Panoramic view of Klown at R. Pela Contemporary Art


Taken June 21st, 2013, at the Klown show. Love the panoramic option on my phone, and the way it makes the walls look curvy.  My painting is on the left, the ‘red’ one, titled The Clown Eater.   There was a nice crowd again, too. The show runs through June.





I’d been following a discussion on a LinkedIn art group that asked, What is Originality?  Knowing it was one of those discussions that could suck me into wasting hours socializing, while telling myself it was networking, I hesitated to add a comment. But it finally lured me in.  It’s a topic that has come up over and over on every art site I’ve ever been on. Today, I decided to blog about it here and ask my readers the same question.

Some of the discussion was about digital art, and whether things like mechanical reproductions could be considered ‘originals’ or if they were as original as hand pulled prints.  Someone mentioned that context was so important, and I agree.  For art that only exists in digital form when it’s created, it must be printed or displayed some way for it to be enjoyed and sold.  It shouldn’t be devalued simply because it is reproduced on monitors or paper, instead of stemming from one original painting.  For that matter, writing is a reproduction, when it’s made into books, but we value books.  Ok maybe people are buying fewer paper books and buying digital ones now…but that’s another tangent.  Making a repro from a painting is not the same as printing a digital art file. It’s context.  However, just as painters usually accept that drawings may command lower prices than paintings, digital artists and photographers might have to struggle with buyers not seeing the value the same way, I dunno.

Aside from the print-reprint-reproduction-digital file discussion, below is the part of my post I decided to include in this blog entry.

[To] me, “original” has more to do with how the artist has interpreted the subject. I believe all artists are capable of applying their life experiences and inner ‘self’ to their art, but not all do. Some artists copy more than create, and to me copying is something kids and beginners do to learn, but as others have said, too, when you grow up and develop your own style you leave that behind. Some artists may have trouble tapping into what it is that makes each person’s art potentially very unique. My husband is not an “artist,” but nevertheless we were goofing around with a big piece of muslin one day and he painted a rather remarkable abstract bird. He had no clue that was in him and he was amazed and pleased.

I think we all have that in us, we just have to tap into it, and that’s where real originality comes from. So when I see artists say they cannot come up with anything new or there is nothing new, I have to disagree. There may be ‘nothing new under the sun,’ but we all are like a filter that takes everything in, and it comes out different for everyone…if we let it.

What does “original” mean to you?

Beware of “licensing organizations” offering free images

CI personally don’t use clip art, textures, stock photos, or rely in any way on so-called copyright free art. (Even if I wanted to, I’d be hard pressed to find anything that lent itself to what I do!) Many graphic designers and digital artists use these sources for their material, though. Nothing wrong with that if they do it legally. A big concern is that the sources for those things are not reliable as to whether the material IS legal. And many people misunderstand the license terms which may allow free use, but not commercially.

From an email subscription that arrived in my inbox this morning: Plagiarism Today, “The Problem with False Creative Commons Licenses”

The article hit home for me, because an infringer on Wikispaces, an art teacher no less, was giving away my art, (and the art of many others), to Creative Commons.  Though I was able to get the image removed by sending a DMCA takedown, I don’t yet know how much damage his infringement did to me.  Because I never authorized the ‘licensing’ of the image, anyone using it is doing so illegally, just as the example in the article above, and can be liable for money damages. I know of other people having problems with paid for clip art etc, that stemmed from someone illegally offering it. It seems to be a common problem, so if you use these sources, do your research and read and understand the terms.

Thank you!

A few snaps from “Klown”

KlownCrowd1 KlownCrowd2Jeff KlownCrowd2RandyZ KlownCrowd3















A few crowd shots from “Klown,” at R. Pela Gallery in Phoenix.  The opening was Friday, June 7, (downtown Phoenix’s First Fridays art walk), and it will open again for Third Friday’s art walk, June 21st.  Doors open at 6 p.m. again.  I hope that you’ll be able to make it, especially if you missed it on the 7th! There were a lot of people there, at one point it felt like standing room only.  My painting, The Clown Eater, is the mostly red one with the toothy monster catching a clown, (visible in lower two pics).

