Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016- The Art Year

I have several times spoken about the influence that artist Tim Gagnon had on me in regards to starting my art journey. I thought, on this last day of 2015,  I would just remind everyone of his contribution and how his online lessons helped restore my confidence and enabled me to pick up a paint brush after nearly 30 years.

It was back in 2010 and I had just taken a drawing 101 course at the local community college with my youngest son.  I wanted to keep that momentum going by taking a painting course.  I stumbled upon Tim's 12-week online painting lesson while searching for alternative options to taking a painting class at the college.  My interest has always been with landscape painting and I figured that in a traditional college setting I might not be able to learn techniques needed to paint in the style I was interested in.  Not to mention the travel and time involved with attending classes.  Tim's online landscape lessons were perfect and I have been a fan of his work ever since.

Today, I saw that he was declaring 2016 The Art Year and was starting a new blog just for that purpose. He was saying exactly what I have been thinking in my own pursuit of art.  I have been doing a lot of questioning about where I want to be and how am I going to get there.  I've been doing a great of thinking about co-op galleries, art licensing and self-promotion.  What is been effective in advancing my art and what are actually distracting me from pushing myself towards my goals?

 I believe that I too am going to take up Tim's challenge to make this year MY ART YEAR and spend more time pursuing creativity and personal change in my life.  This blog that I have been contributing to since early 2011 will also be getting a complete makeover.  I encourage you comment about what 2016 is going to bring for you and to follow this blog.  Be sure to check out Tim's new blog at Tim Gagnon.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

You Want to Build a Snowman?


That is what my painting,  "First Snowman" was awarded at City of the World Gallery this past week for their annual JOY show.  This show certainly wouldn't be classified much of an art show, but it didn't deter me from putting my heart into this piece as I painted.  

This painting is very personal for me because the little models are actually myself and my younger brother.  I used a reference photo taken in front of my Grandmother's house in Swedeborg, Missouri probably around 1967.  I remember the day because my grandmother took the time to actually help us build this fine snow sculpture.  On our own we were way too small to accomplish the creation of such a magnificent looking chap but she did what Grandmas are supposed to do and that is to spend time with their grandchildren.

 I can even remember going through her button box to find the perfect buttons to complete his blackened stare and his sweet cheery smile. You can see just how happy we were on that day as we posed for the picture.  Bundled up warmly in our coats, gloves and snow boots we don't that a care in the world.  All we have in mind at that moment was loving our grandma and being so proud of our very first snowman.   Even today I find myself humming the "Frosty the Snowman" song as I think about that cold Missouri day.

I might have moved to the Las Vegas desert way back in 1978 but you just can't take the Missouri out of my heart.  Painting is a way for me to clear my mind of the insanity of the world I find that I am now living in and tell a story where for just a moment I can capture a memory or a feeling.  I guess that makes the term "ART FROM THE HEART" clarity.

"First Snowman"- 18x24 Acrylic

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Designated Drawing Spaces

Just in these past few weeks, I discovered a new artist friend that I have found to be very inspiring.  It is Katherine Thomas and her whimsical drawings immediately caught my attention.  She is also an successful blogger and uses a number of social media platforms to promote her art.  I find that combination very cool and something I want to work to improve in my own quest for self-promotion.

Last week I saw a picture that she posted on Facebook of her sitting at her drawing table and that was when I decided I needed to reorganize my studio and make a designated drawing area along side of my easel. Drawing has always been my first love in art and I passionately believe that you are a better painter if you spend time actively drawing on a regular basis.  

So, I spent a good portion of my day on Sunday organizing and cleaning the studio and  I am pretty happy with the ending results.  Even though it was getting late in the day when I finally finished and I was a bit worn out, I just had to try out my drawing table and do some sketching.

Here are the results of those efforts. My subject for my sketch was a little selfie of my husband and I.  Portraits are always a challenge and drawing a self portrait compounds that challenge.  I drew this on Canson 96lb Bristol paper with my Prismacolor Fine Line Markers and Prismacolor Colored Pencils. 

Looking at my little sketch makes me smile.

I guess you could say I'm a Prismacolor girl since obviously  I own so many of their products.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Custom Cowbell Design

I just wanted to show off several new hand-painted cowbells that I have completed in the past few weeks.  I'm rather excited about these new feathered friends and how they have turned out.  I've actually painting my 3rd eagle cowbell in the studio right now.  It is turning out to be one of my more popular designs and who can resist a spunky little hummingbird?  

The Nativity scene and the Cardinals are a bit more challenging but they are SO perfect for the Christmas Holiday.  

You can see some other Cowbell examples on my website gallery on the tab  Cowbells & Country Store.  The pricing and ordering information is listed there too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Chip off the Old Block

Titling this post a CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK is probably not as accurate as referring to it as a SLICE OFF THE OLD LOG but I thought it made a catchier title for today's blog post.  I actually picked up this slice of wood at a local art and craft supply store a number of months ago and it has been lying around my studio ever since.  My initial thought was to try my hand at some wood burning or what they call pyrography but hadn't yet taken the time to seriously get that project started.  I opened it up several days ago and have had this blank raw slice of wood sitting on my easel just crying for me to do something with it.  

