A little while ago I received an inquiry from a potential customer, with a “regular name” not under a pseudonym, asking me whether painting x and painting y were still available and if I could tell “her” more details. “She” was expecting an urgent reply. So far everything seemed to be okay although I found the “urgent reply” a little bit pushy.

I wrote back that painting x was still available, painting y not. I also asked what details “she” wanted to know as I did not want to overwhelm  “her” with all kinds of stuff  “she” did not want to know. I don’t mind to deliver exactly what people want to know even if it takes several mails. “Her” email address was this time a different one but I did not get suspicious yet as most peole have several email accounts.

In the next email this person asked for confirmation of the price and size, expressed” her” intention to buy the painting and additionally “she” wanted to know what motivated me to create the painting. I wrote “her” the appropriate answer, asked “her” where “she” was located and offered “her” to waive the shipping costs in case “she” should be located in Europe. I also asked “her” to use my Etsy shop in case “she” wanted to purchase my painting.

The next email I received was telling me that “she” apparently did not receive my answer because of  “her”  having problems with “her” email account so I re-sent what I had answered before. In the meanwhile I became a little bit suspicious about all this being okay although I had no reason at all to doubt it yet but there was that little feeling in my gut…

The following email though fully arose my suspicions. With no word did “she” mention anything about what I had told  “her” about the painting. “She” did neither inquire about shipping costs and all that stuff you would like to know as a future customer. Instead  “she” told me a story about not being at home herself but visiting family in the UK, being in the middle of a big move and expecting a baby. “She” was supposed to be back in a few days.  “She” wanted me to send “her” my mailing address and telephone number so that “she” could inform “her” husband who was shutling between “her” home and South Africa and who apparently was organizing the move from the IT head office in Johannisburg in SA to New Jersey. “She” wanted then to forward my contact info to the shipping company who was supposed to move their belongings. The shipping company would send FedEx to my studio to pick up the painting and consolidate the whole move then.

Now I WAS sure that this all was false – a scam. I wrote back to “her” that if  “she” wanted to purchase my painting  “she” or “her” husband would have to do this via my Etsyshop only and that “she” would receive my address and phone number then and only then. I also told “her” that this was for “her” and my own safety because of all the scams out there. I would not let go of my work before the money was in my account.

I never received an answer back.

So what I am telling you here is that these scams are getting more and more perfidious. Using names and phrases like “FedEx” or “head office IT”   should make you feel safe. Telling you “personal things” like visiting family, husband and sister, expecting child etc. is appealing to your emotions and the personal tone should erase your doubts.

But YOUR COMMON SENSE SHOULD NEVER SLEEP!

Who on earth would buy art being in the middle of a move and short before giving birth? What sense does it make to add something to a shipment from one part of the world when stuff is shipped from a total different region of this planet to another? She did not react on my request to purchase through an official shop. Why? This should be much safer for the customer also. She did not mention how she was going to pay – or rather she did not even ask me about it. Apparently it adds to the trick to use a female name because somehow these people think that women are less supposed to be internet scammers. Well – we live in a male world – don’t we? But behind an email address anything could stand…

Dear Readers,

I bring this up again although you might be bored about it already but this is an issue of my heart and I cannot stop to urge you all to do what you can to support Greenpeace in their fight against the threat of whaling becoming a commercial abomination again.

I am tired and desperate about this whole issue and I do not understand why man must do this. What kind of human being is able to slaughter these wonderful intelligent creatures, torture them for profit, merciless and senseless?

Please – we all need to do something about it!!! Thank you!

Save the whales!

.

Dear Petra,

In 10 days whales could face their biggest threat in over two decades: the return of their slaughter by commercial whaling.

On June 21 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will meet in Morocco where they could decide on a proposal that would resume commercial whaling, once again opening the door to the destruction of these amazing creatures.

Greenpeace is gearing up for one of the biggest battles the war against whaling has ever seen. Please make your most generous donation today to help Greenpeace in our fight for the whales. This is an “all hands on deck” moment!

Picture a Japanese harpoon ship cutting through the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Suddenly, the harpooner spots a mother whale and her calf. The ocean quiet is shattered by the blasts of exploding-tip harpoons hitting the whales.

