Friday, July 29, 2016

I've Got a Fever- GARNET FEVER

Yesterday's Artistic Journal Entry- My Husband Digging For Garnets
I have often heard of the term "Gold Fever" referring to those men who sold everything, abandoned their families and their way of life back east to cross the rugged deserts, mountains and prairies just with the dream to strike it rich.  Very few did but that didn't seem to sway them from coming.  Nevada's very beginnings are steeped deep in the lure of riches that lie just below the surface.

Well, yesterday we were those driven individuals, picking and shoveling at the rocky hillside in search of the treasure that was surely there just below the surface.  Withstanding the blazing sun and temperatures reaching close to 95 degrees and yet there we were seeking a specific treasure.  We were hunting garnets at Garnet Hill Recreation Area just outside Ely, Nevada.  I can honestly say to you that I have wanted to come here for years and do just that.  

There was nothing else on my mind, eyes focused on the ground under my feet, looking for that unmistakable sparkle that was the tail tell sign of the gemstone that was there within my reach.  My husband digging and chipping away at the rocks with his shovel, pick and classifier.  It took us a short time to get our strategy in line and figure out just where the best place was to look.  And of course you would know that the best place for him was a steep climb up the hill, on loose limestone and for me, who is a person that you could call coordination challenged, the walking around was stressful.  Not to mention the sun beating down on me and that darn oppressive Nevada heat.  When I suggested that I had had about enough and that we head back to town and that amazing invention of air conditioning that awaited us in our travel camper, I was greeted with his unwelcomed reply, "Just a little longer."  I stared at this stranger that had the appearance of my husband of 37 years but It was as if he had been possessed by some strange garnet demon that required he keep looking for that "REALLY BIG ONE" that was surely in the next shovel full.  For a moment I was sure I saw his head spin around and his eyes flash purple but that was probably more the result of my overheated, dehydrated state.

We Cheated and Purchased This One

Of course I'm exaggerating this a bit.  We both had a great time and can't wait to return soon and continue our search.  We found about a dozen small specimens that we have floating in an old water bottle.  The largest garnet was the one I found, not at Garnet Hill, but rather at the Garnet Mercantile in the old downtown of Ely, Nevada.  I hope we find one this beautiful, but $10 seemed a small price to pay to have such a beautiful little treasure.

Looking back on the day as I was recording our experience in my artistic journal,  I was blessed with the realization that the real treasure was being together and enjoying the beauty that surrounded us.

The view from our digging spot.  That is the large cooper mine in the distance

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Artistic Sabbatical Just Got A Bit Nutty

Today's sketching efforts turned out to be a little bit nutty.  Or should I say that my focus subject today was a couple of nut loving rodents.  As I mentioned in my previous blog post,  we have spent the past week camping high on a mountain in the Humboldt National Forest camping just about 5 miles outside of Ely, Nevada to escape the hecticness of Las Vegas and more importantly the extreme heat.  While it was warm, 90+ for a few hours in the afternoon each day it is nothing compared to the 115 degrees that is often the norm back home.  It is hard to be stay inspired when you're sweating buckets of bullets.  

It has been a glorious week of peace and solitude.  I'm calling it my artistic sabbatical.  My list of creative goals is pretty hefty, and even if I don't get them all accomplished, I feel that this time is going to be well spent.  

Practicing Feathers
Today I decided to practice drawing fur.  I have for my inspiration a very cute book I purchased a year or so ago by Jane Seabrook called "Furry Logic".  It's the cutest little book and her illustrations are amazing.  I love her treatment of fur and feathers.  So I'm trying to improve my own drawing techniques while looking at her lovely pictures.  I worked on feathers the other day so today it was fur.

I especially wanted to draw a grey squirrel because I was treated to a visit yesterday by a particularly large guy that decided to run through our camp.  One thing missing from this past week has been wildlife.  Oh there have been plenty of bugs in the week.  I have had my fill of that type of wildlife.  There was one little hummingbird that would whiz by occasionally but not much else.  I had really hoped to see an elk or at least a deer but that wasn't to be.  Yesterday morning, while drinking my coffee I was treated to a sighting of a grey squirrel.  I was thrilled because it has been actually several years since I have seen a squirrel. 

So here are my two sketches. I'm pretty happy at how they turned out.  I of course need a lot more practice before I'm in the league with Ms. Seabrook.   One sketch done in honor of our camp visitor is treated in a realistic style and the other is closer to the style in the "Furry Logic" and is more animated and fun.  Both started out to be just little studies but I feel that when I get home they may wind up being matted and make an appearance on my Etsy store. Of course I will use my scanner and not these blurry cell phone photos.

