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Marshall resident to receive patent in art instruction technique

By Caleb Brabham
March 10, 2017 at 6 a.m.

The ART Event Director Susan Pool looks through examples of her teaching technique Thursday.

Every year, hundreds of patents come through the U.S. Federal Court in Marshall for litigation.

But next to none of them are local.

However, in the next six weeks, Susan Pool, local resident and owner of The ART Event, will be granted a patent for a specialized teaching technique called Art GPS.

Pool said Art GPS is based off of the idea of grid art.

"Since the Egyptians, people have used grid art," Pool said. "People take a small painting, put vertical and horizontal lines around it to group it into squares so they can get everything in the right place.

"They draw vertical and horizontal lines all over their paper or canvas," Pool said "If they're doing water color, after they finish, they have all these lines they have to erase without ruining the texture of their paper and ruining the color they put out."

Pool said her method improves upon grid art by placing a grid of numbers and letters around the canvas, thus allowing the painter to use the corresponding visual coordinates throughout the canvas to keep track of their designs. Pool said her method enables artists to complete a painting in three and a half hours and the grid ratio can be applied to canvases of virtually any size.

"We paint from back to front, layer by layer, like any well-trained artist does, giving depth to the picture," Pool said, illustrating she can tell painters to paint a sky along 1A, 1B, 1C and so on. "In traditional grid art, you can't do that because you've drawn all these lines. People have tried every method to get around it, printing gridded canvases and gridded paper … They've tried everything imaginable, but no one has tried a virtual grid where you can pain over and over and still know where to go."

Pool said she came up with the method out of necessity, when trying to figure out the best way to instruct her students.

"I taught school for years … I moved back here and decided I was bored. I wanted to fill in during the noon-time on Saturday when nothing was going on," Pool said, adding as several began to sign up, she tried to devise an easy way of instruction. "I hand-numbered the canvas and I found out, it works. I went to the internet, thinking I could buy a grid like that, and found out I couldn't. I looked for a year, and tried to find a patent attorney - all of the patent attorneys in this town don't write patents, they just litigate. But then I found Alan and convinced him to get interested in the patent."

Patent attorney Alan Loudermilk said it was Pool's enthusiasm that ultimately attracted him to her crusade for a patent.

"I'm a patent attorney, an electrical engineer and I've been working with products and inventions throughout my career," Loudermilk said. "I formed the 511 Tech Center where if you have an idea, we can patent it, we can build it and we can help you make a business out of it.

"As soon as (Pool) found out I help people protect their intellectual property, she said, 'I need you because I have an idea,'" Loudermilk said. "We sat down and I was impressed by her entrepreneurial zeal and energy, which she has in bundles. It took a while to refine the ideas."

Loudermilk said Pool's patent was unique because it was patenting a technique.

"It is a bit unusual," Loudermilk said. "What makes it patentable is that we have a structural implement that is patentable that is used in a very creative way to create the art … if you said you just had a method of instructing they may just disallow it because it's just an abstract idea of teaching.

"There aren't many patents like this these days, but we are very proud the patent office recognized (it)."

Loudermilk said in order for an invention to be patented it needs to pass several tests.

"The main (test) is novelty; it has to be new and that's an easier test," Loudermilk said. "It (also) has to be non-obvious over everything that is out there. You take this hypothetical skilled person in the art who has every piece of prior art known to man in front of them and ask if this is a non-obvious contribution. Even if it's new, if it's an obvious extension of a piece of prior art then you are not entitled to a patent."

Loudermilk said the road to getting a patent was a long one, filing the patent request on Sept. 9, 2011.

"The process took five years and six months," Loudermilk said. "It took a visit to the patent office (in Washington D.C.) and an appeal to the patent office appeal board. We were persistent."

Loudermilk said much of the difficulty stemmed from proving Art GPS's contribution.

"There was a lot of prior art that consisted of things like moveable rulers, but with strings or calipers," Loudermilk said. "It was only when we filed the appeal (the examiner) had to answer not to us, but to a higher level of examiners. He realized there was a contribution here."

Loudermilk said, for his part in this, he is happy to see a Marshall resident be able to achieve a patent.

"Lots of people come into Marshall seeking to use the patent court," Loudermilk said. "But this narrative turns that idea on its head."

For information on Pool's business, which leads residents through painting their own piece of art, visit their Facebook.

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