The whale pair struggles to free themselves from the harpoon lines, but a gunman fires down from the deck, finally ending their suffering. It can take as “little” as 20 minutes to a couple of hours of agony for these magnificent creatures to die.

If countries like Japan, Norway and Iceland — now supported by the USA — get their way at the next IWC meeting, this horrific scene will see itself played out over and over again.

For 35 years, Greenpeace has been the whales’ greatest defender. We will not allow this newest threat to their existence to come to pass. The international ban on commercial whaling must not be overturned but we cannot ensure this without your support. Thank you in advance for your generosity in this, the whales’ most desperate hour.

For the whales,
John Hocevar
Oceans Campaign Director


P.S. In 5 days our top activists and campaigners from around the world will be on their way to Morocco to defend the whales – we need your support TODAY to save the whales, end the slaughter and defend our oceans.

Click here to forward this message.

Greenpeace
702 H Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20001 | 1-800-326-0959

Greenpeace Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(4) organization. As a result of our effective work for new environmental policies, contributions are not tax-deductible.

I take the last post about American plans to commercialize whaling again as a one of the most terrifying and saddening reasons to talk about this silk painting and the little series of Magic Creatures.

Isn’t it enough that we have already extinguished innumerable species on this planet out of ignorance and lack of education? Is it really necessary that we slaughter one of the most intelligent and fascinating creatures on the earth for profit – not for food – although there are arguments which try to convince us to do so? Even if there were – there aren’t – enough whales swimming in the oceans – is it really ethical to kill a creature that has proven intelligence, a social behaviour, communication skills over thousands of miles and much more capabilities?

Our oceans are already that much polluted that many species already die from all the chemicals, nuclear stuff and other waste that is dumped into the seas – isn’t this enough? Oil spilling from oil tankers and the latest catastrophe in the gulf of Mexico where the oil platform Deepwater Horizon exploded and according to newest reports 50.000 barrel of crude oil are running into the sea DAILY! will cause a massacre among sealife and later on on the land as well because everything will be contanimated. Imagine that! And not enough – in order to split up the oil film on the surface tons of very poisonous chemicals are dumped into the water. It is a tragedy and I dare not to imagine what we will see in the next months.

I could go on and on. The pain that I feel about all this is unbearable…

~

humpback1
„Humpback“
40″ x 13″, silk

The world of the whales is the ocean – but how long still?

The whale we know the most about is the Humpback whale.  Nevertheless there are enough “unknown facts” which need to be de-coded.

Whales are mammals – no fish – and extremely intelligent, a social being with unbelievable skills and a very sophisticated communication. Did you know that they have dialects? And they can sing – at least various species and only the males. When you have heard them once underwater you will never forget this again!

I am not going to list all facts about humpbacks and other whales –  the Internet is full of information if you want to know more about these wonderful creatures.  I can only say that when I heard a humpback for the first time, diving on Maui, I could never forget that sound again and the fascination I feel for them.

Imagine that: these intelligent creatures are still hunted and killed, especially by countries which do not depend on the income of these killings at all due to their fortune, countries such as Norway, Iceland and Japan.

The ploys of the whaling lobby are incredible. Small and poor countries are bribed in order to buy their votes during the trade-offs  of the whaling commission and much more.

I feel sick continuously when I think about the greed and ignorance  of certain people, who sacrifice all and everything.

Nonetheless something amazing is happening again and again: although the whales seem to have something like a collective conscience and memory they are extremely gentle creatures, who forgive all those cruelties the human being is doing to them.  How else would you explain that specifically humpbacks are curious, seek to be near to the human, seemingly trying to communicate and behave completely peaceful while we can enjoy this incredible encounter of the 3rd kind? Nearly every wild animal tries to avoid the presence of man. A humpback could easily crash a boat and kill the swimmer who is near him…

.

humpback2

.

There exist innumerable stories and reports about humpbacks and other whales which prove how sensitive and intelligent they are. One of the stories can be read here.  It is a very moving story about a female humpback caught dangerously in a fishernet, divers who cut her out of it and how she thanked her rescuers.

This is also a very interesting article (ScienceDaily). It is about – more or less – brain cells, which can be found in whales as well as in humans and which play a big role regarding cognitive skills – with the bottomline that we still know too little about the true capacities of certain animals.

