Saturday, February 28, 2009

Coloured Pencil Leaves WIP 4

I didn't crop this image so you get some sense of the scale of the piece. Veins have been added to the back leaves and the upper leaf now has a stem. I have spent more time building up the background although it isn't easy to see in this photo. I still need to work on the colour on the inside of the front leave and I am going to change some of the veins in the greenish leaves. The next time you see it, it will be finished!

If you have been following my blog for a while, you might remember these images:

You see, I don't always do big, funky subjects. :-) I have finally put these pieces and a few others onto my website. I have also changed the gallery around a bit. I sorted art into subject sections. The nature section has only two paintings in it but once the leaves are done, it will go into that category. Lots of florals though! Please note, if you are looking for the new works, I interspersed them with the older images for the sake of presentation (depending on their height and dominant colours). So if you haven't been to my gallery before or haven't been in a long time, you can visit it by clicking here. If you are wondering why I don't have 'buy' buttons on my work it is because some pieces are sold, some originals are not for sale at this time and the rest are already framed with glass (not acrylic) and I don't usually ship such pieces.

I am off to put some yummy desserts onto plates - this afternoon is my cp party/open studio!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coloured Pencil Leaves WIP 3

Leaves WIP # 3, 22" x 16"
Coloured Pencil on Colourfix Paper
Copyright Teresa Mallen

This is how it looks 24 hours later. As you can see, I started adding in some background colour. With so much olive green paper showing, I was concerned that it was affecting my colour and value choices. I am still building up colour, especially on the inside of the front leaf. I also will be adding veins to the back leaf. Adding the veins at this point will be more work to get to look right than if I had put them in at the beginning but I wanted to compare the two looks. At one point I was considering not having such pronounced veins and I was going to draw more stuff into the background. Given the busy 'in your face' nature of the front leaf at present, I don't think I will confuse things by adding to the drawing. Still, this is a work in process and of course things may change.

I would like to take a moment to thank Christine over at Creative Life Studio for the following blog award. I am supposed to pass this award on to five other bloggers that inspire me. I am afraid I am going to be a bit of a wet blanket here and not do this. Many of the artists that I would be nominating no longer participate in blog memes. As a substitute, I suggest that you check out the folks on my blogroll. I am sure that you will be inspired by their creativity and their commitment. Thank again Christine!

Coloured Pencil 'Leaves' WIP # 2

'Leaves' WIP, 22" x 16"
Coloured Pencil on Colourfix Paper
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is how it looks now. The green leaves are again showing blue in the photo, so please use your imagination. Definitely a work in progress! :-)

I was contacted by someone wondering if there was going to be a February newsletter. Yes there is one. I actually got it uploaded on February 1st! (I don't usually have it ready quite so early in the month). So if you missed it do check it out. In the latest issue I feature Heather Page and her wonderful art. To read it, click here. Please note that you can also get to my cp newsletters via the link on the sidebar of this blog. The March issue should be ready by the end of next week.

Okay, now back to the leaves...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Motivation Monday

So far we have looked at what motivation is and you have been busy defining what it is you want and why. Next I had you identify some of the things that block your motivation. The ouch post. :-) I ended last week's post acknowledging that while it is hard to face the truth about ourselves, it is also painful when we stay stuck.

This week I want you to focus on what you would gain if you were to say yes to your dreams and passions.

What does it feel like when you pursue your dream? Think back to times during which you pursued activities related to your passion. Perhaps you visited a special art exhibit at a gallery, perhaps you attended a workshop or maybe you spent some hours sketching or painting. How did this make you feel? (I suggest you write your thoughts down.) Did you feel energized, excited and more alive than you normally do? Did your life suddenly have a rightness about it, like what you were doing satisfied something deep inside of you? Were you left overflowing with creative ideas and enthusiasm for future projects? Really try to get in touch with the pleasure and joy that you experienced.

To really get a good sense of this, why not plan to spend some time this week pursuing your passion? Maybe you can't get to a workshop or a gallery but at least set aside a few hours to soak in your bliss - play with your art supplies, read some art magazines, go through your photo references and pick out something for your next piece, set up a still life and do a sketch, go to the library and get a few books out, grab a cup of your favourite beverage and read the books.

Think about this experience. How did it make you feel? Did you feel positive, alive, interested, hope filled, full of ideas and creative energy? Did you get so into your activity that you lost track of time?

