Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Best Gifts are Handmade Ones

Best Selling Stickers 
I'm really excited to showcase a few of my new Etsy Shop additions on my blog today.  I have several new sticker designs to show you but also I have added 4 separate book marker designs to my shop.  I'm just having so much fun creating these new designs based on my original artwork. 

Here I am making more stickers to add to my inventory.  These two stickers, the chickadee and the calf licking its nose happens to be my current best sticker sellers.  I'm sure as I add new cute designs this might change but for now I'm hand cutting these stickers so I'm ready for future sales.

I have 2 new bumble bee designs that I have come up with.  All these stickers average between 3.5-3.75 inches and are printed on glossy sticker paper. 

I'm super excited about these two new stickers.  The hummingbird is actually from a pen and ink sketch that I did several years ago that I call Resting Hummingbird.  Here is a picture of that original artwork.  With the help of Photoshop I isolate the drawing from the watercolor background.  Then there really is no limit to the compositions that I can come up using this little bird.
Seeing Double
This second new sticker is actually a composition based on my most recent acrylic paintings that I can "The Prologue" and "The End".  These pieces are painted on 10 x 20 stretched canvas and are going to be featured in an upcoming solo show that I am doing in March 2018 called, "I Dare You Not to Smile".  I will be blogging more about that show in the future but it will be hosted by the Boulder City Art Gallery in Boulder City, NV. 

Using the second painting, I took some Photoshop liberties to duplicated the cow.  This just made a really fun sticker. 

 Finally, let me show you these super cute book markers.  I have always loved book markers and so it is just a natural for me to transform my original artwork into this practical gift option.  They are 100% handmade by me and laminated for durability.

Currently, I have 4 designs that I have come up with.  I'm pretty partial to the cow but that stack of sheep still makes me smile.

All these items are available on my Etsy Shop so head ON over there and check it out. 



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Original Art Can Make the Perfect Birthday Gift

I have tried now for the past couple years to create a special piece of birthday art for my grandchildren.  I've now decided to try to include my grown children in this tradition.  Today is my son Jason's birthday so I will start with the piece I made for him yesterday and then share a few other pieces that I have done in the past few months.  

Jason has just started to once again be careful with what he is eating and regularly exercising.  I had to make his birthday art reflecting this fact.  The adorable bunny in the corner is from my original color pencil artwork that I call "Don't Forget Your Vegetables".  The beets, turnips and cupcake are also drawings out of my sketchbook.  I added additional royalty free salad graphics to finish off the background.  That picture of Jason I found on his Facebook page is a real hoot and fits perfectly into my composition and with the magic of Photoshop, I can create a one of a kind birthday greeting.

The second piece I want to show you is for my little grandson, Noah who turned 5.  He loves the video game, Minecraft so I went to work figuring out just what I could create.  I knew I wanted to include his little stuffed enderman doll in the picture because he loves to take a nap with it.  I jokingly call it a spider and he is always correcting me on the point.  I drew my grandson, a sword and his little stuffed buddy in my sketchbook.  I used colored pencil to complete the sketch.  I then scanned that sketch into Photoshop and added the royalty free background, TNT and the pig to the picture.  This turned out so cute that I actually had it blown up to a 16 x 20 poster at Sam's Club.  You should have seen his eyes when he realized he was on a poster.  I also made him a sheet of personal stickers.  Here is how his birthday card turned out.

Hunter also has a November birthday so I had to work on a design that was special to a 1 year old.  I was informed he LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so I knew I needed to add Mickey in there for him.  When he was born last year I painted him a special elephant floating with balloon painting to decorate his nursery room.  He still has a number of elephant themed things so I grabbed my sketchbook and drew both a stuffed elephant and his sweet little face.  I once again used colored pencil to finish off the sketching part.  The rest of the image is from graphics that I used in Photoshop.  I think this turned out super cute!

Finally comes my two sweet September granddaughters.  Their birthdays are just 2 years and 1 day apart so I decided to make their art very similar.

