Monday, July 26, 2010

peony petals finished

untitled 'petals', coloured pencil on Stonehenge, 22.5" x 6.5"

While the piece still doesn't have a title, it is for the most part done. I will no doubt go back in and tweak some values before it is framed. Maybe I'll call it Peony Clouds - it reminds me a bit of how clouds look from an airplane! :-) While a peony was my inspiration, I deviated from reality by making the petals a lot more multicoloured and by stylizing the various veins and shapes. I have included a more detailed shot of a section of the piece below.

I won't be in the studio this week because I am heading off to California! I am attending the Coloured Pencil Society of America's convention. I shall also be able to see the CPSA exhibition. Woo-hoo!! The CPSA's 18th Annual International Exhibition is now open for viewing at the Art Museum of Los Gatos. If you are visiting the San Francisco area this summer do take the opportunity to visit this incredible exhibition - all of the work juried into the show has been executed exclusively in coloured pencil!

Now I must confess that two of the aspects of being an artist that I truly love are the quiet and solitude that this lifestyle affords. So...traveling across the USA and spending time in crowded airports is for me an experience right up there with dental surgery!

Ah, but I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition. (Seeing the art submitted for the silent auction is like seeing a second cp exhibition!) And as I discovered at last year's convention in Atlanta, coloured pencil artists are definitely some of the nicest people you could ever know! I am also excited to be attending a workshop on Thursday. The instructor for the workshop is Ester Roi, the inventor of the Icarus Drawing Board. Ester shall be sharing her techniques in working with waxed based media and heat. Ester's work is amazing and I look forward to experimenting with this new way of working. So California, here I come! :-)

Ah, but how could I leave this little guy? He is our three month old bundle of goat cuteness. Fortunately, all of the critters with fur, hoofs and feathers shall be in the capable care of my husband. Guess he will be glad to see me return! :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

'Petals' wip, farm life pics

Untitled WIP, part of 'petals' series, cps on Stonehenge, 22.5" x 6.5"
copyright Teresa Mallen

Here is what is currently on my drafting table. This photo was taken last week and the piece is further along now. Actually it is almost finished so I shall be able to post the final image next week.

After having finishing a couple of large abstract-ish pieces on sanded pastel paper, I wanted a change. I have been busy in the studio these many weeks (since my last post) exploring and messing about. I did some acrylic paintings, just small studies really and a bit of mixed media work. I didn't end up with anything I wanted to reveal as works in progress. I was just stretching myself in new directions for a wee bit. I am the first to admit that painting with acrylics is not my forte but I do enjoy giving it a go. The enjoyment is very brief and in no time I am disappointed with my results and frustrated with the medium. I am always delighted to return to my cps!

Once I was back using coloured pencils, I started working on a painting inspired by the Solomon's Seal that was blooming in my garden. I was working small, something like 8 x 10 inches, on Colourfix paper. Once I got into the piece, I started to regret my choice of surface as well as the colour of the paper. I knew it was time to switch to white paper and one with a lot less tooth. So the Solomon's Seal piece was set aside. I might rework it another day...

My current 'petals' piece will end up becoming part of a series that I started last year featuring peony petals. For those of you who are familiar with my work, you might have noticed my return to one of my favourite formats, a juicy, long horizontal - 22.5 inches x 6.5 inches. Working on the white surface is allowing me to play with soft colour blending, something I so enjoy with the cp medium. I am really enjoying working on this piece!

When not in the studio, I have been very busy outdoors. Remember those 600 seedlings I started indoors in the winter months? Well, I got all of them planted as well as some veggies direct from seed. Here is a partial shot of my vegetable garden taken a few weeks ago. The plants have grown quite a bit since then. To give you an idea of size, I would guess that the garden is about 80 feet by 80 feet. We started this garden from scratch when we moved here and like my art it also is a work in progress. I hope to increase the size of it next year as there were veggies I wanted to plant that I just didn't have room for. We have an electric fence up to keep the deer out. We now have deer here everyday. One is a mom with twin fawns. They are so cute it is hard to get angry at mom's nightly munching in the flower beds.

I reported in my last post that baby chicks were coming. Here is a shot of them on the day they arrived.

Here is a pretty baby hen at three weeks. She now had some new feathers replacing her down.

Here is a picture of some of the chickens at 8 weeks. They are 10 weeks old now and are bigger than they are here. They are an absolute delight...okay their poop is stinky but once the bedding from their chicken house has been composted, it will make great fertilizer for the garden, so it is all good! :-)

The arrival of my two dairy goats was quite eventful! I grew up on a dairy farm and while our herd of cows was milked by machine, I did see both my mom and dad milk by hand many times. I have learned that milking by hand is quite a skill and it looks easier than it actually is. Getting milk out isn't too difficult but landing it in the pail is more of a challenge and gosh until your hands and arms develop all of the right muscles, hand cramps happen. Here I am milking Veesa.

