Saturday, August 20, 2016

Who, Who, Who Goes There....?


It was bound to happen sooner or later.  We enjoyed the cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery that the small mountain community of Ely, Nevada had to offer.  The folks at the Valley View RV
Park were the greatest.  I hated to pull out of there but we just had to return to the blazing Las Vegas Valley.  As we drove those 240 miles the closer we got to our destination the higher the temperature rose.  It is amazing just how much difference that 20 degrees makes.

It taken a couple days to get everything hauled in, cleaned up and put away.  My studio and the bedroom still have work to do.  I have turned my attention to my artwork as I have to get ready to deliver some pieces to hang at the Boulder City Art Gallery.  I also had several pending sales that I needed to attend to.  While I was away, I managed to do quite a bit of sketching but only completed one real painting.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I still have lots to learn when it comes to painting realistic feathers, but I didn't do too badly.  What an impressive bird of prey these creatures are.  The one we saw near our camper wasn't as big as this one and he stayed covered enough in the branches that we didn't get the best picture of him as I had hoped.  His presence impressed me and those eyes are amazing.  I hope I captured his beauty on this 10 x 20 canvas.

We just got a good high resolution photo of the piece and now I'm going to apply a coat of varnish so it can dry and we can finish off the back and install the hanging wire.  He is available for sale and will be soon on my website.  If you would like to see him in person, then take a drive out to Boulder City and take an hour or so to walk through that amazing art gallery out there.

We are planning to return to Ely in a few weeks.  I really want to see the Elk but they were high up in the mountains and so we no sightings.  We did see antelope, deer, wild horses, this owl and lots of magpies and robins so I was pretty happy about that.  The Success Loop must be breath taking during the fall color changes.  I'm hoping we can catch that before they get that first snow.




Thursday, August 18, 2016

Attention All Fine Art Pig Collectors

Just getting ready to pack this up in a box to ship off to Georgia
I just love it when my art finds a new home.  There really is no greater compliment you can pay an artist than to actually make a purchase.  It may be for your own collection or perhaps a special unique gift, but when someone is willing to spend their hard earned money to buy your art, than you just know it was worth it.  

In the five years I have been seriously painting, this feeling never gets old.  Here you see a collector that fancies pigs and approached me via Facebook regarding my sketch that I did a few months ago that I titled "Portly Porker Pals".  Since I knew that I had a cowbell that also featured a chunky swine, I was able to talk her into buy both.   I threw in the two greeting cards free to show my appreciation.  

I snapped this picture just before I boxed it all up and got it ready to ship out tomorrow.  They will soon be on their way to Georgia and I really think they will be appreciated when they arrive.  If you like my artwork shown here you might just want to take a closer look at the rest of my "Down Country Roads Collection.  You can view it on my website at JulieTownsendStudio.com.  This particular piece makes a great greeting card or art magnet to give as a gift.  Just send me a message if you are interested in a specific piece.





Sunday, August 14, 2016

I'm Just a Little Nuts About Turquoise


"Turquoise and Lace"  8 x 10 sketch matted to 11 x 14
My love affair with jewelry has been with me for as long as I can remember.  It would be what you could call a long termed relationship.  I'm one of those girls that feel naked if I don't at least have earrings on but I prefer matching sets.  I don't need diamonds and emeralds.  No I'm happy with silver and Lapis Lazuli or Turquoise.  I don't really own many expensive pieces but I do have a few pieces that are priceless to me because they hold a great deal of sentimental value.  Several of those pieces involve turquoise.  It is hard for me to pick out my favorite gemstone because I love so many of them but turquoise would definitely be up pretty high on that list. 

