Monday, December 31, 2012

some recent work

In recent months I have been working on some small studies. The above landscape is almost 2 inches high and 5 inches wide. The work is done in coloured pencil on coloured pastel paper.

This piece was done on white Stonehenge paper and it too is small,  2 3/4 inches wide and 3 inches high. The easel is a small desk top one.

This is a mini ( 6" x 3") done on coloured paper that is a cousin to my much larger Blue Blooded. I am really enjoying working on these small studies. I can explore the world of shapes, line, and colour quickly. I shall share more next time...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

a little look back

I have been doing a bit of looking back at 2012. I find it helpful to see where I have spent my time and what I have accomplished. And at this time of year, aren't we all looking ahead and making plans for our brand new year?
I did something unusual this fall. I had a guest artist teach a workshop in my studio. The picture above is from a Zentangle workshop, taught by Brenda Shaver Shahin (Brenda is standing next to the easel). For more info on Zentangles, visit The class was packed full of eager students and we all had a terrific time mastering some basic tangles. After Brenda was finished her part of the workshop, I did my bit teaching the students how one might add colour to their Zentangle art. As I am usually up in front of the class, I don't normally have many pictures, if any, of the workshops I teach. As I was one of the students during the first part of the workshop, I was able to snap some photos.

Here is what we created during the workshop!

A big thank you goes out to everyone who came and took classes and workshops this year. Also, I would like to thank everyone who made it out to my studio during the studio tour last month. I met such nice people!

Looking way back into the year, back to July, I was delighted to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. Part of the exhibit included the art of that time, that influenced Van Gogh. I was spellbound by the incredible nature photography done in silverpoint. I came home determined to find time to work more in pen and ink. You see the silverpoint images done in black and white reminded me of work done in pen and ink. :-)

On the farm front, it was a rough year. We had a terrible drought in our area over the summer months. We watched trees and plants die, crops fail and my large vegetable garden yielded a small fraction of the veggies that it should have - despite me spending hours every week watering and watering. We had a fox family determined to wipe out our chickens. We only lost two thank goodness but the daily fox sightings were unnerving. We had injured animals and sick animals and extreme dry heat for weeks and weeks. Needless to say, I am enjoying the cold and the snow!

There were some high points in 2012 as well. My sister and I sold the family farm, ending a responsibility for a property which neither of us lived near. After four years of effort, this was a heady relief. As noted here in a previous post, I had three pieces accepted into the first national Coloured Pencil Society of Canada exhibition and it was wonderful to be part of such a prestigious event. My recent studio tour was a great success both with regards to the turn out as well as sales. It was my best tour in a few years. Like every year, 2012 gave some nasty surprises and many blessings.  

Well back to my new 2013 calendar and day planner...time to see what I would like to have unfold in the next twelve months. I'll bet I am not the only one planning and dreaming... :-) Happy New Year everyone.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Studio Tour this weekend!

You are invited! If you live within driving distance of my home, I hope you are free this weekend. Once again it is studio tour time here in rural Ottawa west. Several artists shall be opening their studio doors. Visitors can have a peek at where we work, how we work, see work on exhibit as well as work for sale. The tour includes potters, a weaver, photographer, clothing designer, as well as people who work with glass, wood and pewter, people who make jewelry and paper crafts, as well as several fine artists. Something for everyone's interests! For details, please visit

I have some new, fresh off the drafting board mini-studies ready for viewing. I will also have some work from my personal collection on exhibition (i.e. I love these pieces so much they are not for sale) and I shall of course have work available for purchase.

For those of you that are unable to make it, here are some pictures of my studio set up during the last tour. At the moment, the room doesn't look like this yet - my grid walls are not even up! It shall be a busy day today!!!!

It's water in the wine goblet below just in case you were wondering! :-) I shall be sober, I promise. I only drink wine when I am drawing and colouring, not when I am trying to talk about my work to strangers!!!!!

