Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reach for the Sky

Here is a question for your....."WHY ARE GIRAFFES SO SLOW TO APOLOGIZE?"  (Answer at the end of this blog)

I have to admit that this one is just a wee bit different than my usual painting as of late and there is a very reasonable explanation for that difference.  This piece is a commission piece for a local middle school and since it had to have an "INTERNATIONAL" feel to it I of course had to look for a subject a bit more unusual than your run of the mill cow or chicken as my subject matter.   I finally settled on the tallest animal in the world that also has an unbelievably comical and expressive face.   Who do you know that doesn't just love a giraffe?  I mean what says exotic and foreign better than this very leggy herbivore?  And let me tell you, this guy was a blast to paint.  When it came to colors, I pretty much used them all.

If you have followed my work in the past year, you know that I have featured several pieces of art that focused on a cow or a calf licking their nose with their long pink tongues in my "Down Country Roads" series.  Well this habit I guess, while it might be disgusting to consider, is something that is also a commonly shared activity within the giraffe family and since they have such a beautiful blue tongue I just couldn't help myself.

While the original painting, done in acrylic on an 18 x 24 " stretched canvas has been sold, there is the possibility of having prints made or I would LOVE to paint another one similar to this.  Just message me and we can discuss that possibility.  I would LOVE to paint one on an even larger scale.  While you're at it, why don't you check out my website and look at my other works?  Be sure and leave me a commit below and let me know what you think of my art work.

Just thinking out loud here....I wonder if a giraffe can get a sore throat?

ANSWER:  It takes them a long time to swallow their pride!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Just A Gaggle Of Silly Geese

WHAT GROWS DOWN WHEN IT GROWS UP?-  A goose of course!  

I also learned something new today....a GAGGLE is equal to or greater than 5 geese so technically this painting is 3/5th's of a gaggle but saying a Gaggle of Geese is just too much fun not to have it as part of this post title.

The Neighborhood Watch Committee- REDO
This is my first completed painting of 2017 and it is actually a resurrected piece that I painted in 2011 when I didn't know much better. There was just so much about my treatment of the background and foreground that I didn't like.  I've been ITCHING to take a paint brush to it for quite some time now and last week decided to go for it.

There is always an element of anxiety when trying to repaint a large portion of a painting.  I pretty much painting out every part except for 2 of the 3 geese.  The goose on the left had to have his neck straightened to allow for the fence post and morning glories to be added.

The original 2011 painting of "The Neighborhood Watch Committee"

I think my redo makes my trio of trouble here a much more solid composition and goes perfectly with the rest of my "Down Country Roads" series that all feature country scenes with a wooden fence post covered in blue morning glories.  Since I have an upcoming solo library show in March of this year I have a goal of adding at least 5 additional pieces to the series. One down and at least 4 more to go.   I guess I have my work cut out for me.

Original Reference Photo taken in 2011 in Marysvale, Utah

Can you tell that I'm just a little bit excited about this show?  I want you to be excited too so I will be planning some fun give-away prizes as the time grows closer. 
If you are at all able to come see my show I promise you won't be disappointed.  Take note of the dates and times and I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Good Morning Sunshine!

 Good Morning Sunshine!  That is the name I decided to give this one.  Cows just have such expressive and curious faces and I LOVE painting them.

I actually finished this painting a couple weeks ago but between rain and  the busy holidays the time just flew by and we didn't get a chance to use the good camera to get some pictures of it. My cell phone takes photos that are probably adequate for a Facebook post but I really like to wait to show a picture here on my blog until I have a photo that is of a higher resolution.  Good photos on a blog are critical.

I have seen other artists paint a frame around their work and so I thought I would give it a try.  I like how it turned out and gives the cow more of a 3-D appearance.  She looks like she is popping out of the canvas.  I decided not to worry about the fact that the 12 inch width of the canvas really wasn't enough to handle this girls extra furry ears.  So I let them extend over and wrap around the side of the gallery wrap.  I think this adds to the charm of the composition.

Because the canvas is pretty full with the frame and the cow herself I kept the rest of the painting really simple.  No flowers or bugs to be found.  Only blades of really tall summer grass for her dining pleasure.

All in all I'm really pleased with the final outcome.  This piece will be included in my 2017 solo library show that I am once again calling "Down Country Roads". I had such a great time with this show in 2016 in Boulder City that I just don't think I'm finished with that theme yet. I am just having too much fun painting from memories of my Missouri country childhood.

The show starts March 28 and runs through May 30 at the Whitney Library.  I will be posting more specific details as the time comes closer but you might want to keep that in mind if you are going to be in the Las Vegas area this spring.

