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?)