Tuesday, September 30, 2008

tomatoes WIP continues

Tomatoes WIP, coloured pencil on Pastelbord
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is how it looks now. Sorry the photo isn't straight on. The Pastelbord surface seems to be a bit different somehow on this panel. There seems to be less of a surface coating. My pencils scratch over some spots in an annoying way and there isn't much tooth for layers. Wax built up quickly on the tomato on the left. I haven't experienced this with Pastelbord before. Other areas of the board seem fine. Maybe something happened during the manufacturing process. Anyway, I'm enjoying working on it. I hope to get back to it later today. I'm just finishing my October newsletter.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Inspiration from nature

Remember my fungi piece from last June? I found new subject matter yesterday! After going hiking on conservation land on the Carp Ridge yesterday morning, we returned home and spent the afternoon moving a wood pile. This was a wood pile that was left behind by the previous owners and my husband got busy splitting the wood. I started clearing up a brush pile that I was converting into kindling. And look what I found next to the brush pile. Some wonderful logs with gorgeous fungi. The subtle colours don't come through on the computer screen but they really are lovely. The logs are now in my studio awaiting their turn as still life material.

These two nests found me yesterday. Yes, they found me. If you have been to my studio, you might have noticed my small collection of nests. I started collecting nests many years ago and I soon found that I needed to stop. Where on earth do you store them once you have hauled them home? So, with regret, I have resisted the urge to nab the many, many nests I have seen since then. I walk in various forests and fields at least once a day and I have seen many that tempted me. But yesterday, these two nests found me so I had to bring them home. The one on the left was actually in my back yard and I almost stepped on it. I spied the second one last evening as I walked our meadow with my dog. There it was on the path. I assumed that my husband had seen it on a previous walk and had put it there for me. But no he didn't. This nest just found me. I guess it really needs a new home.This nest is definitely a field nest as it is made up of various grasses and it has no mud. It is surprising light considering its size. So move over turtle shell, wasp hive, chipmunk jaw bones and deer antlers, two new nests are moving in.

I do plan on working on a nest picture this winter...I shall keep you posted.

My outdoor adventures continued today. I took my dog to a local conservation area for a walk. While there are lots of places to walk around here, I wanted to go out in the car so I could see all the gorgeous fall foliage. What I didn't expect to see was a flock of turkey vultures. There were 22 of them alongside the road roosting in a few dead trees. They had been feasting on a dead raccoon. These pictures aren't too great but you get the idea.

I had never seen so many turkey vultures together so when I got home I did some research. Apparently they do roost in large numbers, even as high as several hundred birds. They have a wing span of 68-72" (wow) and they weigh around 3 pounds.

I did know about their defense tactics...they are masters of projectile vomiting. They spew foul smelling semi-digested meat at their predator. This can sting the eyes if the predator is close enough. I didn't know about how they cool themselves. They defecate on their own legs allowing the evaporation of the water in the feces and or urine to provide cooling.

While their diet is repulsive, they do play an important role in the ecosystem as they dispose of carrion which would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease.

Perhaps I need to do a turkey vulture painting some day...maybe complete with some gruesome carrion! :-)

And finally here is a picture of me and my dog returning from our outing. My husband gets a kick out of how our dog looks so big next to me in the car.

Okay, time to get grab a slice of that banana bread that just finished in the bread machine and time to get back to my studio. May something in nature inspire you today!

Friday, September 26, 2008

tomatoes WIP continues

Here is the piece now. I didn't work too long on it yesterday as we are getting some delicious, very warm, Indian summer weather here in Ottawa. I couldn't resist the opportunity to don a T shirt and shorts once more, so I spent two hours in the afternoon taming the garden in the rear yard. As many of you know, I had to be away this summer so my poor flowers and shrubs have struggled along with much neglect. I made a bit of a difference and I shall continue later today.

One thing I need to remind myself with this Pastelbord is that I don't have the luxury of building my colour up with lots of layers. This surface doesn't hold much pigment, despite the sanded surface. I found that as I tried to lay down bright colours in the tomatoes, colours that would later glow through the red, the surface was quickly getting slick. Yikes...this works well on Stonehenge but here I have less oportunity to play around and experiement with colour. I don't have the option to just keep adding colours.

