Sunday, March 29, 2015

Create It and They Will Come

I have been doing some research and browsing for examples of a commission agreement that I could use to create my own form.  This past week I was told that I might be getting a call from an individual that purchased one of my hand painted cowbells and that he was interested in getting me to paint a picture of long-horn steers and that confirmed to me that I needed to get busy.

Although, I haven't done very many commission art pieces yet in my short art career, they are a very important part of being a professional artist and so I am both nervous but excited about the possibility that someone may be calling.  I certainly want to be ready when it does happen and so today I created a Commission Agreement.  I have in my mind that it may be something like that Kevin Costner movie "Field of Dreams" and if I create the form then the commission requests will come!

There are basically 4 main sections to most of the contracts that I reviewed they are:

1.Artwork details- This is where you outline sizes, mediums, framing and anything else particular to this piece of artwork that is under consideration.  This might include some attached renderings.  Creating some small renderings is always a good idea so that the collector won't be completely caught off guard at the date of delivery.

2. Payment Schedules- Date the first payment, which is serves as a non-refundable deposit is due and the balance remaining at estimated delivery date.

3. Copyright- This is a standard statement that should accompany all of your artwork.  I have a very similar statement on my Certificate of Authenticity form.  I will be sharing that form in also in the next few weeks so please keep checking in.

4.  Right to Refuse- Gives the buyer one last chance to change their mind but also protects the artist.  The artist retains ownership of the piece that may be sold at a later date and gets to keep the non-refundable deposit for all the sweat and tears that when into creating a commission piece.

All the verbiage that I reviewed seemed to be very standard but the agreement covers the necessary points to protect both the artist and the collector.  Key point to me was collecting 1/2 of the total price as a non-refundable deposit.

So you can find the agreement that I came up with on my webpage.  I wanted to embed the document directly into this blog for you but learned that Blogger doesn't allow for that function so you will have to follow the link I've listed below and it will take you to my contact page where I have the document linked.  I'm happy to share this so feel free to adapt it to your own use and hopefully there are many occasions for us both to use it!

Julie Townsend Studio Contact Page

If you found this blog helpful, consider becoming a follower.  I'm on a slow journey to success and you're welcome to tag along!


I don't know if it is a right brain, left brain thing but a great many talented artists that I have met seem to lack any kind of business sense and have no clue how to promote themselves.  I've been involved now for several years in the local co-op gallery scene and have observed a steady stream of artists that euphorically believe that the moment their art is hanging up on a gallery wall, the public will come flocking.  They will make enough to cover the cost of their wall rent and sales commission fee with a tidy profit left over to at least buy their supplies to create more lucrative art.

WRONG!  I have personally learned from these past couple of years that the attitude towards co-op gallery scene should be more treated as an educational process in your LONG journey to be a successful artist.  Very few can create a fan base overnight and there is so much great art out there that you have to keep your eye on your goals. 

GOAL # 1- Paint, Draw, Sculpt, Throw Pots, Weld, Make Jewelry or whatever else it is you do and do it OFTEN!  My skills as a painter have improved greatly over these past 4 years since I decided I might want to retire from my 8-5 accounting job and do art instead.  If your lucky like me you might be able to trade your skills learned from you OTHER career to discount that wall rent.  Co-op galleries are always in need of someone that actually understands accounting, balance a checkbook and knows the difference between a profit and loss and a balance sheet.  

GOAL # 2- Never stop learning!  Your education as an artist can't stop at your easel.   You have to learn all about sales,  marketing, web hosting, photo editing, writing, blogging, networking; the list goes on and on and it may seem overwhelming because as mentioned before, many of us are retired. We didn't figure this stuff out when our gray matter was young and in it's twenties.  We're in our 50's and 60's and so the cliche "It's hard to teach OLD DOGS new tricks" comes immediately to mind.  Make a list of your weaknesses and start LEARNING about them.  

GOAL # 3- Be a SPONGE! Find a buddy that is at least a little further on the road to success than you are and that starts by joining your local art guild.  That's what I did and now have a number of good artist friends that offer support and help.  Artists can be a crazy lot but even a very quiet and conservative person like myself was able to find a friend.  You can do it too!

GOAL #4-  Get your website up and maybe create an art Facebook page.  You're not going to have thousands of hits or friends right away but it does build like a snowball rolling down the hill.  Find an successful artist and check out their website and Facebook activity.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up your own website to resemble and function like theirs.  They more than likely paid thousands of dollars to have a professional site made and you can take advantage of that.  You are welcome to check out my website at-   I used a free website host called but this past week have been working on my co-op gallery website that uses  Both work find and are good options as I am sure there are many reasonably priced sites out there to choose from.