Monday of this week turned out to be a perfect day to spend some extended time in the studio.  My initial intention was to paint several cowbells but as I walked in I had the strong urge to paint something on that slice of wood.  I selected a reference photo for inspiration and about an hour later this is the results.

I did find it a bit of a challenge to blend the acrylic paints on a surface that is soaking up the moisture so quickly but after several coats I was able to get the blended effect that I was looking for and am happy with the ending result. This was my first attempt at painting a landscape on a piece of wood but I don't think it will be my last. It was a easy composition and yet I feel it turned out rather striking.  I am especially pleased with how the light draws you into the center of composition, while in such a small area I am able to still able to maintain the feel of a dark shadowed forest along the sides. 

This photo was taken from my cell phone before a coat of varnish was applied.  We finished the piece off by installing a hanging wire and have already hung it on my gallery wall at City of the World all in the same day.  Not too shabby.  

This piece is available for purchase along with many of my other paintings that I have done.   I also do commission work and paint a lot of custom cowbells.  You can contact me if you are interested in this piece specifically or check out my website to see my other work at Julie Townsend Studio . Emailing me works good to at

Snowy Winter Scene painted with acrylic on a slice of wood

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Herd of Crippled Turtles

Just like a Herd of Crippled Turtles

Yesterday, as I was surfing my Facebook account I came across a post from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) had just posted a picture of some burnt toast. When I realized that this picture of "Burnt Toast" had over 1500 shares my mouth dropped.  I just shook my head and thought about the fact that if I posted a picture of some toast that I had burnt,  I might expect a snide comment or two from one or more of my kids, but that would be the extent of my viral TOAST POST.  Of course I haven't published a cookbook or host a cooking show but the fact here is that some people have achieved a level of internet presence that brings them recognition and a following.

Probably one of the hardest parts of becoming a successful artist is the aspect of self promotion.  Now other artist may disagree with me but it has been my experience that many artist do an insufficient job in this department, if they do anything at all with marketing, branding and promotion.  We have all heard the story of the Turtle and the Hare.  We learned as small children, that steady progress towards your the goal is what you want or you will quickly become discouraged or distracted if your expectations for your success are not paced and planned.  It has been my experience that often many artists are like hanging with a group of crippled turtles.  I mean if they are making any type progress towards a goal, it's so slow that you can't see any measurable difference in their success.  They are crippled by their insecurities and not wanting to talk about themselves.  They can be so creative minded that there isn't an ounce of business sense rolling around in their heads.  They are all grouped together just waiting for some miracle from heaven or a gallery owner or a collector to discover them and push them into the spotlight. They have no website, blog or social media presence.  They acknowledge that they need to do this but that is about as far as it goes.  There isn't any MAGIC formula, only HARD WORK!

You may have a fabulous product but unless you are out their always pushing yourself and your art then your chances of ever breaking out from the pack of other qualified and talented artists are about as good as being struck by lightening while witnessing a grand slam at the final game of a World Series.  Surround yourself with positive examples and do your research.

I have been an active artist in a co-op art gallery in the heart of the Las Vegas Art District for almost 3 years now and during that time I have seen a wide variety of very talented artists come and go.  The excitement they have as they are hanging their art on the wall for the first time is usually soon distinguished after just a couple of months of no sales.  Their work, while lovely is non-labeled, hanging in ill-suited frames, if framed at all and no where on the wall can you find their name.  They don't show up for events or try to engage the public if they are present.  Understand that I didn't do all these things at the beginning either but have gradually learned that all are very important.  Some artist can sell their work on their skills alone, but most of us have to sell ourselves first and build a relationship with a potential collector.  The art buyer wants to feel as if they have a personal connection to me as the artist.  They want to know my STORY behind the artwork before they make that decision to buy and it is my job to give them that.

My sales are not where I want them to be but they have doubled in 2015.  With God's help, 2016 has my name all over it...and I'm ready to greet you when you walk into the City of the World Gallery at 1229 S. Casino Center on a First Friday.  My name is hanging on a banner above my work and I my bio, complete with a picture of me is hanging on the wall.  There is also a stack of colorful business cards sitting prominently on the wall waiting for you to just pick one up.

Leave me a comment because I would love to hear any SECRETS to marketing success that you want to share with us STARVING ARTISTS. (At least I have more than BURNT TOAST to eat!)  Check out my website at Julie Townsend Studio.  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Practical Side of Cowbell Ownership

"A COWbell's not a COWbell 'til you ring it, A song's not a song 'til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn't put there to stay, Love isn't love 'til you give it away!" Oscar Hammerstein II

Okay...I will admit it, I added the word COW but it fits and it was just too great of a temptation not to post it. LOL!


