Tuesday, October 9, 2018

SUNFLOWERS- the Garden Centurion

Sunflowers Galore!  The gentle giant of the garden. Standing tall and bright turning to meet the sun as it travels across the sky. Like a centurion guarding the summer warmth as we anticipate the soon coming autumn chill.  You are my garden hero, spreading cheer and happiness with a boldness of  bright yellow like none other.

I know as an artist I am about 4 months behind with my seasonal art.  I will get my act together in 2019. I should have all my Christmas designs finished by August and at this time be looking to the red and pink of Valentine’s Day but for some reason I am stuck in Autumn and a season of harvest and blessings.  I’m loving my newest designs that feature the amazing sunflower and I just wanted to take a few minutes to show you a few of my newest sunflower designs.  All of these designs are available in varying sized prints, greeting cards and beautiful 4 x 6 art magnets.

If you like my art you should hop over and like my Facebook Studio art page.  I post all my newest works there first.  On my JulieTownsendStudio.com website you can order prints and sign up for my studio VIP news.  I also have an Etsy Shop that you might also check out.

Original Drawing included a very Grateful Mouse

Here I removed the mouse and added my drawing of a sweet little chickadee

Following Farmhouse decorating groups I've discovered that Buffalo Plaid is very popular

These designs make striking and unique greeting cards- Snail Mail is coming back in fashion

I came up with this design just last night using my sunflower drawing and a pumpkin graphics file

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Are Newsletters Still a Thing

Free color page for you- see the Freebies tab above
I'm ashamed to say that it has been a whole month since I added a post here on my blog.  No real excuse comes to mind as to why that is so I won't even try to make one.  We got home from our month long vacation/art sabbatical on Sept 5th and I've just been struggling to get back on track.  I'm here today and I do have lots of new art to show and some new poems to share with you.  I've sold a boat load of cowbells since the end of July and have really vamped up my Etsy Shop and Website so I hope you can keep up with me now.

I'm entering into a super busy season for art shows and festivals and lots of fun stuff.   I've signed up for a few and so I'm going to be a busy artist in October, November and December.  I've outline all the venues in my newsletter and so I thought I would share that here with you.

People keep telling me that blogs and newsletters are marketing tools of the past, so you will excuse me as I sit here and continue to feed these marketing dinosaurs.  I would love to hear your take on that observation.   

I'm also having a drawing right now over on my Facebook Julie Townsend Studio Page and I've outline the requirements to enter also on the newsletter as well as a pinned post to my Page.  I hope you will hop over to my FB Studio Page and like and share it so I can add you to the drawing.

Win a Matted Print of my "Grateful Mouse" sketch

Monday, September 3, 2018

Exploring Between the Cowbells

Every day or so, I have to take a break from cowbells and painting to stretch my legs and get some fresh air.  Well, I might have to reclassify the air quality, as we found each trip north of Ely that we took to be increasingly smokey.  There is a wild fire burning at Goshute Cave that has of last report consumed 6500 acres of forest and is only 10% contained.  That is just a couple mountains over from where we spent our days exploring. 

We found a wonderful little mountain pass near the ghost town of Cherry Creek called Egan Creek.  A very interesting drive littered with remnants of long past mining activity and whose only current residents are a number of open range cows.  I had to of course stop and take pictures of the cows.  They were so curious and all still had their horns.  There was a particular roan colored cow and her calf that I really loved to see.   I may just have to paint her.

As we drove around, we came across a giant pile of slate.  You could see where they were mining it from both sides of the road and had pushed all the little pieces into huge piles to get them out of their way.

I picked up a number of pieces and brought them back to the camper to try painting on them.  Here are 2 pieces I have finished so far. I think I will attach a hook to the back and put a varnish coat on them and see if they will sell as small wall art.  What do you think?  I love creating art on this sort of surface.  It is always a challenge to incorporate the natural beauty of the stone into the art.  Really, I think I’m just a rockhound at heart.

I will leave you with just couple more interesting photos I was able to take with my phone.  We were treated by a group of wild horses as we drove up Telegraph Pole Canyon Road, antelope and deer and the Fort Pierce Cemetery.  All of this is also part of the historic Pony Express Route of 1860.  I LOVE Nevada history!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Paint it and They Will Come

Unfortunately, it isn't always that easy.  Marketing your art is actually a great deal of  hard work.   Recently, I have found myself being pretty successful using Facebook as a marketing tool.  I have made a number of sales and grew my fan base substantially.  I couldn't be more happy about this fact.  I'm so excited about this that I wanted to share a few tips with you that seem to have helped me in this area.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  I’m going to start spouting out information about algorithms and SEO’s, but I can’t do that.  Mostly, because I really know nothing about that stuff.  If you were hoping for real technical information from this blog, you might as well stop reading now. Besides, I believe the vast majority of artists really don’t want to take the time to understand all the technical mumbo jumbo.  I do however have 4 marketing tips to share with you today that seem to have really worked for me.

