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 traverse 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 analyzes 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. In this article, we've looked into the cultural events and artistic journeys that have given us valuable insights into the lives of these trailblazing individuals. Their remarkable careers were greatly influenced by the vibrant environments they emerged from. As we join the global community in celebrating their achievements and the unique connections between their places of origin, let's also draw inspiration from their unwavering quest for knowledge and the inspiration that emerges when art and science intertwine.

  • 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, safeguarding my brand and intellectual property is essential; obtaining a registered trademark is the key to achieving that. Applying for and obtaining a trademark can be quite intricate and lengthy, but the legal protection it provides is definitely worth the effort. I hired an attorney to make sure everything went smoothly.

If you're considering registering a trademark, whether you're planning to do it independently or with legal assistance, I've put together some helpful information below to help guide you.

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 is a distinct name, symbol, phrase, design, or other characteristics that set a product or service apart. When you secure a trademark, you obtain sole rights to associate the mark with your offerings, and it prevents others from using a comparable mark that might cause confusion or dilute your mark's worth.

The scope of a trademark depends on the nature of the mark itself and the goods or services it relates to, or it might protect a specific brand name tied to a product or a symbol linked to a company or group. A trademark could involve unique designs or color patterns in packaging or advertisements.

For those in the creative field, owning a registered trademark is vital for keeping their brand safe and stopping others from using their name, emblem, or other unique marks without permission. There are many reasons why artists need to consider registering their trademarks:
  • Brand awareness: A trademark plays a crucial role in establishing your brand's presence in the market, making it simpler for people to recognize your work and associate it with your products or services.
  • Legal safeguard: Securing a trademark registration offers you legal protection and the privilege to utilize the mark in commerce. This serves as a foundation for pursuing legal recourse against anyone who may try to exploit your mark without authorization or violate your intellectual property rights.
  • Opportunities for licensing: Holding a registered trademark paves the way for striking licensing agreements and forming collaborations with fellow artists, companies, or organizations eager to harness your brand for their own ventures.
  • Reputation defense: Registering your trademark also aids in preserving your reputation by stopping others from using your name or mark in ways that could harm your brand or create confusion in the market.

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.


People can choose from an array of trademark options tailored to their unique business requirements and the kind of trademark they aim to secure. Keep in mind that certain trademarks may fall under more than one category.. For instance, a combination mark might consist of both a word mark and a design mark. In my experience, I registered Dawn Hunter Art® as both a word mark and a design mark, necessitating two separate applications, each with its own unique registration number.

Below is a list of some frequently encountered trademark types:

  • Word Mark: This trademark type is solely composed of text, such as a company name, slogan, or product name.
  • Design Mark: Consisting of a logo, image, or other visual design, this trademark type often works in tandem with a word mark to create a brand logo.
  • Combination Mark: This trademark type merges text and design elements, commonly used to develop a distinctive brand logo that includes both the company name and a visual component.
  • Service Mark: Protecting a service rather than a tangible product, this trademark type serves to identify and differentiate the source of a service in the market.
  • Collective Mark: Utilized by groups or organizations to identify their members or affiliates, this trademark type is popular among trade organizations and professional associations.
  • Certification Mark: This trademark type certifies that a product or service adheres to specific standards or quality levels, frequently seen in industries such as food or organic products.
  • Sound Mark: Comprising a unique sound or musical jingle, this trademark type identifies a product or service and is often employed in radio or television advertisements.

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

Trademark Process

Selecting the appropriate trademark to suit your specific requirements and offer optimal protection for your brand is essential. For instance, my trademark goes beyond my artwork's visual appearance or style, encompassing the educational aspects and the unique research I have conducted on long-term projects, such as my series and Fulbright research on Santiago Ramón y Cajal or my sabbatical project, Personified Doubles and Complementary Opposites.

In my opinion, it's crucial to collaborate with a seasoned trademark attorney to guarantee proper registration of your trademark and assist in safeguarding your intellectual property rights over time.

