Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Good Morning Sunshine!

 Good Morning Sunshine!  That is the name I decided to give this one.  Cows just have such expressive and curious faces and I LOVE painting them.

I actually finished this painting a couple weeks ago but between rain and  the busy holidays the time just flew by and we didn't get a chance to use the good camera to get some pictures of it. My cell phone takes photos that are probably adequate for a Facebook post but I really like to wait to show a picture here on my blog until I have a photo that is of a higher resolution.  Good photos on a blog are critical.

I have seen other artists paint a frame around their work and so I thought I would give it a try.  I like how it turned out and gives the cow more of a 3-D appearance.  She looks like she is popping out of the canvas.  I decided not to worry about the fact that the 12 inch width of the canvas really wasn't enough to handle this girls extra furry ears.  So I let them extend over and wrap around the side of the gallery wrap.  I think this adds to the charm of the composition.

Because the canvas is pretty full with the frame and the cow herself I kept the rest of the painting really simple.  No flowers or bugs to be found.  Only blades of really tall summer grass for her dining pleasure.

All in all I'm really pleased with the final outcome.  This piece will be included in my 2017 solo library show that I am once again calling "Down Country Roads". I had such a great time with this show in 2016 in Boulder City that I just don't think I'm finished with that theme yet. I am just having too much fun painting from memories of my Missouri country childhood.

The show starts March 28 and runs through May 30 at the Whitney Library.  I will be posting more specific details as the time comes closer but you might want to keep that in mind if you are going to be in the Las Vegas area this spring.

My goal is to have half the show be new pieces so I had better get busy painting more of these adorable barn yard friends.

I'm planning some fun giveaways and contests leading up to the show and for those that attend the reception.  Send me your email address if you would like to be on my mailing list.  I would LOVE to hear from you!

For more of my artwork be sure and check out my Website !


Monday, December 26, 2016

Why Do I Blog?

Blogging Helps me Stay Focused
I was asked the other day "Why do I think blogging is important for an artist?" I immediately replied, "Accountability and Focus."  Without a doubt I need this creative outlet to keep me on task and to stay focused.  I have always found that in my life, that  I worked best if I had a deadline looming.  Be it housekeeping (guest arriving for the weekend), business/professional (Financial reports due for the monthly board meeting) or creatively (what am I doing this week that I can blog about).

Blogging is like having an online journal where you can be yourself and share whatever is important to you with the world.  The goal of course is to create a fan base and that is very important as an artist.  I use Blogger as my platform and have posted regularly for a number of years.  It is free and really not that difficult.

Having a blogging goal of a minimum of one post a week keeps me on my artist toes.  I'm always creating or digging for interesting and fresh topics that I will be able to write about.  Usually the topic for my Julie Townsend Studio blog is of course my own artwork or current project such as teaching my art students or talking about something I have learned.
Blogging Helps Keep Me Accountable

As an artist, blogging faithfully and consistently helps you create a connection between you and your fan base. I'm huge into social media and blogging is just one of many avenues I use as an artist to make connections.  Blogging is a great platform for you to tell your story and potential clients are more likely to seek you out and purchase your art if they know you and your story.  If you are at all like me, I don't care how boring my day has been, I always perk up if I'm asked about my favorite subject - MY ARTWORK. That is a blog post start.  All you have to do is show a quality picture of your work in progress, your studio, your reference photos or even a picture of your dog and then talk about what is your motivation for this piece.  Readers WILL find that interesting.

This past week I make the decision to  launch a second brand new blog that I am SO excited about called "Embrace Your Creative Side" and I can't wait to really get it going in 2017.  This will be a platform for me to focus my attentions on more than just my artwork.  I will be blogging about before and after projects that are focused on improving my home decorating skills, creative cooking and for sure getting my "Awesome Grandma Act Together".  I want to throw myself into craft and art projects that include my growing group of grandchildren.  With all their Blonde Curly Cuteness, this blog is sure to become a hit and just think of all the memories I will be making in their lives.

Be sure and check out my Website and my New Blog.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Free Christmas Gift From Me to You!

