Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Looking Good in Green

I've never been the stereotypic female that screams at the sight of rodents or creatures with six or eight legs.  I've been known to actually take a spider out of the house and release him to live a better life in the great outdoors.  I recall once amidst the screams of my co-workers I was asked to crawl under the desk to check the recently sprung mouse trap only to find the poor creature alive and only trapped by a small portion of the leg.  I dawned gloves and took the trap and all in my car to the desert to release the terrified mouse.

There have only been a few times that I have locked my keys in the car and one of those times involved seeing a large praying mantis on a bush as I drove into a parking spot at the Costco.  I was so excited to examine the insect closer that I temporarily lost all sense and closed my car door with my keys lying in the seat.

It is no wonder that when I saw a photo by photographer Nina Schultz of Bisbee, Arizona of a gorgeous praying mantis atop a bush of massive white blooms I just knew this would be a painting I would like to try.

Here you can see my work in progress....still needing to add the final highlights.  When it's finished a high resolution photo will be taken and he will be available on my website at www.julietownsendstudio.com.  

Living in the Past...

I'm thinking about this past September.  Actually I have been thinking about it quite often because I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon on the beach at Lake Tahoe.  I believe the name of the beach was Sand Harbor and it was simply breathtaking.  My son and two of my daughter-laws, along with grand babies and my niece had a marvelous time soaking in the beauty. 

We all had a good laugh because shortly after we arrived, every living creature seemed to want to steal our picnic lunch of sub sandwiches and make it there own.  First, it was the squirrels, then the bees swarmed us and then finally came the sea gulls trying to snatch it right out of our hands.  I had to give in and surrender a portion of my sandwich by throwing it off into the boulders to serve as a distraction to the bees while we tried to gobble down the remainder of our sandwiches. 

The water at Tahoe is crystal clear and bright blue.  It is by far the most beautiful lake I have ever seen.  The sand is clean and bright and you are surrounded by gigantic boulders and majestic pine trees.  As an artist, I find that words really fail to adequately describe the beauty and a better outlet for me is to grab my sketch book and then later try to relive those colors and sounds using my paint brush in my studio. 

That is the blessing to me as an artist because most people are only left with photo to look at to remember but as a painter I actually get to revisit these experience in a deeper way so that my piece has life and energy to it. Thank you Lord for giving me the gift of art!

Quick study sketch

My painting is still in progress.  I have painted in my family on the beach and out in the water but now I am considering making them just a bit larger.  I think I need to have them stand out more but I'm still in the contemplative stage at this point in the painting where I have to stand back and study it to decide just what my next course of action will be. 
Current Work in Progress on my easel of a beach scene at Lake Tahoe.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't Toy With my HeART

Twice in the past month I have had the experience where I thought that perhaps I had a serious buyer and that a potential sale of a beloved piece was emanate, only to be completely ignored once I mentioned the price that I had felt I wanted to for my piece.  Purely coincidental I believe is that both pieces involved paintings of chickens.  Now I'm not trying to imply that those that feel drawn to colorful paintings of feathered fowl are some how undependable but that was just an observation that I made.

I think I have a fair system of pricing my work and to me that have poured my heart into each of these pieces it is hard for me to access a value.  These are somewhat like little children and how can you put a value on your child?  But then my business mind takes over and for me to measure my success as an artist I must consider the bottom line.  If my work continues to pile up and every square inch of my walls around my home are covered with my artwork, then I can honestly say I have a surplus inventory and I need to move more product to attain my sales goals.  Art is a tricky business.

So the other night I was approached about my newest piece.  Literally the paint is still wet and yet she said she loved it and had to have it.  At this stage I haven't even made up my mind on the name of the piece and am waiting to sign it then photograph it.  I thought about it and decided to respond that I believe I would ask around $125 even though my family was advising me to say $250.  At this stage I base my price structure on canvas size.  I figure the larger the canvas the longer it takes me to paint then the more I can ask.  I'm sure there are many different thoughts on how to establish a price but that is the one I came up with early on and until I find it now longer makes sense, I'm using it.

11x14 Oil- "On the Hunt"

So I have put that price out there on Facebook in black and white for the world to see and you would think I was talking to a block wall.  Not one more conversation followed on that thread.  It was as if I just crossed an invisible cyber-line and committed a serious transgression.  What price was expected for me to quote; $50 or maybe less?  Perhaps she is busy with her holidays and just hasn't had time to respond. Whatever the reason for the silence, I'm pretty sure this little fellow has time to dry and get a coat of varnish.

