Friday, July 11, 2008

Estate planning for artists

Jimi Hendrix
graphite , 11 x 14 on Canson
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Many visual artists joke that their work will only be valuable once they are dead. And unfortunately, that often is the case. We all seem to value something more when we know the source no longer exists.

As an artist with less years in front of me than behind, I sometimes do a little introspective thinking and wonder what will happen to my art when I am dead. That may sound morbid, but in reality its quite practical to consider this and to make plans for my art while I'm alive and have the mental faculties to think rationally. We chronical the times in which we live through our art. It would be the logical thing to do the plan what happens to those valued pieces after our death. Recent delves into family history bring home to me the need for accurate records, dates and information to enable individuals in the future to track history.

How will I manage my estate? To be honest, I'm only just seriously thinking about it now and researching exactly what I need to do to ensure it lives into the future and is not collecting dust in a basement or attic in a relative's house somewhere. I need to rewrite a will and ensure that it becomes the document that gives me a little immortality despite my mortality.

Here are a few starting points to get you thinking about your art and where you want it to go when you are no longer here.

  • Create an inventory of your art works.
Some of us have that already, some have partial lists or don't keep lists up to date. It is important to have a record of your pieces, including any relevant information about them, such as size, medium, date completed, title and, if it was sold or gifted and to who and the price if sold.

  • Define copyright of your art pieces
Copyright can be flexible and you may choose to leave a painting to one person and copyright to a painting to another. You may want to give a gallery copyright to reproduce your work in exhibition catalogues or make postcards from it. You can control reproduction of your work through copyright licensing.

  • Make a will
Many people mistakenly believe that having a will is not a priority. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a will is probably the most important document you will ever write.

If you die without a will, the province in which you live will decide how to distribute your estate.

You can dispose of any of your property in your will, from major assets such as buildings or trust funds to your personal possessions and, of course, your art. Specific bequests can be made to non profits, personal friends or other relations. The benefits of having a will ensure that disputes will not occur over property or personal asset distribution and that your wishes are maintained.

Suggested reading

Where There's a Will - Estate planning for artists. This is a comprehensive document (55 pages!) about planning your estate, your will, copyright etc. It is Australian, but the information is very broad based.

Visual Artist's Guide to Estate Planning - The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation

Checklist for Planning Your Art Estate - ArtBusiness

Let Professionals Manage the Art

Estate Planning for Artists - the Crafts Report

Senior Artists Initiative

Finally, do you want to know how long you'll live? Well, there are many variables including lifestyle, diet, exercise, external environment, etc.

The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator uses the most current and carefully researched medical and scientific data in order to estimate how old you will live to be. Most people score in their late eighties... how about you?

My calculated life expectancy is 94. I guess I have 40 years of drawing left to do...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Summer heat
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Its been a very warm week here, even by Newfoundland standards with the temperature rising to 31C. I have air conditioning at work which makes it almost too cool at times so that I need to bring a sweater with me or go outside to warm up from time to time. When leaving the office, the heat hits you like walking into a sauna. However, I'm not complaining. I love heat and hate being cold, so each warm day is a bonus for me.

The heat makes all the animals cranky, especially Tripod, the cat who spends his days following people around, meowing loudly about how hot he is to anyone who will (or won't) listen. It becomes very trying at times as he has what I call his 'outdoor voice" that he uses both outdoors and indoors. At 4:30am, its not a nice sound to be woken to, so he spends the nights outside now where its cooler and he usually goes to the greenhouse and snoozes the night away in a cardboard box full of landscape fabric. So much for the mighty hunter...

I haven't done a lot of drawing this week, as I'm concentrating on getting some tutorials finished. While this involves drawing, I also have a lot of writing to put together as well. They usually go hand in hand with some overlaps when I get caught up in the drawing mode and forget to scan at critical junctures!

I've put in some more time on the Jimi Hendrix portrait and am worrying the hand right now. When someone said 'that's an interesting walking stick he's got' I knew I was on the wrong path with the hand. So I had to redo that and am now building values to bring some depth to the piece. I am considering a background, but haven't decided what or if it will be. Perhaps it should be just him floating in space. I don't know. If I have a background for a piece I usually try to put it in first and work the figure into it so the values are correct. It always looks a little odd when its added after the fact. I'll use some tracing paper and look at some options for backgrounds, but I'm not spending a lot of time on this - at least not right now.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Portrait update

Jimi Hendrix - update
graphite 11 x 14 on Canson
copyright Jeanette Jobson

It's funny how most people love the dead, once you're dead your made for life.
Jimi Hendrix

I've had the song 'Fire' in my head ALL day long after posting the video clip last night. But there could be worse things to be stuck in there.

I've done a little more on the Hendrix portrait. I've used crosshatching for most of this drawing. Hatching and crosshatching fill a lot of people wiith fear, but I just love the technique. In the initial stages it always looks odd and its not til you really start getting the values in place that you see it coming together. When its at this strange stage is when people abandon hope and bail out usually.

My Skooba Skin laptop case has arrived and I still haven't decided on a design for it yet. These bags can be decorated in any way I want, using permanent markers, paints, glued on decorations, stencils, pens, airbrush, needlework or anything else that is suitable for use on fabric. Decisions, decisions...Jimi Hendrix?? Nawwwww

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Woodstock 1969

Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
11 x 14, graphite on Canson
copyright Jeanette Jobson

In 1969, I was fifteen and a huge Jimi Hendrix fan, much to my parents dismay. I had my bedroom walls covered in Hendrix posters and listened, enraptured to songs like All Along the Watchtower and one of my favourites, Fire. 1969 was also the year of Woodstock - "bunch of hippies..." my father would mutter, as scenes of it filtered through to the news.

I still like Jimi Hendrix music and this morning when the geese decided to do the dawn chorus at 5am, I started a portrait of him.

Here's a little trip back in time to Woodstock and one of the world's greatest guitarists. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Inspirational computers

I loved the shapes of this rhododendron bud (yes they're just flowering now!) and thought it would make a good line drawing. I often put images in Photoshop and tinker with them to get an idea of what mediums they would translate into or to experiment with colours and shapes before I start a drawing. I tried a few filters and colours within shadows, midtones and highlights and this was the result which pretty much follows through with my original thoughts around this piece and its potential.

Using a graphics program gives me the ability to intensify colours and values to enable more accurate rendering of the final image or provide more inspiration to veer off the beaten track. I'm sure that the masters would have spent time playing with PS if they'd had computers too.