A few years back I came into possession of my dear grandmother's jewelry box and got to keep anything I wanted out of it.  Most things were just little trinkets and silly little junk pieces she had collected but her chunky turquoise necklace and matching earrings (she didn't have pierced ears so they had screw on backs that I had to alter) are one of my favorite pieces to wear and I wear it proudly.  
My grandmother's chunky turquoise necklace and earrings











This week I really wanted to draw a piece that focused on turquoise and this is what I came up with.  I decided to call this "Turquoise and Lace" for obvious reasons.  I love how you can blend Prismacolor Pencils to give it a rounded 3D appearance.  These stones look to me like they are jumping off the page.  It make look difficult, but really it is pretty simple to accomplish.

So easy that I thought I would do a step by step demonstration here for anyone that might be interested.  I started this little drawing in my sketchbook just today.  Here let me show you....




I started by drawing out a simple gemstone design and a row of lace.  I'm going to use some of the same turquoise colors for this drawing as I did in my "Turquoise and Lace" piece.  Aquamarine(PC905), Light Aqua (PC992) and Peacock Blue(PC1027)

I use my lightest pencil color to set aside a small area that I'm going to make as my reflection.  This helps me to remember not to color in this area.



Now I take my Tombow marker and color in the whole area.  There is something about using markers or watercolor paint as a base layer on a pencil drawing that allows the pencil to blend and fill the white of the paper easier.  I picked a very light blue color for the marker.  You really won't see any of the marker when your done but you want the color to correspond with the pencils.


Here I have covered the entire gemstone area with my light aqua color.  Remember to very lightly color the reflection area.  I use a small circular motion with light pressure.  You don't want to go heavy here and fill the whole tooth of your paper so that none of you darker colors will penetrate. 


Now I take my second color.  Int his case it is aquamarine and fill only have of the gemstone area.  I want to leave the center of the stone with only my lightest color.  These small circular motions help prevent a line where the two colors transition.



Now I'm doing the same thing as the two previous steps with my darkest color, Peacock Blue.  I'm careful only to color the widest area of the gemstone design.  This gives the appearance of a rounded stone getting darker as you go further from the light source.  



Here is where the magic happens!  Take your white pencil and color over the whole stone area.  This blends the whole thing together and gives a very smooth appearance.  Now that wasn't hard was it?  I mean you are almost there.  Now you just have to focus on some ink work and shading but you have the most important part of the piece done.


Now this is an important discovery that I just made a few weeks ago purely by accident.  I picked up a few black pens at Michaels because I go through them pretty steadily.  I grabbed this pen called "LePen" by Marvy.  I AM IN LOVE!  Most of my drawing pens don't want to continue to draw over any colored pencil area because of the wax the pencils contain.  Every other medium is fine but just a few strokes on colored pencil and the pen stops working.  Not the "LePen".  This pen works great and I'm ordering more and in different colors.  So here I have added the black webbing or matrix lines that most turquoise has.  Some turquoise has brown or white lines but I decided to stick with the traditional black lines.  


Here I have used my N60 Tombow marker (my favorite of all markers in my set of 96).  This color is absolutely perfect for shading.  I just draw around any area that I want to be shaded and talk about making it pop right off the page!


More ink work added here.  I am using the tip end of a Tombow marker.



I made the decision to make the lace a teal color to match the gemstone.  The same shading applies.  You use three colors to give that depth you want and then I blended the whole area with white.  


My final step here is to add the spots of white highlight to the composition.  I use a fine tipped painting brush and some white acrylic paint to lightly apply spots of light to the specific areas on the gemstone, silver and the lace.  

See how easy that was.  I would love to hear from you if you try to create your own or if you found this blog helpful.  In a few weeks I'm planning on teaching this to my after school art club I am starting.  I'm really looking forward to helping kids have as much fun as I do with some pencils and a sketchbook.

Be sure and check out my website if you want to see more of my artwork!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

All Good Things Must Eventually Come to an End

We are now heading into the last week and a half of our vacation and I have to say, "When can we do this again?"  There has just been something about not having constant demands on your time that just free one to be more creative.  Also having only about 160 sq feet of space to keep clean means I'm not really  overwhelmed with housework like I am at home in my 2000 sq foot house.

