Saturday, May 31, 2014

Not Another Fishing Story

This week I painted two pieces really that took me down memory lane to my childhood growing up in Central Missouri.  My dear grandmother lived in a tiny community called Swedeborg that had a total population of about 300 I think and we lived there with her several times.  I would also visit and stay with her for weeks at a time.    As with many that lived there, fishing and hunting were a cheap source of entertainment and an activity that many of the residents enjoyed.  My grandmother adored fishing and since I adored my grandmother, fishing was a favorite activity for me growing up.  

"The Fishing Hole"  11x14 Acrylic

I decided to paint “The Fishing Hole” because the reference photo I was using had such great contrast between the sunny bank and the opposite shadowed river bank.  Partially through my painting I got excited when I decided to make my focal point and old forked stick left by some fisherman to hold his pole.   Now my grandmother would never prop up her pole because  part of the whole experience was to hold the rod in such a way that your right thumb had the fishing line resting across it as it came out of the reel.  This gave you the ability to "feel" the fish when they began to nibble at your bait rather than just watching the end of your pole.  If you felt that little tugging on the line you were to jerk your pole upward in hopes of hooking that fish before he discovered your hook.  

I have so many childhood memories connected to this simple activity.  Camping with my family where the Roubidoux joins the Gasconade River in Pulaski County near Waynesville, Missouri.  I can still hear my grandmother calling me her "little fishing buddy" as we sat on the shore for hours on end.  Come evening you could look up on the high ledge above the river and watch as the bats began to fly out of the *Roubidoux Cave.  They would dart around the river looking for their evening meal and I was amazed at their sonic radar abilities yet they often couldn't detect the fishing line and would fly into it. Having those bats flying into your fishing line was both thrilling and frightening at the same time.  My grandmother would tell me stories of men digging guano out of the cave.  Being scared of heights I would sit and stare up at that cave and wonder how anyone could be so brave as to try to climb up there; guano or no guano.

Most children can't sit still these days but if you wanted to be a good fisherman you had to be both still and quiet or you would be rebuked for "Scaring" the fish.  Needless to say that even at my young age I could sit there still as could be enjoying every minute spent whispering with my grandmother and imagining all the BIG ones".  I can't recall any particular birthday gifts I received in my childhood years with the exception of one.  My 9th birthday I was given my very own fishing pole.

My 9th Birthday and a Fishing Rod and Reel all my own!

"At the Rivers Bend"- 16x20 Acrylic

As it is with many of the painting I complete, I find that I make an emotional connection with it as I'm working on it.  Right away it became apparent that it was important for me to give this piece a story.    I could imagine this perfect little spot along this river to spend an afternoon with your favorite rod and a good book or in my case a sketch pad.  Both of these pieces will be available on my website at so be sure and use the link to check them out.
In a vertical bluff overlooking the junction of Roubidoux Creek and the Gasconade River is a cavern with a high, wide entrance giving access to a large chamber which has several smaller but well-lighted rooms opening into it. There was formerly a considerable depth of earth on the rock bottom, but most of it has been taken out for fertilizer. What is left is dry near the entrance, but wet farther in. Although it would make an ideal Indian home, being easy of access and within a few rods of the two streams, there could be found no indications of such habitation; and owing to the small amount of earth remaining, the presence of many large rocks, and the close proximity of a large club house on the public highway immediately in front, no excavation is possible.  A cairn on the point of the cliff over this cave has been completely demolished. (Fowke) (

Join Me In My Journaling Journey

The journey I've started on as an artist includes belonging to several co-op art galleries.  Co-op means that as a member you have responsibilities to the running of the gallery and that includes taking your turn each month sitting.  Often this means long periods of time in between gallery visitors.  City of the World Gallery is situated in a way that I can actually bring in my painting supplies and sit up my easel there in the main room.  Usually, I have an artist friend with me and we can enjoy visiting and painting together all afternoon.  

My sketching supplies that I carry in my backpack
The second gallery that I have joined this past January is the Boulder City Art Gallery.  A beautiful gallery situated in the old Boulder Dam Hotel in quaint downtown Boulder City, Nevada.  This gallery has only a small office area so bringing my easel to pass the time isn't a possibility.  Equally enjoyable to me is spending the afternoon sketching so when I'm at this gallery I spend my time drawing.  I even have people stopping by just to see what I'm currently working on and I've started getting inquiries about doing some commission work.  It isn't hard to keep my iPad, a pencil box and a sketch pad in my backpack with me everywhere I go.  Yesterday this was the case and so I'm sharing the sketches I have completed yesterday at the gallery and two that I completed the week before. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking about starting a sketching journal and am in search of just the right journal to begin.  I can't think of any better legacy to leave for my family then beautiful journals filled with my drawing, notes and thoughts.  My plan is to start journaling during my summer vacation.  I will be blogging about this process and my learning experience as I discover my own journaling style.  To assist me I joined a Facebook group called "Artist Journaling Workshop" so that I can be constantly inspired by those artists that also enjoy journaling in their sketchbooks. 
In the mean time I'm going to keep drawing with my pencils (Prismacolor turquoise drawing pencils) and pens (Prismacolor premier fine line markers) on my Bristol, 96lb by Canson paper.     

