Thursday, April 28, 2016

Creative Hyper-drive

My Journal Page
So I have a confession to make this morning....I'm in love the idea of artistic journaling for sometime.  That is where you keep a diary or journal but instead of just writing on the pages you use your creative or artistic skills to fill the pages with drawings, sketches and fancy fonts.  I belong to a Facebook group dedicated exclusively to this form of journaling and some of the posts are simply amazing.  The closed group is very large with over 20,000 members and many are so positive and encouraging that I love to share my sketching with them.  The conflict comes in because my sketching efforts are more to work out renderings for paintings or to come up with designs that I can use to matte and create a greeting card portfolio.  These sketches also don't necessarily meet the groups guidelines for posting because they are no longer inside a sketchpad.  Also, my own dear journal that I started almost 2 years ago sits on my drawing table untouched and not finished.

So yesterday the idea just hit me! I came up with the perfect solution to my conflict and I'm really excited about it.  I'm not sure why I didn't think of it sooner.  As I complete a sketch or painting, I am going to print out the artwork on a 4 x 6 card and attach it to a journal page.  Then I can add my thoughts about the piece, the date that it was completed and in this way I will fill my journal with pages that are especially interesting to me and create a fun portfolio of my work at the same time.  It's a win win in my book (Journal)!

So last night was my first entry using this format and low and behold I got so creative that I actually started writing a poem to go along with my "Resting Hummingbird" sketch.  This whole process got me so excited that I was formulating more poems for a couple of other sketches I have recently completed.  I was scribbling down a flood of ideas on a piece of scrap paper between brushing my teeth and and taking my vitamins.  If I hadn't been just drop down unconsciously tired, I might have filled several pages with madly scribbled pose.  Blow out the cobwebs!  My mind was in creative hyper-drive.

So don't you dare laugh at me but I decided I would share with you not only my journal page entry but my rough draft of the poem I wrote call "The Hummingbird Song".

            The Hummingbird Song
 The song you sing is hardly a song at all
I may not see you in the branches but I can hear your call
While the other birds fill the air with a melody so sweet
Your song is more like a sour off tune tweet
Or maybe it’s more like a chit, chee-dit or a chirp
To me it sounds more like the scolding I get when I loudly burp
 Not at all a pleasant sound to my ear
Rather it is more like I’m being scoffed and chided I fear
Makes me wonder how could one so cute, tiny and small
Have a disposition and attitude that's bigger than all?

Be sure and check out all my work on my website-Julie Townsend Studio

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The First of a Flurry of Fluffy Feathers

Image as seen on my "Country Store and Cowbell" tab on my website
It always amazes me that I can spend an hour drawing a little sketch design and then spend two hours on the marketing of that sketch.   By the time you write 3 or 4 paragraphs about the piece, scan it, upload and edit the image and then upload the image to all the applicable websites, you have invested several hours of time. Not to mention the time spent writing this blog each week.

I've just recently expanded my marketing efforts by opening an Etsy store under Julie Townsend Studio.  Now that I have some smaller inventory such as art magnets and art greeting cards that feature my work to offer, I felt that an Etsy store might be a good idea.  I am also checking into putting my images on Zazzle, Cafe Press and Redbubble but haven't quite figured out how those all work.  Then of course I have been uploading my images for a number of years to Fine Art America.  I guess I should get and "A for effort" and hopefully someday all this work will begin to pay off as I brand my self and grow a group of collectors.  Well at least that is my plan and I've always heard that you make a plan and that you work the plan and marketing artwork is WORK!

Now that I have finished my 2nd Down Country Roads art card collection I'm ready to focus on a new theme or collection. Collection 1 is of my farm animal pen and ink sketches and the 2nd collection is of my five Down Country Roads paintings.  Here is the link to my Country Store.

 I was pretty excited this week to get my first order of each image in collection II in art magnet format.  The collector shared with me that the images make her remember her childhood on her grandparents Iowa farm and they make her smile.  What a touching thing for her to say.  That very much blesses my heart as an artist to know that my work has touched an emotion and in some way has lifted a spirit and made someone smile.

5 x 7 pen and ink sketch with colored pencil
So last night I got busy and pulled out my sketch pad and colored pencils.  This is what I came up with and I think this will prove to me an excellent start on a collection that features my favorite birds. Topping that list is no doubt in my mind, the feisty hummingbird.  Nothing makes me smile faster, except for maybe my grandchildren, then this tiny little winged aggressor that darts around my yard.

