Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Zinnias


One of my favorite garden flowers is the Zinnia.  They are easy to grow and just full of bright, bold colors that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.  So this new piece was just so much fun to create. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the name and I couldn't really come up with anything funny, punny or clever so I named it "Zinnia in the Bucket".  It's rather obvious name but I find that it is better to keep the title simple than to be too elaborate or wordy if a "clever" title alludes me. 

The medium I used here is Prismacolor pencils.  I get asked often it the is watercolor and so I thought I would mention that I use odorless turpenoid with a brush to melt the wax and blend the layers of color pencil.  This process gives it a painted look that I just love.

I decided I was going to also make the design into a coloring sheet and offer it on my website as a free download. I have a number of design there already and I just love the whole process of sharing my art with others.  So feel free to hop on over to my website and print as many coloring sheets as you need.  All I ask is that you don't try to sell them. 

Here is the link:  http://www.julietownsendstudio.com/free.html






Friday, May 22, 2020

3 Ways to keep your Art Safer


What an interesting week this has been.  I decided to add some of my "Wash Tub" drawings on as downloadable art on my Etsy Shop.  In hindsight, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable about having the actually artwork available in that format.  It makes it very easy to steal.  I've actually received a number of comments recently on my Facebook feed advising me to "Copyright or better Watermark" my art as "Soap Makers" specifically were going to use it for their labels.  No offense meant to soap makers reading this, I'm just telling you what I've been told.  



I do know, as an artist, that all my original art I create is automatically my "Intellectual Property" and is legally protected from unauthorized use.  Taking the time to get an official copyright on your art would probably make winning an infringement court case easier but I don't believe it is completely necessary.  I'm not a lawyer but that is my understanding.  I actually had already created an account with eco.copyright.gov website and had listed 10 of the 13 wash tub drawings there with the intention of having them copyrighted.  I stopped the process midstream because I didn't realize that they had implemented a much higher fee structure recently and it now costs $85 to copyright 10 visual art images when before it was $35 for a whole file folder full.  I assumed I had answered something incorrectly so I decided not to proceed to the check out.  


Who knew that low and behold, just a few days later, I would be faced with that exact "unauthorized use" issue myself.  I had a recent Etsy sale and when I looked at this Etsy customer profile I immediately noticed she was a previous SOAP MAKER. (Alarms and Bells began ringing in my head!)  There was also an Etsy Shop linked to her name so I took a little peak at her listings and was immediately greeted with shower curtains and bath mats all covered with my artwork!  She didn't even take my name off the image.  

Now, she claimed she thought it was okay and that I didn't actually say in my listing that the files were for personal use only.  Of course that isn't true.  I clearly communicated that fact about 2/3rds of way down in my listing description but obviously she didn't read or didn't think she was going to be caught.   I contacted her immediately and to her credit she pulled the 10 listings down but had the nerve to ask me for a refund.  

The popularity of this series is making me rethink a few things.  I'm doing a better job of putting a watermark right in the middle of my smallest files to discourage future thievery.  I've also thought about making the image more of a poster design rather than my 100% my pure artwork.  Here is two of my more recent drawings wash tub drawings, "Rooster Cluckburn" and "Bathing Broodies".  




1.  WATERMARK your artwork- I created a file in Photoshop that give me 4 color choices for my watermark.  I add it to the top center of my smallest print at 50% opacity.  
2.  USE ONLY LOW RESOLUTION IMAGES-  
3.  USE GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH TO MAKE SURE YOUR IMAGES ARE NOT BEING USED WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.- Just like searching for words in Google you can also search images by choosing the little camera icon.  You then upload the image you want to search for and it will give you all the examples where that image or a similar image is found.  

Today, I came up with this bathroom poster format using the rooster and the hens.   I have included the 4 colors all available on my Townco Studio Etsy Shop as printable art.  I think they turned out cute and hopefully there will be Etsy Shoppers that want to purchase the files from me.






