Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Anger and intellectual property / La colère et la propriété intellectuelle

2014 . 04 . 24 - Comments / Commentaires (8)

How a ruined friendship ultimately made me hate copyright.

Comment une amitié gâchée a finalement inspiré en moi une aversion envers le droit d’auteur.

For more about why people matter more than property not just emotionally but also in a business sense, check out this vlog.

Pour en savoir plus sur pourquoi les rapports avec les autres sont plus importants que la propriété intellectuelle non seulement dans un sens émotionnelle mais aussi dans le business, regardez ce vlog.

figure drawing

Gwenn Seemel
drawing of a man / dessin d’un homme
pen and gouache on paper / feutre et gouache sur papier
11 x 10 inches / 27 x 25 centimètres

In college, I had a love-hate relationship with figure drawing class, but adding color always made it all about the love.

Quand j’étais à l’université, j’adorais et je détestais les cours de dessin d;après modèle, mais quand j’ajoutais la couleur tout allait mieux.


Gwenn Seemel
Self-portrait / Autoportrait
acrylic on printed fabric / acrylique sur tissu imprimé
24 x 24 inches / 61 x 61 centimètres

Long before I ever dreamed of being an artist, this hung in my bedroom, only then it was just the printed fabric stretched on a frame—no self-portrait. Today, it’s still in my bedroom, but now with a nineteen year old me on it.

Bien avant que j’aie jamais rêvé d’être un artiste, cette toile était dans ma chambre, sauf que c’était seulement le tissu imprimé tendu sur un cadre—sans autoportrait. Aujourd’hui, elle est toujours dans ma chambre, mais maintenant avec dessus mon visage de dix-neuf ans.


Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on linen / acrylique sur lin
42 x 19 inches / 107 x 48 centimètres

This is the first painting whose process I documented more fully. It’s strange to look back and realize how simply I used to paint.

C’est la première toile dont j’ai bien documenté le processus. Ma façon de peindre était beaucoup plus simple et cela me surprend.


Gwenn Seemel
drawing of Papy / dessin de Papy
colored pencils and gouache on paper / crayons de couleur et gouache sur papier
12 x 15 inches / 30 x 38 centimètres

For a while in college and right after, I was really into gouache mixed with a variety of other media. I was also really into doing portraits of my grandfather.

Pendant un certain temps à l’université et just après, j’adorais la gouache mélangée avec une variété d’autres médias. J’adorais aussi faire des portraits de mon Papy.

painting by Gwenn Seemel

Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on canvas / acrylique sur toile
24 x 22 inches / 61 x 56 centimètres

I made several versions of this image during college. I drew it repeatedly and even made an intaglio print of it. Still, I think this painting is my favorite expression of it.

J’ai fait plusieurs versions de cette image pendant que j’étais à la fac. Je l’ai dessiné à plusieurs reprises et j’ai même créé une gravure. Pourtant, je pense que cette peinture est mon expression préférée de cette image.

painting by Gwenn Seemel

Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on canvas / acrylique sur toile
30 x 24 inches / 76 x 61 centimètres

One of the administrators at Willamette University really wanted to buy this painting in 2001. Though I was flattered, I couldn’t imagine selling my grandfather’s face. Still, the experience changed me. In turning down this potential client I realized I needed to start painting people I wasn’t related to if I ever wanted to make a living as an artist.

That was one of the inspirations for my senior project which I began a year later, portraits of the professors of the art and art history department. As it turned out, that same administrator bought most of the paintings from my senior project for the school’s collection!

L’un des administrateurs de Willamette University voulait acheter cette toile en 2001. J’étais flattée, mais je ne pouvais pas imaginer de vendre le visage de mon grand-père. Pourtant, l’expérience m’a changée. En refusant ce client potentiel, j’ai compris que j’avais besoin de peindre des gens qui n’étaient pas dans ma famille si je voulais vivre de mon art.

