Friday, January 27, 2012


 Some ideas are brilliant, others are fine and well some ideas should just remain ideas, not something that actually gets acted upon. 

In recent weeks, this Iris piece that I did several years ago came to mind. I was thinking about how I always liked the look of it - especially the tooth of the paper and how it responded to the pigment that was applied. So after some thinking I headed to my closet to check out my paper stock. I knew this was done on Strathmore paper so I dug up a pad of their 500 series Bristol medium surface paper. Why not do my next piece on this? Good idea.This would be perfect for what I wanted to work on for my next idea.

Now I think this idea falls into the fine category - I am starting to create a series of what I am calling 'minis'. Working small will give my collectors a new purchasing option. Lots of people today are downsizing. If potential buyers already have an art collection well under way then it can be hard to find wall space for larger pieces. Of course smaller translates into not so costly to buy. Not everyone is willing to spend a fair bit of money on a large work and some people simply can't afford a larger piece. In this case, a smaller drawing is perfect. Less money also brings the art into a gift buying price range. Finally, having mini works on the go gives me something to work on while I am in between bigger projects or when I simply wanting a break from the larger works. 

The picture below shows one of my bigger pieces, how I normally like to work. The two pieces below are minis that are works in progress. Well the left rose is a work in progress. The right one is trash. That idea to use the Strathmore paper - turns out it was an idea that wasn't a good one after all. As soon as I started to work on it, I disliked the paper. I persevered, remembering how much I liked the iris piece. Yet I finally had to call it quits. I found the paper got gummy with hardly any pigment down, it was 'dirty' (pencil grime was harder to brush off and forget trying to lift pigment with tape, yuck). I was left grumbling at my muse - or whatever trickster entity influenced my thinking (it couldn't have been me that can up with that daft idea). Obviously I stopped working on that paper years ago and for good reason! Duh... So I am re-doing that wee rose on Stonehenge. Ahhhh!!! Bliss from the moment my first pencil hit the paper.

To give an idea of size, the two minis below, once cropped to the final size, would be smaller than 4 inches by 6 inches.

big rose with works in progress mini roses

Please note my disclaimer - artists are very different in their likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to materials and tools. Just because my experience with this paper wasn't one I liked, it is not my intention to prejudice a reader away from trying their own experiments with it. Oh and my muse had the last laugh...I later checked my records and the iris was actually done on Stonehenge! I had it all wrong. :-)

I hope this idea is a good one. Above you can see a small tub of Blue Haze Colourfix Primer. I bought it a year ago but somehow I never got around to using it. Well now seems like a good time so I have primed a 9 inch by 12 inch cradled birch panel with the product. I applied three light coats, sanding off any stray hairs or whatnot between coats. I think this would make a lovely surface for a cloud piece. Remember all of that cloud watching I did last summer? Well, I have some good reference photos to work from. The panel is ready and I shall get at this piece soon. I have the two mini roses almost done and I will show them in my next post. 

I am excited about the apples you see in the picture. I have plans to do an apple piece, just a row of apples nothing fancy, but it won't be a mini - yippee! I just have to get a drawing worked up. I spent some time yesterday afternoon posing the apples. I love that green colour!!!  
This next idea was an excellent one...just ask the goats! After Christmas my husband hitched on our trailer and headed out to two neighbouring subdivisions. The purpose? Why to nab some tasty goat fodder of course!!! Goats are like deer and they prefer to browse off of shrubs and trees as opposed to grazing like cattle. They love to eat pine trees! Now we have a great recycling program here in Ottawa. All used Christmas trees that are put out at the curb on garbage day are picked up and put through a chipping machine. Mulch is created for the city gardens and parks.

But we had a different sort of recycling in mind...Including our own tree, we ended up with 20 trees for the goats to supplement their diet with over the next two months. Trees do add a variety of nutrients that goats don't get just from eating hay and corn. Of course, everything else is covered in snow and/or dormant right now. In these pictures a new tree is being dropped into their field.

yum, yum...