And here is what it all comes down to, milk hitting the pail!

Here is my girl Rainah, giving her head a good rub. Rainah is a purebred Alpine. Her breed originates from the French alps and she has the breed's characteristic two toned markings.

I was surprised to find that my domestic goats like to rear up and butt heads like wild goats do. Here Rainah has jumped up onto higher ground to give her a bit of an advantage. Veesa is bigger though and could really clean her clock as it were if she chose to. Rainah reminds me of a little sister bugging her older sister. She starts all of the skirmishes. Veesa is a purebred Saanen and her breed is all white and orginates in the Swiss alps. Both of these girls had kids this spring (which is of course how I can milk them). Well, my gals were pining for their kiddies so I ended up returning them to the breeder to be with the kids. My husband and I are making some changes to the set up of our barn and we are doing some more fencing in the pasture. The girls will be back here in about two weeks and this time we shall be bringing their kids here too!

What with putting in the garden and learning how to make cheese (goat milk is awesome stuff - from yogurt to cottage cheese, to ice cream, mozzarella, ricotta, fresh chevre, on and on it goes) things in my half of our home office got out of control. That mess took some work. You might notice a painting on my desk. Well, it would seem that somehow, while we were framing all sorts of paintings for my studio tour last fall, we missed scanning this one. My husband and I both 'remember' seeing a scan but darned if we can find it in any file, on any computer. had to be taken apart.

Taking apart a painting is a sad business. It is so much work to frame one that it seems a crime to have to undo all of that effort.

While I was at it, I took apart Neptune's Leaves too. It had been framed with glass last fall and I needed to frame it in acrylic so it could be shipped to California for the CPSA exhibition.

The backing paper is adhered using double sided tape. It is sticky stuff and not easy to remove fully. While new tape eventually ends up getting put down, I do try to remove as much of the residue as I can so that the fresh paper will lie down very smoothly.

I have also been up to my chair restoration fun. Some of you may recall the old chairs that I found in the attic of my parents' house. Here are two more that I am just getting around to dealing with. The rose one had just been washed (the dried old pigeon poop came off easily) and I ripped off the fabric from the other chair. At one time the back must have contained some homemade stuffing. I have refinished the wood work and the rose chair is now in my studio where it sits next to its mate (a green one that I refinished last year). I have found a place in a town near here where I can purchase a kit that contains everything I need to weave a new seat to mend the chair on the left. The chair is in excellent condition otherwise and once it has a new seat installed it shall be quite a wonderful addition to my collection. Of course finding spots for them in the house is another issue but goodness, they just couldn't go off to the landfill! :-)

What else has been going on? Well, I stained a deck table and two Adirondack chairs.

Major trimming of old lilac trees has taken place, rhubarb pies have been baked, and woo-hoo my raspberry bushes are producing well. The former owner had left a small wild patch in the corner of the rear yard. Raspberry bushes spread quickly if left alone to do their thing so after moving in, I have left them alone and let them spread. Yum, yum.

Humm computer crashed and had to go off and get fixed. That was fun. Not.

Oh and I spent an afternoon in the USA this week. Some of you might know of my troubles last year getting my art to the CPSA exhibition in Atlanta. My shipment was delayed by US customs because of a mistake (theirs not mine) and it took some major expediting on my part to get my parcel released. This year, I did up my customs papers (stuff like NAFTA free trade declarations of original goods paperwork and Homeland Security forms) and I went across the border myself, clearing my package with the customs people in person. I traveled to the town of Ogdensburg (just across the border in upper New York State) and I shipped my parcel from there. It is on the way to California as I type. It has to arrive there next week and it shall. Whew!

Finally, while my chickens and goats are wonderful, I would be lost without Mr. Top Dog! Here is my fella with a 'find' on one of our local wilderness hikes - part of a deer leg. Oh doggie joy. Of course some other creature got the good stuff off of it but my guy proudly walked around with the leg for a while before hiding it in a clump of large juniper bushes. We returned there the following week and he fished it out for some more prancing.

Animals always remind me of the happiness found in simple pleasures. Whether it is my chickens clucking with delight at an unexpected treat of leftover rice, or my goats fighting over nacho chips or my dog living out his predator dreams, they bear witness to the truth that if we really embrace living in the present moment, enjoying the small gifts of each day, we can often find the pleasure and joy we seek. I hope you have all had a wonderful late spring and early summer. Anyone else been experiencing this heatwave? :-)