I love the look that paper gives as it allows my layers to be visible and this adds such wonderful nuances to the colours - the work gets more and more interesting as you view it closer. With Pastelbord, you get more of an immediate wow factor, good when viewing from a distance. It is easy to make objects 'pop'. I absolutely love being able to add the white highlights rather than saving them as you must with paper. Anyway, I am really enjoying this tomato piece. I especially love drawing all the negative space that is required in and around the shadows and the stems. Just juicy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

tomatoes - new work in progress

This is what is currently on my drafting table. The round objects are tomatoes. As you can see, this piece is just at the beginning stage. I created my drawing and then transferred it to the surface. After that I started the background.

The surface is Ampersand's Pastelbord (Sand) and I am using coloured pencils. Nothing else. I am looking forward to building up all the red in the tomatoes!

Isn't it great how getting something off of your to-do list has the effect of energizing you? Last night I sat down and finished all the thank you notes to the people who gave donations to charities and who gave flowers when Dad died. Dad was very well liked and there were a lot of people to thank. Anyway, it was just after 11:00 p.m. when I got the last one written, addressed and sealed. I did a little happy dance around the living room. And yippee, didn't I just wake up this morning before 6:00 so bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to dive into work that it was shocking. By 6:30 I was already sitting in my studio, coffee in hand, candle lit, fountain tinkling, and I had just finished updating my accounts. How awesome is that?

Maybe you should try it...what chore is currently camped out on your to-do list? I hope this rush of energy lasts all day!

This morning I was walking my dog past my neighbour's field. I was watching the hundred or so Canada geese that were feeding there. I was facinated to see two white geese in amongst the others. After a quick google search, it would appear that what I saw were two Snow geese. Apparently they breed in northern Canada and the northeastern tip of Siberia and winter much further south in the continent, in the southern USA and beyond. I guess these two are just traveling with the other birds. Anyway, a lovely unexpected event. Okay, back to those tomatoes...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Seasonal art?

Photo copyright of Teresa Mallen

Do you create seasonal art? What I mean is, do you paint subjects that correspond to the season you find yourself in? Do you paint winter scenes in winter, and flower scenes in summer?

I don't - at least not consciously. Yet here is photo I took two days ago of some lovely tomatoes. Guess what my next project is - yup, I am working on a c.p. painting of tomatoes. I am working from a series of photos that I took several years ago. Was I drawn to these photos because I am currently gathering lucious tomatoes from my garden every day?

On the other hand, I love to work on paintings of flowers in the winter (as the snow falls outside and I am nice and snug in my studio.)
So how about you? Does the season we are in affect your art?

One thing I do know...buyers are influenced by the season. Interestingly, buyers like winter scenes in winter and they buy springtime images in spring, and so on. Something to think about if you are scheduling your shows and you are wondering what inventory to take.

It is officially Autumn today. Perhaps you are starting a new Autumn inspired piece today! We had a light frost last night, our second in a week. In response to a chilly morning, I cooked up some oatmeal porridge this morning. I like my oatmeal cooked with raisins, cinnamon and apples. This morning I was too lazy to chop up an apple. I remembered the apple cider in the frig and thought this might add some nice apple flavour. So, after my oatmeal was cooked I added a good splash of cider (followed by brown sugar and milk of course). It was yummy. I shall definitely do this again.

Wikipedia reports that oat porridge has been found in the stomachs of 5,000 yr old Neolithic bog bodies in central Europe and Scandinavia. As well, Scotland holds annual Porridge Making Championships in October. I wonder if any of these porridge chefs add cider?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fantastic Workshop

A big thank you goes out to the wonderful ladies who participated in my Mixed Media Workshop today. It was one of those days where you end up laughing and smiling so much your cheek muscles ache. And what a talented group...each canvas looked so unique!! I was very impressed with the beautiful results.

I have included some photos of the art created today as well of some of the participants. Sorry I didn't get everyone in the pics. Oops! Guess I was having too much fun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stargazer Lily - it's done

Stargazer Lily, approx. 6" x 6"
coloured pencil on Stonehenge
copyright Teresa Mallen

I am finished with this little flower blossom. At least for now. I may tweak it before it is framed. I have several wannabe paintings waiting in the wings but the next one will be a basket of tomatoes on a sanded surface.

I didn't get any studio time yesterday as I had to be out of town. My sister and I spent the day in the village that is located about 1 1/2 miles from where my Dad lived. We managed to get through appointments with the funeral director, lawyer, bank manager, two insurance companies as well as the post office to redirect his mail. Fortunately due to the excellent planning of my Mother, my parents' affairs were very organized and well thought out. Settling the estate is turning out to be relatively easy. As for the property, we are not selling the farm, at least not for now. My husband and I moved to a hobby farm some months ago and we are going to be moving several pieces of machinery here (including two tractors and a four wheeler). I have no idea where we are storing all of this! We hope to get this 'big move' done next week. As well, we are going to be traveling to the farm on Sunday to pick up a few trailer loads of furniture and other things. It is going to be a busy Fall!

