Thursday, May 29, 2008

Panty art anyone?

No my blog hasn't gone all smutty...there really is going to be an art exhibition entitled Top Drawers, in conjunction with the Capital Panty Raid.

I so love this...this idea is fantastic and I hope that someone reading this blog entry will consider a similar initiative in their city. This is a win/win event. It is a win for the artists who participate as they get exposure and a chance to sell some art and they also get to contribute to a very worthwhile cause. The other winners are the the adults and children who live in Ottawa shelters. They will receive new underwear! How awesome is that?!

Capital Panty Raid is a not for profit organization that seeks to provide a basic need for homeless people. While donations of used clothing come in to shelters, what is lacking is underwear. People who are on the streets end up not having any. The people who started the Capital Panty Raid in 2007, believe that providing new underwear is an achieveable goal and that it gives dignity to those who need it most. Artemisia, an Ottawa artists' group has teamed up with Capital Panty Raid. They are organizing this exhibition in the hopes of raising awareness and funds. As their press states: "The purpose of this art exhibition is to attract positive attention to this good cause by displaying original artworks that feature or interpret the theme underwear. We are looking for works in a wide range of media that treat the theme in a gentle, light-hearted and creative way." They go on to say that the work will be juried to ensure that the art is suitable for family viewing and that no creepy or vulgar works will be accepted.

Artists will be asked to contribute a percentage of sales and the viewing public will be encouraged to make a financial contribution and/or a donation of new underwear.

This exhibition is set for Sept. 26, 27, 28, 2008 at St. Brigid's Centre for the Arts and Humanities on St. Patrick Street. You can be sure I will let you know how it turns out. I can only imagine the interesting art that will result from the theme of underwear!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Getting into galleries, contracts

Yesterday I talked about the importance of having an inventory list to give to the management.

I would like to take a moment to encourage you to do this for the paintings you have in your studio or in your home. Don't forget to document the ones you may have in storage. I realize that doing this sort of paperwork isn't fun and it takes time but it is part of running a business. If you ever have to make an insurance claim because of something that happens at your home or your studio, this paperwork will help establish "fair market value" for your art. Simple spreadsheets are easy to create on personal computers and once your lists are set up, you only need to update them occasionally - for example when sales have been made or when you get paintings back from a gallery. As a bonus, it helps you keep track of your art. If a show comes along that you would like to participate in and you are wondering if you have enough paintings in house to use, you just need to check your inventory lists.

Galleries should have a standard contract form that they work with. Don't be surprised if restaurants, cafes, and even visual arts galleries do not. They may have a simple consignment agreement but don't hesitate to use a better form if necessary. I created my own contract which can be adjusted for different situations. I print two copies off and if the management isn't using a form that I think is sufficient, then I ask that we use mine.

Some things you should consider having spelled out in writing:
  • details of insurance coverage
  • the work that has been selected for exhibition (you can refer to your attached inventory list)
  • prices set for your art (can also be detailed on your inventory list)
  • shipping (if required, who pays)
  • the dates of the contract - length of time your work will be exhibited
  • advertising - what form will this take
  • notification of sales
  • commission
  • exclusivity - note that higher end galleries may wish for you to sign an exclusivity agreement which would prohibit you from exhibiting elsewhere
  • frequency of exhibitions
  • framing - some galleries insist on framing your work - often this framing is expensive and you may be expected to share the costs
  • installation details
  • exhibition catalogues/flyers/website
  • Timing of payments
  • buyer info (I request info on the buyer, specifically their name and address. I mail out a buyer's package to each person who buys a painting. Note that some businesses may not wish to collect or pass on this info.)
  • Permission agreement (You might want a clause from the gallery that requires them to obtain consent from you before your work can be photographed or reproduced for any purpose. This helps to protect your copyright.)
  • Termination of contract (Under what conditions do the two parties have the right to prematurely end the contract?)

So that's it...some basic info on getting into galleries. I hope these posts have given you some information that you found helpful. Exhibiting your art in a gallery is quite exciting. Don't get discouraged by all of these details. Take your time, go gallery hopping, ask questions and do some additional reading or research if you wish. If for whatever reason you decide not to pursue galleries, don't despair, there are other ways to get your art before the public. You can participate in art fairs, group shows (art clubs and other art associations usually put on shows), you can look into selling your art on the internet etc. Do what is best for you at this stage of your artistic journey.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Getting into galleries, the inventory list

To recap, in previous posts we have covered what to look for when looking for a gallery to approach. We also looked at some of the things you might wish to discuss with the owner or manager of the establishment in which you wish to show your work.