I love this Ely, Nevada area.  I might not have that same opinion during their very cold winter months but the summer temperatures have been amazing.  We have also experienced a lot of inspiring scenery and wildlife during our 2.5 weeks here and that does wonders for your creativity.  The one animal that I haven't gotten to view up close yet is an elk. This area is home to many elk and I'm told by the locals that during the summer they are high up in the mountains but come the cooler weather of fall they will again be seen more frequently.  
Sketch of an Elk
I had to rely on reference photos to draw this colored pencil sketch of an elk. I'm sorry that I have to post cell phone pictures of my artwork but my scanner and home computer just wouldn't fit in the camper and I forgot to pack the chip reader for the good camera so that I could have access to the photo on my laptop.  

The one thing that is different about this sketch is that I usually don't include all the background, but only focus on the main elements of the composition. Probably because I'm a tad bit lazy but this time I tried my hand at penciling the whole scene.  I think it turned out pretty well and I am pleased with it.  This process of creating a rendering helps me for the time when I'm ready to actually create a painting.  I feel that I am much better prepared and have a better understanding of what it is that I'm going to paint.

We got to walk around the downtown area Saturday, August 6th and take in the annual "Art in the Park" event that I have been looking forward to since we first visited in June.  As I suspected, the area was full of vendors but I saw a lot booths that had more crafts than fine art.  As a matter of fact, I only saw one traditional artist tent there.  His name was Randy Morris of Salt Lake City and he had beautiful work and told us that he has come for several years.  I hope he did well because outdoor art festivals are in my experience a whole lot of work with very little reward.  It was still fun and we showed our self-discipline by walking right past all those funnel cake and Indian taco vendors to come home to a healthy lunch prepared by yours truly.


Great Horned Owl- 10 x 20 Acrylic
In previous posts this week,  I have shown some sketches and a progress picture of the great horned owl painting I have been working on.  This piece is getting very close to being complete.  I have several minor details to work out and a few more highlights and then I will be adding my signature and calling my feathered friend here finished.  He is going to look really great when I add that coat of varnish to him. That always brings out the colors and adds a nice shine to the piece.

I'm also very excited about a new opportunity that may be coming my way as an artist.  It seems very likely that I will be teaching an after school art club at a local private school that I have associations with.  I'm both excited and a bit nervous.  I'm sure once I get a few weeks under my belt I will be just fine.

In planning for this club I want the first 8 week  session to be focused with drawing.  Shapes, shading and creating depth will be a good starting point for the club that will range from 3rd - 12th grade.  I have been adding some sketch ideas in my own sketchbook and going crazy with my newest social media love, PINTEREST!  What a wealth of ideas there are there.  I just can't stop adding pens to my boards.  

Here is one of the fun little sketchs I did this week and it may be the example for my first art club project.  There is just something about drawing lines that I find relaxing and therapeutic.   I just love taking a simple line and by adding a curve here or  a shadow there, you can create such amazing and complex composition. I decided I had to add an element of mystery to the design so I added some little eyes peering out from a black void in the wrappings.  Elsewhere you can see ripples and creases that I think give the drawing more interest and spark imagination.  Now will the kids enjoy drawing something like this as much as I do?

 For more information about this art club that I'm calling "A-Club" you can go to my website.  I was pretty excited that being the non-technical person that I am, that I was able to set up a registration and payment tab on my Weebly website so parents can register easily. Check it out at: A-Club information.  I was pretty proud of myself for figuring this all out.





 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Adventure Continues

It's been a couple of days since I last gave an account of my artistic vacation adventure.  We have been pretty busy exploring the hills around the Ely, Nevada area.  When I'm not being bounced around in the front seat of our F250, I'm making meals or thinking about my art.  Let me catch you up on both our exploring and the drawing and painting I have been working on the past few days.
Our trusty Ford truck.  You've carried us to lots of amazing places!

