Friday, July 9, 2010

'Petals' wip, farm life pics

Untitled WIP, part of 'petals' series, cps on Stonehenge, 22.5" x 6.5"
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is what is currently on my drafting table. This photo was taken last week and the piece is further along now. Actually it is almost finished so I shall be able to post the final image next week.

After having finishing a couple of large abstract-ish pieces on sanded pastel paper, I wanted a change. I have been busy in the studio these many weeks (since my last post) exploring and messing about. I did some acrylic paintings, just small studies really and a bit of mixed media work. I didn't end up with anything I wanted to reveal as works in progress. I was just stretching myself in new directions for a wee bit. I am the first to admit that painting with acrylics is not my forte but I do enjoy giving it a go. The enjoyment is very brief and in no time I am disappointed with my results and frustrated with the medium. I am always delighted to return to my cps!

Once I was back using coloured pencils, I started working on a painting inspired by the Solomon's Seal that was blooming in my garden. I was working small, something like 8 x 10 inches, on Colourfix paper. Once I got into the piece, I started to regret my choice of surface as well as the colour of the paper. I knew it was time to switch to white paper and one with a lot less tooth. So the Solomon's Seal piece was set aside. I might rework it another day...

My current 'petals' piece will end up becoming part of a series that I started last year featuring peony petals. For those of you who are familiar with my work, you might have noticed my return to one of my favourite formats, a juicy, long horizontal - 22.5 inches x 6.5 inches. Working on the white surface is allowing me to play with soft colour blending, something I so enjoy with the cp medium. I am really enjoying working on this piece!

When not in the studio, I have been very busy outdoors. Remember those 600 seedlings I started indoors in the winter months? Well, I got all of them planted as well as some veggies direct from seed. Here is a partial shot of my vegetable garden taken a few weeks ago. The plants have grown quite a bit since then. To give you an idea of size, I would guess that the garden is about 80 feet by 80 feet. We started this garden from scratch when we moved here and like my art it also is a work in progress. I hope to increase the size of it next year as there were veggies I wanted to plant that I just didn't have room for. We have an electric fence up to keep the deer out. We now have deer here everyday. One is a mom with twin fawns. They are so cute it is hard to get angry at mom's nightly munching in the flower beds.

I reported in my last post that baby chicks were coming. Here is a shot of them on the day they arrived.

Here is a pretty baby hen at three weeks. She now had some new feathers replacing her down.

Here is a picture of some of the chickens at 8 weeks. They are 10 weeks old now and are bigger than they are here. They are an absolute delight...okay their poop is stinky but once the bedding from their chicken house has been composted, it will make great fertilizer for the garden, so it is all good! :-)

The arrival of my two dairy goats was quite eventful! I grew up on a dairy farm and while our herd of cows was milked by machine, I did see both my mom and dad milk by hand many times. I have learned that milking by hand is quite a skill and it looks easier than it actually is. Getting milk out isn't too difficult but landing it in the pail is more of a challenge and gosh until your hands and arms develop all of the right muscles, hand cramps happen. Here I am milking Veesa.

And here is what it all comes down to, milk hitting the pail!

Here is my girl Rainah, giving her head a good rub. Rainah is a purebred Alpine. Her breed originates from the French alps and she has the breed's characteristic two toned markings.

I was surprised to find that my domestic goats like to rear up and butt heads like wild goats do. Here Rainah has jumped up onto higher ground to give her a bit of an advantage. Veesa is bigger though and could really clean her clock as it were if she chose to. Rainah reminds me of a little sister bugging her older sister. She starts all of the skirmishes. Veesa is a purebred Saanen and her breed is all white and orginates in the Swiss alps. Both of these girls had kids this spring (which is of course how I can milk them). Well, my gals were pining for their kiddies so I ended up returning them to the breeder to be with the kids. My husband and I are making some changes to the set up of our barn and we are doing some more fencing in the pasture. The girls will be back here in about two weeks and this time we shall be bringing their kids here too!

What with putting in the garden and learning how to make cheese (goat milk is awesome stuff - from yogurt to cottage cheese, to ice cream, mozzarella, ricotta, fresh chevre, on and on it goes) things in my half of our home office got out of control. That mess took some work. You might notice a painting on my desk. Well, it would seem that somehow, while we were framing all sorts of paintings for my studio tour last fall, we missed scanning this one. My husband and I both 'remember' seeing a scan but darned if we can find it in any file, on any computer. had to be taken apart.

Taking apart a painting is a sad business. It is so much work to frame one that it seems a crime to have to undo all of that effort.

While I was at it, I took apart Neptune's Leaves too. It had been framed with glass last fall and I needed to frame it in acrylic so it could be shipped to California for the CPSA exhibition.

The backing paper is adhered using double sided tape. It is sticky stuff and not easy to remove fully. While new tape eventually ends up getting put down, I do try to remove as much of the residue as I can so that the fresh paper will lie down very smoothly.

I have also been up to my chair restoration fun. Some of you may recall the old chairs that I found in the attic of my parents' house. Here are two more that I am just getting around to dealing with. The rose one had just been washed (the dried old pigeon poop came off easily) and I ripped off the fabric from the other chair. At one time the back must have contained some homemade stuffing. I have refinished the wood work and the rose chair is now in my studio where it sits next to its mate (a green one that I refinished last year). I have found a place in a town near here where I can purchase a kit that contains everything I need to weave a new seat to mend the chair on the left. The chair is in excellent condition otherwise and once it has a new seat installed it shall be quite a wonderful addition to my collection. Of course finding spots for them in the house is another issue but goodness, they just couldn't go off to the landfill! :-)

What else has been going on? Well, I stained a deck table and two Adirondack chairs.

Major trimming of old lilac trees has taken place, rhubarb pies have been baked, and woo-hoo my raspberry bushes are producing well. The former owner had left a small wild patch in the corner of the rear yard. Raspberry bushes spread quickly if left alone to do their thing so after moving in, I have left them alone and let them spread. Yum, yum.

Humm computer crashed and had to go off and get fixed. That was fun. Not.

Oh and I spent an afternoon in the USA this week. Some of you might know of my troubles last year getting my art to the CPSA exhibition in Atlanta. My shipment was delayed by US customs because of a mistake (theirs not mine) and it took some major expediting on my part to get my parcel released. This year, I did up my customs papers (stuff like NAFTA free trade declarations of original goods paperwork and Homeland Security forms) and I went across the border myself, clearing my package with the customs people in person. I traveled to the town of Ogdensburg (just across the border in upper New York State) and I shipped my parcel from there. It is on the way to California as I type. It has to arrive there next week and it shall. Whew!

Finally, while my chickens and goats are wonderful, I would be lost without Mr. Top Dog! Here is my fella with a 'find' on one of our local wilderness hikes - part of a deer leg. Oh doggie joy. Of course some other creature got the good stuff off of it but my guy proudly walked around with the leg for a while before hiding it in a clump of large juniper bushes. We returned there the following week and he fished it out for some more prancing.

Animals always remind me of the happiness found in simple pleasures. Whether it is my chickens clucking with delight at an unexpected treat of leftover rice, or my goats fighting over nacho chips or my dog living out his predator dreams, they bear witness to the truth that if we really embrace living in the present moment, enjoying the small gifts of each day, we can often find the pleasure and joy we seek. I hope you have all had a wonderful late spring and early summer. Anyone else been experiencing this heatwave? :-)


Vicki Greene said...

It sounds like you are one busy woman. Your petals WIP is beautiful and I will enjoy your updates on it. I also enjoyed reading through your post and looking at the neat pictures.

Dianna Soisson said...

Now I understand why you haven't been blogging! Wow! I admire that you make time to draw and paint with all the other activities you have going on.
Tha photos of the animals are darling. I only wish I wasn't afraid of chickens! Hahahahaha! It's one of those childhood traumas!
I'll be looking for your piece at the exhibit!

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Vicki, thanks for stopping by. What with all of this outdoor stuff, I haven't been keeping up with blogs. I shall have to stop by and see what you have been creating! I hope you are having a wonderful summer!!

Hi Dianna, perhaps a nasty experience with an aggressive rooster? That would be tramatic - childhood or adulthood!! I just might see you in California!!! :-)

Lynda Schumacher said...

Yes Teresa, I HAVE BEEN MELTING! Mid-life and a balmy 95 degrees are not good company! You have sure been busy, as have I: things always ramp up on our small farm in the summer, and with my son's graduation this spring it has been.....well.....interesting! I'm finally starting to get back into my drawing room a little more. Your wip is lovely, and you are so right: milking is not nearly as easy as it looks! : )

AutumnLeaves said...

Wow, Teresa! What a busy girl you are and have been! I am so envious of your lifestyle...and your dimples! I've always thought of myself as a farm girl at heart, despite never having done more than stay a weekend or two with a friend whose dad owned a dairy farm. I just love the life, for some reason. The goats are so cute and I am so glad you will be bringing them home soon. The thought of stinky chicken poop doesn't do much for me though! LOLOL Love the chairs and your ability to restore/recover them. You've inspired me to not throw out a wonderful old chair that I bought at an antique store. It smells as though one of my dogs may have peed on it in puppy stage and I've always wanted to recover it anyway. It has a motor in it (the base), and maybe I can even give that a clean during the process...Oh ideas! But seriously...I think I want to come live with you guys! LOL

Liz P said...

Theresa, I just love this post! It's quite familiar, actually.... well, minus the farm animals, anyway! The gardening adventures, deer sightings, art re-framing and shipping, and even old chair salvation, staining, pruning, and rhubarb creations have all been part of my eclectic life of late. Life is good!

Jeanette said...

Lovely soft floral that you're working on. I'll bet its beautiful in person.

You're living some of my life now. Or what was my life. I never did have goats but toyed with the idea. Chickens, I've had, lots of them. But due to predators it just became too frustrating to have them so I gave up.

Just some chickens for food now are all that are on the farm, along with old BD the Muscovy and his companion Lucky. Named so because he survived three predator attacks!

I'll look forward to seeing how you progress with the goats and chickens.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Lynda, one good thing about this extreme heat is that being outdoors isn't too appealing so my studio time increases! :-) Glad to hear you are finding time for your art.

Well gosh A.L., a motor in the base of an old chair - that sounds like quite the chair!!! As for coming to live with us, well that would be wonderful! An extra pair of hands are always needed around here - of course weeding the large garden and mucking out the barn will now be your jobs! LOL So you noticed my dimples, thank goodness you didn't mention the headband in the hair - in my defense, it was the morning milking and I had essentially rolled out of bed and pulled on clothes. Oh and grabbed a coffee.

Hi Liz, our lives do sound similar. I would love to see the chair you saved. Still more rhubarb to cook up and some more pruning to do, how about you? :-)

Hi Jeanette - the art does look much better in person. It is hard to see much detail in my compressed photo!

Goodness, predators and poultry - we have heard so many horror stories that my husband has built a Fort Knox of a chicken house and during the day they are in a fenced run which keeps them safe from daytime predators (there is netting overhead so hawks can't get them). We move them onto fresh grass/pasture each day. For now our system is working...

Teresa said...

Wow! I'm tired just reading about all you've been doing! Good grief! And I thought I was busy :-)

Jennifer Rose said...

busy busy busy!! looking forward to seeing the finished piece :)

i really want a few rescued chickens, but don't have the space for them (and the dog would probably eat them :/) one day maybe :)

Kendra said...

You sure keep busy! Your animals are great. Have you drawn or painted any of the goats? They seem colored pencil worthy! I like peonies and the long format work, its attention grabbing.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Teresa, life has indeed been full but it isn't too busy. I enjoy the stuff I do so it is all good! Heck, I didn't even mention some stuff... :-)

Hi Jennifer Rose - our dog would love to snuff a chicken (goats look yummy too), so we keep them apart. Fences are a good thing! He must have thought it was Christmas or something the week the baby chicks and goats, i.e. prey arrived!!!

Hi Kendra, no goat art yet but hopefully one day. The goats and the chickens aren't cooperating by staying still and posing for me and it is difficult to take a good reference photo. (How do people do pet portraits? LOL) But...I'm working on it! :-)

Brenda said...

Hi Teresa!! It is so nice to have you back posting. I really missed reading about your adventures and work. I love your little multi colored chicks and goats. I let my son look at your animal pictures under the condition that absolutely no baby goats were to appear on my door step!!LOL I have enough work to juggle right now. (Of course if we had the space, he knows I would give in!)

I love your new work... such soft delicate transitions. It is a beautiful escape from graphite to venture into your blog. I look forward to seeing more of your work and hearing about your farm life!

Gary Keimig said...

you have been a busy woman Teresa. Have not checked in on you for a while but see your really at life. That is grand. How did your colored pencil piece go towards signature status?

Ann said...

Wow, so much going on! Your cp piece looks like it's off to a wonderful start. As for the animals and farm life, all that fresh produce, pies and goat cheese, I'm coming along with Autumn Leaves! I'll bring my work gloves too :-)

Jan said...

Wow,Teresa! You are quite the busy little do-bee this summer! But, I know how much time can be spent in the garden and with the animals. I've had chickens and I had a pair of male (neutered) goats once and even without the milking, they can certainly take your time.

Congratulations on CPSA signature status!

And your new painting is luscious - my favorite colors and one of my favorite flowers! Can't wait to see it finished.