Now comes the paperwork. You should always have some sort of paperwork to document the placing of your artwork in a shop/gallery/restaurant. At the very least, you want proof that your work is on site. Why is this important? Well, what if one of your paintings gets stolen, can you prove that your work was actually there? What if there is a fire?

You should discuss insurance coverage with the owner/manager. You need assurance from the gallery that they will be providing insurance coverage for your art while it is on their premises and assurance that the coverage is up to date. Verify that the gallery's insurance will cover fire and water damage or loss, and that they are responsible for the insurance deductible.

As an aside, you might wish to review your own insurance coverage and your options. Is your art inventory covered under your home owner policy? Is your art stored at your home or is your studio in a different location? Are you covered if you teach classes at your home? Do you have the public at your home for shows or during studio tours?

I once read some advice that a gallery owner gave on-line regarding the insurance issue. He reiterated the importance of having proof that the coverage was up to date, but he was coming at it from a different angle. He had once owned a fledgling gallery that was struggling to get off the ground. In order to stay open, the owner allowed his insurance coverage to expire for a couple of months. Yes, there was a fire...Even if there isn't a fire, or a theft, your art may get damaged while it is on their premises. Sprinkler systems may go off, a painting may get knocked to the floor, use your imagination.

So check for insurance coverage.

As part of this, you will need to provide an inventory list to the management. An inventory list should include details such as:

  • the dates of the arrangement - the date you delivered paintings and the date you are to remove them.

  • your name and contact info

  • the title of each piece

  • the size of each piece

  • a description - the medium, the support, whether framed

  • the price of each piece
  • condition of each piece

Keep a copy for your own records.

Have the management confirm that the paintings listed have been delivered and have them sign both copies. This paperwork can be attached to the other contract pages.

You could also take pictures of your art on their premises.

More on contract details tomorrow. Again, if anyone has a comment to share regarding this topic of getting into galleries, please don't hesitate to add your thoughts.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ugly Necklace Contest

My blog has become rather serious what with all the talk about getting into galleries. I got an email last night that made me laugh so I though this info. would be a great way to lighten things up.

The email notified me about an Ugly Necklace Contest and yes, there really is such a contest and the entries are a real hoot! The number 3 entry is by Jen Muise, a rural west Ottawa resident (her address says Woodlawn Ontario but that is because our addresses are goofy here.)

The entries were judged on such hilarious aspects such as "the overall hideousness of the necklace", "if the design of the necklace violated good jewelry design rules associated with color, form, balance, distribution of elements and focus". Fantastic!

To see these ugly necklaces for yourself, click here, Ugly Necklace Contest. You can click on each artist to see a close up photo of their necklaces. They have to write a poem about their necklace too! I especially like these items: a horseshoe, a mousetrap, baby pacifier, and the toy tractor on #7's necklace. I had a toy just like that as a kid! (I grew up on a farm okay?!)

I was filled with all sorts of ideas of how one could create such a necklace...maybe I should offer a one day workshop on creating an Ugly Necklace!! Definitely couldn't fall into the trap of taking our creative efforts too seriously...

Anyway, hope you enjoy...I am heading back to the veggie garden...more on galleries next time...

Friday, May 23, 2008

So you want to get into galleries continued...

Yesterday I talked about some of the things you might want to consider when looking for places to show and sell your art.

Let's assume that you have found a place that you think would be suitable. What next? First of all you need to approach the owner or manager. You need to know what the criteria are for getting considered, for example if it is a popular spot with artists there may be a waiting list. I know of one restaurant that features a different artist each month. They have lots of wall space, they hang the art of new up and coming artists in a variety of styles and media and it is a much sought after venue by artists. As only 12 artists are chosen each year, the restaurant manager has to put people on a waiting list. As an aside, this restaurant has a certain type of clientele - very artsy folks, people who value fine art and who look for art that is different. People eat there to view the changing art exhibits. It is no wonder artists want to get a chance at this exposure.

So find out the criteria. You should expect the manager or owner to want to see your work. This may be actual paintings, work in your portfolio or images they can view on your website. They will also expect your art to be ready to hang, framed if required by your medium and with wire on the back. Note that if you are accepted, when you pack your paintings, take some some picture hanging hooks. It is nice to have them on hand should the gallery or restaurant not have enough. I once put some art in a newly renovated space. There were no holes yet in the drywall (I needed a hammer) and they didn't have any hooks. So do yourself a favour and pop some hanging hooks (and maybe a hammer) into a bag. Also, be prepared to provide your own cards that go with the paintings, i.e. some sort of signage that has the title of the piece, your name and the price. Galleries usually print their own version using your info. but cafes and restaurants often do not.

