Fall 2014 Stuff


First bowls, beginning wheel throwing, Sept 2014


One day in late August or early September, I was bored, overheated, and felt like taking some risks.  The three things I did that day were:

  • Cut my own hair, (turned out ok; let’s just say I’ve paid for worse),
  • Went swimming alone, (stupid and unsafe, but it was well over 100 and I’d been outdoors a couple hours)
  • Signed up for beginning wheel throwing class

Back in the 80s, I did try wheel throwing in a college ceramics class, but it wasn’t the focus of the class, and I never mastered the fundamental of centering clay on the wheel! I moved on to handbuilding. The idea of spending the fall on ONLY throwing is kind of scary because I was not sure if I was just incapable of centering clay, and I didn’t want to waste money, time, or material. Now, I’m in class again, and focusing on the wheel, with the goal of incorporating some wheel thrown parts with handbuilt, to create creatures. This fall will be spent getting competent enough that I can go in during open studio and make what I need to. Next year I’ll continue taking classes to have access to the workshop, wheels, kiln, etc. Ceramics is something I can’t do at home. It has been over 20 years since I did any! Somehow, air dry clays are just not a 100% satisfying substitute. I enjoy seeing pieces transformed by firing and glazing, and I like that they can be functional objects as well. These little imperfect bowls, if they survive all the firings, will be useful food vessels or perhaps we’ll burn incense in them by the pool. If they break, I have a couple of mosaic artist friends who’d probably love the pieces.

So…progress. We made several bowls each, some were total failures and ended up on the clay recycling table, to be scraped up and remoistened later.  The first class, we just threw bowls. The second class, we trimmed the bowls to put a nice little foot on them, which if the bowl is reasonably uniform and you get it centered (again), goes pretty well and is fun. Reminds me of wood turning, another thing I’ve never done. Of course not all the bowls were easy to trim. Some got cut through because we didn’t make the bottom thick enough.

I’ll try to remember to take more pics when I go back, to show the progress.  It was surprising to me that my husband decided at the last minute to take the class, too, so we are in it together.



I have a show penciled in for spring of 2015, but it is too early to announce anything about it, even the date.  I plan to keep a lot of the work for it off the internet until closer to the show, so that is a whole swath of work that’s happening starting now, but that you won’t see pics of for several months! That’s hard for me not to post pics of new work.  Last year I kind of did that due to an infringement problem but it was nice when I did show them, that they were unseen by most people, so that’s also a nice feeling.


Studio, Cindy Schnackel, fall 2014

Some bird paintings are of course going on at the same time! I have several small works on wood that are done now, except for the edge treatment.  They are laying on the table, still in progress at this stage, in this pic of my studio. It was taken right after I’d put in some new shelves and rearranged everything, which took awhile. With material brought in for making work for a show, I had to haul everything out of there,  figure out shelf placement and then totally reorganize the room. it’s much better now!


Birds hand painted on prepared bottle caps, Cindy Schnackel, 2014

The bottle cap bird paintings are growing in number.  They are $20 each. The hanger is a recycled pop top ring or other type recycled hardware, depending on what is available.  There are two on the bottom row in this pic that have the ring attached.

A lot of the really tiny things I’ve been working on were put away in drawers so they would not get lost or damaged.  Now that the studio is back together, I’ll be taking those things out, dealing with any last finishing touches, and soon uploading some to my inventory list and probably also my redbubble page.



As if I needed more to do, I started a new blog, Found A Chicken, where I post photos of chickeny things I see, or or showcase other artists. I hope you’ll go take a look! http://foundachicken.wordpress.com/

Why I Watermark, and When “Being Found” is Bad


Graphic created from screenshots. I added obscuring text to the screenshot image to help stop further misuse.


Watermarking is like locking the door on your house when you go out.  While nothing is 100% prevention, a lock deters most, which is a huge benefit.

Above, a search engine (Bing) calls some images “clip art,” which implies incorrectly that they’re free to use. (I marked the screenshot with text to help prevent further misuse.)

