Tuesday, November 25, 2008

coloured pencil portrait WIP continues...

Melissa's Portrait work in progress
coloured pencil on Stonehenge
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is how the portrait looks now. Things are moving rather slowly as I haven't spent much time on it. I was teaching Saturday, my portrait course :-) and I spent the rest of the weekend visiting the wonderful artists on the Red Trillium Studio Tour. I wasn't on the tour this time so it was a great opportunity to drive around and see the fantastic art. The terrific news is that the tour was very well attended and sales were good as well. This was somewhat surprising given the doom and gloom in the media regarding the economy. At least the price of gas has come down!

I did have an adventure with Melissa's portrait. While my work tends to look realistic, I do like to stylize my work somewhat. What that translates to is that I tend to create skin tones that are lighter in value than real skin. I also like to edit out some things that are linear in the face, such as smile crinkles at the corner of the eyes - I suggest them with some soft lines and value changes. I also like to edit out light moles and freckles. If a subject had a significant mole or lots of freckles I would include them as this would add character. Melissa has a couple of very small moles. At first I thought I would include them. After putting them in, I found I didn't like the overall effect. They seemed to grab your attention and in real life they don't. My adventure began...

I tried to lift the pigment. It worked somewhat. The final colour in the mole spot was going to be very light so I needed to remove all of the colour. I reached for my electric eraser. I hardly ever use it but I find it can be useful to get the last bit of pigment off if lifting doesn't work. I touched the eraser down, and hit the power button. Just as I did, I remembered that I hadn't checked to see if the tip of the eraser was clean. I lifted the eraser off of the paper but oops not before the eraser had transferred bright red pigment to my paper. Now I didn't have a very faint mole to deal with but a dollop of scarlet pigment ground into the paper. Great.

Plan B...bleach the colour. I haven't had to use this method before but these were desperate times. I had heard of an artist that had a tiny bug crawl onto her paper. The next morning, she whisked the bug off only to discover that it had left a small stain on her paper. Erasing and lifting didn't work. Whatever body fluids the tiny bug had left behind had been absorbed by the paper, creating a permanent stain. She finally tried applying bleach and it worked. So that is what I tried. I poured out a bit of bleach onto a styrofoam plate. Using the small end of a tooth pick, I dropped a tiny bit of bleach directly onto the scarlet stain. I waited a few seconds and then dabbed the spot with a tissue. It seemed to work a bit. I repeated the process. It took a few applications but the stain did disappear. The texture of the paper is fine too. I share this story in case you ever get in a similar situation. My advice is to be very careful - use a teeny tiny bit of bleach - you don't want to soak your paper. I let the paper dry. I have now coloured over the spot and you can't tell where it was. Whew! Actually, lets back things up...my advice is to check the tip of your eraser before you hit the on button!

This WIP may take awhile. My husband and I are on vacation this week, yippee! We can't remember when our last holiday was. My time away from work has been consumed with dealing with my Dad's illness and death as well as moving last year...so this week we rest, recover and play...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Coloured Pencil Portrait WIP continues...

Melissa's Portrait, Work in Progress
Coloured Pencil on Stonehenge
Copyright Teresa Mallen

It's looking a bit better now...the background is a bit dark in this photo. As you can see, I am working on a bit of everything at the moment. I hop about when I work. I work on an eye, then the neck, then a bit on the sweater, then a bit on the hair. Part of this is because I want to start getting a sense of my darkest values. Also, part of it is because I get seduced away from a spot rather easily! I go after the stuff that is fun to draw. I love drawing fabric so the folds on the hood were the first to get worked on.

You can't see it here, but I did fix the drawing errors before going any further.

Okay, back to the studio...Do you hop around your work too?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coloured Pencil Portrait, WIP

Well, this is definitely the beginning - work in progress indeed! I am starting a portrait of my niece Melissa. She was kind enough to pose for tons of photos that were the starting point for my portrait course. I am using coloured pencils on white Stonehenge paper. I have two layers down as a start on the background. It is hard to see but I also have a first layer down for the hooded top. The face has just one layer of colour on it. The drawing needs adjusting - the mouth is off on the right side, her right cheek is too full and she doesn't have a chin. Thank goodness you can't see all of that!

With the start of this new project, I took the opportunity to clean off my drafting table. I gave the Borco a good wash. If you have a vinyl cover (Borco is a common brand name) on your drafting table and you have had trouble cleaning it, I would like to suggest the following. Rubbing alcohol works when soap doesn't and nail polish remover works wonders on tape residue. Just apply these products to a small cotton pad (like a make-up remover pad). I make sure to wash the vinyl well after using these products so there is nothing left that can transfer to my paper. Anyway, my drafting table feels and looks fresh and clean. Not bad for a few minutes work.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Portrait exercises and a mystery bird's nest...

I thought I would show you what I have been up to in the studio these days. Here are some of the portrait course exercises and the reference photos. My students are getting lots of practice in creating skin tones in coloured pencil!

This week I shall be starting a portrait of my neice Melissa. She was the model for the body parts pictures. This time it will be her whole face on the page! I shall post it as a wip, so stay tuned.

As for the next pictures, can someone enlighten me? The pictures are of a simple twig nest on our property. I never saw a bird constructing it or using it. Does anyone know what bird would create such a thing?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Postive news in the arts...

Sterling Silver Functional Sculptural Bowl "Table Jewellery"
28 cm high x 19.5 cm long x 16 cm wide
Artist Myra Tulonen Smith
Bowl copyright of and image property of Myra Tulonen Smith

I recently contacted my friend Myra with a 'lets do lunch' email. Wow, Myra had some news. Look at what she has been up to! And the big news? Myra had been invited to participate in an extraordinary exhibition of metal art. The two works shown are the pieces she created for this special exhibition. Aren't they incredible?

