Creative Practicing

Glass Half Fullmy official guidelines to copying and selling art based on my book, online and in-person classes and a bunch of other stuff that is just a peek into how I look at these types of things. this page will be updated regularly so check back for more! (official rules and regulations at bottom of page)

So let’s talk about the dreaded copying thing

Finding our own creative. Inspired by everything. Practicing over and over. The magical moment when we make it our own.

This is the art of creative practicing.

(in other words, when copying is looked at as a positive thing. something I truly believe is possible. as long as we use common sense and respect the process and the people involved.)

no. 1

send a text or email to someone you love outside of the creative world. include your piece of art and a piece of mine (or any other artist that has inspired you) and ask them for honest feedback... do these look the same or different and why. and ps. asking your mom or bff may not be the best person because they love you so much that they might leave out the constructive part of the feedback.
-now flip card-

How did it go?

and ask them for honest feedback... do these look the same or different and why. and ps. asking your mom or bff may not be the best person because they love you so much that they might leave out the constructive part of the feedback.

Click Me!

no. 2

set aside all notes, handouts, and sketchbooks. Turn off the class video, pinterest or the book. can you create in your newfound style/direction without all of the other stuff? was it super hard and frustrating? easy as pie? can you set it aside for a second time and create something similar with a smile on your face? -now flip card-


If this was hard, then you probably aren't there yet. Don't be afraid to share your process and keep working towards your own style. Practice, practice, practice! It is how every single artist gets where they want to go.

If it was easy, then you might just be ready to share it as your own!

Click Me!

no. 3

make a list of the similarities and the differences between your art and the art or artist you have been practicing.

Make note of the supplies used, the color palette, the attention to detail, overall composition and other little details - how is yours different? -now flip card-


If this was hard, then you probably aren't there yet. Don't be afraid to share your process and keep working towards your own style. Practice, practice, practice! It is how every single artist gets where they want to go.

If it was easy, then you might just be ready to share it as your own!

Click Me!

i have talked a lot about creative practicing during my classes and in social media. and what that looks like to me. when everything I have soaked up and studied becomes mine.

it’s ok to copy when you are practicing. some would disagree and that is totally ok. i know that when i need to learn how to draw a unicorn. i have to look at a picture of an unicorn. every single artist looks at other artists work. judges it in their own mind. mentally circles the parts that speak to her. crosses the other stuff off the list of possibilities. everyone. and if they say they don’t, i call bull****. unless they are a hermit with no power and no access to a mailbox. those guys get a pass.

when is it not ok?

for me. (and let me repeat it. FOR ME) it’s when you stare at it long enough that it is emblazoned in your noggin and you don’t even know it. and then you put it on paper. and you still don’t even know it but you pretty much recreated that tattooed mental image. when you hit the upload button and sweat it out a little inside. (pretty sure you know what I am talking about.) and then you share it as your own. often we don’t do it on purpose. sometimes not though.

i am not the girl that is going to sit around and point fingers. i honestly don’t have the energy to spare. but I need a way to see it and let it go with goodness. and i need to give the world a little grace. and mostly i need remind myself to be flattered that someone loves my stuff enough to take time to work it into their own art and that the process makes them happy. because even creative goodness rolls downhill and I am NOT on top of the hill. not by a long shot.

so, you are asking, all of this sounds lovely, but how will I really know where the line is?

the boxes to the left give you some actionable ways to determine if you have found your own creative voice in your work – moving past copying (creative practicing) the front side gives you an action, and the flipside helps you work through your results.

CONSIDERATIONS AND LEGAL STUFF | several of my points below are not about the law, they are about common courtesy and taking the time to be considerate of the personal side of my creative business. The text in bold? These are the things that you need to know from a legal standpoint to protect the business I am growing.

my course content and art is mine – before, during and after. why?

