Friday, March 17, 2023

United by Science: The Historic Twinning of Cajal and Golgi's Hometowns

In a harmonious blend of science, culture, and history, the picturesque town of Petilla de Aragón, where Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal was born, is set to be twinned with Corteno Golgi, the Italian hometown of his esteemed colleague and fellow Nobel Prize winner, Bartolomeo Camilo Emilio Golgi. This remarkable union takes place during the Ramón y Cajal Research Year (Año Cajal), a celebration of the triennium that honors the legacy of these two groundbreaking scientists of the 20th century.

On March 17 and 18, the twinning festivities will unfold, offering a medley of cultural activities that unite the families and legacies of Ramón y Cajal and Golgi, who were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906. The event commences with the inauguration of the exhibition 1903 - Viaggio in Italia, showcasing the artistic side of Cajal through a captivating collection of photographs from his Italian sojourn. The following day, visitors will be welcomed to the birthplace of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, where a commemorative plaque will be unveiled, and the title of Favorite Son of the Villa will be posthumously bestowed upon him. This two day event will culminate in an extraordinary municipal plenary session, where the mayors of both towns will sign the twinning agreement, formalizing their commitment to preserving these scientific giants' heritage. Celebrating this historic moment intertwines the legacies of Ramón y Cajal and Golgi and experiences the inspiring fusion of science, art, and community. (Blog post continues below.)

This is a surreal drawing of Cajal and Golgi juxtaposed with a scientific drawing by Cajal and vines with neurons.
Cajal and Golgi, acrylic and ink on paper, 11" x 14"

In this blog post, I invite you to delve into the fascinating history and legacy of Santiago Ramón y Cajal while also exploring the inspirational and exquisite landscapes of his hometown from an artistic perspective. I have often conceptualized Cajal's biography from a surreal perspective within my project Aesthetic Instincts: the Intersection of Art and Science in the life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Plus, during visits to Cajal's birthplace, I am often compelled to create Plein air paintings that encapsulate the town's natural allure. These pieces and additional works are featured in my latest monograph, Cajal's Canopy of Trees.

Above is my artwork, Cajal and Golgi, - a vivid portrayal of the esteemed scientists on horseback, enveloped by a lush, verdant landscape. At the heart of this imaginative composition lies Cajal's emblematic drawing, reflecting the intriguing contrast between their theories about the brain's anatomy. Accompanying this piece, below, you'll find a pair of pages from my custom and surreally crafted accordion sketchbook, which delves into the formative years of Cajal's life through a biographical lens, capturing the essence of his childhood and its impact on his illustrious career.

This is a landscape drawing of Cajal's hometown juxtaposed with neurons, ink and acrylic on paper.
Accordion Sketchbook page of Petilla juxtaposed with neurons in the vines, acrylic and ink on paper, 5.5" x 13"

This is a drawing of the room Cajal was born in and juxtaposed with neurons by artist Dawn Hunter.
Accordion Sketchbook page of Cajal's birthplace in Petilla juxtaposed with neurons, acrylic and ink on paper, 5.5" x 13"

Featured lastly on this post is an example of one of my Plein air landscape paintings from my monograph, Cajal's Canopy of Trees. A publication that as a collection is a tribute to the eminent scientist and a visual odyssey through the captivating scenery that fostered his inquisitiveness and intellect. For those interested in further exploring the artistic aspects of Cajal's world, the monograph provides an immersive experience of the unique environments that significantly influenced the life of this remarkable individual. (Blog post continues below.)

This is a landscape painting of Cajal's birthplace.
Petilla de Aragón in the summer, ink and acrylic on paper, 11" x 14"

In conclusion, the historic twinning of Santiago Ramón y Cajal and Bartolomeo Camilo Emilio Golgi's hometowns is a testament to their enduring legacies and their profound impact on the world of science. Through the various cultural events and artistic explorations featured in this post, we've had the opportunity to learn about the lives of these pioneering figures and appreciate the rich environment that shaped their remarkable careers. As the world celebrates their contributions and the harmonious connection between their hometowns, let us also be inspired by their unrelenting pursuit of knowledge and the beauty that lies at the intersection of art and science.

  • You can learn more about Dawn Hunter's monograph, here, and you can more about Petilla's twinning event, here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Trademarkin' Ain't Easy: The Artist's Guide to Intellectual Property (with apologies to the Notorious B.I.G.)

I'm thrilled to share that my trademark application for Dawn Hunter Art ® was approved on Valentine's Day, which made it even more special! Life has its poetry.

As an artist, it's critical to protect my brand and intellectual property, and having a registered trademark will allow me to do just that. The process of applying for and receiving a trademark can be complex and time-consuming, but having the legal protections that come with it is well worth it. I hired an attorney to ensure my process went as smoothly as possible.