Now I want you to compare this to how it feels when you live your life when you don't make time for your favourite activities. What does it feel like to not acknowledge your deepest dream? Again, write your feelings down. In comparison, do you feel less energetic, less alive and less hopeful? Maybe you feel bored, discouraged, apathetic, tired or drained. Are you starting to get a sense of what you lose when you allow other things to oppose your motivation? As we saw last week, we do get something from the things that block our actions towards our dreams. But at what price? This is the pain involved in staying stuck. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if the status quo is worth losing out on a life filled with intensity, joy, hope, contentment, enthusiasm, happiness and energy. My goal here is to get you to realize that a life that doesn't include our deepest desires isn't such a great life after all.

I ask you, isn't it time you said yes to living the life of your dreams?

Have a great week. Feel free to write a comment. What dream chasing things are you going to do this week? Next Monday, we will start looking for ways to keep inspired.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Coloured Pencil Leaves WIP...

Here is what my new piece looks like now...the picture below is to give you an idea of the size of the image. I think once it is cropped similar to the image above, it will be 22" x 16".

The colours are a bit off in the photos, the light green leaves are looking too much like light blue here. Despite my talk in the last post about how I wanted to control the process more in this piece, I don't feel too much in control at this point! I am not clear on where this is heading but I think that is a good thing. Maybe I should put my classical music back on and stop all the dancing around I've been doing! :-) I wonder what it will look like the next time I post? Ah, the adventure of it all...

Thanks goes out to Vic who passed this blog award on to me. If you wish to read my list of seven things I love, you can read them at the end of this post.

New Coloured Pencil WIP...

Ah, making decisions and planning. This what I have been doing for several days. I was ready to start a new work and I had in mind that I would do a snowy image. I had several photos that were inspiring me. The one above is an example of what I was looking at. After scanning the photos (they were taken years ago with a film camera) and playing with them on the computer I found that I just wasn't moved to go any further.

What to do now? I got out my boxes of pictures and my CDs of digital images and I spent hours looking at the photos. At the same time, I was pondering the issue of colour. I mulled over concepts like temperature, intensity, hue and value. I refreshed my art history knowledge by going over the stylistic changes during the periods of Fauvism, Expressionism, Modernism and so on. I found that this reviewing of photos and reviewing art history was taking not just hours but days.

What evolved from this thinking and exploring was a desire to try to control the process more in my next work. Having just finished my funky chard piece, I was keen to work on another large image, again on a sanded coloured paper. When I worked on that piece, the colours in the chard just happened. For the most part I just flowed along with the direction the work seemed to be going in and I am happy with the way it turned out. But, for a change of pace, I started to think, what if I controlled the process this time?

I found myself interested in doing a botanical piece, specifically leaves and I went back over all of my photos, seeking an image that struck me as doable. That is where the next photo comes in.

Notice the yummy leaves on this wildflower? So what if I isolated these leaves? What if I played with them by rotating, flipping and reversing them? Here is a version that I ended up with that I really like.

Voila, a new reference image was born! Next, I became excited to apply some of my recent thoughts on colour. I had been thinking of doing a piece in which I eliminated (or at least downplayed) the light source - one of the stylistic outcomes of Modernism. Maybe, this piece was the one. And how about restricting my palette and controlling the colour but with a twist, this time not being at all true to the colours represented in the actual subject?

See where all those hours of pondering started to lead me? I love it!! Okay, so here is where I am at now...I have my subject. I have stared at it and stared at it. My imagination started to see the leaves as similar to leaves in ponds (think water lilies)...from here, I started to think of these leaves as being from some sort of underwater world. Using this concept, what colour would I make the leaves? I got out my pencils and played with combinations. Here is what I have come up with so far: the outside of leaves are to be a sort of light greenish blue, the inside of the leaves a coral colour, the background dark teal. Keeping in mind my desire to eliminate a light source, (which sort of goes with an underwater world idea) I will be ignoring the shadows indicated in the photo.

Please note that I am not attempting to have this look like it is an underwater picture. I am not going for realism here. The leaves should look like leaf shapes and the rest of the piece will be an abstraction from reality - like the Swiss Chard Mosaic piece.

So finally, after days of planning, I have a drawing started as well as some initial colouring done. As you can see from the photo, I am using green paper (sort of an olive green), and it is a sanded surface. Colourfix is the paper's brand name. Right now the image is approximately 22" x 16". I still have to decide what to draw into the negative space in the background.