The image above had only a tiny watermark on the edge, unusual for me now, as I use a larger mark, but this was for media/gallery use. Every artist has to figure out where their line in the sand is. This is about what works for me.

I regularly do reverse image searches, and employ other search tactics, to find infringements.  When I find infringements, I send DMCA takedowns to the hosts of infringing sites, and the infringing use is usually removed quickly, as the host is required by law to do so. (See links below on Reverse Image Searching, and DMCA Takedown.)

I was spending several hours a week on takedowns before I started using prominent watermarks.  Once I did, new infringements almost stopped, but sales of my original works kept increasing, debunking the theory that watermarking will kill your sales of original art.

Here’s why infringement can harm artists, and why I take preventative measures:

  • Unauthorized uses are unpaid.
  • Some uses are against your beliefs, even criminal; reputation damage by implied endorsement.
  • Some people falsely claim it’s their work, causing doubt about who’s lying, more reputation damage.
  • It can kill licensing deals. The person buying a license to use the image does not want something now associated with another brand or concept.
  • The law is on copyright owners’ side but enforcement is expensive! Prevention is better.
  • The less time I spend on takedowns, the more time I have to make new art and market it, and the happier I am that I’m not getting ripped off!


False sense of security in outdated methods

Don’t fall for the claim that only uploading low resolution (small) images is enough protection.  If it looks good on your site that small, it will look just as good on the infringer’s site. Plus, it can be made into multiple small products.  And, why would an infringer care if their buyers got a blurry reprint?

Most sites do not call for a high resolution image anyway, as the page would load too slowly. Small images typical of web display, (500 to 800 pixels per side), are infringed constantly.

The only time you must upload a high resolution image that isn’t ‘defaced’ by a large watermark is when you sell reproductions on Print On Demand sites, (POD’s), but these sites only display a small version. A POD is a site like redbubble, Fine Art America, Zazzle, Society 6, etc.

The watermark options on sites are simply a layer, usually easy to bypass on your site, and often not picked up at all by search engines, where much infringement now occurs now thanks to the large views.  Right click disabling, no pin codes, etc, are all of very small benefit, as most peple now know how to bypass them, and again, search engine views bypass it.

Keeping up with technology is important. Watermarks can be removed but some are harder to remove than others. Like the door lock analogy, the prevention of most incidents is still very worthwhile.


Do you believe “being found” is always good?

Being found in the wrong context, such as the erroneous ‘clip art’ search results above, or by spammers, scammers, and infringers, is not good. It doesn’t help you in any way, and can harm you.

Tailoring your sites and search tags etc to be found by your art’s admirers, and your buyers, is good. Promote your pages yourself, to a known audience. Even happy buyers’ word of mouth is still viable in the 21st century.

The old idea of just getting lots of ‘traffic’ is outdated and unhelpful. As I noticed others picking up on the ‘traffic’ thing as mostly crapola, I saw these sites move to ‘content’ as the thing they most wanted. That is, yours and my content. So be careful of site Terms, and what you put there.

For example, every time I make a new blog post or upload a new image, it attracts some undesirables along with the good traffic.  A new blog is almost immediately liked or followed by a spammer, or sometimes gets a spam comment in the moderation file. The more search tags I’ve put on it, the more junk traffic it gets.  I will only put my name in some tags, plus one or a few really pertinent tags, now.

Narrowing down who readily finds my stuff has not hurt sales of my original work. I don’t offer much on my POD anymore so it’s hard to say there, but artists I know who do sell lots on PODs say they’ve found search engines were never a big part of their buyer traffic. They are good at promoting their work and their efforts are why they make sales.

You can put no-bot code in your sites depending on if the option is available, if you truly do not need search engines at all.  Most of us still want to be found on search engines enough not to do that but I know some artists who do it and prefer it.

