Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Moves You?

I would love to hear about an experience that you had when a piece of art "MOVED" you and stirred an emotion within your soul.  Where were you and do you remember the details of the piece or the artist's information?

I was reading through my Facebook updates this morning and had to read an entry by fellow artist (I love saying that) Elizabeth Robbins.  She stated, "This is why I paint. My soul touches another through my paintings."  She went on to share a letter that she had received from a collector that had just purchased one of her paintings and had relayed the emotional response that the collector's husband had when he saw the painting for the first time.  

Moving the viewer is what art is all about.  My goal with each piece should be to transfer the emotion that I felt when I was taking that hike, viewing the sunrise or witnessing the color splash of a blooming cactus against a rugged landscape to the viewer.  Now not everyone is going to be impacted the same by my art.  Often there will be a memory stirred of a place visited or a special childhood remembrance brought to mind and we don't all share the same memories or emotions.    A piece of art isn't just a wall decoration that is purchased because of the current color of your sofa.  Real art should be something that makes a connection to the viewer.  You want that person to love looking at your piece everyday and never grow tired.  I of course am not implying that my work has reached that level yet but as a landscape artist that is a level I'm trying to attain.  My work may never hang in a famous gallery or be invited to show internationally like some artists enjoy, but someday I too hope to have collectors of my art and people bringing me photos of some favorite vacation memory to commission a piece for them to cherish and pass on to their children.  

As my mission statement declares, "I want to leave little pieces of my heart framed and hanging on a wall for everyone see it, appreciate it and remember me by."  If your interested in seeing my work, be sure and check out my website and gallery at

Here is the latest piece I have completed during my lessons with landscape artist, Lily Adamczyk.  This piece MOVES me and I hope that it has that same impact on you.   My goal with taking lessons is that I will be able to paint with such proficiency and color accuracy on my own without Lily looking over my shoulder.  I just want to be a sponge and  soak up the 40 years of her experience in each two hour session, but that takes time and LOTS of practice. Oh and LOTS of LESSONS!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Like a Mad Scientist...Experimenting With Color

Yesterday, I started blogging about a book I was reading written by Margaret Kessler titled "Color Harmony".  I didn't make it off page 15 because there was such good information that I need to spend time  soaking it all in.  I underlined a statement under the subtitle -Increasing Intensity.  Kessler states, "To brighten a dull or tinted color, add a warm color to the mixture."  This is a bit more complicated than that because we all leaned in elementary art class that  if you add primary colors together we get a neutral color.  Not what we want here so she warns that it is important that we understand the proportions of primary color that each color contains.  The natural thought is if you want to brighten a color that you would add white and to darken you would add black.  This isn't  always a correct assumption.  Adding white to a color will often cause the color to be washed out and to look chalky. I will sometimes counteract that by adding some Naples Yellow to the color so that I don't loose the brightness.

 Adding black does darken but can look unnatural according to Kessler.  Payne's gray can darken a color but can also make the color seem boring.  I've decided to remind myself of this fact by only putting the smallest amount of Payne's gray on my palette when I lay out my colors because my natural instinct is to dip my brush in that color when it would be better for me to use dioxidine purple or ultramarine blue for my shadow colors.

Adding the complement of the color can mute and darken the color.  Adding a warm color can brighten or intensify the color. There is a great deal of information shared just on this one page and I know that it is time to pretend that I'm a mad scientist and cook up some color experiments of my own.  I think I just might take a large canvas and just section it off and do a color study this weekend.  Maybe I will just come out with some "Popping" creations and learn something in the process!

Here is my son, Dr. Jared Townsend-a for real scientist

Here Jared is conducting an experiment but I don't think he looks too mad.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Make Your Colors POP

"The road to color harmony begins with understanding the characteristics and properties of the colors on your palette-how to mix and match them so that they work for you.  You must appreciate the full potential of every color and the effect each color has on another." Margaret Kessler

I've had the book called "Color Harmony in Your Paintings" by Margaret Kessler for sometime and I know that when I first received it I flipped through the pages but up to this point I haven't really studied it.  Today I am reading through it's pages and am anticipating the information that I am going to glean from within it's covers.