You had better be quick if you want to snap their picture because they only rest a few seconds before flying off in a flurry of fluffed feathers.

Original sketch is available along with prints, cards and magnets of this image at my website gallery.  Feel free to check it out along with all my other works.

Finished sketch before adding colored background

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gardens, Galoshes and Gravy

"Fence Post Rendezvous"
I am FINISHED!!!! And I finished this piece just in time to enter it in the Elks Helldorado Art Show today.  It was close, down to the wire actually, but I made it and am very pleased with the final results.

  I can say that with each painting I do, I learn so much.  This piece contained several difficult elements in the composition.  The children for one and the horse for two. This is the 5th painting in a series of pieces that I have titled "Down Country Roads".  Painting these pieces has provided such therapy to me as I recall little moments in my childhood growing up in the Ozarks of Central Missouri.

It has been my desire, with each piece I paint, to capture your imagination, strike a sweet chord with your own childhood memories or tell an interesting visual story that grabs your attention.

My mother always had a large garden plot that she put out vegetables in each spring and then we would reap the benefits come summer as we would start the harvesting the best tasting produce you can imagine.  The memory of the taste of fresh snapped green beans and tiny new potatoes cooked up with a piece of ham in mom's old cast iron skillet still makes my mouth water today.  I've made that comfort dish numerous times for my family but it has just never been the same.  Mom would tell us kids to go out to the garden and pick green beans, radishes, cucumbers, squash or tomatoes to add to our dinner that most often consisted of a fried meat of some kind, mashed potatoes and gravy.

I can also remember that I always had a pair of rubber boots to wear to protect my shoes from the snow, slush and deep mud.  For the area to be so green there must be lots of rain.  Way more rain that we have here in Las Vegas.  Most of us can barely justify owning an umbrella let alone buying full on rain gear for our children.  We also called those rubber boots "galoshes" and I remember having red ones that matched a red raincoat and hat with little yellow daisies printed on it.  I was quite stylish as I made my way to school in the rain.

In keeping with my other pieces in the series, I added the blue morning glories and tall grass along with several hidden creatures.  See if you can find two tiny baby cotton tail rabbits, a fat toad and a nest of quail eggs.  They are there, I promise.

On a personal note this piece is really special for me because I used my own grandson as model for the toddler reach in the basket to get a second carrot for the interested palomino.

I hope you enjoyed this little labor of my love and I invite you to check out the "Down Country Roads" series on my website and leave me a comment letting me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You're Invited!

Please consider coming if you find that you have some free time on Sunday.  I would love to talk to you about my artwork and this beautiful gallery.

This Sunday, April 24th is my closing reception at the Boulder City Art Gallery

Sweet Rendezvous

WIP-"Fence Post Rendezvous"
The past two weeks my focus has been on my 5th piece in my series "Down Country Roads" which features the series' signature blue morning glories growing at the fence post along with the lush tall grass that grows extra tall there, uncut by the mower.  With this piece,  I decided to add some farm children.  I have such fond memories of growing up in the country where I could run and play without worry.  We lived down a country gravel road, surrounded by farmers and where slowing down to greet the horses and cows with screams of MOO would be a frequent occurrence.  

Nearly every mother on the road tended a rather large garden where the best tasting vegetables could be found.  I remember my mother often asking me to go out to the garden and pick something that would be served with our evening meal.  Maybe green beans, cucumbers, radishes or squash.  There is nothing better than fresh from the garden snapped green beans, new potatoes and ham cooked up in a cast iron skillet topped off with blackberry cobbler for desert using the blackberries that you labored to pick. Speaking from experience, picking blackberries is no easy task.   

This piece that I'm calling "Fence Post Rendezvous" combines some of these elements of my early childhood memories of country life. These two little towheads have been given the early morning chore of picking carrots for dinner but couldn't help but stopping for a few minutes to share a couple of their basket bounty with the neighbor's palomino. With his head full of curly blonde locks, I used my own 3 year old grandson as a model for the little boy at the basket.    

The debut for this piece is going to be the Elks Club Helldorado Art Show and I have just a few more days to get it finished because the call for art is this upcoming Sunday.  Sorry that this is a poor quality cell phone picture of the piece, but since it is still on my easel, I haven't taken the time to get out the good camera to photograph it.   I guess I was just really anxious to show my progress this morning to my blog readers. Rest assured,  I will be providing better images as soon as I finishing painting in the final details.  

