On plein air painting and weed whackers

So many lessons learned. 

So many of them this very weekend! 

Lesson 2

I thought I was clever setting up to paint on the pergola under the grape vines that have all been pollinated - which means the teeny tiny little flowers are ready to shed, especially on this windy day.  Lesson? Teeny, tiny little flowers stick to oil paintings and to wet oil paint on the palette! Oh dear!

Lesson 3 and a product review

I have a mixture of water mixable oil paint from three different makers.  It was today I realized that the paint that seemed tooth-pasty, gloppy and hard to mix was made by one particular brand. Before I realized it was one brand, I was pretty sure I was about to revert back to traditional oils.  Still think I may.  But the brand in question is Holbein Duo.  Never again.  Love my Cobra paints. Face palm

Lesson 4

Once completing a couple of little, juicy oils, I decided to place them on our rock wall to aid in the drying process.  Only I did not tell my husband.  But I did hear him outside with the weed whacker. Only I did not hear him on time. Lesson? It is possible to pick of little bits of grass and whacked weeds with an exacto knife and a fine rubber tipped thingy.  Especially if you have lots of time on your hands. Sigh! Head shake!

Backyard painting series by Shideler

Painting Callie, a fun commission

I am always so happy and honoured to be a part of a secret project.  In this case painting this sweet little doggie intended as a surprise gift for someone special.  Painting dogs makes me happy and I so love the reaction of the doggie owners. Feeling blessed!

Callie by Helen Shideler

Lesson 5

This is for my husband.  Move the glass top coffee table before you start to build something heavy.  Cha Ching! Another $120 please! Rats!!! Second one this year!

In a jam, strawberry that is

Lesson 1

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So yesterday I decided it was time to make two batches of strawberry jam at the same time.  I was home alone at the time.  Not that is really relevant  - until it was.  I had sterilized the bottles.  Measured out the 7 cups of sugar.  Squeezed the lemons.  Hulled and tried to mash the berries.  Well now, the berries were fresh and firm and had a different idea.  Every time I went in the the masher the berries would slip and jump out of the bowl.  Big mess happening.  Meanwhile I was boiling the lids and covers.

Finally remember that I have a blender.  Excellent mashing tool.  Finally get everything boiling on the stove.  Phone rings.  Why I thought I needed to answer it is beyond me.  Water starts to boil over.  Felling like I am getting anxious.  Two batches on the stove now.  Hands are shaking.  Wait, did I eat anything since my very early breakfast?  Scooping the syrupy, sticky strawberry mixture into bottle and over my oven mitts. Just because. And the second batch comes to a boil.  The jars were scalding hot and I choose to move them with by bare hands.

It is almost a miracle that I got through this endeavour without getting scalded.

Product review

Jack Richeson panels - the stupid paper wrapper they put over a portion of the panel leaves a paint resistant film!  WHY?   They seem to work fine with acrylics though.

Now looking for linen or birch panels for plein air painting.

 

 

 

Oh plein air how you taunt me

Plein Air taunts me

So it was the hottest day of the summer so far.  30 degrees with a humidex of 38.  And I decide to set up to paint in my backyard.  I angled my easel into the sun. Smart!  Remembered to wear my sun hat.  And started to paint.  

Sweat dripping off my brow, running down my face making spots on my glasses.  So very hot. And a foolish teeny tiny red ant decided to check out the various colours on my palette.  I had a hard time convincing it to leave.  It got its tiny feet stuck in the yellow paint.

I had on a funky hat. You know the one - with the long back to protect your neck? Lightweight and with sun protection in it.  I bought it at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado (I admit, I just like saying that) a couple of years ago.  When I finally took it off, my hair was a mess of dripping - am I sharing too much?

100 degrees of discomfort

As the day progressed it got even hotter and soon I found myself in full sun.  It was at that moment that I realized I probably should be wearing sunscreen.  Opps.  And to add to my discomfort a mosquito or three liked my sunscreen.  And to top it off, my water mixable oil paints started to change texture. Paint gone wrong.  Dried to palette and was unable to mix colours.  The white, holy moly, went all gloppy making it impossible to mix or event pick up a small amount to create a highlight. crap

But I managed to create

So these two paintings took about two hours each. They say paint what you know - and I know this space.  I am hoping that one day I will be as confident painting en plein air as I am creating in the studio.  Fingers crossed

Backyard pond by shideler
Backyard garden by Shideler

secret commission

ouch - that I am unable to share

until next time, have a lovely summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Borscht Anyone and another really good week

Borscht Anyone?  This was a painting I had in mind since last fall.  I took a series of photos at a farmers market in Vancouver while visiting with family (sigh). I took so many photos! These beets were calling to me.  Again with the dilemma. Oil? Watercolour? Poured painting? 