Et ce fut une des sources d’inspiration pour mon projet final que j’ai commencé l’année suivante, soit les portraits des professeurs de l’art et de l’histoire de l’art à l’université. Et, en fin de compte, ce même administrateur a acheté la plupart des peintures de mon projet final pour la collection d’art de l’université!

- Is Haley Morris-Cafiero a photographer?
- Artists who believe in copyright are like Tea Partyists.
- Taking the “property” out of intellectual property

- Cheaters fear cheaters. / Les tricheurs craignent les tricheurs.
- Finished! / Achevé!
- Letting go of my art / Me séparer de mes œuvres

CATEGORIES: - English - Français - TOP POSTS - Featuring artists - Practice - Uncopyright - Video -

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(8) Comments / Commentaires: Anger and intellectual property / La colère et la propriété intellectuelle

-- Libby Fife -- 2014 . 04 . 24 --


Casualties on the road of evolution I guess. Most people don’t take the time to consider such a pivotal moment. Good for you for being aware and sensitive to what happened-it must be important. And who knows, as you continue to look back you may even view the event in additional ways as you get older.

I enjoyed seeing all of those miscellaneous pieces too. Your style has evolved in a very enjoyable way-you can see the underpinnnings of the mark making/tone buildup throughout. The one form 2001 with the gouache and colored pencils is really appealing. (They are all nice mind you.)

It’s a good post I think so thank you. And a helpful post too I bet after one of the last ones about the artist with very similar work. Nice to see (and share) the progression of your style.

Take care!

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-- linda -- 2014 . 04 . 24 --

Definitely a different way to look at the topic of intellectual property… I just never thought about weighing it against the people around us. Perhaps you are right… at the end of the day, what do we really value more?! Food for thought.

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-- Roopa Dudley -- 2014 . 04 . 26 --

Yes. I am with you Gwenn. I would like to think that maybe that friend of yours should reconsider and both of you can forgive and learn to forget—or simply realize that it is human to make mistakes and that you value that friendship. Not wise to throw away the baby with the bath water they say. You see, for situations like this, I think we need to have a dedicated date as ‘Forgiveness Day’ (August 15 comes to mind as we have nothing scheduled for that month) when we can show remorse and make amends thus building a stronger relationship. I wish you best of luck. If it was me on the other end Gwenn—I would have forgiven you and forgotten in a heartbeat. Perhaps you can at least try and see what happens? I have been in a similar situation myself and I did reach out to apologize—but the person did not accept my apology. Well, it is now her problem as I see it. I know that at least I tried my very best.

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-- Gwenn -- 2014 . 04 . 26 --

@Libby: I think you’re right that my thinking will continue to change and I can’t wait to find out how! smile Also, thank you for your kind words about this work. I feel a little funny about it, which is why I never showed a lot of it before, but I like how the funny feeling is already beginning to shift since I posted it. It’s like I’m accepting more of who I was and who I am.

@Linda: I try to bring all art questions back to people in the end because otherwise I seem to get lost in a lala land of theory. I’m glad it is helpful for you too!

@Roopa: I tried apologizing years ago—I think it was 2005. I went to the opening for a show where this friend had some art on display hoping to see them, but they weren’t there. I’m still a bit sad, but I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Not then anyway. Maybe someday! Maybe August 15th! wink

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-- Meg M. -- 2014 . 04 . 27 --

Gwenn -

Just found you through Alisa Steady Art.  You are beautiful and I thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your message.  You’ve given my heart pause and I am grateful for this and for you.

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-- Gwenn -- 2014 . 04 . 28 --

Thank you for your kind words, Meg!

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-- Bhavna -- 2014 . 04 . 28 --

To see you sad is heartbreaking.

Hope things change!

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-- Gwenn -- 2014 . 04 . 30 --

Thank you, Bhavna! I didn’t realize how emotional I’d be until I was in it. And I think that some of it stems from processing this other situation which also started in college. :( I’ll sort out my feeling soon, I hope!

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