You can checkout more of my work on my Website or my Etsy Store.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You Find Me Interesting, Right?

My husband vacationing in his new hammock
I'm currently on vacation.  That's right and I am actually up on a mountain at a about the 8000' level dry camping in my modest 23' camper trailer.   Amazingly, I have really a good WiFi connection here so I am able to spend some time working on my website and post this blog. While I've been here, I have been reading a number of articles about improving your blogging and tips for marketing as an artist.  You know what I found to be the number one suggestion in the articles I read?  The message seemed to repeat itself over and over and that was to make yourself more interesting!  You would have thought it was make better art.  Being interesting isn't necessarily an easy thing to do.  At least for me.

I now know quite a few artists and some of these individuals just seem to light up a room when they walk through the door.  That is a wonderful trait but did I ever mention that I really like the dark?  That's right...I hardly ever open my curtains and blinds during the day.  I love a dimly lit room, cloudy, overcast days and thunderstorms.  So I guess I'm not the "Light UP A ROOM" kind of artist.

Other artists I know walk around in flowing colorful gauze dresses and leggings.  The brighter the better it seems.  They look like a walking paint palette with legs. I just wouldn't feel comfortable being surrounded by that much color I think.  I love to wear just plan denim and the brightest color in my wardrobe is teal.  I love to wear navy blue and brown.  I guess I should wait before going out and try to figure out what size of leggings I would wear.  That thought just gave me goosebumps.

I noticed cowboy boots and even hats are big accessories for some artists.  I wonder if they wore these before they started painting or did that habit just sort of evolve as they became more popular in galleries around Texas and Wyoming?  I wonder.  I think my calves are too chubby for boots and I have a rather round head that I just don't think would hold a cowboy hat on it for very long.

Another marketing video I watched said that I needed to have "A STORY".  An interesting story that is easy to remember and that when they hear your story your circle of influence will go out and repeat that story to all their friends.  Wow...I'm still chewing on that one.  It is on my vacation to do list- Write My Story.

So today, I guess I'm blogging a blog about how I'm not naturally interesting.  I know there probably are those that would object to me saying this because it sounds negative and I am being to harsh and unkind.   I do know that we are our own worst critics but frankly, I feel that I have lead a rather boring life up to this point. You know what?   I'm not sure I'm uncomfortable with that fact.  After all, I am an older retired accountant who has just recently changed boats in the middle of this stream of life and I catch myself often I'm looking around boat for an extra large life preserver.  I guess you could call that a neon orange accessory.    A number of those artist type people in the boat with me are a diverse group of creative individuals and very talented artists.  So who am I to talk about leggings and cowboy boots like it is some sort of a gimmick to sell more art.  I do have to admit when those neon leggings walk into a room, people are bound to take note.

So I had better back on track with this blog because obviously I am struggling with the "Be More Interesting" .  I thought you might enjoy a few sketches I have done during the past few days while on my artistic sabbatical.  I hope you find them INTERESTING!

Zentangle with Triangles
I love zentangles and my Tombow N60 (blue grey shade) is my favorite pen to grab.  You can see that I love the way it adds dimension to a drawing by simply applying an outline the shapes.  You can see it, the line is there but your attention isn't  drawn away from the object.  The result that I just love is that it actually makes the object appear to jump from the page.  That simple line gives your drawing a 3-D quality.

Chick using Color Pencil over Tombow markers
You can really see that effect of the shadow outline here on my little chick sketch.  By the way besides my N60 Tombow marker I have fallen in love with a new pen. It's called "Le Pen" by Marvy.  I think it is a .05 but I threw away the packaging and can't quite remember what it said.   I just by chance picked it up at Hobby Lobby a week or so ago, and to my amazement I have discovered that it does a great job of outlining over the colored pencil portions of my work.  You see, colored pencil leave a waxy coating and the drawing pens I have used so far really struggle with this. (Prismacolor Premium Fine Line Markers)   I really like adding a nice thick, black outline to the sketch after I have finished all my pencil work and blending.