Whether you plan to register your trademark on your own or seek legal counsel, I have compiled some information below to assist you as you think through and begin your trademark journey.

Having a common name has posed challenges in protecting my artistic identity. I have experienced hurdles with Artificial Intelligence search algorithm errors and sometimes others taking credit for my work or falsely representing themselves as me, i.e. combining my credentials with their own or not correcting misattribution. These incidents have highlighted the importance of protecting my artistic identity through intellectual property measures such as registered copyrights and trademarks. By taking legal steps to secure my brand, I can prevent others from using my name or brand without permission and potentially damaging my reputation or career.

Dawn Hunter's academic study of Cajal's retina drawing, marker and pen on paper.

Types of Trademarks

A trademark covers a specific name, logo, slogan, design, or other identifying mark representing a product or service. When a trademark is registered, it provides the "owner with the exclusive right to use the" mark in connection with their product or service and to prevent others from using a similar mark in a way that might cause confusion or dilute the value of the mark.

The specific scope of a trademark depends on the type of mark being registered and the goods or services offered. For example, a trademark might cover a brand name used to market a particular product or a logo representing a company or organization. The trademark might also cover a specific design or color scheme used in packaging or advertising materials.

For artists, having a registered trademark can be a vital way to protect their brand and prevent others from using their name, logo, or other identifying marks without permission. There are many reasons why artists need to consider registering their trademarks:

  • Brand recognition: A trademark can help establish your brand in the marketplace and make it easier for people to recognize your work and identify your products or services.
  • Legal protection: Registering your trademark gives you legal protection and the right to use the mark in commerce. It also provides a legal basis for taking action against others who may try to use your mark without permission or infringe on your intellectual property rights.
  • Licensing opportunities: A registered trademark can also provide opportunities for licensing and collaboration with other artists, businesses, or organizations that want to use your brand for their own products or services.
  • Reputation management: Registering your trademark can also help protect your reputation by preventing others from using your name or mark in a way that might damage your brand or cause confusion in the marketplace.

This is an image of Dawn Hunter's registered trademark logo

Above, Dawn Hunter's registered logo, and below, Dawn Hunter's registered word mark.


Someone can apply for several types of trademarks, depending on their business needs and the kind of trademark they want to register. It's worth noting that some trademarks can fall into more than one category. For example, a combination mark can be a word mark and a design mark combined. I registered Dawn Hunter Art ® twice, as a word mark and a design mark. This required two separate applications, and each mark is registered with its own unique registration number.

Here is a list of some of the most common types of trademarks:

  •  Word Mark: A word mark is a trademark that consists of only text, such as a company name, slogan, or product name.
  • Design Mark: A design mark is a trademark that consists of a logo, image, or other visual design. This type of trademark is often used in conjunction with a word mark to create a brand logo.
  • Combination Mark: A combination mark is a trademark that combines text and design elements. This type of trademark is often used to create a unique brand logo that includes the company name and a visual element.
  • Service Mark: A service mark is a trademark that protects a service rather than a physical product. It is used to identify and distinguish the source of service in the marketplace.
  • Collective Mark: A collective mark is a trademark that a group or organization uses to identify its members or affiliates. Trade organizations or professional associations often use this type of trademark.
  • Certification Mark: A certification mark is a trademark that is used to certify that a product or service meets a certain standard or quality level. This type of trademark is often used in industries such as food or organic products.
  • Sound Mark: A sound mark is a trademark consisting of a unique sound or musical jingle used to identify a product or service. This type of trademark is often used in radio or television commercials.

Above, Dawn Hunter's portrait of Santiago Ramón y Cajal in pyramidal neurons, marker, pen and ink on paper.

Trademark Process

Choosing the right type of trademark to meet your specific needs and provide the best protection for your brand is important. For example, my trademark encompasses content beyond the aesthetic look or style of my art and includes the educational aspects of my art and the unique research I have conducted on long-term projects, like my series and Fulbright research about Santiago Ramón y Cajal or my sabbatical project, Personified Doubles and Complementary Opposites.

IMO, it's important to work with an experienced trademark attorney to ensure your trademark is properly registered and to help you protect your intellectual property rights over time.

