Friday, September 18, 2020

It's Coming

 Just 98 Days until Christmas...and I have the perfect Christmas Cards for you!


I've drawn this old washtub so many times that I can almost draw it now in my sleep.  With the holidays in mind, it just seemed natural to decorate it all festive for Christmas and invite some fun farm animals to the party.  I had a blast creating each of these drawings and it was natural to then turn them into a set of Christmas cards.  I just added the listing for the set a couple days ago on my Etsy Shop along with a "Woodland Critters Christmas" design that is just adorable.

I'm in love with the torn paper background and the hint of dark red surrounding it.  It compliments that old washtub perfectly and just makes an adorable holiday card to send to your farmhouse loving family and friends.  You're sure to get lots of smiles.  Wash Tub Christmas Card Set on my Etsy Shop

As a matter of fact, I'm SO in love with that background that I have decided to incorporate it into my 2021 calendar designs that I am currently working on that will feature many more of my washtub series.  I'm really excited about and will be sharing more next month.


When I create a new art for a series like this that I know I will be grouping together, I also list each piece of art separately on my shop where you can purchase a print or note card with just that image on it.  No background added, just the artwork itself printed on nice paper with my signature.  This gives 100% of the focus to the artwork without diminishing it with other colors and images to distract your view.  I have listings for all 4 of the Wash Tub Christmas designs on my Shop if you are interested in a print or a card of this style.  These cute animals are sure to brighten up any wall in your home with a splash of Christmas cheer!


If you would like to check out this image or more of my art you can hop on over to my Etsy Shop and poke around.  I LOVE having visitors!  Julie Townsend Studio on Etsy

Friday, August 21, 2020

Spreading Joy one COWBELL at a Time



Wow!  I can't even remember the last cowbell I actually painted,  I'm thinking it must have been last summer when I was on my annual art sabbatical up in Ely, Nevada.  FYI-I just looked it up and since I started painting cowbells way back in 2015, I have sold a total of 141 bells.  That my friends, is a lot of cowbells!

We have made a number of changes to the prepping of each bell and to the way that I paint them over that time and I think this new painted all over the bell design looks amazing.  I want to make it difficult to decide just which side of the bell that you want to display.  

I blogged yesterday about all the hydrangea and butterfly commission pieces that I have been doing in the past month or two and so it only seemed fitting that I would add that theme to a cowbell.  Here is the first "Hydrangea and Monarch Butterfly" cowbell and I have 2 more to paint on my easel.  

As you can see the design wraps around the whole bell and the bright orange of the butterflies just POP against all the purple and blue.  I'm really excited about this one.

Here is the link to the listing on my Etsy Shop if you are interested in checking this out.  They really do make and excellent gift. Hydrangea and Monarch Cowbell

Thursday, August 20, 2020

What is Your Favorite Grandma Recipe


Something to Sing About- Chicken and Dumplings Recipe




This note card design turned out so cute I think and I'm really excited about it.  I've combined my art with a vintage background and typed out an actual recipe to give it that recipe card look.  Right now I have 6 designs available and I've added them to my Etsy shop listings as both a card, a magnet or a print that you can have matted and framed.  These make a perfect gift for that farmhouse style lover in your life.

Just visit my shop and use the search term "Recipe" and all 5 designs will be there for you to check out.  While you are there take some time to browse the rest of my artwork.  I LOVE VISITORS!  

For a small additional charge of $20 I could combine one of my existing artwork images with your favorite recipe to make truly custom gift.  Just message me and we can chat about that.

JulieTownsendStudio on Etsy.com


You Got the Cookies- Snickerdoodle Recipe








Watching Carrots Grow- Carrot Cake Recipe


I Woof You- Peanut Butter Dog Treat Recipe



Forget the Worms- Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


Cookies and Lemonade- Fresh Squeezed Lemonade Recipe

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

I've Got a GREEN Thumb for sure

 
It has been one of my regular spring rituals to make my annual pilgrimage to purchase little pots of color at my local home improvement store to bring home and brighten my front yard.  I'm love the feel of the black dirt on my hands and the moist smell of the wet earth as I carefully arrange and plant each little flower.  There is real excitement and anticipation as I imagine just how pretty and inviting they will make the entrance to my home.  