For some reason this past year, when I think of watercolour, I automatically think of pouring.  The freedom I have this this process feels so rewarding. And I can release some of my tendency to be a detail crazy painter,

Borscht Anyone by Shideler

I did the last pour yesterday, removed the masking compound this morning. The underpainting made me happy and I knew I should be able to top dress this in one painting session.  This is a goal I try to set with all my poured paintings of this size.  There are no rules other than ones imposed for me by me.  And apparently I have many....just saying...

Slide show below - click to move through

 

Happy Helen

Sometimes the universe lines up so well. I am having a marvellous May!  I mean pinch me!  I am so grateful and happy I am coming apart at the seams.  This week I sold two 1/2 sheet poured paintings and had an interview with CBC TV News for the painting on the window from the Saint John City Market. And so many people see my daughters in the painting! 

I am so grateful when someone appreciates my work enough to purchase it - and from my website.  Happy Helen

Making a Splash by Shideler

And then there was this...

An interview with CBC TV News for to support the fundraiser for Pro Kids with area artist painting a piece of history - a window from the Saint John City Market!  I am normally quite camera shy - but wanted to do this because I love the project so much.

Link to story here

Link to news story here - it is about the third story in the clip

Link to P.R.O. Kids here

Cheers everyone

 

 

 

 

Summertime Promises

Summertime Promises

I completed this painting on the day of the Royal Wedding and also my husband's birthday.  All this just happens to coincide with the Victoria Day long weekend.  All this is truly symbolic.  The May long weekend heralds in the promise of summer and is filled with hope.  Lazy long weekends, adventurous tours, putting in the garden... you know the feeling

Summertime Promises by Helen Shideler

Warm enough to chill

I don't know about you, but my soul has been longing to be warm so we can just chill.  Our season on the East Coast is relatively short.  We wait so long for its arrival. So many happy plans and ideas - all to make memories that last season over season.  Gardening is a big part of our summer.

We typically garden up as high as we can trying to outwit the local deer population.  As a result of this our house is adorned with an impressive number of hanging baskets.  Other than the two that welcome you on either side of our front door, these baskets are each unique.  Planted with whatever catches our eye in the garden centres.  Some years it may be purples, sometimes yellow and sometimes a happy blending of many colours.  

This hanging basket that I painted "Summertime Promises"  filled my heart with joy watching it grow.  I mean, you can't get much more perfect than with yellow, vermillion and shades of maroon all on one blossom.  I knew when I purchased it that it would be painted.  I mean how could it not be? I took many reference photos, and as often, I tended to prefer the ones taken in full sun. 

What do you think?

A few weeks ago when I decided it was time to start a few more poured paintings, this image came to mind.  I sketched it out with a bit more detail than usual around where the leaves and stems were.  When you pour a painting, often the placement of the colours my be less important that the structure of the subject.  As I started working on this, I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe it should be painted as a large, juicy oil painting.  What do you think?

Work in progress 

Step by step process below.  Many pours later and a pound of masking (just kidding), the underpainting is revealed.  From this point I added in some brushwork to complete the painting.

Lessons Learned

Sometimes I may be a bit impatient.  Sometimes I may not wait long enough for the paper to dry before I apply the next round of masking compound.  Why am I calling this out you ask?  Well the masking will seep into the dampness of the paper.  You cannot see it go, but the area around the bit with fresh masking will also resist paint - creating halos around the ares.  Not at all a desirable look in a crisp painting.  You can pour until your hearts content.  It will not allow the paint to get any deeper in value.  

So, this became a mixed media painting.  I had to crack out the acrylics to get the deep background colour.  Sometimes this is a lesson I feel the need to relearn.  Patience Helen, patience.

Until next time

Cheers

 

 

 

 

Another wonderful week

It's always a wonderful week when one sells not one but two paintings!! So happy! So grateful.  Life is good.  Mystic Blues sold at the RNS Art Show & Sale this weekend and so did...

Helen with Mystic Blues

..."On Watch",  painting of a raven keeping a watchful eye on me - while sitting on top of the coolest rock formation I have ever painted. 

The good news continues

Earlier in the week I received an email about my "Magenta Magic" poured painting.