  • it took me a lifetime to get to this place in my art.
  • it was filled with a bazillion classes to learn stuff, years and years of creative practicing, tons of self-doubt, a plethora of you-got-this moments and a lot of amazing souls who help me in all the right ways. (that includes you, by the way. because you love my art and my process. and that means a lot.)
  • and it takes months of preparation to develop the content, create and edit the videos, and create written materials and tutorials for reference.
  • and last, i am working diligently to transition all of my hard work and love of art into a thriving business.

don’t get me wrong. I love it when you share your story with little bits of me and my work sprinkled in for good measure. and I consider my art and process by business. each time YOU share a bit of my work with your corner of the world, my business grows. and I am deeply grateful.

if you have taken a class with me or know me, you know that it pains me to make rules. seriously. I am all about the sharing. I love to share what goes on in my head. the pretty parts, the ugly stuff and all the stuff in between. but business-danielle has to step in every once in a while and clarify stuff. I got some pretty darn good advice recently – she said that is is important to be clear, concise and to-the-point. concise is s daily struggle but I have tried to be as thoughtful and direct as I can about all this.

Blog Sharing
if you choose to blog about a class or a project, I ask that you tell your story using your words and your pictures. it is way more powerful and authentic than mine. be mindful if it is a private class that you may be divulging my secrets that were meant for you. the paying peep. be sure to let me know when you hit publish and I will do my best to come by and leave some love!

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram Sharing
Feel free to share/reshare/repin/regram – that’s good for business-danielle and personal-danielle – I ask that you include my name, Danielle Donaldson and/or a link back to my website and/or social media.

My content is protected by intellectual property/copyright law. My art (step-by-step/examples/work in progress/finished pieces) on my website, social media, online offerings, and in-person events are the Intellectual Property of Danielle Donaldson (creativeGIRL).

  1. If you share, redistribute or copy my Intellectual Property, in any public format you will receive a private (no public shaming allowed) cease and desist email/social media message to remove Property immediately.
  2. If you do not respond accordingly to the cease and desist message, you will be removed from the class and will denied access to future classes I offer.
  3. The art you create based on following my instructions – class projects, samples and exercises – are for your PERSONAL use only. You cannot sell them. Gifting them to those you love is perfectly ok. And they will love you for it. (Ex. you create a cute girl following a step-by-step – you cannot sell it.)
  4. Please ask before taking photos or videos at in-person events. That includes me and my stuff and your fellow classmates. If you take photos of me, my work in progress, or my class examples that’s totally cool but they are for your personal use only. Feel free to take photos of your process and share them. Sharing is important!
  5. Please don’t take photos or videos at in-person events of my finished art originals that I have displayed for sale.
  6. If you are an artist/instructor, please don’t use any of my projects as a clear basis for projects in your class. Remember, it’s your specific style, not the content that makes your art yours. Do NOT ask me for permission – I will not give it. If you have to ask, you shouldn’t teach it. This isn’t a permission thing, this is a no-duh thing.
  7. Last, if copy my art, you cannot sell it. Anywhere. This is serious copyright infringement. Even if it is to your bff, sister or grandma. again, gifts rock!

i encourage you ask questions for clarification in the comments section. you don’t have to agree with me – I just ask that comments are constructive, not destructive.

now let’s get back to the good stuff for goodness sakes.

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

cs lewis

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. 

Oscar Wilde

Comments 6

  1. Agree with you on creative practicing. Your work is lovely and unique and sweet. No one could (or SHOULD) copy it. P.S. Tried to leave a comment before…but think it didn’t “take”.

  2. I have always dreamed of having my own style of art, but still have NO idea what it is. I appreciate the encouragement though. I’ve seen too many books that encourage copying without the next step. I have your Creative Girl book and have started doing some exercises. I just ordered the DVD set and SO pumped to get them and take the next step in my creative journey. Thanks so much for your inspirational art and your helpful suggestions and lessons.

  3. danielle .. you are truly one of those ‘angels unawares’ that the ‘good book’ speaks of. one of those rare people who understand ‘gentle ways’ of speaking.

  4. Danielle, My sister and I are so drawn to your water color classes (we have them all – I think _ and the book!).
    We love your methods, your beautiful girls and your sense of humor. You are so much fun to watch time and again, and we learn lots every time we repeat watching a class class! Two huge fans say thank you for sharing!!
    Jennifer and Sian

  5. Hi!
    I actually don’t know very well where to draw the line between copying and not copying. I’m still searching for my own voice, and it’s nowhere to be seen, but I have figured out that I love watercolor in soft shades, and are mostly drawn to whimsical imagery.
    However, if I learn in your courses to flick my brush for droplets (which I adore), and doodle around them, and I apply that to my own work in the future, am I infringing your copyright?

commentary encouraged