I adore flowers and  LOVE to walk up and down the isles, admiring the vivid blooms, the fragrance scents that fill the space they call the garden section.    
All that comes to an abrupt end when the first day that the temperature hits 100.  The reality of the Las Vegas summers is once again painfully obvious as I try to ignore yellowing and wilting of what was once so vibrant and colorful.  You would think I would just give up but here I am again with a scrawny morning glory vine and wilted herbs lining the entrance to my home.  

Well one thing is for certain...the flowers grow great in my studio as you can well see. I have true GREEN thumb when it comes to my studio flowers.  Of course that is directly correlated with the amount of green paint I am using. It seems that I've been on a flower craze for a good portion of the summer and as the temperatures rise to record levels here in the southwest my studio stays a ablaze in the cool colors of spring. 
 
It really all started with this old red flyer wagon that belongs to my neighbor. He asked if I would paint one of my little mice with some flower pots in it for his wife.  They are such excellent neighbors I had to say yes.  Little did I know this was going to turn into such a thing.  It seems now my summer focus has been that of purple hydrangeas and lavender.  

I've painted several pieces and now I'm doing commission work based on this design.  The old reclaimed pallet wood panel has become a requested  favorite and has my husband out scouring the desert for more weathered wood.  It keeps him out of trouble so this is a good thing.

SOLD

Here are the last 4 pieces I have managed to finish as of late.  I hope you enjoy and they all bring a smile to your face.  Check out more of my work to purchase on my ETSY SHOP.  

SOLD- 10 x 20 inch on canvas
SOLD 
AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ON ETSY

2 panel commission- SOLD







Saturday, August 8, 2020

5 WAYS TO GROW YOUR STUDIO EMAIL LIST

I'm always looking for ways to increase my artist reach and boost my sales.  The more marketing baskets you have the better and I have felt for quite sometime that I have placed too many of my marketing eggs in the Facebook basket.  


This concerns me as I don't want to be left with the proverbial egg on my face.  I don't want to find my  basket tattered and broken on the ground and only handful of cracked egg shells to show for all my years of hard work.  



I find that this dependence I have on one social platform makes me uncomfortable.  Don't get me wrong,  I LOVE my Facebook audience.  They are so supportive and bless my every day with their kind words  I have to remember that it is all great while the honeymoon lasts but the beast can rear it's ugly head and  can turn on you very quickly.  One ill thought out post or even an innocent "LIKE" emoji attached to something that others disagree with can have dire consequences and in no time at all you can see all your hard brand building flushed down the toilet.
What is an artist to do?  Well I have made the decision to diversify my marketing efforts in several ways.  I still encourage everyone I can to "LIKE" my Facebook studio page @JulieTownsendStudio but I also try to capture their email address so that I can add them to my Studio VIP list.  My list is now over 500 and is growing daily.  This way I still have an avenue to reach my fan base even if someday I find myself in a place where I can no longer depend on Facebook as my major marketing tool.

I am also focused on building my business using Pinterest to drive more traffic to my Etsy Shop and Website.  Pinterest is a visual search engine and not a social media platform and since artwork is all about being visual I think Pinterest is a perfect partner.  I will blog more about Pinterest in the future but for now this blog is my suggestions for growing your email list.


 
1.  HAVE A CONTEST-  In July I decided to run a giveaway on my Facebook page that focused on collecting email addresses.  I asked my followers to email me a birthday greeting and I would add them to my drawing. I was careful to let them know that by doing so they were giving me permission to add them to my studio email list.  I found this strategy very successful and not only did I feel LOVED❤💕 but I got to see my email list really grow.  

2.  USE YOUR ETSY SHOP SALES- Etsy actually doesn't allow you to use the email address associated with each of your sales and while it is tempting to add that email address to your email list you will eventually get into Etsy hot water.  What I have done on my Etsy Shop is make one of my two mandatory variations allowed on each listing to ask the following question.  "Would you like to join my Studio VIP list?" and their options are "Yes, please add me or No thank you."  So I have given them the option to opt in and you would be surprised and how many "Yes" replies I get.  This has been a great way to build my email list.  

