Danielle Donaldson is an artist, author and educator renowned for her use of complex color palettes and delicately drawn details. Her work incorporates an imaginative array of subjects, from playfully rendered forest creatures, nautical landscapes encapsulated in glass jars, and pillow-forts filled with kittens.
Her background in fine art paired with her skills as a graphic designer have provided her with an exceptional pairing of intuition and practicality, which shines through in her art, books and workshops. In addition to her best-selling instructional books, creativeGIRL: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life and The Art of Creative Watercolor: Inspiration and Techniques for Imaginative Drawing and Painting, she teaches both online classes and in-person workshops including beginner to advanced artists from around the world. Using her trusty mechanical pencil and vast palette of watercolors, she weaves the values of creative practice, color experimentation, and fine art fundamentals with her signature small-scale illustration.
Nestled in her comfy studio in Northern California, Danielle continues to grow as an artist by fully embracing the creative process in all she does and with each story she tells.
This page will be updated regularly so check back for more! (official rules and regulations at bottom of page)
But first, 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.)
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 (creative muscle memory). When you hit the upload button and sweat it out a little inside. (I am pretty sure you know what I am talking about.) bravely sharing it as your own.
Most of the time, peeps don’t copy things and claim them as their own on purpose. But sometimes they do. And that is a shame.
I am not the girl that is going to sit around and point fingers. I honestly don’t have the energy to spare. (This is why you got the canned email response about your question – if you asked for permission) But I need a way to see it and let it go with goodness – and I need to give the world a little grace. But 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 flip side 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 (full-time-paying-the-bills) 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 (50 big, long years) 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.
If you choose to blog about a class or a project, I ask that you tell your story using your words and your pictures. They are 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 customer). 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 on this site and in my books are 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).
- 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.
- If you do not respond accordingly to the cease and desist message, you will be removed from ALL classes and will denied access to future classes I offer WITHOUT REFUND.
- 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.)
- 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!
- Please don’t take photos or videos at in-person events of my finished art originals that I have displayed for sale.
- 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.
- 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.
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You can’t make experimental work by copying past work.
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No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.
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It’s better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.