Wednesday, August 31, 2011

gifts of August

the heat and sun of August coaxes forth flowers, an endless variety of form and colour

plants and trees bear fruit

August gifts us with so much...warm winds, a barley moon, cooler evenings, needing a quilt, watermelon, sunflowers, peach pie, stacks of fluffy clouds, the smell of second cut hay, those first ripe tomatoes, sweet corn...


meadows are filled with wildflowers, different grasses, clover


and the garden harvest begins

What were your favourite moments of this month?

farewell  August; welcome September...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Motivation Monday

Do you ever feel like you have too many dreams and too little time? Does it sometimes feel like where you want to go with all of your creative goals and plans is simply too far off - so far off that it starts to seem unattainable?

All of the time you have invested in pursuing your dreams is not wasted. A simple way to boost your motivation is to look at how far you have come with your dreams already. 

Remember when you were a student and you dreamed of the day that you would be out working and your school loans would be paid off? Remember when you rented an apartment, how you longed to buy your own place so you could do what you wanted to with the paint on the walls and you wanted to have a yard? Remember how you were so tired of having to get everywhere by bus and you longed to own car? Remember how you dreamed of being in a relationship, perhaps dreamed of having a family? No matter what we have wanted in our past, chances are we have realized a lot of our dreams over the years. It is easy to take all of this for granted. But have a look around you. I'll bet you will see that your life now is full of fulfilled dreams.

And so will your life in the future! Simply keep pursuing those creative goals, keep making those plans and crafting ideas. Do the work and sooner than you think you will find you have more dreams to add to your fulfilled list. Stop looking at the clock and the calendar, just do what you can all happens one step at a time anyway, right? 

(for convenient reading, all previous Motivation Monday posts can be located in one spot, simply click the Motivation Monday banner in the right hand side bar)

Friday, August 26, 2011

yummy art books

Some delightful finds...

The other day my husband and I cleared our schedules and had a date afternoon. We headed off to the town of Carleton Place, just outside of Ottawa. Our destination was Wool Growers, a fabulous livestock supply store. Okay, so we had an errand we wanted to run but the date part was two other stops - Ballygiblins for a very late lunch (highly recommended if you live in the Ottawa area and can make it there) and The Book Gallery. The book store is located in a very old Victorian brick house and the attached renovated storage buildings and it houses over 100,000 titles of used books.

Of course I spent my time in the art section and I came away with some books that reflect my artistic passions - illustration, botanicals, nature art and books on art that flat out makes me swoon. My loot consists of: Janet Marsh's Nature Diary, Glen Loates A Brush With Life, Arthur Rackman A Life With Illustration by James Hamilton, The Art of Andrew Wyeth, and The Complete Writings of Emily Carr. If you are not familiar with the illustration of Arthur Rackman, the art of the Wyeths (a very talented family) nor the art of Emily Carr (one of my personal inspirations with regards to her life journey as well as her art) then I encourage you to check these folks out. (all highlighted text in the post has hyperlinks to other sites).

I don't know how independent book sellers stay in business. Who would want to have to compete with Amazon and other discount sellers? It felt very good to support a local business and to give some lovely art books a new home. I am looking forward to my next visit as I didn't have time to look through the gardening and cooking books.

When we returned home at around 5:30, the goats were all up on their play structure staring out into the field. The fox was back! The chickens were blissfully ignorant, eating all over the property in front of the house. Mark scared the fox away ran off rather reluctantly as it was hunting mice. It continued to be a feral evening. Our dog managed to catch a meadow vole while out on his evening walk and he chomped it down, we sat out in the meadow with the goats until dark and two deer came out into the field and watched us, the resident owl started hooting at dusk and later coyotes howled. Wildlife abounds here and we love it.

Now for a few pics I took the other evening whilst heading out to the barn for evening chores. My new hobbies, cloud watching and now cloud photography...Did you know there was a Cloud Appreciation Society? I didn't but thanks to fellow blogger Ann Nemcosky, I know now. Thank you Ann. Their website has inspired me to start a new photo file of cloud photography.

Yesterday the clouds were so beautiful I found it hard to stay focused on my work! :-)  Perhaps I need to explain that for two decades I lived in houses that were surrounded by forest. Lovely, most definitely yes, but it sure was difficult to grow veggies without much sun and I never saw the sky. Ah, but now that we have moved here, I see sky and I am very smitten - storm clouds, snow clouds, big fat summer clouds, it is all so beautiful. Why not add some beauty to your life and make time for a bit of cloud watching?

