Friday, November 17, 2017

A Blogger Slump

I can not believe that I have gone since October 25th to now and not one post here on my blog.  That is about the time I noticed that something changed at my favorite morning coffee and blogging spot...McDonalds.  I just love their coffee and I take about an hour to catch up on my social media marketing and start a new blog post.  I often get the rough draft of the blog finished there and then come home and make it “pretty”.

I have no problem with the WiFi log in but I did notice that my Bluetooth keyboard stopped working.  It is several years old so I decided it probably had just died and that I needed a new one.  I found a really good deal on Amazon and ordered a new pretty keyboard for under $16.  The first keyboard arrived didn’t seem to want to sync up so I ordered a second one and returned the first one.  All that said...my new keyboard was working great....UNTIL I TRIED TO USE IT AT McDONALDS!  I mean my iPad knows it is there because the on screen keyboard won’t come on if the keyboard is turned on.  Also the “lock” key will work and shut the iPad off.  I just can't type on it.  Technology is such a fickle beast.  Any one have suggestions on what I can do to unblock whatever it is that is interfering with my bluetooth keyboard I would love to hear from you.

This has really thrown me into a Blogging slump.  So here I set at 4:16 pm on a Thursday afternoon trying to claw my way out of this dark blogging hole and produce something that I can publish that is semi-coherent.  I may have my goals set a wee bit high today.

My Artist Friend , Jan Harris Arduini
The past 2.5 weeks has also been a very difficult one on me as I have lost a dear artist friend and co-gallery director on October 30th and I’m still trying to grasp that reality.  There is a journey one must go through to turn grief into a creative emotional expression.  I’m not there yet.  Oh, I’ve created a few things, mostly out of necessity, but as I sit here in my studio, I realize that I haven’t actually cried this week about losing her.  I know that it takes time but I know that urge to pick back up those brushes will return and if God sees fit to give me breath in the year to come, I am determined in 2018 to create so much art it will make your head spin.

Let me quickly show you a few art highlights from the past couple weeks and then I think I will call this blog done.

The first weekend of November I was out bright and early at the park in Boulder City.  This would be the maiden voyage for my tent as I purchased it several years ago but hadn't actually taken it out of it's bag until now.  These new card display racks Brad made from repurposed drawers worked great.  There was always someone looking through them.

Card Display Racks 

My Half of the ten set up and waiting for the crowds

 

November is also the birthday month of two grandsons.  I've tried now for several years to create a special piece for each of them for their birthday.  Noah likes Minecraft so I decided use that as a theme and I even had the piece blown up into a 16 x 20 poster.  He loved it. 

Hunter is turning 1 and loves Mickey Mouse Club House so I created this piece especially for him holding his toy elephant.
 
 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Red and Green Makes Me Happy

Little Squeak always tangled in some sort of adventure
If you took a walk around my home you would soon realize that red and green are a favorite color combination that I love to use.  My kitchen, dining room and living room have heavy accents of these two colors combined.  So when it comes this time of the year that we turn our attentions to the coming holidays these colors together make me happy.

These past two weeks have been a flurry of busyness in my little studio.  From designing a line of Country Christmas cards, refining the process for my soon to be released Country Coasters to now this fun and colorful Christmas Sticker Sheet. 

Yes, those holidays are coming fast and no amount of denying it on my part will slow it down.  I find great joy in the gift giving, it is just the busyness that robs us of that joy.  I wish we would return to a time where handmade gifts are the most sought after gifts to give at the holidays then artists like myself would stay pretty busy doing just what we love.  The Etsy Shops were swamped and and the shopping malls were like ghost towns.  Not really, but I do think there are some great gifts available there and that would be my shop included.

In the spirit of gift giving, I decided to make this full page sticker sheet available as a free downloadable PDF file.  You simply have to click the link below and then you are able to print out your own lovely Country Christmas Sticker Sheet from me to you.  The only thing I ask is that you leave a comment below on how you used the stickers to brighten your holiday cards and decorations. I would LOVE to hear from you.