The trademark application process can be somewhat intricate, but it typically involves these steps:

  • Conduct a trademark search: Prior to applying for trademark registration, it's vital to conduct a comprehensive search of existing trademarks to ensure that your proposed trademark isn't already in use by another brand. This helps you avoid potential conflicts or legal issues later on.
  • Prepare and submit the application: After verifying that your trademark is available, you need to prepare and submit a trademark application to the relevant government agency. In the United States, this is usually the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application should include details about your trademark, such as the mark itself, the goods or services it represents, and the mark's owner.
  • Wait for the application review: Once your trademark application is filed, a trademark examiner, who is an attorney employed by the USPTO, will be assigned to review it and ensure it meets all registration requirements. This review process can take several months, depending on the queue and the complexity of your application.
  • Respond to any office actions: If the trademark examiner has concerns or questions about your application, they may issue an office action requesting additional information or revisions. It's important to respond promptly to these office actions to maintain your application's progress.
  • Obtain approval and registration: When a trademark application is approved by a USPTO examining attorney, it is published in the Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This publication informs the public of your trademark application, allowing those with objections or oppositions to raise concerns due to conflicts with their marks. If concerns emerge, a legal proceeding takes place before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), an administrative tribunal within the USPTO. The TTAB evaluates the opposition and determines whether to permit the trademark registration or deny it based on the opposition. If no concerns arise, your mark will be assigned a number and officially registered.

Navigating the trademark application process is complicated; seeking assistance from a knowledgeable trademark attorney is essential. They can answer your questions and handle the application for you. This will ensure errors aren't made, or details are overlooked. Their guidance will help 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


Securing a registered trademark has been a vital step for me in safeguarding my artistic brand and fortifying my intellectual property rights. Although the process might seem overwhelming, I urge fellow artists to take this essential stride in defending their work and professional personas. Don't let apprehension about the unknown or the perceived hassle of the application process deter you from shielding your creations. With the legal protection that trademark registration affords, you can rest easy knowing that your dedication and skills are well protected. As artists, our distinct voices and outlooks warrant both acknowledgment and defense. Let's embrace our artistry and preserve 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

In James Joyce's novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the narrative follows the journey of Stephen Dedalus, a budding artist grappling with his place in the world and cultivating his artistic identity. This modernist masterpiece is renowned for its inventive language and for depicting its main character's psychological and ethical growth.

From this literary work, mature creatives can glean that the metamorphosis into an artist encompasses a voyage of self-exploration and self-fashioning.

Attaining contentment and ease within oneself at any life stage is vital to one's overall wellness and can contribute to a more gratifying, purposeful existence.

Life is full of highs, lows, and transitional periods; however, it is crucial to remember that age remains a mere numeral and that it is never too late to chase your aspirations and objectives. Numerous people find a renewed sense of direction and focus as they age and view aging as an opportunity for reinvention and to make positive life changes. Often people will choose to prioritize their personal development and joy. 

Remember that there's no "right way" to be a fabulous 50-something (or any age, for that matter). It's so important to appreciate our own unique qualities, talents, and passions. If you're feeling excited about this chapter in life like I am, that's amazing! Let's keep celebrating our individuality and living life to the max! 

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

My Story

Age has never dictated the course of my life. I've always pursued a creative path; each day spent in my studio feels timeless. This creative space fosters a connection between various moments and locations throughout my life, all within the artistic process. Additionally, I teach first-year college students who are full of energy, creativity, and innovation. These young individuals inspire and graciously invited me into their lives through our shared artistic pursuits.

A hurdle that older female artists might encounter is ageism, which is discrimination based on age. This can manifest in various ways, such as being overlooked for opportunities or being treated differently due to one's age.

Another obstacle older female artists may face is inadequate representation and support for their work. It is not unusual for them to feel as if their artwork doesn't receive the same level of attention or acknowledgment compared to their younger peers.

Yet, despite these obstacles, numerous older female artists remain committed to producing and showcasing their art. They may discover support and fellowship within artistic circles and could even find that their age and life experiences provide them with a distinct viewpoint and expression in their craft. (Above, a portrait of Dawn Hunter. Photo captured 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 was born in 1929. She has achieved significant success and has gained a great deal of recognition as an older female artist. Her career has spanned over 70 years. During that time Kusama earned a reputation as one of the world's most significant and influential living contemporary artists. 

