Meet Shawn Gould A New Book Of His Art); And Great Show News!

I received a delightful surprise in the mail a few days ago. My friend and colleague Shawn Gould sent me a sweet little self-published book of some of his recent paintings. I’m writing about this for two reasons. One, because I thought that you would enjoy seeing his work, which is quite different than mine, and two, to look at what he has done from a marketing standpoint.

Sparrow Song 12x16 acrylic on masonite

Shawn grew up in Iowa, but now lives about twenty minutes from me in Eureka, California. He started out as an illustrator, creating award-winning work for clients like National Geographic, the Smithsonian and the Audubon Society. For the last ten years, however, he has been creating beautiful paintings like the ones you see here. He’s a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists and his work has been accepted into a variety of national juried shows like Birds in Art, Art and the Animal Kingdom and Arts for the Parks.

Good Dog 18x15" acylic on masonite

Now, for the book, “Wild Sanctuaries”. I asked Shawn via email to tell me more about it. He said that “I have a lot of new work that hasn’t been seen by very many people, and the book seemed like a nice format to get it out to a targeted audience for a reasonable price. We sent out 100 books for less than the price of a one page magazine ad.”

Summit 24x42" acrylic on masonite

The publisher is a company called, who I had never heard of. I wondered what they were like to work with. “Blurb was great. Kristen (Shawn’s wife) did the layout of the book, and deserves all the credit for how it looks. If like me, you don’t know InDesign very well, blurb does offer software you can download from their site. I don’t think you have as much freedom with the layout, but it’s easier to use and does still look good.

Gambel's Quail 12x18" acrylic on masonite

“Wild Sanctuaries” is available through Blurb on a print-on-demand basis, so Shawn hasn’t had to tie up any money in inventory. If you would like your own copy, for yourself or for a gift, it’s $30 plus shipping and handling and can be ordered here

Challenger's Bugle 26x38" acrylic on masonite

Given the down (down, down) economy, creating and producing “Wild Sanctuaries” took some courage and a leap of faith. But Shawn now has a powerful marketing tool that should prove increasingly valuable as conditions improve. Food for thought.

You can see more of Shawn’s work at


I recently received one of two Janie Walsh Memorial Awards from the Redwood Association for a painting that was in their 51st Annual Fall show. It even included $100 check! Here’s an image from the show. The painting of bighorn sheep, “Heavy Lies the Head” is mine. The show ended yesterday afternoon.

Animal Expression, The Finale (at least for now)

This has been a fun, and instructive, series for me and I’ll definitely be doing more of this kind of thing for my own study work.

Most of the drawings I’ve done for the previous posts were done fairly quickly, generally 30 minutes or less. For today, I’ve done more finished drawings, once again using the Wolff Carbon pencil on vellum bristol.

The idea for these was to use all the features of the subject, including gesture for the full body drawings, to capture its character and essence.

camel-headFor a Bactrian camel head study, I looked for reference with a 3/4 view, but most of what I have didn’t seem like it would draw well because the position of the features is so odd. Time was limited, so I stayed with a classic profile that shows his calm, unexcitable nature. My husband and I got to sit with a large group of camels at Arburd Sands when we were in Mongolia and I could practically feel my blood pressure drop as I sat and sketched them.

hyena-headThe body of this spotted hyena got too big, so I cropped her at the shoulders, which gives a different look than the camel above, in which the drawing trails off in value, number of lines and amount of detail. I find hyenas interesting and compelling on a number of levels. They live in a matriarchal clan structure, will go to war with lions and move a lot faster than you think they can with their gallumping, awkward gait. The African night wouldn’t be the same without their crazy whooping and insane giggling.

coyote-runningI love the flow of the pose I captured at Yellowstone as this coyote ran parallel to the road in nice morning light. The head demonstrates that you can get a lot of character without a lot of detail if you make your marks carefully, see the shapes correctly and don’t get hung up in drawing individual hairs.

gorilla-headThis drawing and the next one ended up too big to scan, so they were photographed and then processed in Photoshop. They were done on white paper, but I kind of like the toned effect. In any case, I’ve rarely done primates, but I got some incredible reference of the gorillas the last time I was at the San Francisco zoo and have been looking forward to seeing what I could do with it. The big silverback male was on morning patrol and he didn’t miss a thing.

warthog1Sometimes a subject serves itself up on a silver platter and is so compelling that the artist’s job is to simply not mess it up. I found warthogs to be, pound for pound, THE most entertaining animal I saw in Kenya. This one was at Lewa Downs, grazing near the lodge we stayed at. He’s got it all: great ears, that remarkable face and the solid body carried by relatively delicate-looking legs and feet.

