards should be more about "This is a color palette that I want to try." or "I want to have more aggressive brush strokes like this artist." I have plenty of my own photos to use as inspirational subjects. Then, I also have memories and stories for the resulting painting. Bonus! I am going to stick with that moving forward.

I think the best test might be if you put the shoe on the other foot and think if your painting came first, and you found their pin on Pinterest, would you consider the inspiration piece a copy of yours? Therein, lies the truth.

(BTW, I'm currently reading The Art Forger. I am REALLY enjoying it and that is probably the reason that I have this subject on the brain.)


Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

I took quite a few pictures of signs in New Mexico...

When you live in the high plains west of Lubbock and Amarillo (as I did 2008-2011), you see big blue sky (unless it is windy) and dramatic sunsets, but you do not have a whole lot of beautiful landscape to see (IMO). New Mexico has some beautiful spots, like Whites Sands, the Lincoln catwalks, Gila Monument, and of course the mountains around Santa Fe, but all of these are far from where we lived.

The brutal heat and ridiculous wind do a number on billboards and signage. As a result, many that are not old or historic appear to be relics of years past. I started taking photos of interesting ones.

We left New Mexico in summer of 2011, but I kept taking pictures of signs, in California and our travels across the country to live in Virginia.

Eventually, some of these photos become artwork:

I love the graphic nature of lettering incorporated into my paintings, particularly if abstracted into shapes. It is an element you can find in many of them, from the beginning (gravemarkers, Chinatown and Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco) to the present (The Boardwalk, Pike Place, and an upcoming painting of Glen Echo). I anticipate more in the years to come.



What happens when you let a painting sit around the studio? Sometimes you decide to take another shot at it. Wednesday was one of those days. There were things I liked about the original take, but overall, it felt flat or cutout or something. I think the visual flow is improved and I really like the red in the trees. I'm still trying to figure out "how" I like painting acrylics. I like the staining watercolor look as well as the impasto "oil-like" look. I'm trying to develop "my style."

Below, are my favorite acrylics of 2013. What do you think they have in common? Comments desired!