Congratulations
We are pleased to inform you that from 320 paintings submitted from 32 countries worldwide, our Jurors, Anne McCartney CSPWC, AWS, TWSA; Peter Marsh CSPWC, OSA, SCA, TWS; and Rainbow Tse have selected the painting on the labels below as a finalist for the IWS Canada & CSPWC/SCPA’s “A Symphony in Watercolour” Exhibition

This is all so very cool. The universe really does send back good karma when you live with the spirit of giving.  I recently donated a large painting to the IWK Ladies Auxiliary for their Kremese Art Show and Sale next weekend.  And also a bunch of cards to an environmental group for a fundraiser.  And then there is that ginormous window I am painting for ProKids.  Not that I have give to get back other than the feeling that I have done something good.

As an artist,  you have to be selective on how/what you give, how often you give and decide whether or not the cause is near and dear to you - we are asked for donations a lot.  I  have a few favourites that I donate to each year.   

Shideler paintings

New work in progress

A yet to be named poured watercolour.  It still has a long way to go.  The slideshow below takes it through the ugly duckling stage to the point where I have removed the masking compound.  I hope the magic happens in the next step of the process. 

Click through to see the progression so far

Repairing the Rigging and some really good news

This past summer the Tall Ships visited Saint John as part of Canada's 150 Birthday celebrations.  It was a magical, majestic site and made you proud to live here.  I was completely fascinated by the people who were "Repairing the Rigging".  I mean they appear to have absolutely no fear of heights!

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I, on the other hand, found myself to be on the bring of dizziness just photographing them.  Vertigo! But I was still able to be quite strategic as I lined up my shots.  I loved all the lines from the cranes across the harbour to the rigging on the ships.  As I lined up the angles for my reference shots, I was envisioning this as a poured watercolour painting.

After the first bit of masking was applied, I quickly realized there was no additional opportunity to apply masking.  One application did the trick.

A new toy

I recently saw this exciting tool advertised in Curry's newsletter a new high precision masking fluid marker by Pebeo.  Well then, I had to order two.  Sort of love it.  It comes with an extra bit as well, unsure why but I am sure it will be revealed to me as I use it.  Unable to get quite the fine lines I was hoping for - I used to create my signature int the painting above.

And some good news

Dear Helen

On behalf of the SCA, it is my pleasure to inform you that your application for Elected Membership into the Society of Canadian Artists has been successful. Congratulations!

As an Elected Member you may use prestigious 'SCA' designation after your name, participate in the annual members’ exhibition and qualify for society awards. As well, you will receive the SCA newsletter featuring articles by members, listing calls for artists, contests, and local and regional art events, delivered to your inbox three times annually. You will also receive invitations to Society Exhibitions and other events.

Now I will be signing my paintings with SCA as well!  Very excited!

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A good cause

I have been asked to participate in a fund raiser for a really good cause in Saint John for P.R.O. Kids. This group provides assistance for kids in need of support to play sports, recreational, art and cultural activities.  Uncertain for certain - but do you see children playing on a beach in that window?

Cheers, until next time

Helen

 

To Santa Fe and back

This trip had been loosely planned for a year.  I mean we all registered on the last day of PACE 17 when we hear it would be in Santa Fe.  Other than that, we waited until January to book flights and the hotel room for the trip home. And maybe just maybe, we should have really scrutinized the schedule first.  Who has time to be that planful?

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On the road again

Two friends and i planned to meet at the airport in Albuquerque, rent a car (really really expensive) and drive to Santa Fe. I Googled the satellite maps to look at the roads to mentally prepare me for the drive.  And although I thought I was ready - but absolutely noting can prepare you for that type of traffic - unless you live in San Francisco, maybe... The car agency rental person warned be, but frankly I thought it was a ploy to sell more insurance.  They spoke of inebriated drivers, reckless drivers and crazy drivers.

We persevered and make it safely to our destination.  Only, I speak in kilometres not in miles.  Jeepers creepers the drive was a lot longer than I anticipated- and the resort was off the beaten track in a place called Buffalo Thunder.  The resort was wonderful.   Only there was nothing else in the general proximity other than a couple more casinos.  No grocery stores.  No place to shop. 

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The PACE 18  sessions were amazing.  Brienne Brown.  Barbara Tapp. Cindy Baron. And so many more.  They talked of throwing the paint down with out a drawing (gasp) and maybe draw later (again gasp).  But being there to learn, I decided to throw away everything I thought I knew and try it. Well, it kinda sorta works.  With a lot more practice it may just really work.  Above are my attempts.

View from behind

PACE included paint outs in various locations including El Santuario de Chimayó.  While we were there the wind was quite strong to the point I decided that setting up my easel may be a bit risky.  I found a bench and noticed all the painters painting in front of me.  And I love sketching figures. Had a lot of fun with there.  And yes, there will be a painting soon!