   






Just a little side note:  I learned something today.  To be able to print the "cent" sign like I wanted on the above poster designs, I found out that if you hold down the alt key on a PC and type 0162 it is the keyboard command to give you that ¢ symbol.  How cool is that?










Sunday, May 3, 2020

We need a real gully washer down here






Remember that old hymn "Showers of Blessings"  I can still hear the words in my head, "Showers of Blessings we need.  Mercy drops round us are falling but for the showers we plead."  Yes! Lord bring us the Showers NOW.

Lord, we need your help as a church, as a nation and as a world.  We're in trouble down here and we need your Holy Spirit to rain down on us with giant cleansing, reviving MERCY drops.  The kind that can soften hardened hearts and heal our land.

I've always heard heavy rains referred to as "Raining Cats and Dogs" and I wondered if there were more idioms that were used to describe a huge down pouring and I found a few I thought I would share.

Let me know if you have heard of any of these sayings:

  1. raining monkeys
  2. raining bullfrogs
  3. raining pitchforks
  4. toad strangler
  5. goose drownder
  6. fish drownder
  7. gully washer
  8. mud-sender
  9. palmetto pounder
  10. Sizzly Sod Soaker  (https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/80169/11-imaginative-regional-idioms-describe-heavy-rain)
I love that last one because it is so much fun to say.  That is the kind of showers I'm talking about.  Not that gentle summer rain that just is enough to mess up your car.  No, we need a Sizzly Sod Soaker kind of drenching down here.  That's my prayer today.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Baa Baa Bath Sheep



This is my newest drawing in my Wash Tub series and it is just in time to order for Mother's day if you hurry.  Up to this point I have only had one animal at time in the tub but it seemed fitting to include a ewe and a her brood of youngsters as we approach the month of May.

While I was working on this piece, I couldn't help but remember the process bath time was when my own 4 kids were babies.  It was akin to a well organized assembly line.

I would hand one baby at a time to my husband in the shower and then as he washed them and shampooed them I was drying and putting on pj's on the clean child he had handed back to me.  It was fun times and I miss those years when they were all small. Thinking about those times, so many years ago brought a smile to my face while I drew this piece.  Of course, to really personalize this drawing to match my family dynamic I would have had to add a 4th little black lamb to the group.

"Baa Baa Bath Sheep"
For me creating art is about creating an emotion.  There is just something about drawing that transports me to my happy place or sparks a cherished memory from my past.  Scripture tells us that  "A happy heart is like good medicine but a broken spirit drains your strength." Proverbs 17:22   A HAPPY HEART is a powerful concept and living a life full of happiness is a choice.  I find myself at times becoming overwhelmed with the negativity of this world that surrounds me and I just have to escape to my studio, turn on some worship music and grab my sketchbook. I sing and I pray while I am drawing and the stress and anxiety just begins to disappear and fades away.  God is so good! (I can even hear your replying back to me "All the Time.")

This piece is titled "Baa Baa Bath Sheep" and is one of 10 drawings in a new series I'm doing that I call my wash tub series.  I may be quarantined in my studio but I'm loving this whole process of drawing farm animals taking a bubble bath.  The series has been so well received and for that I am so blessed. 

If you would like to purchase a print or note card with this image then you can visit my Etsy Shop and here is the link.  Search "Wash Tub" and you should be able to find all the rest of the water logged gang there.     HAPPY ETSY SHOPPING!


Saturday, April 25, 2020

What is a SURFACE DESIGN ARTIST and how can I become one?

For a long time now, I've been wanting to adapt my artwork with the goal of creating a portfolio of collections that will lend themselves to a commercial licensing application.  Design is everywhere and there are products just crying for me to fill them with my Farmhouse Whimsy style.  Well, at least that is what I'm telling myself.  I'm going to blog about my journey into the world of surface design.

There is art surrounding you everywhere and you may not even realize it because we are so accustom to thinking that, for it to be art, it has to be confined to the surface of a canvas or paper.  Far from it. 

