Saturday, January 26, 2013

Never Leave Home without your Camera

 Winter in Florida means a chance to see Manatees. They swim up the Orange River where warm water flows from the huge Florida Power & Light plant (FPL). A lovely park has been erected in their honor and thousands of residents and tourists flock there when the temperatures plunge to see these wonderful creatures.

At first glance, they look like humongous baked potatoes. Further scrutiny reveals a flat elongated tail and two dorsal fins closer to the snout. On females, a teat is located in the dorsal area where suckling’s feed after birth.

Manatees can stay submerged for long periods of time, so people wait expectantly for one to lift its large snout above water for a gulp of air. 

They can also be seen swimming up river leaving gentle swirls of water in their wake. A small patch of exposed back may crest the water as they move. Spotting an actual manatee swimming upstream brings squeals of delight from the crowd.

I’ve seen some beautiful paintings of these aquatic mammals, but I’ve never had the desire to paint them. On the other hand, I witnessed a flock of white pelicans that took my breath away, but I had no camera. These I would love to paint. I’m told that there are swans in Florida, but I’ve never seen one.

An artist should never be without a camera. If you’re like me, the times you have your camera, nothing happens. On the days you leave your camera home, wildlife is everywhere! I’m opposed to painting from photographs of others unless I have their explicit permission.

Final painting: "Bella Bellissimo" acrylic on 16 x 20 canvas
I have followers on Facebook from different countries. I was given permission to use their personal photos as they are not photographers or artists. I have done this for my India Rising Series, and for my African Series. When you can’t travel yourself, it’s the next best thing to being there.

Original photo of Bella
(I tried to make her look happier!)
If you use online photos or the artwork of others for inspiration, make certain you turn that painting into something uniquely yours. Change the pose. Change the color or composition. Don’t outright copy anything. If you do, you’re breaking the law.

I visited an artist blog recently where the author complained that someone had taken a photo of her painting and copied it authentically. If that were a writer, they could be charged with plagiarism. Copying old masters and declaring that you did is one thing. Stealing the ideas or paintings of someone else is downright criminal. If a person can’t fly by the seat of their own pants – they shouldn’t fly at all.

First drawing of Bella