What I find truly wonderful, beyond Myra getting the recognition she so greatly deserves, is that this exhibition flys in the face of current headlines and news reports regarding the economy. In fact the gallery that is holding this exhibition seems to operate on the principal that there are always art collectors willing to buy. Good news for the arts, I say!

So here is the scoop...Jonathon Brancroft-Snell Gallery is the largest contemporary ceramic gallery in Canada and it is located in London, Ontario. This new exhibition, featuring metal art is entitled 'Celebration'. It is a tribute to the legacy of Lois Etherington-Betteridge RCA and is in recognition of her lifetime dedication to the arts as well as in recognition of her 80th birthday.

This incredible exhibition features work by Lois as well as 20 other artists, artists who are are some of the 20th century's most illustrious metal artists. As Jonathon states, "The artists participating in this exhibition represent some of the finest talents in Canada today. Their work is the personification of imagination, innovation and creative excellence. Each has a personal link with Lois."

The exhibition is on now and it runs until November 22nd. If you are a lover of metal or ceramic art do check out the gallery's website for details and start planning your visit.

Sterling Silver Single Malt Cup
6.7cm high x 13 cm long x 9.4 cm wide
Artist Myra Tulonen Smith
Cup copyright of and image property of Myra Tulonen Smith

Here is Myra's description of this exquisite Malt Cup:

"This piece is inspired by the traditional Scottish 'Quaich', which is a multi-handled cup for drinking single malt whiskey. The difference is that my cup does not have handles, rather the handles...influenced in shape by traditional Scottish ram's horn motifs...have become the stand. The stand supports the exquisite simplicity of the cup which draws focus to the singularity of a fine malt scotch. To sip a single malt scotch from a silver cup is in itself a luxurious experience. Pearlescent light reflects from the silver through the golden liquid as the aroma of the scotch envelops the senses. The smooth cool touch of the silver on one's lip enriches anticipation of the fiery warmth promised by the wee dram as it slides along the sensuous curve to be encountered and enjoyed."

Anyone thirsty?! Congratulations Myra on being selected to participate in such a prestigious exhibition. Your work is incredibly beautiful!

But wait, there is more positive news for the arts - Ottawa has a new art gallery! The OWAA Gallery just opened on November 1st and it is located at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex, at 1500 Shea Road in Stittsville. OWAA stands for the Ottawa West Arts Association. I hope to check out this new gallery very soon. I hear the facilities are quite lovely.

So a thriving ceramic gallery hosts an impressive metal art exhibit and there is a new gallery in town. Good news and some more good news!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New issue of coloured pencil newsletter!

Well yippee, the November issue of my newsletter for coloured pencil artists is ready to read.

You can find it by clicking on Newsletter. If you like what you see, why not consider becoming a Newsletter Group Member? Membership is free! Membership gives you the opportunity to submit your art for posting, to ask questions, to get helpful feedback, to submit cp tips and to promote your business.

Interested? Just go to the newsletter link and contact me. You will be on the membership mailing list immediately. If you know someone who would enjoy a coloured pencil newsletter, why not pass along this info? You don't have to be a member to read it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

pumpkins and other blessings...

'Pumpkin' 7" x 10", coloured pencil on Stonehenge
Copyright Teresa Mallen

Aren't pumpkins great? I love pumpkins and all types of gourds. Many artists have been busy this fall drawing and painting pumpkins. Blogs have been full of pumpkins pics. So, not to be left out, and as I love pumpkins and all, I thought I would post my pumpkin.

I am always telling my students to never give up on a piece. (Remember my Jack Pine story? And to think that ol' Jack Pine was juried into the Coloured Pencil Society of America's exhibition this year!)

Well this piece is one of those ones that almost ended up being torn into bits and tossed into the garbage. You can't see all of the detail in the stalk but I spent a few wonderful hours softly layering colour. And then things got gruesome. I started to work on the body of the pumpkin and no matter what I did, I wasn't happy with the results. I lifted pigment and added pigment. I put aside my pencils and added pastel. Yuck. I removed this and then added oil pastel. Yuck again. I scraped this off with the side of a finger nail file. By this time I had given up on the piece and it now became something to experiment on. Out came the pencils again. I put down lots of pigment and then I got out my bottle of solvent. And wouldn't you know, I liked what I saw! I let the paper dry, and then added more pigment. I used solvent again. I let it dry again and then added a touch more pigment here and there. Suddenly it wasn't heading for the trash but to the framers!

Even when a piece isn't turning out the way you had intended, you may be surprised at what you can make of it. Just keep trying!

So pumpkins are a blessing...I have them outside and inside - adding beauty to my life. Yesterday I added more beauty to my life by opening my studio to wonderful students who are eager to explore creating portraits. I feel blessed and honoured to be a part of their artistic experiences and to play a part in their growth as artists. Sharing my passion for art and coloured pencil is pure bliss. To witness people enthusiastically and fearlessly embracing art and the adventures art making brings is truly beautiful and gives me great joy. So a big thank you to my students...I am really looking forward to the remaining classes we have together.

As the day progressed, wildlife added even more beauty to my life. I had a male cardinal spend quite a bit of time in a lilac tree and on a feeder - both just outside my family room window. I enjoyed watching him up close. Late in the afternoon, I was taking my dog out for a walk. As I stepped out onto our veranda, I saw a beautiful buck in the meadow, just on my right. He lingered and stared at me for quite a while before moving on. It sounds rather trite to say that the best things in life are free, but you know what, many of them are. I sincerely hope your weekend was filled with beauty and blessings too.