Every time my husband goes to the store that is my cowbell supplier and clears out all their in stock inventory of cowbells from the store shelf,  the cashier will often ask him, "What are you doing with all these cowbells?"  His reply is always the same, "An Early Warning Home Defense System."  I was giving that some thought and found out that perhaps that might not be such a bad idea.   Apparently I'm not the only one that has considered it, because here I find an online article for a Home Security System that uses Cowbells and nylon string or fishing line to alert you if there is a gate opened or an unwanted visitor that decides to climb over your fence.  Here in my neighborhood, a good defense system is always a good idea and what a unique and pretty defense system my cowbells would make for any home.  

Well today while reading my Facebook comments I found a collector using my cowbells perhaps not to protect her own property as she is the lives of some neighboring squirrels. I just had to share this story.   According to Karla, they make effective Squirrel Life Saver Distraction Devices.  I guess "to each their own" and whatever "Rings your COWBELL."

Karla writes, "Always thinking of this skit (More Cowbell SNL skit with Christopher Walken) and song when gazing into my beautiful cowbells! I LOVE them all! You ROCK my artist friend, I treasure these so much, some day I will share my story of how I deter the "demented man across the street from shooting my beloved neighborhood squirrels, he doesn't like noise and I don't like the fact that he shoots them for sport and blatantly lets his dog EAT them!!! Dead or injured.....nothing I can do legally, we are out of the city limits and it isn't illegal to kill them as they are rodents........However, to train your dog to track them in the trees, bark until the owner knows it is cornered, and then come out of the house long enough to shoot it, is wrong to me!! So when I hear the dog bark, I grab 2 of my bells, I watch and wait, when he comes out of the house points his gun up in the air? I ring those bells as HARD and as LONG as I can until he's so frustrated he gives up and goes back in his house! Giving the squirrels a fighting chance with the power of MORE COWBELL!!! True story ! The squirrels and I thank you Julie😇"

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wanna Build a Snowman?

"First Snowman"- Original Acrylic on an 18x24 stretched canvas

Very often life floods in and takes over when I start to paint a composition.  I'm thinking of my childhood or some life experience that I have encountered along the way.  This piece that I'm calling "First Snowman" is no exception.  This painting is actually based off a photo taken of myself and my younger brother in front of my grandmother's place in Swedeborg, Missouri.  I'm not positive that this is the first snowman experience but because my grandmother took the time to build it with us it is the forever memory that makes this snowman standout from all the other snowmen in my childhood.  

I can still recall picking buttons out of her button box to aid in the creation of facial expressions on what otherwise just a cold blank stare.  Her plaid scarf around his neck and a silly knitted stocking cap finished off his accessories.  The picture snapped that day shows both myself and my brother, red cheeked and squinting from the bright sun but smiling ear to ear because a woman we greatly adored took time to make a memory in the life of a 4 and 5 year old.

The photo of us and the snowman was cute but we are standing in front of my grandmother's house with just a plain window and drab blue-gray aluminum siding as a backdrop so of course I had to make up a charming snowy barn scene.  That my friend is the joy of using artistic license.  

I will end this blog post today with a meditative question to myself, but one that I hope you too will consider.  I have to wonder that now that I am a grandma soon to be seven times over, do I do enough making of memories with my own grandchildren?  I can make my life get so busy that I'm not so sure that I've done the best job in the memory department as I could.  I think it is time to do some planning as the holidays approach and carve out some memory making activities.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Win a FREE Cowbell during COWBELL MARATHON

This is my First Contest and I'm so excited.  I've proclaimed that I will be painting at least 1 cowbell a day for the next 2 weeks and so I decided at the end of my self-imposed Marathon, I would give away a custom cowbell just for sharing my post and liking and following me on Facebook and Instagram @JulieTownsendStudio.  I'm really excited to see what will happen here and how many new cowbell friends I will make.  For more cowbell images, you can check out my gallery tab called Cowbells and Country Store.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

2015 Cowbell Marathon is Going Down Now

I have boldly announced this week over several social media venues that I am committing to painting at least one cowbell a day from my Las Vegas studio for the next two weeks. That's everyday until Thanksgiving.   I'm calling this self imposed proclamation my COWBELL MARATHON!  These are my most recent contributions to this effort and I think they turned out nicely.  

Actually, the only bell showing in this line up here that isn't already sold is that of the hummingbird that I just finished a few hours ago.  So much for building up my Cowbell Inventory.  I guess this is a good problem for me to have. 

I plan to blog here about this endeavor often and keep my Facebook Art Page updated as to my progress.  So check back often and if you see something special you like or have an idea for a custom bell that you want me to paint than just drop me an email or a Facebook Message.  I would love to hear from you.