The trademark application process can be a bit complex, but it generally involves the following steps:

  • Conduct a trademark search: Before applying for a trademark registration, it's crucial to thoroughly research pre-existing trademarks to make sure your proposed trademark is not already in use by another brand. This can help you avoid potential conflicts or legal issues down the line.
  • Preparing and filing the application: Once you've confirmed that your trademark is available, you must prepare and file a trademark application with the appropriate government agency. In the United States, this is typically the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application will include details about your trademark, such as the mark itself, the goods or services it covers, and the owner of the mark.
  • Waiting for the application to be reviewed: After you file your trademark application, it will be assigned to an attorney employed by the USPTO, who is a trademark examiner, and they will review it to ensure it meets all of the requirements for registration. The review process can take several months, depending on the number of applications ahead of you in the queue and the complexity of your application.
  • Responding to any office actions: If the trademark examiner has any concerns or questions about your application, they may issue an office action requiring you to provide additional information or revisions to your application. You'll need to respond promptly to these office actions to keep your application moving forward.
  • Receiving approval and registration: Once a trademark application has been approved by a USPTO examining attorney, it is published in the Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This publication notifies the public of your trademark application. Those with opposition or objections can raise concerns during this time because it conflicts with their marks. If concerns arise, a legal proceeding occurs before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), an administrative tribunal within the USPTO. The TTAB will evaluate the opposition and decide whether to allow the trademark registration to proceed or deny it based on the opposition. However, if no concerns arise, your mark will be assigned a number and officially registered.

It's worth noting that the trademark application process can be complicated, and it's often a good idea to work with an experienced trademark attorney to help you navigate the process and ensure the best possible outcome for your application.

A view of artist Dawn Hunter's exhibition at the Delaware Contemporary Art Center
Above, photos from my exhibition Personified Doubles and Complementary Opposites. Below, detail of a centerpiece artwork from the show, Art Department.

This is a detail of artist Dawn Hunter's painting, Art Department


Obtaining a registered trademark has been a significant step in protecting my artistic brand and securing my intellectual property rights. While the process can be daunting, I encourage other artists to take this crucial step in safeguarding their work and professional identity. Don't let the fear of the unknown or the hassle of the application process hold you back from protecting your creations. With the legal protection provided by a trademark registration, you can have peace of mind knowing that your hard work and talent are secure. As artists, our unique voices and perspectives deserve recognition and protection. Let's take ownership of our artistry and safeguard our creative legacies through intellectual property rights.

Above, Dawn Hunter's mixed media painting, A Dream in August, marker, ink and acrylic on paper.


Below are a list of few resources that can help as you progress your trademark application.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Dawn Hunter | portrait of the visual artist in her fifties

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a novel by Irish writer James Joyce that tells the story of Stephen Dedalus, a young artist struggling to find his place in the world and to develop his artistic identity. The novel is considered a modernist classic and is known for its innovative use of language and its portrayal of its protagonist's psychological and moral development.

One insight that aging artists may take from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the idea that the process of becoming an artist is a journey of self-discovery and self-creation.

Being happy and comfortable in your skin at any age is essential to overall well-being and can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

It's natural to have ups and downs and to go through different phases in life, but it's important to remember that age is just a number and that it's never too late to pursue your passions and goals. Many people find that they have a renewed sense of purpose and focus in their fifties and beyond, and this can be an excellent time to make positive changes in your life and focus on your prosperity and happiness.

Paramount to remember is that there is no one way to "be" a woman in your fifties or at any other age. Every woman has unique strengths, interests, and goals; celebrating and embracing those differences is essential. So if you're feeling optimistic about being a woman in your fifties, that's great! Keep embracing your uniqueness and living your life to the fullest.

This is a close-up portrait of visual artist Dawn Hunter.

My Story

Age has never been a defining factor in my life. I have always lived a creative life, and each day I am in my studio feels timeless. The creative time has a synergy that connects my life's times and places within the creative process. I also teach first-year college students. They are young, energetic, and innovative individuals who inspire and welcome me into their lives through creative connections.

One challenge that older female artists may face is ageism, which refers to discrimination based on age. This can occur in a number of different ways, including being passed over for opportunities or being treated differently because of one's age.

Another challenge that older female artists may face is the lack of representation and support for their work. It is not uncommon for older female artists to feel like their work is not given the same attention or recognition as that of their younger counterparts.

Despite these challenges, many older female artists continue to create and share their work with the world. They may find support and camaraderie in artistic communities and may even find that their age and life experiences give them a unique perspective and voice in their art. (Above, portrait of Dawn Hunter. Photo by Darcy Phelps.)

This is a photo of visual artist Dawn Hunter at the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta, GA. Dawn is standing in a hot pink room with big black polka dots created by Kusama.

My Inspiration

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who has found great success and recognition as an older female artist. Born in 1929, Kusama has been creating art for over 70 years and has gained a reputation as one of the most important and influential contemporary artists in the world.

Kusama's art is known for its vibrant colors, repetitive patterns, and immersive installations, which often incorporate performance and interactive elements. She has worked in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, installation art, and literature. 

This is a photo of a Yayoi Kusama light installation. There are portals that viewers can look in through. There are mirrors that reflect the lights creating a sense of dimension and infinity.

Above, self-portrait of Dawn Hunter at the Yayoi Kusama exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia. Left, the Peep Show light installation by Yayoi Kusama, photo by Dawn Hunter.