Being findable in an identifiable way is good. Being found on scraper sites, lousy misleading image searches, uncredited social media ‘shares’ etc, is not good. Watermarks continue to keep my work identifiable, and of little use to infringers. A potential buyer seeing an uncredited share with the watermark cropped off could do a reverse image search to find the owner, which would be much easier if the owner had marked images to compare it to.

It’s not free promotion unless people can readily see whose work it is.


Watermarking How-To’s

“How to ensure your watermarks are secure” https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2013/08/01/how-to-ensure-your-watermarks-are-secure/

A watermark is simply whatever text, symbol, etc you choose to ‘stamp’ onto an image to identify it. If it’s composed of legible typed text it’s identifiable as your work. This is why I don’t use a symbol; no one would know what it meant.

Please be cautious about using sites that offer a way to watermark your images. Some look kind of scammy. Some may be fine but I wonder how much control you really have. I have tried NONE of the watermarking sites, and prefer to mark my own in photo editing software.

Youtube and other video sources have videos demonstrating how to watermark in whatever software you have.  Gimp is free online art software. Photoshop Elements is a limited version of the full Photoshop and affordable, relatively speaking.

Save a version of your image file for watermarking, so your original unmarked image is not lost!

If you don’t know now, learn how the “layers” and “transparency” work so your mark will be part of the image, (flatten layers), but preferably semi-transparent. These are not as obnoxious as fully opaque type.

Use your unimportant snapshots,  or a copy of one of your image files to experiment on and have fun. It’s not fun when it’s an important image and you feel you have to get it just so.  Experimentation when it doesn’t matter is a great way to learn new tricks. Experiment with text tools, brushes, erasers, filters, transparency, scale, etc.

If all this is overwhelming, just use a text tool in even rudimentary software your computer or tablet comes with, and at least add your name in small print on the edge. It’s rare any PC or Mac does not come with something that can add text to an image, even if not as sophisticated as real art/editing software.

Unless your signature is normally an important, prominent, visual element of your artwork, I would not rely on it being large enough or legible enough to serve the same purpose as a watermark.




Templetons Copyright Myths



Watermarks and removal of copyright management information



Problem with False Creative Commons Licenses

(Not everything uploaded to stock or licensing sites, clip art, etc, is there legally!)



NOT Cool, Google!

(The irony of how search engines’ big view can take your traffic not drive it to you, and increase infringement at the same time.)



Public Domain Sherpa

(Learn about actual ‘public domain,’ which is not at all the same thing as ‘publicly displayed!’)



Cornell: Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

(Useful chart)



Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA, and DMCA takedown process)

(A fairly brief explanation, I thought I’d spare you the novel-length documents of the copyright office, etc)



How to Do a Reverse Image Search on Google

(Not the only way but very useful.)




Not that I’ll ever stop painting chickens…


Work table with paintings and works in progress, Aug 2014, Cindy Schnackel

Decided to do three more miniature cartoony chicken paintings.  Also on the table in various stages of progress are bottle caps with tiny birds painted on them! Right now, the table is taken up by frames that need cleaning in anticipation of another group of affordable miniatures being offered next year, or sooner.  They are always available. I have penciled in plans with a gallery to show again in April next year, a two person show.  I won’t say what it’s about, and you won’t see me post much if anything that’s going to be in it! I want it to be seen for the first time AT the show, and I probably won’t announce the show until the gallery does.

In the meantime I’ll still be painting birds, big and small probably. It’s almost fall here, which means outdoors might be nice enough soon to take big canvases out and paint with palette knives again.  I’ve got quite a few things going. Before I can really proceed I need to do a thorough cleaning and organizing of my studio again. Amazing how fast that can get out of order if I neglect that “place for everything” principle.  I have no idea how I managed at our old house where I didn’t even have a studio.  Besides collage material, frames, work in progress, there is now the material to work with for the 2015 show.  Some of it defies categorization.  Will there be birds? Almost certainly, but not entirely birds.