Kusama's artwork is characterized by its vivid colors, recurring patterns, and enveloping installations that frequently involve performance and interactive aspects. Her creative endeavors have spanned multiple mediums, such as 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 illustrious career, Kusama has displayed her artwork in galleries and museums across the globe, captivating a vast and loyal fanbase. In the past few years, her prominence and accomplishments have soared even higher, as her masterpieces have taken center stage in prestigious exhibitions and fetched jaw-dropping sums at auctions. Now in her 90s, Kusama remains a creative force, continuing to produce and showcase her art, enthralling and enchanting people worldwide.

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

As an artist, you're likely constantly crafting new pieces of art. You might wonder if there's a way to copyright your artwork in groups of up to ten works at once. Good news! It's totally doable and pretty simple. 

Here's the catch: for works of art to be eligible, your artwork shouldn't have been published prior to your registration application. 

Review and follow the steps below, and your work will be protected at a cost-efficient price.

1. Create an eCO account. 

Protecting your intellectual property is important for professional success. Remember to procure copyrights and trademarks for all of your art, products,  services, and branding. Protecting intellectual property with copyrights and trademarks can be time-consuming, but it's worth it. The US Copyright Office website provides excellent resources for individuals:

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. Fill out the online registration form and pay the fee. You can't upload extra docs or submit until the fee is processed.

5. Make a PDF with pics of each piece you want to protect, and upload it.

6. After your payment clears, double-check your application, upload any needed docs, and submit.

It'll take about 60 days for the review process, but your work will be protected once you've registered! If you work with an intellectual property lawyer, share your registration and certificate with them.

Got questions? Reach out to the copyright office!

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, was an absolute genius, he has left a profound impact on neuroscience. He was the trailblazer for the neuron doctrine; his work was like this beacon, guiding our understanding of the brain's mysterious labyrinth. Cajal is just this pivotal force in neuroscience history. Even now, scientists and artists can't help but study and admire the incredible things he's discovered and are mesmerized by the beauty of his drawings.

It's wild to think about how much Cajal's work has shaped the field of neuroscience! His brilliant investigation into the nervous system's anatomy? A total game-changer. It's like he took a paintbrush and reimagined the canvas of our understanding. Because of him, neuroscience became its unique masterpiece, and he paved the way for many discoveries we're still making today. Even modern neuroscientists continue to reference his work, ensuring his legacy lives on for generations.

Cajal's discoveries about the brain's structure and function are like these vibrant colors, leaving a lasting impression on the field. And we're still diving into his work today, using it to make headway in figuring out neurological disorders. It's honestly so inspiring. Cajal's work is like this beautiful testament to the power of science, and it shows how vital curiosity and creativity are when we're chasing after our 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

Ah, you know, being a college art student is such an adventure! You've got that snazzy studio space to create your masterpieces, but it can feel lonely sometimes. I can't stress enough how crucial it is to have a mentor in your college art studio. They're like a lighthouse in a stormy sea of creativity! 

Mentors, they're like these magical beings who guide you, give feedback on your work and help you network with other artsy folks. The hallmark of a good mentor is excellent listening skills balanced with professional experience and generosity. Having someone committed to providing quality and consistent feedback nurtures your creative present and future. 

Let me tell you where to start if you're looking for a mentor.

First up, your professor; if there's a professor you genuinely admire and who knows their stuff about your preferred art form, they might be the mentor of your dreams! Ask if they can spare some time regularly to chat about your work and offer their insights.

Next is the college art gallery; those gallery staff members are usually eager to gab about art with students. If there's an artist or style you're really into, ask a staff member if they can point you toward a potential mentor. 

And remember local artists! Your town or city is probably teeming with artists who'd be thrilled to mentor a budding college student. Check out local galleries and studios, and don't be shy—say hello to and regularly interact with the artists of your community. Having a mentor in your college art studio can be transformative for you creatively but also set you on a productive career path. So, 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.