As you can also see, I am using my laptop again (perched on my drafting table) for this piece. It allows me to zoom into the scanned image so that I can see it better.

My challenge in this piece will be to not draw the colours that I see before me. I have experimented on the coloured paper with my pencils to determine how I will create the coral shades and the teal etc. These pencils now make up my restricted palette.

The chard and now this piece seem to require more energetic music than I normally listen to. I have raided my husband's CD collection and the rock and roll is definitely doing the trick. I even ventured into some pop this afternoon and worked standing (so I could dance about while I worked). A very fun day in the studio, I must confess! :-)

And if all this wasn't enough to get excited about, today President Obama was in Ottawa. Needless to say, folks here are delighted and pleased as punch - not to mentioned honoured.

All in all, this piece has already involved quite a bit of thought and planning. I have loved every minute of it and I look forward to seeing how it all impacts the final work. So what about you, do you do a fair bit of planning or does your work just happen?

Finally, my blog headline says: add beauty to your life. Well my husband added much beauty to my week as he gave me several bunches of tulips for Valentine's Day. They are all over the house and of course I had to take several photos. I am very blessed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Motivation Monday

If knowledge is power and truth sets us free, then I suggest that by looking at ourselves honestly we can gain insights that will enable us to achieve the things we want to.

Last week, the focus was on looking at what we want and asking why we want it. The goal was to create a strong enough why, the reason for action, which again, is really all motivation is. Acknowledging that motivation often becomes more complicated, I want to start looking at the many ways that our motivation can get blocked, leaving us stuck and not moving towards our goals.

Let's keep it simple - if you cannot get yourself motivated enough to do the things you need to do, in order to have the life you want there must be reasons why and I suggest that it is simply because there is something in it for you if you don't take action. Truth does set us free, but the truth about ourselves can be painful to acknowledge. Let's look at this more carefully...

First of all, in order to have what we want, we have to give up something. Here is where we get stuck. We have to give up something we have attached value to and we end up have opposing desires! So what could some of the things be that we might have to give up? Well, it could be a very long list but here are some examples:

- free time. In order to accomplish what we want to, we may have to give up some of our free time. Given that many people feel they have too little of this as it is, the thought of losing more is painful. The result? Our motivation starts to dissipate.
- time allocated to other things. We may not be required to give up free time, but time we spend doing something we like or something we feel we need to do.
- safety. Going for our dreams will require us to take risks and if we value safety and security, we will have a strong opposing desire.
- money. Achieving our dreams may require us to invest money on tools, supplies, education, marketing materials such as business cards and a website. We value money and if we are afraid to invest it in something that may not pay off, we end up stuck.
- your self image. Perhaps you are afraid that you will fail and you would rather not have to deal with this. Instead, you protect yourself - you don't move forward but then again, you won't look foolish either.
- self pity. Ouch. Yes we can become so addicted to our 'poor me' image and so comfortable with our excuses that we don't really want to step out to experience ourselves as strong and capable.
- passivity. If you are a person that doesn't feel comfortable taking responsibility and being in charge of things then taking charge of your life and being responsible for making your dreams come true isn't something that you will relish doing. It can be easy to drift into a passive life where decisions are made by others and we just go with the flow. Perhaps staying passive means you choose not to make decisions that might upset certain people in your life. Not everyone will stand up and cheer when you decide to claim your life and avoiding this unpleasantness keeps many people blocked.
- being an expert. Perhaps you are comfortable right where you are because you are good at what you currently do. You have invested time and energy in being able to do certain things very well. In order to step out into something new, you will have to go through a time when you are a newbie. If we are not comfortable being a beginner, you will hesitate to move forward. If you compare yourself to others, people who do what you want to do and who do it well, you can become discouraged and defeated before you even get a chance at achieving mastery.
- your current knowledge level. This is linked to the previous one. In order to grow we need to learn and many people strongly resist learning new things. To give up your current knowledge level and to acquire new knowledge, you will have to commit to learning new skills and techniques. Many people feel uncomfortable when they have to learn new things and this could become a significant block to moving forward.
- your current level of effort. To achieve our dreams requires effort and honestly, most of us are just not too keen on working really hard. Perhaps you feel you work hard already at your day job, raising your kids, managing a home. You know that you will have to work even harder if you decide to go after your desires and maybe the idea of this is so unpleasant you find you can't get motivated to do what you need to do.