Katherine turned 5 and is the owner of a giant doberman named Odin.  I sketched a simple likeness of both her and the dog and colored them in using Photoshop.  The bees and the purple flowers are also part of my sketchbook.  The rest of the composition comes from royalty free graphics.  I printed out a 5 x 7 image and matted it so she could frame it in her room.  I also had the image printed on a small tote bag using the print on demand services of  It turned out GREAT!

Sweet little Jenna turned 3 and she has a GIANT great Dane named Bane and yes the dog has one blue eye and one brown eye.  Both sketches turned out amazing and the girls love their personalized tote bags.

Brad and I have a total of 9 grand kids so just keeping up with their birthday art is a challenge but I'm loving the creativity that Photoshop allows me and all the GRANDMA points I'm scoring.    

To end this blog post, I thought I would show you one more commission artwork I finished this year.  This is a transaction that took place on my Etsy Shop back in May for a woman that lives in Canada.  Here is the 8 x 10 colored pencil commission piece I did using a few reference photos she sent me.    This piece features two curly haired sisters and their doberman puppy.  I believe this is going to be her brother's Christmas gift.       

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Favorite Framing Supplies

Most often you will find me of a morning, sipping my coffee and writing away at blog post, planning a blog post or doing social marketing.  These posts are most often motivated by my most recent artwork, fresh off the easel or a new Etsy Shop listing.  I guess my literary juices get flowing best as the caffeine reaches my brain receptors.

This has been my morning ritual for a number of years and I am pretty much a creature of habits.  Recently, this routine has been somewhat stifled as it seems that I have encountered some some sort of Bluetooth interference at most of the local McDonald Restaurants.  This interference is between my iPad and the wireless keyboard.  It just will not work most mornings.  I never had a problem before, but now I can rarely use my keyboard during what is my most creative time.   It is extremely frustrating and I guess I'm going to have to contact McDonald's Corporate Office to try to get to the bottom of of my technological snafu.  So here I am, at nearly 7 pm struggling to pen coherent sentences so that I can publish a new blog post.

I hope you will suffer with me because I feel this blog has some really good information that might be useful for new artists.  I personally have noticed an increase in the number of new artists that come up to me and ask me about where I get my supplies of matte boards, cellophane bags, d-rings and hanging wire.

Finishing off your artwork properly is almost as important as the creation of the artwork.  You can't expect to fetch the highest price, impress the juror and a juried art show or get the attention of a gallery director if you have not taken the time to finish your masterpiece properly.

So, I'm going to provide a link and a little information about a number of my favorite framing and finishing off supplies that I use.

1st....Is the all important D-Ring.  Do yourself a giant favor and do not use those screw eyes on the back of your canvases.  They are just canvas punctures waiting to happen!  D-Rings are much neater and less damaging.  They lay flat to the canvas and hold your artwork very securely.  We attach the D-Ring about 1/3 way down and screw it directly into the canvas itself.  This allows me to switch frames out easily without having to rewire them for vertical or horizontal orientations.   I like ordering D-Rings from Amazon.  I can get a package of 100 medium size rings for about $10. 

D-Rings for Hanging

2nd.... is the hanging wire.  You can purchase small spools at the most stores in the picture hanging section, but I paint a lot and I absolutely hate the strand wire that isn't coated.  The strands always stick out and cut you as you try to twist the wire to secure it to the D-Ring.  I love this spool of coated wire I purchased back in 2014.  850 feet of pure loveliness.  The strength is good for all my hanging needs and the vinyl coating is the best.  This is also an Amazon purchase and while it is an investment at $30 it is well worth it.  You will have enough wire to hang your creations for many years.