When you are discussing the possibility of your art being in their establishment, be your own best business manager. Sell the business owner on the positive aspects of having your work in their gallery/restaurant. What do you have to offer? For example if you are working in a medium or style that is currently not represented by their other artists, then this is something you have to offer. Ask up front what percentage of sales they take. If the owners do not communicate enough information to you, don't hesitate to ask questions. Ask (in a very diplomatic fashion of course) what is in it for you the artist. They should be doing more for you than offering wall space. I have encountered some small galleries that seem to expect you to be grateful for the heat, hydro and walls they provide. Sorry, but I want more for the 40 - 60% they take. You should expect more too.

What might you be looking for besides the heat, lighting and wall space?
  • Well to start with, how will you be promoted? Will your name appear on the pricing card or will just the name of the gallery appear? Do they provide an area where you can display your business cards? Some galleries will not do this. They do not want to encourage the public to contact you directly. A customer may want to see more of your work or wish to learn more about you from your website. There is the risk that they will see something they like and that they will buy directly from you. If you can display your business cards, this is a bonus. If you teach workshops or classes is there a place where you can display your brochures?
  • Will they be advertising you as a new artist? If you are dealing with a gallery, ask if they have a website. Check to see if it is regularly updated. You should expect a mention on their website.
  • Are they willing to learn about you and your art? For example I work in a rather uncommon medium and I would expect the staff to have a basic understanding of how I work. For example I would expect them to understand that I achieve the look of paint with coloured pencils by building up layers of pigment. I would want them to know I use archival supports and light fast pencils. That way they are prepared to answer questions from potential buyers. Please note that I wouldn't expect this from a restaurant or cafe. The waitstaff are hired to wait on customers and serve food. They are not paid to sell your art. Having said that, restaurants usually take less of a percentage from your sales than galleries do.
  • Do they offer the opportunity for a solo exhibit? One cafe I dealt with offered one of their rooms for a solo exhibit to be held on a weekend afternoon. A simple wine and cheese gig, well advertised, can provide wonderful exposure. This sort of thing is not what I would expect from a gallery if I were an unknown artist but it doesn't hurt to ask. Sometimes a gallery will have an opening night when an new exhibit is launched or when they present work of new artists. If your work is part of a new exhibit you can get in on this exposure. Each gallery is different with regards to how they feature and promote a new artist. They may take just a few of your paintings so it wouldn't be enough to warrant a special event.
  • With regards to quantity, in a restaurant you may be given an entire room to hang artwork so there is the opportunity to exhibit several pieces. A gallery will likely only take up to four of your pieces.
  • Where they hang your art...ouch...if you have read my previous post 'galleries and the conundrum of space' you will be aware that your art may end up just about anywhere. Galleries as opposed to other establishments, do their own hanging. What can you do about this? Ask when they will be hanging your work. Go back and see where your art has ended up. Why not take a camera to snap some pictures for your website? Ask for permission first. Let the gallery know that you are promoting their business on your website or blog. They will appreciate it. If you find that your art work is in a terrible place, you can ignore it, subtly mention it, or boldly ask for a change. Unless your work is on the floor or behind a door, I would suggest that you don't complain, at least not at this stage of your relationship with the gallery. Remember that they make a living from the sale of art. They may wish to gauge the public's reaction to your work before giving you their better display areas. What you can ask though is how often they change their walls, i.e. the placement of the paintings. Galleries should move art around regularly. If they do, there is hope that you will get a different placement in future. Don't hesitate to go back and check up on your art. But remember, this is a business - don't expect the owners to have time to discuss your art placement, your sales or lack of them during peak business hours. Find out when a good time is or better yet make an appointment if you have issues you wish to discuss. They will really appreciate it if you respect their time. Wouldn't you?

Do keep in mind that if you are a new artist you may not get the type of representation you hoped for. They may not hang your work in an area of the gallery that you like and they may not offer the kinds of promotion opportunites I have discussed above. But if this is a gallery that you really want to be in, you might want to put up with some things now in order to get your foot in the door. Use your best judgement in this.

When you are being your own best business manager conduct yourself in a professional manner. Arrive at your meeting on time (don't expect them to waste their time waiting on you), come prepared, dress appropriately and most importantly be friendly, courteous and respectful. Imagine yourself as the owner, what sort of person would you want to deal with? Strive for a win/win in your business relationship. I have talked a lot about looking out for your best interests. I want to now encourage you to do this while also being mindful of how you should be adding value to their business. Remember that if all goes well, you might wish for this relationship to last a long time. You will definitely stand out from the rest of the artists they represent or have represented, if you genuinely care about their business goals as well as your own.

