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