So here I am just playing around and  practicing my feathers.  The goal here is to start getting more fine detail in my sketching technique.
Practicing Feathers-Color Pencil over Watercolor

If you like these drawings then you should check out all my artwork on my website, Julie Townsend Studio.
Artistic Journal Post-Love the that weave background shadowed by my trusty N60 marker
The rest of the pictures posted her for you viewing pleasure consist of actual Artistic Journal entries that I did and I then for a WOW factor, I threw in a few sunset photos taken with my cell phone just to round everything off.  Pretty interesting, huh?
A true artistic journal post complete with date and my thoughts

Sunset on Day 4

Sunset on Day 3

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Very Special Studio Guest

I was so blessed to have a studio visitor last week and we had so much fun doing this collaborative work on my newest piece while it was still in the "Work in Progress" stage.  My adorable grandson was so proud that he got to help me paint the grass in on the bottom of the canvas.  This was the best blurry picture that I could manage to get of him because he was so excited about getting to use real paint on grandma's painting.  Of course I watched pretty closely to make sure none of that green got up into my blue sky or on my cute little calf's nose.

When I look at this sweet boy that is smart as a whip, his head full of curly golden hair and his impish smile, I can't help but feel blessed.   It also makes me mindful of my own great memories of time spent with my grandmother.  She and I might not have created art together but we did spend a lot of time playing games like Yahtzee and Chinese Checkers.  She loved to go fishing and I was also her little fishing buddy.

I grew taller and she began to shrink and become frail and weak.  Blindness and loss of hearing plagued her final years and then one day I sit there beside her bed, holding her as she took her last breaths here on this earth.  I sang the old hymn "What a Day that Will Be" at her funeral.  It's been 16 years since she left but I miss her terribly.  I think she was a believer, though most of her life you couldn't see it outwardly.  She had met Christ in a real personal way as a teenager and I'm certain that she never denied that belief.  She didn't go to church, I never saw her reading her Bible, but I do remember her teaching me to sing"Jesus Loves Me".

Art is a great connection to children because they have such creative hearts and fresh minds but I need to take it further.   I need to use these little studio times to share my faith, establish a legacy by finding ways to spend more time with all of them.  Praying more diligently for them and their parents, claiming God's promises over their lives and pointing their hearts towards our Heavenly Father.

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, (Psalms 103:17)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gonna Sparkle Like the the Las Vegas Strip

I love jewelry!  I'm crazy about it.  My daughters will bear witness that if you take me to the mall the first and only place I head is to the jewelry department at JC Pennys to look at their clearance racks.  I used to go to the bookstore too but that store has been gone from the mall for years so it's just me among the red tags.

I love wearing jewelry and sometimes even making it. I even took a silversmith class for a short time.  I also am a bit of a rock hound (you only have to see my front yard to know that I have a pretty extensive rock collection). I could look at polished rocks and gemstone, cabochons for hours. So last night night I drew this sketch of some beautiful jewelry pieces using pen and ink and colored pencil.  The technique is rather easy but the results are stunning.  I just love it. What a perfect thing for me to sketch and believe me I had fun doing it.  

As often is my habit, I had to write a little poem to go along with my artwork.  I think it sums up my feeling about jewelry pretty well.  If you enjoy this than remember that I have a whole lot of poems and a more artwork than you can shake a stick at on my website at Julie Townsend  I invite you to stop in and browse a bit and then leave me a message about what you think.  I would love to hear from you.

You’re Never Too Old to Sparkle
Julie Townsend

When your hair is grey and getting thin
And your body hangs a bit saggy in your skin
Just grab up some sparkle, glam and bling
I’m telling you it’s just the thing
To put a skip in your step
And give you some pep
Gold, silver, copper or brass
All of them will make you look first class
Jewelry boxes are such marvelous things
Brooches, pendants, bracelets, bangles and rings
You want them blinded by your glitter
Doesn’t matter if it’s real or a counterfeiter
Just load up those fingers, neck, arms and ears
The brighter the glow the less they will be able to guess your years

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Grass is Greener Because Cows Poo is Good Fertilizer

"Always Greener"
I love this adorable little jersey calf checking out the grass growing on the other side of the fence because we all know it is GREENER there. I love how cows can lick their noses with those giant pink tongues.  I find their faces to be so expressive and yet at the same time be completely clueless.  This adds to their appeal and charm and makes painting them so much fun.  I hope I managed to capture that cow essence here.

This original artwork, which is painted on a 16 x 20 inch gallery wrapped canvas in acrylic paints is bright, colorful and is sure to make you smile each time you look at it.  If you or someone you know is into country, farm or western art this is the piece for you!  If you are interested in purchasing this piece or perhaps ordering a set a greeting cards or a beautiful art magnet you can visit my website gallery at Julie Townsend Studio.  Let me know if you like what you see.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Website Building for Dummies

I have for sometime used Weebly as my preferred website platform.  Generally, I am pleased with the overall look and functionality of my website and I stay diligent on keeping it updated.  I am always thinking of ways to improve it.  My website has undergone many major changes at different times and I'm sure it will be getting overhauled again in the future.  You learn as you go and I'm committed to being a lifetime learner.

