Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's not and Emmy or and Oscar...It's PAHRANAGAT MAN!

My "Pahranagat Man" trophy-based of local petroglyphs 

Last Thursday I loaded my car with art work and my artist friends and we headed north of Las Vegas 149 miles to the little Nevada town of Caliente for their 45th annual Memorial Day Art Show.  Now I'm probably one of the few people on the planet (besides the residence) that would consider Caliente a destination but I have always loved this little town so add an art show and you would have to chain me down to keep me away!  Reality though prevented me from driving back during the actual show so yesterday I drove back just to retrieve the artwork.

 I was completely in shock as I arrived and the historic train depot in Caliente, Nevada to find that not only had my painting "Casting Out the Darkness" won 1st place in the Acrylic category, but that my piece that I titled "Autumn Gold" won first place in the "Peoples Choice" category.  This designation got me a BIG fatty blue ribbon and a one of a kind unique trophy featuring none other than "PAHRANAGAT" man holding a palette and a paintbrush.    Its a 25 pound hunk of junk welded together to form a unique work of art or as my husband says a "Home Defense Weapon."

In reflection this morning this honor of "People's Choice" is better than any "Best of Show" or cash prize (Of course that would have been really amazing) but to have my work selected by the public is SO much better than the opinion of 1 judge.  The public is who we really paint for and this past weekend the public spoke and I'm blown away by the experience.  Believe me when I say that Pahranagat man is going to find a prominent place in my home!
Standing with my piece that was awarded the First Place People's Choice ribbon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sometimes it's CHICKENS and Sometimes it's FEATHERS

A hard reality that I'm certain that most artists have faced is that unless you are independently wealthy most of us actually want to sell our work....Probably so that we can buy more paints and a couple more canvases.  I hear artists talk about "The Good Old Days" before the economy failure and collapse, when there were collectors out there that actually paid money for your artwork.  Unfortunately, during that time period I was busy pushing a 10-key and was stacked up to my eyeballs with paperwork, working as the business administrator for a large private Christian school and church.  Painting was a far distant memory and the dream of being an artist was pushed so far down in my heart that I really didn't even give it serious consideration.

That all changed a couple of years ago when I decided to finally take that drawing class at the local community college.  For years I attended college classes there and online with University of Phoenix but each class always consisted of either being business or accounting related and it wasn't until I had gotten my BSBA did I even think I could take a "FUN" class.  With drawing 101 under my belt, I decided to give some online painting lessons a try so that I could try to resurrect that skill that I had so long let lie dormant. I went through the 12-week landscape lessons presented by Tim Gagnon (timgagnonstudio.com) and my excitement and confidence was reignited and the past three years are history.

So I have been retired from my "day" job for 6 months and now I'm painting full-time.  I've sold a couple of things this year but like all the other artists I know, I want to sell much more.  So I have my work hanging in a little co-op gallery in town and have packed up my "inventory" and hauled it out to a number of art shows.  I've created a nice website and paint almost daily.  I've decided that I'm going to offer smaller pieces that I can produce in less time and hopefully sell in a price range that will entice potential buyers to dig into their wallets.

Yesterday, even though I prefer to paint much larger, I created my first 8x10 masterpiece that I spent about an hour painting.  I chose chickens as the subject matter because I have witnessed the reaction that my fellow artist and friend Anna Norris got from the public when they saw her "Rainbow Roosters".  annanorrisfineart.blogspot.com  So I'm going to be offering 8x10's for about $50 instead of my normal price range of $150-$300.  This piece I think I'm going to call "Chicken Little" and it will be the first of a number of smaller pieces I'm going to paint in the next few months.  I hope you enjoy.

"Chicken Little"- 8x10 Original Oil

Sunday, May 19, 2013

There is Just Something Stunning about Birch Trees

This week I have been working on a large 24 x 36 acrylic painting that I think I'm going to call "Autumn Gold".  This painting was inspired by a collection of photos that we took while on an October hike, with my oldest son on the Galena Creek Trail, near Reno, Nevada.  A beautiful hike and has been a continued inspiration for me as I have produced a number of paintings in this past year from the photos we took.

There is just something amazing about the color and contrast that birch trees bring to a mountain slope.  The leaves have a quality that make them almost appear to sparkle when there is a gentle breeze blowing across of the mountain side.  The white of the bark glows and provides a striking contrast to the heavy pine trees in the area.

With this piece I've attempted to capture that feeling of a crisp October afternoon as you walk along a small mountain stream somewhere in the mountains.   The sounds of the breeze and water fill your ears as you stand frozen just drinking up that peace and beauty.