My goal is to have half the show be new pieces so I had better get busy painting more of these adorable barn yard friends.

I'm planning some fun giveaways and contests leading up to the show and for those that attend the reception.  Send me your email address if you would like to be on my mailing list.  I would LOVE to hear from you!

For more of my artwork be sure and check out my Website !


Monday, December 26, 2016

Why Do I Blog?

Blogging Helps me Stay Focused
I was asked the other day "Why do I think blogging is important for an artist?" I immediately replied, "Accountability and Focus."  Without a doubt I need this creative outlet to keep me on task and to stay focused.  I have always found that in my life, that  I worked best if I had a deadline looming.  Be it housekeeping (guest arriving for the weekend), business/professional (Financial reports due for the monthly board meeting) or creatively (what am I doing this week that I can blog about).

Blogging is like having an online journal where you can be yourself and share whatever is important to you with the world.  The goal of course is to create a fan base and that is very important as an artist.  I use Blogger as my platform and have posted regularly for a number of years.  It is free and really not that difficult.

Having a blogging goal of a minimum of one post a week keeps me on my artist toes.  I'm always creating or digging for interesting and fresh topics that I will be able to write about.  Usually the topic for my Julie Townsend Studio blog is of course my own artwork or current project such as teaching my art students or talking about something I have learned.
Blogging Helps Keep Me Accountable

As an artist, blogging faithfully and consistently helps you create a connection between you and your fan base. I'm huge into social media and blogging is just one of many avenues I use as an artist to make connections.  Blogging is a great platform for you to tell your story and potential clients are more likely to seek you out and purchase your art if they know you and your story.  If you are at all like me, I don't care how boring my day has been, I always perk up if I'm asked about my favorite subject - MY ARTWORK. That is a blog post start.  All you have to do is show a quality picture of your work in progress, your studio, your reference photos or even a picture of your dog and then talk about what is your motivation for this piece.  Readers WILL find that interesting.

This past week I make the decision to  launch a second brand new blog that I am SO excited about called "Embrace Your Creative Side" and I can't wait to really get it going in 2017.  This will be a platform for me to focus my attentions on more than just my artwork.  I will be blogging about before and after projects that are focused on improving my home decorating skills, creative cooking and for sure getting my "Awesome Grandma Act Together".  I want to throw myself into craft and art projects that include my growing group of grandchildren.  With all their Blonde Curly Cuteness, this blog is sure to become a hit and just think of all the memories I will be making in their lives.

Be sure and check out my Website and my New Blog.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Free Christmas Gift From Me to You!

There is just never enough time it seems in the month of December.  Okay...I know that the month has 31 days just like the 6 other months of January, March, May, July, August, and October but December is different.  We are asked to cram so many events, shopping, meal preparations, gift giving, baking and in my case painting into such a busy time.  I am declaring that for 2017, I am going to start thinking about Christmas in July, even if it is 115 degrees outside here in Las Vegas!

Yesterday, I was scanning my Facebook account when I saw this really great idea for Christmas.  I decided that I was going to make gift tags that featured my own original Christmas artwork.  I searched the internet and found another blogger that had written a very helpful blog post a few years ago on how to create stickers using Microsoft Word.  Now I am not good with graphics programs such as Photoshop, even though I really want to learn that program.  I only use Photoshop right now to crop and adjust my photos.  Word is however a program that I am comfortable with.  Let me share that link with you on how to create stickers in Word: 

By the way this blogger, Abbey Lawson of justagirlandherblog seems to have figured out the blogging world and has an impressive home business that she and her husband have built.  I am going to spend more time going through her posts and maybe some very positive changes to this blog will be coming in the future.

Anyway, back to the gift tags.  I couldn't wait to figure out how to accomplish my own gift tags.   My first attempt actually didn't turn out too bad. I made them 2.5 x 3 inches and printed them using white card stock on my Canon Pixma Pro printer.  I cut a complimentary card stock that featured a Christmas print 1/2 inch large so that I could have a nice colorful border and add to the substantiation to the overall tag.  I think it turned out really well and I was pleased.  I really see adding a matching gift tag to each of my individual greeting cards that are sold or even selling packs of gift tags.  Either way I'm excited to attach them to my own gift giving efforts this year.