I said yesterday that I would talk about contracts. I will cover this in the next post.

If any readers have insights from your experiences with galleries that you would like to share, please feel free to post a comment!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

So you want to get into galleries...

Over the next few days I am going to be writing on the topic of getting into galleries. I shall share my thoughts and my advice in the hopes that this will help you on your artistic journey.

First of all, be honest about your expectations. Getting into a gallery probably won't be your ticket to receiving a nice cheque each month. Many artists, especially those early in their career, have other sources of income and other ways to exhibit their work.

Be really honest with yourself with regards to the percentage of the sale price that the gallery will take. Can you live with this? Please be aware that artists don't increase the price for their work when it is in galleries. For example, it is considered a bad business practice to have your work in a gallery at one price and to show your work yourself at a lower price. Whether or not you think this is fair, in the professional art world this is frowned upon. The price of your art is the price of your art. Bottom line, don't get into the gallery game if you can't live with the percentage that is taken.

Also, getting into a gallery is just the first step. There is more to this than just showing up with your paintings. But let's start at the beginning - getting your art out there...

One of the first places artists look to to get exposure is a local visual arts gallery or some sort of public space. A local visual arts gallery can include co-operative galleries (which of course will require you to be a member) as well as arts and crafts shops featuring locally or regionally produced work. If you are looking at a visual arts gallery/gift shop, check it out first. Do they exhibit originals only or do they also sell prints? You might not want your $500.00 original painting next to several relatively inexpensive prints. If they exhibit lots of crafts, are the paintings displayed high up on the wall, close to the ceiling so there is room for the display tables showing pottery, jewelry etc.? I have seen visual arts galleries that are fortunate to have vaulted ceilings. What isn't great for the artist is that their work is often hanging up so high that the viewer can't properly see the work, the title of the piece, the name of the artist, nor the price. If the staff are too busy to answer customer questions, potential buyers lose interest quickly. With regards to percentages, these places usually take less than other galleries, usually around 40%.

With regards to other public spaces, I will leave out having your work displayed at the local library and that sort of thing. Let's stick to commercial venues. That leaves us with displaying your art work on the walls of local restaurants, cafes, and other such establishments. While sales may happen, it is good to note that people don't go there to buy art. They go there to eat and to socialize. Your art may just make nice surroundings. If you want to get your art before the public make sure that there is signage that clearly indicates you as the artist. The public should be aware that the art on the wall is for sale. Hopefully the establishment will also display your business cards, perhaps promotional cards and your bio. If they are taking a percentage of your sales, they should be doing some basic promotion for you. Again, check the facilities out. Does your art fit in with their business and their clientele? With these sort of establishments, the percentage taken varies. It can be as low as 25% but it can also be the high end too.

Reality check time. Let's say you get accepted into an establishment, do you have enough inventory to support the venture? Depending on space requirements, they may not be able to handle many of your large pieces. Do you have enough small and mid-sized paintings to fill the space adequately? What about other shows you will do doing? Will you need these paintings to fill your exhibition space? If so, how will the owner of the establishment feel about having bare walls for a weekend or longer? Are you going to have this permission in writing? Do you have enough paintings that you can offer fresh work every couple of months? Do you have the time to revisit the establishment to switch paintings around, to hang a few new ones and so on? Also, keep in mind that you will be working around their hours not yours. You will have to be available and willing to show up with your art when the business isn't open or at least isn't busy.

Tomorrow I will discuss the nitty gritty of preparing to sign contracts and other issues.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

galleries and the conundrum of space

Do you have your work in a gallery? And if you do, how is that working for you?

It seems to me that there are two types of artists...those people that have their art in galleries and those people who wished they did! :-)

Okay, I admit that this is a bit of an overgeneralization. It just seems that everytime you get a group of painters together, the conversation seems to find its way around to the topic of galleries...what ones are you in, how did you get in and so on.

Ah, but let's say you get all the angst and fuss over gallery representation worth it?

Artists seem to have a real love hate relationship with galleries. They love the prestige of being in a gallery and they love being able to leverage the fact that their work is in the such and such gallery. But, they hate the large percentage (40 to 60%) that galleries take from their sales.

I recently visited two galleries in the town of Perth Ontario (located in the Ottawa Valley, about a 45 min. drive from the city of Ottawa). I have included a picture of the Tay River Gallery's ad for an exhibit they currently have on. I visited this gallery and another called Gallery Perth. I came away from these two galleries with more questions than answers. What was I questioning? The main question I was left with was how can your work possibly stand out in a gallery setting?