There is just never enough time it seems in the month of December.  Okay...I know that the month has 31 days just like the 6 other months of January, March, May, July, August, and October but December is different.  We are asked to cram so many events, shopping, meal preparations, gift giving, baking and in my case painting into such a busy time.  I am declaring that for 2017, I am going to start thinking about Christmas in July, even if it is 115 degrees outside here in Las Vegas!

Yesterday, I was scanning my Facebook account when I saw this really great idea for Christmas.  I decided that I was going to make gift tags that featured my own original Christmas artwork.  I searched the internet and found another blogger that had written a very helpful blog post a few years ago on how to create stickers using Microsoft Word.  Now I am not good with graphics programs such as Photoshop, even though I really want to learn that program.  I only use Photoshop right now to crop and adjust my photos.  Word is however a program that I am comfortable with.  Let me share that link with you on how to create stickers in Word: 

By the way this blogger, Abbey Lawson of justagirlandherblog seems to have figured out the blogging world and has an impressive home business that she and her husband have built.  I am going to spend more time going through her posts and maybe some very positive changes to this blog will be coming in the future.

Anyway, back to the gift tags.  I couldn't wait to figure out how to accomplish my own gift tags.   My first attempt actually didn't turn out too bad. I made them 2.5 x 3 inches and printed them using white card stock on my Canon Pixma Pro printer.  I cut a complimentary card stock that featured a Christmas print 1/2 inch large so that I could have a nice colorful border and add to the substantiation to the overall tag.  I think it turned out really well and I was pleased.  I really see adding a matching gift tag to each of my individual greeting cards that are sold or even selling packs of gift tags.  Either way I'm excited to attach them to my own gift giving efforts this year.

A side note here....As I was getting ready to write this blog, I had a dear friend who IS THE QUEEN of graphic art and a MASTER sticker creator, Victoria Thatcher at suggest to me a few improvements and with her suggestion, I got rid of the black outline of my text boxes.  I didn't know how to do that before hand.  She also told me how to upload the file as a PDF and put it on my Google Drive so that I could share it with you today.  Thank you so much Victoria for your friendship and constructive critique.  Be sure and check out Victoria's blog because she is amazing!
My Original Artwork titled "Except for the Mouse"

As part of the GIFT GIVING season, I have decided to make available a free printable document of my gift tags that feature a number of my 2016 original artworks.  This file is for personal use only and isn't to be sold or redistributed without my written permission.  All you have to do is click on this link SORRY LINK IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR THIS OFFER.   Please leave me a comment if you downloaded this file.  If you are interested in prints, cards, commissions or original artwork send me a message so that I can discuss it with you.  You can also find my work at my Etsy store.
My Christmas Gift to You!

Merry Christmas and have a Blessed 2017!

My Original artwork on display.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December Over Load But Oh So Joyful!

I continue to be overwhelmed by the response that I have gotten over the past month on my blog post "Pond Scum Sucking Scammers".  I initially wrote the blog out of frustration but am so pleased that perhaps this effort has saved other artists from the same weeks of frustration.  Now I hope that I am really cutting into their action and eventually they will have to change up their story.  Maybe, if enough artists read my blog it it will actually cut into their profits.  Oh I can only dream that this would come true.  This blog has had not only the most post views but also has so many wonderful comments associated with it.  That makes me happy. I have had another disturbing cyber issue this past week and it is concerning this blog in particular.  I noticed earlier in the week that I had a huge spike in blog views.

Normally, I have 100 in a day at the most and that only when I post a new blog.  This spike was near 3000 views in one day and they were all coming from the country of France.  I have since learned that my blog is under attack from Spam Bots and now that my statistics are forever ruined by these nasty internet bugs.  It was suggested that I use Google analytics to compare statistics rather than the statistics available to me on blogger because it is much more details and reliable.  I have only briefly looked at Good Analytics and that for my website.  I have tried to add this blog to my dashboard but of course it just can't be simple.  I'm going to have to put in some effort to learn how to move around and edit my site so that I can view accurate blog numbers and how to block this spam activity.  It is always something when you are a non-IT type person!