.

humpback3

.

My biggest wish is that neither humpback whales nor all the other animals become a myth in the end as it happened to so many other species on this planet. Even if many things are exaggerated, their meaning twisted and adapted to the appropriate interests it is quite obvious that dead and quiet oceans would be something terrifying even menacing because this would be the same fate of mankind.

Today we have the Internet – everybody has access to information and no-one could argue with the excuse “I did not know”! Anyone on this planet is responsible for his immediate environment. Anyone should name the things which need to be changed. Small steps are necessary – those in your own home… we only have one world!

.

humpback4

.

This morning I received following email from Greenpeace:

“The headline reads like a bad joke: “U.S. plans to save whales by killing whales.” But it’s no joke.

In an altogether shocking move, President Obama’s delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has decided to back a plan that would legalize commercial whaling — including in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary — for the first time since the international ban was passed over 20 years ago.

We only have until the start of the IWC meetings in June to show the President that this plan is a horrible idea. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Take Action NOW: Tell Obama to keep his promise, save the whales.

We’ll be delivering all the names and messages we collect to high-ranking officials in the White House on June 3rd.

Back in 1975, Greenpeace launched the world’s first-ever Save the Whales campaign. The images we brought back from our first voyage sparked an international outcry and moved a generation of environmentalists into action. Eventually, after a decade of intense activism, the IWC agreed to ban commercial whaling. That was 1986 and it was one of our greatest moments as an organization — it was also one of the greatest moments for activists like you.

We could lose it all this June unless we’re able to change the President’s mind. We’ve done it before. Now we need to do it again.”

Sincerely,

Phil Kline
Oceans & Whales Campaigner

And this was president Obama’s promise:

Please sign the petition!

~

The second painting of my Pigeons project is: Contemplation on a Predator.

Pigeons have many enemies and often sit between two chairs. For example there are other birds, which prey on pigeons such as the peregrine falcon, being the #1 enemy and then hawks. There is a declared hostility between crows and pigeons although crows normally are not able to catch pigeons unless they are too young or sick and old. Pigeons are simply too fast and too maneuverable to be caught by crows.

But pigeons can also be caught and eaten by birds you would not expect to be predators such as a pelican f.e. But these are rare and strange incidents and rather accidental. I assume this can happen because pigeons normally do not consider pelicans being their enemies.

There are endless 4-legged predators, who can be dangerous for a pigeon such as cats and dogs. Normally pigeons are too fast to be caught by such a predator but it may be inattentive, without experience, too young, sick or injured. Pigeons are often not alert enough, trusting that their environment is safe. The reason for this is that city pigeons are not really wild birds but feral birds which are to be considered domestic animals due to their genes. This is something that most people do not know about pigeons. Although they can learn to be alert against certain circumstances and predators (which they normally learn from their parents and the flock to whom they belong) they do not own the same instincts as wild doves and wood pigeons. Then it can happen that the pet dog from the neighbourhood or the nice little cat from another garden suddenly decides to eat pigeon meat.

And last but not least there is a certain 2-legged predator, called human, who’s behaviour is definitely not human at all. When pigeons get used to humans who are nice to them they become easy prey for all kinds of cruelties and ferocities, stupid jokes and endless disrespect including from all kinds of organizations which pride themselves rescuing birds and other animals. As soon as they get to know it is about a city pigeon they back down from giving help and or protection. This is very sad and makes me really furious. This is discrimination of a whole species.

Pigeons are mistreated, beaten for fun, kicked, shot and run over by cars when the driver thinks the bird takes too long to get off the road only because it was desperate for food. Pigeons are chased away by any means, sometimes only by clapping hands, sometimes by placing dreadful and dangerous spikes on places where people think they should not roost. That pigeons can injure themselves in these traps is not relevant. Pigeons are poisoned, beaten to death, strangled. Pigeons are bred to be eaten, trained for “racing sport” with methods which seem to originate from the dark middle ages, senseless, barbarous, cruel, and totally against any understanding of treating any living being with respect and care.