First of all, all gallery owners want to exhibit paintings well, but what do you do when you have so many paintings to exhibit? While some galleries can afford showrooms with generous square footage the majority of galleries are often forced to make the most of their limited space. The reality is that most artists end up striving to get into the smaller galleries - galleries that represent quite a variety of artists. The owners do their best to get everyone's art on the wall. That means that work is displayed behind the reception or cash desk area, art is above doorways, art is displayed in stairwells, on landings and in hallways. The Gallery Perth even had paintings leaning against furniture and stacked up against walls. Squatting down on the floor to get a good look at a piece really doesn't serve the artist well!

I don't know why this sort of display really jarred me that day. It isn't like I haven't seen it before. On the drive home I kept thinking, how on earth can someone's art stand out enough for someone to want to buy a painting. I was overwhelmed by different sizes, different styles and different media. All the art was good so that wasn't the issue. It was just that I was so overwhelmed visually that I left feeling numb. Probably what bothered me the most was that I went in there as an artist eager to see the art. I wanted to linger and study style, composition etc. If I left overwhelmed, what does the average, casual looker experience?

I do wish to say that the Tay River Gallery wasn't the worst offender here. In fact the exhibit included many wonderful paintings and there were no paintings on the floor or stacked up against the wall. Also, as an aside, this gallery has a good website. Their website shows how a virtual gallery can be an asset to the physical gallery. The artists and the gallery are well served by such a website. The website has recent updates, photos of the gallery, images of art work, a newsletter and a virtual store. You can buy paintings on line which is a great feature. You can check it the website by clicking here: Tay River Gallery. You might want to compare it to the Gallery Perth website. Notice that this gallery also has a framing business. While this may be a business necessity, in this case it detracts from the gallery presence - on the website and in person.

Obviously art sells in galleries or the galleries wouldn't stay in business. Artists must sell work or they wouldn't want to get into galleries. I guess I was just left pondering how given the presentation, a visitor could possibly fall in love with one particular piece to the degree that they had to have it over all the other paintings presented.

What can an artist do with regards to the exhibiting of their work in a gallery? I will discuss this in tomorrow's blog entry. I will also be looking at another question later in the week: How can we display our art in our own shows so that it stands out?

P.S. In case you cannot read the smaller text in the ad, the painting featuring the two bears is entitled "Canadian Snow Angels" and the artist is Kelly McNeil.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Blogs I Enjoy

I have finally got around to posting a list of blogs that I enjoy. You will find the list in the sidebar on the right hand side of this blog page. Just click on a name and the hyperlink will take you to their blog.

It is a small list as I have decided to just include the blogs that I read regularly and that I would be willing to recommend. Obviously this is a very subjective list.

What do I look for in a blog? Well, for one thing it has to be active. If someone doesn't post very often then I don't see the point in recommending them.

There has to a certain level of quality to their work. My goal in sharing the blogs I enjoy is that visitors will have new resources for their artistic journey. You will learn from each of these talented individuals.

The artists listed are all pencil artists. If you are visiting my blog, I assume you have an interest in fine art that is created with pencils.

These artists are professional in their conduct and in their ethics. I don't support bloggers who do not give credit to a source or who do not observe copyright laws.

I would like to introduce you to each of these wonderful women. I thought I would highlight a particular artist each week (until I have gone through my list).

First up, this week I would like to highlight Cynthia (Cindy) Haase. Cindy volunteers as the membership director for the Coloured Pencil Society of America. I came to know her as a result of her role with the CPSA. I visited her blog just before creating my own and Cindy was kind enough to offer assistance should I need help. How generous is that?

Here is what you will love about her blog. Cindy is great about sharing her process. She works in a variety of methods. You get to see the results and often you get to see the work as it progresses. Cindy has been exploring underpainting with Neocolors II, Intense and markers. Lately she has been showcasing coloured pencil paintings over which she has added pastel. Cindy is very talented and I know you will really enjoy her work.

Not only is Cindy talented, she is also a wonderful person to boot. I found out that my painting was accepted into the CPSA 2008 exhibition when Cindy emailed her congratulations. The 'official' email hadn't made it to me yet. If you have read my post from Thursday regarding artists supporting one another, well here is one example. I am delighted to have 'met' Cindy and I know that you will enjoy visiting her blog as much as I do. Don't forget to leave her a comment - introduce yourself and say hi!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rose blossom on Pastelbord

Rose Blossom II
Coloured Pencil on Pastelbord
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is the finished rose blossom. I enjoyed working on the white Pastelbord but I did find it a bit frustrating at the end as the surface was getting saturated. The board didn't want to take any more pigment and I wasn't done tweaking the piece.