A side note here....As I was getting ready to write this blog, I had a dear friend who IS THE QUEEN of graphic art and a MASTER sticker creator, Victoria Thatcher at suggest to me a few improvements and with her suggestion, I got rid of the black outline of my text boxes.  I didn't know how to do that before hand.  She also told me how to upload the file as a PDF and put it on my Google Drive so that I could share it with you today.  Thank you so much Victoria for your friendship and constructive critique.  Be sure and check out Victoria's blog because she is amazing!
My Original Artwork titled "Except for the Mouse"

As part of the GIFT GIVING season, I have decided to make available a free printable document of my gift tags that feature a number of my 2016 original artworks.  This file is for personal use only and isn't to be sold or redistributed without my written permission.  All you have to do is click on this link Christmas Gift Tags .  Please leave me a comment if you downloaded this file.  If you are interested in prints, cards, commissions or original artwork send me a message so that I can discuss it with you.  You can also find my work at my Etsy store.
My Christmas Gift to You!

Merry Christmas and have a Blessed 2017!

My Original artwork on display.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December Over Load But Oh So Joyful!

I continue to be overwhelmed by the response that I have gotten over the past month on my blog post "Pond Scum Sucking Scammers".  I initially wrote the blog out of frustration but am so pleased that perhaps this effort has saved other artists from the same weeks of frustration.  Now I hope that I am really cutting into their action and eventually they will have to change up their story.  Maybe, if enough artists read my blog it it will actually cut into their profits.  Oh I can only dream that this would come true.  This blog has had not only the most post views but also has so many wonderful comments associated with it.  That makes me happy. I have had another disturbing cyber issue this past week and it is concerning this blog in particular.  I noticed earlier in the week that I had a huge spike in blog views.

Normally, I have 100 in a day at the most and that only when I post a new blog.  This spike was near 3000 views in one day and they were all coming from the country of France.  I have since learned that my blog is under attack from Spam Bots and now that my statistics are forever ruined by these nasty internet bugs.  It was suggested that I use Google analytics to compare statistics rather than the statistics available to me on blogger because it is much more details and reliable.  I have only briefly looked at Good Analytics and that for my website.  I have tried to add this blog to my dashboard but of course it just can't be simple.  I'm going to have to put in some effort to learn how to move around and edit my site so that I can view accurate blog numbers and how to block this spam activity.  It is always something when you are a non-IT type person!

Enough about my internet wows and lets turn the focus to my favorite subject.  My artwork of course. I have been so busy with holiday art receptions and gallery events that I haven't got to showcase my newest artwork pieces on this blog for a couple weeks no.  Here is what has been going on in my studio recently:

Right after Thanksgiving we welcomed our 8th grandchild into the world- Hunter is a cute bundle of joy to his parents and Brad and I can't wait to get to know this little guy.

Speaking of "Bundles of Joy", I added this little sketch of baby chicks in the nest to my Etsy Store, You can check it out along with my other listings at Julie Townsend Etsy Store. I was thinking about how I felt when our third son arrived and how it was a real game changer  My husband and I were officially outnumbered not to mention that we had to buy a larger car.  When we adopted our daughter (#4) the adjustment wasn't as big to me as we already seemed overwhelmed.  Of course that was the point that we had to buy a Suburban.  I always said once you have 3 children you can raise 7 or more without much more problems.  We did go on to raise a total of 6 kids so I do know a thing or two about raising large families.  

I made this piece in such a way that it could serve as a birth announcement or gender reveal artwork.  I could customize the drawing by making the little egg pink or blue.  I can turn this into greeting cards, small medium or large prints to hang in the nursery.  All of these options are available on my Etsy Store.  Contact me if you have an idea for a special commission piece that you would like me to consider.

Now I'm not saying this is the niche but these turned out "STINKING CUTE" if I can say so myself.  I was asked last week to decorate these large cardboard numbers to serve as table decorations for the Boulder City Art Guild December meeting/40th anniversary party.  Normal to my usual MO I waited until the last moment to get started.  I think I spend about 3 hours painting these two numbers and of course the chickadees are from other artworks and I simply printed them out and used my mad scissor skills and a little glue stick to add this fluffy little characters to my efforts.  I wonder if there is a market out their for this type of artwork for gifts or decorating a children's/nursery room?  If you would be interested in having me create custom initials for say a nursery or perhaps a perfect gift for a wedding or engagement, then just contact me and I will be happy to create something special for you.

This past week I attended the reception for the Holiday Art Show out at Lake Las Vegas.  What an amazing evening with approximately 500 people in attendance.  The place was packed when we arrived at the clubhouse.  We had to practically push people out of the way just so that I could get this blurry picture of me next to my artwork.  So happy for my dear artist friend, Jeffrey Oldham for winning both 3rd place and 1st place visitors choice award during the evening.