Hanging Wire by the Spool

3rd....Black Finishing Fabric....This is a tip that I'm not sure you will find anywhere else.  I started covering my canvases with brown shipping paper to give it that finished off look that you get when you having a piece professionally framed.  The problem with paper is that it tears easily and when you are an artist, you know that you are often "schlepping" artwork from one gallery or event to another.  You are going to put a large tear in that paper at some point and time.  Paper wasn't a real solution.  An artist friend of mine said that she started using the upholstery fabric that is used as the black liner under sofas and chairs.  I ordered about 3 yards in a bag for what I remember to be $10-$11 dollars.  It came folded with large creases and was relativity thin but as I used it for the first time, I was reminded of  another product that we actually already had several large rolls of in our shed.  That was the weed block landscape fabric that you can buy at the nursery or home improvement store. It is strong and looks great attached to the backs of my canvas.   Here is a picture that I took off of Amazon to show you what I am talking about.
4th....Mounting Strips-the next important art supply that I use is for mounting my sketches and color pencil works to the matte board.  Any artwork that is on paper needs to be securely attached to the cut matte board and you don't want to use regular tape.  Tape will damage the artwork and contains acids that will discolor and destroy the paper after a few years.  These acid free archival mounting strips are the perfect solution.  I cut one strip into 4 pieces and attach the artwork into the plastic strip with the sticky part facing upward.  I then can lay the the matte board down over the strips.  They are hidden from view but are there holding your art securely in place.

Mounting Strips for prints

5th....Matte and Backing Boards w/ Cello Bag- This is great deal on Amazon.  I love that you get the whole set for right at $2 each.  You just can't beat that.  You can find this price in both Black and White mattes and the smaller sizes are even less expensive.  I keep an inventory on hand of 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10 & 11 x 14 mattes in my studio.

Mattes, backboard & cellophane bag

6th....Cello Bags in Greeting Card Size-  I love putting my art on magnets, stickers and greeting cards.  I find it enjoyable putting it all together and feasibly it makes sense because you can actually sell enough of these smaller, less expensive items to really add up.  I also love that I have things I can use as marketing tools and give away as gifts.  Here is the link for the greeting card size resealable cello bag.

Greeting Card Cello Bags- Resealable

7th....Adhesive Tape Glider- I love this tape applicator.  It really is more like a strip of glue than tape and does a great job.  There was a bit of a learning curve when it came to loading each new roll but I now have that pretty well mastered.  I use this on my greeting cards, attaching the mattes and back boards on my pencil artwork and to attach the black landscape fabric to my canvases.  I buy the refill rolls at Michaels or Hobby Lobby always using a coupon for my purchase.  I go through a number of rolls a year so I make sure I always have 2-4 rolls on hand or I start to get a little nervous.
Adhesive Tape Applicator Gun

I hope you found this blog helpful.  Leave a comment if you have questions or just wanted to let me know you appreciated the information. You can check out my artwork on my website at

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Blogger Slump

I can not believe that I have gone since October 25th to now and not one post here on my blog.  That is about the time I noticed that something changed at my favorite morning coffee and blogging spot...McDonalds.  I just love their coffee and I take about an hour to catch up on my social media marketing and start a new blog post.  I often get the rough draft of the blog finished there and then come home and make it “pretty”.

I have no problem with the WiFi log in but I did notice that my Bluetooth keyboard stopped working.  It is several years old so I decided it probably had just died and that I needed a new one.  I found a really good deal on Amazon and ordered a new pretty keyboard for under $16.  The first keyboard arrived didn’t seem to want to sync up so I ordered a second one and returned the first one.  All that new keyboard was working great....UNTIL I TRIED TO USE IT AT McDONALDS!  I mean my iPad knows it is there because the on screen keyboard won’t come on if the keyboard is turned on.  Also the “lock” key will work and shut the iPad off.  I just can't type on it.  Technology is such a fickle beast.  Any one have suggestions on what I can do to unblock whatever it is that is interfering with my bluetooth keyboard I would love to hear from you.

This has really thrown me into a Blogging slump.  So here I set at 4:16 pm on a Thursday afternoon trying to claw my way out of this dark blogging hole and produce something that I can publish that is semi-coherent.  I may have my goals set a wee bit high today.