Below, in the picture on the left you can see Dukah and Jonah butting heads (a favourite goat activity)...this one was a rather lazy confrontation, Jonah is still chewing on his twig. The little guy on the right is my precious Noah. I worked hard to save him last summer. When he was born, he was sick and needed bottle feeding. Some antibiotics and many up in the night feedings got me a pet goat extraordinaire! He thinks I am the greatest thing since pine trees were created (or corn chips) and he follows me everywhere expecting lots of attention. He gets it. :-) He has the sweetest disposition and is truly adorable.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

coloured pencil info

I have some cp sites loaded with great info to share with you. First up let's talk lightfastness. We all want to create with pencils that will ensure our art's longevity but finding information on all of the pencil brands can be rather overwhelming. Help is on the way! The Coloured Pencil Society of Canada has a new article on their website this month, written by Manon Leclerc. The topic is lightfastness and all aspects of this issue are covered. The best part is that Manon has done extensive research into the pencil brands and has provided all the information we need to check out our favourite pencils. This info is in the middle of the article so make sure you scroll down far enough. I suggest bookmarking this one!

Another site you will enjoy viewing is the home of Colored Pencil Magazine. Issues of this magazine are available in print or as a download. You can also have a have a free preview of the January issue (since writing this earlier today, the February issue is now also available). It is worth checking out the January issue just to see the gorgeous cover art created by Ester Roi. Ester is featured in this issue and if you haven't heard about Ester's work or her wonderful invention, the Icarus Board then you can read the article as well as visit her website. If you don't know, the Icarus Board allows cp artists to work over heat - the wax binder in wax based pencils softens allowing the work to be burnished without solvents and without using heavy pressure. Ester has a terrific website chock full of beautiful artwork in her galleries, she has lots of info on technique and you can link to her blog. If that weren't enough, Ester has youtube videos!!!! Do check out all that Ester has for us to view. You will come away enchanted and inspired!

Okay, back to the Colored Pencil Magazine, well if you are familiar with Alyona Nickelsen's work (she is the author of the Colored Pencil Painting Bible) then you will be pleased to see that Alyona has signed on to answer readers questions every month. Alyona is another woman with a very comprehensive website and it too is worth a look. She offers on-line classes, has a newsletter, etc.

I hope you enjoy checking out these resources. I truly love looking at what other cp artists are getting up to and all of this is simply a click away. Happy surfing folks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Motivation Monday

Dealing with loss can mess with our motivation.

Whether the loss of a loved one, or perhaps the loss of an aspect of our health, the loss of a job or perhaps the loss of a dream that we have held onto for years...loss comes in many forms. We all experience loss in one way or another.

How do we keep pressing on when we feel burdened by the weight of loss?

George Sand wrote "One knows what one has lost, but not what one may find." That's it in a nutshell. We simply don't know what we may find. The truth is most of us deal with painful situations at various times in our lives, yet it would serve us well to remember that life is also filled with a lot of good. As this year progresses, I am hanging onto this wonderous promise - that right now I can't possibly know all of the good that is coming my way. So, I ask you, are you looking forward to what you may find?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

peony petals finished

peony petals, copyright Teresa Mallen, coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper, 8" x 8"

I haven't thought up a name for this one yet but here is my latest peony petals piece, pretty much finished. I will no doubt tweak it here and there before signing my name and scanning it for posting to my website. The contrast isn't as good as it should be in the photo above but once I started fiddling with that then the colours went crazy - you know how it goes, suffice to say it looks brighter in person.

The eleventh day into a new year...I am a gal who loves a fresh start and a new year seems to be the perfect time to wipe the slate clean. Our journals and day planners are bare and I relish the opportunity to embrace a new beginning. 

I must confess that 2011 was a bumpier ride than I would have liked. There were unexpected challenges and loss. Quite honestly I am very ready to see the back end of that year and to welcome a new one.

I have been thinking much in past months about goals and such and the other night I curled up in front of a fire, with my journal and a glass of wine and I got myself sorted. I planned, prioritized, dreamed and dared to visualize a very bright future. As I type, 2012 offers 355 new days, neatly parceled into weeks, months and seasons. Such a delicious chunk of time, of life filled with lush possibilities and gifts I can't even imagine. I am ready. Very ready.

I am not sure what my next new piece shall be but I have some ideas. I hope to get some time later today to sift through my reference photos. In the meantime, I have some volunteer work to attend to. I am on the executive of a group that puts together a twice a year Studio Tour. Today we shall go over last years finances, plan the next tour, jury in new artists, etc. It is always enjoyable to get together with fellow artists and I am looking forward to brainstorming ways to leverage this tour to new heights of success.

Have you planned out your new year yet? Remember to dream big!