I am now off to do some shopping for some items needed for my workshop this Saturday and I am also going to put out some advertising for my November Portrait classes. Maybe I will get some time at my drafting table tomorrow...

Monday, September 15, 2008

autumn approachs

Here in Ottawa, autumn approaches. A cold front came through last night and today is a wonderful windy, rainy, cool and overall elemental kind of day. I love it. Fall is my favourite season.

I had the kind of weekend that at the end leaves you in disbelief at how much you accomplished. I cleaned windows, dusted (really dusted, you know - when you actually remove the stuff from the shelf instead of just dusting around it), potted up several house plants, harvested garden veggies, created harvest displays for outside (nothing fancy - just some of my pumpkins, potted mums and gourds), created fantastic advertising material for distribution, and I even baked a delicious peach pie. The pie was one summer treat that I thought I had missed this year but last week I bought a basket of end of season peaches and yippee, there was peach pie in the house. I must confess that I make fantastic pie crust. And I like my pie with spices - so I added lots of ginger, nutmeg and allspice to the peaches. Yummy.

Now before you hate me because I make great pie crust, please know that this skill only came with lots of practice. My first pie crust was wonderful - beginner's luck. The next was wretched. I kept at it, tried different recipes, I even doubled a normal two crust pie recipe as I had so much difficulty rolling out the lesser amount of dough. Ah but practice finally won out. For an interesting take on the concept of practicing, check out Jeanette Jobson's blog entry from September 11, 2008, entitled "eating the cold porridge".

Early this morning, as I was feeling autumn approaching, :-) I wanted to put on some appropriate music. What do you consider autumnal music? Do you have any suggestions? Think beyond Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (as wonderful as that is). I ended up putting on a CD by a Vermont composer and guitarist, Spencer Lewis - the kind of artist who sells his CDs at local shops and at the general store. I bought several of his CDs while visiting Vermont during the fall a few years ago. I listened to the CDs while we were on vacation and of course now his music is associated with that time of year.

Tonight is opera night!! We have tickets to see Marriage of Figaro. Three hours of surround sound Mozart, from the orchestra pit to the singers on stage. Fabulous. If you would like to know more about Ottawa's opera company, just click here: Opera Lyra.

I am heading back to my studio. I just need to put some final strokes onto the background of the lily.

Friday, September 12, 2008

coloured pencil workshop

Detail of Mixed Media 'Tapestry'
copyright Teresa Mallen

For those of you in the Ottawa area, I will be holding a workshop next weekend, Saturday September 20th. The project will be a coloured pencil mixed media piece. Above is a close up look at the project. We are using canvas, gesso, fluid acrylics and coloured pencils. All materials (except the pencils) are included. I have had a cancellation so if you are interested in joining us, just contact me, (teresa@tersamallenstudio.com). There would be room for a friend if you wish to bring someone along. No experience in painting or coloured pencil is required. There will be food, beverages, music and lots of laughs. If you are free, why not escape for a few hours? You will even have your own mixed media 'tapestry' ready to hang at the of the session. Hope you can join us!

If you would like further details on this workshop or other classes that are available, click here: classes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stargazer Lily WIP update

Stargazer Lily Work in Progress
Coloured Pencil on Stonehenge
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is how it looks now. I still have to finish a petal and the background isn't done yet. After that I just need to deepen some values and it will be done. I'm liking the softness of this piece and my goal is to not overwork it as I don't want to lose this effect.

Also on my agenda for today is to create some advertising for my portrait classes in November. I am delighted that I have a new printer. This job should go a lot smoother than the last time I created ads. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September issue of Coloured Pencil Newsletter is ready!

Yes, the September issue of my Newsletter is ready to read. Just click here: Newsletter, to be taken to the link on my website.

Are you interested in becoming a Newsletter Group Member? Newsletter Group Members receive an email notification as soon as a new issue is posted onto my website. Membership entitles you to participate. My goal with the newsletter is to inform, encourage and inspire fellow c.p. artists. Members can get assistance with a work in progress, can have a free critique of their work, can ask questions and are also welcome to submit tips and suggestions of their own.

