EBSQ Friday Five: Houzz Edition

EBSQ is proud to present the first EBSQ Artists of Houzz! <– Follow this link to see all the EBSQ listings on Houzz. In the coming months we will be working with artists to build our gallery for interior designers, decorating enthusiasts, and more. If you’re not familiar with Houzz, check out their testimonials and look for them in the news.

Featured above: Studio Tau, Barbara Haviland, Alma Lee, Victoria Kloch and Heather Sims.


Is it the real McCoy? How to spot an art forgery on eBay

Alma's most recently bootlegged piece of art
Multiple copies of this piece were found for sale on EBAY. The Original is SOLD, No Licensed prints Contracted.

In the dozen years I’ve been dealing with the online art market, forgery has always been an issue. Sites like eBay have long been flooded with sweatshop copies of old masters. In fact, that is part and parcel why EBSQ was founded: it gave original artists, via the EBSQ keyword, a way to be easily found amid thousands upon thousands of copies.

With the advent of widespread and affordable giclee printing, forgery has become an even bigger issue. It’s no longer just the old masters being copied, but emerging and mid-career artists as well. Now, some copies are hand-painted by other artists as their own compositions. Beginning artists often don’t understand that this is both unethical and illegal since there is a long tradition of learning to draw and paint by copying other drawings and paintings. In these cases, these aren’t technically forgeries, but rather copyright infringement. And in many cases, this is “fairly” easy to deal with a simple C & D. What is much harder to nip in the bud are the systematic mass-produced forgeries done by people pretending to be the original artist (or a gallery), who are simply printing out (and possibly hand-touching up) copies.

Case in point is the work of EBSQ Artist Alma Lee. For almost a year, she has been fighting an eBay Powerseller who has been selling hundreds of copies of her work. Alma took all of the proper steps. She contacted eBay multiple times. She filed all the forms. Copyright infringement notices were filed by her and multiple parties, all reporting the forged auctions. Phone calls were made. Even the buyers of her originals got involved, speaking up on her behalf. And eBay did…nothing. Apparently, Alma doesn’t bring in enough money to warrant losing a Powerseller over.  So, the fraud continues with eBay’s apparent blessing.

So. Let’s assume you want to buy original art on eBay direct from the original artist. How then, do you know that what you’re getting is the Real McCoy and not one of these fakes, particularly BEFORE you are parted from your money? Alma put together a blog post listing the Top 10 Ways to Spot a Forgery.

Take a look at her list. Did she get it right? What else (if anything) would you add?

EBSQ Blogger of the Week: Alma Lee

Who and where are you?

I am an artist and poet, my husband and I live and work in a rural area just north of Green Bay WI aka Packer country. We have come to call our hometown, the Kissikimee of Wisconsin, you know the middle of nowhere just 15 minutes from everywhere.

How did you get started art blogging?

I have to be honest I started only because I was told I should. For the life of me in my native’ I could not imagine how this was going to help me market my art. I have come to understand people have an innate sense of curiosity about art and artists. I was completely dumbfounded about what I would blog about. At the same time there seemed to be some negative chatter around the idea of blogging about yourself. I set out to interview some fellow artists to fill the space. Though it was not a bad idea, I found that many artists are more than willing to share their art, but seem somewhat reluctant to share their processes, or thoughts behind a piece. After a while I realized my entries seemed contrived and more like an artist Crit than an interview. It made me think back to the simple foundation I learned in a technical writing course in college, “Write what you know and dream about the rest” Well I may not be sure of who I am most days, but I do know my art, my processes, and inspirations and dreams behind each work. Once used that knowledge, pick a work of art and used it as a springboard I felt I was on surer footing. And I found that process simpler to start, and very useful even in interviewing others.

Any tips for other EBSQ art bloggers?

I find that I the beginning I was caught up in the hype of blogging. After all this is about marketing and requires some serious planning. Doesn’t it? When you find yourself caught up in the numbers game ie how many hits, likes and followers you have, it can be pretty discouraging. I kept asking myself with all the other blogs people are reading who is going to find time for yours? Then I would look at other artists blogs and see they had more followers than I and I felt totally defeated. I became a comment junkie, if some post went without comment I would wonder what was wrong ? Is it the art or the writing? It became an endless spiral to something that is supposedly FUN! It was some time before I realized that the biggest concerns were not how many would hits, followers or comments. But what is your standing with the search engines, where are you placed? If you can get a potential customer to “google” you, can they find you? Can they find your work, auctions, website ect? Google honors new and frequent content on blogs so if you do it right your blog should appear on the first or second page of the results. And you are able to direct them from there. I am also fascinated with where my audience comes from, I love looking at the analytics, it helps me fine tune just who my target market is. It was vindicating for me to learn that most of my audience aka potential patrons come from far out of state. I learned my art is better received on the coasts and even overseas than the conservative Midwest region I live in, I have to take that into account when I am in the studio. In reality I will probably never meet any of them, but thanks to blogging, we can connect. For me it is like having lunch with good friends, expect I do most of the talking and never blow my diet! Does it get better than that? My best advice would be commit yourself to it, Be bold, make it about your passion, your art. There is no greater patron aphrodisiac than the evidence of an artist’s passion indeed I believe they will not purchase art without it.

