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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What if Elephants Could Fly

I am often amazed at just how diverse an artist life can be.  I can only speak for myself of course, but I always have a pretty long list of things I would like to paint or draw.  While I am retired from any real 8-5 employment positions, I still find that there are often times that I can go weeks before I am actually able to work on my own projects.  That is mostly because there is something taking my artistic attentions in another direction.

This week it has been all about flying elephants.  I know you think that I must be a bit crazy to be thinking of aerial pachyderms but my only daughter asked me to paint a special piece for her upcoming baby shower for her very first child.  There is no way I would not consider doing this commission piece.  What an honor to be asked to share just a little bit of my talent for this special occasion.  This little guy will be our eighth grandchild (we will have 6 grandsons and 2 granddaughters) and we are anxiously awaiting his arrival towards the end of November.

As my normal ritual, I first grab the pencils and pens and work out some concept ideas on paper before I crack open a new canvas.  Drawing the subject first helps you to understand and get a better idea of what your brushes will need to do in order to accomplish the composition you have in mind.  I guess it's a little like a road map.

Since my son-in-law is an active reservists with the Army and a Purple Heart recipient for injuries sustained in Afghanistan, I thought a touch of military flair might be to their liking.

She loved the concept but decided she preferred a more traditional elephant for the nursery art.  So back to the drawing board minus the Olive Drab Green and the AR15.  Trade those for a couple of cute stowaways and you get my final piece that I'm calling "Up, Up and Away".

With so much attention spent on this odd subject, I couldn't help myself but to jot down a few lines of a poem that kept rolling around in my head.  It's pretty silly stuff, but I hope you enjoy this little rhyme.
I have plenty of other crazy stuff and cool artwork on my website and you're welcome to come visit at  Drop me a message and say "Hi" or let me know what you think.

By Julie Townsend

Have you ever stopped to consider how crazy this world would be if elephants could fly?
That would surely change the look and beauty of the overhead sky
I was just wondering if they would fly solo or in a herd like flock?
And just how many elephants would it take to darken the sun or completely block?

Now maybe I shouldn't even go here and you might say I’m crazy to even think
I mean just the thought of what I’m thinking makes me shiver and takes me to the brink
So where do I run and take cover when from up above the urge of nature calls?
Believe me I don’t want to be anywhere near when that stuff from the sky falls.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Not a Creature was Stirring "EXCEPT FOR THE MOUSE"

Except for the Mouse
There is nothing like the chill that comes to the morning air in October.  I'm thankful that I have once again survived another hot summer of oppressive heat of the Mojave desert and blessed with a feeling of  renewed energy and creativity.

As an artist, I really should be working on my Christmas ideas in July but that is just so hard to do when all you're trying to do is to stay cool.  So here it is in October and I'm feeling the pressure of getting my Holiday designs down on paper.  My goal is to have four or five unique sketches created by the end of this week.  I have these two so far.

With both of these designs were so much fun to draw.  I found myself smiling most of the day as I added in the details of these furry little decorators.  

All day the words to the famous Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore, "Twas the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house.  Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" kept rolling around in my head. The difference was that I would change the last phrase to "Except for the Mice".

Decorating Committee
These little guys are hard at work putting on the final touches of the decorations and you can see just how hard they must work to get the ornaments hung just right on the tree and this beautiful wreath so it can be hung on the door to welcome with cheer everyone that visits.  So I'm calling these "Except for the Mouse" and " Decorating Committee".

If you would like to check out more of my work, please feel free to visit my website.  I work hard trying to keep it updated with my new pieces but sometimes that is a challenge when you draw and paint as much as I do.  Here is the Link:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ARTING AROUND and Art club week 2

Week 2 of my art club endeavor has come and gone.  After meeting the one student who signed up for this 8 week session and accessing her skills, having a conversation with the parents to learn their expectations,  I decided that we needed to scrap all those cute Pinterest art projects I have saved and instead cover basics and techniques.

 I pulled out the drawing pencils (from Darrel Tanks 5 pencil method of drawing) and watched the hour long video twice where he demonstrates his amazing pencil technique in shading a simple sphere.  Actually, there is nothing simple about shading a sphere and I was challenged by the exercise. The patience and control of stroke that it takes to smoothly blend the graphite to give the appearance of roundness and dimension.  Not using blender sticks or tortillons; not even a little smudge with a finger tip allowed.  Just layers of small tapered strokes working around the circle.  Transition from the 4H to the 2H and then back to the 4H. Repeating the whole process with the HB, 2B and finally adding just the smallest area of 4B pencil to the darkest part of the crescent shape that is furthest from the light source.