Do any of these apply to you and your current situation in life? I suggest you take some time this week to really ask yourself some difficult questions. Look at your list of desires. What have you identified as something you really would like to have in your life? Now ask yourself, what might be in it for you if you didn't go for it...write your thought down if it helps. I'm writing a blog post, not a book, so obviously there are things that might be blocking you that are not on the short list above. Try to identify what your particular blocks might be. And don't get discouraged! Just because you have allowed certain things to stop you from moving forward in the past, you can change.

Next week I will start giving you some ideas on how you can break free from these blocks...remember, this isn't rocket science, all you probably need is a few lightbulb moments. Once truth is exposed we can start getting a handle on how to create a new truth for ourselves! So please, I repeat, don't get discouraged. Recognizing all the things we have placed value on, that have been blocking us from having the life we want, can be an overwhelming revelation. Allow me to encourage you - yes this is painful but then so is staying stuck and freedom is just around the corner. Once you know what your blocks are, you can start create strategies to overcome them. See you next week!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

new projects...

Don't you just love it when you get something wonderful and unexpected in the mail? That happened to me today. I received this special drawing and I can't tell you how delighted I am. The artist is our new sponsored child. This is the first contact we have had with her. Our former child has turned eighteen and has graduated from the program. We were assigned a new child and I have been eager to start a relationship. So the journey begins...

Whatever I had on my to do list for the weekend has now been bumped - I can't wait to send off a letter and some drawings of my own. While it is sad to have one relationship end, I am looking forward to having a young child again. Milagro lives in El Salvador and she will turn eight in just a few weeks. We already have a lot in common - she likes to draw, coloured pencil is her medium of choice and she loves to draw flowers (if you have visited the gallery of my website, you will know that I love drawing flowers too). We are kindred spirits already! :-) And, she want to do well in school so she can be a school teacher when she grows up. Well, hey I teach art...

So my new projects are to create some drawings for Milagro and I think it is time I learned a bit of Spanish so I can write some of my letter to her in her own language. Translators are provided but I think it would be fun to try Spanish myself. I speak French, (enough to write a child anyway) but we have never had a child from a French speaking country. We once had a child from Malawi. I loved getting letters from her family as her Uncle could speak some English and he would painstakingly write out letters telling us about their lives. For the record, I did say a bit of Spanish...that is a big enough project for now!

I attended another art club meeting last night. We had a second night of critiques. If you missed my report on critiquing your work following the last meeting, you can click here to have a read. The guest was Svetlana Swinimer. Her analysis of each painting was very good and she was amazingly fast in summing up the strength and weaknesses of each piece. I know that when jurors look at slides or digital images, they often view them for just seconds before moving on to the next one. After watching Svetlana, I know that a quick accurate reading is possible.

Here are some of her thoughts:

- Even if a piece was quite good, she would ask us "What is missing?" Asking this question revealed ways the piece could be taken to a new level.

- She asked us to honestly compare our work to an other's. If our art were to appear next to someone else's art, would ours "collapse"?

- Artists must always be growing and not "riding on the backs of others". We must be "discovering new territory or we are not artists". Our desire should be to grow, not to create "pretty paintings".

- Like last time, she picked up on boring shadows. Shadows were either not cool enough or did not have interesting colours.

- She stressed doing study pieces. Do grisailles to practice volume techniques. Practice painting with just one light colour and one dark. Learn to see gradations well.

- Her main teaching was to look for warm, cool, dark and light. She said this was very important. For example, a warm painting needs a bit of cool colours in order to stand out and be noticed.

- She suggested limiting the colours used. Use two complementary colours and then only neutrals. She thought a couple of the pieces were guilty of having too many colours.

- She stressed planning out relationships before you start to paint. For example decide how the sky will relate to the water, and the water to the land. How will the buildings relate to the land? What will be dominate, what will be dark, what will be warm, cool etc.?

- Make sure that there is a "conversation" between the elements of your painting. This dialogue across the painting can be achieved through colour harmony. Don't let parts of your painting become "isolated".

- Don't over analyse why you are doing a piece. Once you have started a work, follow your intuition.