Commissioned pieces here are the Eagle and Giraffes.  The Nativity scene was just me getting ready for Christmas

I added a snowy cardinal and a little hummingbird to my cowbell flock of feathered friends line-up

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cobbler On My Mind

Yesterday was a one of those days that I just couldn't seem to get warm.  I spent most of the day walking around the house with my jacket on and never really warmed up enough to want to even go into the studio.  It was the perfect day for a double dose of comfort food. First, I made a crock-pot full of our favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup and for dessert I made my Granny Diveley's blackberry cobbler.  Well actually, I'm not sure my Granny used blackberries in this cobbler but my mom sure did. We picked buckets of blackberries in the summer that grew wild around our home in Central Missouri.  This cobbler was made often during that season along with bowls of blackberries and cream for breakfast and homemade blackberry jam on warm biscuits. To this day, blackberry jam is my favorite but what you buy in the store doesn't hold a candle to the jars my mom would make when the berries were ripe.

This recipe is exactly what her cobbler was like and so when I received the actual hand written recipe card that said "Granny's Lazy Man's Peach Pie" I knew it was one and the same.  

Granny Diveley's Lazy Man's Peach Pie Blackberry Cobbler1 c Butter1 1/2 c Milk
2 T Baking Powder
1 t Salt2 c Sugar2 c Flour3 lbs frozen blackberries (I actually use a back of triple berry mix that I buy from Sam's Club)Melt butter in a large casserole dish.  Spread the frozen berries in the dish over the melted butter.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.  Pour the mixture evenly over the berries and then bake @ 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.  This stuff is pure heaven in a bowl if served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

"Morning Reflections"- 16 x 20 Original Acrylic

Of course this is an art blog and not a cooking blog so I have to share some of my artwork too.  This is a recent painting that I did that includes some of my favorite things that remind me of my childhood.  Blackberries, Lilacs, Peonies and Tea.   I hope you let me know if you tried the cobbler and how you liked it. This painting original is for sale and can be view on my website gallery along with all my other works at Julie Townsend Studios

Sunday, November 8, 2015

All I Can Hope To Do Is Make Pink

It's this time of the year that your mind is turning to memories of fresh fallen snow, fires in the wood stove and a steaming hot bowl of chili.  Today, there is a chill in the air and just grabbing a sweater sometimes didn't seem to be enough and I thought of this piece.

I have observed that snow scenes are popular among many collectors and art enthusiasts and I understand why.   There is just something so breathtaking, refreshing and renewing about the fresh fallen snow.  It has a quality that is almost supernatural and moving as it lays like a thick blanket glistening like thousands of sparkling diamonds under the rays of the rising sun.  This piece that I've titled "In Awe" is smaller than most that I paint, but even with its little size I hope it inspires you.   I want just looking at the piece, to give you the feeling of a shiver spreading across your body and a sudden urge to jump up and make yourself a mug of hot chocolate.

Today when i was meditating about snow, this blog and this painting in particular, I was reminded of that promise of forgiveness found in Isaiah 1:18 where the Lord says, "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool."  

When painting, I have heard a number times experienced artists give a warning about using the color RED  and how it is such a POWERFUL color.  They caution their students when mixing it into a second color of paint. Just the smallest amount will completely change a color and over power it.  A little RED goes a long way.  

That is true of sin on our lives.  The smallest amount of sin completely stains and blocks us from the life that God has in store and promised for us.  We are separated from His love and have no hope except for the sacrifice of His most precious Son.  It took the spilling of His RED blood to wash away the darkness in our lives and bring restoration and renewal.  Only the  Master Creator has the ability to take red and turn it into pure white.  The best that I could hope to do with my flawed human efforts is to make a shade of PINK!


"In Awe"- 12 x 12 Original Acrylic

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Don't Call Me Cheap..I'm a FRUGAL Artist

Getting Ready to Change the Paper in my Masterson Palette. 

Wow!  I know what you're thinking and I just want to say, "Don't judge me."  Just look at that messy bunch of dried paint!  I think it is most definitely time to lay out some new colors.  As you know, if you have followed me for any amount of time,  my favorite medium is Acrylic and the palette is really important because of how quickly the paints dry out.  The reality is that paint is expensive and so I try to be frugal and not to waste paint if possible.  I use my Masterson Sta-Wet Palette (12x16) but rather than purchasing the special palette paper inserts, I choose to use Reynolds Freezer Paper.  I can get a large box that is 33 1/3 yards x 18 inches at Walmart for $6.17.  I think that is a good value because this box will last me at least 6 months but being the accountant that I am I decided to do a cost comparison to make sure that it was worth my time to tear my own sheets out rather than having them prepared for me.  I go through a lot of paper especially when I'm teaching students.

(You can skip this part if you're not a number cruncher like meSo 33 1/3 yards = 100 feet x 12 inches = 1200 inches of length.   If each of my inserts are torn at approximately 15 inches that 1200/15= 80 sheets.  That equals $0.07 cents a sheets.  Now at Jerry's ArtArama I can purchase a package of 30 sheets for $7.19 or $.24 cents a sheet.  That is a pretty good difference and now I'm sure that I can cut my own for a 70% savings.)

The paper is wax coated on one side and that is the side that I lay out my paints on.  I have a wet sponge underneath and I often leave a wet paper towels inside for added moisture.   These paints will stay usable for several days and that is pretty good for acrylics.  The paper eventually will break down some and begin to tear or disintegrate, but usually I have to change it before that because I've run out of clean mixing surface, just as you can see that I have done here by evidenced in this picture.  