One of my new projects this summer was to create a new blog , titled “Found A Chicken.”  You can read an interview I did with Sarah Hudock and her chicken art here:  http://foundachicken.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/sarah-hudock-chicken-artist/

I plan to blog there about a variety of chickeny topics, from chicken sightings to artist interviews to maybe even a review of ‘fake chicken’ brands, because since we don’t eat chickens, we have tried many. Some are very convincing and tasty!

Congrats, Paul Wilson!


Paul at the Phoenix Art Museum 2012 with part of his Lee exhibit

Great article in the Phoenix New Times today about my friend, artist Paul Wilson!

Paul’s presence in college classes in the 80s, and scenic art jobs thru the 80s and 90s, made a lot of those things so much more fun. In some cases there were jobs from hell and then, he made them bearable! There were days my face hurt from laughing.

There are few times in life I’ve met anyone who shared my weird sense of humor or just ‘clicked’ with.   In those years of college and art industry day jobs it was often Paul I was giggling with over some absurd thing.  He was one of the rare people with whom I could really open the door and let the creatures out.


Me, “Tim B,” and Paul, somewhere up by Oak Creek Canyon, AZ, in the mid 80s.

The above photo is of Paul and I, (and a guy named Tim, whom we’ve long lost touch with so I pixelated his face because of permissions and all that), on an impromptu camping trip in probably our last year of college, so around 1985 or 86.  We just decided to go on a road trip, totally unprepared and ended up eating truck stop junk snacks and sleeping on the ground in some completely dark patch of desert, where we were basically lost until the sun came up and we could see roads again. I can’t believe we weren’t stung by scorpions! In those days I’d never seen one so didn’t think about such things.  Another case of laughing til our faces hurt, we had fun doing what would be considered extremely uncomfortable under any other circumstances.  I remember that shirt, it was once black and said “Real Good Art” or some such thing.

I believe it was the year we graduated that we had a two person show at a leather shop/gallery in Tempe that’s no longer there. It was on Mill Ave not far from the Valley Art Theater, where BTW Paul once showed a collection of his amazing films and parodies.  We titled our show “Buy it!” to kind of make fun at consumerism, which the New Times article mentions as a factor he has spoofed before.  I don’t remember what paintings either of us had in it in much entirety but I think Paul was into Parker Stevenson then, maybe he showed the amazing colored pencil drawing of Parker watching a horror show on TV and eating popcorn out of a large stainless steel bowl. The execution was flawless, right down to the reflections on the bowl and individual hairs on Parker, if I recall. We also served junk food, Twinkies probably. And, I am not sure, but don’t think we sold a thing. I know I didn’t. Glad to say that situation has improved by now.

When my husband Brian and I moved away from Phoenix in the late 90’s Paul and I kept in touch, mailing each other senseless and often tasteless cartoons and stories. When we returned to Phoenix in 2009 I was not at all surprised to see Paul going strong with his unique brand of art. It was good to see him having solo shows and an an exhibit in the Phoenix Art Museum.  His events were always packed for good reason. And he always had so many things going on I could never keep up! I really enjoyed the artist’s statement at his Lee Harvey Oswald themed show at Willo North a couple of years ago, that explained how the fantasy was ‘what if’ Oswald had been a teen heart throb instead of an alleged assassin.  Who else could turn that into a positive? More recently he had a solo show at R. Pela themed partially on Oswald but also toasters. I became a collector and now own a couple of small pieces of Paul’s, a “Lee” image on toast, and a photo of Paul dressed as Rod Serling of the Night Gallery TV show.  Of course, somewhere in unpacked boxes from many moves, are the cartoons and such, too.

Like the author of the article, I’m amazed at the range of characters Paul can play, and how well he plays them. I’m a big fan of the “Kimbles,” especially “Carol-ann.”

Despite having known Paul for decades now, he’s so productive I have probably only seen a fraction of his work. He continues to surprise, amuse, and amaze me.

I’m glad to see him getting this coverage!Congrat’s Paul!