I saw this little piece on a fellow artist's Facebook page this past week and took some encouragement from it and thought it was a perfect close to my musing this December 20th. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have to Paint the CUTENESS Factor

Holidays equal decorations, family, good food and lots of laughs for most.  If you're an artist then the "DECORATIONS" parts can make your skills in great demand.  This year I found that out first hand.  As Thanksgiving approached I thought it would be fun to make my own table decoration as a memory keepsake.  It turned out so cute that I then decided the thing to do was make one for each of my kids that would be in attendance so that they had a cute keepsake too.  I decided as long as I was painting all these turkeys that I should also include one for my married niece that was going to be there.  Six turkeys and hours of painting later I was pretty happy with the end results.  I probably painted for 10 hours on this project and not to mention the hours my husband spent cutting and sanding all the pieces.  Thanksgiving was a success at the Townsend house and everyone loved their personalized decoration.

Thankful Turkey- Personalized table decoration- hand cut and painted ($45?)

One holiday down and Christmas is just weeks away.  I put away the bottles of brown and orange paints and immediately began digging for those reds and greens because once again my new life as an artist is being called into duty.  My dear friend teaches 2nd grade at a local Christian school and they have an event called Christmas Around the World.  This year her country to represent is Denmark and so to decorate the booth she wanted a large replica of an old Danish Christmas stamp.  The paper she provided measure about 4x5 feet so I had my work cut out for me.  I gridded out my banner and got to sketching.  The lettering was the most difficult part but I was pretty happy with my end results.  My niece Laura was even able to grab a brush and help with some of the painting.  Here we are standing in front of the newly created masterpiece.  

Now I am visualizing painting another holiday banner but this time painting it on canvas so it will last from year to year.  I really like how festive it looks on my wall next to my Christmas tree.  

Who knows there may be a market for this that I should explore for next year because I received a lot of positive feedback on both of my holiday creations. I can see making something that is actually treasured and has many memories attached that can be kept year after year and then passed down to the next generation.   I might just start by adding a new holiday tab to my website to feature personalized holiday keepsakes and work up some designs.  What do you think?

Christmas Banner- Wall size hand painted on cloth with your chose of Christmas designs and personalized for your family- ($150?)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Many Artists Does it Take to Paint a Chicken?

At some point in my journey to becoming an artist, I have gained enough confidence that I am finding that I am becoming more comfortable with the idea of painting in front of others and actually enjoy the challenge. The gallery that I belong to is an excellent place for a group of us to get together and let the creative juices flow.  This week CHICKENS were the main object of my friend Anna Norris and I's attention.  

Anna paints in a style that is so bold and thick and I am always amazed at her work.  She has been painting for years and has a colorful impressionistic style that I just love.  I thought she had actually finished her chicken that day but she completely transformed it when she got home later and I think she nailed it with this one.  I have attached her feathered creation below for your viewing pleasure.  To see more of Anna's work you can check out her website at http://www.annanorrisfineart.com 

Now at this stage my piece is only about half way finished I would say.  I paint with attention to more detail and have decided to include the background fence and foliage to the composition.  

I believe if you are interested in taking your painting to the next level it is very beneficial to find a group of fellow artists to paint with, spend time with and just enjoy the creative synergy that will undoubtedly follow.   

Enjoying an afternoon of painting chickens with friends at the Gallery

My painting after a couple of hours-all blocked in and waiting for it to dry so that I can start with the details

My inspiration photo- Now that is one fine looking rooster

The Feathered Creation of Anna Norris

Anna's inspiration.  Look at those amazing tail feathers!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From Whiskers to Hair Bows

Don't ask me why in the past few weeks I've decided that my painting was to take such opposites but I have been focused on two portraits that couldn't be further apart.  I usually paint landscapes and have little experience with portrait painting.  Actually, truth be told this pretty much sums up my portrait experience so you can imagine the struggles I have faced with these. 

I wanted the toothless old prospector to be holding his gold bag tightly in his hand.  A twinkle in his eye and a smile across his lips showing his excitement for his good fortune.  As I researched old photos for inspiration, I noticed a number of prospectors actually had a dog as a companion and that is when I decided that this composition needed a furry friend to make it complete.  For the past week I thought I was going to call this piece "The Big Payout" but today I changed my mind and decided this one was going to be called "The Big Reward".  Not only was this old guy one of the lucky ones to actually succeed in making a fortune but he also has the rewards of sharing his excitement with his faithful companion.  You can just see the excitement on this dogs face as he showers this his master with wet kisses.  

"Big Rewards"- 12x16 Original Oil Painting

I started this piece about 2 weeks ago and have been working on it of and on.  My inspiration is my beautiful granddaughter Katherine.  She now has enough light blonde hair that you can pretend to put it in piggy tails and huge hazel eyes but at this age you couldn't tell for sure what color her eyes were going to be and her hair was really more about the lack of.  Her mother compensated by always having her wear giant hair bows. This composition grabbed me because of her little hand outstretched and so large in proportion to her face.  This piece had special challenges because trying to reach that smoothness and brightness of skin tone that infants have was a real stretch for my skill level. 