Sunday, after church, we took the drive that had been suggested to us called "Success Loop".   This drive was amazing.  It is 33 miles long and starts a few miles past the small town of McGill and ends about 15 miles outside of Ely.  You literally are making a giant loop through the mountain range east of Ely.    The road is paved for a short distance on both ends, but then turns into a typical gravel road.  When we traveled it there would be no issue with a car driving the loop but I had read that at times when it rains the road can become flooded and high clearance vehicles are recommended.  Since we own three 4WD vehicles most roads are never a concern to us.

Success Loop Road
Nevada is open range country so we did have to stop several time for some "Slow Elk" in the road and were privileged to also have 3 deer sightings.  Several miles up the road, as you gain altitude, you find yourself in a large grove of mature aspen trees.  The sound that the slightest breeze makes passing through those leaves is so amplified and serene.   The light of the sun reflecting down through their filtered branches just dances and twinkles and you know exactly why these trees are called "quakies".  We have already started making plans to return to this area in October just to see these trees dressed in their fall colors.  If you are anywhere near this area, you must take a couple of hours out to drive this loop!


Awesomeness along the way!













I think we drove out to Garnet Hill on Monday and then again on Wednesday.  We found a number of really nice sized garnets down the hill just by walking around.  I think we figured out that there are plenty of garnets for those that have the patients to walk around looking for them.  The professional garnet hunters bring all the tools and toil in the dirt, breaking open piles of rocks while breaking a sweat and their back in the process.  I just want to fill up a little vile or jar to sit on my shelf.  I'm happy with the little ones.  I'm sure in the next two weeks we will go up there several more times to add to our collection.



Cave Lake
Today we drove out to Cave Lake to just scout out the location.  Some of our kids are coming up for a visit and I wanted to see if this might be a place for us all to enjoy an afternoon.  We didn't pay the fee to enter the park but the scenery just from the 15 min parking zone at the entrance was breathtaking.  I'm sure it is well worth the $5 for a Nevada resident to pay to drive on around the lake.







My little creative corner, complete with a large cup of McDonald's coffee of course.

Because I fancy myself to be somewhat of an artist and because this is predominately an art blog, I thought I might share a picture of my little art corner I have set up in our camper.  Small but efficient, I have all my pens, markers and colored pencils close at hand.  There isn't much room for my acrylic paints so they are store outside in a tub.


Artistic Journal entry detailing my owl encounter

This week I was privileged to have a for real sighting of a great horned owl.  This magnificent creature was perched on a branch a few space down from our camper and his giant yellow eyes were focused on me.  For sometime we just stood there staring at each other.  It was amazing.  I have since  been obsessed with those eyes.  I did a journal page in my artistic journal about it and now 



Sorry for the cell phone picture
I have started a 10 x 20 inch acrylic painting of a full bodied owl. I'm loving how he is turning out so far.  The funny thing is that inside our small camper trailer he seems to be staring at me with those huge yellow eyes no matter where I move.  Of course in 23' you can't move very far.  

 He will be sitting in a pinyon pine tree among pine needles and a perhaps a green pine cone or two. Similar to the ones I included in my artistic journal a week ago.   You can see he looks to be patiently waiting for me to pick up my paint brushes and get on to finishing up the details.  Maybe he will be finished for my next blog post.  You will have to come back and visit me to see for yourself.




















Friday, July 29, 2016

I've Got a Fever- GARNET FEVER

Yesterday's Artistic Journal Entry- My Husband Digging For Garnets
I have often heard of the term "Gold Fever" referring to those men who sold everything, abandoned their families and their way of life back east to cross the rugged deserts, mountains and prairies just with the dream to strike it rich.  Very few did but that didn't seem to sway them from coming.  Nevada's very beginnings are steeped deep in the lure of riches that lie just below the surface.

Well, yesterday we were those driven individuals, picking and shoveling at the rocky hillside in search of the treasure that was surely there just below the surface.  Withstanding the blazing sun and temperatures reaching close to 95 degrees and yet there we were seeking a specific treasure.  We were hunting garnets at Garnet Hill Recreation Area just outside Ely, Nevada.  I can honestly say to you that I have wanted to come here for years and do just that.  