I'm pretty sure I could come up with a pretty lengthy list of goals this morning while I'm enjoying my McDonald's coffee and free WiFi, but these 4 are, in my opinion, the core of where you should focus on immediately.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Studio That Fits in Your Pocket

I know that as of late I have had a number of posts about my recent little artworks painted on the side of cowbells.  And while the cowbells are my current focus due to the popularity of them among my Facebook friends and local galleries, I thought today I would share some of the sketching I have been doing recently.  

I was keeping a larger sized journal for the past year, but with the pressure of filling up the larger pages, I found I wasn't drawing it on a daily basis like I intended.  In January I purchased a pocket sized sketchbook journal at Michaels and I just love it.  I carry it in my purse along with my .005 Pigma Micron drawing pen.  It is small and easy so I can pull it out whenever I have a few minutes. 

I'm filling the pages with practice doodles, zentangle designs and intricate sketches.  Not only do I find this fun and relaxing, I completely believe that keeping your drawing skills sharp is one of the best things you can do to improve your painting skills.  

I hope you enjoy these pages I've selected and I would love to hear from you about what you are drawing.

For a look at my more SERIOUS artwork and fun COWBELLS, come visit my website at

Sunflower sketch that I did today.  I LOVE the torn paper border look

A page full of Zentangle designs.  Practice makes perfect!

Playing with contour lines.  I love how it gives the illusion of being sucked into the center

Playing with a rope design for a border

My beautiful niece Laura


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cowbell Stampeed!

It has been a Cowbell Frenzy in my Las Vegas Studio the past few days.  It started out with a request for a commission piece of a horse for the daughter of my cousin and then several additional orders were then requested.  I ended up almost finishing my 7th bell yesterday and I am happy to report that they are all sold!  I continue to be amazed and blessed at the popularity of these small pieces of art.  

I've pulled out 4 of my USPS medium rate shipping boxes and it is now time to get my assembly line shipping process in full swing.  I have (2) double orders and this box is perfect because I can ship 2 bells in the box for the same cost.  I have established an account with USPS and can order these free boxes in larger quantities to be delivered directly to my home.  I don't have to visit the local post office and hope they have enough boxes for me.  

Another great tool I have found just recently is invoicing on Paypal.  All I need is an email address and I can invoice the collector and they have the convenience of paying with a credit card.  The small fee that Paypal charges is well worth the convenience and security for me.  No longer am I waiting for a check to arrive in the mail before I can ship off the artwork.  This has really made the process less stressful for me.  I actually woke up this morning and sent an invoice to one happy client from my iPad while still enjoying the comfort of my bed.  What a day we live in!  Paypal also allows me print out a prepaid shipping label so I don't have to wait in line at the post office to ship.  I know that I can schedule a pick-up of my boxes but haven't done that yet.  I think this might just be the right time to see how that works.

The results of a weekend of cowbell painting!

The cost to order a cowbell is $65, which includes shipping if shipped in the continental US.  A $10 additional charge may apply if you are interested in a custom design.  Just message me you are interested in placing an order.  Mother's Day is coming and they make GREAT one of a kind gifts!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

There is Someone Watching You!

Standing in front of my piece called "Casting out the Darkness"

Yesterday, I was told on two separate occasions that my progress as an artist is inspiring to others and that my work, struggles and artistic journey is being monitored silently on Facebook.

One was by a dear friend that is in a real life struggle surviving colon cancer.  I gave her two extra long hugs and she asked me to remember her in my prayers.  During our embrace she shared with me that she loves seeing all my beautiful artwork and that she is watching my progress through my posts to Facebook.

I just find it fascinating the interaction that goes on social media.  When I was young girl, growing up in rural Central Missouri, I was an avid letter writer.  My allowance was often spent on buying postage stamps. I would walk that 1/2 mile up the gravel road to the highway daily in hopes that there would be a letter waiting for me in our mailbox.   It was a definite highlight in my day when I received a letter.  How times have changed, because here I am today, drinking my favorite McDonald's coffee and composing this blog post on my iPad while enjoying the free WiFi.  This blog potentially may be read by many individuals from around the world.  That is an exciting prospect in my mind and so I keep blogging.  What a tool social media and email has become. 

If you are an artist and you don't have a Facebook page dedicated to your work, a blog that journals what you are currently working on or a webpage that serves as your cyber gallery then you are really missing out on such an opportunity to build a fan base in which may someday turn into your collector base. 