Enough about my internet wows and lets turn the focus to my favorite subject.  My artwork of course. I have been so busy with holiday art receptions and gallery events that I haven't got to showcase my newest artwork pieces on this blog for a couple weeks no.  Here is what has been going on in my studio recently:

Right after Thanksgiving we welcomed our 8th grandchild into the world- Hunter is a cute bundle of joy to his parents and Brad and I can't wait to get to know this little guy.

Speaking of "Bundles of Joy", I added this little sketch of baby chicks in the nest to my Etsy Store, You can check it out along with my other listings at Julie Townsend Etsy Store. I was thinking about how I felt when our third son arrived and how it was a real game changer  My husband and I were officially outnumbered not to mention that we had to buy a larger car.  When we adopted our daughter (#4) the adjustment wasn't as big to me as we already seemed overwhelmed.  Of course that was the point that we had to buy a Suburban.  I always said once you have 3 children you can raise 7 or more without much more problems.  We did go on to raise a total of 6 kids so I do know a thing or two about raising large families.  

I made this piece in such a way that it could serve as a birth announcement or gender reveal artwork.  I could customize the drawing by making the little egg pink or blue.  I can turn this into greeting cards, small medium or large prints to hang in the nursery.  All of these options are available on my Etsy Store.  Contact me if you have an idea for a special commission piece that you would like me to consider.

Now I'm not saying this is the niche but these turned out "STINKING CUTE" if I can say so myself.  I was asked last week to decorate these large cardboard numbers to serve as table decorations for the Boulder City Art Guild December meeting/40th anniversary party.  Normal to my usual MO I waited until the last moment to get started.  I think I spend about 3 hours painting these two numbers and of course the chickadees are from other artworks and I simply printed them out and used my mad scissor skills and a little glue stick to add this fluffy little characters to my efforts.  I wonder if there is a market out their for this type of artwork for gifts or decorating a children's/nursery room?  If you would be interested in having me create custom initials for say a nursery or perhaps a perfect gift for a wedding or engagement, then just contact me and I will be happy to create something special for you.

This past week I attended the reception for the Holiday Art Show out at Lake Las Vegas.  What an amazing evening with approximately 500 people in attendance.  The place was packed when we arrived at the clubhouse.  We had to practically push people out of the way just so that I could get this blurry picture of me next to my artwork.  So happy for my dear artist friend, Jeffrey Oldham for winning both 3rd place and 1st place visitors choice award during the evening.

Currently on my studio easel- I found out this past week that I have been offered a solo library show in March-May 2017.  The theme will be once again, "Down Country Roads".  I just have so much fun painting these country art scenes and I'm going to want to have plenty of new pieces to showcase there.  I want to be sure and paint a couple more large pieces that continue my fence post and morning glory theme from my 2016 work before now and March.  This little 11 x 14 nosy girl is just the start of my new country work.  I really like how the border frames in the picture and gives it a 3D effect.

Here are just a few other things I got finished this past few weeks.  Cardinals are so festive and beautiful and are just popular for a seasonal piece.  The wooden spoons turned out to be a winner and have almost sold out.  

Large Cardinal painted on a slice of wood

Winter themed wooden spoons

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Etsy or Ebay....That is an Excellent Question????

Way back in 2010, when I had just begun to paint, I thought the thing for me to do was to open an Etsy Store.  I think I uploaded a total of 3 paintings, got a few page views and one comment and quickly I became disinterested in the whole thing. Frankly, the thought of paying $ .20 for each listing and the fact that poorly painted canvas pieces were not a good match for that platform.  Fast forward 6 years and today I'm chopping at the bit to get my artwork out there on Etsy. 

My artwork has changed a great deal and I feel that with these changes the pieces are much more suitable for an online marketing venue.  My illustrations and drawings are becoming more popular.  I have chosen Etsy along with, and as platforms to get my images out there.  Etsy is a bit different than the last three vendors I mentioned.  With FineArtAmerica, Redbubble and Zazzle I just upload my images and if that image is chosen by a customer to be added to some merchandise such as a pencil bag, pillow or a shirt, they handle the whole process and just mail me a commission check. This is pretty sweet way to make some money with just a little effort up front but so far I haven't made enough money to even blog about it.