Throughout her career, Kusama has exhibited her work in galleries and museums around the world and has garnered a large and devoted following. In recent years, she has gained even more recognition and success, with her work being featured in major exhibitions and sold for record-breaking prices at auction. Despite being in her 90s, Kusama continues to create and exhibit her art, inspiring and delighting audiences globally.

My favorite living artist is Kusama, and I make it a point to travel and attend her shows whenever I can, like to the Bronx Botanical Gardens or High Museum of Art. When her exhibition was on view at the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, I actually bought a scalped ticket to attend. The show had sold out, and people were wrapped around the block in tents in hopes of receiving one of the daily tickets held. 

*Ticket scalping has become a more common practice during the past twenty years because of the internet. Most scalping incidents now take place through online sales transactions. Currently, there are no federal laws that prohibit the scalping or resale of tickets.

Photo of Yayoi Kusama's obliteration room. A room comprised entirely of white walls, white furniture and white objects. Guests to the show cover the objects with polka dot stickers on the was out. This flattens the space and create an illusion of disappearing objects.

Above, the obliteration room at the Yayoi Kusama Exhibition at the High Museum, photo by Dawn Hunter.


2022 has been an excellent year for me creatively, and I was productive - generating many new works of art throughout the year. I have been honored by the recognition and success of my illustrations, drawings, and paintings about the esteemed neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal and my daughter, Darcy. I have exhibited throughout the US this year, from Art Fields in Lake City, SC, Verum Ultimum, Portland, OR, and the Cabrillo Gallery, Los Angeles - to name a few 2022 exhibition highlights. 

I feel sincere gratitude for being the first artist to be elected to the Board of Directors of the prestigious Cajal Club and for the distinctions of having my artwork reproduced and written about in Scientific American® and the Consilience Journal.

I look forward to opportunities and the creative journey ahead of me in 2023, and as the sayings go, "age is just a number," and "being fifty is nifty."

Portrait of Dawn Hunter taken by her daughter Darcy. Dawn has long brown hair, is wearing a burgundy dress and is sitting at a table with many drawings she created of her daughter.

Portrait of Dawn Hunter taken by her daughter Darcy as they prepared the Darcy Inventory for the 2022, 10th Anniversary Artfields exhibition, Lake City, SC.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

How to Copyright in Batches of 10

The social media art challenge prompts are an excellent way for artists to express themselves, let their creativity flow, and get their work out there. Prompts are usually keywords, which can be anything from a single word to a sentence. I have a couple of favorites that I follow and participate in during the month of October; Facetober and Peachtober. During 2021, I created the Darcy Inventory based on the Facetober prompts and that series has gone on to be included in professional art exhibitions, like ArtFields.

The Facetober challenge is created by a Skillshare top teacher, British designer and illustrator Charly Clements. The prompts Charly creates helps people find new ways of self-expression through short-form portraits. This is an excellent opportunity for artists who prefer drawing or painting people instead of landscapes or other subjects to showcase their skills.

Above, Facetober 2022 day 3 (braid, gold, and magic) by Dawn Hunter, watercolor, ink and acrylic on paper.
Link, here, to the 2021 Facetober Darcy Inventory portraits.

Sha'an d'Anthes, an illustrator, artist, and author, created the social media art challenge Peachtober. She is the creator of the highly engaged Instagram account @furrylittlepeach, which features many of her creative projects, reels, and sneak peeks into her studio. The challenge for Peachtober is open-ended one word prompts, with various concepts and subjects that can be experimented with for the month.

If you are looking for social media engagement and connections with other artists while expanding your studio practice, both Facetober and Peachtober are excellent choices.

Sha'an d'Anthes and Charly Clements do a great job sharing their social media prompt schedule a month before the challenge starts. This gives artists plenty of lead time to gather their materials, think through the concepts, plan their work, and create artworks before the challenge starts. 

Making your artwork ahead of time is crucial because it grants you the opportunity to copyright your artwork in batches, which is cheaper than copyrighting a single artwork ($65.00 per single work registration vs. $65.00 per group registration). 

Original artwork posted on social media is a very popular form of expression, however before posting your artwork online, you should always make sure that you have copyright protection. Filing a copyright registration prior to publication also entitles you to a greater award sum for damages if an infringement occurs. 

It might sound complicated, it is much simpler than you think. 

Above, Facetober 2022 day 2 (afro, pink and animal print) by Dawn Hunter, watercolor, ink and acrylic on paper.

What is Copyright?

"Copyright is a form of protection for the rights of creators of works. It is used to give them the sole right to reproduce, distribute and create derivative works from their original work."

Copyright is not a new idea, it has been around since the 18th century. It was first established in England in 1710 by the Statute of Anne. The United States followed suit with the Copyright Act in 1790 which has been updated over time to reflect changes in technology and society.