That's right I spent several hours shading spheres, cones and cylinders so that I could then demonstrate with more confidence and draw along with my students.  It takes patience and discipline to slow down and not jump into the dark areas too soon.

I was told by a very accomplished artist friend of mine that I would learn so much more about my art by teaching others than I would every learn on my own.  That is so very true.  What a joy it is for me to be in a place in my life that I can now start to give and hopefully inspire others to create art.

So this morning as I sit here, drinking my 2nd cup of coffee and contemplating my week almost ended, I realize just how much art has become a major focus of my time.  I had the Boulder City event last weekend that was  so exciting and equally exhausting.  First Friday event last night that I put so much energy into.  A week of sketching as I worked on some Christmas designs and then preparing and teaching this young lady some techniques that hopefully will help her achieve her goal of acceptance into the art academy.

Yes, I'm feeling tired from my First Friday late night arting (Did I just create a new word? As tired as I feel today it surely has to be a verb!) but oh so blessed!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Weekend of Art Overload

What a fabulous weekend I had participating in the Boulder City Art Gallery's "Painting on the Patio" event that corresponded with the much larger "Art in the Park" event.  The small town of Boulder City was packed to capacity with visitors, collectors and art enthusiasts; some of which stopped by my display and gave me an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects, MY ART.

What was especially exciting about this weekend to me was that it marked the very first outdoor festival that I have participated in that I actually sold something.  I have attended a number of other events in the past few years and came home after each one with exactly the same amount of art stacked in crates as I had started with.  That is discouraging when you consider just how much work it is to pack up, set up, tear down and repack.  Not to mention just being outside all day in the sun takes a toll on you.  But this weekend was very different.  I was tired at the end of the second day, but it was a good tired.

I loved the interaction with everyone that came up to my display to talk with me about a particular piece.  I was really encouraged and energized to see that my little sketches that I have so much fun doing garnered a great deal of positive attention. It was an affirmation to me that I need to just keep improving on my color pencil and sketching skills.  

I passed out a number of business cards and talked to a few that might be interested in starting painting lessons in the future.   As I sit here contemplating my journey as an artist I can say that on October 4, 2016 that things are starting to fall into place.  Sitting at my easel, I may not be able to do much to change the course of moral decline in this country, decide who the next president of the United States will be or solve the homeless problem in Las Vegas but I do know that 2017 is looking to be a GREAT art year!  I just have to keep picking up a pencil or a paint brush and try to get you to smile.

Collage of small pieces that found new homes along with a number of cards and magnets I sold

My display on Sunday morning looking colorful and inviting

Saturday, October 1, 2016

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Well, not so much yet. Today is the 1st day of October and that fact makes me happy even if it was still 95 degrees here in Las Vegas.  I had the joy of being part several artists who got to display their work and to paint today outside of Boulder City's Art in the Park event.  I've participated in a number of these outside festivals over the past few years and as an artist and have until today gone home with every piece of art that I back breakingly hauled out.  Today was different. I actually sold a couple of small pieces and I am ecstatic about that fact.  I met a lot of great people and even finished a little piece that I started the night before that I'm really happy with.  This little mouse, complete with little red paint paw prints makes me smile.

I took along my acrylic paints and a WIP piece I'm working on of an owl along with me today.  The plan was that we were to stage painting demos throughout the day to draw attention from the public as they walk past on their way to the park.  Acrylic are tricky in hot dry weather.  They just dry so fast that I find myself just fighting with them to blend the paints before they are completely dry.  So I decided instead to work on a little sketch I had started the night before of a little Christmas mouse.  All day the words to the famous Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore, "Twas the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house.  Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" kept rolling around in my head. The difference was that I would change the last phrase to "Except for a Mouse".  This little guy is hard at work putting on the final touches of the decorations and you can see just how hard he must work to get those Christmas balls painted just right and hung on the branches with such care.  I believe that will be the title for this fun little drawing "Except for the Mouse".

Have a blessed October 1st.  Take time to be Thankful, Look at Beautiful Art, and enjoy the Fall Leaves in what seems like a very crazy world at times.  

Here are a few other furry little rodent sketches I thought you might enjoy looking at. For more of my artwork, please check out my website at and please leave me a message.  I would love to hear from you.