Pigeons are bred for purposes which are beyond my understanding, f.e. the king pigeons. These are bred to be meat only, huge, white, beautiful but for one purpose only: a dish on one’s plate. The cruelty of this breeding is that these birds, whenever they happen to escape their cages, do not know who their predators are. They do not know any more how to survive in the “wild city”,  which means they are doomed for starvation if not fed. They have lost their shortening reaction which makes them prey for any animal that is keen on pigeon meat. How sick is this?

I could go on and on with this rant. I will continue in another post about the myths regarding pathogenic deseases which merely do not exist, not for humans nor for other animals.

For now I am going back to painting…

pred1

pred2

pred3

.

My challenge in this painting is the plumage. I have never painted feathers before so this becomes a real exercise. To be honest, it became more difficult than I thought it was because I really want to show the delicacy of those feathers, their wonderful luster, their different shapes. I am still working on it….

In January I received a letter that read like this:

“Hello Petra!
I think that this painting is one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. I really don’t think that enough people in our world appreciate the beauty and complexity of a nautilus. The only artwork I can find of them is either paintings of their empty shells, or artwork that is actually made up of their shells! 😦

I was wondering if you would be offended if I were to use a printout of your artwork as a rough base for my tattoo? I swear to you, I would buy it if I could, but I barely have the 300 dollars it will cost to get the tattoo, though your painting is very reasonably priced. I’m just a kid with no money. 🙂 I wouldn’t want to rip off your art without asking you for it, but I find it so amazing! I want it to be a part of me forever. So would you be very bothered by this? If so, I would never touch it. But if not, I would really really appreciate it.”

The art piece she was talking about was this one:

nautilus1

.

My answer to her was this:

Dear…,

first – thank you very much for your compliment on my painting. Regarding copying my painting for a tattoo I am afraid I must say “no”. Please consider this: the painting is an original and the person who is going to buy it wants to have an original, a unique painting. It would be unfair to give away the image for other purposes. I have to work hard for a living and paying the bills. It is not easy. How would you feel if someone asks you to give away part of your income just because s/he loved something so much s/he could not afford her/himself?
Also – even if you had bought the painting – you would not be allowed to use the image for a tattoo (copyright) unless you bought a licence for it if the artist would be ready to sell a licence. Just for your information.

I am really sorry to have to tell you this. If I could paint just for fun it would be a different issue. But I have to earn money for my bills as everyone has to do. I hope you will understand this.

Kind regards,
Petra

.

Now the tonus of the next answer I received from this person became really nasty:

“Well Petra, the thing is, if you search the internet or any common tattoo magazine, there are many people with recreations of famous artwork on their bodies. Be it the Mona Lisa, or Van Gogh’s starry night. There are also thousands of brand name tattoos: i.e. Cadillac, Hello Kitty. It is actually not against the law to use someone’s artwork in a tattoo. Most tattoos are not original artwork. How would a tattoo artist make a livelihood if he could not give people what they ask for? It’s not like me, or any of these people are trying to profit off of your artwork. Like, “I show off the tattoo I got of your painting for a living now. People crowd around to see it.”
I was simply asking you to use your painting AS A BASE (not copy it) because I couldn’t find any better ones at the time. But currently, I have contacted another artist whos nautilus actually has a lot more depth and detail than yours. Your nautilus actually looks quite muted in comparison. This artist has jumped at the chance that millions of people will get to view her artwork on a regular basis. I find it unfortunate that I was so polite to someone who is clearly your standerd, internet-sales based, starving to death artist who is actually pigheaded enough to think that her artwork is worth fighting for. You clearly just need the money.
Good luck.”

.

I did not answer to this any more.
The point of this all and why I am posting it here is that I am really angry about the fact, that always artists are thought to be the ones to have to “donate” their work, be it for a private purpose, be it for charity or any other support. What is it that artists have on their forehead:

hey folks, I am not worth to be paid for because I’m only a sucker, hey guys you can taka ma work for free – it’s of no use anyway – I don’t need to eat and pay for my rent…

Everybody is being paid for her/his work (unless you really have another income and can work on voluntary basis). We all know what we have to pay a lawyer, doctor or any other consultant for their hourly efforts. A whole lot of money even – not just pocket money.
Some time ago I asked an interior company for permission of using one of their photos as a backdrop for a post on my blog, a tiny image from the internet with a bad resolution even. In return I offered them links back to their company, mentioning on my blog – we all know what advertising is worth – they wanted me to pay 95 bucks for one image! Well – I said thank you – no thank you! So why for heaven’s sake am I supposed then to give my work away for free?