One would think that a toothy surface such as Pastelbord or sanded pastel paper would take a lot of layers but in fact they don't take as many layers as Stonehenge paper. This piece is done for now. I will display it in my studio for a while before making any further adjustments. I shall post more pictures of these small Pastelbord paintings once they are framed.

Next up, waiting on the drafting table, is another small Pastelbord piece. And yes, another flower - a tulip this time. After that I am heading back to paper for a much larger work. I am looking forward to that!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Support, seek it and give it...

As an artist, do get support from your family and friends?

I have been thinking about this issue this week. It started when I read the comments on Marsha Robinett's latest chat line topic ( She asks readers to share when they first started calling themselves an artist. What seemed to be a key factor for people being able to own their truth about their artistic life and journey was if they received support from the people in their lives.

I do have support and I am most fortunate. My biggest supporter is my husband. He listens, he helps and he shares this journey with me. The other morning as I was walking my dog, I was pondering this idea of support and I was trying to imagine where I would be as an artist without it. became clear to me how important having this in your life is. No wonder people without it seem to struggle more - they struggle to stay motivated, they struggle to do the work. When no one else seems to care or to value what you do, it is harder to see the importance of it yourself.

So here are my thoughts and I hope this helps...first of all if you don't have support take encouragement from the fact that this adversity can actually help you become the artist you wish to be. I was up late the other night assembling kits (I was on a kit creating blitz as my stock was getting low). So there I was, in my studio at 2:30 in the morning, cutting paper, stuffing plastic sleeves with kit contents and listening to the radio. The topic being discussed on the radio was how people who achieved great success in their lives had a common denominator - they had all overcome adversity of some sort or another. So I suggest that you turn this adversity into something that fuels your drive and commitment...set your mind to be an artist no matter what others think or say.

Next, if the folks in your life don't seem to give a darn, seek support. Find other artists...join a local art club, take a workshop or class and connect up with other students, read blogs by other artists, leave comments. In my experience, artists support one other. Don't be shy, introduce yourself, talk to people, you will find kindred spirits, I promise.

Don't forget to give support. Support local artists by going to exhibitions, open studio events, visit studios on studio tours. Last weekend I attended a studio open house. Eight very talented artists who share art space in a particular building, cleaned up their studios, set up their art for us to see and invited the world in. But where was everyone? Don't just think that you go to these events to buy and if you don't intend to buy you shouldn't go. You show support just by showing up. Give encouragement. Tell them you like their work, ask questions about their process etc. I spent Sunday driving around visiting studios on a local studio tour. Like everyone, I had a long to-do list for the weekend but I decided that it was also important to support my fellow artists. Yes showing support takes effort but it is time well spent. Not only will you show support but you will also get to see lots of wonderful art and you will come away energized and motivated. And itsn't that what it is all about? If you keep yourself energized and motivated, you will keep working on your art!

Get support and give support...

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to the wonderful folks at the Kanata Art Club for such a fantastic evening last night. Thank you for inviting me to speak and thanks for being such a wonderful audience! Everyone was so nice. I had a great time. Thank you Mary for helping me set up and pack up. I really appreciate the assistance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reflections Kit now available!

coloured pencil on black Stonehenge
copyright Teresa Mallen

You have seen this 'reflections' piece here before as a work in progress. As previously mentioned, this painting was for a kit. Well the kit is now ready for purchase.

The kit comes complete with everything but pencils. I create the kits using the 48 pencil set of Prismacolor Premier pencils. If you own a different brand, a swatch list is available to allow matching of colours.

The kit includes a sheet of black paper, white transfer paper, a detailed line drawing, pictures of the work in progress and a picture of the final image, a copy of the reference photo as well as four pages of step by step instructions.

Don't be intimidated by the idea of rendering glass and reflections. This kit will surprise you with how easy it is. The finished kit looks quite rich and dramatic due to the black paper.

If you are interested in purchasing this kit or would like to see the others that I have created, please click on this link: 'kits'.

If you are in the Ottawa area and are free tomorrow evening, Wednesday May 14th, you are welcome to come to a meeting of the Kanata Art Club. I shall be their guest presenter and I shall be teaching coloured pencil techniques. Just email me if you would like more info.

Our bear is still around. He made another visit Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. Hopefully he/she will soon realize that our home/yard is not a source of food. According to the internet, bears in this area start looking for a mate by the end of May, so maybe this bear will leave in search of a 'significant other'.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm shocked, I'm stunned, I'M IN !!!

'Jack Pine Kaleidoscope'
coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper
copyright Teresa Mallen

Well YIPPEE, I just found out that 'Jack Pine Kaleidoscope' has been juried into the Colored Pencil Society of America's International Exhibition!!!!!

As the title says, I am shocked and stunned. If you haven't heard of this show, I must tell you that this isn't just any old show...this is an exhibition with literally hundreds and hundreds of entries, from coloured pencil artists around the world and only 125 paintings were chosen this year. Mine was one of them - how incredible is that?!

I am so delighted, words cannot convey it. I am familiar with the names and the work of many of the other artists juried in and I am in awe of their talent and abilities. These folks are the best of the best in coloured pencil. They set the standard for excellence in coloured pencil work around the world and to see my name among them leaves me dumbfounded indeed. I keep going back to the CPSA website to check to see if there has been some mistake and to see if my name has been removed.

So now I have to get this piece framed in acrylic (as glass cannot be shipped) and I have to get it packed, insured and shipped off to Seattle Washington where it will be on exhibition from July 2nd to Sept. 29th. Wow. Of course I have moved beyond being concerned about this mundane stuff and I am now pondering things like "Goodness, I will need a new bathing suit as the one I have is ancient and I wouldn't want to be seen by the hotel pool in it." Did I lose you? The CPSA is hosting a coloured pencil convention in Seattle during the exhibition and guess who is scheming to attend?

Okay, so I fly across North America to view my own painting (that I shipped at some expense) on a different wall. How goofy is that...but I will also meet a whole mess of grand c. p. poo-bahs. I know that all these grand poo-bahs are really nice folks, so that would make make the trip most worthwhile. This is a once in a life-time opportunity (I may never get juried in again) so now my brain is clicking along, considering the possibility of attending. We have air mile points so now I just have to find a black market for my kidney so I can afford the hotel fee! Okay, just kidding...anyone want to register for my June classes, how about buying a few hundred kits, a painting or two???

Congrats to all the other artists that were accepted...see you in Seattle...maybe...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

the bear facts please...

Well guess who is back? No I didn't take this picture. It is courtesy of, a source of public domain photos, royalty free.

Our previous bear visit was on Friday night. Things were quiet for a few nights and then we were revisited last night. It was a late night as my husband and I were both clicking away on our computers until about 1:00 a.m. I looked in the backyard before heading upstairs to bed and all was well. I was up just after 6:00 a.m. to find that our feeder poles were bent again. We have been putting the feeders inside at night but the bear found one that was left out in the side garden.

I went surfing the net today and found all sorts of info on black bears - some I knew, most I didn't.

Did you know that:

- black bears are omnivorous, have a sense of smell 7 times greater than a dog, are good swimmers and tree climbers, have colour vision, and they can also be different colours other than black (cinnamon brown, sliver blue and even white)

- they are highly intelligent (said to be on the level of large apes), and are very curious, they live 21 to 33 years, they have a navigation ability superior to humans, and they have excellent long term memory

- a lean bear can exceed 30 mph (fat bears in winter coats overheat and tire quickly - kind of like me in my heavy winter coat dashing about Christmas shopping)

-males weigh between 125 - 500 pounds and females between 90 - 300 pounds

- they are active half an hour before sunrise, take a nap or two during the day (definitely a sign of high intelligence!) and they bed down for the night an hour or two after sunset. Okay, so this means they are likely to be out and about during the day. And I had the back door wide open all day yesterday so the dog could go in and out. Oops.

- their range is smaller than I thought, just a few miles. They are the smallest of bear species in North America, they are not vicious and they do not kill humans to defend their cubs (those are grizzly bears), they are silent and they only growl in the movies.

As our bear has an excellent memory, he/she isn't going to forget our backyard. We are going to be extra vigilant with our bird feeding practices as well as the use of our composter. We are going to set up our motion detector water sprayer (it is sold to keep deer and other animals out of gardens, if the sensor detects a creature it gets a soaking by the sprayer hooked up to a hose) and I have my flashlight and camera ready.

Knowing that it is likely to be active in the day caused me to be peering out the studio window today and I confess I jumped at every creaking tree limb and twig snap at lunch time when I was out doing some planting in the garden. It might be able to run 30 miles per hour but I can't!

Our dog is most indignant to have his territory invaded by such a large wild creature. He is a dominant male and he wasn't happy about (pardon my language) the pile of poop the bear left by a rear feeder. The pooping wars are on!

Anyway, enough about my bear visits...don't miss yesterday's post - check out the May newsletter if you haven't already.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May Newsletter Is Ready!

The May newsletter is ready to read, just click here. If you are new to my blog, let me tell you about the newsletter...