1.  Add a Watermark.  I now add my “Julie Townsend Studio” as a label or watermark to all of my pictures.  If my art is shared, and I hope it is, then they will always know that I am the artist.  If, with just a few layers of sharing, a photo of your artwork can be out there and there is no way to get it back.  You have lost your opportunity to make your name known to the public.  The ultimate goal here should be that everyone knows your name.  It is your brand so treat each photo you publish, even your WIP photos, as if it will go viral the moment you press that “publish” button.

2.   Use Tag Words on your photos to make them more searchable on the web.  I put my studio name and about 5 or 6 other tag words to describe the image.  I’m sure there is a whole range of ways to do this, but I found that my phone does this very easily for me.  I use the edit feature to add both the label and the tag words when I’m cropping and adjusting the image.  Now I think the tag words stay when you even go in later and save another copy.  For example, I will go back in and put a SOLD label on a piece of work that has sold and use that as a marketing tool to let my follows know that they had better grab up my art right away if they find something they like.  It creates a sense of urgency with your collectors.   It has been my experience so far, the tag words are there on the second saved image automatically, so I don't have to add them again.

3.  Drive traffic to your Facebook Page.  There are a lot of places that tell you to drive traffic to for art sales.  Etsy, Ebay, Fine Art America and your website are just a few. Short of meeting collectors in person at a public event, Facebook gives me the best platform to actually build a rapport with your audience.  So if you are an artist, YOU NEED AN ART Page!  I'm not joking about this one. DO IT!

My art page has been slow going for me.  I started the page for a several years and have been discouraged many times and just how slow it has been to grow and build followers.  I would always wind up posting my new art pieces to my personal page also because I had a larger audience there and not really give my Art Page the daily attention it needed.  What is the draw then for my FB friends to want to like my Art Page?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!  I didn’t give them any incentive to make that leap.  In the past few months, I have really made a conscious effort to keep the two pages separate.  I’ve realized a nice amount of growth in my audience there and most of that can be contributed to my next recommendation.

4.  Join some Facebook Groups.  I don’t know why I didn’t come up with this sooner because the simple action of joining a couple of niche groups has really been a huge boost for me as an artist.  Just this week alone, I’ve seen 80 new likes to my Facebook Art Page due to sharing my art on the FB groups I belong to.

Now I have been a part of a number of art groups for years.  Acrylic Painters, Miniature Art Painters, Western Artists, Artistic Journaling and the list goes on.  But the reality is that artists don’t really buy other artists work.  These groups are great for inspiration and art tips but they stink when it comes to actual art sales.

I have to back track here for a minute so I hope you don't mind.  A few years ago I discovered that I really liked painting cows and other farm animals and scenes in my paintings. It started with my series of work that I called "Down Country Roads"  That has developed into me really find my style of painting. My whole focus has really fallen into creating art that makes you want to smile.  My motto after all is "Telling Stories With my Paintbrush”.  With that in mind, it is a natural for me to be part of groups that focus on farmhouse style, primitive and country decorating.

Let me tell you these groups are out there and they have thousands of members and most of those people LOVE my cowbells. Now some groups clearly say NO SELLING but other groups are fine with it. So make sure you read carefully all the information about the group before asking to join.

Groups are about relationships, so don’t just jump in there on day one blasting them with your whole gallery.  Take your time, balance yourself and become part of the group.  You will develop friendships that become fans and then collectors wanting to follow you.  That is when you can direct them to your FB Art Page.

I would suggest that you do the following first if you want to increase of art fan base  and who doesn't want that?  You first figure out what your fans actually look like.  Make a list of niches that your art might fall into and then you simply start looking for groups that are filled with people who are passionate about that niche. There are groups for everything.  Let's say you like painting landscapes, especially mountains.  Well I would try outdoor enthusiasts, camping, hunting or hiking groups.  What if you like painting sea life?  Well you would look for groups of whale lovers, marine lovers or boating enthusiasts.  You get the direction I'm going with this.  Give it a try, be creative and stay steady.  It isn't going to happen overnight.

If you found these tips helpful, please leave me a comment.  Sometimes blogging is a lonely endeavor and you pretty much feel like you are talking to yourself.  I NEED feedback!   If you want to check out my social media sites you can find me on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram @JulieTownsendStudio.  Check me out and like my pages, ESPECIALLY MY ART PAGE!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Blackberries and Sunflowers Equal Summer Days

I finished this colored pencil piece that I’m call the “Little Berry Picker”.   I'm pretty happy with the end results. I should have added more stickers to my vines though. I remember, as a child, just how much work it was to pick blackberries. We each had a pair of garden gloves that my mom had cut the fingertips out of to attempt to protect our hands from all those sharp thorns.  You came home sweaty, dusty and covered with plenty of battle wounds.  I’m pretty sure that anyone seeing us would conclude that the bushes won.  It was worth it though when you had a warm bowl of cobbler with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream melting on the top. Yum!