I might add a little bird in the pine tree but haven't decided for sure. I have used a paste medium additive to my paints for the first time.   This gave me a thicker application that I actually applied with a palette knife to give that impression of heavy bark on the pine tree.  That was fun and I think the final results turned out just as I had hoped for.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Awkward" Is The Word That Comes to Mind

The moment I pop  the cellophane wrapper off a new canvas, my artist mind begins what can only be described as a journey.  That white canvas contains unlimited possibilities and my list of things I want to eventual paint continues to grow.  Of course I consider myself a landscape artist so most likely my new painting will be a landscape of either mountains or the desert... two environments things that are dear to my heart.  There might be a dramatic sunrise or a collapsing ruin built by some long forgotten miner or rancher.  No matter the focal point that I eventually decide upon I have to do my research.  I gather up inspirational photos and reference materials that I use to inspire my final piece.  I work up a mental image of what I'm trying to accomplish before I lay out the paint colors on my palette.

Since I have only been seriously painting for the past two years, I'm still working out my exact methods and styles when  it comes to approaching a new piece.  At this point I really start by painting my sky in.  Many artists sketch detailed renderings to consider composition and values before they ever grab a brush.  This is a discipline that I haven't gotten  into but I know that I really need to add this step into my painting process.  I know that I will be a better artist if I slow down and really plan out each piece instead of just hoping it works.

Sky is in, so I then lightly paint in my main focal points such as the trees, stream or that old building.  Often the composition will change and thankfully it isn't difficult to paint out mistakes.  There is a whole period from the first brush stroke to the point that you start painting in the fine details that I refer to as the "Awkward" stage.  Only you as the artist can see the final result in your minds eye and as you bring your piece to life you have to start top to bottom, back to front and so this takes time to create.  I'm sure that it is a similar creative process that a musician uses composing a musical score, an author writing a novel or an architect drawing the blueprints for a towering skyscraper.  There will be a trash can filled with composition paper, writing paper or long pieces of drafting paper.  It takes a while to get it right and painting has that same process.  

After painting over or adding elements, there is a point where the piece begins to emerge from the "Awkward" stage to a "Bonding" stage.  Your heart begins to feel the excitement as your piece  begins to emerge literally in front of your eyes.  I find myself walking past my studio just so I can catch another glimpse.  I take frequent photos as I work because I find it very helpful to study the composition whenever I find that I have a few minutes.

Yes, there is a love-hate process that you go through as you're creating a new piece and you just hope the end result will bring feelings of more love than hate.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Progression of a Painting

1st lesson-Acrylic layout of the composition

2nd lesson - Covering the canvas with the first layer of oils

3rd Lesson- Adding in the first layer of details to the background and placing the shadows in both the water and the snow

Lesson 4- Glazing the sun rays and adding depth to the background by including touches of lighter colors

Lesson 5- working on details of the branches and water reflections

Lesson 6- More glazing on the sun rays and working on the snow

Final Piece- "Fire and Ice" on 16 x 16 gallery wrapped canvas-
If you are interested in purchasing any giclee prints of this particular piece visit my Fine Art America site at:
 Julie Townsend-Fire and Ice

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What's my Name?

This beautiful Sunday morning is starting out in my usual way; a cup of awesome McDonald coffee and free wi-fi.  So far, there are no screaming kids on the playground so for a few more minutes I am enjoying the solitude of my morning devotions and my blogging thoughts.

I'm considering my newest painting this morning.  It has taken several days, but I feel that I am almost at that completion point.  For me this is often an awkward time because for this piece I haven't yet come up with a name.  Just as a parent is faced with the awesome responsibility of naming their children, so is an artist with coming up with a title for each and every piece of work.  Once you have a name attached it is no longer the "WIP" (work in progress).

I started this piece about three days ago as just a retouch of an older sunset piece that I thought needed a bit more color.  I had just seen a sunset sky photograph that showed brilliant colors and using that as my inspiration, very soon it was obvious that my retouch turned into a complete REDO.

 Color isn't the only transformation that this painting went through.   As a matter of fact, yesterday I even changed the time of day from sunset to sunrise because I decided the top canvas blue is so dark that it really must be a sunrise breaking, forth casting out the darkness.  "Casting out the Darkness" might be a good name for this piece or perhaps "Breaking Dawn" or "A Blaze in His Glory".  One thing I know, is that a name is very important and this one has to have a strong name to match the strong colors used in this 24 x 24 piece.