I would love to hear from you if you have found a practical solution that you really like and that you use as part of your painting process from things you can find outside of the art supply store.  I will share some of your responses on future blog posts so that we all can become more cheap....I mean FRUGAL artists.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015


These pieces were so much fun to paint and what memories they brought back as I worked on them.  I am so thankful for having the opportunity of being raised out in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks.  We may have been poor but my life is rich with wonderful childhood memories.  This was in the days of no entertainment and you had to actually entertain yourself.  We got a 3 whole channels on the TV and if you wanted to listen to music you had to listen to your little handheld transistor radio and hope their wasn't any interference. Oh, and let's not forget the old "PARTY LINE" phone system.  Not only did we have to share the phone line with 3 other families, we actually heard their phone ring at our house.  Can you imagine a teenager today not being allowed to talk on the phone?

The summer days were filled with climbing trees, building forts, riding bikes and swimming at the creek.  The nights were hot and muggy but filled with the sounds of June bugs, tree frogs, crickets and whippoorwills.  If you laid in your bed really still and focused on all the night sounds you might forget just how hot you were.

One of my absolute highlights was to get a letter in the mailbox.  As I entered my teen years I developed several pen pal friendships and so if I wasn't walking the half mile up the gravel road to Highway 52 where our mailbox was located to mail a letter, I was walking there to hopefully retrieve one.

My dad began to worry that I was in some sort of danger of being kidnapped so he tried to tell me I couldn't walk up to highway any longer.  I pleaded with him and we came up with a compromise.  I would once again be allowed to go on my daily walks only if I carried the shotgun with me.  I guess he figured that I was less likely to be approached by strangers of I was "PACKING HEAT".  In reality the shotgun wasn't loaded and I was somewhat embarrassed by it so I would try to hide it from view if a car drove past but it was the sacrifice I had to make to continue my letter writing friendships undisturbed.  

This piece that I call "Lunch Under the Mailbox" reminds me a lot about my Missouri childhood.  In the summer there were little box turtles everywhere.  They could be found crossing through our yard and often be seen crossing the roads.   I can recall numerous times my mom would pull the car over so that we could render aid to one that might have been flipped over.  They are most certainly my favorite reptile.  I hope I caught the expression  of this little guy and how he is anticipating his tasty flower snack.
Lunch Under the Mailbox- 24 x 36 Original Acrylic

This was the first piece I painted in what I think will be a series of works regarding country life.  You can read that blog called Fence Posts from two weeks ago.

"Life at the Fence Post"- 24 x 36 Original Acrylic

Time for a Make Over

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only artist out there that has painted something to then several years later pull it out from a dark corner of the studio storage closet to have a "What was I thinking?" moment.  After all, even the masters were known to paint over pieces that they decided they didn't like. Have you ever painted over a canvas or do you just open a new one?   

Last week I pulled out the piece I painted back in 2012 and was struck with what I saw were flaws in my composition and execution.  I had an overwhelming desire to FIX it!  And fix it I did.  This painting is 24 x 36 and was based off photo and memory of our hike at Galena Creek Trails near Reno.  The Aspens were ablaze with color and the chill in the air was invigorating.  I painted several pieces based off reference material taken during that hike but this was one of two larger pieces that I painted.       

This was my original piece that I called "Morning Trail"

 I really liked the idea of the aspen grove and the trail that goes off the canvas to the right and then continues towards the top.  It gives that fell of climbing to a higher elevation.  I liked the shadows and light but I didn't care for fence that seemed too tall and was cutting the canvas in half.

Undergoing a drastic transformation

I approached this make over backwards to how I would have painted the original piece.  Rather than painting top to bottom I actually began in the bottom right corner and began working my way up the painting.  I was happy with they bottom portion of the composition right away and couldn't wait to see how the rest of the changes I had in mind worked out. 

Completed just today- "Mountain Trail"- 24 x 36 Original Acrylic on stretched canvas
Here you can see that I have painted over most of the foliage and removed the fence.  I wanted the leaves to have a dainty shimmering appearance that is so typical of aspen trees and I felt that I really had to redo them to get that effect I wanted.  I left the back ground trees in place but decided to change the middle ground aspens to be more of a small sapling growth. 
For more depth I added a mountain range visible in the background and let more pine trees be visible.  The pines make a very nice dark background to contrast the bright yellow of the aspen leaves.  Rather than an old split rail fence, which was actually really part of the scene there on the trail, I decided to add a fallen tree.


Autumn Gold- 24x36 Original is sold
16x20-Galena Creek Trails
Galena Aspens

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cowbells Ring...Are you Listening?

So today I counted up all the cowbells I have sold in 2015 and I was blown away when I realized it equals 38 and I have a commission for 2 more that I'm working on currently.  That is amazing to me.  Who would have every thought!  That is a total of 40 cowbells not counting the couple I gave away as gifts. 