What's the Difference Between Copyright and Public Domain?

"Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium," such as writing, music, or artwork. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

Public domain is the legal status of creative works that are not subject to copyright or similar rights of protection. These include ideas, facts and discoveries; news events; government publications; works created by U.S. federal "government employees as part of their official duties;" and anonymous or pseudonymous works (unless the author's identity is generally known or can be reasonably ascertained).

Copyright protects original work from being used without permission from its owner - this includes copying, modifying, distributing, displaying publicly and making adaptations from it. The public domain does not offer any protection to a work - anyone can use it without permission from the author which includes copying, modifying, distributing, displaying publicly, and making adaptations from it.

An image that is posted publicly on the internet is not automatically public domain. Most people only realize they have committed copyright infringement when they are being arrested. It is important to determine authorship and receive permission to post images that you have not created. That is a topic that will be developed further in another blog post; however, I want to touch on it briefly here.

How to Register Multiple Artworks with One Application

The Copyright Office offers a way for creatives to register their individual works as a collective or compilation. The Copyright Office allows a group registration for up to ten works in one registration application.

You will need documentation of your photo, artwork, or illustration. Additionally, you will need an online eCO registration account through the U.S. Government Copyright Office, a completed online form, and a means of payment.

If your application is approved, you will be entitled to seek one award of statutory damages for the collective work as a whole, rather than a separate award for each individual work, even if the defendant infringed all of those works.

Above, Facetober 2022 day 1 (coral, red hair and sunglasses) by Dawn Hunter, watercolor, ink and acrylic on paper.

How to Copyright Your Artwork in Batches of Ten

If you're an artist, you're probably always creating new pieces of artwork. Is there a way to copyright your artwork in batches of up to ten works? The answer is yes, there is a way to do this, and it's fairly simple. Below I have compiled the steps you can follow so that you'll be good to go.

For an artistic series to qualify, the individual works must not have been previously published or previously registered.

1. Create an eCO account. 

One of the most important is things you can do for yourself as an artist is protecting your intellectual property. That means ensuring you have the proper copyrights and trademarks for your artwork, products, and branding.Copyrighting artwork can be time-consuming. Protecting your intellectual property is important, and it's important to do it right. The good news is that many resources are available to help you, including the Copyright Office website:

2. Select "Register a Group of Unpublished Works." 

You can make the process easier by copyrighting your artwork in batches of up to ten works. For a social media challenge like, Facetober, I would recommend to register each week as a batch, especially since the prompts are organized in that manner. That would be a total of four batches and the total cost would be $260.00. If you were to registered all thirty-one works individually, the total cost would be $2,015.00.

You'll need the work's title, the year it was created, and the copyright owner. The US Copyright Office will assign you a number once you've filed your application.

3. Complete the online form prompts:

  • Type of Work
  • Title of Work
  • Completion
  • Authors/Claimants
  • Limitation of Claim
  • Rights and Permissions
  • Correspondent
  • Mail Certificate
  • Special Handling
  • Certification
  • Review Submission

4. After you complete the online registration form, you will be prompted to pay the registration fee online. You will not be able to upload supporting documentation or submit your registration application until your application fee has been received.

5. Next, create and upload a PDF document that includes an image of each individual piece that will be covered by the copyright. 

6. After your payment is received, review your application, upload your supporting documentation, and submit your registration.

It will take about sixty days for the review process to be completed and for you to receive your certificate. However, your work will still be protected because you submitted your registration application prior to publication (posting online). If you have an intellectual property attorney that you work with, provide them with a copy of your registration and registration certificate for their records.

Reach out to the copyright office if you have any questions about copyrighting your artwork. It's a relief to have your work registered with a copyright. It is a topic that I feel passionate about, and you can learn more about how to register an individual work in my blog post from February 2022 titled Your Cheatin' Heart.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Art of Neuroscience Award and Scientific American Feature

I am an artist who uses the biography of Santiago Ramón y Cajal and his neuroscience research as the inspiration for my artwork. Earlier this year, my artwork, Dueling Cajals, won an Honorable Mention in the international Art of Neuroscience competition out of the Netherlands. I am honored and speechless to have my artwork featured in Scientific American in an article about the competition. In the article, I share my artwork with the writers and editors (Fionna M. D. Samuels and Liz Tormes) and how the Cajal Legacy at the Instituto Cajal and neuroscience inspire my art about Cajal. 
This is an award announcement of Dawn Hunter's honorable mention prize in the Art of Neuroscience Awards.

Above my artwork, Dueling Cajals, receives Honorable Mention in the 2022 Art of Neuroscience 
International competition.

My artwork is based on my thorough study of Cajal's life and his scientific drawings, which I conduct in collaboration with leading experts in the neuroscience field at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, and Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain. I have created over 300 works about Cajal in my ongoing project. My creative project aims to help increase public awareness of the wonders and how the process of drawing can create unique insight and interpretations for scientific research. Overall, my series about Cajal is biographically informative about him and his drawing process.