3x5 quick sketch of my Facebook artist friend who is also the marshal of Dodge City, Kansas- Allen Bailey
A sketch of a young Native American girl from an old public domain reference photo

A sketch of my dear friends adorable Granddaughter Lucy blowing bubbles

Hollyhock blossoms

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Where Are My Potato Chips?

It doesn't take long for anyone visiting the beach for the first time to realize that those beautiful and noisy birds called seagulls are skilled and persistent when it comes to removing you from your intended picnic lunch.  One seagull soon becomes two and then two quickly become ten and you feel as if you have somehow been transported back to the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.  Just one gull has the strength and ability to fly away into the sunset with an entire bag of Ruffles Potato Chips.  Do I sound as if I’m speaking from personal experience?  Well believe me when I say that I am somewhat experienced with the covert activities of these flying menaces. 

My painting is of just one seagull and the white and gray of his feathers contrast brilliantly against the background blues of the sky and ocean.  He is perched on a rock as if in a state of anticipation.  It only takes one moment of distraction when your back is turned and he is ready to swoop in and liberate you of whatever tasty morsel you might be holding. 

It is my hope that for just a moment you have felt the ocean breeze, smelled the salt in the air and can hear the loud squalls of the flocks of seagulls overhead.  “Did You Say Lunch” is an original acrylic painting created by me in my Las Vegas studio.  This piece and many others are available on my website at

Did You Say Lunch?- 16x20 Original Acrylic

Blessings Often Come in Tiny Packages

This week I was inspired to create this little 8 x 10 acrylic painting of a nesting hummingbird based on a photo taken by my Las Vegas/Tecopa artist friend, Nancy Good.  She had a great deal of drama this past year at her home when a neighboring property owner decided to do her a favor and cut down all their mature trees on one side of the property while they were out of town. What a great and thoughtful neighbor she has.  Between the loss of property and all the legal wrangling of a criminal and civil case that followed could really drag her spirits down if she would let it.  The fact that she found a nesting hummingbird on one of her remaining trees gave her great encouragement and that blessed me.  I was so moved by the story and since I adore these tiny little creatures I just had try to paint her photo.

I learned that the hummingbird nest is usually built in the forked branches of trees but this particular little bird decided this pine cone was a suitable building site.  The tiny cup shaped nest, no more than 2 inches in diameter, is made of many of the normal building materials that you would think of when it comes to bird nests, twigs, leaves, moss and hair were all on the list.  I was surprised to find that spiderwebs seem to be a key ingredient in the construction of this hummingbird nursery. Built entirely by the mother hummer,  the spiderwebs provide the glue to hold it all together and the elasticity to allow the nest to expand as the chicks hatch and grow.   Seems that the entire responsibility of "Nursery Duty" also fall her small little wings.

To purchase the original painting or order prints of "Nursery Duty" you can go to my website at

"Nursery Duty"- 8x10 Original Acrylic 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Learning to Paint Sea Foam

"The Little Shell Seekers"  18 x 24 Acrylic

About a month ago I was extended an invitation to paint along with a dozen or so other very talented local artists at the Springs Preserve on May 10th as part of their O'Hana Festival event.  My friend Jeffrey Oldham just through out there that I should gather up all my pieces that were tropical or ocean themed to bring along.  Did I ever mention that I'm originally from Missouri and have lived in the Nevada desert for over 35 years.  Oceans are something I just don't understand and have stayed away from so far....

Well this past couple of weeks I've pulled out all the different shades of blues greens that are in my acrylic paint drawer and bravely began painting in uncharted territories or water to be more accurate.  

I flipped through my photo inspiration file and settled on this amazing photo taken by a fellow artist and my Facebook friend of her precious granddaughters picking up shells.  As always, when considering using photos taken by others, I obtained permission to use the photo before I began painting.  Holly Kallie has so much artistic talent and only has to step out her front door to view amazing sunsets and frozen winter lake scenes.  Her granddaughters are so cute and provide endless adorable painting materials.  Holly actually painted this exact same scene and released it this week also.  It is so much fun to see how two artist handle the same subject.   Check out Holly's artwork at  Holly Kallie 

Reference Photo taken by artist Holly Kallie

My first attempt at the composition can be seen with this work in progress shot.  I tried to show each wave and catch the water reflections but knew I was falling short.  I viewed numerous videos on YouTube trying to understand the nature of painting of waves.  So I asked for a bit of help and from my artist friend and mentor, Lily Adamczyk.  Lily has amazing talent and proficient at all types of landscapes but one thing that she is well known for is her ability to paint beautiful ocean scenes.

Work in Progress

To achieve the final result, I had to smooth out the ocean so the girl's dresses stand out better against the background.  Lily also gave me instruction on the proper technique to paint realistic sea foam.  I finished off the detail on the dresses and reduced the size of the sun hat.  I'm really pleased with the end results and am excited to bring this piece with me next weekend along with a few other "Tropical" pieces I've managed to finish during this past month.  This piece will be displayed on May 10th at the Springs preserve and will be available in the next few days on my website at Julie Townsend Studio (You can click the link above also) and you can follow the link to order prints or view my other works if you are interested.