My studio wears many faces, sometimes it is a gallery, sometimes it is a teaching space and sometimes it is a very messy work place. For fun, I have included my studio at its very worst moment ever - lest you think I always work in a pristine, zen like environment! LOL 

The chaos did have a purpose. Two years ago I hauled stuff out of storage closets, added shelves, painted the walls and floor inside one closet and I was also in the middle of some goofy mixed media experiments. My filing cabinet was out in the middle of the room, closet stuff was tossed everywhere and the tables were covered in project stuff. Now I must confess, I am a bit of a neat freak so my studio is normally pretty presentable but still, every now and again it gets to looking a bit like it did on this day... :-) 

my studio at its very messiest

And yes, it has been months since my last post - life has been very busy! I am back blogging now so check back over the next few weeks for lots of updates on what has been going on in the studio and on the farm. And to all of my wonderful American readers, Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Facebook, classes, newsletter

My Studio

Lots of news...
  • Teresa Mallen Studio is finally on Facebook. If you can see this entire blog page, then you will be able to see the Facebook badge in the column on the right. If you subscribe via email or some other way in which you don't see the whole page, you can find me by clicking Facebook. Go ahead and 'like' my site!!!! Thanks.

  • I am offering a class this fall entitled Coloured Pencil Basics. if you have ever wanted to explore the world of cps, then come to my studio for two full days and get all the tips and tricks explained to you. As for the picture above, well I add more tables to my studio space when teaching and the doggie isn't around. (this isn't our new pup, this is our last dog that passed away back in December, just in case you are trying to keep up with my life and are getting confused) Anyway, I realize that dogs, especially big dogs with deep sounding barks, are not for everyone so our new guy won't be allowed to visit during class. For a complete run down of the course, please click here. Registration is now open. You can register on-line with your credit card via the shopping cart on the site. Note, you do not have to be registered with PayPal in order to use your plastic. Spaces are limited so don't delay.

  • My summer newsletter has just been published and sent out to my newsletter subscribers. It arrives in your inbox via email. Didn't receive it? Perhaps you have changed your email address since subscribing, or perhaps it got picked up by your spam filter - maybe you need to add my email address as one of your accepted ones or goodness, maybe you haven't ever signed up? If you want to read my newsletter simply sign up to receive one - click here to do that. And please note, I only send out an issue a couple of times a year. I have no intention of inundating you with spam. My in-box gets full enough too and I have no desire to be a nuisance. The newsletter lets you know what shows I am going to be participating in, you are the first to find out about classes that are being scheduled and I share any other tid bits of news that are relevant at that time.

    Keeah, enjoying some freshly cut meadow grasses

    I would like to say thank you to the lovely folks that have taken the time to email me to say that they like seeing the farm animals. This one is for all of you! :-)

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    CPSC Exhbition 2012

    Here we go...the first annual national Coloured Pencil Society of Canada Exhibition 2012. I would like to take a moment to personally thank the executive members that have worked so hard over these past years to bring us to this point. A big thank you goes out to Gordon Webster, Erica Walker, Lissa Rachelle Robillard and Alexandra Bastien. Without you, this would have not happened.

    All of these photos were taken last Saturday evening during the reception/vernissage for the artists. If the images are a bit dark, please forgive me. With all of the reflective surfaces from the artwork, I didn't dare use a flash.

    At left you will see CPSC President Gordon Webster and at the podium is our juror, non other than Bernard Poulin.

    My nomination to the Board was accepted and voted upon at the AGM on Friday night and I am delighted to report that I am now the Membership Director. I look forward to serving my fellow CPSC members. And if you aren't a member - do join us. There are great things ahead for this organization. Come be a part of it!