I find myself underlining several great points on page 15 that deal with the topic of Intensity.  Kessler says, "The key to making your paintings 'pop' is to juxtapose bright hues against dull ones."  I think that I'm going to write this down on a note card and post it on my easel because even though during my painting lessons this has been discussed, I find that in the heat of painting these important foundational points can be neglected.  You really want an object to "POP" you need to paint the lighter values next to a darker color.  Leaves in a tree are a great example.  As you increasingly lighten the value of your leaf color you want to position the brightest leaves in areas that are surrounded by darkness.  I did this in my painting "Fallen" and the birch saplings seem to almost jump off the canvas. Lily also had me place light colors for rocks in the shadows and dark colors for the rocks in the sunlit areas.

Painting completed during my painting lessons with teacher Lily Adamczyk

Last Leaf
This concept again was used in my painting Last Leaf.  The darkness of the pine needles cause the light gold tones in the leaf to just pop off the canvas. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Painting a Very Special Cowboy

There have been several times so far in my journey to become an artist that I have worked on a piece that evokes a strong emotional response and usually this has been connected to a piece that makes me think of my dad.  I've painted two pieces right after his passing that brought me to a place of deep reflection and once again I find myself going there again.

Since another year has past and we now have completed year two, I felt it was time to revisit that old newspaper clipping that I have of my dad riding a buffalo at about 20 years of age.  This is just before he met my mother and of course two years before I was considered. My dad left his home in Hugoton, Kansas and began riding the professional rodeo circuit and I'm sure, gave my granny lots to worry about.  There is something about 20 year old boys that can make any mother's hair turn gray.  I know...I've raised 4 of them and have LOTS of gray hair!

So this morning I'm drinking my usual cup of McDonald's fine coffee and considering the canvas that is just blocked out in acrylic at home on my easel.  To the causal glance, anyone would be able to recognize a typical rodeo scene unfolding but this canvas represents so much more than that to me.  As I lift my brush each time to add to the layers of paint, hoping to achieve the desired effect, I am meditating on what this man meant to me and how great my heart aches that I am no longer able to hear one of his facinating stories, discuss a current event or just hear that familiar voice on the phone.  

Yes, painting is personal and can be a very reflective and healing.  It is a way that I can give honor to a very SPECIAL cowboy, my dad-Gerry Warner Diveley.

My dad riding in the rodeo

The starting of my newest painting-buffalo definitely needs to be thicker

"A Cowboy Tribute" 18 x 24 Acrylic-If you are interested in purchasing any giclee prints of this particular piece visit my Fine Art America site at:Julie Townsend-A Cowboy Tribute

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I LOVE Old Mining Towns

There is just something about walking around in a history lesson that gets me excited.  I have always loved old things from books, photographs, movies, fossil rocks and even the old portions of cemeteries.  It is no wonder that Nevada holds such a fascination to me.  Only in Las Vegas do they implode the old buildings, while in the rest of the state they are just left to stand as old monuments in the desert.  Some of the towns remain, but are just a slight image of their glory days.  Nevada towns like Pioche, Tonopah, Goldfield and Austin are just a few of my favorites that are living testimonies of their rich history.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love to go exploring in the desert and ghost towns are so interesting to me.  Now all the neighboring states have rich examples of mining boom towns and so my most recent painting was inspired by a visit to Jerome Arizona some 25 years ago.  Jerome boasted a population of over 10,000 in the 1920's to 155 in the mid 1950's.  The 2010 census lists the current population to be around 450.  Cooper was mined here in the boom and now the town depends completely on tourism to survive.

I wish we had taken many more pictures but this old 3 story structure was an amazing shot.  I love the addition of the laundry hanging in the wind to testify that as of that time there were still people making a home within its walls.