I am now publishing a newsletter on to my website. My goal is to inform and inspire other coloured pencil artists. Newsletter Group Members get to participate by asking questions, requesting feedback on a work etc.

Newsletter Group Members also receive an email in their inbox as soon as a newsletter has been posted. To become a member of the Newsletter Group, just contact me. The newsletters are free so why not check them out?

About the photo...we had a bear visit our backyard last Friday night. Here is a picture of two of our mauled bird feeder posts...there were others. While bears do wander around here, especially in the spring as they are quite hungry this time of year, this is the first time we have had one come into our 'compound'. We have a large area in our rear yard that is fenced off with a five foot fence. It keeps our dog on our property and keeps the deer out of one of my gardens. The bear climbed over as there was no other sign of entry. We have been bringing our feeders in at night so we don't create a 'nuisance' bear situation. I love living in a place teeming with wildlife. We are blessed indeed.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rose blossom on Pastelbord, WIP

Here is what the rose blossom looks like now...

Unfortunately the photo doesn't capture the essence of the piece. The grainy texture of the Pastelbord is giving the rose a soft, dreamy quality which I like a lot.

I haven't had too much time to work on this piece as I am busy typing up the May newsletter as well as the instructions for the reflections kit. I had to tear myself away from my studio this afternoon as my husband and I had to do an airport run to pick up relatives returning from a trip.

I will post the finished image as soon as I get it done.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rose blossom on pastelbord, WIP

Ah, the adventures in my studio...

I started a new piece this morning. I had my drawing on a piece of tracing paper and I was ready to transfer the lines to my Pastelbord. I inserted my transfer paper only to have an oops moment. Without thinking, I had inserted a piece of white transfer paper but darn it all, the Pastelbord is white. Just wasn't going to work...okay it was early and I hadn't even brewed coffee yet. Now the real problem sets in - I don't own any graphite transfer paper. I have never needed any. When working on white paper, I am able to use my lightbox to transfer the line drawing but as this is a board, it isn't see-through.

I needed a plan B. I grabbed my Wolff's 2B carbon pencil and I created my own graphite transfer paper. I rubbed the carbon pencil over the back of the tissue paper and voila! Worked like a charm.

About this piece: it is on a 5 x 7 inch panel of white Pastelbord (which has a sanded surface similar to pastel paper). While some of my work is small in size, I don't normally work this small. I purchased a package of four 5 x 7 inch Pastelbord panels so here I am doing a rather small rose blossom. The finished size will be smaller than 5 x 7 as I am saving room around the edge to allow for framing. I have read that people using the white Pastelbord don't like it, especially when compared to working on the other available colours of Pastelbord. So far I am enjoying working on it. The only negative so far, is that I find it harder to keep the areas that I want left white clean (especially when compared to working on Stonehenge paper). .

I like it when the tooth of the paper shows through in a work and I do like the toothy nature of this sanded surface. I am applying the pigment in the old fashioned way in that I am just laying down layers of coloured pencil. In this piece I am not filling the tooth with the use of Neocolors II crayons, watercolour pencils, solvent or colourless blender. My goal is for the the tooth to remain visible. Already I find that this adds to the delicate, soft look of the piece. I am using Prismacolor Lightfast pencils.

This is a fun piece for me as I like working on white objects. This may be a white rose blossom but by the time I am done with it, it will have quite a bit of colour. I 'see' so much colour in white :-) ...for those of you who have taken the Beyond the Basics course with me, remember the white tea cup and cloth project? I have a white peony blossom in the header of this blog. Further evidence that I love to add colour to white!

As you can see from the top photo, I am working at establishing my darker values first. I intend to crop the piece more on the right than the left so keep in mind that compositionally, the image will change.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

RSS Awareness Day

Marsha Robinett posted in her Monday April 28th blog entry that May 1st is RSS Awareness Day. To read more about this go to Marsha's blog at

It is May 1st and I am ready! I have added RSS Feed to this blog - see the top of the right hand side column.

What does this mean to you? Well, if you like this blog and you would like to read my future entries, you can subscribe to it. By registering your email address, you will receive an email in your inbox that tells you when I have posted a new entry. This saves you from having to go to the blog site to see if I have made any recent postings. There are two ways to subscribe. You can click on the subscribe in a reader area or you can click on the area for subscribing via email. If you use the 'reader' option you will remain anonymous. I do not receive info on who is subscribing and your address remains private. This means that you are protected from receiving spam.

If this sounds groovy to you, hop on over to the upper right hand side and start your subscription today. Your feedback is always welcome. If you wish to leave a comment on a post, please do so.