    In the photo on the right, juror Bernard Poulin is standing with Amie Talbot, discussing her work. It is a portrait and I can only imagine how Amie felt getting an on the spot, in person, critique from Bernard. His portraits are outstanding of course and I am sure he had lots of helpful tips for Amie. Bernard is a charming, friendly man who fortunately gives comments in such a way that they are instructive and encouraging. If you are unfamiliar with his work, click his name above to access a link to his website. While Bernard works in oil as well, I confess a preference for his cp work. I personally like the commissioned portrait he did of Prince William when William was just a young boy. 

    this is me, Teresa Mallen CPSA, with one of my pieces in the exhibition, 'Swiss Chard Mosaic'

    oops, I was laughing when I took the picture and it is crooked, this is artist Patricia Murphy and her piece 'Pine Trunk'

    fellow Ottawa cp artist, Allison Fagan CPSA, with her Honourable Mention work, 'Beet it, just beet it'

    Another new board member, Vickie Lawrence is a Director at Large. Here she is pictured with her piece 'Candy Apple Days'. Vickie's other piece, a horse portrait entitled 'Magic' won an Honourable Mention.

    someone else who likes peonies :-)  Joanne Abbott with 'Pink Peony'

    This is Marcia Godbout with her work 'Split Personality'. Marcia has four pieces in the exhibition, some of my favourites of the entire show, especially her portraits of 'Steve' and 'Sunlit Katie'. I predict we shall be seeing lots of Marcia's work in years to come.

    Ist Place award goes to 'Solitary Stellar's Jay' by Deborah Strong, truly one of my favourite pieces of the exhibition

    2nd Place, 'Pebbles 1' by Alison Phipott

    Third Place, 'My Mate and I' by Manon Menard Adams

    Honourable Mention for 'Treenip' goes to Manon Menard Adams

    Of course this is just a small sample of the incredible work that is in the exhibit. The CPSC shall be posting the winning entries on the CPSC Facebook page. We are currently operating without a Director of Web Services but those of us on the executive are doing our best to get the entire show on-line at some point. Okay, I was daft enough to volunteer to try to accomplish this. Those of you who know how much of a Luddite I am are now spewing coffee at the screen as you gasp with laughter.Truly, if you are reading this and are even slightly computer savvy (I believe the website is on Wordpress) and you wish to help a sorry lot of technically challenged folks, please step forward and help the CPSC! Thanks! Contact me...

    And if this wasn't enough art related excitment, I went to the Van Gogh exhibit on Monday. More on that next time.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    another funky peony wip

    funky peony petal piece, work in progress
    cps on Stonehenge paper, 15.5" x 7"

    Where has the time gone? Yikes. I have been working, I just haven't been blogging. Oops...Here is what I am working on now. Another piece for my peony petal series. The inspiration comes from a photo I took of a white peony (seen in the top of the pic below). I wanted to create a yellow/cream peony but this piece has wandered off into some very funky colours.

    funky peony, wip, on my table, with photo reference

    The Coloured Pencil Society of Canada's National Exhibition (mentioned in my last post) is on now at the Shenkman Arts Centre here in Ottawa, Ontario. I have three pieces in the exhibition in case you missed that bit. :-) On Saturday evening, July 7th, there is a vernissage and awards ceremony. Hopefully I will be able to get some great photos of this event for my next post.

    The exhibition can be viewed in Ottawa throughout July, until the 31st. Please note that there has been a last minute change in gallery venue for the second part of the exhibition tour. The changes in dates and venue are as follows:

    The exhibit in the Montreal area will run from August 17, 2012 until August 19, 2012 and will be held in the brand new Galerie d’Art 543 in Repentigny, Quebec. A vernissage is scheduled at Galerie d’Art 543 in Repentigny for August 19th.

    The vegetable garden is doing great. Here are our snap peas waiting to be eaten. It has been very hot here for some weeks and we haven't had rain in a very long time. Plants and tree leaves are shriveling up but at least I can keep my veggies going by investing time with the hose.

    Well hang onto your hats - I am getting off my fanny and wandering away from my drafting table long enough to do a bit of teaching this fall. Dates etc. are being considered and once things are in place I shall be writing about it here, posting it on my website and writing about it in my newsletter. This info shall be available next week.

    I hope everyone is having a great summer. And remember if you are traveling to the Ottawa area in the next few weeks, do check out the coloured pencil exhibition. I shall see it for the first time tomorrow night while attending the AGM and I can't wait!!!!