Also, if you like my work, you should consider jumping over to my website and check out the 10 original Country Christmas Card designs for 2017 that go with these stickers.  Christmas Cards on JulieTownsendStudio.com

You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram @JulieTownsendStudio

FREE GIFT-Country Christmas Sticker Sheet 





Monday, October 16, 2017

Loaded with Christmas Cuteness


Christmas holds great meaning to me as a born-again Christian.  The date is so much more than presents, decorated trees and twinkly lights. Christmas is the day that we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the greatest gift of love bestowed on mankind.  A gift that exceeds all human understanding. 

Now that I have shared that with you, I can now talk about the totally cute Country Christmas cards that I designed yesterday.    So far I have 10 designs that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  Each card design features my original artwork with a little Photoshop embellishments.  Even though I had a blast coming up with each of these cards, I can say that being this creative is EXHAUSTING!  I worked on these designs a good portion of the day yesterday and had my normal struggles of having a computer that doesn’t have enough RAM memory and wants to crash at the worst times.  One particular design I had to completely recreate 3 different times.  Today, those struggles are just a dim memory as I proudly look at the new gallery page I published on my website.  The bright colors and cute images just jump off the page. 

Here are a couple of my favorites ones but I strongly encourage you to go check out the whole collection on my website.  To make it easy on you I will give you the direct link.  I’m just that kind of girl.  Super Cute Christmas Cards

All my cards are 100% handmade by me and each are totally unique.  Here are some specifics that you might want to know.

- 10 cards per set, one of each design or mix and match to your tastes
- White Card or Cream Cardstock
- White or cream envelope included
- Folded measurements approx. 6.5" x 5" (16.5 cm x 12.7 cm)
- Decorative background trims will vary














Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Seeing Spots

When I see cows, while traveling down some back country road,  I AM THAT PERSON THAT ANNOUNCES “COWS” TO EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CAR!  I am also rolling down the window and shouting at the top of my lungs, "MOO!"  I can't help myself.  While I was raised out in the country with agriculture all around, I wasn't raised on a farm but cows have always had a special place in my country heart.  I guess that is why I just love to draw and paint them.

I've been including cows as a central theme in my drawings and paintings for several years now and I find them always to be fun subjects.  They have big huge sweet eyes and large curious faces.  While I suppose some can be a little on the ornery side, mostly they are just giant lawnmowers eating the grass from morning to night.

This past month, I have just been having a blast adding cows to items such as stone coaster, stickers,magnets and greeting cards. Here are just a few of the examples I have come up with so far:







Etsy Shop Sticker Listing




Etsy Shop Greeting Card listing

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Art is My Healing Balm

Little did I know that on Sunday when I posted my last blog post called, “Coasting Along Among the chaos” that in just a few short hours my community of Las Vegas, Nevada would the thrust into a life and death struggle that has touched the nation.  I have always felt this city was a prime target for a terrorist attack due to the infamous notoriety and the close proximity of Nellis Air Force Base, but this senseless act defies all reason.  Because right now there just doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation except for a evil man wanting to wreck the lives of as many people as he could as he took his own life.

My own day to day life hasn’t really been affected. I received a number of Facebook inquires regarding my safety, like I would be at a concert with 30,000 other people.  No, I was in bed and almost asleep with my son called to tell me what was going on.   None of my immediate family attended that festival or do I know yet anyone personally that was injured.  The killing zone lies about 10 miles southwest of my home.  As a local resident, I have always avoided the strip at all costs.  We have never earned a living that was based on entertainment, tourist activities or gambling and so my daily routine has not been impacted.

Yet still, emotionally my heart is breaking for all the families of the people who are injured or lost their lives. I watched numerous press conferences in the last few days that were held by our sheriff and his staff.  My heart breaks for these men and women as they tell their stories of the horrors they witnessed. The emotional toll suffered here in Las Vegas is extreme.  The feeling is similar to that of the day that the MGM Grand Hotel caught on fire and some 80 people died.  I remember that day too.  Both events were devastating because of the large loss of human life, but the major difference is that the fire was an accident and this was a very calculated and planned evil.