"Katherine all in Pink"- 11x14 Original Oil Painting
Both of these pieces will be available soon on my website and will be hanging at City of the World Gallery at 1229 S. Casino Center Blvd, Las Vegas, NV  89104 for the month of December.  I hope you enjoyed them and will check back as I've already started my next painting adventure.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nothing Like Gold in the Pouch and a Lick on the Chin!

"The Big Pay Out"- 12x16 oil
Finally I am bringing my old prospector painting to a solid conclusion. This is my third painting in my series Old Prospectors. There might be a few slight changes but it is pretty much finished and I'm ready to move to my next creation.  This piece has been a challenge for a number of reasons- 1. The face is larger than any face I have painted up to this point, 2.  Hands are tricky and it was difficult to find reference material to use and finally, 3. I've never painted a dog so again finding the right reference material was a challenge.

I've decided to title this on "The Big Pay Out".  Not only has the old guy been successful finding enough gold to fill up his little leather bag he coutches tightly but his excitement is being met with loving devotion by a face full of kisses by his little companion.  He is one of the lucky ones as most left empty handed. 

 "The Big Pay Out" will very soon be available on my website at julietownsendstudio.com and prints will also be available there if you are interested.

"Taking a Break"- 18x24 Oil

"Just One More Pan"- 16x20 Oil

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Few Pencil Take Just a Little Space

Away for the weekend and once again unable to pack up all the painting equipment but there is always room for my drawing box and a pad of paper.  This is a drawing of my grandson taken almost two years ago.  I'm calling this pencil sketch"Judah and the Sock Monkry Hat ".  The details were fun to add in and I might add a red tint in a few places and get a red mat board to finish it off.  This piece will be hanging in November at City if the World gallery for first Friday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Turning a Photo into a Portrait

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of painting with my friend Jan Arduini.  Jan calls herself an "eclectic artists" and paints a wide range of subjects, all of which could be described as colorful.  Her ability to paint portraits is amazing and so I wanted to paint with her and learn more about the beginning steps taken to paint a portrait.  What is the approach needed to start and a good mixing recipe for the skin tone.  You can see Jan's artwork by visiting her Facebook page at Jan Harris Arduini

What I learned during my painting session was that it is better to pick a photo or subject that has a nice contrast of light and shadow across the face.  Straight on face shots sometimes lack that depth because of the lack of shadows.  In the picture I chose of granddaughter Katherine there are shadows cast by both her little arm and her very large and ornate hair bow.  The fact that she is reaching up with her little hand gives really good movement to the composition but boy did it play tricks on me as I was trying to sketch it out.  In relation to the size of her face the hand felt huge but that is because it is closer to you.  I decided rather than trying to draw in fingers that were not in the present in the photo I would try to paint a portion of the hand just like in the photo.

After a couple of hours of painting I am very happy with my results so far.  There are many more layers needed and tweaking of the facial features that have to be done.  I plan on painting the background in a nice rich brown so that all that pink just pops.  I plan to blog my progress in the next few days and talk about things I learn so check back for my following posts. 

Packing up after finishing an afternoon of painting and sitting at the gallery

Sweet Katherine- The reference photo I am using for my painting

Monday, October 21, 2013

Show Synergy Carried to the Easel

This has been one of the most productive weeks that I can recall for me as an artist and I think it is due to the energy I got from having so many friends and family that came out to celebrate the reception of my first art show on Oct 12th.  I had so much fun seeing all my work displayed and talking about each piece. It was like being a kid in a candy store.  That excitement couldn't help but flow out onto my easel.

Here is a preview of my new works that I have painted or finished up this past week.  We are still in the process of photographing, naming, varnishing and cataloging them but hopefully in the next week they will all be available on my website gallery at JulieTownsendStudio.com or hanging up at City of the World Gallery here in Las Vegas.
Blue Eyes Crying- 6x6 Oil painting

Sand Harbor at Tahoe- 6 x 12 Oil

Seeing Shades of Red- 18x24 Acrylic

Springtime Pansies- 12x16 Oil

Another Dusty Prospector on the Way

Yesterday, I started a challenging piece that is the 3rd in a series of paintings that I have been working on this year of Gold Prospectors.  I was honored to have my work feature in the March/April 2013 edition of Gold Prospector Magazine.  That was defiantly an exciting to see my work featured in a publication even if it wasn't an art magazine.

When I was doing some rough sketches of what I wanted to see in my next painting I came across a number of old prospector photos that included a dog.  It seems that besides a mule or burro, a dog was often a companion for these adventurous souls.  I thought it would be a good thing to include along with my aged prospector, man's best friend and a little leather pouch of gold.  Probably the two things that were most likely to get him to smile.  I hope that I'm capturing that bond here with my work in progress. 