Tour de Farce, the faux, fake and fabulous art of Paul Wilson, by Kathleen Vanesian, Phoenix New Times, Thursday, 7 Aug. 2014:


The Art of Making Mistakes..


Wonderful post! Reblogging…

Originally posted on The Secret Kingdom:


Throughout The Secret Kingdom you will find several little drawings that I made using a ball-point pen.

I did all the interior illustrations for Lemon Bee and Other Peculiar Tales with just a pen and paper.

I love to draw in pen.


Because you can’t make mistakes.

Well, technically you CAN make mistakes.. but drawing in pen teaches you to not be defeated by mistakes.

Big difference.

Drawing in pen teaches you to be creative.

Drawing in pen teaches you to bounce back.

When mistakes do happen.. and they will

do you just trash the whole thing and start over?


You work through it.

You get creative.

You bounce back.

Such is life.

View original

Show extended after PBS coverage; Thrift store makeovers


Good China in the Bad Desert, Acrylic on deep edged panel, 48 x 20 in. $600

“DRY” Extended into at least early August due to interest after media coverage

After PBS’s show, Horizon, covered the art show I’m in, there was a lot of interest from people who had not seen the show. So, gallery owner Robrt Pela decided to extend the show into August, (when the gallery had been planning to be be closed until the September show opened). So, if you missed the art show, it is still there and will be for a little while!  Below is the gallery site, and a link to the Horizon segment covering the show, in case you missed that, too:

R. Pela Contemporary Art Gallery, Phoenix AZ: http://rpelagallery.com/

PBS Horizon, Art Beat coverage of “Dry” show at R. Pela gallery 22 July 2014: http://www.azpbs.org/arizonahorizon/detailvid.php?id=15058



A thrift store makeover (and some paintings on bottle caps) in progress. Reprint being altered is Robert Zund’s “Way to Emmaus,” originally painted in the 1800’s.

Thrift store makeover sold

Another thrift store makeover has sold, this time a take off on Robert Zund’s 1800’s painting, “Way to Emmaus,” (a cardboard reprint of it)!  I added some giant chickens, a pensive peanut, a monster, and a gave Jesus a balloon. A buyer saw my post about it on Facebook and snapped it up. Yay!

A painting of this era is in the public domain due to age, copyrights having expired. While alterations are the copyright of the new artist who comes along and changes a public domain image, the original unaltered version remains in the public domain. There could be many altered versions of this around though I don’t know of any.  Initially I was just going to add the balloon, but of course that was not going to stand. I had to add chickens, etc.  The above image was  nearly complete.  I’ll probably offer it printed on products on my redbubble site, haven’t decided which ones yet, but I tested out the templates for products and really liked Jesus with a balloon for the cell phone cases.  Subtle but irreverent.

Because of a request I’ll be doing more thrift store makeovers. I will never lose interest in painting birds but as most artists do, I sometimes like to shift focus to something different. A new medium or subject, or whatever. Doing more thrift store makeovers is what excites me right now, so I’ll be scouring local thrift stores for reprints of classics especially.  Below is one I did earlier this year, while it was still in progress. (It also sold).


Work in progress shot, adding birds to thrift store reprint of Rembrandt’s Girl in an Open Door, (originally painted in the 1600’s). This was completed for a show in April 2014 and sold. I ended up painting out the white scratch. At first I was going to capitalize on what it obviously looked like, but it was just “too much poop” even for me, LOL!

On PBS’s Horizon tonight

If you’ll be in front of your TV tonight check this out! I’m told that the show I have a painting in at R. Pela Contemporary Art is going to be covered on tonight’s episode of Horizon on PBS (channel 8) here in the Phoenix area.  Here is the channel guide for our local PBS stations: http://www.azpbs.org/schedule.php

The gallery is still open by appointment until we the show is taken down at the end of the month, so if you wanted to see it hurry, it’s not going to be there much longer! Gallery link: http://rpelagallery.com/

Anxious to see what they say. Not sure if it’s an interview with the gallery owner, a visit to the show, or both, or something entirely different.