During this time of heartbreak, I find art for is a like salve or healing balm that soothes a broken heart.  Art is my retreat that I can visit during times of personal upheaval or a refuge from the world's uncertainty and confusion.  I am bless to have faith in my Heavenly Father and this wonderful gift He has given me of ART.

Yellow is a color that makes one feel happy and warm so I found that I just had to fill a page in my journal with buttercups, bees and one of my smiling sun stickers and LOTS OF YELLOW.  I added this quote from Conor Oberst (not sure if he is really the most positive person to be quoting) but at least this one line stuck out to me and seemed to be a perfect fit for this journal page. "I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love."

I think I'm going to add this verse to finish off my page, "The Lord is my LIGHT and my SALVATION, so why should I be afraid" Psalms 27:1

My prayer today...."God pour your peace and comfort out on this city in a way that even those that don't believe in you will sense your presences.  Wrap your giant loving arms around each and every hurting person.  Bring LIGHT to the very darkness of this city and light a fire of revival so that we can see that you take what was meant for evil and that you have turn it into good."  AMEN!




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Coasting Along Amid the Chaos

COUNTRY COASTERS ARE HERE!  This week has seen a flurry of activity in my studio.  I have been busy updating my inventory of greeting cards, magnets and stickers for my outdoor art show that I am participating in on Saturday.  The one item I am super excited about are these 4 x 4 stone country coasters.  I have for sometime wanted to try my hand with this acrylic image transfer and I think they turned out beautiful.  I learned a few things in the process and so I thought I would just summarize my experiences for you.

There are two methods that I found and I tried both.  The first method had me putting a layer of Modge Podge on the tile and then laying the printed images face down on to the tile.  After it was completely dry (24 hrs) you were to place the tile in water and after it was saturated you could begin gently rubbing the paper off.  The image was transferred into the Modge Podge and then you were able to seal it after you got all the paper off.  I watched that YouTube video several times and followed her process completely but I found my image came off with the paper leaving just a washed out version of the artwork on the tile.  I had a giant mess and wound up having to complete scrap about 20 tiles off and start over.

I did a little bit of research and found out that a laser printer was really necessary.  The inkjet images just either smudged when I brushed on the Modge Podge or rubbed off.  I sure wish someone had said that before I messed up 5 sets of coasters.  So off to Office Max I ran with my thumb drive in hand.  As you can see by these pictures the images look great and I'm happy with them.  ADVISE # 1- USE A LASER PRINTER FROM THE START.

I actually ended up using a process where I brush about 6 layers of acrylic medium gel right on the the image, letting it dry between layers and then trimming the excess paper away.  After that I took the image an placed it in a small amount of warm distilled water until the paper allowed me to slowly rub it away.  After the majority of paper was removed I put in clean water and rinsed off the film.  There is still paper attached so I placed the image on my forearm where I could get a better look at it and slowly worked my away around the image until I was satisfied that I had removed all the paper I could.  This process is a little tricky because you can rub too hard and tear the film or rub off the image all together.  Patience and slow circular movements with your finger are a must.

My stones had already been washed to remove any dust from them.  I run the stone under the water so that their was a wet surface to lay the film on.  I slowly placed the film down on the stone.  As long as the stone is wet, you can pick up or adjust the image.  The hardest part is getting the edges flat because they naturally want to curl under.
Country Coasters
Once I was satisfied with the placement of the images I checked for air bubbles every little bit.  Having bright light to hold them up to helps you see any spots that need fixed.  Just work out any tiny air bubbles by slowing moving them to the edge with your finger.  Now just let it dry.

Once the image is dry, I used the dishwasher safe formula of Modge Podge and applied at least 3 thick coats of the glue, letting each layer dry before applying the next.  The instructions state that this product takes 28 days to fully cure and so I really wouldn't use your coasters to put wet or hot drinks until after they cure.  I also sealed the back of the tile with the Acrylic gel medium.  Finally, I glued little rubber bumpers on the back four corners so they don't scratch any wood surface they would be placed on to protect.