This work in progress has several elements that are a first for me.  1.  I've not painted such a large facial portrait up to this point.  My other prospector paintings have included the entire body form and therefore the facial details were not as important.  2.  I've actually never painted a dog before and this will be my first pooch so covering him in a convincing fir will be a challenge.  3.  Hands are always tricky and this painting will certainly be that.  I will probably have to get my husband to be my hand model so that I can have a good detailed example to work from.

12x16 WIP Oil Painting- Not yet titled

In case you missed them, here are the other two paintings that I have completed this year in this series.

18x24 Oil- "Taking A Break"

16x20 Oil- "Just One More Pan"

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Are You Standing On?

A few months back, I started painting this piece as part of a photo challenge with several of my artist friends.  It wasn't long before this piece took on special meaning and I begin considering the old hymn "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" by Edward Mote as I painted the composition.  Now this morning I did a little reading about Pastor Mote and his famous song during my devotions.  Do you know this song was written in 1834?  What a message of encouragement he has left as his legacy.  As an artist, it is the greatest goal to create pieces that move those that view it.  As I started painting this piece the words of this old hymn kept coming to my mind.  

As I painted the distant storm clouds, I thought of the words "In every high and stormy gale" and when I worked on the strong rocky cliffs, I sang "On Christ, the solid Rock". And when I added little tree, I was reminded that "His blood support me in the whelming flood".  I was moved to consider my own life and all that my relationship with The Lord has meant to me.  I still remember that night, as if it was yesterday. It was April 1, 1975 and at the close of the message, I went forward and knelt at the little alter in the front of that tiny church in Osage Beach Missouri.  As 13 year old unhappy girl, I was desperately seeking acceptance and purpose in my life.  It was that night that I met my merciful and gracious Savior Jesus in a real and life changing way.  Ever since, He has been my Solid Rock.  He is the one constant that never changes.  Even when I struggle with relationships or experience tragedy in my life, it is my faith that I always cling to.  When this world that I am part of seems to be spiraling out of control, all I can do is turn to Him and pray!

My prayer this morning is that you will read these old words by Edward Mote and study my piece that I call "Standing on the Solid Rock" and be encouraged.

"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" 
              Edward Mote

  1. My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
    • Refrain:
      On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
      All other ground is sinking sand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
  2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
    I rest on His unchanging grace;
    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.
  3. His oath, His covenant, His blood
    Support me in the whelming flood;
    When all around my soul gives way,
    He then is all my hope and stay.
  4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
    Oh, may I then in Him be found;
    Dressed in His righteousness alone,
    Faultless to stand before the throne.

20 x 20 Acrylic painting titled "Standing on the Solid Rock"

If you are interested in this piece or viewing my other works please consider visiting my website at julietownsendstudio.com or email me at Julie@JulieTownsendStudio.com.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Whirlwind of a Week!

It has been the week of my very first show "Jan and Julie-Showing Their True Colors" and what a week it has been.  It started with the "First Friday" event on October 4th that sees as many as 800-1000 visitors to the gallery and ended with the reception this past Saturday where I celebrated with my friends and family.  There is something about seeing so many of my pieces displayed together on two walls that gave me a real sense of satisfaction.  It's like all my kids are home for a visit at the same time.  It might have been my first show but I certainly hope it's not my last.  I am already on the hunt for more venues. 

My friend and artist Jan Arduini and I standing in front of my display- We're ready for the First Friday crowd

A dear friend checking out my art

One of the pieces I sold this past week.  I look pretty happy here!

A view of my whole display on First Friday

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I'm Now In Love With "RED DOTS"

      RED DOTS

I was reading this very helpful blog today by Stuart Wider and found that his emphasis on the importance of placing that "little red dot" indicating that your artwork has been sold very interesting.  He says that it visually sends a message to the prospective art collector that your work has been deemed worthy by others and therefore may aid in their desire to own your work too.  He suggests that you display your title cards after a sale prominently with the all important "RED DOT" so that others can see your success.

Don't laugh, but I had to figure out how to accomplish such a simple task in my Photoshop Elements program but once I realized how easy it is, I had great fun making the necessary edits to both of these Misty Forest paintings that I have sold this week. 

After all, the ultimate goal to an artist is the "Sale" of your work.  It doesn't take long in this business to realize that many people give verbal compliments about your work but few are willing to back it up with a purchase.  That is the ultimate compliment when a buyer is willing to part with their hard earned resources and purchase a piece of your work to hang in their beloved home or perhaps give as a gift to a loved one. 

So, while I am exhausted from the busyness of this past week I am energized by a record week of sales.  I can only close this blog with this thought for the future, "Bring on the RED DOTS!"

Selling Your Art – The Golden Rules of Art Sales Hand-to-Hand Combat



"Shrinking Violets Should Apply Elsewhere"

"Hi!  I'm Julie Townsend and I am the artist.  If you have any questions about my work just let me know."  I had a few opportunities to say that last night at the First Friday event down at the gallery in the Las Vegas Art District where I hang my art.  I rent a small wall there for the past year that I can maybe squeeze 15 paintings on and have been to a number of these First Friday events.  The difference with last night was that I shared the main gallery room with my artist friend, Jan Arduini and we were the featured October Artists.  Needless to say, this week has been a busy one for me. 

Unlike many might believe, being an artist isn't just about sitting in a well lit studio creating amazing artwork but rather there are many hats that must be worn along with that paint stained apron.  You are the CEO, CFO, Marketing Director, Accountant, Shipping, Inventory Manager, Sales....well actually, you're the whole enchiladas!  It all falls on your shoulders, unless you are so well known that you have a manager or your own gallery complete with paid staff.  Reality is that you will have to spend time dealing with these details if you want to be successful.

It was a week ago, that I said to myself, "NO MORE PAINTING" and I turned to getting all my pieces ready for the show.  That means varnishing, framing, adding hanging wires, completing the paperwork, writing a few creative and witty paragraphs about each piece, uploading images to blogs and websites and then finally packing up the whole chute load into the truck and then hanging it at the gallery.  Thankfully, this show is hung for a month but when I take it down at the end of October it will be just in time to start showing to perspective Christmas shopper crowds at the weekend Farmers Market. 

I was very happy to find this helpful blog title:

Selling Your Art – The Golden Rules of Art Sales Hand-to-Hand Combat

I loved how Mr. Wilder compared selling art to a battlefield.  His words, "Shrinking violets should apply elsewhere" really hit home.  Even last night, I tired to balance the "Let people look" to "Should I engage" question over and over.  A couple hours into the show, I noticed a couple that had fixed their attention onto one of my pieces.  I was trying to appear as if I wasn't ease dropping on their conversation, but certainly could hear them discussing details about where they would hang it and things like that.  It was obvious to me that they really liked my painting.  I was getting pretty excited inside but still I hesitated to go over and talk to them and then to my utter dismay, they walked out of the gallery and without my painting.

I was pretty upset with myself for not having gone over there and tried to talk to them.  Fortunately, for me about an hour later they came back and were overjoyed to talk to me about their decision to buy my painting.  It was definitely the highlight of the evening for me. They are happy with my work and I am happy to have created something someone unrelated to me likes enough to spend their hard earned money to procure.  That is what this business is all about.

What did I learn?  That the only VIOLETS in the room should be ones I have painted on a canvas!

Jan and I posing with our friend Jeff Oldham in front of some of our work

My main display as you walk in the gallery front door

Thursday, September 26, 2013


THE CRUNCH IS ON!  This is my final week to get ready for my show called "Showing Their True Colors".  My artist friend Jan Aduini and I are having a joint show starting on October 3rd for Preview Thursday and October 4th is the really big event that is called "First Friday".  The little gallery that I belong to can have maybe as many as 1000 people walking through and this will be my chance to shine.  I've got some new pieces to show and I even painted a piece just specific for this show.

Every artist I talk to tells me that you don't want to show images of your work before a show because people will not come out to see it.  I guess there is logic to that statement, but boy is it hard.  I really like sharing my newest pieces on the social media hub.  Like a proud grandma showing photos of the new grand baby, I love talking about what I am working on.  Well, I have tried to practice restraint this past month and all I am going to say is there will be value in seeing all my works in person.

I did paint a piece just special for the show that I call "Showing Your True Colors" and I have used the image so far for any promotions I have done.  So I will include this piece in my blog today.
24 x 36 Oil "Show Your True Colors"

I know that I'm going to learn a lot in the next week but this is all part of my journey to become an artist. Next hurdle- The lament of most artists that I know-"Sell"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do Art With What You Got

This past weekend, I got the privilege of taking a road trip to Reno, Nevada to celebrate the first birthday of my beautiful granddaughter.  The drive takes a solid 7 hours and that is if you only stop once for a quick purge and fill up.  This trip was unusual because we were stuffed to the trunk hinges with all the necessities to stay a few days for the 5 of us.  The only thing is, when one of those five is only 10 months old, then the amount of luggage and baggage is multiplied exponentially.  That was the case this weekend, but I managed to squeeze amongst the diapers, toys and high chair a sketch pad and my sketch box.  It might not be oils and a canvas but you do art with what you got.

