Monday, May 25, 2009

Abstracted Rose Finished

Rose (untitled), 8"w x 15"h, Coloured Pencil on Stonehenge
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is the finished image of the work in progress I showed last time. You might recall that I was going for abstracted realism here. While the piece is a representation of an inner section of a rose, my desire was to capture and emphasize the various lines and curves that I found so appealing. You can click on the detailed view below for a better idea of how the piece looks close up.

I haven't given any thought as to what the title of this piece might be. I will tape it to the wall of my studio and perhaps something will come to mind as I look at it over the next little while.

It has been two weeks since I posted. Please don't infer that this piece took that long to do! In fact this piece came together quickly as there wasn't a lot of detail to render. Unfortunately I just haven't been able to spend much time in my studio recently. As some of you may know, my father passed away last year. My mother died six years ago. My sister and I have inherited the family farm and we are now in the process of going through the house and all of their belongings. For those of you who have already had to face a similar situation, you know what a huge task this can be. It is at least a three hour drive to get to the farm and back so these sessions are time consuming and tiring.

My parents moved a few times but eventually they bought a farm in 1957 and they lived there the rest of their lives - long enough to settle in well and accumulate stuff. So we sort, throw out, clean, sort some more, throw out, clean...on and on it goes. I have done at least 20 loads of laundry in the past week as I prepare their clothing to go to a charity. Once we are done the house, we can look forward to sorting the outbuildings. Old farm machinery, yippee. Right about now I could use a few extra siblings. :-) Then again, I have heard a lot of horror stories of how family members fight over their parents' estate so maybe things would just be more complicated.

It has been an interesting time wandering down memory lane. Many items bring back memories of the childhood that I spent there. Holding a crystal pickle tray transports me back to Christmas dinners with Mom's homemade relishes and bread and butter pickles. Long forgotten and tucked at the back of my old bedroom closet I discovered my buffalo sandals from the '70s. The stuff we choose not to throw out, it is so interesting. Costume jewelry that belonged to my grandmother - my mother couldn't part with it and now neither can we! This is a time of memories, laughter and tears.

The unexpected fallout of this is that as we sort the farmhouse my home suddenly becomes stuffed with items that I am bringing back. Yikes...Oh, but there are some groovy finds. Last week we accessed a couple of storage rooms over the kitchen. You can only get up there via a ladder and we hadn't done this in many, many years. Well woo-hoo, I was still climbing the ladder when I spied some lovely chairs. One really gorgeous looking one (lovely lines to its construction) and a few others. They were buried under other things so I don't know if my woo-hoo will turn to an uh-oh. Perhaps they are broken or something. I do know that there is pigeon poop on everything so some serious cleaning will be required. My sister has dibs on the 1900 Singer treadle sewing machine. So now you know what I am up to if my blog posts get rather infrequent!

So what is up next in the studio? Well, this week I have to work on getting the Chard piece ready to ship to Atlanta. Tonight I am going to haul out all of my mat board to see if I have a large enough sheet in the right shade of off white. I had mentioned in the last post that I might do a few of these rose pieces. To get started I will look for another reference image from my photos. Right now though, I am going catch up on reading some of my favourite blogs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Abstracted Realism - new cp wip

'rose flame', work in progress, 15" x 8", coloured pencil on Stonehenge
copyright Teresa Mallen

Isn't it wonderful to start a new piece? I thought I needed a break from working big but I missed a larger format so this one is 15 inches by 8 inches - lots of room to stretch out and breathe! So what am I doing with this and what do I mean by abstracted realism? Well, have a look at my rose photo below.

Using Photoshop, I played with some reference photos. I ended up with a composition that I really liked. I chose a close up view, a vertical slice of the center of the rose. This piece is all about shapes and curves. I saw curves that reminded me of a candle flame or smoke rising. That is the story I wish to tell with this new work. The piece is grounded in realism as I am drawing an actual rose but it is also undergoing a bit of abstraction as the cropping focuses on shapes and curves. I love the shapes and curves of the crop and it doesn't really matter to me if the source is a rose or a tree branch or whatever.

I have lots of yummy colour down already but for now the photo isn't showing it well. I am working on white Stonehenge and I am building up colour by applying light layers of pigment. I saw a few other compositions that appealed to me so I think there may be a rose series in the work here...maybe...

For those of you who are wondering if there is going to be a May issue of my newsletter...humm, I am quite busy right now with commitments outside of the studio so it may be a while before I can get writing another issue. For those of you who are subscribers, you will of course be notified as soon as a new issue has been published. The silver lining is that for those of you who are new members, you have more time to catch up with your reading of past newsletters. If you are new to my blog and you don't have a clue what I am talking about, hop on over to my website to read my newsletters for coloured pencil enthusiasts.

Finally, for the birders out there, not only did I hear a whip-poor-will this week, (as mentioned in a previous post) I actually saw a mother and her oh so adorable baby (half way between fluff and feathers). I was walking my dog one evening and we happened upon them resting in the grass. Mom flew off. I so wish I had my camera so I could have taken a picture of the baby. The site was close to the house and I could have returned to the spot but I didn't want to disturb them more than we had. Don't worry, I kept my dog from having a curious sniff. :-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Colored Pencil Society of America Exhibition Acceptance!