One thing I did in the past year was start researching the website of other artists.  You know those successful artists that actually make a living selling their work.  I figured these folks had money to invest in having a professional design their sites and I could learn a lot just by trying to copy their look and incorporating it into mine.  Believe me I see plenty of artist at my level that either have no online presence or it is so poorly done that I feel sorry for them. I may not have the art sales I dream of but it's not because for a lack of effort.  I believe that if you BUILD IT THEY WILL COME!

Template- Weebly has a great many website templates to choose from.  Using a template already designed doesn't mean your website is going to look generic or cheap.  There are plenty of ways to customize the overall look and feeling of your website with custom banners, unique colors and market specific apps.

Since my main focus in my artwork has a strong country and western flavor, I loved that Weebly finally has a old wooden fence background template to choose from.  It is perfect and I LOVE it for my website.  I'm glad they have added a ton of fresh graphics that weren't available when I first started my website.  I also picked a simple white to surround my artwork.  My work is colorful enough and since I love to frame my artwork with a thick black border I think it gives a nice clean look that doesn't compete with the main thing I want you to notice-MY ARTWORK!

Home Page-  You have maybe 2-3 seconds to capture your audience and that is why your home page is SO very important.  I noticed that many artist websites that I looked at had just a few works displayed or perhaps a fast moving gallery that showcased their best pieces.  Usually their name and contact information might also be reflected on their home page.  That was pretty much it. So armed with that I made some major changes.  The bio and artist statement has no place on the home page.  Just beautiful and colorful artwork to entice the viewer to take a closer look.  (Sorry for the blurry iPad screen shot photos(

This is my Home Page of my website at
           My Home Page

ABOUT JULIE- My second tab is called "About Julie".  This is important for any potential customer to be able to learn more about you in depth.  Upon hitting that tab my artist bio and statement will appear.  A side note about this bio- It is important to get a good photo of yourself.  No matter how you feel about it, you are the product and people want to know you personally as the artist.  I had taken a webinar by successful artist, Lori McNee and one of the biggest takeaways that I learned was the importance of using the same well-done profile picture on every social platform.  This profile picture was taken by a fellow photographer artist, Marie Davis.  Several months ago she offered to take free head shots for any gallery artists to use on the gallery website.  This picture turned out well enough that I decided to use it on everything.  This is called branding yourself and I can't overstate the importance of this. Facebook, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Etsy and this website all have the same profile picture.  I even find it very important to have this picture hanging on my gallery wall.  Facial recognition is key and I think I'm the only artist at City of the World that has a picture of myself hanging on the wall.  Sad because I think this is extremely important.

I use the same profile picture across all social media platforms

On this page I have it separated into my Bio and my Artist Statement.  Both are very important in understanding who I am as an artist.  If you don't have these written down somewhere I want to urge you today to get working on them.  There are plenty of examples and templates online to assist you and you can always edit make changes as you get more experience.  
My Bio and Artist Statement

Under this tab I have 3 tabs to choose from.
Three Tabs Under the "About Julie"

RESUME- This is a listing of awards and important recognition that I have received since being an artist.  Now most of them are pretty lame compared to many successful artist that have been on their journey longer than I have but you need to keep track and now matter how small add it to your resume list.  It is a great visual of your journey and will help you see your progress as an artist.

CURRENT GALLERY REPRESENTATION- It is important to give your website visitors the ability to visit your work in person at all the galleries that you have your work hanging in.  I've included their address, phone number, contact person and their website.  They market you and it is important that you in turn market them.  It is a two way street and you should at every chance give shout outs and tags to these establishments that let you hang your artwork on their walls.

BRAGS AND NEWS- This is the area I have designated to list quotes and comments from previous collectors or art admirers as they have talked about my art or about me as an artist.  If someone is attracted to your artwork it is important that they know they are not alone and that there are many that feel strongly about what you are doing. I also list awards, past and upcoming events that I am participating in.  Some of the information listed is repeated in my resume but this is in a more informal with colorful pictures and larger font.

GALLERY- Probably the most important tab next to Contact Info-  All your artwork showcased online in one area.  By far this is the place that takes the most work.  I am going to dedicate a second and maybe third blog on this topic.   I will try to share all the steps I go through when adding a new piece of artwork to my gallery. It is a bit involved so watch for my future posts on this subject.