3. JOIN MAILCHIMP-About a year ago I took the plunge and opened a free account with Mailchimp to house my email list.  I uploaded the data from my Google contact list and while there are a few additional services that I would like to have seen Mailchimp offer me, such as being able to keep good notes, address and phone numbers on each client, I'm overall satisfied. You can't beat FREE.  I am able to build my list up to 5000 subscribers, send out my studio newsletter and create a signup form that I can add to my website.  I'm sure there are plenty of other cool things that the program can do but I'm old and have to take my time figuring new technology out.  In my opinion, Mailchimp  isn't as user friendly as it could be but it serves me now and I usually am able to figure out what I'm trying to accomplish with the help of Youtube. 

4.  OFFER AN INCENTIVE- I feel it is very important to give your clients a reason why they should want to join your email list and hear from you on a regular basis.  I mean some may just like your art that much but I feel that I need to add a value to this decision to allow me into their private life.  In my case, I have decided that for most of my studio giveaways you will be automatically entered if you are part of the VIP list.  Let them have access to free stuff that you don't tell anyone else about.  I even eventually plan to give my VIP list members the first opportunity to see my newest artwork and have a chance to purchase it before I show it on social media or list it on my shop. You can also consider offering a special VIP discount code.   Just think of somethings that will make them just a bit more special to your studio and the email address will begin to pour in.  

5.  DON'T FORGET TO ASK-  You can't grow you email list or your social media following unless you ask.  Don't let the opportunity pass you by.  If you are chatting about your artwork then make sure you let them know how to find you.  Ask if them if they have a Facebook Page or and Instagram account. Oh, and don't forget to ask for their email address.  Always have your business cards in your purse or pocket along with a pen and paper to write on.  Meeting people in person is by far one of the best ways to grow your local fan base and I don't know about your, but I never have a shortage of words when it come to talking about my artwork.

You can subscribe to my VIP list by using the sidebar here on my blog and LIKE my Facebook Studio Page while you are at it.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Making Stickers from Your Artwork

Stickers seem to be such a small thing and I realize most artists wouldn't even bother with them but I actually enjoy designing them.  Especially when I'm using my own original artwork in that design. Surprisingly, there are many individuals that really love to purchase and collect stickers and the space needed to store you inventory is really small.  

It was actually my desire to learn to make stickers that was the driving force for me to take the time to teach myself a little Photoshop.  That determination to make myself familiar with this software and the use of Layers, Magic Erasers, Lasso Tools, Magic Wands and  Spot Healing Brush Tools has been instrumental in opening the doors of possibility wide open for my artwork.  

Another BIG advantage that I found with offering up stickers was when it came to the opening of my Etsy Shop.  For your shop to even have a chance at being found in the ETSY SEO searches I'm told you have to have at least 100 listings.  Also, buyers often rely heavily on other customer ratings and the history of sales in a particular shop.  When you are first starting out as an ETSY seller, both of these statistic benchmarks maybe difficult to achieve.  I even read the suggestion that you consider padding your numbers by giving your friends money to purchase inexpensive items on your shop and then give you 5 start reviews just to get you over that "NEW SHOP HUMP".  

Creating stickers was a way for me to increase my number of listings and I found that a buyer was more apt to be comfortable spending $3.50 for an item on my brand new shop then forking over the money to purchase one of my original artworks or even a print from me.  Also, those small sales do add up over time.  For example, I have had $494 in sticker sales on my Etsy Shop from the period of January to May 2020.  There you have it!  One of my ETSY tips for you to consider if you're thinking of trying your artistic hand at opening your own ETSY Shop.

I need to get this post back on track here.  Yesterday, we had the privilege of keeping our 3 darling grandchildren (we now have 11 total).  Little Miss J is 5 years old and loves to spend time with me in my studio.  I jokingly call her my studio assistant in training and so I followed through on a previous promise that I had made to her  that we would turn her artwork into stickers so she could see my Cricut Explore Air 2 in action.

The original art scan after it was cleaned up in Photoshop
She carefully used watercolors to paint these 3 little flower doodles that I helped her create.  They turned out really cute.  When the watercolors were dry, she placed her master piece on the flatbed scanner and we scanned them into Photoshop.  I showed her how to clean up her images using the eraser tool and she did a lot of the editing herself.  Here are the 3 edited flowers.

