Welcome to Profile of the Week! We are delighted to present Terry Mellway from Winnipeg, Canada.

Terry creates realistic colored pencils drawings of people, animals and places.  To see more of Terry's artwork, visit her gallery: http://community.art-is-fun.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?scre...

When you view her portfolio, be sure to click on the images to view them larger!

Please join us for this interview with Terry:

How would you describe your art?

Tough question – depends on who’s viewing it I suppose, but I would have to say that it’s definitely not abstract or what’s trendy. Perhaps traditional realism is how I would describe it. I see something in my surroundings that I like and I try to depict it in a very realistic way, but showing the viewers a view they wouldn’t otherwise see. It’s also an evolving thing.

How long have you been an artist and how did you become an artist?

I’ve been doing art on and off in spurts since I was little, really focusing on it in the last ten years.

Becoming an artist? Another good question because at what point do we say, "yes I am this". Oftentimes, we simply fall into a path in life and other times we make a conscious choice. For me it was a little of both. As a young girl, like most children in the 50’s and 60’s crayons and coloring books were the norm but when I was around six or seven, my parents bought my sisters and I a “Jon Gnagy – Learn to Draw” kit. I can still picture it and many of the drawings I did. It was one of the most significant gifts I’ve ever received, so for me I think that’s where it all started. I continued to draw and paint through grade school and began to dabble in other mediums, spending most of my allowance on art supplies. Then life took me in other directions over the majority of my adult life, the least of which was raising six children. About 14 years ago I met my second husband who has been my biggest fan from the start, encouraging me to take up my art again and with the children now grown and on their own it was easier to do. I worked with watercolors for a few years but always felt it to be a struggle. Then I happened to come across some colored pencil pieces on one of our travels and decided to try it. I felt an immediate connection and the ability it provided for me to have control and work on fine details was what drew me in. So over the next 10 years I honed my skills, finding myself one day where I could say without hesitation – “Yes, I am an artist.”

I retired from the corporate world just over a year ago now to pursue my passion full-time and it’s been busy, doing commissions and writing a number of articles for some magazines both online and hard copy. I am currently a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America and the Assiniboia Group of Artists Cooperative here in my home province of Manitoba, Canada.

What is your favorite medium and why?

At this point in time, I would have to say colored pencil. I am a very detail-oriented person and colored pencil provides the control I desire and I can do it anytime, anywhere and there’s no mess or fuss like there is with many other mediums.

Pick one work of art from your Art Colony portfolio and tell us the story behind it. Why does this piece have meaning to you? What steps did you take to create the piece?

One piece you say. I would have chosen my Jamaican portrait for this question but since it was just featured in a four-page spread of the May issue of the Colored Pencil magazine, I will then choose my “Pastel Daylily” (shown right).

I have always loved gardening with a passion and my yard was filled with perennials everywhere, especially a myriad of lilies and irises. I took a lot of photos and so I have lots of images to choose from when creating a new piece of art. This particular piece is special for me because the flower bloomed for the first time on the anniversary of my mom’s passing. I enjoyed drawing it because of the degree of difficulty there was to capture the pastel shade of pink. Pastels are often challenging first of all because they’re hard to see as you’re working on them and that especially in this case it’s not about painting a pale pink flower but creating the shadows that present the illusion of the actual color. In addition, this particular lily has all those waves and wrinkles, that without them wouldn’t be very lifelike. The soft background with all the dappled sunlight created the perfect backdrop for the bloom.

In creating any piece I always start with a good reference photo, which I choose from the stockpile I have, based on my first impression and then things like composition, color scheme etc. My next step is always to play with the image in grayscale to see how I like the value distribution and intensities. I adjust them in grayscale then revert back to color and print a color copy to attach to my support for easy and continuous reference. Next is transferring a line drawing to my paper either by freehand, grid method or transfer paper.