Etsy is more like a real store that I am in control of.  I handle all the orders and inventory and I stand to make much more profit on each sale. It's constant work and needs weekly attention from me but I think it will be way more satisfying overall.   Again, like anything worth while, it takes time.  I understand very well that this isn't an overnight process but rather a slow building of a fan base.  

I am no Etsy expert so this past week to help my store performance I started to do some research. Why re-invent the wheel when there are some really successful stores out there who have all four wheels rolling at full speed?  I want to sell art prints, cards and magnets that feature my artwork.  So I found a store called Paper Llamas that had digital prints of baby animals along with a number of other subjects.  I checked their sales statistics and was very impressed that they had sold nearly 9500 sales since opening their store in 2011.  Compared to my 1 sale these guys are Etsy giants.  I noticed that I posted just a single high resolution image of my art while they often posted images that showed their work framed and matted hanging on the wall.  They sold their prints both individually and in groupings.  Having them framed and matted gives the buyer a chance to visualize the art nicely displayed on their own wall.  That was smart!

Yesterday, I set up a staging area and tried to get that same hung art feeling by adding a few Christmas props and a nice wooden frame.  I used the camera on my cell phone but for my effort I think I got a much better image to compliment my work and promote my listings.  My shop received 3 favorites just yesterday alone.  That is a good sign.

My titles were a disaster.  I thought they wanted the title of the artwork but I realized after studying this successful store that this is where I need to get creative and add as many searchable phrases as possible.  I just made the artwork title the first line in the description because the image is from an original piece of art that I have taken the time to give it a name I want to include that name in the listing, just not on the title line.

They also used a variation drop down menu that gave them the ability to offer different sizes and prices for their work.  Seeing this was like a light bulb going off in my head.  Why have a separate listing for a card, a magnet or a print when I could accomplish it all with one listing?  My store will forever be much tidier and easier to manage thanks to this light bulb moment. 

My goals for 2017 for my Etsy Store is 75 products in my inventory, 500 individual sales and 100 favorite rating for the store.  I am going to also give ebay a try and see if the potential for art sales is there also.  Some artists swear ebay is better than Etsy and so I need to figure this out for myself.  

As I learn from my experiences, I will be blogging about what I have found to be successful and what has worked for me.  To sell an original canvas painting for several hundred dollars is great and I surely appreciate those moments.  They just don't happen nearly enough.  I want to supplement our retirement income with art sales and perhaps even allow additional income to continue even when I am no longer able to create.  I want to never be tempted again to take an accounting or tax preparation job. 

I have come to the conclusion in my own art path that brick and mortar galleries can only do so much to get my work out there.  I have to take ownership of my own promotion and art destiny and those small sales, I believe will add up and surpass any sale of the original piece.  I am going to be building my business one greeting card, one magnet or one print at a time.

Here is the link to my Etsy Store if you are interested in checking it out.  Remember it's a work in progress and this progress has really just begun.

Here are some images I took yesterday for my Etsy Store listings:  

Thursday, November 17, 2016


For several weeks now I have struggled to come up with a theme idea that I felt comfortable with for a n upcoming art show.  Themed shows can always add an extra challenge but with that challenge comes growth as an artist. This particular show is one that I am actually somewhat in charge of.  

The artists of City of the World Gallery located in the 18b Art District of downtown Las Vegas is having their first ever library show. Mr. Darren Johnson, the Gallery Service Coordinator for the Clark County Library District suggested a possible "Mob Theme" and with that it was decided to bill the show as "Vivid Las Vegas- An Artistic Review of the Historical and Colorful Las Vegas Past."

While I may have been instrumental in coming up with that theme, it is the last thing that I really would consider painting for myself.  So I have been sketching a vast number of Las Vegas characters including Wayne Newton, Elvis Presley, Oscar Goodman, showgirls and gangsters trying to come up with something I could get excited about.  

Then just the other day it hit me.  I really only needed to combine my painting style with something that reflected Las Vegas history.  HOLY COW!  The idea hit me like a herd of stampeding Holsteins! What could be more down my alley than painting cows or in this case a long forgotten casino that was remotely associated with cattle.  The Holy Cow Casino and Brewery that once stood on the Northeast corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Blvd.  