Next, I created a new Photoshop file that was 6.75 inches x 9.25 inches and had a transparent background. (This is the standard size of the Cricut cut files)  Using the Lasso tool, I selected each flower and brought them over into the new file.  Using the "Stroke" edit function, I created a "white stroke" around each file that was 52 in size.  This gives the white border that all stickers have.   Then using "Ctrl J" (she liked that because her name begins with a J) we copied each flower 2 more times.  I then arranged them on the file so they were not touching.  The result is a sheet full of beautiful stickers.

6.75 x 9.25 PNG file with a transparent background
I then opened  up my Cricut Design Space on my computer and uploaded the PNG image to my projects.  You then select "MAKE IT" and  "Complex" and then create the project.  Now it is time to print out the stickers on matte sticker paper.  For my stickers I'm going to sell on my shop I use a paper made by ROCK.  Here is the Amazon link:  MATTE STICKER PAPER for my ETSY Shop  If I am printing out stickers for my own use (shipping stickers to decorate my orders) I use this less expensive sticker paper.  Here is the Amazon link for that paper also:  SHIPPING STICKER PAPER

I then sent the file to print.  We attached the printed stickers to a cutting matte and loaded them next into my Cricut with the cut setting on "PAPER" so that it would just kiss cut around each sticker.  As you can see by the BIG smile on my Granddaughter's face, she was very pleased and I think I helped make a memory.   




Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Going to the Dogs

SO TELL ME, ARE YOU A CAT PERSON OR A DOG PERSON?

It seems like my summer is "GOING TO THE DOGS"!  I literally feel that I could just dedicate the rest of my art career to drawing all the different dog breeds.  I have received requests to do; Doxies, Collies, Corgies and Beagles...just to name a few.  All so cute, in their own doggie way and just adorable when added to that well used "Wash Tub" full of bubbles.  

Honestly, I've gotten as much response with my dog drawings as I have with the cow and chicken pieces that I have done. That surprises me a bit, but I guess there really are a lot of "DOG" people out there. 

Meet Ginger
Meet Ginger
Personally, I'm a pet neutral kind of girl.  We do have both a chihuahua mix named Ginger and a 21 year old tortie cat named Pesky that keep us hoping at home.  You can't help but get attached to them, but deep down, I know that I would be okay without owning a pet. 

I'm probably not going to surprise you when I say that, "I do love drawing them."  Now that's my kind of pets.  They make me laugh, they are not problem to clean up after and traveling is a breeze.  I can have an entire barnyard of animals and they are all just hanging out in my sketchbook.  

This past two weeks,  I have had a blast drawing these doggy fur babies and I really appreciate all the positive reaction I have gotten from them.  My Facebook fans are the best!

I have to share so let me introduce the gang.  I have a total of 4 doggy drawings I have finished and just today, I starting my 5th drawing of a beagle and 3 barn cats.  It is going to be so cute.  

All of these are available as prints and note cards on my Etsy Shop .  Hope on over and check them out.
Wash Tub Kids
Scrub Tub Bubbles



Bubbles and Bushy Tails
Soap and Quackers

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Soap and Quackers


Who still likes to spend time coloring in those popular adult coloring books?  I sure wish they had them when I was child.  I LOVED coloring and I've never out grown it I guess. I don't use those coloring books but I do love to work with color pencils in my sketchbook.    

Interesting coloring facts:  The coloring book, formerly called the painting book, has been around since the mid to late 1800's but coloring crayons weren't invented until 1902. (https://www.vox.com/2015/9/2/9248663/coloring-book-history) Since then, they have become a standard part of everyone's childhood.  Don't you still feel a bit of excitement to see a brand new box of crayons?  You know that really big box with the built in sharpener?  I sure do! It's like a goose bump moment when that lid is lifted and all those unmolested color choices are there making their grand appearance, standing at attention in their neat little rows waiting to greet you. I was always envious of my classmates that were so lucky to have the "BIG" box with the sharpener as we grew up poor and I always had to settle for the smaller sized box.  This could explain my strong emotional connection still today to that sharpener.  LOL.  