I hope you enjoy this WIP (work in progress) blog.  I would love to hear your thoughts, comments or memories about your own "Country Childhood"  To see the rest of the pieces in this series check out my gallery tab or go to my website at

Monday, April 11, 2016

Someone Needs a Makeover

Have you ever watched the show, What Not to Wear on TLC where Stacy London takes some frumpy fashion failure and transform her into a dynamic dashing diva?  The show always ended with a revealing of the NEW look and they would give us a reminder of the past by presenting a BEFORE and AFTER comparison.  I kind of feel that this is what I'm trying to do here while writing this blog.

I call this piece "At the Rivers Bend" and I painted it originally as a study on water reflection using a snippet from artist Jerry Yarnell's and his online school resources.  There was a lot about the piece that I liked but over the next two years, as my skills improved, there was more and more about the piece that I didn't.  

In preparation of hanging my exhibit "Down Country Roads" at the Boulder City Art Gallery, I was going through my closet and came across this piece.  I knew that the time had come to give this piece a COMPLETE MAKEOVER.  And just like the TV show, I have included a before and after photo and I thought I would also provide for your reading pleasure a personal commentary on the changes.

"At the River's Bend"- 18x24 Acrylic painting

1.- I lightened the sky and water.  I'm not sure what shade of blue I used originally, but it appears too dark and purple to me.  I'm guessing we might be looking at cobalt blue.  I changed the whole tone by lightening and brightening with cerulean blue instead.  The water is simply a reflection of the sky so they have to be the same color but just a few shades darker.  I also added some fluffy summer clouds.

2.  Probably the most obvious edit is the adding of the canoe and the fisherman.  I felt the original painting lacked a story and by adding the fisherman I have added a focus to the piece that was absent before.  I personally love fishing and whenever I look at a beautiful river or lake, I always wish I could throw up a lawn chair and grab my rod and reel.  I'm not much of a boater but for the sake of the composition, I think a canoe has much more appeal over an old lawn chair sitting in the grass.

3.  The tall reeds that are growing at the edge of the far bank were too uniform.  They appeared to be cut straight across like a hired landscaper had recently come along with giant hedge clippers and had given them a good trimming.  I always fall into that trap and have to consistently remind myself that in nature everything is random. It must be my years spent as an accountant because I still struggle with this.   I also moved the little tree to be growing behind the reeds instead of almost floating in water.

4.  I finished off my edits by embellishing the foreground and the little area in front of the canoe by adding a few fallen logs jetting out of the water and some rocks.  Almost every element added has to cast a reflection on the water so you can see I have duplicated the impression of the shape in the water.

I hope you enjoyed this little before and after comparison.  The new and improved "At the Rivers Bend" is currently added to my exhibit and is on display at the Boulder City Art Gallery.  I will soon be making the image available on my website at  Just contact me if you questions about this or any of my other works.  

Thank you for stopping by and spending a few minutes of your day with me and my blog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Rodents Wreaking Ravages & Ruin

Enjoying the Classics
I had so much fun this week doing this little  8 x 10 (Matted to 11 x 14) sketch that I'm calling "Enjoying the Classics".  I know mice are destructive little creatures and having several of them in your home or in our case, our camper can be quite a concern.  I was told by my husband just this morning that he could hear chewing during the night when he decided to spend the night out in the camper, enjoying the cool night air.   Oh boy....those sharp little teeth can really wreaking havoc on your electrical wires so you can rest assured we will be baiting several mouse traps tonight with a generous portion of peanut butter.  Hopefully we discovered this problem before any real damage has been done.

Despite their destructiveness, I find them to be cute little creatures.  Big round beady eyes, soft whiskered pink nose and tiny nimble fingers all add to their adorableness.  (Sorry if you are those individuals that jump on your chair at the sight of them but I don't scream when I see a spider either.  I usually try to capture the spiders and release them back outside because they are great bug hunters.) I also understand that if you are a true book lover, the sight of a destroyed book may bring you a moment of sadness, but I ask you to cast aside all your preconceived prejudices and appreciate the obvious cuteness of this composition.  

My favorite part of this piece is that I actually took the extra effort to painstakingly write portions of the text from the classic novel "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck in tiny little print.  The names of the main characters, Lenny and George are clearly visible on the scrap of paper held firmly in the hands of our little ravenous rodent.  