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    CPSC acceptance and life update

    Time to give an update on things around here...goodness my last post from back in March had snow pictures! Well the tulips have now blossomed here...yes the flower on the left is a tulip, does remind me of a peony though and ya'll know I love peonies... :-)

    So first up, I am delighted to announce that three of my pieces have been juried into the first national Coloured Pencil Society of Canada exhibition! The exhibition shall be displayed at the Shenkman Arts Centre here in Ottawa, July 3 until July 31, 2012. A vernissage and awards ceremony is scheduled for July 7th (I shall definitely be there). The exhibition will go on to travel to the Montreal area. The Galerie d'Art 249 in St Sauveur Quebec shall host the exhibit from August 1st until the 19th. A vernissage in St. Sauveur is scheduled for August 4th.

    Jack Pine Kaledioscope is one of the accepted pieces. This work started off rather simply. I snapped two pictures of pine cones while out on a forest walk with my dog (no angst ridden lengthy photo shoots with props and all). I was attracted to the Jack Pine pinecones as they are not the usual ones we imagine when we think of pine cones. I drew and coloured the cones first (went right for the candy, lol) but oh dear, those needles drove me batty. Okay, I confess to a twisted nature - I made it a sort of personal challenge to follow through on the needles. What I mean is that if you were to look at a certain needle and you were to follow it through under and over the other needles, it would actually continue on like the real needle did, I didn't allow myself any fudging in the piece such as simply suggesting needles. Of course the average viewer probably wouldn't even notice but I wanted the image to have absolute drawing integrity. In the end, it tickles me that I can look at it and follow the needles.
    My Swiss Chard is in the exhibition as well. Now this one involved the angst ridden photo shoot! I remember well the trips to various markets in search for the perfect chard specimens. I set up the chard on matboard on a table on our rear deck and took tons of pictures. Things were not going well and the chard was wilting fast (it was a hot day). I bent down and saw a moment of wonderful light. The chard was backlit by bright afternoon sun and I grabbed the camera. In the end I got captivated by the hills and valleys in the chard and I let the colours explode. This piece is definitely not what I was going for when I headed off to market and I think that is terrific.

     Finally there is Blue Blooded (my husband really likes this piece so it has become NFS). Blue Blooded is actually inspired by the same chard photos that resulted from the photo shoot described above. I was sifting through reference photos and I was intrigued by a small dark patch of chard, a bit hidden in the shadows. I saw blue and green colours that reminded me of the swirls of cells, like what you would see if you examined blood under a microscope. From there I abstracted my idea of blue blood. (some of you faithful reader may recall my works in progress entries detailing my feather boa and my flamenco dancing - not all cp work takes place seated and at a drafting table! :-)

    I am really looking forward to seeing the work of my fellow Canadian cp artists in this CPSC exhibition. By having a work accepted, I have earned the first notch in my belt towards having my signature status. I will need to be juried into two more exhibitions over the next seven years in order to claim sig. status. I was thrilled to earn signature status with the Coloured Pencil Society of America (I am no longer entering their exhibitions due to the many issues I have had with US and Canadian customs agencies) and goodness now I start all over again. Life is like that eh? Just when you think you have settled somewhere, you end up continuing on again...

    As you can probably imagine, I have been gardening quite a bit. Here is picture of  the inside of my cold frame (think mini greenhouse) which has early salad greens growing like crazy. I got this planted up back in March. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago and you should see the giant heads of lettuces, spinach and radishes now. Yummy...

     I have hundreds of seedlings growing under lights in the basement. I planted these seeds in late winter and I shall be transplanting them into the vegetable garden over the next week or so. This picture is of a flat of beefsteak tomatoes.
    Well gardening plants aren't the only things growing here. Meet Aaron, our four month old German Shepherd pup. We were devastated to lose our last G.S. back in December. He had had a great life and he had a 'good' death but it was sudden and we were so not ready (and I know we are never really ready). It just didn't feel right to not have a dog around here so after researching breeders we found this guy and we took the plunge. Going from an old, well trained dog to puppyhood was scary but Aaron is turning out to be a great little fellow. He is very smart, loving, willing to please and rather calm (for a puppy). We are attending puppy kindergarten classes and having a blast.

