The Ebenezer Stone

The Ebenezer Stone

The Ebenezer Stone

Did Charles Dickens have a deeper meaning in mind when he named his iconic character “Ebenezer” Scrooge?  Its a topic that had never occurred to me until I heard the literal translation of the name, Ebenezer, which is “Stone of Help.”

It was the name given to a stone that was erected after a battle to humble and remind the victors that the help they received was supernatural. It was not by their own hand that they were victorious over a particularly brutal enemy who had waged war on them for years. It was by a power much greater than their own that supplied the vital help that resulted in the final victory. This stone, the Ebenezer, will forever be in this spot as a reminder. We all have our battles and we can all have our own Ebenezer stones. This is mine. It is alabaster from a Colorado quarry.

In working this stone, I preferred using hand tools instead of power tools because of the tactile nature of alabaster.  Many people make beautiful sculptures of alabaster into a variety of wonderful things.  For me, the stone has its own beauty.  I use hammer, chisel, rasp and sandpaper so I can see and feel more closely what the stone is becoming.  The natural color is obscured until the tools chip away the sharp edges and smooth the roughness.  The only power tool was the drill used to make the center hole to show the color goes through the heart of the stone.

As the work on the stone proceeds, so does the battle of the day.  After the battle, the beauty underneath is revealed.  But it is not my hand that made the beauty.  It was there along.  The stone is that reminder.  For all battles, there is help.  What comes after the battle can be something beautiful.

 

Here is how the revelation progressed:

 

 

Theft or Flattery???

Goldfinch Miniature 4" x 4"

Goldfinch Miniature
4″ x 4″

“A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa but people still line up to see the original.” Louis Armstrong (from The Painter’s Keys)

Help me out here! When is it okay to appropriate someone else’s work to use for your work? Is it ever okay? Suppose you like to paint in the studio from photographs. Would you consider it acceptable to take someone’s photographs in the public domain for use in your work? Can that be considered acceptable if the original work cannot be identified in your work?

In the studio, I often work from photos. To do that, I take numerous photos. I do not consider myself to be a photographer because I lack the talent and skills of many of the wonderful professional photographers I know or see on this blog forum and others. I am adequate to get what I need for painting. But sometimes I will look online for other photos of the subject I am painting to get another angle or another light exposure. Is this an acceptable practice?

I ask this question because I recently posted a photo on a social media site of a scene from my garden. In the comments, a friend tagged one of his/her friends suggesting this other person should make a painting of my photo. My first thought was, “Did my friend suggest his/her friend should steal my work?” Or should I be flattered? I would love to hear what others out there have to say about this subject.

A popular opinion I have heard repeated is if your work is at least 10% or more different from the original work then it is acceptable. The Arts and Business Council of Nashville sponsors regular workshops on topics of interest to artists in the community. In June, Nashville attorney, Mary Neil Price, discussed this very subject. From what I gathered in her talk, it is never acceptable to appropriate another’s original artwork in yours without permission.

Two blogs I frequently enjoy are Avian101 and Talainsphotographyblog. Both regularly post beautiful bird and nature photography. To me, making a painting of any work from either blog would be stealing, not flattering. What do others think? Does that mean I can’t look at the way these photographers have caught the light on a bird’s head? I would love to know others opinions. Help me out here! Enquiring minds want to know. (Did I just steal that quote???)

Winds of Change

Hummingbird Miniature 4

Hummingbird Miniature
4″ x 4″

” Art is the sustenance that feeds the soul through the winds of change.”

Life and art are all about change. Sometimes you go with the flow. Sometimes the flow knocks you in the head and threatens to draw you under. Other times you drift along with the breeze. Whatever way it comes, you can be sure life will change one way or another. And when it does, art changes with it.

This has been a year of big change for me. Some sweet, some bittersweet, some downright sad. And with it, my art has changed too. It would seem that a year of turbulence would reflect the same in the art. That is not what happened for me. As life went up and down, my art became more about peaceful beauty, nature and growing things. The more stress and darkness happened, the more lightness and harmony showed up in my work.

This time last year was rocking along nicely with a new home, notification of a soon to be published article, a group of artists coming together to form a new nonprofit, and finding a wonderful little church of artists. It seemed that life was sweet. Then the painful hit. Both of my parents passed away within a week of eachother. Along with their passing came the inevitable dirty family laundry. Life is so much simpler when I can ignore family drama. Ignoring was not an option this year.

As the roller coaster of change steamed along so did art. Art is the sustenance that feeds the soul through the winds of change. So it was with me. My art became about the places I found emotional release. The garden was one. My dear friend, Charleen Herrick, gave me the seeds for a butterfly/hummingbird/songbird garden. In the garden, I found peace and so did my art.