This is an image that contains three photos pasted together. The first image on the left is a portrait of Dawn Hunter holding Cajal's Nobel Prize, the middle image is an original scientific drawing of Cajal's, and the last image on the right is Dawn Hunter's research desk at the Legado Cajal, Madrid, Spain. There are markers in the foreground, a sketch of Dawn Hunter's in the middle, and Cajal's original death mask mold in the background.

Me with my primary source references for my work Dueling Cajals: Cajal's Nobel Prize, his original scientific drawing of regenerative nerve cells and his death mask. All of these items are housed at the Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain.

Historical Background about Cajal

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) was born in a small town in Spain. His father was a doctor, and Cajal grew up interested in science. He went to medical school, but he also studied biology and physics. He studied the brain using histological staining methods, microscopes, micrographs, and drawing. He discovered how different parts of the brain work. Cajal was also a great teacher and helped train many scientists who would go on to make significant contributions to neuroscience, like Fernando De Castro (arterial chemoreceptors), Rafael Lorente de Nó (audio-vestibular nuclei and system), and E. Horne Craigie (zoologist and author).

Along with Camillo Golgi, Cajal won the Nobel Prize for his work in 1906.

He did his seminal work in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He is known for problem-solving and innovation, like altering and improving the Golgi Black Reaction stain, which allowed him to visualize the nervous system in unprecedented detail. His discoveries continue to be the basis for our understanding of the brain.

One of Cajal's most important contributions was his development of the Neuron Doctrine. This theory states that the nervous system comprises individual cells called neurons. Santiago Ramón y Cajal's work on the neuron doctrine helped establish neuroscience as its scientific discipline.

Cajal's legacy continues to this day. His work on the neuron doctrine laid the foundation for our understanding of the brain, and his work on the brain's structure has helped shape our understanding of mental illness. He is a leading figure in the history of neuroscience, and his work is still studied and appreciated by scientists today.

Cajal's impact on neuroscience cannot be overstated. His work on the anatomy of the nervous system revolutionized our understanding of how the brain works. His discoveries helped establish neuroscience as its own field and paved the way for many of the modern insights that have been made in neuroscience in the years since. Cajal's work is still studied and referenced by neuroscientists today, and his legacy will continue for many years.

His discoveries about the structure and function of the brain have had a profound impact on the field and continue to be studied and applied today. Thanks to Cajal's efforts, we have a much better understanding of how the brain works and continue to progress in understanding neurological disorders. His work demonstrates the power of science and the importance of curiosity and creativity in research.


I have enjoyed making artwork about Cajal's life and histology research. I am honored to have my work receive an Honorable Mention Award in the Art of Neuroscience competition and delighted that it was featured in Scientific American. To learn more about my project about him, visit my website devoted to my Cajal project, Dawn Hunter Art,™ | Cajal Portfolio.

This is a color marker and ink drawing that features four portraits of Cajal. His age is about 38 in these portraits, and the main background color is orange, and he is dress in muted green and Earth tones.

My drawing, Four Cajals, marker and pen on paper, is based on a black and white self-portrait photo montage created and printed by Cajal. I added the color based on a color harmony system to my drawing.


Below is a video that documents my process Creative Process Video for the Artwork Dueling Cajals:

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Mentorship and Loss

As a college art student, you'll likely have access to a studio space where you can work on your craft. And while having your own space is great, it can also be a bit isolating. That's why having a mentor in your college art studio can be so helpful.

A mentor can provide guidance and feedback on your work, help you connect with other artists, and even just be someone to talk to about the creative process. If you're looking for a mentor, here are a few places to start looking.

Your professor: If you have a professor who you admire and who is knowledgeable about the type of art you're interested in, they may be a great mentor for you. Ask if they're available to meet with you on a regular basis to discuss your work and get feedback.

The college art gallery: Many college art galleries have staff members who are happy to talk to students about art. If you're interested in a particular artist or type of art, ask a gallery staff member if they know of anyone who could mentor you.

Local artists: There are likely many artists living and working in your town or city who would be happy to mentor a college student. Visit local art galleries and studios, and introduce yourself to the artists.

Having a mentor in your college art studio can make a world of difference in your creative journey. So don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help!

My Mentors

During my college years at the Kansas City Art Institute, I was never shy about reaching out to professors. I was lucky in college, I had two great mentors who shaped my artistic practice profoundly: Wilbur Niewald and Shirley Luke Schnell.

Wilbur Niewald

Wilbur Niewald died this past spring at the age of 97. He live his entire life in Kansas City, and no one has painted the city as frequently as he did. His Plein air works could rightfully be called love letters to the city.

