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.


Valerie Jones said...

Ooh..Teresa! The colors you used in the swiss chard is outstanding! Good job, well done!

The ice skating sounds like so much fun. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kastina said...

I love your style. I love that you enhance the really makes the pieces bigger than life.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Valerie, thanks so much for your very kind thoughts!

The ice skating is a lot of fun. I sat and watched the web cam today and had a few chuckles. There were some newbies wobbling skating isn't pretty either but I have fun! I do love it when the tourists rent skates - folks who have never skated in their life who are game to give it a try. And then there are the Olympic speed skating types who whiz past in a blur. Like I said, lots of fun!!

Hi Kastina, welcome to my blog. Thanks for your comments!

Jeanette said...

Beautiful finish Teresa. All that The colours glow and the twists and turns draw you in and make you stay.

Ahhhhh Rideau Canal in Winterlude...I know it well. The beavertails are divine as well. Happy skating!

Christine said...

Wow Teresa....what a fabulous painting! It was a pleasure to watch the step-by-step.Thanks for posting it! You have surpassed my expectation with this piece. I did not know chart could look that beautiful and artistic. It's really a very successful piece of art and you ought to be so proud of this. The title suits it very indeed looks like a mosaic. I just can't stop looking at it, it's so pretty.

Another wow...what an awesome fun ice skating ring! I love winter sports (mainly I guess because you don't have to sweat so much working out ;-) You are so blessed to have this close to you!

Jan said...

So beautiful, Teresa! Who'd a thunk that such an "ordinary" vegetable could be so lovely as a painting. You've certainly turned the ordinary into the extraordinary!

Josephine said...

Beautiful! But I have to say, something about the second last step, the picture of the chard before the added background holds so much interest to me. It's looser and more intrigueing, not weighed down by the black background. Looks wonderful both ways though!

Teresa Mallen said...

Thank you Jeanette. I really appreciate your feedback. The next time I eat a Beaver Tail, I shall think of you! :-)

Hi Christine and thank you for your very kind words. I am glad you like the title! I must confess I do enjoy outdoor winter activities like skiing, snowingshoeing, and skating. I take my dog for long walks every day so I am an expert in dressing warmly!

Thank you Jan! I am delighted that you like my funky chunk of chard.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Joesphine, welcome to my blog and thanks for taking the time to comment. We must have been typing at the same time. :-)

I too liked it in the pre-background stage. I think this piece could have gone either way. For example I considered doing a reddish background as I liked how it looked with just the coloured paper. I also could have left the chard with the lighter colours. In the end I decided to press forward for a couple of reasons 1)This is a piece I might submit for exhibitions and dark backgrounds for still lifes are often favoured by jurors. They tend to like drama. :-) 2) As my orginal goal of this piece was to capture the look of the back lighting I decided to honour that by intensifying the colour in the chard. By deepening the green areas, I hoped the lighter sections would stand out well.

Unfortunately the dark background is showing up very dark. You mentioned that it was black. In fact it is really a dark plum colour. Eventually there will be a white mat around the piece and believe me that will look much nicer than the colour of my blog page. :-)

Thanks for having a look at my work!!

Paula Pertile said...

This is STUNNING Teresa!

Anita said...

I love your chard - delicious.
And a new pencil sharpener - lucky you! o

Jan said...

If you would, please stop by my blog as I have something for you!

Teresa Mallen said...

Thank you Paula and Anita!! Okay Jan, I'm curious...

Josephine said...

That makes sense, it sounds like the background is probably much more nuanced than what comes through on my screen. Darn computers :) But how else would a rural Canadian girl such as myself see so many different kinds of artwork.

Vic said...

Your Swiss Chard is briliant, so much depth of colour and detail....just catching up on reading your blog and just realised that you had been given the blog award already....never mind you have it twice it now!

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Josephine, glad you have returned to my blog. I hoped my response didn't sound defensive and off putting. I appreciate your willingness to share your opinion and given the subjective nature of art, it is quite all right to like or not like something.

And you are right the internet is a great way to see art even if sometimes what we see is limited by the technology. Many art textbooks have pictures that are way off with regards to colour so I guess we just have to make due unless we can stand before the real thing. :-) Where abouts are you in rural Canada? Feel free to say hello in an email - are you on a farm? I grew up on a dairy farm and yup, it was rural. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

Hi Vic, you can give me any award, anytime! Thanks a heap!!