Brad got busy this week and prepared 6 more cowbells for me and so I'm putting away the canvases temporarily and am ready to paint some Christmas, Nativity and snow scene designs on them for the Holiday Seasons.  I can almost hear the faint sound of "Cowbells ring, are you listening?  In the Lane, Snow is glistening..."

You can check out some of my cowbell designs on my website or on my Cowbell Facebook page at Hand Painted Cowbells.  

I still believe that this hummingbird cowbell is my favorite

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Draw Where You Live

The other evening, I was inspired greatly while watching several YouTube videos on the subject of plien air painting.  Both of the artists featured in these videos are extremely successful and skilled artists. They are  Lori McNee and Jim McVicker.  I have signed up to take an online webinar with Lori McNee on the "Secrets of Social Media" and am very much looking forward to all that she has to share on that topic since I love blogging and FaceBook.

The video that Lori had filmed showed her painting a river scene that is just a couple miles from her home in Idaho.  She is there quickly catching the colors and lighting with her paints.    You can really see the scene unfolding as she works.  Right in the middle of her filming session, a moose comes wondering up the river like he wants to be a part of the painting.  I have experienced the thrill of seeing wildlife up close and seeing a moose while camping in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming was certainly a thrill.  I was immediately jealous of her ability to be surround my such amazing scenery with such a minimal effort."A Day in the Life of Lori McNee"

The video on Jim McVickers is actually a documentary on him as an artist.  It showed him traveling all over the rugged Northern California countryside painting from a variety of landscapes.  He never uses a reference photo but rather will return to the same location several days in a row or even up to a year later to capture the same lighting conditions.  The film showed several pieces as he started with just sketching roughly in paint and then immediately blocking in the canvas with vibrant colors.  The painting rapidly took shape as the camera man captured Jim working.  Jim McVicker "A Way of Seeing"

Being thoroughly inspired, I was determined to have a positive plein air experience of my own when yesterday when we decided to head out to the desert to do some 4x4 exploring.  I usually paint in acrylics but the air is so dry here that I struggle the whole time trying to keep my paints wet enough to even get it applied to the canvas so I packed my sketching box that includes my travel watercolor kit.    

With our lunch packed and some folding chairs thrown into the back of our old Toyota 4 Runner, my husband and I headed out to the hills.  The day was absolutely amazing.  We had an overcast sky and pleasant mild temperatures.  Usually the afternoon sun wears me out but there was a perfect blanket of clouds that allowed plenty of light but not the glare and radiation that you usually experience whenever you are out in the Southern Nevada desert.  

We did some exploring of some roads out near the area of Coyote Springs and while the scenery wasn't breathtaking and the wildlife we saw wasn't anything as impressive as having a moose walk past there was still something satisfying about sketching in nature.  I did see a couple lizards and a fuzzy tarantula spider that I guess can count as wildlife.  Now that it has finally cooled off enough here I will be heading out more often with my watercolor and pens to practice some plein air of my own.

My plein air sketch of some driftwood I found in the wash

Impressive desert wildlife

I always want to know what is at the end of every road I see.  Well this was the end of the road.

In my adventures that day we had to pass through a barbed wire fence.  My shirt didn't quite make it as you can see.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Freedom Comes with a Cost

As Veterans Day is approaching the gallery that I actively hang my artwork at is presenting a special exhibit in honor of our nation's veterans.  This piece is 8x10 but will be matted to 11x14 in time to entered into the show. I used pen and ink, watercolor and colored pencils to get the rich colors of the flag and purple heart.

This piece is special because it is a tribute to my husbands uncle.  For many years now I have had a photo of this young man in his military uniform hanging on display in our living room.  I always made a point to talk about him to my own sons on Memorial Day and Veterans Day so that they would remember that their grandmother had a brother that she loved dearly but would only live to see his 19th year.  His family didn't even know that he was in Europe when the telegram was delivered to the Kopriva Hardware Store in Powell Wyoming.  Bruce P. Kopriva was killed in action on July 18, 1944 in France. See more details at Bruce P. Kopriva (

"Freedom Comes with a Cost"- A tribute to all veterans and my husband's Uncle Bruce who died in WWII in France at only 19 years old.   I used his actual purple heart and dog tag as reference to do this piece.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fence Posts

Most of my childhood memories involve growing up near the small town of  Eldon, Missouri.  We lived in a very small mobile home positioned 1/2 mile down a country gravel road off Hwy 52 on 20 acres of wooded property.  20 acres is a goodly amount of land for any child to explore and have plenty of childhood adventures.  Our house was tiny, cramped and stuffy so I recall that I spent as much time as I could outside. I had my own clubhouse at the edge of the clearing that we call our backyard.  I loved spending time there.

Our property was fenced very much like shown here in my painting.  Old fence posts strung with 3 strands of barbed wire.  The line of fence posts that bordered the gravel road that accessed our property were always painted white because my mother liked everything in the front yard, including 3 feet of the base portion of many of the trees, recycled rubber tire planters, well house, porch and our swing set all shining under many layers of white paint.  I think she would have had me paint all the rocks in the driveway if she had thought about it. 