'Swiss Chard Mosaic', 17"w x 7"h, Coloured Pencil on Colourfix Paper
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Well a big woo hoo and huge yippee! My funky chunk of chard has been juried into the Colored Pencil Society of America's 17th Annual Internation Exhibition in Atlanta 2009!!!!

I am delighted and honoured to have my work chosen and to be in the company of such esteemed and talented cp artists. To read the names of all of the accepted artists, visit the CPSA website.

Now I just have to get my 'Swiss Chard Mosaic' framed with acrylic and then I need to purchase some deluxe packaging. This piece will be exhibited at the Jacqueline C. Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth Georgia from July 9th until August 29th, 2009. The CPSA holds an annual convention one week during the exhibition and I have signed up for workshops, the awards banquet, etc. I have my hotel booked and my passport is ready. I have been a busy gal since I found out about my acceptance! Some of you may remember that last year I was all set to go to Seattle for the 2008 convention but unfortunately life had a terrible surprise for us. We discovered that my Father was terminally ill. I chose to spend those last weeks of my Father's life with him and I have no regrets. So on to a new year and new plans...I think I will wrap my husband up in some cotton batting or something so he can't get hurt or injured before I go! :-)

Congratulations to all of the other artists accepted into this exhibition! I hope to see you and your art in Atlanta in July.

New Coloured Pencil Work

Geranium Leaf study, approx. 5"x5", Coloured Pencil on Stonehenge
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is a small study of a geranium leaf that I have just completed. I have been wandering a few sideroads and I even ended up in a ditch to get to this wee piece...whew...

You might recall my large peony piece which I finished a couple of weeks ago. Following that, I decided to change gears a bit by creating a quick little trading card sized image of a section of a hyacinth. My heart wasn't in it, I didn't feel jazzed by my drawing and by the time I hit the colouring part, I was bored. I was missing working big. So I abandoned it, one of my sideroads...Then I taught my coloured pencil basics course last week...another sideroad...My dump into the ditch took place later in the week when I decided to do this geranium study on UART paper.

I was quite excited last year to discover that my local art supply store was now carrying UART - in all of the various grades no less. So I stocked up. I messed about with it last fall, just to experiment but it wasn't until now that I had something that I thought would work well on the beige coloured surface. You might have noticed that the above image was done on Stonehenge not UART! I started off in love with the sanded paper, from the 400 toothy grade to the 800 smoother grade. Very quickly I realized that it probably was just an infatuation and not long after that we had our first fight and we still aren't speaking to each other! :-)

That paper left me absolutely flummoxed! I have worked on all sorts of surfaces, rough, smooth, printmaking paper, watercolour paper, drafting film, sanded pastel paper, canvas and Pastelbord. I have never worked on a surface that left me flummoxed (great word isn't it?). No matter what approach I tried, I couldn't build colour to my satisfaction. The colours blended rather than sat on top of each other (which is great if that is the look you are after but it wasn't what I was aiming for). I couldn't get nice crisp lines (heck, I struggled to transfer my drawing with transfer paper) and my stroke technique went all ugly - like I was leaving the odd streak. It felt like working on velvet or velour. Remember black velvet poster art? It started to reminded me of that. Not exactly a great association! I persevered but to no avail. It just looked like a bright mess. Sorry but I won't be posting any photos. :-)

But hey, before I turn you off this paper, stop and have a look at this site for UART paper. Many wonderful artists work on this surface and their work is fantastic. I love Linda Lucas Hardy's work and she uses her famous dry brush technique on UART. I have noticed mixed reviews on Scribbletalk about it. I guess you either love it or you don't. I will return to it though because I am a determined sort of gal. I will say this in its favour, it would be a wonderful surface for pastel work and I think it would be lovely for paint.

Enough of my ditch experience. Below is a work in progress shot of the geranium leaf (on Stonehenge). Are you one of those people that brings your summer geraniums inside for the winter? I do. I just can't let the frost kill them so I haul them inside and I repot them. Sometimes they flower nicely but often they just get leggy and scraggly. Once April and warmer weather comes I am ready to move them outside. I must confess that I have so many pots that I don't actually do the kind hearted hardening off business. After nursing them through the winter, I find myself getting rather impatient at the end and they are booted out the door to toughen up quick or else. Last week I was sitting on my deck surrounded by these straggly, mangy plants. I became mesmerized by the undersides of the leaves and I grabbed my camera for a delicious photo shoot.

I also spent a morning with my camera in our woods last week. I took oodles of photos of unfurling leaves and close ups of wildflowers. Here is an example of some of the fern pics I took.

Finally, I must share a picture of a lovely trillium. Ontario chose the trillium as its provincial flower in 1937. These white wildflowers can be seen in early May in forests throughout the province. So simple and so beautiful. Ah, the delights of spring. To top it all off, I heard a whip-poor-will yesterday evening. I am delighted to know that at least one bird has returned safely. This species is considered globally threatened, in part due to loss of habitat. I am hoping to hear more of them in the coming nights. Okay, now what do I work on next? It is time to browse the stored reference photos.