The original artwork is still available at the time of the writing of this blog, but prints and art greeting cards are available on the gallery tab on my website at Julie Townsend Studio.  Feel free to poke around and check out the rest of my gallery to see my other works of art.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Blogging about Beautiful Bovines

Fence Post Curiosity
Well my "Down Country Roads" show has been hung at the gallery and it looks GREAT!  The Boulder City Art Gallery is such a beautiful gallery to begin with and Regina Marvin, the gallery director helped me so much with getting my artwork up and ready for display.  

Now I am so excited for the reception next Sunday, April 10th.  I will be making my much requested cheese ball and their will be an assortment of lovely snacks provided by other gallery artists in attendance.
I've worked really hard to make lots of art greeting cards and art magnets available so that there will be plenty of fun smaller items available for purchase. Let's not forget all those cowbells I painted up special for this show.  

I was thrilled when I sold 7 art cards before I even had all the art work hung up on Friday.  I just received a call on Sunday that my featured piece, "Fence Post Curiosity" has already been sold on day 2 of the artwork on display. I am beyond thrilled!  

With all that done, I'm turning my attention now to painting my entries into the Helldorado Rodeo Art Show that is at the end of this month.  I have committed to having 3 pieces finished to enter and I'm going to give it my best try to have another large 24 x 36 inch piece ready.  This time my idea is of a horse being fed at the fence line a carrot by a child.  That will be a challenge for sure.  I'm sure as I begin the painting process I will share my progress here so checking back in the next few weeks.

Heading Home

The first piece that I have completed is a 12 x 24 acrylic painting that I am calling "Heading Home".  This piece was inspired by a photo taken by a high school classmate that obviously loves riding horses. They appear to take vacations with them and the reference photo I used for this piece is just such a time.  A photo between the ears is such a great perspective that I couldn't resist trying to capture that experience.  In my mind I could feel the emotion of both the rider and his beloved horse as they come into sight of home.  To add interest to the composition I had to add a curious Holstein looking up from her grazing in the tall pasture grass as they pass by.  

Who Needs a Tissue
Often as I am working on a piece I will using sketching as a way to practice and work out specific areas of my composition.  This adorable pen and ink sketch called "Who needs a Tissue" is a perfect example.  In my piece, "Fence Post Curiosity" I wanted the Jersey cow to be licking her nose.  Kind of a disgusting practice but one that cows do often.  Here I have tried to make this yucky nose licking activity cute and adorable.  Sometimes these drawings actually work out to become artwork of their own and get matted and framed.  The original of this particular piece is still available along with prints, art greeting cards and art magnets.  Check them out on my Country Store on my website .

I can say it has been a season of bovines in my studio.  Besides these last two paintings outlined above I decided to add a piece using pen and ink and colored pencil into the Helldorado Art Show. This is a medium that doesn't seem to be utilized by most artists.  The oil and acrylic entries are numerous but a sketches are few in number.  This 8 x 10 matted to 11 x 14 piece is called "Resting Before the Rodeo" and features a powerful Brahma bull taking a rest in the hours before the nights events.  

I grew up loving the rodeo.  Mainly because my father had been a professional bull and bare back rider in his MUCH younger days.  He loved watching the rodeo and we would travel every summer to Coffeyville, Kansas to attend the rodeo and visit with my Uncle Richard.  I was so proud because my Uncle Richard Diveley had a great singing voice and was always given the task each year of singing the National Anthem at the opening night of the Rodeo.  Such great childhood memories that are connected to the rodeo.  The rodeo is such a thrilling sport and like most spectators, I loved the bull riding event the most and because it brings the greatest level of excitement.  Those beautiful creatures and pure power, muscle and meanness.  

I loved sitting right next to the fence in hopes that the angry charging bull would run past me with inches and a small wire fence separating me from imminent danger.  Sometimes, if I was lucky they would fling the arena dirt all over me as they thundered past and I couldn't help but scream a little.  The rescue riders and the brave rodeo clowns making every effort to draw the bull away from the cowboy and to the exit gate.  Some bulls would comply quickly but others would make them work for it.  Making several passes around the arena to the delight and cheers of the crowd.  

I hope you enjoyed seeing my bovine line-up as much as I've enjoyed creating them.  Please check out my website to see more of my work.

Resting Before the Rodeo