Wilbur earned bachelor and master degrees from the Kansas City Art Institute. He was a member of the painting faculty for 43 years, chaired the painting department from 1958 to 1985, and was a respected and well known painter throughout the United States. 

In 1992, he retired. He remained devoted to his artistic practice and he spent hours each day, often six days a week, painting outdoors in Loose Park or the West Bottoms or in his studio during his retirement.

One of the things I liked to do when visiting Kansas City in the summer was to visit him while he was creating his Plein air artworks. I would find him passionately painting away at his easel near the tennis courts at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri, wearing his well-known attire: a straw hat, denim shirt, and blue jeans.

Above, a drawing I completed of Wilbur Niewald while he was painting in Loose Park during one of my visits to Kansas City, marker and pen on paper, 11" x 14."

I took Wilbur's drawing classes most semesters while I was in college. Every class was always the same, with one instruction: "Draw what you see." I found the experience meditative and relaxing, and I also developed a deep appreciation for working from observation.

Wilbur always took me seriously and respected me as an artist, which profoundly impacted me the most. I took myself seriously because of that. He understood my potential more than I did. As a sophomore, I had a conversation with him about switching my major from Painting to Fibers. He made a compelling argument to other faculty and me in the program about why I should not switch my major. I stayed because he convinced me.

He drew and painted from direct observation beginning in the 1970s. It never mattered to him what the condition of weather was. Once when our drawing class was outside drawing the landscape in Plein air, it began to rain. Most students began packing up and heading back to the classroom, but Wilbur exclaimed, "Don't leave; this is great. Change your drawing as the situation changes." He only convinced four of us to stay.

Above, a drawing I completed of Wilbur Niewald while he was painting in Loose Park during one of my visits to Kansas City, marker and pen on paper, 11" x 14."

Shirley Luke Schnell

There's nothing quite like a quirky art professor to get students excited about creativity. Shirley Luke Schnell was one of those teachers. With her whimsical, soft-spoken voice and eccentric clothing, she always seemed to be on the verge of levitating above all of us in the Foundations studio. But somehow, she always managed to bring unique and memorable insight to the studio practice, and her students always seemed inspired and to learn a lot.

Even though she was different than anyone else you'd ever meet, her students connected with and loved her. They knew that she cared about them and that she wanted them to succeed. She was always pushing them to be their creative limits with the concepts of her assignments. This generated growth and new perspectives on what is or could be.

Shirley is a true original, and in the classroom, she was the perfect example of how being different can be a good thing. After Foundations, I reached out to her for critiques of my paintings and help with my graduate school applications. She was fully invested and took time during her weekends to help me write my application essays with clarity. I was fortunate to have her mentorship after college, too. We became close friends, and she has been present for the significant milestones of my life. Such as visiting me in London during my residency at the Royal Academy of Arts and attending my wedding.

Above, a digital iPad drawing I created of Shirley during one of my visits to her home.

The Onset of Alzheimer's

As people age, they may begin to experience memory loss. This can be a difficult change for the individual and their loved ones. For those with Alzheimer's disease, the onset of memory loss can be particularly difficult on relationships. Shirley was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease officially in 2013, however, there were signs of the illness several years before that diagnosis. Her illness has progressed significantly and she is now at a non-verbal stage. Even though she is still alive, the disease has created loss.

1. What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. It causes gradual memory loss and cognitive decline. It is the most common type of dementia, affecting an estimated 5.4 million Americans. The cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, but it is thought to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no cure.

2. What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can vary significantly from person to person. In general, however, they may include problems with memory, thinking, and communication, as well as changes in mood and behavior. Some people with Alzheimer's may also experience physical symptoms, such as difficulty walking, dizziness, and changes in appetite.

3. How does Alzheimer's disease affect relationships?

Alzheimer's disease can impact relationships. People with Alzheimer's may become less interested in spending time with others, have difficulty remembering names and faces, and become confused or agitated. This can be difficult for family members and friends, who may feel like they are losing the person they know and love. 

It is important to remember that people with Alzheimer's are still capable of feeling love and affection. It is essential to continue to spend time with them, even if they can't always communicate. Try to engage them in activities they enjoy, and be patient and understanding.

Above, a digital iPad drawing Shirley created, after the onset of Alzheimer's, of her cat during one of my visits to her home.


It's never easy to lose a mentor.

Whether it's sudden or expected, the death of a mentor can be a difficult thing to process. After all, this is someone who has been a pivotal figure in your life, someone who has helped you grow and learn.

The death of a mentor can leave you feeling lost and uncertain. But it's important to remember that your mentor would want you to continue on your journey, to keep growing and learning.