I can only recall going in there once and that was to walk around their gift shop full of cow memorabilia looking for a unique gift.  I don't recall if I purchased anything but I do remember that I thought it was one of the more interesting casino gift shops I had walked through.  Of course that is probably because even back then I liked decorating in a farm motif.  I always said that my decorating style was "Barn Yard" and that way the dirt and dust seemed more natural.

So this is the composition I came up with.  A replica of a bottle from the Holy Cow Casino used to display some freshly picked daisies.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Painting glass may look hard but it really isn't and I like the soft mottled background so commonly used in still life compositions.  I considered adding several different varieties of flowers but in the end decided that the simpler the better for this piece.  I'm not even trying to think of a creative title and am just calling it "Holy Cow Bottle with Daisies".  Pretty original I think.

So I hope that if you are in Las Vegas on December 15 you might consider making a stop at the Flamingo Library and checking out the show.  This piece will be there along with a number of others.

Be sure and follow me on Instagram, Like my Facebook Page or check out my Website using these links.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In These Months as Winters Watch Unfold

I painted this piece as one of the several entries I need to have for a number of upcoming holiday themed art shows that I want to enter.  The last few pieces have been of cute little chickadee so this trio of white tail deer was a nice change.  I was so inspired that I even wrote a few lines of poetry to go along with it.

You know as a child, I remember snow being so much fun and I enjoyed many a day sledding, building snowmen and winning a snowball fight or two.  The best days were those when school was cancelled due to road conditions.

As an adult snow doesn't offer the same appeal to me.  I'm very happy to live in an area that snow is all but a non-issue and in 38 years I have only had to really contend with it once and for any seasoned winter driver, my stress I felt that on that day would be laughable.

It is beautiful however and painting it is enjoyable.  So I've been painting my share of snow scenes these past few weeks.  This particular piece I'm calling "Winters Watch" It is painted in acrylic on an 18 x 24 inch gallery wrapped canvas and will be making it's public debut hopefully at the gallery at Lake Las Vegas during December.  I will keep all my art show participation information current on my social media and website.

You can follow me on Instagram, Like my Facebook Page or check out my Website using these links.

Winters Watch
Julie Townsend

Dreams of coming spring are covered thickly
Under a sparkling blanket of fresh fallen snow
Pine needles glistening frosted and no longer prickly
Bowing to the ground in a white splended show

The trees are a cast robed for a part in the icy scene
The moonlight adds drama and suspense as the curtain begins to rise
Nothing but twinkle and glitter to fill each gully and ravine
Such beauty spread softly that you scarcely believe your eyes 

The sounds of the hooves breaking through the ice crust
Are muffled by the thickness of the surrounding bitter cold
Their each step is exaggerated by the added effort and thrust 
Life is full of drama and conflict in these months as winters watch unfold

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Z is for ZINNIA


One of my dreams has always been to have a cutting garden.  Alas in Las Vegas growing anything takes an extra amount of work that I just never seemed to have the time for.  Oh I have some flowers every year growing in pots around the front door but nothing like the flower gardens of my dreams.

I plant the usual geraniums, pansies, and chrysanthemums but a new favorite has emerged.  I tried to find zinnias a few years back at all the local garden centers and all I
could find were a pack of seeds.  I planted the seeds that spring and while they don't look like the pictured bright red flowers, I did get a sturdy plant full of orange blooms. They have successfully reseeded themselves every year after that.  They grow kind of tall (about 3 feet high) and spindly but they are a nice splash of color by my front door.

What is it about Zinnias?  I mean there are lots of great flowers but I just find them so cheerful, colorful and they just make me happy.   Add it to the fact that they are SO easy to grow makes them a favorite for many flowerbeds.  I was mildly surprised to find they are part of the daisy family but the information I was reading also said they were part of the sunflower tribe.  I didn't know that flowers were classified in tribes.  I mean family and species classifications I remember but I don't recall "Tribe" as a scientific classification.  Of course biology has been a number of years ago so maybe this is just unique to flowers or something new.

When my much awaited mega large set of Prismacolor colored pencils arrived the first sketch I did with them was that of Zinnias.  I absolutely love all the colors I now can choose from.  Just look at all those oranges, yellows and pinks.  The choices made for happy little zinnias.  My original artwork is a 5 x 7, matted to 8 x 10 and is available for purchase.  I can also make prints, magnets and greeting cards if you just love the design.  Send me a message and I will be happy to get you prices.