I hope you enjoy this 16x20 acrylic that I call- "Jerome".  The finished piece will be available in my gallery page on my website shortly at , but I wanted to give a sneak preview for those that check out my blog.

Original photo we took some 25 years ago

Almost completed painting that I am going to call "Jerome".

Friday, March 15, 2013

Musings of an Over Caffeinated Blogger

This week represents 2 years of blogging for me and this will be my 78th published post during that time.  My first post was published on March 11, 2011 and here I sit, drinking my third cup of my favorite coffee in the same McDonald's that most every post has been either started, completed or at least considered.  To me writing has always been something that I really enjoyed and like painting, wasn't practiced nearly enough during the 30 years I raised my family and worked full-time.

Now don't get me wrong...Business Administrators do have to write an occasional letter but usually they consisted of what was called in my Business English class as  a "BAD NEWS" letter.  You know the one that states you own money, you haven't paid your money or we need to hear from you about your money.  Most of the letters I wrote were connected to the collection process.   Three months retired and that life is like ancient history now.

Writing now for me has taken on a completely different prospective.  I try to focus mostly on my journey as an artist in this blog so the majority of my posts are art related but occasionally there has been a  humorous story about rattlesnakes (5-23-11),  being snowed in on a Memorial Day camping trip (5-31-11) or family traditions like picking apples in Caliente, Nevada (8-8-11).  I enjoy sometimes looking back at my past blogs and remembering those entries.

Blogging is very similar to a public diary because it is really a mystery at who is really reading your posts.  I have read several books on blogging and there are a number of ways that you might measure your success as a blogger.  First is the number of page views.  This morning I have 4310 page views. I check everyday the number and have been excited to see my average nearing 50 a day.  Of course I would like to see 100  or 1000 page views but in two years there is definite growth.  Another measure is followers.  This has been very slow and I'm not sure how to produce more followers but 9 is what I currently have and I'm thankful for those that care to read my blog regularly.

Finally, comments left on your blog can be a positive measure to the success of your blog.  I love to hear the occasional comment but would love to have this be a daily occurrence.  I think that helps you not have that scary feeling that you are just talking to yourself and there is really no one out there.

 So today I'm resolved as ever to keep blogging on..... and hopefully you will keep viewing, following and commenting. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Packing up the Baby and Saying Goodbye

If you are interested in viewing more of my work then please check out my gallery page on my website at :

The experience of packing up a painting to ship off to a new home is one of mixed emotions for me as the artist.  It is both exciting and a wee bit sad.  I, as I assume most artists do, pour their heart into their creations.  So knowing that it is the last time you will actually see the piece has just a bit of sadness attached.  That emotion is very quickly pushed aside as I realize that a complete stranger to me also appreciates my work and is willing to part with their hard earned resources in this prearranged exchange. 

So yesterday, we followed the steps outlined in a very helpful blog I read a few weeks ago about preparing to ship paintings.  We bought that 1 1/2 thick foam insulation sheet from Home Depot and cut out (2) 18 x 24 pieces.  Brad went out to the shed and pulled out two pieces of cardboard from our stash while I retrieved the tape gun.  I snapped this last picture as we secured "Dreams in Shades of Gold" for the journey to Tawas City, Michigan.

As an artist I have set myself a number of small milestones that measure my progress.  This act of packing up my painting was one of those milestones....Sell a piece to a complete stranger!  Up to this point every painting I have sold has been to a friend or acquaintance.  No longer is that the case.  I have achieved a small but significant goal as an artist and this morning my McDonald's coffee is especially tasty!

Packing up my painting for shipping to the new owner

Prints are available at Fine Art America site.  Just follow this link:

Dreams of Shades of Gold

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pinch Me!