The fox was back yesterday afternoon. He/she was once again hunting mice in the field, was stared down by goats and ran away when it heard my voice. The chickens were once again oblivious. Right now a cull of the flock doesn't seem such a bad thing - two hens have started laying eggs in an outdoor manger (which has a lid, the goats eat from between slats on the side) and somebody is pooping in the nesting boxes. My husband has re-engineered the manger to thwart the chickens and there is much annoyed clucking going on. Of course, Mr./Ms. Fox would no doubt not get these offenders but probably eat our well behaved best layers... :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

more pen/ink/cp pieces

pen/ink/coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper, 4" x 6"
copyright Teresa Mallen

I have finished off seven more of my 4 inch x 6 inch pen/ink/cp drawings. Of course they will look much better when they are presented with a mat so the ragged paper edges don't show. They are enjoyable to do and I like that I can have a finished work quite quickly. Sometimes my larger pieces can seem to drag on a bit... :-)

Harvest season is upon us as veggies ripen in the garden. We are also storing up food for winter of a different sort - hay for the goats. A year's worth of hay was delivered Saturday morning.

 Looks like a lot but it is only 200 bales.

I grew up on a dairy farm and the conveyor is actually a smaller one that we used on that farm. I am delighted to inform you that I shifted that entire stack of hay myself last Saturday! My husband was stacking the hay in the mow.

Two hundred bales by real farming standards is nothing, just two wagon loads. If there is one thing I learned on the farm while growing up, it was how to handle hay. During my teen years, my mother and I unloaded tens of thousands of bales (from a wagon, not spread all over a lawn - took a lot of walking on Saturday). I had no brothers and there was no hired help. So, yup, this wee pile was a piece of cake and I loved every minute of it.

To this farm girl, the smell of hay is divine and it is very satisfying to know that your animals are set for the winter, no matter how deep the snow nor how severe the cold may get. Did I mention that it was 29 degrees (84F) with 100% humidity the day we put up the hay? And that these bales weigh between 50 - 60 pounds each? I have no idea the amount of water I lost in sweat and my face was the colour of a very ripe tomato but I got the last bale sent up to the loft about 10 minutes before a rain storm blew in. Wet hay is ruined hay.

As a added bonus, I find all of these farming activities provide great therapy for wrists that suffer from too much typing on the computer. A session of planting garden seedlings or pulling weeds, mucking out stalls or shifting bales seems to exercise my hands in a very thorough way. We truly weren't meant to be sedentary creatures and our bodies often remind us!  So yeah for farm work. :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

a mystery

Well it had to be done. Sorting pencils and finding ones that need replacing is a 'yawn' task if there ever was one, for me anyway. 

I did have two surprises though and one of them is a mystery. First of all, I was quite surprised at the number of pencils I have to purchase! It has been a very long time since I replenished my stash but I hadn't realized just how long.

The second surprise occurred when I checked my bin of neutrals. I discovered short pencils in colours I don't use!!! Honestly, cool grey 70%, 20%, 10%, french grey 30%, 50%, 20%, warm grey 10%  etc. (Prismacolor's Premier line has oodles of greys if you didn't know).I am puzzled! I don't like using grey pencils - I prefer to make my own greys/neutrals by using layers of other colours, like painters do. And just what art have I done in the last year that would have included greyish areas anyway? Humm...none... Soooo, what's up? A colouring intruder? A ghost with a penchant for grey? Weird goings on around here, I say...

Here is a peek at the humpback hosta piece...

work in progress, cps on Colourfix paper, 6.5" x 23"
copyright Teresa Mallen
There is much tweaking to be done, some dark areas to lighten and some modelling to do but it is getting there. In my pencil sort out, I discovered a pencil I didn't know I had. I thought I needed to purchase it in order to work further on the background. So with my new found pencil in hand, I settled in to work on the upper background. The photo is a tad dark and doesn't show the subtle colour changes between the upper and lower areas nor does it show well all of the colours that are in the background. Trust me they are there. :-) I really enjoy using several colours in my backgrounds as I think it gives the work a vibrancy and an energetic quality that increases the closer you move towards the piece.

I like the change of pace backgrounds give. No fussy detail work, just flat out colouring. While one might think a 23" wide piece would require quite a bit of time to lay down several layers of colour, it doesn't. Over the years, hours of practice has earned me the ability to lay down colour in quick even strokes. If you work in cps, you might recall how in the early days you had to concentrate to get a consistent even stroke. As I used to tell my students, it will become automatic one day, just wait and see! Anyway, I dashed this off while listening to Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda on 'Saturday Afternoon at the Opera' on CBC radio and I was done long before poor Queen Mary of Scotland met her doomed fate with her executioner. Goodness, as the confrontations between the two cousins, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Queen Mary heated up and insults were exchanged (in Italian of course) and as the drama of passion, betrayal, love and death unfolded, my pencils were flying with the excitement. Isn't it funny how we can get all caught up in a story, even when we know the plot and the outcome?

For drama of a quieter sort, I have been taking reference photos for some landscape pieces that I might do some day. So many ideas, but only so many hours...

I live on the Carp Ridge in rural Ottawa (Canada) and just a few minutes from my home there is a huge tract of land (hundreds of acres) that is publicly owned and protected from development. It is a wild rocky place filled with deep ponds, some the size of lakes. Here is a small study I did a couple of years ago, inspired by a fall outing.

And here are a few pictures taken while on a recent hike.

Carp Ridge Cuties, two of them but you can't see my husband... :-)