I love filling up my artistic journal pages and maybe this is cheating because I've gotten where I just add copies of my sketches into the pages and add my thoughts about each of the piece or share a poem that I wrote to go along with the artwork.  I know I'm really supposed to draw directly into the book but I just find that I enjoy this so much better.  It's combining my finished works that I like and yet I'm journaling about things that are important to me.  I thought I would share my Zinnia journal entry from last week to close out this blog post.

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Zinnia Journal Entry in my Sketchbook Journal

Monday, November 7, 2016

Chickadees Galore

The season is changing outside here in Las Vegas but it has been slow coming with November temperatures still in the upper 80's but in my studio there is snow all around.  Winter and the holidays has arrived in full force. With December approaching I am finding that every gallery I affiliate with has decided that a holiday themed show is the thing to do and I have 4 of them I'm busy trying to create for not to mention my recently completed ornament that is on it's way to Washington D.C. to be hung on the National Christmas Tree.  I've been one very busy artist!  This ornament features the Mountain Bluebird, which is the state bird of Nevada.

After finishing the ornament, I focused on creating more unique Christmas designs including a painting.  As you can see this week has clearly been a Chickadee kind of week.  I finished this 12 x 12 acrylic snow scene and what fun I had painting it.  I'm calling this one "Chickadees in the Snow" and I'm thinking of hanging it in the Boulder City Art Gallery for December.

Then I decided to add a couple of more sketches that featured a similar pair of birds and those adorable red berries by having them appear to be stringing garland or decorating their nest.  I thought it was a cute idea and the "Stringing Garland" piece looks really great on a greeting card.

Speaking of greeting cards, I have also been working on improving the look of my cards by adding a border around the 4 x 6 print with a slightly larger rectangle of Christmas designed card stock.  I bought a pad of 60 sheets at the Michaels Store  just to see how I could spice up the design on my cards and I think they have turned out really nice.  I'm looking forward to filling card orders and making these available at a number of local area galleries and hope to take some out to the store in Pahrump.

A final design created this past week is more in a cartoon style but those little Chickadees are still going strong.  This one I have called "Decorate to Impress".

If you enjoy my work please leave me a comment below and check out my website at or follow me on Instagram or like my Facebook Page.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Zazzle Your Holiday

Check out how awesome this coaster puzzle looks with my own  "Except For the Mouse" Christmas design that is now available on my Zazzle store.  I think these coasters add the perfect touch while protecting your beautiful wood furniture.  Because of the puzzle aspect, they offer an element of entertaining for the younger members of your family.  These would make great gifts and stocking stuffers.
Here is a link that will take you to this item in my Zazzle Store:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Just a Can or Two of Red Spray Paint

My display set up for the night
I have had this old bakers rack for years but recently it has been come a very handy addition to my art displays. I'm almost certain I bought it at Ross maybe 14 years ago. The really cool thing about it is that all the shelves are hinged and lift up. This allows the sides then to fold in. The whole folds down completely flat which makes it great for transporting. It is also pretty light weight. Brad has added addition perforated metal sheeting to the back and sides so my magnets stick to it like a charm. It holds plenty of cowbells, greeting cards and matted artwork.

I had him paint it red the other day and I'm just loving it. I picked red for a couple of reasons 1. Red is a favorite color of mine and 2. I think it draws extra attention to my display.
Here we have it set up at the gallery in Lake Las Vegas. I'm thinking of asking him now to add 2 wheels on the bottom back and a handle so that it is easy for me to drag along behind me when folded up.

All you would have to do is add a couple of grid display panels and I easily could display close to a thousand dollars inventory in a very small space.

Looking in to the gallery from the village street
Here is the view of the gallery from outside looking in. I'm so happy to be part of this great location. I believe this gallery has much potential and how exciting to be involved from the very start. We just have to get the word out. There are 3 galleries located right in the village area. All three of the galleries run by artist Peg Lozier. My work is displayed in the North Gallery, nearest the Lake.