I found a few peaceful hours to complete this little sketch of a Navajo girl from an old photo.  I like how she has turned and I think the next thing for me to do is to head down to the Hobby Lobby for a mat and frame.
Navajo Girl (At' eed)-  8x10 Graphite and Pen sketch

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Show Your True Colors

A first me as an artist is to have my own show where my art is featured among my peers.  Well on October 4th, my art and that of my dear friend Jan Arduini will be featured in the main gallery room of the City of the World Gallery in the heart of the Las Vegas Art District.  This is a big honor and boy am I busy here in my studio getting ready.  I already have a number of pieces framed but hope to have a few more painted by then. 

The name of the show is "Jan and Julie-Showing Their True Colors" and so I have been pulling out the stops when it comes of reeving up the painting brightness.  Jan and I both painted a special painting just specific for the show and I've included mine below.  Come down one of the dates listed below and check out our work.

October 3, 2013- Preview Thursday (6-8)
October 4, 2013- First Friday (6-11)
October 12, 2013- Reception (6:30-8)
October 2013- Art work will be hung in the main gallery room for the entire month

City of the World Gallery- map and information

"Show Your True Colors"- An original 12x36 Oil painting

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just One More Pan

I just finished another in my series "Seeking Color" and I'm excited how it turned out.  When I started my initial plans for the painting I envisioned an white haired prospector that even though his gold bag is full is stopping one more time along the mountain stream to try to find "Just One More Pan".  His bedroll, supplies and all important gold pouch are stacked near a fallen tree.  Next to him he has his rifle ready to grab if necessary.  He is intently working his pan and is excited to see a couple of gleaming specks have already washed up onto the pan.

This series is inspired by my love for the state of Nevada-One of the largest gold producing areas in the world.  Nevada mines 79% of all gold found in the United States and this rich history spans over 150 years.  The Nevada miner is a sturdy and adventurous lot. To the likely protest of his family in the east, he traded in his plow for a pic, shovel and a couple of gold pans to seek a dream only the streams of the Sierra Nevada's or the dry dust that covers the desert floor could satisfy.  Few actually saw that dream come to fruition, many died in pursuit of the dream and Nevada is one of handful of states that owe them much.

If you are interested in this painting or seeing others in this series, you can check out my gallery page or contact me at Julie@JulieTownsendStudio.com.  

"Just One More Pan"- 16 x 20 Original Oil Painting

Friday, August 30, 2013

Taste the "Lemonade" to be Found in Competition

Here I am standing in front of my piece after the awards were announced

At the end of the day when I'm washing my brushes and turning out the studio lights, I have to think about my current piece.  There is a bonding process of sorts that takes place in the artist heart as your art progresses closer to that final stage and either you are at peace with where you find your creation or you are considering what has to change.  There is just something really satisfying to taking that final step of signing your name to a piece that you are excited about.  My recent piece that I call "Taste of Summer" makes me feel that way.

When you are presented with a themed art show and you know that you have the added incentive of some good competition some great creativity can hopefully emerge.  This summer I knew I wanted to enter the City of the World Summer Daze art show for several reasons.  1.  This is the gallery that I have my art currently hanging in and 2. I wanted to challenge myself with competing against some really good artists. 

My immediate thought of the theme Summer Daze brought me to thoughts of the beautiful summer fruit available at the local stores; watermelon to be specific.  I'm actually writing this at 3:30 am and eating a piece of this amazing fruit as I type.  To me watermelon encapsulates summer in my mind.  Sweet, juicy and refreshing this fruit is not only tasty but beautiful to behold with its bright red and complimentary green.  I was instantly intrigued with the prospect of a painting that focused on my favorite summer fruit.

Also, I thought about how refreshing a few slices of lemon in a glass of ice water becomes under the scorching summer Nevada sun and so my piece called "Taste of Summer" began to evolve in my mind.  I knew that to stand out amongst the other artists that would undoubtedly enter, I would have to make this piece not only bold and colorful but fun.  Since I usually painting desert landscapes this was going to be a challenge but the prospect of a little healthy competition was exactly what I needed to get me working out my idea on a small rendering.

I decided that I would cover 3/4 of the canvas with piles of lemons.  Now I didn't set this up as a still life in my studio but rather painted this out of my imagination looking at only a few examples of photos of lemons and watermelons.  I decided that the background should be plan but what better color to compliment lemons that purple.  Actually, this piece is really based on primary and complimentary colors now that I consider it but at the time I was just painting colorful fruit.  We have the red and green in the watermelon, the yellow and purple of the lemons and the background and the blue and orange of the cantaloupe and the blueberries.  How smart is that, even though I didn't plan that out necessarily in advance?

Last Saturday was the announcing of the winners and I was actually there when the judges were making their decisions.  I know that they had to meet a second time because there wasn't a clear winner in the first go around and when all the dust settled, I was giving second place.  Okay, I know that it isn't first place but I was thrilled just the same as you can see by my "Happy Face" on the photo.  The first place winner was a large and magnificently done watercolor of a man on a boat fishing. 

