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 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 or email me at

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