The rest of the fence posts that separated our property from Old Man Shulte's pasture were left to succumb to the elements and slowly decay giving way to the character of the wood.  Knots and flaws in the wood probably go unnoticed by most but in this piece I wanted to show how this post still is standing strong enough to be home to many growing things.  Strong enough to still create that a barrier between the field and their grassy home.

This new painting I've just completed reminds me of home.  In the summer everything about Missouri is dominated with the color green.  There is just so much vegetation there and living in that vegetation is vast number of small creatures living their lives out in the search of food and trying not to become food themselves.  I call this piece, "Life at the Fence Post" and it is 36x24 inches and painted in acrylic.

If you like my work then please click on the link above called gallery or visit my website at

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Would Much Rather Paint Snow than Shovel it!

First Light

This piece was absolutely a joy to create.  I can honestly say that I love painting snow, I love looking at pictures of snow but I have never been a great fan of being out in it.  I'm pretty sure there are times as a little girl growing up in the Missouri Ozarks that I experienced some childhood enjoyment from the cold wet stuff.

Getting to enjoy a SNOW DAY would probably top that list.  We would have school cancelled because the vast network of gravel roads in Miller County were too dangerous to travel when they were covered with snow and ice.  Sledding was also a lot of fun and I can remember that perfect hill between my neighbor, Donna Wood and her brother Don's house.  What a thrill to fly across the snow and end up rolling into a snow bank.  I also have great memories of building a snowman with my grandmother on her front lawn in Swedeborg, Missouri.

 I have ZERO experience driving in the stuff and find dealing with it stressful and exhausting.  I think it has only snowed in Las Vegas maybe 4 or 5 times in the 38 years that I have lived here.  After all I was only 16 when I moved here and so I have never had to deal with it on a daily basis.

This piece maybe small but the colors are impacting as well as eye catching.  In the right frame, this piece can easily become a focal point in any room.  If you are interest in seeing more of my work, then please click on the gallery tab above or visit my website at

I also think this piece makes an amazing shower curtain or throw pillow.  You can order prints or accessories at my Fine Art America Site

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Getting Your Art OUT of the Studio

This past week I got to enjoy a great afternoon in historic Boulder City yesterday at their annual ART IN THE PARK event.  While I wasn't at the actual event, I did get to set up my artwork outside the Boulder Dam Hotel.  It is a real pleasure of mine to be a part of such an amazing gallery and am blessed by the friendships I have made among this group of exceptional artists.  There is some real talent at the Boulder City Art Gallery!

While I could have chalked the day up as a failure because I didn't make any sales, I think it is good to get your art out of the studio and experience sunshine and fresh air.  The Nevada sun has a way of burning away all the brain cobwebs and get your creative juices flowing.  I can't wait to start a new painting today.  

Here I am standing in front of all my newest pieces.  With the exception of the bottom framed piece, these were all painted in the past two weeks.   

Friday, September 25, 2015

Trying Something New

The past few weeks I have been creating something a little different in my studio.  I finished a commission piece for a friend and ever since then I have just had a real urge to break away from painting on a canvas and have been turning my attention to using a combination of watercolor, pen and ink and colored pencils.  I love the richness that the colored pencils give some of the areas when I go over it using the watercolor as a base. The end result is a  combination of looseness and yet rich details that neither the watercolor or the pencil has on its own.

I am also stuck on the look of outlining in pen all of the randomness of color and designs that are created by using watercolors for my backgrounds or on the fur.  It creates an abstract effect that I like in the background.  I have no idea if anyone else will actually like this technique, but I'm having a BLAST!

All these pieces will be hanging by Preview Thursday (October 1, 2015) at City of the World Gallery.

Watercolor pieces getting matted and framed

Fun piece to paint of a lions eye

Almost finished with the details on this Red Eyed Tree Frog

Coloring Isn't Just for Kids Anymore

I know that the newest rage I hear these days are adult coloring books.  Who would have thought that there would actually be a market for advanced coloring books geared towards adults but I can say that I it completely understand the benefits that they offer.

I have been doing a great deal of sketching myself and often grab these blank cards to draw on it. This practice has lately become an evening activity that I really look forward to.  I find it relaxing spending a few hours just having fun playing with colors and lines.  Getting wild with my watercolors, colored pencils and my new set of Tombow brush pens.  

I have no idea if I will actually sell many of them, but besides it being excellent practice for me as artist, I sure won't have to buy any cards myself for quite sometime. 

3-D card that I made by attaching the poppy flower sketch to the card

A pile of completed cards that I have made in the past few weeks.

A couple more colorful examples

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What....You Want Me To Talk About My ART?

I had no idea that the month of August is considered American Artist Appreciation Month but I do now.
This week, at the invite of artist Patience Brewster I decided to participate in a fun self interview.  Her goal is to get as many artists bloggers as she can involved and answer questions about their own work and motivations.  I thought about it for a few minutes and I came to the conclusion that  I love to Blog, I love Art and I love to Blog about MY ART, so I'M IN!