    This little chick arrived last week. It is a day old in the picture. (They are shipped out when just a few hours old.) We ordered 15 chicks from five different breeds. I had forgotten how adorable baby chicks are. I am enjoying watching them and listening to their peeps. It is hard to believe that these small chicks will be laying eggs by the end of August but they will be. 

    This little day old Barred Plymouth Rock hen is called Bobette. I would just call her Bob but that doesn't seem quite right, perhaps Bobby? :-) She has this name due to a bit of a gimp leg that she has. You might be able to see that the leg on the left is arched up while the other leg is splayed flat on the floor. This leg is a bit wonky and she reminded me of Bob Cratchit - hence the name. Ah, are you are confused?...well goofy me got mixed up and of course Bob Cratchit is the father in the story and Tiny Tim is the child with the limp! She had been called Bobette for a few days before I realized my mistake so Bobette it is. (and she kind of bobs when she walks) :-) She is smaller than the other BPR chicks and she doesn't scoot around like the others. She doesn't seem in pain and she does eat and drink at the feeders so I hope she makes it. She does sleep a lot though. Anyway, perfection isn't required on our wee farm, not by a long shot and I look forward to watching her grow up. Noah and Keeah (two of our goats, if you are new to the blog) were not well as babes either and now they are robust and thriving. So maybe one day soon Bobette shall be ruling the roost!

    The veggie garden is underway. 250 onions are in and a year's worth of carrots. Potatoes and peas and more salad greens are planted too. Each day some new things get planted. Here in Ottawa we are still not out of frost danger so whatever goes in now has to be cold tolerant or slow to germinate or is something I am willing to cover.

    Here is my Ruth Stout inspired potato patch. The potatoes are ones we didn't eat over the winter and they started to go to seed in the root cellar. I am assisted by a chicken while the goats supervise. The chickens are no longer allowed in the garden as they will scratch up freshly planted seeds and pull up onions and such. I do like them in the garden in early spring and in the fall as they are great at tilling up bits of compost not to mention eating nasty things like slugs - I have yet to see  slugs in my garden.

    Wildlife is getting busy this spring. I don't mind seeing deer in the meadow in the evenings but having a bear raid your backyard feeders isn't so welcome. A bear paid us a visit last week and he/she must not have seen the gate! :-) We have had bears here several times but this one must be a heavy one as we have never had the fence damaged before. Feeders were shredded and the feeder poles bent to the ground. We slept through it all.
    Here is a picture of some of the scratches that the bear made on the tree as it climbed it. Yes I am looking over my shoulder during my morning forest walks. Aaron and I spied bear poo in the meadow this morning and it looked very fresh. The bear should move on soon. We have had foxes trying to kill our chickens (two different ones, i.e. they look different so we are not seeing the same fox over and over). We have lost one, one survived when my husband scared the fox and it dropped the hen and another attack caused a hen to lose lots of feathers. She took flight and the fox was left with a mouthful of feathers. Foxes have been here regularly for the past year and a half. We have watched them hunt for mice in the meadow and they have left our chickens alone. We are mindful that wild creatures need to eat too (there may be young kits in a den to consider) and our goal is to co-exist with animals. Having said that, while our hens are locked up at night and are currently restricted in their daytime free ranging area, we are no longer willing to let our animals live under siege. If nothing else, the goats are stressed by having a fox coming within feet of their fence. The fox sauntered up the driveway today while I was out checking on the chicks.Thanks to Rainah, our goat herd queen, I was alerted to the danger and I chased the fox off. Electric fencing is being considered as well as many other options. We are thinking more like Rambo than Gandhi these days and if necessary I am willing to fashion a fox pelt into a Davy Crockett style sun hat for gardening. Definitely not a Gandhi inspired thought :-)

    Well, from Cratchit to Crockett, I guess that is enough of an update. I am working on a new piece and once it is further along I shall post a work in progress picture. Now to catch up on all of the blogs I haven't read in the past month...