My Artist Friend , Jan Harris Arduini
The past 2.5 weeks has also been a very difficult one on me as I have lost a dear artist friend and co-gallery director on October 30th and I’m still trying to grasp that reality.  There is a journey one must go through to turn grief into a creative emotional expression.  I’m not there yet.  Oh, I’ve created a few things, mostly out of necessity, but as I sit here in my studio, I realize that I haven’t actually cried this week about losing her.  I know that it takes time but I know that urge to pick back up those brushes will return and if God sees fit to give me breath in the year to come, I am determined in 2018 to create so much art it will make your head spin.

Let me quickly show you a few art highlights from the past couple weeks and then I think I will call this blog done.

The first weekend of November I was out bright and early at the park in Boulder City.  This would be the maiden voyage for my tent as I purchased it several years ago but hadn't actually taken it out of it's bag until now.  These new card display racks Brad made from repurposed drawers worked great.  There was always someone looking through them.

Card Display Racks 

My Half of the ten set up and waiting for the crowds


November is also the birthday month of two grandsons.  I've tried now for several years to create a special piece for each of them for their birthday.  Noah likes Minecraft so I decided use that as a theme and I even had the piece blown up into a 16 x 20 poster.  He loved it. 

Hunter is turning 1 and loves Mickey Mouse Club House so I created this piece especially for him holding his toy elephant.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Red and Green Makes Me Happy

Little Squeak always tangled in some sort of adventure
If you took a walk around my home you would soon realize that red and green are a favorite color combination that I love to use.  My kitchen, dining room and living room have heavy accents of these two colors combined.  So when it comes this time of the year that we turn our attentions to the coming holidays these colors together make me happy.

These past two weeks have been a flurry of busyness in my little studio.  From designing a line of Country Christmas cards, refining the process for my soon to be released Country Coasters to now this fun and colorful Christmas Sticker Sheet. 

Yes, those holidays are coming fast and no amount of denying it on my part will slow it down.  I find great joy in the gift giving, it is just the busyness that robs us of that joy.  I wish we would return to a time where handmade gifts are the most sought after gifts to give at the holidays then artists like myself would stay pretty busy doing just what we love.  The Etsy Shops were swamped and and the shopping malls were like ghost towns.  Not really, but I do think there are some great gifts available there and that would be my shop included.

In the spirit of gift giving, I decided to make this full page sticker sheet available as a free downloadable PDF file.  You simply have to click the link below and then you are able to print out your own lovely Country Christmas Sticker Sheet from me to you.  The only thing I ask is that you leave a comment below on how you used the stickers to brighten your holiday cards and decorations. I would LOVE to hear from you.

Also, if you like my work, you should consider jumping over to my website and check out the 10 original Country Christmas Card designs for 2017 that go with these stickers.  Christmas Cards on

You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram @JulieTownsendStudio

FREE GIFT-Country Christmas Sticker Sheet 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Loaded with Christmas Cuteness

Christmas holds great meaning to me as a born-again Christian.  The date is so much more than presents, decorated trees and twinkly lights. Christmas is the day that we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the greatest gift of love bestowed on mankind.  A gift that exceeds all human understanding. 

Now that I have shared that with you, I can now talk about the totally cute Country Christmas cards that I designed yesterday.    So far I have 10 designs that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  Each card design features my original artwork with a little Photoshop embellishments.  Even though I had a blast coming up with each of these cards, I can say that being this creative is EXHAUSTING!  I worked on these designs a good portion of the day yesterday and had my normal struggles of having a computer that doesn’t have enough RAM memory and wants to crash at the worst times.  One particular design I had to completely recreate 3 different times.  Today, those struggles are just a dim memory as I proudly look at the new gallery page I published on my website.  The bright colors and cute images just jump off the page. 