If you are interested in viewing more of my work then please check out my gallery page on my website at :

Almost a year ago I was contacted by a writer of Gold Prospectors magazine following an email I sent to the editor regarding my love of sharing the rich history of this state through my paintings.  Often that would include the tough miners that came here in floods seeking their fortunes.  I had just finished a painting called "Dreams of Shades of Gold" and shared that image in my email.  Next thing I know I am being called for an interview.  Finally the published article is in my possession and I immediately had it framed.

I couldn't take a picture of myself holding the article just anywhere, so this morning we took a drive out towards beautiful Lake Mead.  Now there may not be gold in those hills behind me but they sure are a pretty color and lends nicely to the composition.

Monday, March 11, 2013

How Much Paint Is Under Your Fingernails?

If you are interested in viewing more of my work then please check out my gallery page on my website at :

I had a phone conversation the other week with Pastor Tom Van Kempen, my pastor, my former boss and yes friend.  He was just checking on me since my Dec 2012 retirement after 27 years as the business administrator of The Champion Center of Las Vegas.  He just wanted to call to see how I was doing.  During the course of our conversation he verbalized a statement that I hadn't completely considered, but in my heart I knew was true.  He said, "You are creating a whole new life for yourself."   Wow, this really is what I am doing.  I know for one thing, I didn't leave the workforce so that I could stay at home and watch TV and piddle around the house...No, I have stayed focused and motivated these past three months to paint better and have set goals and increased my networking.

As of January 2013, I'm now represented by a small co-op gallery in the heart of the Las Vegas art district.  I was also ecstatic to have the March/April publication of Gold Prospectors magazine feature a story about my love of painting Nevada.  This is all thrilling but probably my biggest change has been the addition of artist friends in my life.  While my life has been blessed with 3 very dear friends to share my joy, pain and all the other emotions that life might throw my way, I didn't have friends that shared the love of art.  So two years ago I joined the local artist guild and set my sights on becoming acquainted with a couple of veteran artists that had not only experience in the art world but might also help me develop or improve my style.  This decision has probably been the most important of all to my journey to become an artist.

Just this past month,  three of us decided to challenge ourselves by painting the same landscape photo.  There was no real purpose except to challenge each other and the fun of seeing how each of us would handle differently the same subject.  Yesterday, I got to see the Jan Arduini's finished product. I love the fact that I am part of this little inner group.  I'm still waiting to see how my friend and instructor, Lily Adamczyk handles the challenge as she hasn't finished her piece.  I couldn't help but reflect this morning over my morning McDonald's coffee on Jan's painting and my own.  I decided that I would share both works with you and hopefully encourage you to get yourself out there as an artist and start rub shoulders with others that just may have more paint stains under their nails then you do.

Original Photo provided for the challenge

This is my rendition- I'm calling it "Standing on the Solid Rock"

Jan Ardiuni's version

Almost completed work by Lily Adamczyk

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Painting Dusty Prospectors

If you are interested in seeing more of work please consider checking out the gallery page on my website at:

It was just last year around this time that I began painting a piece that I would later call "Dreams in Shades of Gold". At the time that I started laying out the composition, I had no idea just how much attention this little piece would bring me.  Now nine months later, I am sitting here with a copy of the Mar/April 2013 publication of "Gold Prospectors" magazine on the table next to me still feeling a bit of shock.  The magazine is lying opened to pages 68 and 69,  where very familiar photos are beautifully displayed.

What an honor to have talked with freelance writer Russ Balbirona as he interviewed me for this little story.  What a great job he did by sharing my feelings about this amazing state and how inspired I am whenever I have the fortune to be out in the vastness that I call home.  Brad with his love for gold prospecting and me with my paint brushes. Thank you Gold Prospectors Magazine for sharing my work with your readers.