Of course the first thing I did was research Ms. Brewster and found a well organized website full of beautiful artwork on cards and ornaments.   Her work is whimsical and fun and I was immediately a fan.  Check out the ornaments of Patience Brewster yourself.

Here are the questions she asked of me:

1. As a child, do you recall a significant moment when you felt truly affected or inspired by any particular artwork or artist?

I can't recall a specific moment but rather my earliest memories are of me spending hours sewing, drawing and coloring.  I grew up rather poor in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks.  As a matter of fact, most of my childhood we lived in a 12' x 50' single wide mobile home that barely fit the 5 of us crammed like sardines in a can.  Barely one square inch of free wall space could be found to expose the shabby wood paneling behind all the piles.   I think my parents were more concerned about keeping food on the table then making sure we had exposure to art and culture.  That was pretty much non-existent until I got into high school. 

 I think it was this lack of beauty that drove me to my solace in art because even as a young child I tried to fill my world with color.  Since we couldn't afford all the the pretty room decorations and fancy school supplies I took to making my own.  I painted my school folders with acrylic paints, created my own stationary using watercolors and cut out giant flowers to decorate my little corner of the bedroom I shared with my younger brother and sister.  

2. As an artist, what do you hope to convey with your work?

 When I returned to painting a few years ago my goal was just to improve my skills and learn as much as I could about color and composition.  I certainly don't have some social agenda or a hidden message that I'm trying to convey with my work but rather just create beautiful images that others love to look at as much as I loved creating them.  I get confirmation of that each time I make a sale.  

3. What memorable responses have you had to your work?  

Some art highlights that stand out in my mind would be being featured in an article in "Gold Prospector" magazine.  I remember the week that the article came out and I had actually forgotten about it, but I had a complete stranger come up to me as I was displaying my artwork in front of Wholefoods in Henderson, Nevada and asked if I was that artist that was in his magazine.  He wished he had his copy with him so that he could get my autograph!  That made my day for sure.  

Also winning "Visitors Choice Award" is always a great honor.  It is sometimes difficult to understand the criteria that some judges use when placing awards at art shows but to have the majority if visitors at a show or that come through a gallery prefer your piece of all others is very much and honor.  I would love to hang a Best of Show ribbon among my awards someday but until then my visitor choice ribbons are very special to me.  

4. What is your dream project?

I would probably answer this question more correctly by changing the word project to goals because my focus isn't on one specific project as it is on long-term art goals.  Some of my dream goals I have would include designing artwork for  a company like "Leaning Tree" cards or to have my artwork hanging in a gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Both of these goals would be confirmation to me that my art has reached a level in a venue that I have always greatly admired.  

5. What artists, of any medium, do you admire? (Famous or not!)

I have always admired the work of Robert Duncan and I had the great pleasure of visiting his gallery last summer when his original paintings were on display.  The colors were more vibrant that I could have imagined and his ability to capture the joy of simple country life reminds me of my own simple childhood growing up in the Ozark hills.  His art moves me!

Tim Gagnon is really who I credit as the influence that got me to pick up my brushes 4 years ago and now a couple hundred paintings later I'm still going strong.  His 12 week basic landscape course helped give me the confidence I needed to start painting after a 30 year life break.

My husband's cousin is a successful artist from Powell, Wyoming.  Mike Kopriva is a nice guy and a great artist. That is a winning combination and what a perk that we are actually related!

From the first time I saw the work of local Las Vegas artist, Lily Adamczyk I knew I wanted to get to know her better.   Her landscaping paintings are amazing and I felt that I could learn a great deal from her about art and the business of art from her.   I'm so blessed to call her my friend.  Her critique of my work has probably been the single greatest factor in my skill improvement over the past several years as an artist.  She doesn't hesitate to point out what I could do to improve my technique or composition.  I've learned so much from her as an artist and a friend.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

More Red Dots to Report

This past month I have the pleasure of seeing several of my pieces find new homes.  Getting to post an article about how much I love talking about RED DOTS is right up there with winning ribbons.  Selling a piece is the ultimate confirmation in my mind that your art is headed in the right direction.

"13 Pickers in my Pan" sold to a young man that came into City of the World on August First Friday event.

"Always Tea Time" was a commissioned piece for a special friend. 
Special Order cowbells finished and ready to ship off to Columbia Falls, Montana this week

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Drawings are Going to the Dogs!

I am not particularly a dog lover but I know many people who hold their 4 legged furry children in the highest regard.  This week I decided rather than just buying a get well card for a friend who just had surgery that a small painting of her pet.  Now I wouldn't go as far as to say that an English Bulldog is a handsome looking creature but I'm pretty sure that this guy must have a winning personality and is very loved.

An English Bulldog
I have been working on some little sketches for a story I have in mind using my granddaughter and her very large Doberman Pinscher as characters.  I've never illustrated or had anything published yet, but I'm having a lot of fun and would love to add this to my resume.
"Gitty Up"

Oh NO!