We've been to the beach

We have just returned from a wonderful family vacation on Prince Edward Island - where it is possible to take in a couple of different beaches each day without driving for more than 20 minutes. Each beach has its own uniqueness and so far, my favourite is all of them!

Plein Air sketches

I so very much love the island with all it’s glorious sandy beaches. And of course love all the family memories created with all of the island experiences we got to enjoy.

Originally I hoped to paint at least one plein air sketch each day, but it wasn’t always possible. It was pretty windy most of the time we were there. I didn’t even take my easel out of the car during that whole week. My Soltek would have been flying down the beach! But I am happy with the ones I managed to paint. I think they capture that wonderful feeling of summery days and sea breezes.

Plunging for clams

This is a new one for me. Originally from Cape Breton I was no stranger to clamming but with a shovel or a claw rake. In this very secret location we waded into the water, buckets close by and plunger in hand. Such a wonderfully fun and delicious experience. And I managed to get a number of reference photos for future paintings. A winning day for sure.

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Down by the bay

One of the most memorable events was taking a pontoon boat tour of Fortune Bay. It was another sunny and windy day - so windy in fact that our boat ride was limited to staying in the calmer waters of the bay and the river. We did not mind at all. In fact, our littlest sailor was invited to captain the boat. This will be an experience we will always remember and I am sure he will never forget. His little face was beaming with pure joy.

I forgot to mention the food

Along with the clams we collected, we purchased fresh fish off the MR Seafood truck that comes into Souris twice a week. Fresh scallops, hake and mussels rounded out the delicious seafood offerings that we were fortunate to enjoy a few times - served with fresh island potatoes and garden fresh vegetables. It really doesn’t get better than this - especially when shared with family!

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Studio reno update

Slowly getting there. I was so hopeful that the workers would have made more headway this past week. Still not a workable space, everything still covered in plastic and no water. Soon I hope…

Cheers

Cubby

Cubby’s little face was delightful to paint. Being asked to capture his sweet and expressive face filled my heart with so many feels. So happy to have been asked to paint him..

Cubby by Helen Shideler

Capturing his expression

As usual I start with the face - usually the eyes. But, this time i started with Cubby’s tongue and mouth. I figured that I had to get that just right before I went to far. Then I started to paint his nose. Noses are almost always in the middle of my paint progress - hmmm, also the middle of the face. Then I moved onto his expressive eyes.

Those curls

Ok, I love painting dogs. Especially doggies with long or curly fur. This is where the painting is fun and quite a bit looser. The face has to be right - but the fun can be handled with an approach that is a bit more free. And did I mention fun.

Rainbow bridge

Cubbie has recently joined his sister Callie over the rainbow bridge. I am honoured to have been asked to capture their likeness for the owners.

A nice story

I love a nice story. And I have one to share with you.

Awhile back I offered to donate a pet portrait as a fundraiser for a group (Red Head Strays helping cats strut) that works tirelessly to rescue and foster cats. In thought I would have completed the painting in January,but Mother Nature had other ideas. I think you know the story. Snow. Rain. Flash freezing. And of course, pretty sure you know how this went - the basement and studio mess as a result.

Lilly and Bernie by Helen Shideler

The story goes like this

Once upon a time there were two little girls who liked to swing on swings, giggle and talk. Some of the things they talked about were the Beetles and their two amazing hits: I want to hold your hand and She loves you yeah yeah yeah. And so one of the little girls taught the other about the all important pop music and what one must know. Then the little girls sang a lot while swinging.

And the memories are warm and wonderful.

Flash forward

In the aftermath of the winter house mess, we were finally ready to start moving around the boxes of stuff around in our house and go through them. What stays? What goes? What I had been looking for and really missing. Like all my paints and art supplies! My acrylics paints emerged and I could finally start the painting that a very patient person won in a draw.

Once I had the painting finished, I reached out to the winner to say hey, guess what. A couple hours went by and her name registered with me. Could this be the girl I had such fond childhood memories of?

And it was. Say what you want about social media, but this was a fun encounter made possible by Facebook. Karma and the universe move in a wonderful synchronized way.

I am happy to have been able to paint her fur babies Lilly and Bernie!