I also wanted to share with you my most recent sketch.  It can’t be much more recent.  I will give you a series of work in progress photos of this drawing so you can see how I start out each of my little color pencil drawings.

All of these colored pencil sketches that I have completed in the past 2 weeks will be made into a series of greeting cards that will be available on my Etsy Shop and Website very soon.  

If you want to keep up with what is going on in my studio, then consider signing up for my studio VIP email or by liking my Facebook Art Page @Julie Townsend Studio.  This fall I will be having giveaways and discount offers via these two avenues.  You don't want to miss out.

1st, I use my .005 Micron pen to add fine details

2nd, I begin coloring in the flower using my Prismacolor pencils



You can see how I blend the different yellows by building layers

Sunday, August 19, 2018

What is it About Mice

Little Squeak says "Always take time to enjoy the Pansies"
I don’t know why a tiny rodent that is known to send some scurrying to a higher altitude while screaming as if they are an character in a horror movie can also be so darn cute.  I just love drawing these little beady eyed creatures and this week I filled a number of pages in my sketchbook with their sweet little faces.  Here are a few of the selected pages for your viewing entertainment.

Little Squeak enjoying some delicious Candy Corn
Little Squeak with some yummy sprinkle donuts

I've been painting a lot of mice with donuts and candy corn on cowbells this past month so I thought I would just see how they would turn out using that same design in my sketchbook. 

A growing mouse can't always eat sweets

And finally, it is never too early (actually, I'm rather late) to consider Christmas designs.  This is the first one that came to my mind.  I think I can spend a little more time refining the drawing, but you can see the just of it and I think it is a super cute idea.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Check Your Backside

Cow Art, Farmhouse Style, cows, Dairy Cow, Farm Art, Country Art, Since becoming the co-director of a small art gallery in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District, I've noticed that many artists take very little effort to improve the appearance of their artwork.  They spend plenty of time creating the piece to just throw a wire across the back or even worse yet, do absolutely nothing.  Did you know, with just a little more effort and investment, you can really raise you art to the next level by taking the time to make the back of your canvases as pretty as the front. 

 So today, I thought I would just blog about the steps I go through when FINISHING my art pieces.  Here is what you need:

* A large roll of landscape weed blocker fabric- I know that during the spring and summer you can buy this at Sam's Club for about $35.  I've had my roll for years and so I haven't needed to replace it yet.  You can also go to your local nursery because they will sell it year round there.
* I LOVE my Scotch brand Advanced Tape Glider.  This thing is amazing.  At first I struggled with reloading it but I have that down now.   It lays down a thin strip of adhesive that is quite strong.  I buy the acid free adhesive refills since I want my art to be as archival as I can make it.  I use this for all kinds of applications in the studio but mostly for creating my greeting cards and when I attach the matte to the backboard mounting my prints and original drawings.  I bought my glider on Amazon but they carry it at both Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  I buy a roll of adhesive every time I visit one of the craft stores because I go through so much of it.  I make sure I use their 40% off coupon when I do.
*  Fiskar Fingertip Swivel Knife- This is the blade I use to cut the fabric off around the canvas.  It takes a little practice.  This knife can be pretty wicked so you want to take real caution when using it.  I bought this on Amazon along with a bulk package of replacement blades.  
* 3 Hole Protective Sheet covers- I use these to mount and protect my Certificate of Authenticity to each piece of art.
* Large cutting mat

Here is some of the art pieces that I needed to finish the other day.
I use my Tape Glider to apply a thin strip of adhesive to all four sides of the canvas
I then carefully place the canvas adhesive side down.  I try to get as close to the straight edge of the fabric as I can so that I'm only cutting around 2 or 3 sides. 

I missed getting a picture of my positioning my cutting knife to cut around my canvas but here is a picture of my framing tools and the knife is there on my role of hanging wire.  You can cut into your canvas very easily with this sharp knife, so I try to keep the knife at an angle that allows the blade to cut as near as I can to the edge of the art and all the time I am pressing the silver band on the canvas to use it as a cutting guide.  You have to apply some pressure and take it nice and slow as you work your way around the canvas.  If your knife isn't cutting through the fabric like butter, then it is time to replace your blade. 

Here I am making my certificate.  I just trim off the holes on the side and cut the sleeve in half so that it is just slightly larger than the certificate itself.  I then apply a stripe of adhesive to all four sides so that I can glue it to the back side of the canvas dust cover.  Once this is attached to my art, I can use the sleeve to slip in a business card or a thank you note to the buyer.
Even though the adhesive is really strong, art is so often moved from one location to another so we put a staple through it just for added security.  I want to work on finding either black staples or adding step to darken the color so they are not so noticeable. 
Here is my finished backside.  I think it is almost as pretty as the front.  I realize that professional framers can do an even better job and if you are a professional, please don't cringe too much but I think this little added effort goes a long way towards having a piece of art that I can feel proud to sell.