New Paintings, Book Review, Camera Drama cont.

Took the Nikon D70 and lens in to our local camera store. Classic good news and bad news. The lens is fixable and is being fixed. The camera body could have been, for half what it cost new, and then I’d have a repaired (after having hit the pavement hard ), four year old camera body for the Mongolia trip in September. I don’t deliberately abuse my equipment, but it does end up with stories to tell. So, I sucked it up, decided to trust the gods, and bought a Nikon D80, the follow-on. It’s, uh, killer great. In general, it’s just more of everything than the D70. Larger file size, bigger ISO range, etc. So far, my favorite part is the bigger monitor. Very handy when photographing paintings.

Which I just got done yesterday. Here are a couple of the newest. The bison is called “Autumn”. I shot the landscape in Yellowstone last year at the end of September as the season changed. It went from sunscreen to snowing in 48 hours. The coyote, also from Yellowstone, doesn’t have a title yet. If you provide the winning suggestion, I’ll send you a pack of twelve assorted greeting cards with my art on them.


I promised a review of “I’d Rather Be In The Studio!”, by Alyson B. Stanfield, who runs, so here tis:

How many of you fellow artists out there: try this show/run that ad/enter another competition and hope that somehow, sometime, lightning will strike and you’ll sell out your show or a collector will buy ten of your paintings or a big gallery will hunt you down and beg to show your work and you’ll be on your way to fame, fortune and winters in the Bahamas or, in my case, Hawaii?

Ain’t gonna happen. How many of us have held ourselves back with this kind of magical thinking? Honestly, it really just gets in the way when you think about it. If you’re waiting for the Fine Art Fairy to come along and sprinkle you with Success Dust, then you’re probably not actively building your career in an effective, organized way. Which means you’ll continue to flail around and wonder where the money is going to come from for that next tube of Cadmium Red (for you non-artists, that’s one expensive color!).

You can “join the artists who are ditching excuses and embracing success” for starters by reading Alyson’s book, the subtitle of which is “The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion”. What I like about it is the active voice, the practical steps you can take and why they are important.

The contents are organized around all the excuses Alyson has heard in her career working with artists both as a museum curator and now as a art marketing consultant for artists. Some of the excuses include “My art speaks for itself” (no, it doesn’t), “I have no idea where to begin” (start with your art), “There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all” (organize your information) and, of course, “I’d rather be in the studio!” (start by defining success for yourself). She then addresses each one with specific Actions, which include exercises you can do to start to get the hang of it.

One of the things that surprised me at first was her emphasis on The Mailing List. Sure, I have one and when I want to send out postcards, which I do a couple of times a year, I ask my husband, who maintains it for me, to do a label run. I put out a sign-up sheet at events and shows and he faithfully adds the new names for me. And…that’s…about….it. Sound familiar? Did Alyson ever open my eyes to what a mailing list is, can and should be and how absolutely fundamental it is to a successful career as an artist.

She has a website and a blog (and tells you in the book how to make the most effective use of both) and she does private consultations. I was going to go that route until I read the book. I could tick off so many changes that I need to make already that I’ve decided to implement those and then run it all by her to see how I’ve done and what I still need to do.

What is really all comes down to as far as she is concerned is that you have to own your own life and career and take total responsibility for it.

So, to check out Alyson: (Alyson’s home page) (Alyson’s blog, obviously) (the book)


And just for fun, the oriental poppies are blooming in my garden. It’s raining today, which we badly need, so the poppies really add a “pop” of color outside my studio.