Saturday, April 4, 2015

Shall we Take a Turn in the Garden

I have always wanted to have a cutting garden of my own.  One that I could go to early morning "While the Dew is Still on the Roses"; basket in one arm and floppy sun hat, tied firmly to my chin. I could cut baskets of beautiful flowers whenever I wanted.   A vase of fresh flowers always placed perfectly on my table and little bouquets piled up to give as gifts of appreciation for all my friends and neighbors.  I know what you're thinking, "This girl has watched too many Jane Austin movies."  You might be right with that assumption.  If I could quote Lady Catherine, "Miss Bennett, there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness on one side of your lawn. I should be glad to take a turn in it, if you will favour me with your company.''

Reality is that all my adult life I have lived in a hot and VERY DRY desert.  I always plant flowers like geraniums, salvia, lavender and mum along with a variety of herbs each spring in pots around my front door but as soon as that summer sun hits the record temperatures in July and August I wimp out and nary a toe or the tip of my nose stays outside any longer that it take me to walk from my front door to the passenger side of my trusty Honda.

I guess I will have to settle for painting cutting gardens instead.  Recently, I have been fascinated with zinnias, lavender and black-eyed susans.  They have been a focus of both my canvases and cowbells and I'm in love with their bold colors and graceful lines.  I decided to combine two of them along with a feisty hummer in this composition that I am calling "Hummer in the Cutting Garden".  I hope you like it.

The original is painted on an 11 x 14 inch gallery wrapped canvas in acrylic and will be shortly available on my website at

"Hummer in the Cutting Garden"

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Perhaps a commissioned cowbell tolls for you!  

I know it may sound like I'm bragging here this morning, but think it takes some skill as an artist to do a commission piece from a small photograph.  I've heard horror stories about artists trying to use a tiny, faded, wrinkled black and white photo of grandma to capture everything that the family remembers of her years after she has passed away.  I can only imaging how very hard it would be to make a realistic portrait on a canvas under these circumstances.  My commission experience wasn't anything so drastic but I was asked to paint a commission bell of of a beloved pet, in this case a horse and transfer that likeness to the small 4"x 6" metal surface of a cowbell. This morning I decided to share with you my experience.

Painting so many of these cowbells have given me some valuable practice and I think, just like consistently drawing in my sketchbook, these small artworks are also giving me valuable practice as an artist.  Painting small can be a real challenge because I naturally prefer to paint much larger. Today, I can report that I'm feeling much more confident at painting in general and I can almost paint chickens in my sleep. 

Up to this point, my cowbell commissions have been pretty non-specific and rather more a general theme such as "Can you paint me a rooster, a cow or a sandhill crane?"  I also get request for certain flowers such as the Texas blue bonnets, lavenders or sunflowers.  This particular commission request was much more stressful because this is not just any horse but the clients horse "Lady" and I had to get it right.  

I was a bit nervous during that time that I sent the initial photo of the finished bell to her Facebook message thread to the time that I received the "I LOVE IT!" reply.  Let me just say I gave a huge sigh of relief because this bell probably took me as long to paint as it would have taken to paint maybe 2 or 3 bells of a different subject.  

I am happy to report that this bell is today packed up and waiting for the scheduled postal pickup, soon to be a fixture in it's new home in Ponca City, Oklahoma.  As an artist, there is a great deal of satisfaction to take a project, even if it is as small a cowbell, from start to completion.  

Please contact me at Julie Townsend Studio Contact Page if you might be interested having me do a commission cowbell for you.  They make GREAT gifts!