#14 in the Wash Tub Series of drawingsYesterday, I finished working on a new drawing in my Wash Tub series that I am really excited about. It is hard to believe but this is actually #14 in the series so far.  This one is of a black Labrador and two mallard ducks in that very familiar tub.  At the base of the tub I have added some fuzzy baby ducks and a red ball.  The dog has soap bubbles on her head, which I hope gives you the impression that she has been playing in that water herself.  We all know that Lab's love to play in the water.  It's a really fun piece and I had a great time creating it.  It is SO much fun in fact,  that I felt a downloadable coloring sheet would be a great idea. 



As and artist, I feel it is important to share my love of drawing with others and that is what prompts me to create fun giving away items. Little pieces of artwork to share with those that support this creative journey I am on.  Please download as many as you like.  Share them with your students, grandchildren or maybe you just want to color them yourself.  I would LOVE to see your finished coloring projects.  Snap a picture and let me see too.  






Here is the link to my FREE COLORING SHEETS



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Zinnias


One of my favorite garden flowers is the Zinnia.  They are easy to grow and just full of bright, bold colors that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard.  So this new piece was just so much fun to create. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the name and I couldn't really come up with anything funny, punny or clever so I named it "Zinnia in the Bucket".  It's rather obvious name but I find that it is better to keep the title simple than to be too elaborate or wordy if a "clever" title alludes me. 

The medium I used here is Prismacolor pencils.  I get asked often it the is watercolor and so I thought I would mention that I use odorless turpenoid with a brush to melt the wax and blend the layers of color pencil.  This process gives it a painted look that I just love.

I decided I was going to also make the design into a coloring sheet and offer it on my website as a free download. I have a number of design there already and I just love the whole process of sharing my art with others.  So feel free to hop on over to my website and print as many coloring sheets as you need.  All I ask is that you don't try to sell them. 

Here is the link:  http://www.julietownsendstudio.com/free.html






Friday, May 22, 2020

3 Ways to keep your Art Safer


What an interesting week this has been.  I decided to add some of my "Wash Tub" drawings on as downloadable art on my Etsy Shop.  In hindsight, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable about having the actually artwork available in that format.  It makes it very easy to steal.  I've actually received a number of comments recently on my Facebook feed advising me to "Copyright or better Watermark" my art as "Soap Makers" specifically were going to use it for their labels.  No offense meant to soap makers reading this, I'm just telling you what I've been told.  



I do know, as an artist, that all my original art I create is automatically my "Intellectual Property" and is legally protected from unauthorized use.  Taking the time to get an official copyright on your art would probably make winning an infringement court case easier but I don't believe it is completely necessary.  I'm not a lawyer but that is my understanding.  I actually had already created an account with eco.copyright.gov website and had listed 10 of the 13 wash tub drawings there with the intention of having them copyrighted.  I stopped the process midstream because I didn't realize that they had implemented a much higher fee structure recently and it now costs $85 to copyright 10 visual art images when before it was $35 for a whole file folder full.  I assumed I had answered something incorrectly so I decided not to proceed to the check out.  


Who knew that low and behold, just a few days later, I would be faced with that exact "unauthorized use" issue myself.  I had a recent Etsy sale and when I looked at this Etsy customer profile I immediately noticed she was a previous SOAP MAKER. (Alarms and Bells began ringing in my head!)  There was also an Etsy Shop linked to her name so I took a little peak at her listings and was immediately greeted with shower curtains and bath mats all covered with my artwork!  She didn't even take my name off the image.  

Now, she claimed she thought it was okay and that I didn't actually say in my listing that the files were for personal use only.  Of course that isn't true.  I clearly communicated that fact about 2/3rds of way down in my listing description but obviously she didn't read or didn't think she was going to be caught.   I contacted her immediately and to her credit she pulled the 10 listings down but had the nerve to ask me for a refund.  

The popularity of this series is making me rethink a few things.  I'm doing a better job of putting a watermark right in the middle of my smallest files to discourage future thievery.  I've also thought about making the image more of a poster design rather than my 100% my pure artwork.  Here is two of my more recent drawings wash tub drawings, "Rooster Cluckburn" and "Bathing Broodies".  