In the case above with the tatoo, a “kid” wrote me, telling me she had no money to buy my painting – but she had 300 bucks for a tatoo. Besides all the silly things she said, I found out that she was going to use this tatoo professionally – i.e. that another “tatoo artist” wanted to make money with an original design by me but I was supposed to “donate” that design. How stupid did she think I am?

Besides the issues of copyright infringement she would step into – because buying a painting does not mean that you can do with it what you want – the whole argumentation was childish and immature of course. Too many contradictions which I do not want to discuss here.

The main hook (the story itself is more or less marginal) is the issue with the donations from artists and the common expectation of the public that especially artists are supposed to donate their work (I was naive enough to have done this a couple of times – some of those donations I regret deeply because I fell into the common traps – some of those I do not regret – they really did achieve what they were supposed to).

Maybe someone could explain to me why this is – I mean – why are artists specifically supposed to donate their time, work and money?

.

.

Last year’s hopes for a sustaining way into democracy and freedom of speech in China through the Olympic games have not materialized. That’s the curse of all totalitarian systems – they have to break from within not from outside. But many more people had the privilege to travel to China and may have discovered a new love for ancient Chinese culture and art.

Arts and crafts which have been developed in chiliads of years through techniques which became more and more sophisticated, ARE perfect in the end. This implies the danger of becoming static. Tradition then emerges as the most important asset that no-one is authorized to change. Development and “the new” is declined for fear of losing the achievements (specifically old privileges, power, positions) of the past.

The result are bad copies from ancient master pieces that flood the markets because the proper materials cannot be supplied any more, techniques are not taught and people do not dispose any more of the craftmanship. And last but not least no-one has the time any more that is necessary to create these sophisticated works.

Sadly enough this even applies to archeology where there is neither the funds nor well educated people to protect and restore ancient cultural assets. The problem often is, that projects, which could not propose the appropriate income through tourism nor the image in order to be exploited for official purposes, are dispelled.

Unfortunately China is walking on a road of tabula rasa, which means that everything that’s old and traditional is destroyed for alleged progress and the desirable glitzi world of western metropoles. On their path everything is nihilated – nature, humans, culture, flora and fauna. Instead of thinking about potential restoration and recovery of decrepit districts, using fewer neon lights, plastics and other achievements of the western “civilization”, everything has to give way to progress. And this very progress then consists of glittering cities which are built for the nouveau-riches. In these cities you won’t detect the true problems any more for all those wonderful distractions.

In order to keep the cities viable the nature is exploited until she cannot support the people any more. The perfect design for decline. It really hurts to be forced to watch as everything, that is beautiful in China, disappears piece by piece, the gorgeous landscapes and their people, the magnificent culture.

Only a healthy mixture out of old and new, traditions which are worth while to be protected and new impulses, which bring stimulation and positive change, can survive. Good education, an admissable payment and a humane working climate are part of this, exploitation however not.

.

japan9

.

japan10

.

I love to draw my inspiration from traditional works because you can get hold of so much experience that is hidden inside. But I also want to use my own ideas and conceptions so that both result in an ideal performance. That’s at least my dedicated goal.

This way this paravent has been conceived: a mixture of different styles of the southeast Asian wealth of forms and figures and nonetheless an original work.

You cannot see it very well in the photo below, but at the bottom of the middle figure you will find a kind of receptacle, formed as a stylized lotus blossom, in which you can put flowers and other oblations (without water of course). This looks very charming – I can promise!

.

jap12

.

The photo above also shows how this paravent can stand freely – that is to say on massive bases. In the middle of such a base there is a guide notch implemented, into which the panels are inserted with the additional aid of massive bolts which have been glued into the panels. Through clever positioning of the 5 panels this paravent will stand quite firmly. Nevertheless it is advisable to place the polyptych near a wall in order to avoid any tilting over which would be fatal of course.

japan11b1

Another noteworthiness of this paravent is that it has been finished with simple ornaments on the reverse side also. Normally reverse sides look like hmmm – reverse sides 😥
Not this one and thus it is usable in multiple ways…

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

japan11a

.

.