Friday, January 31, 2014

As an aside...

For years my wife, Janet, expressed her interest in "dome clocks". We looked around from time to time but never saw any for sale in the places where we expected to find them.

Then, a few months ago, I saw one at the local auction house. It was a genuine wind-up clock - though it was without a key. I had no idea if it would work or not, and I knew nothing about these clocks, but I got it cheap. At the very least it would make a nice ornament and I even foresaw the possibility of including it in a still life painting at some point.

kern MIV 400 day anniversary dome clock
Kern MIV Anniversary Clock
circa 1962

Once home, I set it up on the bookcase and tried to get it to work – without success. And so began my education in "400-day" or "Anniversary Clocks" (as it turns out they are officially called, because they only need winding once a year, in theory) and my fascination with these time-keeping devices was born.

To cut a potentially long story short, the clock started working after a month or so, with just a little perseverance on our part. It's been running mesmerisingly non-stop now for two months. This, apparently, is something of a victory as these clocks are renowned for being exceptionally difficult to work with, to the point where many experienced clock repairers simply refuse to have anything to do with them. As a result, they are often found for next-to-nothing in thrift shops and flea markets.

Shortly after buying this clock, I had discovered the location of another unwanted, unworking anniversary clock so I approached the owner and he gave it to me. A few parts were detached, but present, and the clock hadn't run for a long time. It was clear someone had tried and failed to fix it.

I worked methodically through the steps I had learnt to date. I assembled the detached parts and got the clock turning as it should, albeit for a very short time. Ultimately I had to dismantle part of the clock, make some adjustments and reassemble – then it started to work. A few days later I decided to give it a bit of a shine.

Schatz 53 400 Day Anniversary Dome Clock
 Schatz 53 Anniversary Clock
November, 1954

It's early days for the second clock (life was not meant to be this easy when dealing with these devices and I know it has some deep-seated issues we'll need to work through at some point) but we now have two "functioning" 400-day clocks.

They are marvels of finely-balanced engineering and works of art, in a rather "steampunk" sort of way.

Now I want more of them. I have the urge to completely dismantle, service and rebuild anniversary clocks – for fun.

I'm not usually mechanically inclined but something about these clocks appeals to my inner-geek. I have a need to learn everything there is to learn about what makes these things tick, if you'll pardon the obvious pun, but the two clocks we have are behaving too well to risk upsetting them.

I also have the inclination to include several of them in a still life setup, so this article really is about painting after all.

If you happen to know where there are some of these unwanted treasures, whether in an attic or a secondhand shop, preferably within "easy" reach of southern Western Australia, Yanchep to Augusta to Bremer Bay , please drop me a line at

Thanks for listening, now back to normal programming.

Friday, January 17, 2014


For much of the last week or so I've been sorting out my garage. The time had almost come where hard hats and climbing gear were recommended attire for anyone who dared enter.

During the clear-out, I discovered a couple of boxes of illustration board that had obviously been "put away for later" when we moved here ten years ago. When I checked the contents of one of the boxes, I discovered some long-lost artwork from my teenage years.

Here's a little of what I was into back in 1978-82, when I was 17-21 years old (and when my CB radio call-sign was "Grot" as you might note in the signatures).

Bedford van - Mini - Mack Kenworth Truck - drawings sketch by Andy Dolphin
Felt-tip pen and coloured pencil
on scrap book "butcher's paper" 
© Andy Dolphin

Back then, custom paint jobs, including airbrushed murals, were all the rage. My brothers had oodles of magazines of custom-built cars of all shapes and sizes and I would spend hours dreaming up my own designs and paint schemes, using the magazine images as reference.

As the years went by, I got quite good at illustrating reflections.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Profiting from Copyright Infringement

The never-ending battle continues.

I have just filed four notices of copyright infringement with Youtube. The first notice has already resulted in the taking down of a copy of one of my plein air painting videos that had been uploaded to another account.

(UPDATE: Seven videos from three near-identical accounts. All copies now removed. UPDATE Jan 29: It appears the offending channels have been deleted.)

Yesterday afternoon I was showing a friend some of my videos on Youtube but I noticed that infringing copies on two other channels were often the first ones to come up in the Youtube search results. This is, to put it mildly, annoying.

Taking a look at the two offending channels, each of which contains over 200 videos, it was soon clear to me that these were not fans celebrating the work of their favourite artists. Their content includes all types of "paint" from watercolour to house paint and the "About" information consists of nothing more than long lists of paint-related key words.

It appears to me that the channels in question are monetised, which means they receive payment every time a video on their channel is viewed. I suspect the channels are there solely to attract viewers, presumably to profit from views, and that the account holder has little interest in the material reproduced on the site.

When someone steals your content, they also steal your viewers. If your own channel is is monetised, then the copyright offender is also stealing your money.

Most importantly, perhaps, is that the original author misses out on interacting with viewers. Comments and questions asked on copyright-offending channels usually go unanswered as the channel owner is unlikely to care or even be in a position to answer questions. Likes and dislikes are important ways for an author to gauge viewer interest and guide future projects, but they do not get this information if the content is viewed and rated elsewhere.

If you find interesting-looking videos on Youtube, check who has posted it and, if they don't appear to be the author, take a look around Youtube and see if you can find the person who owns that video content. Then view the videos on the authors' Youtube sites instead.

How to lodge a Copyright Complaint on Youtube:

If you are an author who feels their video copyright has been infringed, lodge a complaint with Youtube.

Click on the flag symbol under the offending video and a list of options will appear. Choose "Infringes my rights" then choose "Infringes my copyright" from the next list to appear. Press submit.

From the next window, choose the option to submit a copyright complaint and another browser window/tab will open up where you can fill out all the relevant information including the web address of the offending videos and the address of your original. You can include multiple complaints on one form by choosing "Add another video".

Copyright complaints are legal claims to ownership and there can be penalties for lodging false claims, so you will also have to fill out some personal details plus make a declaration that you own the content and are making the complaint in good faith. Hit the submit button and you will receive emails from Youtube advising you of the status of the complaint. Hopefully the offending video will be removed within 24 hours.

If enough complaints are received, I understand Youtube is likely to delete an entire channel. If a channel exists only to profit from other people's work, without credit or agreement, then this would be a good outcome.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Still Life Painting Stand

Happy new year blog reader!

I haven't had much chance to paint over the "festive season" but I did manage to find some time to build myself a stand for setting up still life arrangements.

I've wanted to do still life for some time but I never really had a convenient way to set them up. Cardboard boxes on top of cardboard boxes just don't cut it.

Here's my solution to that problem...

diy still life oil painting set up stand

I built it out of some old shelves and other bits of chipboard and timber I had in the garage and I finished it in the same colour as my studio walls. It's made in two sections and can be set to four different heights. Like several other things in my studio, it's on castors so I can shove it around.

The idea is to have an assortment of different sized boards and surfaces that can sit on top to the stand to hold arrangements of objects. I also need to accommodate a "back wall" that can be either painted matte black or covered in draped cloth. I may even build a simple shadow box to sit on top.