Here are a couple of my favorites ones but I strongly encourage you to go check out the whole collection on my website.  To make it easy on you I will give you the direct link.  I’m just that kind of girl.  Super Cute Christmas Cards

All my cards are 100% handmade by me and each are totally unique.  Here are some specifics that you might want to know.

- 10 cards per set, one of each design or mix and match to your tastes
- White Card or Cream Cardstock
- White or cream envelope included
- Folded measurements approx. 6.5" x 5" (16.5 cm x 12.7 cm)
- Decorative background trims will vary

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Seeing Spots

When I see cows, while traveling down some back country road,  I AM THAT PERSON THAT ANNOUNCES “COWS” TO EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CAR!  I am also rolling down the window and shouting at the top of my lungs, "MOO!"  I can't help myself.  While I was raised out in the country with agriculture all around, I wasn't raised on a farm but cows have always had a special place in my country heart.  I guess that is why I just love to draw and paint them.

I've been including cows as a central theme in my drawings and paintings for several years now and I find them always to be fun subjects.  They have big huge sweet eyes and large curious faces.  While I suppose some can be a little on the ornery side, mostly they are just giant lawnmowers eating the grass from morning to night.

This past month, I have just been having a blast adding cows to items such as stone coaster, stickers,magnets and greeting cards. Here are just a few of the examples I have come up with so far:

Etsy Shop Sticker Listing

Etsy Shop Greeting Card listing

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Art is My Healing Balm

Little did I know that on Sunday when I posted my last blog post called, “Coasting Along Among the chaos” that in just a few short hours my community of Las Vegas, Nevada would the thrust into a life and death struggle that has touched the nation.  I have always felt this city was a prime target for a terrorist attack due to the infamous notoriety and the close proximity of Nellis Air Force Base, but this senseless act defies all reason.  Because right now there just doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation except for a evil man wanting to wreck the lives of as many people as he could as he took his own life.

My own day to day life hasn’t really been affected. I received a number of Facebook inquires regarding my safety, like I would be at a concert with 30,000 other people.  No, I was in bed and almost asleep with my son called to tell me what was going on.   None of my immediate family attended that festival or do I know yet anyone personally that was injured.  The killing zone lies about 10 miles southwest of my home.  As a local resident, I have always avoided the strip at all costs.  We have never earned a living that was based on entertainment, tourist activities or gambling and so my daily routine has not been impacted.

Yet still, emotionally my heart is breaking for all the families of the people who are injured or lost their lives. I watched numerous press conferences in the last few days that were held by our sheriff and his staff.  My heart breaks for these men and women as they tell their stories of the horrors they witnessed. The emotional toll suffered here in Las Vegas is extreme.  The feeling is similar to that of the day that the MGM Grand Hotel caught on fire and some 80 people died.  I remember that day too.  Both events were devastating because of the large loss of human life, but the major difference is that the fire was an accident and this was a very calculated and planned evil.

During this time of heartbreak, I find art for is a like salve or healing balm that soothes a broken heart.  Art is my retreat that I can visit during times of personal upheaval or a refuge from the world's uncertainty and confusion.  I am bless to have faith in my Heavenly Father and this wonderful gift He has given me of ART.

Yellow is a color that makes one feel happy and warm so I found that I just had to fill a page in my journal with buttercups, bees and one of my smiling sun stickers and LOTS OF YELLOW.  I added this quote from Conor Oberst (not sure if he is really the most positive person to be quoting) but at least this one line stuck out to me and seemed to be a perfect fit for this journal page. "I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love."

I think I'm going to add this verse to finish off my page, "The Lord is my LIGHT and my SALVATION, so why should I be afraid" Psalms 27:1

My prayer today...."God pour your peace and comfort out on this city in a way that even those that don't believe in you will sense your presences.  Wrap your giant loving arms around each and every hurting person.  Bring LIGHT to the very darkness of this city and light a fire of revival so that we can see that you take what was meant for evil and that you have turn it into good."  AMEN!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Coasting Along Amid the Chaos

COUNTRY COASTERS ARE HERE!  This week has seen a flurry of activity in my studio.  I have been busy updating my inventory of greeting cards, magnets and stickers for my outdoor art show that I am participating in on Saturday.  The one item I am super excited about are these 4 x 4 stone country coasters.  I have for sometime wanted to try my hand with this acrylic image transfer and I think they turned out beautiful.  I learned a few things in the process and so I thought I would just summarize my experiences for you.