- She cautioned the audience on following photo references too literally. As artists we need to make decisions regarding colour and composition. When we accept what we see in the photo, our art suffers and we don't learn. I couldn't agree more. To many cp artists over rely on photos.

- One area that she stressed caused me to really think. She felt strongly that a painting should only contain one set of complements. So for example if a painting has reds and greens, it should not also contain purples and yellows. She felt that two of the paintings were guilty of this and that they suffered because of it. One was a lovely bright abstract painting and the other was another contemporary work filled with graphic elements and it reminded me of Cubism. Her argument was that using two sets of complements "upset the viewer's nervous system" and left viewers unsettled. She did comment that some artists used this intentionally, to have a sort of shocking effect but she wasn't a fan of this approach. I did not agree with this idea, especially when viewing the two paintings she thought suffered because of this. I found them very interesting, bold, engaging, bright and warm. The two sets of complements didn't seem to be having an adverse effect on my nervous system. :-) I pondered this on the drive home and then went to my studio and got out some art books that I knew had pictures of my favourite paintings. Yup, two sets of complements all over the place...and these are master painters not amateurs. So I guess I will happily differ in my opinion and I will just hope that jurors that look at my work share my type of nervous system and not hers!

All in all, another very interesting experience watching and listening to someone critique art.

You have probably heard that the pieces juried into the Coloured Pencil Society of America's Explore This exhibition can now be viewed. If you missed this announcement, this exhibit featuring coloured pencil and mixed media, can be viewed on-line. Just click here.

Finally, last week I was given a blog award by Jan Gibson. It took me so long to accept the award that coloured pencil artist Laura Hardie also gave me the award! So I have better get on the ball here...thank you ladies - I appreciate your support and your kindness. As part of accepting this award, I am to list seven things I love...(I apologize in advance for my rather boring list) :-)

1) I am madly in love with my husband. I have been since I was 16. I guess family and friends can squeeze into #1.
2) Art, big surprise right? I love all media, all styles and I love learning about art, looking at art and creating art.
3) Animals. I love my dog and all the animals I have been privileged to share my life with in the past. I love wild animals and domestic ones and I love learning about them.
4) I love music. Right up there with art really. I was a music major in university and I love all sorts of music - classical is my favourite genre.
5) I love to sing. Sort of goes with #4. I love sight singing new choral works (this challenge is a real joy for me). My favourite works to sing are Masses in Latin or German, (usually those composed during the Baroque and Classical periods). For the curious, I sing 2nd Alto - tenor for fun and soprano only in the privacy of my home. Why are sopranos so fun to parody? :-)
6) I love walking in nature. I do this everyday with my dog. It makes my day.
7) I love elemental weather. Which is good because of #6. I love the smell of rain, the sound of wind, the feeling of warm or cool air on my skin, I love the sight of falling snow and I love fog.

So that's it. A long post but if you have hung in this far and you would like to know more about child sponsorship you can visit the World Vision website here. For less than the cost of a daily cup of Starbuck's coffee, you can help a child receive medical care, an education, buy supplies for their school and for their playground. Sometimes the problems in this world seem overwhelming but you can make a difference, a very important difference for one special child. If World Vision doesn't suit you, there are lots of other similar programs. Just do a google search...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Motivation Monday

Do you know exactly what you would do, if only you could get more motivated? Lets say that tomorrow morning you were to wake up and discover that you were filled with motivation. What would you do?

I hope you took some time in the past week to thing about what you really want. Identifying your desires is key to moving forward into a new and better life.

Once you have decided what it is you want in your life, you can now start asking yourself this question: How badly do I want this? How is this linked to motivation? Well, lets recap last Monday a little bit: motivation is simply the reason for an action. It is the why behind what you do. If you have determined what you want, my question to you is how badly do you want it? As I said last week, to stay motivated you need a strong desire to get you to do what you say you want to do.

So the key to this week's message is this: One simple way to boost your motivation is to consciously make a strong connection between something you want and the reasons why. Remember, the reasons why need to be compelling for them to be powerful. For example, lets say that one of the things on your list is that you would like to be more organized. Why do you want to be more organized? If all you have is the idea that you should be more organized, you probably won't be as motivated as the artist who has just lost out on a portrait commission because she couldn't find the scrap of paper upon which she wrote the person's contact info. The emotions behind losing that commission (anger, frustration, disappointment) and the desire to not loose another chance at work can become strong motivators.

