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.



Ann said...

I think the minis are a great idea too! I have used 500 bristol and like it for some things. I have found stonehenge a little too soft for my taste but love using Rising Museum board for cps. To me it seems to be a nice in-between 500 bristol and stonehenge.

Just yesterday I was jotting down ideas for my next series and was wondering if there were any cradled panels with a surface suitable for cps! Now here you are with a solution! I will be very interested in seeing how the colourfix primer works for you. And I am so glad that you will be using your cloud images as inspiration!

And, those goats are just too cute :-)

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Ann, some artists work directly on the wood of a cradled panel but the wood grain can be visible and it can be hard to get dark values. You can thin this primer with a bit of water if you want a less toothy surface. I thinned it as I wanted to get a nice even surface and I knew I was going to apply a few coats. I shall post how this piece progresses...

Ann said...

Thanks Teresa! That's a good tip about thinning it first. I think I'll wait to see how your piece goes for you before I give it a try :-) I was considering going back to pastel board for a few works, but of course that still needs a frame. A cradled panel has a neat look, I believe. I suppose you will be fixing and varnishing the final work?

Teresa Mallen said...

Yes, that is the plan...I got a bit distracted today and did another mini so please be patient with me. The clouds are coming! :-) I might get a start on it this weekend.

I shall double check the next time I am at my local art supply store, but I don't think they carry Rising Museum Board (they don't carry a lot of things I would like) but if I am ever ordering something on-line, I shall try to remember to look for it.

Have a great weekend Ann!

Ester Roi said...

Teresa, I think you are going to like doing minis as much as I do. I find that when I'm working on a large and detailed piece, as I am at this time, I become mentally tired way before it's finished. Small art gives me a sense of accomplishment and "almost instant" gratification. These feelings refuel my energy tank and desire toward the large, long term artwork.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

I tried the Strathmore papers for CPs, hated it, but ended up using the paper for ink work.

awww, happy looking goats :D didn't know that about their eating habits, good to know :)

Paula Pertile said...

Oh, will you look at them go at that tree! That's the cutest thing. And Noah, what a sweetheart.

The art - yes, bad paper, I know all about that too.
Like the idea of doing clouds. I have some Colorfix primer that I've never used, sitting somewhere too ...
Hey, I wanted to do a row of apples! Now I can't, or I'll be copying you. That's OK - I bought some yams today for my next brilliant piece (nyuk) so we'll see what happens.
Great post! You're inspiring.

Barbara Ann Goodsitt said...

I think the flowers are lovely! Looking forward to seeing those minis develop on your blog. Also, that Noah is very adorable. LIfe looks pretty nice up in Canada...

Teresa Mallen said...

Oh Ester, if I could only stop putting so much detail into my pieces - then maybe I would be getting closer to a kind of instant gratification. But I know what you mean...when compared to a large work this is faster stuff. Last fall when working on my small ink and cp pieces I eventually became quite bored with doing them so I shall see how this newest attempt at working small goes for me. I find I am getting more and more fussy in the studio these days! :-)

Hi Jennifer Rose - ah yes, we can alway find another use for paper! Strathmore is probably quite nice for graphite work too - not that I have time to get into any of that, sigh...

Hey Paula, thanks for stopping by again. Glad to hear Colourfix is doing such great business selling us all a jar or two! LOL Looking forward to seeing your yams...well you know what I mean...I think we all end up doing work that has been done before. I certainly won't be the first to do a row of apples so please, feel free to colour away! :-)

Hi Barbara, yes life is very good. Went snowshoeing late this afternoon and tonight a fox was checking out a suet feeder in the back yard! Such a beautiful creature - who of course would love to eat my chickens!!! The minis will be posted later this week. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it.

And for all you Noah loving ladies - I confess he is still being bottle fed! Yes, gasp... he loves his 'botty' so I give him a wee 6 oz bottle at night. It is a treat he loves and I simply can't resist. No wonder he thinks I am terrific!