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    art business sprinting, blasts from the past, farm pics

    view from bottom of our driveway looking out across the road

    "The business of art is a marathon, not a sprint.", so says Constance Smith in her book Art Marketing 101. Well after spending the last few weeks reading books on the business of art, I confess that I am content to be a sprinter. According to the experts, artists are to spend half of their studio time on the business side of things. I used to. Then I decided to (temporarily) step away from marketing and teaching in order to have more quality time to create art and to farm. Divided loyalties yes or perhaps having two passions is a better way to view it. I love growing food and caring for critters and quite honestly my life as just an artist would not be enough. Been there and done that as they say. So, while all of sorts of inspiring info spins in my brain, thanks to my recent reading -  info on dealing with art dealers, ways to present my art to the public, creating publicity campaigns and how to deal with copyright issues and  taxes etc. etc., I shall continue to enjoy the life we have created here on our small farm.

    Spring has arrived in the last few days (quite a bit of snow has melted since I took these snowy pictures). Robins and red winged black birds are here and the temperatures have been very mild. My attention is turning to what needs to be done in order to be ready for gardening this summer. I think we shall be getting on the land early so I really need to start my seedlings.

    Blast from my past - anyone remember those cup-o-soups from a few decades ago? Dehydrated packages of pseudo food, just add boiling water - no doubt filled with additives and preservatives and all sorts of nasty things...I can remember staying up late in my university days preparing a pouch of cream of chicken soup in a mug, in an effort to stave off the middle of the night munchies while I studied.

    Now my cup of soups are the real deal.
    The mug pictured above is another blast from the past. This mug is from Blue Mountain Pottery which was once Canada's largest manufacturer of giftware pottery (the company no longer exists). The pottery was all the rage years ago and my mother-in-law bought a set of four mugs. At some point they found their way here. 

    Remember my ants in the pants phase of a couple of weeks ago? Well I channeled that antsy energy into a basement clean up. I also sorted out the root cellar and organized my seed file. I have oodles of carrots still (stored in bins with damp wood shavings on top of them) and lots of potatoes. It is time to use up some veggies and I have been making lots of soup. This weekend I made a cream of potato soup with home grown onions, carrots, potatoes, goat's milk, a  dried chili from last summer, coriander seeds (harvested at least two years worth of those last fall) with only the celery coming from the store. Yum.  

    Yet Another blast from my past - my cross country skis. I received them as a Christmas present when I was twelve. I have skied literally hundreds of miles on them. The boots had to be replaced and the bindings but other than that, I still ski on the vintage wood (not fiberglass) and they are waxable. Non-wax skis are not for my kind of trails! My poles are wood and were made in Finland. Wow, when was anything made anywhere but China? Look back a few decades I guess.

    Here are some pictures I took late in the afternoon a week ago...

    In the distance you might be able to make out the Gatineau hills which are located in Quebec on the other side of the Ottawa River.

    Noah has just been chasing chickens, some hens are heading up the ramp into their hen house
    Noah waiting for a corn chip

    This is our herd queen, Rainah. Her birthday is Tuesday. She will turn seven. I admire her so much. Rainah is a petite beauty (our smallest goat), very strong, fearless, very wise and an excellent keeper of her herd. She makes sure there is order in the barn and in the yard and she is always on guard duty. Last evening she climbed onto the highest level of our goat play structure in order to keep an eye on a fox that was hunting mice some 75 feet from the goats. Fortunately for all involved, especially the chickens, there was a fence between the fox and livestock. A fox wouldn't bother a goat and our big gal Veesa would be happy to take him on. While not the herd Queen, she is willing to go on the defensive when dogs are around. Well enough farm pics for now -  my other life that keeps me from running art marathons!  :-)
    (My apologies if these sorts of posts format in a goofy way. They look fine in my browser. Unfortunately pictures can appear in areas I did not intend them if you are using a different browser or an RSS feed.)