I usually choose the transfer paper method since it’s the quickest, especially since colored pencil is a time intensive process. Once that’s done I choose a place to start and begin “color mapping” which is essentially laying down light versions of the colors and shapes to provide me with a roadmap so I know where I’m going. This step is always light enough so it can be covered with subsequent layers or even removed if necessary. Then it’s on to the fun part – enjoying the journey! Once I consider my piece more or less done (I will also do this throughout the process if need be) I will set it aside where I can look at it daily. By doing this, it allows me to see things that I either missed or don’t like and I can then make any changes needed. Once complete, I sign it and seal it.

Tell us about one medium, technique or style that you would like to try working with (that you have not tried before) and why you would like to try this.

I think with all the new products coming on the market today, there’s probably a lot that I haven’t tried but I think the one I’d really like to try is some large scale acrylic paintings. Acrylics are fairly new to me and while I’ve dabbled and even taken a workshop, I’ve never really done much in this medium. My reasoning for this is that colored pencil is very time consuming and it would be nice to pick up a paintbrush and paint something in a week or so and be finished. Acrylics also provide opportunities to create some really wild stuff and I think that would be fun.

How do you make time for art?

I retired just over a year ago and although I have a full day, every day the hours can get caught up in looking after our home and my husband as he still works and we have eight children between us, eight grand-children and two great-grandchildren, so I do need to schedule my days. Even when I was working away from home, I found that it was key to do some art every single day, even if just for one hour. So I make sure that my family is aware of my commitment to my craft and I treat it like a job and do it.

If you could imagine the “perfect art day” for yourself, what would it be like?

When I met my second husband, he had a cottage at the lake that was about 100 feet up off the water in a beautiful little bay. He sold the cottage at some point but it had a dining area that had all windows on three sides and the view was spectacular and serene. If I could have a “perfect art day”, it would be to paint in a setting like this, with no one around but myself and Mother Nature. I’d get up and have a coffee and a nice light breakfast and then get down to creating some art till the sun sets and finish up with a nice glass of wine.

If you could spend 24 hours with one artist, living or historical, who would you want to spend the day with and why? What would the two of you do?

I think it would be Monet. Even as a child I remember seeing images of his work and I fell in love with all the beautiful landscapes and how they seemed so alive. I think we would spend the day in the south of France, he painting and teaching and me learning and absorbing as much as I possibly could.

Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring artists?

I really believe that for anyone aspiring to be an artist and be good at it, one has to work at it every single day even if only for short periods.

Another thing is that while it might be fun to try all kinds of things, focusing on one medium or technique for a while and sticking to it is really to one’s advantage. If you master one thing, it will absolutely make you a better artist in another medium as well, without having to start from the beginning. Important skill sets like hand-to-eye coordination, the ability to see your subject as it really is and put that to paper or canvas, understanding values and color – these will become ingrained and they are keys to success in any medium.

Use only quality products – it’s worth it. It’s better to work with a few colors of a quality and learn to create new colors with them than to have every color in the rainbow of a school grade product.

** Be sure to check out Terry's works-in-progress in our WIP forum to see the various stages of her drawings! Here are some links to a few of Terry's WIPs:

Jamaican Artist (finished drawing shown above right)

Gus (finished drawing shown above right)

Carnival Chartreuse and Fuchsia Lily


Macro Shasta Daisy

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Replies to This Discussion

Beautiful work, Terry. And I'm impressed by your process. Will you tell me what your favorite paper to use is?

Thank you Selerstine and Fredda for stopping by and leaving a comment.  Yes, Selerstine, you can definitely grow up at 62(I'm 62) but who wants to.  I love being a child at heart.  Fredda, I use different papers. Some I find work better for portraits and other better for other subject matter but my favorites are Strathmore Bristol Vellum, Stonehenge and Fabriano Artistico 300lb HP watercolor paper.  I'm experimenting using colored mat board as well and they all have a different tooth.  Hope that helps.

Yes, thank you Terry. What I want is a paper midway between vellum and watercolor, as far as tooth is concerned.  The watercolor paper I used has too m uch texture, and the vellum  not enough. Thanks!

Congratulations, Terry... a worthy recipient of the Profile of the Week....
Love your art work.... color pencils are one of my favourite mediums and you are a master at using them.
Cheers - Dallas

Thanks Dallas for your kind comments.

Lovely Interview and your work is truly stunning......xx

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