Membership is free! So if you would like to subscribe to future issues of the newsletters by becoming a Member, just contact me at: teresa@teresamallenstudio.com.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stargazer Lily, coloured pencil work in progress

Here is a look at my current work. It is a small 6"x6" lily, on white Stonehenge, that I started last month. I was staying at my Dad's and I needed something that was small and portable. I also wanted something that wasn't too challenging as life was challenging enough at the time. I didn't get too much done on it while I was there but I did manage a bit of time on it last week once I returned home. I shall keep you posted on my progress.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm back

I'm back in Ottawa now, back to my regular life. Unfortunately what this means is that my Father has died. If you have read previous posts (and the comments) you will know that I was away this summer. I was living with my Father. He wasn't feeling well and he was eventually diagnosed as having cancer. The cancer had spread from his left lung to his liver and to his bones by June. Being a care giver and living away from home wasn't easy but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Being able to help someone I love during a very difficult time was very important to me. Dad didn't spend his last few months dying of cancer, he was living with cancer. The above photo was taken just two weeks before he died. He was determined to keep on doing the things he loved as long as he could. Dad died August 26 at the wonderful age of 84. He was waked on August 29th and buried on the 30th.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who wrote me kind and supportive emails and blog comments. Your friendship is much appreciated!

I could go on and on about what a great man my Father was but you probably wouldn't find that too interesting. What I decided to do instead was to share some thoughts about this experience that you may find inspiring. Accompanying someone on their journey towards death is an intense experience. It was my intent from the beginning that good would come of this somehow and I was open to being changed and transformed.

My first thought is obvious but it is often overlooked by us. Love is all that matters so give it and receive it. Don't let work or other things get in the way. Don't take people for granted. I didn't take my Dad for granted and I very glad now that I didn't.

Live your life so you won't have regrets. I asked my Dad if he had any regrets about his life and he emphatically replied no. I couldn't quite believe it so I rephrased the question. Wasn't there something in his life he would do differently? His answer again was no. He was very content with the choices he made in his life. Can you say the same thing? When my Mom died five and a half years ago, one of the main things I took from her life is that if there is something you want to do, then go out and do it. My Mom was born in 1924, during the Great Depression and there weren't many opportunities or options for women from that era. While my Dad was quite satisfied with his life, my Mother was dissatisfied with some of her life, like she had untapped potential that she never explored or that there were things she would have liked to try doing. After her passing, I took a hard look at my life and I realized that there was one thing I would regret not doing. I would regret it if I never pursued my art. Prior to this I had dabbled and dreamed but I hadn't given it my all. Hence the birth of Teresa Mallen Studio. Is there anything you would regret not doing?

Work hard to achieve your goals and dreams. My Father had a strong vision for his life and he worked very hard to achieve it. He was doing what he enjoyed so for him it wasn't "work". He ended up being very successful and he did realize the vision he had had as a young man. Be honest with yourself. Do you even know what your goals and dreams are? Can you say that you are working towards them? Are you working as hard as you could or do you let other stuff get in the way? I watched my Dad achieve his dreams and I can tell you that it didn't come by wishing it so, or by lucky breaks. He clearly defined his goals and he tackled them one by one. Perseverance does wonders!

Be a person of character. No matter what you do or what stage of life you are at, what people remember is your character. For me it defines who you have chosen to be and it is more important than how much money you earn or what sort of stuff you own. During the wakes we held for Dad, people poured through the line up telling us how Dad was so honest, fair in all his dealings, a great friend, liked by everyone, a mentor, an example to others, always full of life, passionate, fun, a "great man"...on and on it went. He was incredibly honest, fun and full of life. I think we need more people with great character in this world. I am fortunate to have been raised by such a man. And yes, my Mother was a woman of great character as well.

Live in the now and intentionally put things in your future that you can look forward to. My Father didn't look back at the past. He lived each day as the gift it is. He also kept his focus on some event in the future that he could look forward to. He looked forward to simple things like the monthly spaghetti supper in his village, grandkids staying for a couple of days, a party at someone's cottage. Do you have something fun and enjoyable noted on your calendar? Did you enjoy today, really?

Look for the lighter side of things. My Dad had a great sense of humour and he loved to laugh and joke around. No wonder people loved to be around him.

Okay, enough of the inspiring thoughts...Now it is September. A new month and a new season. I have spent this past week moving back home, unpacking and trying to get caught up. I even managed some hours in the studio! Tomorrow I shall show you my latest work in progress.