There are two methods that I found and I tried both.  The first method had me putting a layer of Modge Podge on the tile and then laying the printed images face down on to the tile.  After it was completely dry (24 hrs) you were to place the tile in water and after it was saturated you could begin gently rubbing the paper off.  The image was transferred into the Modge Podge and then you were able to seal it after you got all the paper off.  I watched that YouTube video several times and followed her process completely but I found my image came off with the paper leaving just a washed out version of the artwork on the tile.  I had a giant mess and wound up having to complete scrap about 20 tiles off and start over.

I did a little bit of research and found out that a laser printer was really necessary.  The inkjet images just either smudged when I brushed on the Modge Podge or rubbed off.  I sure wish someone had said that before I messed up 5 sets of coasters.  So off to Office Max I ran with my thumb drive in hand.  As you can see by these pictures the images look great and I'm happy with them.  ADVISE # 1- USE A LASER PRINTER FROM THE START.

I actually ended up using a process where I brush about 6 layers of acrylic medium gel right on the the image, letting it dry between layers and then trimming the excess paper away.  After that I took the image an placed it in a small amount of warm distilled water until the paper allowed me to slowly rub it away.  After the majority of paper was removed I put in clean water and rinsed off the film.  There is still paper attached so I placed the image on my forearm where I could get a better look at it and slowly worked my away around the image until I was satisfied that I had removed all the paper I could.  This process is a little tricky because you can rub too hard and tear the film or rub off the image all together.  Patience and slow circular movements with your finger are a must.

My stones had already been washed to remove any dust from them.  I run the stone under the water so that their was a wet surface to lay the film on.  I slowly placed the film down on the stone.  As long as the stone is wet, you can pick up or adjust the image.  The hardest part is getting the edges flat because they naturally want to curl under.
Country Coasters
Once I was satisfied with the placement of the images I checked for air bubbles every little bit.  Having bright light to hold them up to helps you see any spots that need fixed.  Just work out any tiny air bubbles by slowing moving them to the edge with your finger.  Now just let it dry.

Once the image is dry, I used the dishwasher safe formula of Modge Podge and applied at least 3 thick coats of the glue, letting each layer dry before applying the next.  The instructions state that this product takes 28 days to fully cure and so I really wouldn't use your coasters to put wet or hot drinks until after they cure.  I also sealed the back of the tile with the Acrylic gel medium.  Finally, I glued little rubber bumpers on the back four corners so they don't scratch any wood surface they would be placed on to protect.

I'm SO pleased with how they have turned out.  I made a total of 6 sets so far and have 3 Facebook orders already.  I'm taking these out to an outdoors art festival that I'm attending on Saturday and I hope I sell the heck out of them.  I'm also going to be offering them on my Etsy Shop once I can get an inventory of cured coasters made up.  The process is a bit tedious and I sure wish I could just print out the images on my studio inkjet printer but for now I guess I'm going to have to pay $.69 a sheet at Office Max.

I do plan on trying the other process again when I can get a jar of the better acrylic gel medium and not try using regular Modge Podge.  The rubbing off the paper process might be easier when it is actually glued to the stone.  I do have to remember to tell the printer to flip the image so any words appear backwards if I'm going to try that process.

Once I am confident in the process I will be creating a step by step instructions on this blog, so you might want to check back with me in the next few weeks or so.  At this time, I've decided to price this item at $25 for a set of 4 Country Coasters plus shipping of $8 for anywhere in the continental U.S.  Message me if you are interested in having a set of your own.  You can mix and match or have all 4 coasters in one design