Great art and beautiful surroundings make for a winning combination. Now we just need to increase the visitors to the gallery, the hours of operation (volunteers like myself work in the gallery so we are only open on the weekends at this point) and of course the sales. There is really impressive artwork hung on the walls and it would be well worth your time to take a drive out there and check it out.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Who Gives a Hoot?

Still wet on my easel
I have been working on this particular 18 x 24 piece for a good part of a week now.  This summer I had the sheer pleasure to see a great horned owl up close and personal as one fine specimen choose the tree next to our camper to spend a hour or two just checking things out.  For some time he and I, (well I assume he was male but I'm not positive of the gender) just stared into each others eyes.  I think this may actually be my first owl encounter and it left me completely inspired!

Those eyes were amazing.  I guess I never stopped to consider just how "YELLOW" they really are.  Well, I have been hooked ever since.  

I painted this as an acrylic under painting and then glazed it with a coat of oil paint.  This is the first time I have painted with oils in close to 3 years and I really enjoyed the process.  I have just a few more touches and highlights to add and then of course there is the time it takes for the oil paint to dry completely so I can add a final coat of varnish.  Maybe I am premature to blog about a painting that admittedly isn't completely finished, but I get so excited that I just can't help myself.  I LOVE BEING AN ARTIST!


This piece is my 2nd full scale painting that features this beautiful animal.  The first one was painted with acrylic on a 10 x 20 canvas and I was thrilled when it sold shortly after I hung it for viewing at the Boulder City Art Gallery.

Reference photo taken by Allison Henderson of Beatty, Nevada

Isn't he just gorgeous? This is the reference photo I used to paint this magnificent creature was taken by a Nevada photographer, Allison Henderson who lives in Beatty, Nevada.  Allison and I belong to the same Nevada Photographers Facebook page and had never met until the above mentioned "owl sighting".  She posted this picture on Facebook and I immediately commented that I had seen an owl the same day near Ely, Nevada.  To my shock I discovered that Allison was also in Ely when she took her photo.  A few exchanges back and forth and we discovered that we both were actually vacationing in the exact same RV park. ( I want to give a shout out to the Valley View RV Park.  It is a great place to vacation while in Ely.) Allison snapped this picture while driving near the golf course in Ely but because that is only across the highway from the RV park I have a strong feeling that this was the very same owl that I had seen that same morning.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

On It's Way to Washington DC

This week I was given the pleasure of designing and creating a unique Christmas ornament that represents the State of Nevada and that will be hung on the National Christmas Tree in Washington DC.  What a great time I had doing this project.  I did feel a bit funny not painting a white snow scene, but I am recently returned from a weekend trip to enjoy the fall colors on the 33 mile drive called Success Loop near Ely, Nevada.  Part of the drive is covered in a mature aspen grove.  The sounds, the colors and the beauty still fill my memories and it was that image of Nevada I wanted to portray on this plastic globe.  As you can see from this picture the ornament is actually pretty good sized and began as 2 halves of a clear plastic ball.  

I put a gray primer coat on the ball initially and tried to apply acylic paint directly on top of the primer.  I didn't like how this was working so changed gears and painted the whole ball a blue color.  I think created all the artwork on paper using my Prismacolor pencils and pen and ink.  I think cut them all out and glued them to the surface of the ball.  I then came in with acrylic painted and added the leaves and the grasses.  I also painted a number of small pebbles in silver paint and glued them to the top of the ornament.  This represents silver nuggets and of course the state of Nevada is know as the Silver State.  To finish off the project I sprayed the whole thing with fix-it spray and then a couple coats of spray on clear varnish to add shine and to make sure everything stayed in place.  

I decided to add a detailed Mountain Bluebird because they are not only a beautiful bird, but they are after all, the state bird.  Our first trip driving the Success Loop we saw a number of deer so I wanted to include a young buck.  Of course on my ornament I tried to duplicate that shimmering and sparkle that only quacking aspen trees can produce.  I don't think I even came close, but I guess I probably gave a modest representation and you are at least able to guess what I'm trying to convey here.

Since it is difficult to get all views of a circular globe with just one photo, I created a collage of all 4 sides so that you could get a better feel of what the ornament looks like.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it.  