I'm going to end this blog entry (One because it is 4:00 am now and I'm starting to get tired again) with a challenge and a quote.  Don't be intimidated by other artists but rather take every challenge to put your work up against that of your fellow artists because each time you come away with a feeling of what you are going to enter next year that will be even better.

"Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition - in having put forth the best within you."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Maybe I Should Buy a Cowboy Hat

I was browsing Facebook yesterday, an activity that I have a habit of doing maybe more than I should, when I notice an acquaintance of mine had changed her profile picture.  The photo effect applied gave a worn appearance, which I believe is very effective tool when one is wanting to cover up wrinkles and age spots.  This is going to be something I need to remember for any future profile pictures.

What struck me about the photo was how cute she looked with her long flowing red hair sporting a just perfectly worn cowboy hat.  I had a strong and sudden urge to run out and buy myself a cowboy hat. somehow though, I just don't think I could pull that off, so I'll have to settle with my really cute haircut that I got yesterday.

There is just something about venturing out and trying something new when you're 50 something.   There is almost an uncontrollable urge to make some major changes in your routine and maybe that has something to do with the old phrase "Midlife Crisis".  Buying a cowboy hat or just getting a new hair cut probably isn't the signs that a crisis is brewing on the horizon, but I'm way too scared of heights to try sky diving.

My life has had so many changes in the past 9 months that I wake up with my head still spinning.  I really never dreamed that I would find a time in my life when I could both 1. still see the canvas and 2. be able to spend my day applying paint to it.  Yesterday, I was at Hobby Lobby and I actually passed out 3 business cards to the employees that were admiring my recent sketches.  I didn't mention the 27 years I worked as an accountant because that is not who I am anymore.  That transition from Accountant to Artist was formed from personal crisis set in motion mainly by others, but 9 months on the other side, I'm so much better off because I AM AN ARTIST and that thrills me. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Taste of Summer" is now available

"Taste of Summer"- 18x24 Original Oil painting

I know that summer is here when I see those large bins of watermelon available at the grocery store.  I'm not talking about the sad selection that we had all winter, but piles of beautiful round, sweet melons.  Cutting into that first melon of the summer is pure joy. 

And of course what is summer without pitchers of fresh squeezed lemonade.  That frosty tangy sweetness is the answer to a hot summer afternoon and believe me when I say that in Las Vegas we know HOT! 

Yes, it is the fruit that I look forward to in the summer.  All winter we have endured a limited selection of apples, oranges and bananas but now we have beautiful berries and melons to add to our culinary delights.  I hope this painting makes you want to grab a straw and enjoy the "Taste of Summer".

This piece was painting in my Las Vegas studio.  The original is currently hanging at The City of the World Gallery at 1229 S. Casino Center Blvd where I have a number of my pieces hanging.  If your interested in the original you can contact me directly and if you would like to consider ordering a print you can find it available at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/taste-of-summer-julie-townsend.html

Blogging about my 2nd favorite subject-COFFEE

This morning I'm sitting here drinking my coffee and looking at this blank blog screen.  I was just considering how drinking McDonalds coffee in the morning is a long standing ritual with me that dates back to the late 90's when my favorite McDonalds handed me one day a little white sticker about 3x3 that might as well been made of 24k gold.  Oh I was there to pick up an order in the drive-thru but they gave me SO much more.  That sticker would soon become a prized possession because it would entitle me to to a free large cup of coffee (no purchase necessary) each and everytime I passed through the drive thru.

It didn't take long after sampling this free gift that the addicting effects of the caffeine took hold of my heart and my head.  Soon I was waking up each morning and yearning to partake in my morning beverage.  This habit deeply rooted went on for over a year when like the cliche, "all good things must come to an end" when on one hot summer evening my world was rocked as I became the victim of auto theft.  When I got that phone call from my son informing me that my car had been stolen out of the Office Max parking lot my first thought was "Oh NO!  My drive thru club sticker."  My second thought was of the old west and how horse theives (the ancestors of the modern car thief) were strung up on the nearest tree and I had an momentary urge to be transported back 100 years.

Long story short, my 89 Toyota Camry was recovered a month later and my drive thru club sticker was still clinging to the windshield.  When that McDonalds management finally stopped honoring my little sticker I was hopelessly addicted to their product and have purchased a cup nearly every morning since then.  My perfect vacation spot is when I realize that there is a McDonalds within walking distance of the hotel. I almost think Expedia should have that as a useful filter option along with price and stars they should include "the distance to the nearest McDonalds" available when sorting out hotels.  Maybe I will contact them next to suggest it to them.