Chicken Sketch

ChickenSketchSM_CA 7 x 5 inch sketch in ink, water, and a tiny bit of colored pencil.  He–or she–looks like a mixed breed of Silkie and something else, maybe Polish.  Yes, I have chickens on the brain pretty much 24-7.  Really liking this sketchbook’s cream colored paper, too. Handles washes very well.  I went back to the store where I got it and they were all out, so apparently a lot of other artists liked it, too. It was a Daler-Rowney product, got it at Barnes and Noble.  Most of the ink is the Pentel pens they demoed at AZ Art Supply a few weeks ago.  Loving those, too, especially the Aquash brush that just has water in it; very handy!

In a Cartoony Mood; making a Tee Shirt on Redbubble


Chicken Scratch
Digital drawing on Tee Shirt
Cindy Schnackel

Last night I was in the mood to draw very simply, bold black lines and solid color fill, which I enjoy doing with the mouse, in Photoshop. The results often make for good tee shirt art. I drew this directly into the tee shirt template provided by the site I sell my tees on,

Bold graphic designs work best on Tees, but even paintings and photos can work better than you would think. The main thing is to test it out and see if you need to lighten it or make other adjustments, as the appearance on fabric is different, and the site does a pretty good job of approximating that difference in it’s product view.  To deal with the issue of there being a lot of ink on the shirt with a full painting, I have often carved out the character with one of the erasing tools, or faded the edges etc.

With bold graphic images like this, if I want more air going thru the design, I punch a few holes with the eraser tool, and this creates the effect of colored spots that match the shirt. You can see it here on the chicken’s neck.  Though I don’t think RB’s tees are printed any more heavily than graphic tees in stores, I do like lots of air flow!  It’s hot here in Phoenix, especially this time of year.  BTW I think the heather gray is the coolest color but maybe it’s all in my head.

Learning to use the template was a bit of a learning curve for me, because at the time I made my first tees there, I had an older version of Photoshop Elements that didn’t do what was required.  On a newer version, it was no problem. A main thing to remember is the template is a PNG file not a JPEG.  And though it will print if you “Flatten” the image, you will lose the Transparency of the image, so if you must merge layers, use the Merge, not Flatten, under Layers.  If you flatten layers, all the background, etc, will print white. Ick.

Because of the transparency, and the way the design looks on different colored tees, it’s a good idea to upload the image and check the “private” box, so only you can see it. Then, play around with the colors, check for flaws, make your edits to the image file in Photoshop or whatever you’re using. When it’s good, uncheck the private box and go public with it, (unless of course you are only making it for yourself and want to keep it private).  Some things you might see when you upload a new design, are that colors may need to be adjusted, (lightened or increase saturation etc), or flecks of things you didn’t get with the erase may show.  If you want it to be available on all colors, you might need to make two versions, one for darks, one for lights.  Or, uncheck color options of shirts that do not work with your design, in Redbubble’s editing mode.

Making iPhone cases on Redbubble isn’t much different. It starts with their template and must stay within the size and file type required.  I’ve seen my art on a case someone bought, and it was very nicely printed and a good quality case.

We have a few of my tees and they’re also very nice, among my favorites for comfort, fit and appearance. The site says not to dry the tees in the dryer but I accidentally do all the time with no ill effect so far. I don’t recommend straying from their directions,  just saying I have and nothing happened in my case! (I never use the hot setting, maybe that’s why.)

Shameless Plug for a Great Wildlife Rehabilitation Org! Wildcare!


I know very few organizations well enough to give them a plug. The exception is Wildcare Oklahoma.  My husband and I lived in the OKC area for a few years, and got to know them, including the incredible woman who heads it, Rondi Large.

How we came to know of Wildcare was like so many people; we found an orphaned baby bird after a bad spring storm, and took it to Wildcare. We drove to Noble and left the finch in capable hands.  After that, we became members and attended their annual April Baby Shower, which was open to the public. What we saw was incredible. Thousands of injured and orphaned birds, fawns, beavers, coons, and others, all  handled it expertly and compassionately.  I didn’t even know that there is a manufacturer for milks of all kinds of animals, but there is, and we saw them bottle and syringe feeding everything from bats to bunnies. Most are re-released when ready. A few cannot be wild again and live out their lives there in clean, spacious, intellectually stimulating enclosures.  The animals are not made into pets, though they are clearly loved; they are prepared to live wild again.

With the recent bad tornadoes and hail storms in OK, the org is in special need of funds to repair their own facilities and take care of the influx of animals that were hurt or orphaned.  And spring is just getting started.  I hope that if you were considering helping animals after the storms, you’ll consider Wildcare.  At any rate, enjoy their websites.



Wildcare site:


Wildcare on Facebook: