Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Congruency...say what?

So what does a picture of plant tags and Virginia Woolf books have to do with congruency? Good question! Quite simply, I am currently on a bit of a mission to make things in my life more congruent. Yup, say what?

This all started about a month ago. I read somewhere about the concept of how in order to really, radically move forward in life and to shift blocked energy one must seek congruency - i.e. one must let go of things, mindsets, habits etc. that are not congruent with who we currently are and who we wish to be. Well I wasn't feeling particularly blocked but I was intrigued at the thought of examining my life to see if I could locate areas where I wasn't congruent.

First up, I realized my studio was in need of a good sort out. If you have been reading previous posts, you will recall that I have spent some time in recent months 'exploring'. It was time to tidy up some of the mess created whilst exploring! Seriously, you don't need an article on congruency, you simply need to brew up a pot of tea, load up a tray with milk and mug and such and then find that once you have climbed the stairs to the studio that you do not have a clear surface anywhere to set down the tray! I started to tidy things up immediately. While I wouldn't say that I was feeling blocked, once my studio was cleaned up I did experience a burst of enthusiasm and energy, along with a desire to roll up my sleeves and really dig in to some fresh art and some business things that I had let slide...

Next up, I spied some shelves in our family room that needed a bit of sorting. On one of those shelves, I discovered a gardening file that I had forgotten about. In the file I found meticulous notes and plans for my landscaping projects along with plant tags from shrubs and perennials that I had purchased. But was this file congruent with my current life? Quite simply no. All of these plants were happily growing at a home we no longer owned! :-) Purging this from my life was a no-brainer!

Then I got congruent about our bookcases. I knew I had books that I no longer wanted to keep but every time I thought of tackling this sorting job, I felt overwhelmed. Ah but this article on congruency was starting to burn a fire in me...those books 'artfully' displayed on the floor of our living room needed to go on the shelves, 'on the floor' was not congruent with who I wanted to be. 

In recent years our farming endeavours has led to the purchase of many how to books - how to raise chickens, care for goats, keep bees and so on. This was congruent with my new life but many books in our home were not. So I dove into the project. I am happy to say that my energy is no longer at risk of being blocked by Virginia Woolf's Orlando! What on earth was I hanging onto the Collected Novels by Virginia Woolf for? No offence to fans of her work but gosh this is one writer I never did get. Two large bags of books were donated to our local library for their used book fundraising project and the farming books have a new home...

This getting congruent feels wonderful! And yes the whole deal is about a lot more than sorting and getting rid of material goods. I am also examining how I think about things and looking at what I have been focusing on, what I have been spending my time on...all of that good stuff! I highly recommend it...sometimes I think we need to question if drifting along with the status quo is really working for us.

Monday, June 24, 2013

latest work in progress and inspired by food

This is what is on my drafting table right now. You can see the very small finished study above the larger piece. I never work this way normally. Usually I decide how big I want a piece to be and then I just dive in and do it. My latest phase in exploration and my adventures in landscapes have brought a desire to work very small and quickly. I ended up liking this little funky landscape so I decided to see if I would like working it up larger.

So far it is looking pretty rough but hey, this is the warts and all phase of the piece! You can see that I am working on coloured paper. It is a sanded surface paper, intended primaily for pastel work. I love using my cps on it. I may leave this one for a while as I have something else I wish to get started on...

Artists find inspiration everywhere. And I mean everywhere - even in our lunch! The other day I was eating a small wedge of leftover quiche and I suddenly became aware of the lovely patterns and colours on the surface.

I grabbed a camera to take a few reference photos before I gobbled it up...okay so maybe it doesn't look much here on my blog and perhaps this is a case of 'you had to be there'. But I see lucious curves and folds and valleys in the cheese and spinach not to mention lovely reds and oranges and yellows and plums.

Inspiration for a lovely abstract in future perhaps????? So what beautiful thing did you eat for lunch  today? :-)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

wrapping up the explorations...

I think I am done hauling out wee explorations for show and tell. I am working on some new stuff and I will show you that in the days to come.

The above small study is one I rather like (3" x 4", cps on Colourfix paper). Yes there are a few things that need tweaking but as a quick, improvisational piece it worked for me. Some day I might create a larger image using this study as inspiration.

When we moved here, I was thrilled to discover that we had so many varieties of flowering shrubs and trees. The honeymoon is over. While I am still thrilled to enjoy the beauty and the scent of the blossoms, it is the reality of maintenance that is hitting us. Shrubs keep on growing until they are unruly, seriously unruly. We spent the past weekend cutting back shrubs that have become bushy trees!!!! Maybe buying a property from people who were retired and enjoyed gardening wasn't such a great idea. :-)  Every summer the weeds and overgrowth get ahead of us. One of the many reasons I like winter. LOL

Friday, June 14, 2013

more exploring...

Wine Glass Trees, 4"x 3", coloured pencil on Colourfix paper
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here are two more examples of my 'exploring' adventures from recent months...the one above is a small study that started off with some stylized trees. The trees eventually ended up looking like wine glasses. I am wondering if the fact that I like to take a glass of wine to the studio some afternoons, might not have had some influence here?!
My husband has been making wine in recent years. He has a grape crusher and a wine press and in the fall he lines up at a shop with the elderly Italian men in Ottawa's 'Little Italy', to buy the variety of grapes he has chosen. This means we have lots of tasty, inexpensive wine readily available!  Oh and my husband is not an elderly Italian gentleman, in case it read that way... :-)

The work above is very small, just 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches. It is a bright and  fanciful landscape and I completed several others in a similar fashion. Some got downright garish!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

tree advice wanted

autumn marsh study, 4" x 5", coloured pencil on colourfix paper
copyright Teresa Mallen

I love pastel landscapes...yet oddly enough I have never explored doing landscapes of my own, in cps of course, until recently. Here is a little something I did this winter. I can see things I will tweak someday but my main goal was to get in and out quickly, to suggest movement and to delight in the autumn colours. As a lover of detail, getting in and out quickly takes getting used to but I have really started to like the process.

old apple tree in our backyard

As the title of the post states, I am looking for some tree advice. If you have a fruit tree variety that you simply love, please let me know. Our small farm has some old apple trees on it and a terrific chestnut tree. Since moving here, we have planted a small apple orchard as well as pear and plum trees. Ah, but there is room for more! :-)

I was at a garden center a couple of days ago and I was delighted to see that they have a very good selection of fruit trees. I was quickly overwhelmed by all of the lovely choices. I would like to plant more fruit trees but I would like to get some help on this. I am looking for something that bears fruit that is truly good to eat. So if you have a favourite cherry or pear tree variety or whatever, that you would like to recommend, please leave a comment. If you don't wish to leave a comment here, you can email me at: teresa at teresamallenstudio dot com (of course exchange at and dot for symbols and leave out the spaces). Thanks!

We received cold weather just after the apple blossoms opened. I am hoping there were a few days that were warm enough for the bees to do their pollinating business. If they did, this year will be a great year for the apple harvest.

Monday, June 3, 2013


small study of a winter's day, 3" x 2.5"
coloured pencil on colourfix paper, copyright Teresa Mallen

It seems rather fitting that I post a tiny snowy scene, given that my last entry was written back in the depths of winter! Sheesh, the time has flown by.

My 'word' for 2013, is explore. Do you pick an annual word too? In case you don't have a clue what I am talking about, what I mean is that every December I ponder what I would like to focus on in the coming year. One year my idea required a phrase, not just a single word  - 'Teresa, own your time'. That one stays a work in progress! :-)

Anyway, the reason I haven't been posting is that I have been busy exploring!!!! I dedicated these past months to the pursuit of working differently, creating very small studies of different subject matter using different techniques and approaches. 

I allowed myself to create freely - with no objectives with regards to competition entries, possible sales and portfolio building. As part of all that, these artistic experiments would remain private. Honestly, some bad art was made and that was absolutely fine with me! I think that is rather expected when exploring.

But now it seems that I have exhausted the ideas I wished to explore and now I am feeling the urge to get back on track. So that means my blogging break is over and I shall be posting once more. I have lots of garden pictures to share and of course, why not a few photos of my pretty hennies?

This spot is a favourite with our chicken flock. They love this weathered wooden bench which is located under a basswood tree right beside the house. From here they have an elevated view down the lawn to the barn. The grass is long, with lovely seed heads that they like to eat, and there are lots of insects to scratch around for.

I love this tiny clump of violets that has naturally seeded on top of the concrete of an old stable wall, in a bit of mossy soil beside a rock. Reminds me of the saying, "Bloom where you are planted." I hope all of you are having a wonderful spring!