So this week, I am asking you to go back over the list of things you want to have in your life. Look at each item and think about why you want these things. Jot down your thoughts. Perhaps you want to become a better artist. Ask yourself why? Perhaps you said you wanted to start selling your work. Why? Go beyond the easy first answer. For example, lets say your answer to why you want to start selling your work is "My family and my friends keep telling me I should be selling my work." Sounds like their desire, not yours. This may be why you haven't been too motivated to do the work involved. What if your answer is: "I want to sell my art so I can make money." Good, but now go deeper. Why do you want to make money? Money can be a strong motivator but again it has to be linked with a strong desire. What do you envision doing with the money?

Lets go back to the example of the person who wants to be more organized but they don't really have a specific reason. They just think they should be more organized. Is this person doomed to stay unorganized? Of course not. The answer is to create a meaningful reason why one should do the work to get organized. For example, I would suggest that this person think of as many positive outcomes for being organized as possible - things like: if I were more organized, I would have more room to paint and create. Now that answer is probably already starting to link with a strong motivator. Just changing how we think about a task can make all the difference. Make identifying a strong motivator your goal.

Is motivation this simple? Yes, it can be. Once you know what you want and you have created a strong enough why, you should be set to go. But, life is often a bit messier than that. There are several things that can block our motivation. Next week, I will start delving into various ways that our motivation can get blocked and why we end up stuck. Good luck with your soul searching :-) and feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.

Friday, February 6, 2009

cleansing my palette...

Carp Ridge Study, 2.5" x 3.5"
Coloured Pencil on Colorfix Paper
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Do you ever feel the need to cleanse your visual palette? Once I have finished a significant piece, I like to do something that will shake loose the former image and its colours and concerns. I picture it as the mental equivalent of my dog shaking the rain from his fur. (How do they manage to wiggle themselves so vigorously from their nose to the tip of their tail?)

So I did some visual cleansing by working on this small study. And the mental shake felt very good indeed! The chard pencils have been put away, my studio has been tidied and my drafting table has had a good wash. I am now ready to start a new piece next week.

So what do you do to cleanse your palette?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Swiss Chard - finished!

Swiss Chard Mosaic
approx. 17" x 7", coloured pencil on Colorfix paper
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is the finished chard image and it now has a name, "Swiss Chard Mosaic". The background is more of a dark plum/navy rather than black as it may appear on your screen.
I hope you have enjoyed watching it progress. I started off calling the WIPs 'My Journey to a Painting' and it has been an interesting journey indeed. Remember the pictures of my photo shoot?

And now I have a finished work of art! Where I thought I was going on this journey sure isn't where I ended up. You might recall that originally I had hoped to do a piece that included lots of lovely long stalks. Unfortunately a fair bit of the stalks were already trimmed off so I had to rethink my approach. I ended up with a series of back lit photos that I loved. Remember how I started off the piece quite bright so that in the end the work would still have a quality of brightness? :-) Little did I know at the time that the whole piece would be somewhat on the bright side!

So what happened? Simply put, art happened. This piece just flowed along and I decided to flow along with it, to see where the current would take me...I was up for an adventure and I got one. It didn't end up looking as I had originally thought it might but I love the end result.

My process at the end: I finished off my background by going over it with a stiff brush. I actually used a stencil brush and I brushed over the background so the pigment would be ground in well to the sanded surface. It gives the background a bit of a 'buffed' appearance. Next, I went in and cleaned things up. I am a bit fanatical about this stage. I really want my painting to look great close up as well as from a distance. So I examine the work inch by inch. I add pigment here and there to make sure my coverage is consistent and I clean up edges. I go back over the highlights as they usually get dulled down a tiny bit as I brush off my work. I step back often from the piece to see what needs adjusting. This stage takes me a few hours (for a larger work) but I find it satisfying. For me, this final tweaking is what makes the work appear finished.

So now I will tape it to the wall of my studio for a while. From this new perspective, I will look at it often and I will be able to see if something isn't quite right - before it gets framed!