Embracing Change: The Journey with Alzheimer's

As we grow older, it's not uncommon for memory to fade, impacting both ourselves and our dear ones. When it comes to Alzheimer's, this shift can be particularly tough on relationships. I remember my incredible mentor, Shirley, who was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's back in 2013. 

Looking back, he signs were there even before her diagnosis—visible in her actions and words. Today, she's reached a non-verbal stage as the disease continues its progression. Though she's still with us, Alzheimer's has taken away so much. Let's cherish our memories and support those facing this journey.

1. Understanding Alzheimer's: A Battle of the Mind 

Alzheimer's, one of the most common types of dementia, has touched the lives of over 5 million Americans. As a neurodegenerative disorder, it slowly erodes our memory and cognitive functions, making every day a struggle. Despite the efforts of researchers, the cause is unknown. Its cause is theorized to be a blend of genetic and environmental factors. The cure remains undiscovered.

2. Recognizing the Signs: Encountering Alzheimer's Symptoms

Living with Alzheimer's can be an incredibly personal and unique experience, as the symptoms manifest differently for everyone. Yet, some common threads bind these journeys: the challenges with memory, thinking, and communication and the shifts in mood and behavior. 

Physical symptoms like trouble walking, dizziness, and appetite changes also make their presence known, adding to the daily battles faced by those with Alzheimer's.

3. How does Alzheimer's disease affect relationships?

Alzheimer's disease can be heart-wrenching, profoundly affecting our relationships with loved ones. Those with this condition might withdraw from socializing, struggle to recall names or faces, and even become disoriented or agitated. As friends and family, it's painfully difficult to watch someone we care for seemingly disappear from us.

But let's not forget that beneath the disease; their hearts are still capable of feeling love and affection. We must keep embracing them, even when communication becomes a challenge. Engage them in activities they've always loved, and practice patience and understanding. Together, we can make sure they never feel alone in their fight.

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


Losing a mentor—whether through death or illness is difficult. 

Whether it hits you like a bolt from the blue or you see it coming, the passing of a mentor can feel like a shock. You may feel a great sense of emptiness after losing someone like the North Star guiding your ship, helping you grow and learn!

When a mentor leaves this world, it's easy to feel adrift and unsure. Let's remember that your mentor would want you to continue and keep growing creatively. 

It is essential to pause, allow yourself to grieve, and then remind yourself that your mentor would be cheering you on to keep putting one foot in front of the other and pay it forward by mentoring a younger artist yourself!

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.

On the left is a portrait of Dawn Hunter's daughter and on the right is a painting of white daisies by artist Dawn Hunter.

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.

This is a painting by artist Dawn Hunter and it features a young African American girl in yellow sunglasses and cat ears. She is in an Alice and Wonderland whimsical context surrounded by caterpillars with books on their heads and flowers with faces.

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. 

This is a photo of the Darcy Inventory installation at the 10th anniversary exhibition of ArtFields in Lake City, SC.

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!

This is a portrait of a young African American girl standing under the sign of the World Explores camp in Greenville, South Carolina.

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.

This is an image of Dawn Hunter's drawing Dueling Cajals featured on the award announcement card for the winners of the Art of Neuroscience award.

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

This is an image of Cajal regeneration neuron drawing on the left and an image of his death mask on the right. In front of the death mask are artist Dawn Hunter's drawing supplies and a sketch that she created of the mask.

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

It is with immense gratitude and a touch of modest pride that I share the news of my election to the esteemed Cajal Club Board of Directors. The trust they have placed in me to design and create a new website for their illustrious organization is both exhilarating and deeply humbling.

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:

This is one of the homepage slides of the Cajal Club website, designed by Dawn Hunter, and it features a travel photo of Cajal with some of this research assistants.

This is a webpage designed by artist Dawn Hunter for the international organization, the Cajal Club. It features an photo of renowned neuroscientist, Elizabeth C. Crosby.


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

This is a black and white portrait of artist Dawn Hunter.

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