Check out my website at

I wanted to share my message I received yesterday from a Facebook friend that lives in Washington state:

"You inspired me to try. I never knew you as "an artist" perhaps you always were and I just didn't know it, but you are always sharing your journey of learning, struggles and all, and I love your work and dedication. So just know, that you have inspired me to be brave and try something I Don't have much confidence while doing. That's a big thing for me. Usually I just stick to what I know and operate within those bounds. Thanks for the encouragement to go for something new. Now I only wish you were closer so I could take you up on art classes."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Happy Little Cowbells Find a Home

This week....two of my newest cowbell creations have found a new home.  I really like how the Lavender and Black-eyed Susan flowers turned out.  I think I will paint that one on a small canvas because it was just so much fun.  There is nothing like seeing the expression on the clients face when they see the work in person for the first time and love it more than the picture you sent them.  I love to create these little works of art that not only spread joy to their new home but also make LOTS of noise!

Hand-painted one of a kind cowbells- $65 including shipping in the Continental US

For more information about my work or if you want to order your own cowbell just visit my website at  the cowbells are part of my Country Store collection or just shoot me an email at  I would LOVE to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I Create My Own World Full of Hummingbirds and Flowers- I'm An Artist!

Hummingbird on a Zinnia- 6x6

I love the boldness and sharp lines that are created here when I use a black sharpie marker in combination with acrylic paint to emphasize and outline the focal of each piece.  These are a few examples of my work that I have finished in the past few months using this technique and I just wanted to share them again.  I haven't really seen this style represented among other local artists and so I think it offers a unique illustrated look.  They are also very fun to create and I love painting on smaller 6" x 6"x 2" square canvases but it looks great on a larger canvas too.  Small, colorful, attention grabbing and very reasonably priced I think these would add some color to small spaces or in a grouping.
Some critics may say that outlining the art gives it a cheaper appearance but I love the combination of detail fine art and the illustrated comic look together.  When these pieces are all laying around in my studio it feels like spring is in the air and they almost always make me smile when I look at them.  I say FORGET THE CRITICS!  In my happy little world, I am the creator and I create what I like!

All these pieces are available for purchase on my website at Julie Townsend Studio or you can email me at if you would like a special commission piece created just for you.  

Fallen Leaves- 12x16 
Fallen Acorn- 6x6

Bachelor Buttons- 6x6
Giant Sunflower 11x14


Monday, March 2, 2015


If you like my work I would love to hear from you.  Also please check out my online gallery at my website at Julie Townsend Studio

My "Nevada in Shades of Silver and Gold" was hung yesterday, March 1st at the Laughlin, Nevada library gallery.  The artwork will be hung until April 25th so I'm hoping to drive the 100 + miles to go check it out.  Let me know if you happen to be in Laughlin and decide to check it out.  I would love to see pictures!

It has been a busy a week in the studio and I am pretty excited how some of my pieces have turned out.  I keep selling cowbells, which make me happy and a 4th retail location has added them to their inventory.  YEAH!!!

There is a very nice art show event that is coming up here in Las Vegas and entries must be finished in May so I've turned my brushes and pens to more of a western flare.  The Annual Elks Club Helldorado Parade and Rodeo has a fantastic art show and I want to have 3-4 entries ready to go so that has been my focus this past week.

New Western Piece-Not Titled Yet

I'm still working on a name for this 12x12 acrylic piece but "Six Shooter" probably will part of the name.   I have made some slight additions to the final piece that are not reflected here.  I have added a small explosion at the end of each barrell so the rider isn't just showing the guns but is actually firing the pistols.  I'm pretty excited about how this has turned out.

Ink Sketch of my Dad

This is a pen and ink sketch I did of my dad as a young rodeo cowboy.  The reference photo is one of 3 newspaper clippings we have that show him in action.  I have painted this photo last year but this year I wanted to enter a sketch in the show.

Touching up older pieces this week

These are two pieces I painted at the end of 2014 but wasn't completely happy with how they turned out.  Sometimes it takes a while to actually finish a piece because there are changes that are decided on down the road. This week I have pulled both of them out of the closet and started repainting them.   The beach scene was flat and lacked a story.  Adding an old fence, a sandy path and a sign that reads "Beach" gives me want to check it out.  

The snow scene was first painted with a deer in the foreground but it never seemed like a good fit to me.  I decided to paint that out and put a heavy snow ladden pine tree in the front andI think the composition is much better.  I added more blue to the snow and just added a sparkles of white to give that glisten you see when the sun shines on it.  


Kokopelli cowbell-SOLD

Lighthouse cowbell-SOLD

Sunflower cowbell- SOON TO BE SOLD