And oh the joys of simple things! I bought a new pencil sharpener a few days ago and boy are my pencils ever sharp now!! I am so happy. My old one started to suddenly malfunction. I wasn't happy about that. The sharpener inside started to wobble a bit as I sharpened pencils. They came out with a blunt end and they were hardly sharpened at all. I haven't had this happen before. I am so glad it started to do this because until I got my new sharpener I hadn't realized how dull my stainless steel blades in my old one had become. It was so gradual I just didn't notice. But wow, with this new sharpener, my pencils have fantastic sharp points. Absolutely yummy to work with. Sort of like when you don't think your skates are that dull and then you get them sharpened! :-) Did you know that Ottawa has the world's longest natural outdoor skating rink in the world? The Rideau Canal is 7.8 km long or almost 5 miles and it cuts through the city. Of course you can skate up and down to put in a 10 mile skate! Along the route there are warming huts, picnic tables and booths where you can buy warm pastries (they are called Beaver Tails) and hot chocolate. The canal has lights along the length of it so you can skate at night - my favourite time to see what I am talking about you can check it out by clicking here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Motivation Monday

Motivation is simply the reason for an action. It is the why behind what you do.

So how are things going for you? Are things going well in your life or are there areas where you feel frustrated, confused or stuck?

This post marks the start of a new series on this blog, dealing with the issues surrounding motivation. In my experience talking to other artists, former students and wanna be artists, it seems clear that many people struggle to stay motivated. People buy new art supplies only to find that they never actually use them. Some buy books and then they never read them. Others take workshops and get very excited and determined, only to find that the enthusiam fades and their good intentions vanish. Does this sound like anything you have experienced? Maybe it is where you are right now. If so, I would like to help. You see quite some time my former life :-)...I was stuck too. I wasn't just stuck, I was discouraged. Perhaps you are there now. Perhaps you are underemployed, unemployed or you are in a job you really dislike. You have a desire for a different life but you just can't seem to make it happen. Maybe you are working as an artist but you are dissatisfied with your work habits. Maybe you feel undisciplined or perhaps you are confused about what to do next or you are stuck in some area - for example you know you need to get your work out there but you just don't seem to get around to doing anything about it. I could go on and on with scenarios but I think you get the idea. No matter what your issues are, I can tell you this: you can live a better life than the one you have can move forward from a state of numbness, lack of energy, apathy and discouragement.

So where do we start? First of all you need to decide what you want. Then we can work on getting a strong enough why. You see you have to have a strong 'why' in order to have lasting motivation. Remember, motivation is simply the why behind what you do.

Do you know what you want? I ask you to take the next week to really think about what you want. Write your thoughts down to help you get clarity. Do you think what you want is impossible (because you don't have the skills, enough time, or money)? Don't focus on this. Do you think you want too many things? For example you want to be an oil painter too and you are interested in sculpture and you would like to try writing short stories. Don't worry about this either. Simply get as honest with yourself as you can.

Maybe you feel like you don't know what you want. I know this may be hard for some of you. Don't despair, take comfort in knowing that a lot of people don't feel like they know what they want. What sort of stuff do you have stashed away in your cupboards? What are the books about that you have you been collecting for years? Look around your life for clues. What is on your 'back burner'? You know, that 'thing' you always mean to do or try but the time is never quite right so it sits on the back burner...the good thing is that it is there, now imagine moving it to a front burner. Now that is exciting and just a wee bit scary...

So you have your homework assignment for the week. Good luck...and while my story of course isn't finished, I can tell you that once I changed my thinking, once I decided that I just might be able to do some of the things I dreamed of, my life changed dramatically. I became a motivated woman and I have remained that way. You can too, I have no doubt...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Coloured Pencil Newsletter and Announcements

'Bart, Jessie and Cooper', 11" x 14" Coloured Pencil

Artist Heather Page

image copyright of Heather Page, used with permission

The February issue of my Coloured Pencil Newsletter is now ready to read. Don't you love Heather's cp piece? The newsletter has a new 'introducing' feature and I am delighted that Heather Page is the artist being introduced this month. So be sure to check out the newsletter to see more of Heather's fabulous art and to learn more about her.


  • an Open Studio has just been scheduled
  • convenient on line payment for class registration and kit purchases now available
  • new blog feature 'Motivation Mondays'
  • Introduction to Coloured Pencil Course has been renamed Coloured Pencil Basics

    The newsletter has all the details on these announcements. It has all the usual stuff too, a great question from a Newsletter Group Member, websites and blogs to visit etc. So grab a cup of your favourite beverage, sit back and enjoy. Click
    here for the February issue.

    If you would like to become a Newsletter Group Member, just
    email me. The subscription is free!