There was nothing else on my mind, eyes focused on the ground under my feet, looking for that unmistakable sparkle that was the tail tell sign of the gemstone that was there within my reach.  My husband digging and chipping away at the rocks with his shovel, pick and classifier.  It took us a short time to get our strategy in line and figure out just where the best place was to look.  And of course you would know that the best place for him was a steep climb up the hill, on loose limestone and for me, who is a person that you could call coordination challenged, the walking around was stressful.  Not to mention the sun beating down on me and that darn oppressive Nevada heat.  When I suggested that I had had about enough and that we head back to town and that amazing invention of air conditioning that awaited us in our travel camper, I was greeted with his unwelcomed reply, "Just a little longer."  I stared at this stranger that had the appearance of my husband of 37 years but It was as if he had been possessed by some strange garnet demon that required he keep looking for that "REALLY BIG ONE" that was surely in the next shovel full.  For a moment I was sure I saw his head spin around and his eyes flash purple but that was probably more the result of my overheated, dehydrated state.




We Cheated and Purchased This One



Of course I'm exaggerating this a bit.  We both had a great time and can't wait to return soon and continue our search.  We found about a dozen small specimens that we have floating in an old water bottle.  The largest garnet was the one I found, not at Garnet Hill, but rather at the Garnet Mercantile in the old downtown of Ely, Nevada.  I hope we find one this beautiful, but $10 seemed a small price to pay to have such a beautiful little treasure.

Looking back on the day as I was recording our experience in my artistic journal,  I was blessed with the realization that the real treasure was being together and enjoying the beauty that surrounded us.

The view from our digging spot.  That is the large cooper mine in the distance

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Artistic Sabbatical Just Got A Bit Nutty


Today's sketching efforts turned out to be a little bit nutty.  Or should I say that my focus subject today was a couple of nut loving rodents.  As I mentioned in my previous blog post,  we have spent the past week camping high on a mountain in the Humboldt National Forest camping just about 5 miles outside of Ely, Nevada to escape the hecticness of Las Vegas and more importantly the extreme heat.  While it was warm, 90+ for a few hours in the afternoon each day it is nothing compared to the 115 degrees that is often the norm back home.  It is hard to be stay inspired when you're sweating buckets of bullets.  

It has been a glorious week of peace and solitude.  I'm calling it my artistic sabbatical.  My list of creative goals is pretty hefty, and even if I don't get them all accomplished, I feel that this time is going to be well spent.  

Practicing Feathers
Today I decided to practice drawing fur.  I have for my inspiration a very cute book I purchased a year or so ago by Jane Seabrook called "Furry Logic".  It's the cutest little book and her illustrations are amazing.  I love her treatment of fur and feathers.  So I'm trying to improve my own drawing techniques while looking at her lovely pictures.  I worked on feathers the other day so today it was fur.


I especially wanted to draw a grey squirrel because I was treated to a visit yesterday by a particularly large guy that decided to run through our camp.  One thing missing from this past week has been wildlife.  Oh there have been plenty of bugs in the week.  I have had my fill of that type of wildlife.  There was one little hummingbird that would whiz by occasionally but not much else.  I had really hoped to see an elk or at least a deer but that wasn't to be.  Yesterday morning, while drinking my coffee I was treated to a sighting of a grey squirrel.  I was thrilled because it has been actually several years since I have seen a squirrel. 

So here are my two sketches. I'm pretty happy at how they turned out.  I of course need a lot more practice before I'm in the league with Ms. Seabrook.   One sketch done in honor of our camp visitor is treated in a realistic style and the other is closer to the style in the "Furry Logic" and is more animated and fun.  Both started out to be just little studies but I feel that when I get home they may wind up being matted and make an appearance on my Etsy store. Of course I will use my scanner and not these blurry cell phone photos.

You can checkout more of my work on my Website or my Etsy Store.