I'm SO pleased with how they have turned out.  I made a total of 6 sets so far and have 3 Facebook orders already.  I'm taking these out to an outdoors art festival that I'm attending on Saturday and I hope I sell the heck out of them.  I'm also going to be offering them on my Etsy Shop once I can get an inventory of cured coasters made up.  The process is a bit tedious and I sure wish I could just print out the images on my studio inkjet printer but for now I guess I'm going to have to pay $.69 a sheet at Office Max.

I do plan on trying the other process again when I can get a jar of the better acrylic gel medium and not try using regular Modge Podge.  The rubbing off the paper process might be easier when it is actually glued to the stone.  I do have to remember to tell the printer to flip the image so any words appear backwards if I'm going to try that process.

Once I am confident in the process I will be creating a step by step instructions on this blog, so you might want to check back with me in the next few weeks or so.  At this time, I've decided to price this item at $25 for a set of 4 Country Coasters plus shipping of $8 for anywhere in the continental U.S.  Message me if you are interested in having a set of your own.  You can mix and match or have all 4 coasters in one design





Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Happened to September


"All good things must come to an end" it is said and that is certainly true for my one month art sabbatical.  This morning as I try to chase away the cobwebs of exhaustion with my favorite morning McDonalds coffee, I reflect on the month.  Even amid the large piles of displaced items that were hurriedly removed from the camper in the 100+ heat and deposited in piles around the house that today require my attention, I am excited to get back into my own studio."

I wrote that opening paragraph to this blog post almost a month ago....I am ashamed to say that 9/1/17 was my last post and that is just not acceptable.  I know this but somehow the days and weeks have flown by and I have to get myself back on the BLOGGER TRACK!

I have such a renewed urgency to create more art that not only grabs the attention of the viewer but art that makes people smile.  I have both a solo show coming up in March 2018 and an outdoor festival at the end of this month that both need my attention.  I will be posting much more about that as the time draws closer.

I don't do many outdoor shows, but I purchased a tent a couple years back and have yet to even use it.  Well on September 30th that will change as I am one of the art vendors for the Chalk Festival at Skye Canyon up on Mt. Charleston.  I have to make sure I have plenty of prints on hand as well as magnets and cards.  It should be a lot of fun and hopefully I will sell some art and make some new art friends.




For this blog post this morning, I really just wanted to recap for you a few of my newest art creations that came to life the past few weeks.  First, I wanted to show you my granddaughter birthday art I created.  I only have 2 granddaughters out of 9 grandchildren and they both of September birthdays that are only separated by 2 years and 1 day.  They both also are the tiny owners of some ginormous dogs- one has two very large intimidating dobermans and the other has a giant goofy, gangling great Dane that is just a giant clumsy mess.  This theme has been one for several years that has been running in my head as a fun children's story but that is a goal for another day.




Using a mixture of original art and digital downloads, I created this fun and colorful art to give to them for their birthdays.  I decided to try the printing quality of RedBubble and am very happy with the small tote bags I ordered for them.  The colors are bright and the bags are well constructed.  The image is printed on both sides and  I thought it would be so much fun for them to have their image on a tote bag.  THEY DID!



Here is the only picture I took of the two tote bags.  I have them laying on the coffee table with a large pile of stickers I had just finished cutting out.  As soon as I see that these stickers are going to generate sales enough to justify it, I am going to be investing in a cutting machine.



I've added a number of new stickers to my Etsy Shop that you might just want to check out.Julie Townsend Studio Etsy Shop



I am also very excited to present my country coasters....I've been working on perfecting a method of transferring my art onto a stone travertine 4 x 4.  They are super cute and I already have several orders to process from Facebook.  These will also be listed on my Etsy Shop eventually as I refine the process and make certain that the sealer I am using holds up as claimed.  Who knew that Modge Podge made so many varieties.  These are sealed with the dishwasher safe formula but it takes 28 days to fully cure according to the instructions on the bottle.  I don't think I would run them through the dishwasher but you do want them to stand up to wet condensation from melting ice and the heat generated from hot beverages.