Here I will just state that I have my gallery broken into a number of categories to help a visitor perhaps zero in better on what they are specifically looking for in the way of art.  9 categories to be exact.  I know I'm probably excessive and obviously one painting might be present in 2 or 3 galleries but it's not too much work to add them in multiple places and I will  talk about more in future posts.
1.  All My Available Works- "Whole Enchiladas" 
2.  Down Country Roads- My newest collection all in one gallery
3.  Landscape and Western Gallery
4.  Fur and Feathers Gallery
5.  My Sketchbook
6.  Cowbells & Country Store
7.  A Little of This and That
8.  Poems and Other Silly Things (My collection of poetry)
9.  Gone But Not Forgotten (gallery of sold items that are still available in prints)

 JULIE'S ART BLOG- Yes this blog is connected to my website and visa versa.  I spend a great deal of time blogging about my art and I think it is important that I give my website guests a chance to fall in love with my blog and the same for those blog readers.  

CONTACT INFO-  You have to let them contact you via email.  VERY IMPORTANT- you must reply in a timely manner.

SHOPPING CART- Weebly has an interactive store that allows you to sell items just like if you had a brick and mortar gallery.  You just hook up your paypal account, answer a few questions and then start adding products.  I will talk about this more under one of my future blog posts.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My REALLY BIG Fish Story

"At the Rivers Bend"- 16 x 20 Original Acrylic
You reach a certain age in your life and you find it interesting how an activity that you did as a child maybe a handful of times becomes such an important part of you memories.  It's those good times that stand out among the mundane.  That is what this whole "Down Country Roads" collection has been for me.  A journey back to my country roots and it is this passion for a simpler life that drives me to keep painting this theme.

Back in the 60's and 70's there just wasn't the entertainment for small children that we have today.  No toys of every shape, size and color or videos, game systems, smart phones or tablets to pass the hours in overstimulated technological euphoria.  No, in my childhood, entertainment was something you had to create yourself with your own imagination and meager surroundings of sticks, leaves, rocks and acorns.  I can only recall one real family vacation that had actually had a destination that didn't end in Western Kansas and my granny's house.  So spending a day on the river once in a while with my family and particularly with my grandmother was something that very much stands out in my memory.

There was a particular spot that was a family favorite to fish on the Gasconade River and high above on the cliffs was a large cave that contained a great number of bats.  As the sun dropped down below the trees and the night creatures began to stir, the bats would begin to fly out of the cave to hunt the abundance of bugs that flew around the water.  They were aerial acrobats that would dive bomb the river and give quite a show with their athletic skills.  Their sonar abilities however weren't able to detect the fishing lines and often they would hit your line as they skimmed the surface of the river.  This was absolutely thrilling to me and was almost as exciting as catching that big fish

The activity of fishing has always held a special place in my life even if I haven't got to fish in years.  As a child, growing up in Missouri, fishing the river for catfish was one of my favorite things to do mostly because I associated it with my dear grandmother.  I was her fishing buddy from a very young age.  I could sit with her quietly for hours adoring all the special attention I received from her.  It was just the two of us and the river waiting to see who could catch the biggest fish.  I wish I had a picture of her and I sitting together and I would paint that right into my very next piece.

So this morning I put on my creative hat and started writing a verse about some of the highlights a true fisherman goes through when trying to "Hook the Big One".  Let me know if you can relate to my "fishing is the greatest therapy" comparison.  It is the one time that my mind shuts off to everything else and my FULL attention is given to the gentle flow of the water current and the possibility of all those fish hidden below the surface just getting ready to check out that fat juicy worm.  How about you?

"The Fishing Hole"- 11 x 14 Original Acrylic

The Fishing Hole
Julie Townsend

Here you sit at your favorite fishing hole
Most times it’s more like a giant wishing hole
You’ve known for years this is where the big one swims
If you could only hook him as the light fades and dims
You dream of the struggle it will take to reel him in
You can almost hear the slap on the water of tail and fin
Pulled down far on your brow is your lucky hat
Grooves in the ground from the years your folding chair has sat
Your hook is loaded with your favorite bait
There is nothing for you to do now but to sit and wait
The old tackle box is packed to the brim and ready
Your pole and reel are in your hand held steady
Time seems to stand still for just a moment
Nothing can come between you and your underwater opponent
The cares of the world all fade from sight
Everyone knows that fishing is therapy to get your head right
A folding chair is way cheaper than a therapist couch
And the few hours at the river bank will always straighten your slouch
Today everything is in that perfect place
After all catching fish is certainly no race
Covered from head to toe in sticky mosquito spray
Hoping it will keep those little blood suckers away
Swatting flies that insist on landing on the tip of your nose
While keeping a close eye on the ants crawling around your toes
These are the payments and dues you must pay
To sit here dreaming of the BIG ONE on such a perfect day