Take some time to grieve, and then remember that your mentor would want you to keep moving forward.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Six Month Studio Round Up

I love spending my summers being creative, whether it's working on art projects in my studio or doing my daughter's hair in pretty braids and weaves. What I look forward to the most in my studio practice is the feeling of satisfaction when I'm done. One of my favorite places to go plein air painting is the botanical gardens at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. I forget about the sweltering summer heat when I'm painting or drawing the landscape.

Darcy and her back-to-school summertime braids weaved by yours truly, and my White Daisy mixed media drawing completed at the Riverbanks Zoo.

Spring Exhibitions

University of South Carolina's academic year ended with a "high" for me this past spring. My artwork was featured in three exhibitions: one in California at the Cabrillo Gallery, Cabrillo College, of the greater Los Angeles area. It was a group exhibition, and the show was titled Who We are Portraying. The exhibit explored identity and how individuals represent or express themselves publicly.  

The other two exhibitions I participated in were in South Carolina. Both were 10th-anniversary shows. The first one was a salon exhibition celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the publication, The Jasper Project. The show and celebration were both held at 701 Whaley's Pool Hall space. Laura Garner Hine curated the exhibition. Other artists selected to participate in the show included Bohumila Augustinova, Eileen Blythe, Mike Dwyer, Michael Krajewski, Cait Maloney, and Lucas Sams, to name a few. 
The second exhibition 10th-anniversary exhibition I participated in this past spring was the ArtFields 10th-Anniversary competition exhibition. Located in Lake City, South Carolina, ArtFields is a nine-day festival that features up to 400 works of art at 40 venues in which on can view the artists selected to compete from the southeast region of the United States. Participating artists are juried each year by a prestigious panel of jurors. The 2022 ArtFields juror panel included:  Venessa Castagnoli, Executive Director of Ogden Contemporary Arts; Charles Eady, Contemporary Artist and Author; Jean McLaughlin, Arts Administrator, Educator, and Artist; David Reyes, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Huntsville Museum of Art; and Jaime Suárez, Sculptor, Architect, Educator, and Ceramicist.

Top, detail of one of The Darcy Inventory drawings, mixed media on paper, 11" x 14."  The Darcy Inventory, center, installed at The R.O.B. at this year's 10th anniversary ArtFields competition, Lake City, SC. Learn more here!

Summer Fun

Darcy won a weeklong spot in the Walk on the Wild Side World Explorers camp in Greenville this summer. Campers dissected owl pellets, learned about various estuary habitats, and met a tarantula, chinchilla, and python at the Greenville Zoo. When Darcy was not in camp, we spent our time either swimming in the hotel pool or exploring the downtown area of Greenville, South Carolina. 

Check out our South Carolina Sunshine Instagram reel of the week here!

Darcy, outside of World Explorers camp, Greenville, SC.

Art of Neuroscience, Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience

I received an Honorable Mention for my artwork Dueling Cajals in the prestigious international sci-art competition, Art of Neuroscience. This year's competition jurors were Dr. Bevil Conway, Dr. Flora Lysen, and Dr. Sabine Niederer.


Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience Statement: 

"This submission struck the jury because of its emphasis on the history of neuroscience. The work highlights how any scientific process, particularly scientific image-making, can be influenced by a multilayering of cultural and historical factors. The jury admired how diverse periods in time from this historical perspective were weaved into one image, and appreciated the effort that went into investigating the sources that Cajal was exposed to. Dueling Cajals serves as an important reminder for neuroscientists to recognize history and its influence on their work. " - AoN, NIN, NL

My drawing was created by referencing primary sources from Cajal's life and scientific research while serving as the Fulbright España Senior Research fellow at the Instituto Cajal. Below this paragraph is an Instagram reel. In the reel, I am giving the viewer a glimpse into the creative process and some of the items (Cajal's scientific regeneration drawing and the original mold of his death mask) that I researched in creating my drawing.

Dawn Hunter, Dueling Cajals, Art of Neuroscience Instagram reel.

My artwork above, Dueling Cajals, mixed media on paper, 11" x 14."

The primary sources that I reference from the Instituto Cajal, Madrid, that inspire the Dueling Cajals drawing, left an original nerve regeneration scientific drawing completed by Cajal and the original death mask mold.

Cajal Club

I am honored, humbled, and proud to have been elected to the Cajal Club Board of Directors. I am so excited and honored that they selected me to create a new website for their organization! My life was full of hard work, collaboration, and feedback from and with top Neuroscientists during the transition from July to August. The new website is now operational. This is an ongoing endeavor; a garden that will continue to flourish and grow. More content is yet to come, so stay tuned!

The new website, designed by yours truly, can be found here:


We have had some wonderful adventures so far this year and we are looking forward to more! We feel honored and blessed by all of our opportunities.

Have a wonderful fall everyone and check back with us again soon! XOXO

Portrait of artist Dawn Hunter, taken by her daughter Darcy, July, 2022.