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.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sweet Tooth and a Cute Pig

A few days ago I pulled out my paints and brought them into the tiny camper along with the extra cowbells, wooden spoons and lots of good intentions.  I managed to paint 2 cowbells and now my paints are shoved under the table.  Oh, I want to paint, but the truth is, I'm just having too much fun combining my art with elements of graphic designs.  So let me show you what I did the other day..

Sometime in 2016, I drew a sketch of my grandson with all this curly golden locks.  He loves candy sprinkles and so I had him floating with only the upper portion of his face showing above the colorful avalanche of sweetness.  I also wrote a poem to go with the illustration called "Ode to Sprinkles"  Poetry and Other Silly Things

So just for fun, I revisited that original sketch and added some digital enhancements.  I added coloring and then went to and downloaded a couple of image files of candy and donuts and placed them around the sketch.  I'm calling this funny composition "Sweet Tooth" and while I might still do some tweaking on it, I was anxious to show it to you.

Seeing how cute this turned out I decided to create a couple more images using more grandsons (I have plenty to choose from) and here is what I came up with.

I feel I should also share with you this adorable pig that I created this week that I didn't share with you. I made it to go long with my cow and rooster image I drawn a few days earlier.  I'm having fun creating simple drawings of these farm animals and then finishing them up in Photoshop.  Just like the coloring page I created the other day, these images just start out as simple line drawings in my sketchbook.  I'm sure when I finally return home to my studio they will end up on magnets and greeting cards along with merchandise.  

Monday, August 28, 2017


This is one of the Large Stickers on my "Bee Happy" Full Page Sticker Sheet that you can download on my Etsy Shop

Sketchbook Rough Drawing
Bee edited in Photoshop
I am having a blast and this is SO MUCH fun!  Actually, it is a bit of a challenge for me to draw a simple designs after years of trying to draw every small detail.  It's a different way of thinking but it is kind of freeing.  The designs are bare bones and on their own not too impressive, but add some color and create an interesting composition and their simplicity turns into their beauty.  This little bee may be simple and cartoon like, yet when I pulled him into Photoshop and gave him a little color with my paint bucket tool he is transformed into an attention catching illustration.

Arrangement consisting of the 2 flowers and the bee

The flowers are nothing special but I decided to make 2 different varieties of each design.  Once you have each element edited and color added you are now ready to create a composition.  I decided to surround the bee with colorful flowers.  I was careful not to let his wings be hidden by blending into the blue flowers.  I wanted every portion of the bee to stand out and not be lost.

Wrapping Paper available on my Zazzle Shop
Repeating pattern design

You can see that once you have your basic composition created that than you can work into creating a repeating pattern.  Repeating pattern designs can be used to create the artwork for many images including fabrics and wrapping paper.

Here you will see that I have added this pattern to a roll of wrapping paper that is available on my ZAZZLE SHOP along with a lot of other cool merchandise that feature my artwork.  Also check out my ETSY SHOP for more original artwork.

Yesterday, I turned my attention to one of my favorite subjects, FARM ANIMALS and created a series of drawings that included a cow, pig and a rooster.  I have the cow shown here.  I can now make a variety of colors but this one is of my Holstein.  I know for certain I will be creating a set of stickers using these comical creatures but really the sky is the limit on what I will eventually create.  That is the amazing thing about using my art in a graphics program like Photoshop.

Next I want to learn how to do more painting so that I can add some depth and contrast to these images.

I realize that I am just using the bare basics of the graphic capability of my software but keeping in mind that just 2 months ago all I used Photoshop for was to crop my images and now I am actually using it to create art.  To say I am thrilled about this new knowledge is an understatement.  I have had so many comments from other artists asking if I would teach a class or about how I learned to use Photoshop.  Well let me just state here that my path wasn't hard but I was determined.

First, I made a list of 5 things I wanted to learn how to do in Photoshop.  I picked something I really wanted to learn how to make and that was a page of stickers.  I started watching YouTube videos on making stickers in Photoshop.  I found one that seemed to make more sense to me and was very basic.  I took lots of notes and followed her process step by step.  Pausing the video so I could match what she had just done.  That wasn't always the easiest thing because I own an older version of Photoshop Elements and so many of the options are not the same but I looked around until I found it on my version.  The first thing I created was a bit crude but I felt that I had accomplished a great thing.  My advise to you is to GO FOR IT!  Carve out several days with just you and your computer and  YouTube.