1.  WATERMARK your artwork- I created a file in Photoshop that give me 4 color choices for my watermark.  I add it to the top center of my smallest print at 50% opacity.  
2.  USE ONLY LOW RESOLUTION IMAGES-  
3.  USE GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH TO MAKE SURE YOUR IMAGES ARE NOT BEING USED WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.- Just like searching for words in Google you can also search images by choosing the little camera icon.  You then upload the image you want to search for and it will give you all the examples where that image or a similar image is found.  

Today, I came up with this bathroom poster format using the rooster and the hens.   I have included the 4 colors all available on my Townco Studio Etsy Shop as printable art.  I think they turned out cute and hopefully there will be Etsy Shoppers that want to purchase the files from me.






   






Just a little side note:  I learned something today.  To be able to print the "cent" sign like I wanted on the above poster designs, I found out that if you hold down the alt key on a PC and type 0162 it is the keyboard command to give you that ¢ symbol.  How cool is that?










Sunday, May 3, 2020

We need a real gully washer down here






Remember that old hymn "Showers of Blessings"  I can still hear the words in my head, "Showers of Blessings we need.  Mercy drops round us are falling but for the showers we plead."  Yes! Lord bring us the Showers NOW.

Lord, we need your help as a church, as a nation and as a world.  We're in trouble down here and we need your Holy Spirit to rain down on us with giant cleansing, reviving MERCY drops.  The kind that can soften hardened hearts and heal our land.

I've always heard heavy rains referred to as "Raining Cats and Dogs" and I wondered if there were more idioms that were used to describe a huge down pouring and I found a few I thought I would share.

Let me know if you have heard of any of these sayings:

  1. raining monkeys
  2. raining bullfrogs
  3. raining pitchforks
  4. toad strangler
  5. goose drownder
  6. fish drownder
  7. gully washer
  8. mud-sender
  9. palmetto pounder
  10. Sizzly Sod Soaker  (https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/80169/11-imaginative-regional-idioms-describe-heavy-rain)
I love that last one because it is so much fun to say.  That is the kind of showers I'm talking about.  Not that gentle summer rain that just is enough to mess up your car.  No, we need a Sizzly Sod Soaker kind of drenching down here.  That's my prayer today.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Baa Baa Bath Sheep



This is my newest drawing in my Wash Tub series and it is just in time to order for Mother's day if you hurry.  Up to this point I have only had one animal at time in the tub but it seemed fitting to include a ewe and a her brood of youngsters as we approach the month of May.

While I was working on this piece, I couldn't help but remember the process bath time was when my own 4 kids were babies.  It was akin to a well organized assembly line.

I would hand one baby at a time to my husband in the shower and then as he washed them and shampooed them I was drying and putting on pj's on the clean child he had handed back to me.  It was fun times and I miss those years when they were all small. Thinking about those times, so many years ago brought a smile to my face while I drew this piece.  Of course, to really personalize this drawing to match my family dynamic I would have had to add a 4th little black lamb to the group.

"Baa Baa Bath Sheep"
For me creating art is about creating an emotion.  There is just something about drawing that transports me to my happy place or sparks a cherished memory from my past.  Scripture tells us that  "A happy heart is like good medicine but a broken spirit drains your strength." Proverbs 17:22   A HAPPY HEART is a powerful concept and living a life full of happiness is a choice.  I find myself at times becoming overwhelmed with the negativity of this world that surrounds me and I just have to escape to my studio, turn on some worship music and grab my sketchbook. I sing and I pray while I am drawing and the stress and anxiety just begins to disappear and fades away.  God is so good! (I can even hear your replying back to me "All the Time.")

This piece is titled "Baa Baa Bath Sheep" and is one of 10 drawings in a new series I'm doing that I call my wash tub series.  I may be quarantined in my studio but I'm loving this whole process of drawing farm animals taking a bubble bath.  The series has been so well received and for that I am so blessed. 

If you would like to purchase a print or note card with this image then you can visit my Etsy Shop and here is the link.  Search "Wash Tub" and you should be able to find all the rest of the water logged gang there.     HAPPY ETSY SHOPPING!