Check out all my artwork on the gallery link above or on my website at

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Just Like a Rainbow in a Box

I don't know, but I think I just might have enough colors now when I sit down to do my next sketch.  Just look how beautiful they look.  It's like a rainbow in a box and and I'm SO EXCITED!   This is the REALLY big box of Prismacolor pencil.  There are 150 to be exact and I can't wait to start using them. Just look at all those shades of gray and blue! 

Lately, I have been watching a talented color pencil artist from Australia by the name of Sheldene Visage at Sheldene Fine Art.  She has a number of excellent tutorials on YouTube and I'm learning a great deal from her.  I decided that if I was serious about the medium of color pencils then I needed to invest in the largest set they sell. I guess I'm just going to have to get busy and sell a bunch of greeting cards or a couple cowbells to cover my investment.   

To make myself familiar with all the colors available in the set I decided that I was going to make my own color reference chart to go along with my pencil set.  I used 4 inch strips of poster board separated in 1/2" sections.  Each try contains 25 pencils and so my color chart follows that same order that they were shipped.  I'm really hoping that Prismacolor wouldn't steer me wrong.  I can use the little swatches of color when trying to determine the closest shade.  I can just lay the card up to the reference photo or still life and find the right color.  

Sheldene has her color charts hole punched and on a ring so that they stay together but she can have access to each card separately.  I was even considering the possibility of having them lamented so that they are protected so they stay clean and intact.  Maybe I will do that as soon as I'm sure I have them organized correctly and that they are functional.  I may decide that I need to expand the color to include both a dark and light tone for each color.  So many decisions just to get organized.  At this point, I'm not even certain the best way to keep my pencils organized.  Maybe that is a good question to ask several experience CP artists and include their answers on a future blog post. 
Example of Color Swatches done by Sheldene

Monday, October 24, 2016

Just How Many Shades of Blue Do I Need? AS MANY AS I CAN GET!

Who said, "You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?" This past week I have had several opportunities to watch several artists at work on YouTube.  What an amazing tool we have at our fingertips.  If I had this available to me when I was younger there is no telling how much further along my art skills would be.  Oh well, if there is one thing I do know, you can't roll back time so making changes to ones past is not an option.  None of has have a guarantee of tomorrow. That leaves us only with today in our control.  So today, I am going to embrace my opportunity to practice more with drawing textures and YouTube will be my amazing go to resource.

First artist- I want to share with you is Lisa Clough of  I've only begun to touch the surface of the vast amount of information she has made available on her website via free YouTube tutorials.  I'm very interested in working on her oil over acrylic techniques.

Color Pencil practice exercises added to my sketch journal
Second artist- I have found a wonderful color pencil artist named Sheldene Visagie at .  She has a great technique and I have learned a number of things about color pencils just by watching her YouTube tutorials.  I worked on several of her blending practice videos and here are my results.   I realized that with the exercise that she had several shades of Prismacolor blue pencils that I don't have in my limited sets.  I made due but felt that I had to use shades that were not really related and had to work hard to get them to have a continuous blended effect.  The blended color wheel was also and excellent practice exercise that I highly recommend.

A few months ago I bought a set of what I thought would be 96 Prismacolor pencils but turned out to actually be more like 72 colors because the set included 12 verithin pencils and 12 watercolor pencils so it wasn't actually what I thought I was buying.  So I just placed an Amazon order for the largest set, 150 pencils and they arrived just today.  I'm SO excited to start using them.   First though, I am going to make a color reference chart that I can use when trying to match a particular color.  That will probably be a future blog.  What made this purchase even more exciting was that during the few days that I had them in my shopping cart the price dropped like $10 to only $89 on Amazon Prime. Down the road I might invest in a set of  Faber Castell Polychromos pencils but right now I'm pretty happy with the wax based pencils.

Fun Practice Exercise for working on different textures.
This week I have also been playing around with textures in drawing.  When you are teaching a basic drawing class each week you have to stay one up on your students and I thought that texture was a good lesson for week 5 of my after school art club I'm teaching so I started with these fun little exercises.  I think they look pretty awesome and I love how it works to use the fingers of my hand to demonstrate the different textures.