Here is my first ever "Bee Happy Coloring Sheet" created just today. I have had so much fun working on this that I want you to BEE HAPPY TOO!   I am providing you as my blog reader a link so that you can download and print this out to color and enjoy.   (The Bee Happy Coloring Sheet is for personal use only and may not be reproduced or sold without my written permission)


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Love my RedBubble Bubblebees

A Bumblebee that I sketched
I am at about a week and half of my proclaimed "Art Sabbatical" and I'm trying to stay focused.  I have probably spent more time on the computer in Photoshop than I have creating art these past couple days.

My time has mostly been spent working out designs on a number of products to fill my Zazzle Shop.  While I have had no sales yet on Zazzle, I am having a lot of fun creating this unique items that feature my artwork. I do believe that if I keep creating cute designs that sales will come.  Right now I have mostly focused on t-shirts and coffee mugs, as these I would guess would be favorites for gift purchases.

Here is one thing I did manage to create in the past few days.  Just a little sketch in my sketchbook of a bumblebee.  Funny enough, I actually got a lot of positive response from this little sketch on my social media accounts.  One thing I do not have access to is my scanner/printer here on my little art get-away so I have only my cellphone to capture and share my artwork right now.  That didn't stop me as you will see further in this blog post all the designs I have created using just this one little lone bumblebee.

A t-shirt created from my artwork "Up, Up and Away" 
I'm trying the service out by ordering two matching t-shirts for my granddaughters whose birthdays are coming up in just a few weeks.  I was very pleased yesterday to find that I was ordering them just as Zazzle was offering a 50% off on all t-shirt orders.  That was a double bonus in my books.  I will blog about the quality of the t-shirts and how I feel as the artist when I see my design on printed fabric.

The one thing I really like about is the ability to actually design your item.  You can upload multiple images and add text using a variety of fun looking fonts. This gives you the ability to make a variety of text or image changes to your product allowing for the ease in creating similar but unique products.  I like this freedom.   My other shops on Etsy and RedBubble do not allow this freedom.  You will have to work in Photoshop to have the designs completed first and then upload them for each item separately.  Etsy charges you .20 for each product and the stress there is having up to 10 really good photo images of your handmade item., like Zazzle, offer a wide variety of products for you to put your image on.  It states on it's website that it is a Global Marketplace for Independent Artists.  What I really appreciate about Redbubble is the fact that it allows your image to be uploaded on all the products at the same time.  You just can work your way down the page making edits to the images based on each products. There is a wide range of products range so your image can be ordered on items like t-shirts, scarves, notebooks and clocks.

Bubblebees added to my pink peony design
Here are a few of the images that I created this week that focus on just that one bumblebee sketch.  I have added flowers of different varieties, scriptures verses and created a repeating pattern that would work well on gift bags, wrapping paper and maybe even tablecloths.  I fell I am getting one step closer to creating a portfolio for art licensing.
flowers from - bumblebee is my original artwork
 Artwork used to make the repeating pattern

Creating a repeating pattern using the Bumblebee

Email from RedBubble notifying me of 1 of my 2 sales for the day
I should note that I have had some of my images on RedBubble for quite sometime but have just recently started updating the site with my newest works.  I was beyond thrilled yesterday when I received notification not once, but twice that I had sold items on RedBubble with my images on them.  Now royalties are much to really write about, but the great thing about "Print on Demand" is that once you have taken the time to upload the image the money is really effort free.  I just wait to collect my automatic PalPal deposit.  The image "Bees in Flowers-Yellow", I had just uploaded a few hours before.  Here is the email notification I received.  I love how encouraging it is.  I'm hoping to start seeing royalties from both Zazzle and RedBubble become a monthly occurrence.

I just wanted to show off one last thing I created in Zazzle yesterday.  I created buttons for Brad and I to wear at art shows or festivals that identify who I am as the artist just like a name badge would.  The button I made for Brad is rather humorous so I just had to share.  He claims he WILL wear it but we shall see.

To check out all my products just click on these links and let me know what you think.

Julie Townsend- Zazzle Shop

Julie Townsend- Redbubble

Julie Townsend- Etsy Shop