Currently on my studio easel- I found out this past week that I have been offered a solo library show in March-May 2017.  The theme will be once again, "Down Country Roads".  I just have so much fun painting these country art scenes and I'm going to want to have plenty of new pieces to showcase there.  I want to be sure and paint a couple more large pieces that continue my fence post and morning glory theme from my 2016 work before now and March.  This little 11 x 14 nosy girl is just the start of my new country work.  I really like how the border frames in the picture and gives it a 3D effect.

Here are just a few other things I got finished this past few weeks.  Cardinals are so festive and beautiful and are just popular for a seasonal piece.  The wooden spoons turned out to be a winner and have almost sold out.  

Large Cardinal painted on a slice of wood

Winter themed wooden spoons

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Etsy or Ebay....That is an Excellent Question????

Way back in 2010, when I had just begun to paint, I thought the thing for me to do was to open an Etsy Store.  I think I uploaded a total of 3 paintings, got a few page views and one comment and quickly I became disinterested in the whole thing. Frankly, the thought of paying $ .20 for each listing and the fact that poorly painted canvas pieces were not a good match for that platform.  Fast forward 6 years and today I'm chopping at the bit to get my artwork out there on Etsy. 

My artwork has changed a great deal and I feel that with these changes the pieces are much more suitable for an online marketing venue.  My illustrations and drawings are becoming more popular.  I have chosen Etsy along with, and as platforms to get my images out there.  Etsy is a bit different than the last three vendors I mentioned.  With FineArtAmerica, Redbubble and Zazzle I just upload my images and if that image is chosen by a customer to be added to some merchandise such as a pencil bag, pillow or a shirt, they handle the whole process and just mail me a commission check. This is pretty sweet way to make some money with just a little effort up front but so far I haven't made enough money to even blog about it.

Etsy is more like a real store that I am in control of.  I handle all the orders and inventory and I stand to make much more profit on each sale. It's constant work and needs weekly attention from me but I think it will be way more satisfying overall.   Again, like anything worth while, it takes time.  I understand very well that this isn't an overnight process but rather a slow building of a fan base.  

I am no Etsy expert so this past week to help my store performance I started to do some research. Why re-invent the wheel when there are some really successful stores out there who have all four wheels rolling at full speed?  I want to sell art prints, cards and magnets that feature my artwork.  So I found a store called Paper Llamas that had digital prints of baby animals along with a number of other subjects.  I checked their sales statistics and was very impressed that they had sold nearly 9500 sales since opening their store in 2011.  Compared to my 1 sale these guys are Etsy giants.  I noticed that I posted just a single high resolution image of my art while they often posted images that showed their work framed and matted hanging on the wall.  They sold their prints both individually and in groupings.  Having them framed and matted gives the buyer a chance to visualize the art nicely displayed on their own wall.  That was smart!

Yesterday, I set up a staging area and tried to get that same hung art feeling by adding a few Christmas props and a nice wooden frame.  I used the camera on my cell phone but for my effort I think I got a much better image to compliment my work and promote my listings.  My shop received 3 favorites just yesterday alone.  That is a good sign.

My titles were a disaster.  I thought they wanted the title of the artwork but I realized after studying this successful store that this is where I need to get creative and add as many searchable phrases as possible.  I just made the artwork title the first line in the description because the image is from an original piece of art that I have taken the time to give it a name I want to include that name in the listing, just not on the title line.

They also used a variation drop down menu that gave them the ability to offer different sizes and prices for their work.  Seeing this was like a light bulb going off in my head.  Why have a separate listing for a card, a magnet or a print when I could accomplish it all with one listing?  My store will forever be much tidier and easier to manage thanks to this light bulb moment. 

My goals for 2017 for my Etsy Store is 75 products in my inventory, 500 individual sales and 100 favorite rating for the store.  I am going to also give ebay a try and see if the potential for art sales is there also.  Some artists swear ebay is better than Etsy and so I need to figure this out for myself.  

As I learn from my experiences, I will be blogging about what I have found to be successful and what has worked for me.  To sell an original canvas painting for several hundred dollars is great and I surely appreciate those moments.  They just don't happen nearly enough.  I want to supplement our retirement income with art sales and perhaps even allow additional income to continue even when I am no longer able to create.  I want to never be tempted again to take an accounting or tax preparation job. 

I have come to the conclusion in my own art path that brick and mortar galleries can only do so much to get my work out there.  I have to take ownership of my own promotion and art destiny and those small sales, I believe will add up and surpass any sale of the original piece.  I am going to be building my business one greeting card, one magnet or one print at a time.

Here is the link to my Etsy Store if you are interested in checking it out.  Remember it's a work in progress and this progress has really just begun.

Here are some images I took yesterday for my Etsy Store listings: