Thursday, December 29, 2011

new works in progress

peony petals, work in progress, coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper, 8" x 8"

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful holiday season. Things are great here. I am not a hustle and bustle kind of gal so the last place anyone would find me is out hitting the shops for after Christmas bargains. Instead, I have been spending delightful days in my studio.

The above image is of a piece that I started this week. It will become part of my 'petals' series. Once again I am working from my stash of peony pictures as a drawing reference. I wanted to work small for a change and this one is just 8 inches by 8 inches. I am also enjoying a return to Stonehenge paper after months of working on sanded pastel surfaces. It is fun to change things up now and again. 

While I normally don't have several pieces on the go at once, the drawing below is one that I am getting back to after a bit of an absence.
Solomon's Seal, work in progress, coloured pencil on Colourfix paper, 8" x 8"

This drawing of a Solomon's Seal plant is rather small as well. It has been shelved for a while as I had tried different approaches to the background and I wasn't satisfied. This morning I erased most of my funky background and decided to try going with something more simple. I have just started adding some replacement pigment and I plan on heating the wax to fill in the tooth of the paper. I shall keep you posted on how this progresses.

Finally here is a fun mixed media piece that I have been noodling with. I am working on a sheet of Colourfix pastel paper and the art itself will be cropped to 22 inches by 15.5 inches. Right now I have a base of watercolour paint down as well as some coloured pencil. Oh, and the image is my interpretation of the underside of a yellow mushroom - something for my abstracted realism series.

mushroom gills (abstracted) , work in progress, mixed media, 22" x 15.5"
So, there is much fun going on in the studio. Winter is my favourite time to log in hours working as I am unable to grow food or tend gardens and I am not distracted by the long lovely daylight hours. Having said that, I am now going to grab my snowshoes for a walk in the forest before we put the goats into the barn at dusk. We had a winter snowstorm yesterday and every branch is coated with snow and topped with sparkling crystals. I simply can't stay inside any longer. :-)

Happy New Year everyone. I wish you peace and many blessings in 2012!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

you're invited

This coming weekend, November 26th and 27th my studio shall be open to the public and you're invited! If you are in the Ottawa area I do hope you will take the time to stop in and see what I have been up to in recent months. This open studio is part of the Red Trillium Studio Tour (you can click here to see the brochure and view the map).  Thirty-nine artists shall be exhibiting their original art and crafts in fourteen studio locations. Guest artists at my home shall be Retta Rive who creates fabric art and Kristin Trudeau of Little Lamb Creations, maker of fun and functional baby accessories.

This tour is being held four weeks before Christmas and I am sure you will find lots of terrific,one of a kind, gift items for those you love. Please note that I offer a layaway plan as a payment option. Perhaps you might wish to set aside something special for yourself this year! Included in my exhibition shall be a few pieces being offered at special prices - all part of my intention to keep my studio closets nice and roomy. Browsers are welcome too of course.

The tour is a wonderful opportunity for us artists to exhibit our work before the public and it is good for us to come out of our studio caves once in a while to function amongst society. Okay, maybe I am just speaking of myself here. :-) I really do enjoy spending time with our animals but it will be a treat to talk to humans, especially folks that really like art.

This event is being held on both Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00 and there are refreshments served at most studios/homes. So, mark your calendars and don't forget. I look forward to seeing you! And if you read this blog, introduce yourself and let me know you read this stuff. Feedback is welcome and it is always good to know there is a friendly soul at the end of the mouse click.

Okay, must dash, I have a studio to turn into a gallery and furniture to empty out of the living room so my guest artists can set up. And some cleaning to do... yikes...

(P.S. If you subscribe to my newsletter you should have just received my latest issue. If you didn't see it in your inbox, please check your spam folder. You may need to enter my email address into your address book in order to avoid the newsletter getting whisked off to the reject pile. If you don't see it, contact me and we shall get things sorted. Maybe you have a changed your email address. If you don't already subscribe and you would like to get the latest news from my studio (I only send out a newsletter three or four a year) you can sign up at my website, or you can go directly to the sign up page by clicking here. Thanks!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

update on Autumn - art, garden, chickens and goats...

Humpback Hostas, Coloured Pencil on Colourfix Paper, 6.5" x 23"
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is an update on how my Humpback Hostas piece ended up looking. It has been set aside in my studio for quite a while. I can see one area I am going to give a slight tweak to and then it shall be done.  

I have been working on some other are a few ink and coloured pencil drawings...

Grouse Feather, coloured pencil on Stonehenge Paper, 4" x 6"
copyright Teresa Mallen

...a funky mushroom, coneflowers, Blue Jay feather and a chicken feather (sorry for the dark picture, a very cloudy day and the lighting was terrible, didn't get better with editing either)

Remember when we took photos and had the rolls of film developed at a photo lab? I found this sunflower picture in a box of arty photos that I took some years ago and I have started a pen/ink/cp piece based on this reference.

Sunflower work in progress, pen and ink and cps, 4" x 6"

I haven't been posting to this blog recently as September and October are harvest months here on our small farm. We grow a lot of food, imagine a year's worth of vegetables and you get the idea. The apple harvest was extraordinary this year. My husband and I picked several hundred pounds of apples. Goats love apples and so do we! We are making some hard cider this year for the first time.

Fall is also the season for the grape harvest. A quick trip to the 'little Italy' part of Ottawa resulted in the purchase of several crates of grapes which my husband has now crushed, pressed and fermented. The wine will eventually be transferred into bottles, oodles and oodles of bottles of lovely red and white wine. We are being mentored in our wine making efforts by a neighbour who is in his 90s. He has made award winning wine and he learned his skills as a young man from the elders in his village in Hungary. While the wine has to age yet, the first samples are tasting very promising indeed.

picking apples on a perfect fall day

We had a very hot, dry summer and I think our chili pepper plants liked the weather as there was a bumper crop this year. I guess we are going to be eating quite a bit of spicy food this winter!

I planted around 100 tomato plants and probably another 25 self seeded from last year's crop. They too loved the hot weather. I make all of my own pasta sauce, salsa, soup stock etc. and there is nothing like the taste of organically grown tomatoes from the garden. Oh and did I mention that I started all of my garden plants from seed in the house under grow lights, last February?!!! Yes, all...all of the 100 tomato plants, 50 cauliflower, 50 broccoli, 25 brussel sprout plants, peppers, squash, herbs etc... no purchased seedlings, not one. Many come from saved seeds too. Oops, I did buy some seed potatoes but they were the exception.  

Our young chestnut tree produced a good crop, enough to fill a good sized pail.
when food is beautiful...dried beans from the garden

When the garden harvest is coming to an end, the chickens are allowed in. They love scratching around in the soil looking for bugs and worms.

You might recall my fox story of a few months ago...well the foxes are still here. We see them often in the late afternoon catching mice in the meadow. All of the chickens are still here too! Here is Roosty doing his strut on the front lawn (a couple of hens are in the background behind him).

Goats love tomatoes and here young Ella waits for a cherry tomato to be brought in closer...

Ella's big sister Leah is enjoying a tomato too...

treats and snacks time...Jonah reaching for a chunk of apple...

just picked cherry tomatoes get shared with Veesa...(while little goats watch with envy below)

And here is Leah enjoying having her back scratched...goats so love being brushed too.

Finally, my Cellophane Symphony piece was selected for a feature on Design and Balance appearing this month on the Coloured Pencil Society of Canada website. Also, the prospectus for the CPSC juried exhibition in 2012 is now posted.

Now that the frenzy of putting food up for the winter is behind me, I shall have more time for posting art updates. I am just starting a new piece, fairly big and orangy-yellow...I like a nice orangy-yellow colour! :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coloured Pencil Society of Canada, coloured pencil resources

I am delighted to present to you: the Coloured Pencil Society of Canada. Did you even know there was one? I am happy to tell you that there is! The society is under a year old so if you haven't heard of it, that isn't too surprising. Actually the society was loosely formed many years ago but it never got off the ground, at least not on a national level.I actually talked about the society to the founder and current President Gordon Webster back in the spring of 2007. It has taken quite a while for the organization to get fully launched.But fully launched this group is. There is a website you can visit: and the latest big announcement is that details for the first annual national exhibition, scheduled for the summer of 2012 have now been released. You can read all about it on the website. The juror shall be none other than Canadian artist Bernard Poulin, author of The Complete Colored Pencil Book (as well as other books). Mr. Poulin is VP Emeritus of the Coloured Pencil Society of America and this year he was the juror, awards judge and guest artist for the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society.

I am very fortunate that the exhibition shall start off here in Ottawa. I shall be lucky enough to go see it in person. There are plans for the exhibition to travel to Toronto and Montreal and if that actually occurs, that would be incredible. As for entering, you bet I shall, I feel the pressure already! Bernard shall be a formidable judge to go before, but then so he should be. 

I encourage you to visit the websites of these various cp organizations (click on my highlighted text to use the links). These sites are chalk full of info, art and links to artists. While you are at it, check out the Australian Coloured Pencils Network, the Coloured Pencil Society of Denmark, and the Japan Colored Pencil Society. All of these organizations are very young and they have accomplished a lot in a very short time period. The oldest organization is the Colored Pencil Society of America founded 21 years ago and this year the UK group celebrates their 10th anniversary.

Resources such as those pictured above can be purchased from the Colored Pencil Society of America. The Signature Showcase book features art from all of the members who had earned signature status prior to the book's publication. I earned CPSA signature status the year the book came out (last year) so I shall have to wait for the next volume. :-)  DVDs of the work that is juried into the CPSA exhibitions can be purchased as well. If you become a member you will receive a copy of the CPSA magazine To the Point. Back issues can be ordered on line as well.

The medium of coloured pencil is thriving and growing in popularity and awareness. How wonderful is that? My congratulations go out to all of the hardworking folks at the Coloured Pencil Society of Canada. Your volunteer efforts are shining for all of us to see.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

new website, new date for open studio workshop

Cellophane Symphony, 14" x 23.5"
Coloured Pencil on Colourfix Paper
Copyright Teresa Mallen
At long last, my new website has been uploaded and is ready for viewing, click here to check it out. I am delighted to finally have a site with up to date information and images. My website has been needing such a complete overhaul that I decided to create a new one. I had stopped adding new material to the old site while the new one was in progress and as a result many pieces from 2010 and 2011 have not been available for viewing. For example, my work entitled Cellophane Symphony (shown on left) would only have been seen by someone reading my blog.

I confess I am not 100% happy. I have viewed my site on laptop screens and it looks fine but on my husband's desktop, the colours are not what I had planned. Also, Google Chrome is adding an underline to the text that accompanies my gallery images. So the site may get an adjustment or two over time, but the way it is shall suffice for now. I have checked all of the hyperlinks and PayPal buttons but if you find a link that doesn't work, please let me know. Thanks!

Now for the fun news: I am offering an Open Studio Workshop on Saturday September 24, 2011. That is just a week and a half away, so if you are in the Ottawa area and interested, please visit my brand spanking new website to check out all of the details. Click here to get to the classes page. Workshop enrolment is very limited. I want to make sure every one gets the assistance they would like. Therefore to avoid disappointment don't delay in registering.

The workshop shall be in the afternoon, from 1:00 - 5:00 and our coloured pencil fun shall include yummy goodies and booze, I mean refreshments, hehe...okay just a wee bit of wine, honestly... :-) If you have never attended an Open Studio Workshop before, here is what you can expect. You can arrive late and leave early if you need to. The atmosphere is relaxed and spa like (soothing music, candles lit and those refreshments I mentioned). You bring something to work on and/or perhaps something that is finished that you want critiqued. You can be at the analysing a photo reference stage, the sketching stage, or the final tweaking stage. You can work on exploring different techniques that you have learned from me or elsewhere. I am here to assist and guide you. I shall answer your questions and offer tips. Basically, no matter where you are in your journey as a coloured pencil artist you are welcome to bring your issues and troubles and together we shall get you sorted out and back on track.

I like these open studio workshops because I really enjoy helping people who need to simply get some fresh insights, a bit of help and perhaps some encouragement. It always amazes me what just a bit of advice and assistance can do for someone. It is very gratifying to see people leave motivated and excited about continuing with their art.

Here is an interesting find on this morning's walk...

This interesting leaf has an unusual growth. The dark sac thing is surprisingly soft (no it isn't a nut). I have never seen anything like it before. Also, found on the walk today was some fresh bear scat (fancy work for poop). It was on the forest trail right behind the house. My dog tracked the new scent around to where the bear's favourite apple tree is. The apples are gone so the bear was out of luck. I have seen three bears in my many years of hiking and trail walking and each experience was a positive one, i.e. the bear had no interest in eating me. Black bears are a lot smaller than you might think. Most people conjure up images of the grizzlies they see in movies. Anyway, I shall keep on my alert so I can give the bear a respectful wide berth should we happen upon it and I shall leave the bird feeders empty for a while.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a date with Caravaggio

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Time was running out, Caravaggio was leaving town, well at least his paintings were. The exhibition was ending on the 11th so last Friday, on the 9th, I hightailed it off downtown for Teresa Day (regular readers might recall a recent Jonah Day, same idea only now it was my turn).

The National Gallery of Canada (here in Ottawa) had a summer long exhibition of Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome. The exhibition was an exploration of how one brilliant and temperamental artist changed the course of art history in a career that spanned less than two decades. Five years in the making, the exhibition brought together a dozen of Caravaggio’s masterpieces along with more than 40 paintings by other great artists of his time who looked to him for inspiration.

As for an actual date with Caravaggio -  well that would have been way too scary. I learned that he was successfully sued for libel, had a hot temper, he killed a man in a brawl, escaped from the authorities looking for him, later seriously wounded another man, was imprisoned for this but escaped a month later, went into exile at the home of an old friend and while there was able to further his art career by completing some prestigious and lucrative commissions! Upon leaving a tavern one night, Caravaggio was ambushed and violently attacked, an attack from which he never full recovered. Basically the sort of guy your mom warned you about!

Only some 70 works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio still survive, and those are rarely sent on loan by their owners. Not one of his paintings is held in a public collection in Canada. I consider myself most fortunate to have seen this exhibition.

Well it was a grand day - I toured Caravaggio's work, watched a film of his bio, scooted through the galleries permanent collections and feasted my eyes on originals by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, the Group of Seven...etc. etc...On and on it went. Yum, yum... I get visually weary of seeing great art reduced to posters, other print media and the internet. It is quite refreshing to stand in front of originals - to soak in the true colours, the size, the brush strokes. I also enjoyed experiencing the progression of art history as I viewed Caravaggio's art from the 1600s right on up to the contemporary work of today. After I left the Gallery, I walked a short distance down Sussex Dr. and popped into a few private art galleries, more wonderful art.

And I bought a rock! Isn't this 'Ruby in Fushite' lovely? It is only three inches long but oh the patterns and colours...I bought it at a groovy wee shop on Sussex called Jade. They sell gem stones and jewelry. This particular rock 'spoke to me', I could see all sorts of abstract paintings in the patterns so I treated myself and brought it home to inspire me. 

Ruby Fushite

And I met a kindred spirit - the woman working in the store. When making my purchase, I shared that I could already see this rock inspiring a future series of abstracts. Her face lit up and she got quite excited. She started to enthusiastically talk about a Russian painter friend that lived with her and her family for a year. He apparently painted her a gorgeous watercolour abstract. Later, after being hired to work in this store, she found a stone that contained the exact colours and patterns of the painting. How cool is that? We had made a connection. We went on to spend many minutes looking over the rocks together and oohed and ahhed at their beauty. I told her how such patterns shocked me with their beauty, like the patterns found in wood. She looked at me and exclaimed, "Oh don't get me started on wood grain, I love wood grain patterns." And suddenly we were off on that topic for a while. Yup, a kindred spirit alright...had a great visit...

I should have asked her if she was into cloud watching! (would have never got out of the store, LOL). This sunset makes the sky look on fire.

So what else has been happening? Gee, we have had a bear visit a couple of times. He/she mangled and chewed an old apple tree located about 30 feet from our house. The bear was determined to get all of the apples. The tree has now been 'pruned' rather harshly but it should survive this. I do wonder if there might be a problem with all of the bark damage where the bear seriously chewed the surface. I hope not. The woods are full of fallen acorns for a bear to consume and it seems like he/she has moved on. Of course when walking in the woods these days, I am being more alert to any sounds of breaking twigs, anything that signals that the dog and I are not alone...Interesting notion though, the idea of having to consume lots of calories in the fall, like a bear does, in order to make it through winter. I think I would be up for the challenge... :-) Did I mention I baked an apple crisp this afternoon?...hehe...

I have had some time wasted dealing with the property where my parents lived. There has been some trespassing activity that needed attention, we had an pitiful offer come in (got to toss that one back, we didn't even try to negotiate, I have never done that before but it felt good) and I have spent hours emailing our agent (whose performance I am having to start to 'manage') as well as emailing/talking to my sister. Unfortunately it isn't all cloud watching and art around here.

And woo-hoo last night was opera night! Another trip downtown, this time to the National Arts Centre for an Opera Lyra production of Pagliacci (Anyone thinking of the Seinfeld 'Pagliacci' episode with Crazy Joe Davola as the clown? I forget all sorts of things but something like a TV sitcom episode stays stuck in my mind. Sheesh...) The opera was fabulous as usual and folks, Joanna G'froerer - principal flute player was in the house. Wee-hee! Every year we have front row, centre, season's tickets and from here I can lean over and look down into the orchestra pit. Being in the presence of Joanna, so renowned and so talented that she is, is a real treat. Okay, I am a flute player, not in her realm of course but gosh, to hear her play live, just feet from me, well I get goose bumps I tell you!

This has turned into a long post so my announcements and such shall have to wait. More tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

gifts of August

the heat and sun of August coaxes forth flowers, an endless variety of form and colour

plants and trees bear fruit

August gifts us with so much...warm winds, a barley moon, cooler evenings, needing a quilt, watermelon, sunflowers, peach pie, stacks of fluffy clouds, the smell of second cut hay, those first ripe tomatoes, sweet corn...


meadows are filled with wildflowers, different grasses, clover


and the garden harvest begins

What were your favourite moments of this month?

farewell  August; welcome September...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Motivation Monday

Do you ever feel like you have too many dreams and too little time? Does it sometimes feel like where you want to go with all of your creative goals and plans is simply too far off - so far off that it starts to seem unattainable?

All of the time you have invested in pursuing your dreams is not wasted. A simple way to boost your motivation is to look at how far you have come with your dreams already. 

Remember when you were a student and you dreamed of the day that you would be out working and your school loans would be paid off? Remember when you rented an apartment, how you longed to buy your own place so you could do what you wanted to with the paint on the walls and you wanted to have a yard? Remember how you were so tired of having to get everywhere by bus and you longed to own car? Remember how you dreamed of being in a relationship, perhaps dreamed of having a family? No matter what we have wanted in our past, chances are we have realized a lot of our dreams over the years. It is easy to take all of this for granted. But have a look around you. I'll bet you will see that your life now is full of fulfilled dreams.

And so will your life in the future! Simply keep pursuing those creative goals, keep making those plans and crafting ideas. Do the work and sooner than you think you will find you have more dreams to add to your fulfilled list. Stop looking at the clock and the calendar, just do what you can all happens one step at a time anyway, right? 

(for convenient reading, all previous Motivation Monday posts can be located in one spot, simply click the Motivation Monday banner in the right hand side bar)

Friday, August 26, 2011

yummy art books

Some delightful finds...

The other day my husband and I cleared our schedules and had a date afternoon. We headed off to the town of Carleton Place, just outside of Ottawa. Our destination was Wool Growers, a fabulous livestock supply store. Okay, so we had an errand we wanted to run but the date part was two other stops - Ballygiblins for a very late lunch (highly recommended if you live in the Ottawa area and can make it there) and The Book Gallery. The book store is located in a very old Victorian brick house and the attached renovated storage buildings and it houses over 100,000 titles of used books.

Of course I spent my time in the art section and I came away with some books that reflect my artistic passions - illustration, botanicals, nature art and books on art that flat out makes me swoon. My loot consists of: Janet Marsh's Nature Diary, Glen Loates A Brush With Life, Arthur Rackman A Life With Illustration by James Hamilton, The Art of Andrew Wyeth, and The Complete Writings of Emily Carr. If you are not familiar with the illustration of Arthur Rackman, the art of the Wyeths (a very talented family) nor the art of Emily Carr (one of my personal inspirations with regards to her life journey as well as her art) then I encourage you to check these folks out. (all highlighted text in the post has hyperlinks to other sites).

I don't know how independent book sellers stay in business. Who would want to have to compete with Amazon and other discount sellers? It felt very good to support a local business and to give some lovely art books a new home. I am looking forward to my next visit as I didn't have time to look through the gardening and cooking books.

When we returned home at around 5:30, the goats were all up on their play structure staring out into the field. The fox was back! The chickens were blissfully ignorant, eating all over the property in front of the house. Mark scared the fox away ran off rather reluctantly as it was hunting mice. It continued to be a feral evening. Our dog managed to catch a meadow vole while out on his evening walk and he chomped it down, we sat out in the meadow with the goats until dark and two deer came out into the field and watched us, the resident owl started hooting at dusk and later coyotes howled. Wildlife abounds here and we love it.

Now for a few pics I took the other evening whilst heading out to the barn for evening chores. My new hobbies, cloud watching and now cloud photography...Did you know there was a Cloud Appreciation Society? I didn't but thanks to fellow blogger Ann Nemcosky, I know now. Thank you Ann. Their website has inspired me to start a new photo file of cloud photography.

Yesterday the clouds were so beautiful I found it hard to stay focused on my work! :-)  Perhaps I need to explain that for two decades I lived in houses that were surrounded by forest. Lovely, most definitely yes, but it sure was difficult to grow veggies without much sun and I never saw the sky. Ah, but now that we have moved here, I see sky and I am very smitten - storm clouds, snow clouds, big fat summer clouds, it is all so beautiful. Why not add some beauty to your life and make time for a bit of cloud watching?

The fox was back yesterday afternoon. He/she was once again hunting mice in the field, was stared down by goats and ran away when it heard my voice. The chickens were once again oblivious. Right now a cull of the flock doesn't seem such a bad thing - two hens have started laying eggs in an outdoor manger (which has a lid, the goats eat from between slats on the side) and somebody is pooping in the nesting boxes. My husband has re-engineered the manger to thwart the chickens and there is much annoyed clucking going on. Of course, Mr./Ms. Fox would no doubt not get these offenders but probably eat our well behaved best layers... :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

more pen/ink/cp pieces

pen/ink/coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper, 4" x 6"
copyright Teresa Mallen

I have finished off seven more of my 4 inch x 6 inch pen/ink/cp drawings. Of course they will look much better when they are presented with a mat so the ragged paper edges don't show. They are enjoyable to do and I like that I can have a finished work quite quickly. Sometimes my larger pieces can seem to drag on a bit... :-)

Harvest season is upon us as veggies ripen in the garden. We are also storing up food for winter of a different sort - hay for the goats. A year's worth of hay was delivered Saturday morning.

 Looks like a lot but it is only 200 bales.

I grew up on a dairy farm and the conveyor is actually a smaller one that we used on that farm. I am delighted to inform you that I shifted that entire stack of hay myself last Saturday! My husband was stacking the hay in the mow.

Two hundred bales by real farming standards is nothing, just two wagon loads. If there is one thing I learned on the farm while growing up, it was how to handle hay. During my teen years, my mother and I unloaded tens of thousands of bales (from a wagon, not spread all over a lawn - took a lot of walking on Saturday). I had no brothers and there was no hired help. So, yup, this wee pile was a piece of cake and I loved every minute of it.

To this farm girl, the smell of hay is divine and it is very satisfying to know that your animals are set for the winter, no matter how deep the snow nor how severe the cold may get. Did I mention that it was 29 degrees (84F) with 100% humidity the day we put up the hay? And that these bales weigh between 50 - 60 pounds each? I have no idea the amount of water I lost in sweat and my face was the colour of a very ripe tomato but I got the last bale sent up to the loft about 10 minutes before a rain storm blew in. Wet hay is ruined hay.

As a added bonus, I find all of these farming activities provide great therapy for wrists that suffer from too much typing on the computer. A session of planting garden seedlings or pulling weeds, mucking out stalls or shifting bales seems to exercise my hands in a very thorough way. We truly weren't meant to be sedentary creatures and our bodies often remind us!  So yeah for farm work. :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

a mystery

Well it had to be done. Sorting pencils and finding ones that need replacing is a 'yawn' task if there ever was one, for me anyway. 

I did have two surprises though and one of them is a mystery. First of all, I was quite surprised at the number of pencils I have to purchase! It has been a very long time since I replenished my stash but I hadn't realized just how long.

The second surprise occurred when I checked my bin of neutrals. I discovered short pencils in colours I don't use!!! Honestly, cool grey 70%, 20%, 10%, french grey 30%, 50%, 20%, warm grey 10%  etc. (Prismacolor's Premier line has oodles of greys if you didn't know).I am puzzled! I don't like using grey pencils - I prefer to make my own greys/neutrals by using layers of other colours, like painters do. And just what art have I done in the last year that would have included greyish areas anyway? Humm...none... Soooo, what's up? A colouring intruder? A ghost with a penchant for grey? Weird goings on around here, I say...

Here is a peek at the humpback hosta piece...

work in progress, cps on Colourfix paper, 6.5" x 23"
copyright Teresa Mallen
There is much tweaking to be done, some dark areas to lighten and some modelling to do but it is getting there. In my pencil sort out, I discovered a pencil I didn't know I had. I thought I needed to purchase it in order to work further on the background. So with my new found pencil in hand, I settled in to work on the upper background. The photo is a tad dark and doesn't show the subtle colour changes between the upper and lower areas nor does it show well all of the colours that are in the background. Trust me they are there. :-) I really enjoy using several colours in my backgrounds as I think it gives the work a vibrancy and an energetic quality that increases the closer you move towards the piece.

I like the change of pace backgrounds give. No fussy detail work, just flat out colouring. While one might think a 23" wide piece would require quite a bit of time to lay down several layers of colour, it doesn't. Over the years, hours of practice has earned me the ability to lay down colour in quick even strokes. If you work in cps, you might recall how in the early days you had to concentrate to get a consistent even stroke. As I used to tell my students, it will become automatic one day, just wait and see! Anyway, I dashed this off while listening to Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda on 'Saturday Afternoon at the Opera' on CBC radio and I was done long before poor Queen Mary of Scotland met her doomed fate with her executioner. Goodness, as the confrontations between the two cousins, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Queen Mary heated up and insults were exchanged (in Italian of course) and as the drama of passion, betrayal, love and death unfolded, my pencils were flying with the excitement. Isn't it funny how we can get all caught up in a story, even when we know the plot and the outcome?

For drama of a quieter sort, I have been taking reference photos for some landscape pieces that I might do some day. So many ideas, but only so many hours...

I live on the Carp Ridge in rural Ottawa (Canada) and just a few minutes from my home there is a huge tract of land (hundreds of acres) that is publicly owned and protected from development. It is a wild rocky place filled with deep ponds, some the size of lakes. Here is a small study I did a couple of years ago, inspired by a fall outing.

And here are a few pictures taken while on a recent hike.

Carp Ridge Cuties, two of them but you can't see my husband... :-)