Regardless of what my day will bring this blessed Wednesday morning, it is starting out good as long as my husband will keep my cup refilled in a timely manner.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

mARkeTing is Almost as Important as Painting

Holding my framed copy of the magazine


....is almost as important as painting itself and every once in a while I have to ask myself am I doing everything I can to get myself out there.   This thought is more on my mind since it has been over 3 months since I have sold anything.  I found this article online and was pleased to see that most of the 16 suggestions I am already doing but a refresher never hurts.  http://rightbrainrockstar.com/general-advice/16-things-you-can-do-today-to-get-your-artwork-noticed/

Many of the artists I have grown to know in my two years of claiming to be one know very little about self promotion and frankly don't take advantage of the technology that is out there so besides this article I thought I would share some of the things I have done recently.

1.  BLOG, BLOG, BLOG AND BLOG!-  This isn't as hard as it sounds because as you can see I'm writing a blog right now and I like to write.  Even if you just post your most current painting to share or write a few lines about that art show you are going to it is getting out there.  I feel that it is important for people to identify with you as the artist on a personal level and blogging is the best way to do that.  Do you like your cat or dog?  Do you live near a tourist area?  Do you like old ghost towns?  Find something that will make you stand out and use that to BRAND yourself.  I try to blog several times a week and I check my blog statistics almost daily to see how many hits I have.

2.  Get a Website-  I love Weebly.com as I found it to be easy to use and I think it looks pretty professional for a free site.  My website is JulieTownsendStudio.com and I would love it if you want to browse my site and even ask me questions about it.  I check my statistics almost daily and so far my daily record for page hits has been 100 just a few weeks ago on July 19th.  Sometimes there are only 15 and other days I might see 75.  I don't know what makes the difference but I do know that on an average my page hits continue to climb and that is a VERY GOOD thing!  Eventually I believe that activity will generate sales for me.

3.  Join a Local Group- I joined the Vegas Artist Guild nearly 3 years ago and even served a year as their treasurer.  I made valuable friendships and have a number of opportunities to show my work that I wouldn't otherwise have.  If you want to be an artist, then you have to rub shoulders and elbows with artists (even if they are covered in paint and smell like turpentine).  I know have joined several other groups and they all have a number of opportunities.

4.  I have a FineArtAmerica.com account-  This is site that allows me to upload my images and then serves as a place that the public can order prints or cards with my images.  FineArtAmerica takes care of all the details and they send you a commission check each month for those sales.  I check my visitors to this site daily and browse the artwork that has just sold to get a feel for what is selling out there.

5.  Join a Co-op Gallery-  I have been a part of the City of The World Gallery in Las Vegas since January.  I rent a wall space and have about 15 pieces hanging there.  Each month the community has an art event called First Friday and this is a great chance to talk to the public about your work.  I get many compliments and positive comments and eventually that will equal sales.  I have to believe that.  There is no room for negative thoughts when it comes to marketing so don't get discouraged.

6.  Have FUN!  Don't paint just for sales but rather let the sales come from painting what you like.  I have to admit that I have been painting several smaller works (8x10) with the hope that a $50 price tag will be easier to sell over a large (24x36) piece that I'm asking $300 for.  I might like to paint large pieces better but my little chickens have been a blast to paint and they are so much faster to finish.

7. Find your Niche- If your art involves a specific location or industry then try to think of venues that aren't necessary art related but see if there is an interest. Get Creative and just jot down anything that comes to mind and then start researching who to contact.   I did that recently and it worked out very well for me.  I'm interested in Nevada Ghost Towns and so often I will paint something that is either a mining ruin or at least a desert scene.  I had painted a prospector panning for gold and decided I would actually contact the magazine, Gold Prospectors and low and behold they decided to do an article on my painting.  That article appeared in the Mar/April edition and generated a great deal of interest in my work.  Who would have thought.
Image of the page 1 of 2 in the Mar/April 2013 edition of Gold Prospectors

Who knew I needed a Garage to Park my Palette...?

For sometime now I have been thinking how great it would be for me to find a strip of plastic that would allow me to lay out my paints on it that was separate from the area on my palette that I mix my colors. This would allow me to change out the butcher paper without having to lay out new colors or transfer the unused paint to the new surface. It would also be easier to store the paints in the freezer without putting the whole palette in there.

Well low and behold I was looking at a fellow artist Facebook page the other day and noticed that she had her paints clipped to her easel. So on closer examination I knew I had to find out what it was she was using. She shared with me the name of a wonderful product called the Palette Garage. I think it is exactly what I was thinking about and the amazing thing is that your paints will stay fresh at room temperature up to 6 weeks by using a drop of clove oil. Now I'm certain we are talking only about Oil paints but just think how easy that is to grab and store in your painting equipment. Don't have to worry about the paints getting on things. Seems to me to be more handy that the stay-wet palette that I'm trying to use now.

I'm planning on purchasing one in the next few weeks to give it a try and I thought I would share this information to any of my blog readers out there.

Check them out for yourself at: