Tag Archives: art

The courtroom sketch artist: art in a pressure-cooker

Courtroom sketch artists are people who can draw (or paint) quickly, accurately depicting what they see and unafraid to allow others — maybe millions of others — to see what they have done.

They work under seemingly impossible deadlines, sometimes only a few minutes, at best a few hours. There’s very little chance of editing or corrections.

Yet with the continuing ban on cameras in many courtrooms in America, the courtroom sketch artist is the only way we have of seeing what’s happening in the judicial system.

A few recent high-profile courtroom scenes (Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein) provoked Time magazine into doing an article of some of these remarkable people: What It’s Like to Be a Courtroom Sketch Artist | Time. The article includes this:

Courtroom sketch artists toe a line of talent, speed, accuracy and precision, as they often serve as the only individuals who can see what happens in some of the most high-profile court cases across the country. Their jobs have changed drastically recently as officials tweak the rules around when cameras can come into the courtroom and as the 24/7 news cycle creates tighter deadlines. All the while, these artists often create these sketches while squeezed into courtrooms, sometimes sitting behind pillars, using binoculars and, in Cornell’s case, shifting in their seats to see the central figures hidden behind bulky court marshals.

As someone who does a good bit of drawing and painting, I have often wondered what it would be like to work in these pressure-cooker conditions and what kind of drawings I would produce. How would I do what these excellent and talented artists do?

The answer I have come up with for myself would be twofold: prepare and practice. Before the proceedings begin, know what the scene looks like and who will be there. Then start drawing those folks in different postures and with different expressions. Practice, practice, practice.

And hope that when the time comes to produce, you’re having a good day artistically.

If this topic interests you, here’s a book to check out:

The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art  by Sue Russell  and Elizabeth Williams  (Author)

Illustration: Harper’s Weekly sketch of the arraignment of John Brown, 1859. Sketched by Porte Crayon (David Strother). 

Ursula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem – Brain Pickings

Maria Popova, the brain behind BrainPickings.com — a newsletter you should subscribe to — has written another tribute to the ideas of the late science fiction novelist, Ursula Le Guin.

Ursula Le Guin

Le Guin, as Popova points out, has important things to say about the function of storytelling. Here is part of it:

“People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them,” Emerson wrote in contemplating the key to personal growth. Hardly anything does this for us more powerfully than art — it unsettles us awake, disrupts our deadening routines, enlarges our reservoir of hope by enlarging our perspective, our grasp of truth, our capacity for beauty.

This singular function of art is what Ursula K. Le Guin (October 21, 1929–January 22, 2018) reflects on in an interview by the polymathic marine conservationist Jonathan White, included in his wonderful Talking on the Water: Conversations about Nature and Creativity (public library).

In a roaming conversation over tea, “with only momentary interruptions by Lorenzo the cat or chimes from the grandfather clock,” Le Guin tells White:

The daily routine of most adults is so heavy and artificial that we are closed off to much of the world. We have to do this in order to get our work done. I think one purpose of art is to get us out of those routines. When we hear music or poetry or stories, the world opens up again. We’re drawn in — or out — and the windows of our perception are cleansed, as William Blake said. The same thing can happen when we’re around young children or adults who have unlearned those habits of shutting the world out.

Art, Le Guin suggests a century after Kandinsky extolled its spiritual element and a decade after Susan Sontag considered its ethical responsibility, restores to secular culture the sense of sacredness and moral purpose:

Our culture doesn’t think storytelling is sacred; we don’t set aside a time of year for it. We don’t hold anything sacred except what organized religion declares to be so. Artists pursue a sacred call, although some would buck and rear at having their work labeled like this. Artists are lucky to have a form in which to express themselves; there is a sacredness about that, and a terrific sense of responsibility. We’ve got to do it right. Why do we have to do it right? Because that’s the whole point: either it’s right or it’s all wrong.

You can read the whole thing hereUrsula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem – Brain Pickings

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 3

Testing the palette: One subject, three paintings

Painting a subject more than once, especially within a short span of time, is not my usual thing.

But this was different. I wanted to test out three color approaches, and I wanted to do it with a landscape that would not be too difficult to render. So here’s the result:

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 1

This watercolor began with some neutral tints, and once I got everything established on the paper, I went back in with mostly cool colors and combinations to do the forms and the shadows. I was generally pleased with the outcome.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 1

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 1

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 2

Here I stuck with warm colors to begin with and then tried to build the shapes and shadows with other combinations of warms. I tried to stay away from the blues (cool colors) but used violet where I had to in order to get some darks. With the folks who had seen all three paintings, this seems to be the favorite.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 2

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 2

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 3

This painting is done entirely with Kuretake watercolors (Japanese). They have a quality of brightness that is not generally found in Western watercolors, but they can be tricky to mix. On the paper, they tend to spread apart if you put two colors together, so you have to mix them mostly on the palette. The church roof gave me momentary fits when I put down a red that was way too red. I had to do some work to get it toned down, and then I tended to use that color as the shadow color for other parts of the painting.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 3

Cades Cove Sunday morning – 3

So, there you have it. Let me know if you have any comments or critiques.

Artist Daniel Moore announces latest national championship painting

Artist and friend Daniel Moore was back in the news last week announcing that he had released a detailed pencil sketch of the painting that he plans to do commemorating the University of Alabama’s 2017 national collegiate football championship.

For nearly 40 years now, Moore’s work has been highly popular with Alabama fans and football fans in general.

His popularity continues. All of the editions of this painting have been sold out, even before the painting itself has been completed.

Pencil sketch of Daniel Moore’s latest national championship painting

Moore discovered a gold mine for his artwork in 1979 when he produced “The Goal Line Stand,” a photo-realistic oil painting of the moments when Alabama prevented Penn State from scoring in the Sugar Bowl. Penn State had a first and goal at the one-yard line, and could not score in four tries. Alabama went on to win the game 7-0 and the national championship that year. It was an iconic moment in the history of Crimson Tide football, and Moore captured it perfectly.

Moore had found the formula to combine his love of football, the University of Alabama, and painting and create a handsome living for himself.

On many occasions over the next 20 years, Moore showed his gratitude to the University by donating paintings to its facilities, most notably to the Bear Bryant Museum, a popular stopping point for tourists coming to Tuscaloosa.

Unfortunately, the University did not reciprocate.

Sometime around the year 2000 — after 20 years of cooperation — the University of Alabama began demanding license fees from Moore for his work that included the University and its football team. In doing so, the masters of the University lost sight of the University’s basic mission — to support a full and free exchange of information and ideas and to encourage creativity — and tried its best to become a corporate entity. It was a state institution, not a corporation, and the folks in charge should have known better.

Moore resisted the demands of the University, and that took more than a little courage.

The University denied him the access that it had once freely granted to him. They revoked or refused to issue sideline passes so he could have an on-field view of the games. You can avail the best watercolor paints for professionals.

The battle, of course, went to court, and a decade of legal action ensued. Fortunately, Moore had the resources to fight the University, arguing in Federal court that he had a First Amendment right to draw and paint what he pleased and then to sell what he produced without having to pay the state — the University — for the right. The Federal judges who heard the case never really understood the arguments and issued a couple of muddled opinions in the rulings. But Moore eventually won.

The victory cost him about $300,000 in legal fees.

But, it was an important First Amendment victory, and all Americans owe Daniel Moore a debt of gratitude.

Consequently, it’s good to see that Daniel Moore is still doing what he does best — and making money at it.

[button link=”http://www.jprof.com/2013/05/18/daniel-moore-artist-journalist-or-both/” bg_color=”#ad0c27″ border=”#ffffff” window=”yes”]Read an additional post about Daniel Moore’s legal battles here on JPROF[/button]


Daniel Moore – Artist, journalist . . . or both?

Anyone familiar with the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team and tradition will know Daniel Moore. An artist of great expertise and talent, Moore (see full disclosure below) has specialized in photo-realistic depictions of great moments in the Tide football history for nearly 30 years. His paintings hang everywhere from the bedrooms of young Tide fans who dream of playing football for Alabama to the Bryant Museum on the University’s campus in Tuscaloosa. The museum has the same hold on Tide fans that the Vatican has on Catholics, and Moore is a highly popular and well-respected figure in Bama nation.

Painting by Daniel Moore

Moore and the University worked together amicably for years. The athletic department issued sideline passes to Moore so he could get at closer look at the field, take pictures and make sketches. In 1991, after he had executed a number of paintings and prints of UA football, Moore began paying a license fee to the University for his some of his artwork. Moore stopped doing that in 2000 and has been in negotiation with the University ever since.

The situation culminated last month with the University filed suit against Moore claiming he was engaged in trademark violations by using University of Alabama colors, logos and symbols in his artwork. Moore has counter-sued, saying the University is interfering with his business. Moore is also claiming the same status as a journalist in having a First Amendment right to record public moments and then sell those recordings (in this case, his paintings) commercially.

Moore is making that claim based on his reading of the decision of a Federal judge in a case several years ago in which golfer Tiger Woods sued artist Rick Rush for a painting that Rush did of Woods. Woods said Rush’s work constituted trademark and copyright violations because it used Woods image without his permission.

Rush and his attorneys made the argument that what he was doing was no different than what a photojournalist would do in covering a sports event. A photojournalist working for a newspaper would go to a game, take pictures, put those pictures in the newspaper, and then sell those newspapers. Rush said that as an artist, he was doing exactly the same thing. He was watching an event, producing a painting and then selling prints of that painting. Woods’ case against Rush was eventually dismissed, though not solely on First Amendment grounds.

Now Moore is saying his case mirrors the Woods-Rush case. The University, he says, should have no control over what he produces as an artist, just as it has no control over what pictures a newspaper chooses to print.

The University certainly has an interest in protecting its trademarks, but as a strong advocate of the protection and expansion of First Amendment rights, I think trademark protection must be limited. In this case, Moore should be allowed to do what he needs to do as an artist – or a journalist, whichever he chooses to be.

The University will have to find a way to live with that.

Note: I understand that the University has taken a big public relations hit because of this suit. Word from Tuscaloosa is that some at the University are seeking some kind of an exit strategy from all of the bad publicity this has engendered.

Links. Here are some links for those wanting more information about the Moore-University of Alabama dispute:

Tuscaloosa News, Artist, UA face goal-line stand in clash over copyright laws, By Adam Jones, March 23, 2005

University of Alabama’s statement concerning its suit against Daniel Moore, March 23, 2005

Crimson White (Alabama’s student newspaper) UA sues famed sports artist Daniel Moore, Marlin Caddell, March 25, 2005

Daniel Moore’s web site, New Life Art

Full disclosure: I am connected to this situation in several ways.

• David Moore, Daniel Moore’s brother, is a newspaper editor in Alabama, and I have known him for many years.

• A couple of years ago, when Daniel Moore was still talking with the University about this situation, he got in touch with me, and he and I exchanged a couple of cordial emails. I gave him my thoughts about the case, and he has published those (with my permission) on his web site.

• I was involved in the Rick Rush/Tiger Woods case as part of Rush’s legal team. They asked me to evaluate the results of a mall intercept survey that the Woods lawyer wanted to present as evidence. I wrote a report about that evidence and was later deposed on the points I made in the report.

Jim Stovall (Posted April 13, 2005)

The picture above is a Daniel Moore painting, and it is used with his permission.