See How Happy I Am-Just Painting Away
Now Brad Looks Just Like A Dusty Prospector

Enjoy my little tribute to Nevada:

Dreams In Shades of Gold

Mining Nevada

Pioneer Dreams

Mojave Sunrise

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Painting in My Daddy's Studio


This weekend I took my little art show on the road. I'm under the belief that the majority of artists have to spend the time hocking their wares and braving the elements before attaining a certain level that allows them the freedom to just pack up their creations, ship them off to prestigious galleries and let well dressed sales staff do their bidding. So from the bottom levels of small parking lot art venue, I have spent my past weekend being cooked like a lobster in the hot Nevada sun on Saturday and then to have my artwork blown around like neglected laundry on the clothesline on Sunday.

Today, I sit here drinking my McDonalds coffee still feeling the effects of the weekend on my sunburned and windburned cheeks.  All this in the name of marketing my art. I can't believe how a little fresh air can make one feel so exhausted.

The exhaustion subsides slightly however, when I remember my art excursion yesterday. Dragging myself out of bed was the biggest challenge, but once I had my feet firmly planted on the floor I then turned my attention to packing my art bag and a yummy picnic lunch.  You see,  plans had already been set in motion to meet my artist friend and teacher, Lily Adamczyk for my second plein air experience.(Painting outdoors)

There is just something about sitting in view of a magnificent panoramic vista that makes me consider the greatest artist of all, my Heavenly Father and this amazing masterpiece He created for me to enjoy. When viewing the mountain range that stretches before me in preparation to start my painting, I look at my palette of available colors that I have just squeezed out and my mind considers just how to combine them to come up with the blue of the sky, the reds and golds in the rocks and the amount of green versus browns in the foreground. Is that more alizarin crimson or would I use more dioxazine purple to match that dark strip that runs throughout the full distance of the cliffs? Is the sky more ultramarine blue or do I need more of the cerulean?

Three hours just pass by as I hurriedly try to capture the scene on my canvas before the sun completely changes. I only stopped for a few minutes to eat the lunch I had packed with such thought and care earlier that morning. No longer was the priority in my mind the roast chicken, fresh fruit and edamame salad that I had placed in my cooler, but rather my unfinished canvas and the dream of what my finished piece will look like.

If you haven't painted outside of the confines of 4 walls and artificial lighting for sometime, then consider, as we approach this spring season, to pack up your paints and brushes and go paint in OUR DADDY'S STUDIO.

Beautiful Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas

Lily working on her second plein air piece

My second plein air attempt...not where I want it to be, but certainly improved from my first trip

Monday, March 4, 2013

Can I Have Your Autograph?


Finally the magazine article has been published.  It was almost a year from the first contact, interview, second interview, photos sent to the final results and I can't wait to receive my complimentary copies of the magazine.

I knew the story was going to be in the March/April 2013 edition, and I have made a mental note that I needed to contact the writer to find out the details, but on Saturday I was out displaying my paintings in front of Wholefoods and I had a man come up and ask if I was the artist in the magazine article.  Now that was jaw dropping to me.  He even said he wished he had brought his copy with him so that I could autograph it for him.  Now I know this is a magazine that has a specific niche audience but I fit in that niche and while it isn't an art magazine who's to say that dusty old gold prospectors don't appreciate art.  I mean my husband is getting older, loves digging in the dirt for gold, he is often dusty and he at least acts as if he likes my paintings. 

It was an unlikely marketing avenue, but I decided to go for it when I wrote the letter last year introducing myself and sending them some examples of my art that focuses on the rich mining history of Nevada.  The worst that could happen was that they could have ignored me.  But that wasn't the case.  I received an email from a freelance writer within two days requesting an interview for the magazine. 

This has been an exciting week with the publishing of the article that showcases my love of painting Nevada.  I haven't seen the article yet, but this magazine has a circulation of 70,000 readers. Notice I typed 4, yes 4 zeros after that 7.    To top that off,  this weekend I sold 3 prints on Fine Art America, 2 of which were of "Dreams in Shades of Gold".  Finally, last night I received an email request from a lady in Michigan wanting to purchase my original.  Way exciting for a brand new artist like me.  You can be sure that as soon as I get my copy of the magazine, I will be adding the article to my website for all to read.