As I sit here, at my desk and look around me I find examples of surface art design everywhere.  My address book, the little box I put my notes in, my bill box, the clock on the wall and my drawer full of thank you cards and stationary are just a few examples I see immediately. 

An artist created all those designs.  Without artists, the world that surrounds us would be boring and naked.  Naked and boring are not good!  I feel it is my lofty calling and ministry to bring more color and smiles into this world. 

Raven and Roses Coffee Mug
My first step is to learn to adapt my art into collections that are both cohesive and complimentary.  To do this I need to just spend time with my sketchbook and just go crazy drawing things I LOVE.  Then I need to improve my Photoshop skills and possible even learn Adobe Illustrator.  That is the road ahead of me and I plan on blogging about my experiences in the journey. 

"Raven and Roses" art print













So here is an example of me playing with a concept for a collection.  I drew this "Raven and Roses" piece this week as part of a logo design job I got.  It is a farm in Georgia that grows both roses and lavender.  So I thought I would try to use the color pencil sketches to create a pattern.  I added some simple pen an ink flowers that I had done last month and combined them to create a repeating pattern.  I LOVE the contrast that pen and ink gives when added to a bright color and I think the raven lends well to that because his plumage is so full of violet and indigo blue.  I think this would be a great fall pattern.  Now I just need to come up with maybe 5 more corresponding designs that go naturally with this pattern.

I hope you decided to follow my blog and this journey.  I will do my best to make it both informative and enjoyable.  I know that is a tall order but I'm rolling up my sleeves and I'm ready to get creating!




Just in the event that you would be interested in purchasing a print of my "RAVEN AND ROSES PRINT"   or my new RAVEN AND ROSES COFFEE MUG I decided I would make it easy on you and give you the links to both of listings on my Etsy Shop.







Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Gang is all Here


What an exciting week I have had. Even in the midst of this isolation, I am rejoicing.  I don't mean that I am happy about the virus that has made many sick or that so many people have lost their jobs.  No those things weigh heavy on my heart but I am thankful for my new focus on important things and the reduction in the amount of distractions I have right now.  I appreciate the added time given me to ponder both the creative process and my relationships. Relationships with the Lord and with my family.  I miss them all and just can't wait until we can hang out together again.  I'm going to so enjoy having all those grandchildren climbing on us and wanting to sit next to us.  Facetiming just doesn't REALLY get it!   

On a practical note, this week I have gone a long ways to getting my studio inventory room all organized and slowly the studio itself is taking shape and I'm feeling that I can enjoy the creative process once again.  That makes me excited.

I very much feel that creativity is a gift from God.  He was the first Creator and has instilled in all of us a desire to make things.  Some of us, just seem to have a bit more bent towards that direction.  I guess that is why it is called a gift.  My desire to create art has been there inside of me for as long as I can remember and I feel that it has become my ministry to others.  I know that might sound strange to some but I receive comments almost daily about how my art has brought a smile, lifted someone's spirits or was a bit of  "light to the dark spots".  I am humbled and in awe of this. My prayer is "Lord, please allow my art, in some small way, to point them to Your love and joy."  I pinch myself daily because I'm really doing this art thing.   

You might not know this about me, but I actually have a business degree so I pretty much always have to talk about the numbers too.  This month, I made the decision to pull out of the local galleries, at least for the next 6 months and put all my efforts and attention into promoting my artwork online.  My online audience has grown leaps and bounds this past year and I am finally seeing the fruits of that in my increased sales.  Brad and I are so BLESSED!  We just look at each other and shake our heads.  This past week, I broke both my daily Etsy sales record by having 8 sales in one day and my weekly sales record with a total of 16 sales this week.  In February I had a total of 22 sales and in March 23 sales.  Both months were a record for me.  This month for April, I have 35 sales and we are just barely half way through.  That so motivates me to get into the studio and get busy. 