What’s your musical inspiration of choice when you’re working in your studio?

When I am working in my studio, I start out in silence, the inspiration phase tends best attended by silence it keeps my mind and spirit free lead unencumbered with clutter. However once it is time to translate the vision into reality, I find music blaring, just this side of ear splitting a great catalyst. I have rather eclectic tastes and wander my way through, Selah, LeAnn Rimes, Adele, one of the 3 tenors (my favorite being Carreras), Elton John, Streisand and when I grow tired Heart will always bring me around with Magic Man and Crazy on You.

What’s coming next from your studio?

I find myself drawn to giving my hand drawn, painted originals a 2nd life in digital. I have been entranced with pulling my finished works into Photoshop and Painter and reworking them into completely new digital paintings, with virtually no recognition of the beginning original, the same painting in another dimension if you will.


EBSQ Friday Five

The EBSQ Friday Five offers a brief look at noteworthy news from around the EBSQ Artist Blogosphere.

1. Studio Time at Last! – Aimee Dingman is back! Life took over for a bit, mostly in the form of college papers, but now she’s back and you can expect see more of her wonderful art.

Apple, 8 x 10, acrylic on canvas

2. The Would be Prince – Alma Lee shares her very first cubic frog!

3. The Oil Painting Saga Continues – Jennifer Lommers shares how to both clean your brushes and be environmentally friendly.

4. WIP – Handpainted Magnets – Jennifer Williams is on a painting spree! You won’t believe how many magnets she is painting!

5. My Featured Artist – Every month artist Sherry Key is featuring an artist on her blog. Stop by to see who she chose for May. 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

EBSQ Live Studio- Colored Pencils

This demonstration was originally presented by Alma Lee on 10 August 2009

Color Pencils rock my world! Just when I had relegated my color pencil collection to the sketch supply pile, opening them only for an occasional a quick draft. The color pencil world was incorporating to new technology, experimental techniques, and new formulations revolutionizing the color pencil status as a medium.

These new configurations, allow for better color saturation, intensity, and light-fastness. It is now possible to accomplish highly detailed, richly textured  and brilliant colored finished paintings without ever picking up a brush. If you have not tried Color pencils lately, you have never tried Color pencils. These aren’t your Mama’s Color pencils!

Tonight I am going to take you step by step to the creation of the following painting.

For this demonstration, I will be using Pentel Brush pens water based markers, Prismacolor color pencils (CP) (water based) and Walnut Hallow colored pencils for Wood (oil based) (WHCP).

For the benefit of any media purists this project could be completed in 100% Prismacolor. But in the interest of time I will be using markers and brush pens to block in my color starting base.

When working with color pencil on wood or MDF panel the most important step will also be the first. Step one: adding gesso to the panel. You can put CP directly on to wood without gesso, and you will end up with a very transparent, pastel finish, much like watercolor.

If you are looking to for the more saturated color of acrylic or oil you are going to want to apply gesso. What makes this step so crucial is CP water oil base will not adhere well to acrylic and gesso contains acrylic. We want the thinnest coat possible for this step.

So when you apply your gesso, you will want to use a thinner bodied formula. Don’t water down a thicker gesso. I used Liquitex Gesso Surface Prep artist acrylic grade.

In very thin lines (about 1/3 the width of a pencil) I apply the gesso directly out of the bottle and onto the surface wrapping my fingers around the 2” foam brush head, using hard pressure to rub.

I “force” the gesso into the grains of the surface. Your prepped panel will be quite streaked. No worry, this is a good thing!

When dry you can either draw your image directly on the surface with graphite or transfer it with transfer paper. Keep in mind if you decide to use transfer paper, that you cannot erase the transfer paper marks and you are going to be working with transparent and translucent substances.

I generally will draw my idea out on paper and copy it to size on the computer, then with a graphite pencil fill in the back of the copy, tape it on the board and trace as a transfer.

You can now fill in your image with markers – or if using all color pencil, you will build up your base in several “light” layers of color.

Few quick tips:

-Leave only the harshest highlights white.

-Black (CP) is extremely flat and lifeless looking. Instead I determine whether to use a hot black (red base) or cool black (blue base)

-Shadows are only hinted at during this stage. It is easier to define those as you get into the (CP)

-Shadowing is best achieved by using contrasting colors on the color wheel.  THE EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE IN COLOR PENCIL IS YELLOW AND PURPLE. On those I will pick a brown, gray or black. pencil

-Add Color pencil to the large white areas only towards the end. This helps preserve your white areas as (CP) acts as a magnet to stray color specs.