"Dreams in Shades of Gold"- SOLD

Friday, March 1, 2013

Art is Hard Work-And Thank God I Have a BSBA

(Be sure and check out my website gallery if you are interested in seeing more of my work at

Art is Hard Work-And Thank God I Have a BSBA:
I'm sure that many people believe that to be an artist means that you are spending hours in a studio, covered in a variety of paint colors and being a bit on the loopy side from hours of inhaling solvent and turpentine fumes. I mean why else would Van Gogh have decided to rid himself of a certain appendage? It had to be toxic fumes and lead poisoning, right?  While that might be some of the perception, there is actually a great deal more to it than just painting.

Once the painting has been created, I have to come up with a name.  This can actually be harder than you would think.  For example yesterday I reworked a piece that I had finished as part of a lesson several years ago.  The changes really improved the piece so I have decided now to add it to my available inventory.  Yes, I consider my available completed works as part of an inventory and I have created an inventory worksheet in Excel to keep track of each of them.  Speaking from an accounting perspective, I don't care if my inventory is LIFO (Last In,First Out) or FIFO (First In, First Out) just so that there is inventory going "OUT"!

I include the name, dimensions, price, date completed and location for each piece on my spreadsheet.  When you are actively displaying your work you can find that you can forget that you have pieces displayed and so it's important to keep a record of where each piece is, including the date that you have to pick it up.
"Lazy Daze"- This is my reworking of the original painting lesson- My own style added and a good measure of my improved painting skills

My original painting done as part of my online lessons with Tim Gagnon

Back to naming a painting...This morning I was creating price cards and certificates of authenticity for each of my paintings and of course I needed to come up with a name.  This slow flowing river, tall grass and young pine trees made me think of a pleasant summer day (Thinking about pleasant summer days is all I can really do because there is no such thing as pleasant summer day in Las Vegas) so I decided that I would name it "Lazy Daze".

After coming up with a name I then must set my price for my piece.  Currently, I set my prices based on the size of the canvas.  In theory, the larger the canvas the higher the price because the longer it took me to paint it.  That isn't always the case but that is my logic right now and I feel it is important to have logic when pricing your paintings.  I don't know how other artists set their prices but this is the way I have decided to do it for now.  The goal of course is that I will be able to command higher prices later but right now I feel that my pieces are worth $75-$300 range.  And while I can't attest to lots of sales at this point in my early career, I feel that this is a fair price, especially if the piece is framed.

In my example of "Lazy Daze" I have set a $200 price as it is a 20 x 20 gallery wrapped canvas.  Galley wrapped means that I took the time to paint the outer edges of the canvas so that the piece doesn't have to be framed.  Now that I have the name, set the price, added the painting to my inventory and printed out the paperwork to attach to the painting, I then need to photograph the piece with our nice camera. I often take a quick picture with my iPhone so that I can talk about the painting on Facebook but this doesn't provide a high enough resolution photograph for future use.  If you want to create giclee prints later for promotion or to sell you need as high a resolution as possible.  You can always decrease the size of a file but it isn't very effective to try to increase the pixels and if your piece is sold you have lost your chance to get a photo later.

Finally, I upload the file to the gallery page of this blog and then I go to my website at and add the file to the gallery page there. Here I have created Paypal buttons for ease of purchase.   I also have to come up with an interesting promotional paragraph about the piece.  I think it is important to explain what inspired you to paint it.  If there is history or a personal story that goes with your inspiration then this a very nice addition and will hopefully touch the potential buyer and makes you more personal as the artist.

That is a lot of background work just to get the piece ready to show it to the public, not to mention packing and transporting the painting.  Of course a business degree isn't a requirement but there is an element of organization that is helpful  to the overall success of your business.

Getting Ready to Take This Show on the Road- Portable display stand made from 2 easels, (2) 1 x 2's and a sheet