"Goat Soap Bubbles"
I contribute some of that growth to popularity of my newest series of art that I have started creating.  Last month when this whole Covid-19 thing became a real "THING" for most of us, there was so much emphasis on hand washing.  Videos and memes galore.  The idea popped into my head to draw a pig in an old galvanized steel wash tub taking a bubble bath as a bit of a joke.  You know, "EXTREME HAND WASHING".  Well, that drawing was a hit and I haven't stopped drawing that washtub since.  I'm have now finished my 8th drawing in the series and it is of a little goat. 

I really have no idea when I will be done with this series because the number of farm animals and wash tub compositions that I have rolling around in my head seem to be endless.  One thing is for sure, "I'm having a blast!"  Friday night, I decided it would be fun to line them all up and use that as my Facebook banner.  You know, like a "WASH TUB PARTY" and that image got so much response that I decided I had better create a new listing on my Etsy Shop and I call it "Wash Day".  I couldn't really get them all to fit on the standard size paper having them all in a row like this image, but I did form a bit of a circle with the tubs and the end result has been a real winner.  Here is the link to my ETSY SHOP  (or you can just hit the Etsy Shop tab on the menu bar above) if you want to check this listing and all my other bazillion cute farmhouse art listing that are available there.
Here's the WHOLE GANG!




Friday, April 10, 2020

THE GOOD THING ABOUT CYBER SPRING CLEANING - YOU DON'T EVEN GET DIRTY


Since time is something we all seem to have plenty of right now with the quarantine and all, I have set out to freshen up my online image.  I think it is good to do a bit of cyber spring cleaning once in a while and the really great thing about it is that you don't even have to get your hands dirty! 

If you are like me then the year past has brought about changes in your style or maybe you have new favorite artwork that need to be incorporated into your marketing materials or online banners and logos. 

I've noticed that many websites and blogs have changed from having dark colors to almost white minimalist feel.  I like that look so I've been changing over all my sights so that there is uniformity and cohesiveness across my cyber domain. 

I've done a lot of painting this past year and while most of them were smaller pieces, they can really add a mighty punch when used in as part of your marketing materials.  What can show people what you do then to give them pictures of what you do?  Does that make sense?  So this past few weeks I have redesigned my banners for my Etsy Shop, my Facebook Studio page, Twitter and Instagram.  Let me know what you think of my NEW LOOK.

I have even begun learning about marketing on Pinterest and how to brand my art by designing cool pins and getting followers to my boards.  I'm excited at the possibilities for growth there and certainly will be sharing more about that in the future.
2018/19 Banner Design















My new and improved 2020 look
These three little sweeties are actually from paintings I finished in January and February of this year.  I LOVE their faces and I think they are the perfect representatives of my "FARMHOUSE WHIMSY" art.  Don't they just make you want to run up and pet them? 

Now that I think about it, all three of this original artwork pieces are available for purchase on my Etsy Shop.   I would have thought these would have been sold right away because of their cuteness.  I will give you the link to each of them if you want to check them.  Remember, there is only one original and when it's gone it's gone.

HER GOATNESS
LITTLE SWEET PEA
EMMY LOU

"Her Goatness"


"Little Sweet Pea"




"Emmy Lou"


Besides my new "Wash Tub" series I have been drawing, I had to take down all the artwork that I hung up as the featured artist for March in Boulder City.  I think it hung up for a whole 2 weeks before the pandemic shut everything down.  So yesterday, I started really organizing my studio and and creating an actual inventory room. That is code for "It looks like a tornado blew through and tossed the joint."  I'm the kind of girl that loves to have a place for everything, but I never can really decide where that place should be.  Are you like that?


One great thing to report is that in the 2 weeks my art was on display at the gallery for "Life on the Funny Farm" show,  I was able to sell just over $400 in artwork and my March online sales were once again record breaking for me.  I feel very blessed about that. 

I also saw my goal of 5000 likes to my Facebook Page realized and even now a few weeks later I'm up to 6600 likes.  That blows just really blows me away.