After you have blocked it all in you can take a Q-tip dipped in alcohol and squeezed to wash out some of the hard edges where you don’t want them and also to blend in some of the stronger colors making the image look a little more integrated.

Notice also how I have begun to introduce some light yellow to the white diamonds to warm them up a bit. I am also now building up the shadow areas in the piece with contrasting colors using a light pressure on the pencil.

Now with light/medium pressure, I fill in the overall red in the shoes.

During the second coat on the shoes, I will make the pencil strokes in the opposite direction of the 1st coat.

I will begin to increase (slightly) the pencil pressure, as I am getting a nice “waxiness“ to adhere to.

In real life, I tend to skip around the page to all areas of the piece.

While I am for organizational purposes talking about only one area, bear in mind that you must be thinking about reflections and shadows in the surrounding objects and background and pulling in the color of such right along.  Otherwise, you may forget what colors were used and not be able to get a true representation.

As I get into the 3rd coat again I will change the stroke direction still using no more than medium pressure. I also start looking at introducing some enhancing mid-tones of magenta and orange.

I want to do it at this stage because we are fast approaching saturation in some of the shadows areas and too much build up of wax will make it difficult to add color without marring or “lifting” up the waxy surface.

This is going to be one of my last chance to really saturate the surface, so  I am concerned with 2 things:

  1. Finishing my shadow intensity
  2. Dragging in the very lightest mid-tones color into the highlight.  I will leave only the brightest and sharpest highlights untouched.

Now I am hardening the edges bringing up the gold in the buckles and apply gold to the reflections.

I will add with medium pressure  to the white on the shoes. First an over all layer on the highlights. Then a heavier hard line at the center of the highlight. I will then blend out the outer edges of the highlights with a light pink.

This is followed up by medium heavy pressure of the hard white lines, and medium pressure on white to the bottom of the shoe catch light.

I am adding black to the background using a very light all over coating at first, then lightly shadowing in the darker areas to give it some grounding.  The third coat is done by lightly blending the two.

At the same time with medium pressure, I will lay in the darkest black on the floor and the like.

Note: don’t apply heavy pressure until you can feel the little nubs of wax building up, rather uniformly on the surface. You will know this is happening when you notice less and less color saturation occurring while using lighter pressure and it will start to feel a bit like you are lightly coloring on a bumpy back of an old cast iron pan.

This is also the point to draw you finer lines as on the floor.

Note: if you can’t get a fine enough line you may try either a VERITHIN CP – taking care not to mar the surface of the panel substrate, or the image.

Add highlights to the black floors with red, blue and white to build up to the appropriate levels of visual contrast. Then add about 10-20% more contrast than you will want to see in your final piece, as this will be blended and toned down during burnishing.

Choose at least two shades of each prominent color to build up contrast within their respective objects.  I used both Camille red, Magenta, Hot Pink and a touch of Vermilion for the Red areas and Aquamarine, Non-Photo Blue and Indigo in the Blue area.

I filled in all the white areas left in the floor with either Camille/Aquamarine. I then used the lighter shade of each in order to feather blend it into the black, taking time now to really concentrate on filling in any white specks still lurking in the dark areas.

Note: you will not be able to fill them all in at this time, and you must never use hard pressure at this stage.

I am now addressing the “white” diamonds in the background.  Like black, I feel white lacks a certain depth.

I also feel that the warm red tones, of the shoes would result in a catch light, not as a color reflection on the matte wall finish, but certainly present itself in a change in gradient tone.

I added light green to the polka dots overall, and then layered white on top of that.

In the white diamonds I added that same green to just the peaks of the diamond – again 10-20% more than I desired on final piece.

I also added a beige color to the base of the diamonds and colored it all with white at medium pressure.  I continued to do this until I received the desired shade.

Now I pay careful attention to the surface of the piece

Note: absolutely every bit of the surface should be covered with at least 80% of CP color, even the whites!

This is important because you are about to burnish and if you try to burnish over empty or lightly coated areas you are going to drag in a color that you don’t want.

We are now ready to burnish starting with the prismacolor colorless blender. Burnish over the entire image with med-med hard pressure, doing the lightest areas first and working your way to the dark areas.

You will want a thin yet workable layer of the colorless wax.  In the dark areas you are also trying to fill in with more earnest now, any remaining “snowy” specks.

Note: don’t worry, you absolutely will never get them all out, but like in pointillism, the eye of the viewer tends to blend the small specks in for you.

Our surface will be smoother but not completed.

It is time to break out your Walnut Hollow oil pencils.  The oil pencils will help you lay down some serious color after burnishing, and provide more of a translucent, rather that transparent color finish. They also tend to “flake” a little more, so I keep an old make-up brush handy to whisk away crumbs.