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Cheers, until next time

Mystic Blues

Every now and then I complete a painting that takes me by surprise when I catch a glimpse of it.  This has happened!  It may be just be the sheer size of this one - Mystic Blues is the largest painting that I have completed so far.  I am really hoping that it captures a sense of romance with the subtle varieties of blues and pinks. Sigh!  Works for me!

Mystic Blues by Helen Shideler

Blue so blue so soft

So I must admit I am a bit obsessed with blue hydrangea and blue flowers, and well, soft blues. I love the softness of the flowers with their subtle colour variations and the overall emotion that blue flowers evoke.  As a child I remember how the wild flax flowers that grew on the side of the road in Cape Breton literally took my breath away.  I would run across the road to marvel at them.  Completely fascinated with the colour.  Turquoise is still one of my favourite colours - I have many.

Paint repeat paint repeat paint....

And so, wondering what one of my next paintings will be?  You got it, yet another hydrangea.   I plan to start a poured watercolour in the near future.  Then I may have finally exhaust my blue hydrangea obsession.  Here is the plan - a full sheet.  Does anyone out there have any patience pills? Or a gallon of masking compound? Or a large bottle of white wine?  

Click to scroll through

Time for a quick change

After painting all those blues, I wanted to paint something relatively quick as I leave tomorrow for a long short trip to San Diego, (I am on the East Coast of Canada), and did not want to start another major piece.  Beach Buddies was a joy to paint.  Fun and happy colours of summer.  Bringing back memories of a wonderful family vacation last year on Prince Edward Island.  Absolutely one of my all time favourite places in the world! 

Beach Buddies by Helen Shideler

Special Supper

I choose to paint Special Supper because I felt I needed a challenge! Jeepers!  Designing a poured watercolour around lobsters sitting on a lobster platter may not have been my smartest move.

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Wing and a prayer

The thing is, I could see the finished painting in my mind.  Which when you start a painting you should be able to do.  Breaking the colours out into layers in this case was very complex especially since the painting is basically monochromatic. And red. Once the values started to get deeper, I actually lost my roadmap.  I was unable to distinguish between critter and platter. You see, both the real lobsters and the lobsters on the platter have many legs!  

And I had to start winging it, crossing my fingers and offering up a prayer. This was tough.  The slideshow below will show you what I mean.  Once that final pour was ready applied I basically had to hold my breath.  Did I mention red is tough?

Unsure of what to do

Once I removed the masking compound, I hid it away for awhile until I could figure out if it was going to work or not.  Apparently I hide things from my view if I don't want to deal with it. 

Just the other day, I pulled it back out and the path forward was so clear.  It was like a real aha moment. Oh, I am not showing the painting with the mask removed on purpose.

WIP Mystic Blues

So here it is.  Usually when I conceptualize a painting, I "see" it in a particular medium - be it watercolour, oil or acrylics.  But this blue hydrangea behaved differently for me and said you need to do it all.  I have completed it in watercolour and acrylics.  And now in oil...

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Patience pill anyone?

The watercolor version to me is traditional and stands on its own.  When I completed it I stepped back and felt is was good.....but wondered what would it look like in acrylics? Hmmm... and so I began a rather epic adventure in blue.

Saying that acrylic paint is vibrant is almost an understatement.  They fact that this paint cures and the colours deepen for a few days after they are applied adds to a bit of a mystery about them.  

And then there is buttery oil paint. Omigoodness I am in love with oil paint!  The colours remain true as they dry making them a bit more predictable than watercolurs or acrylics. And you can play with them.  And blend until your hearts content. I have so much to learn!

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Tender Blues in acrylic

A vibrant rendition of the blue hydrangea.  VIsitors to my studio stop in their tracks - I love the reaction.  It is a bit showy.  Both bold and modern. The blue shades are more intense - almost on the deep thalo shade.  Love saying that it is contemporary and fun. 36"x36" and I admit a nail biter to work on. Each painting session I was able to complete one flower in the bloom.  Acrylic paint dries so fast that blending is a real challenge. Did you say challenge? Apparently complexity and details are my key motivators.  No kidding??????

amethyst shades of blue by shideler

Amethyst Shades of Blue in watercolours

More traditional and ethereal, highly detailed and a softer version from the acrylic.  It's funny but I remember painting every single petal.  Making sure the shades and values were spot on in order to create the depth and suggest the volume of the bloom.  I played with the pigment and tested before I applied paint to the work.  This version was a true labour of love.  Did I mention I love watercolours.  They speak my language. And I feel confident with this medium.  So many years of working with it has taught me how it will behave in various conditions -  and I can predict it.  It is very natural and comfortable for me.