Note: you can continue to use the Prismacolor and can use them after you use the Walnut Hallow pencils. However, they are a harder pencil and you have to be careful not to mar the surface with them.

Bring up your colors a little more with light pressure (notice the oranges deepening along sole of the shoe as it picks up a slight reflection from the floor.)

With hard pressure you are now going to add your strong white highlights.

Note: hard pressure is best defined as the same amount of pressure you would use to color in a solid color on a chalkboard.

Burnish one more time with the colorless blender, working in the opposite direction where possible. I chose not to burnish the white diamonds, as I was happy with the texture as is.

Note never be afraid to stop, let it sit for a day, live with it. If you are happy, walk away. (Once you have overworked a piece at this point  it  is nearly impossible to correct.)

Complete the project using a paper smudge stick with a medium light pressure. Burnish any areas that need smoothing. At this point I generally avoid all white highlights. Again I “live” with it a couple of days and then sign it.

Once the signature is dried, use your makeup removal pad to bluff  out any excess wax build up. Working the light areas first then proceeding to the darker shades using a light to medium light pressure.

Note: sign before spraying on the finish. The surface is very difficult to sign once it has been fixed.

Once you are satisfied with your piece you are ready to spray it with spray fixative. I use Prismacolor Premier Matte Fixative.

Unlike many CP artists, I like to leave it unfinished for a couple of months if I have that time available to me. This allows the wax bloom to come up. I then buff it out with a makeup removal pad and fix it. That way I know that the wax bloom issue has been put to rest.  Then I spray with fixative and wait an hour and spray it with Krylon UV-Resistant Clear.

To see a clip of the entire visual process in a 1 min video:

Materials Used For This Demonstration:

MDF Panel (Home Depot)

Pentel Brush Marker (Dick Blick)

Prismacolor Pencil (Michaels Craft Store, Dick Blick

Walnut Hollow Oil Pencils (Michaels Craft store in the wood project section, DickBlick)

Prismacolor colorless blender (Michaels Craft Store, Dick Blick)

Liquitex Gesso (Michaels Craft Store, Dick Blick)

Paper smudge stick (Michaels Craft Store, Dick Blick)

Prismacolor Matte Fixative (Michaels Craft Store, Dick Blick)

Uv-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating (Michaels Craft Store, Dick Blick)

Foam Brush (Home DePo)

Make up Brush (Walmart)

Q-tips (Walmart)

Makeup removal pads (Walmart)

Alcohol (Walmart)

Research Materials List – Materials and further reading:

Masterful Color , Vibrant Colored Pencil Painting Layer by Layer by Arlene Steinberg Northlight books ISBN 13-978-1-58180-957-2

Creative Colored Pencil workshop, 52 Exercises for Combining Colored Pencils with your favorite Mediums. Carlynne Hershberger & Kelli Money Huff

Simon Sez… Treats!

This week’s Simon is EBSQ artist Alma Lee. The theme she has chosen for her turn as Simon is “treats”. She explained the reason for her choice this way: “Recently I was “strongly” encouraged to paint a couple of cupcakes for my nieces newly decorated room. It has been done in cupcakes. I can’t even grasp the concept of why you would want food on the the wall of a young girls room but none the less, it got me to thinking. So Simon says treats of any kind… Rules: Length: now-12/13/09 , limit 5.
Lets have em!  Here is Libby’s Cupcake to get things started.

Libby's Cupcake - Alma Lee

All Simon Sez challenges are open to everyone. To enter Simon Sez… Treats! and to see  the all the entries,  simply go to the EBSQ Forum, find Member Groups, Challenges & General Art Discussions and then go to Challenge Central. All the challenges past and present – including Simon Sez, can be found there.

Like what you see here?  We hope you’ll consider leaving a comment or subscribing to one of our feeds. Never miss another cool post from EBSQ. Subscribe to EBSQ: Art Meets Blog v2.0 by Email today!

Simon Sez… Pets! winner announced!

The winner of Simon Sez… Pets! is Alma LeeS. Key – Simon for last week’s Simon Sez, said this of her choice: “I loved the lighting in this. It had the look of a portrait, but the feel of just “Codie, basking in the sun on the family couch.”

Codie - Alma Lee

If you want keep up with Simon Sez, be sure to go to the EBSQ Forum and check Challenge Central. Challenge Central is the place to check on current and past Simon Sez challenges – complete with all the entries, as well as all other EBSQ Challenges.

Congratulations Alma! We look forward to your turn as Simon.

Like what you see here?  We hope you’ll consider leaving a comment or subscribing to one of our feeds. Never miss another cool post from EBSQ. Subscribe to EBSQ: Art Meets Blog v2.0 by Email today!