Life is so good

Midnight Shadow

Painting birds is like therapy for me. Especially when I am working on a few secret commissions that require so much thinking and planning and thinking. You get the idea! Maybe it’s because I have painted so many….

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Wing and a prayer

I had a vision for how I wanted this painting to look. It was really about getting the dramatic background in without overpowering the raven. I had to step back many times with this to do a sanity check. Will I be able to pull it off? So today, after I signed it - I set it on the easel to my left and started to work on another piece. I caught this guy out of the corner of my eye and winked at it. Involuntarily. I actually winked at it. Then I looked around to make sure no one else saw me. Then I laughed out loud at my silliness! I think I met my objective.

Why corvids you may ask?

I have a complete fascination with them. They are as intelligent as they are somewhat intrusive. They have a social system and work collaboratively. Also they have long memories. And apparently they are trying to fish the goldfish in our pond. Not kidding. They are trying to figure it out. One in particular sits on a rock at the edge of the pond and watches. One eye on the fish at all times. And it is self aware to know it is sneaky as I get a funny look before it flies off with one caw. Like busted. Did I mention they are iridescent? Maybe that is the subconscious reason I love to paint them.

Until next time, cheers

Nut Case

Once upon a rainy day this Eastern Grey Squirrel was perched on our deck railing under our bird feeders. Happy and proud. Perching just for me. Earlier we had decided we wanted to feed the blue jays…but the squirrels had a different idea.

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Omigoodness the melie

Blue jays tend to loudly announce their arrival. Shrieking in their arrival. The are squirrels aggressively willing to defend their stash. There were a number of interesting clashes of wit and will that provided us with endless entertainment.

This fella was perched just for me. At least that is my story and I am sticking with it!

Concrete dust and other distractions

The painting started to come together well at the beginning. What happened next, was not the fault of the painting. We had contractors in to start the remediation for the water problem we incurred. We installed an internal drainage system with a sump pump. But the concrete dust in combination with the gyprock dust is unbelievably relentless. Clean it up today and tomorrow it is back with a vengeance. Not exactly conducive to oil painting. Soon… it will all be ok (sigh)

Work in progress

WIP Nut Case by Helen Shideler

Next… on the easel

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Fabulous Florida

It is so hard to believe that we have come to the end of our fabulous Florida vacation. We had this planned since we started having the water issues with our property due to the harsh winter, you know the snow - torrential rains then flash freezing cycles! Had to escape.

Can I actually move here?

I brought along my watercolour paints in hopes of getting some painting time. Treasure Island’s Sunset Beach was a wonderful place to paint when it wasn’t too hot or too breezy. Every day was perfect. Perfect sun, perfect weather and perfect sky. The paintings are smallish 8 x 10” or smaller and are below in the slide show.

And the Wildlife

We got to see so many different birds. I think that the most unusual was the anhinga. At first I thought it was a swimming snake. It was in the water swimming or wading and all you could see was its long neck sticking out of the water. A few minutes later is cam out of the water and sat in the sun to dry its wings.

And the amount of pelican photo I was able to get. There is a painting or three in there for sure. Oh and the shorebirds. So happy that my husband is patient. Pretty hard for me to walk a continuous straight line without stopping for photos!

We walked around the lakes as part of of daily routine while in Orlando. My daughter Jenn warned me about alligators. In my naive way, i thought they really wouldn’t really put a path around a lake with gators in it would they? Simple answer. Yes!

Slide show below

Update on my Blooming Colours Studio

Work on putting my studio back together starts next week. I really miss it - hopefully it will be up and running soon. Challenging to paint when everything including my paint and brushes got packed up and placed in storage through all the crazy weather happenings this year!.

Until next time…

Cheers



Mourning Glow

Hey everyone. It has been so long since I have been able to complete a painting. Happy I finally completed Mourning Glow. Not so happy my studio is still torn apart for so long.

Mourning Glow by Helen Shideler

Mourning Doves

My husband and I look at mourning doves with two lenses. They are peaceful birds, quite elegant in their own right and with a beautiful mournful song. I love how they seem to glow when the sun starts to rise and shines on their fronts. Pretty sure they face into the sun to welcome the morning light! Wouldn’t you?

The other lens is less flattering. They are bird seed hogs and well, they mess where ever they want - which is usually on our deck furniture. Yuck! Placing them squarely in the pigeon category!

But I love that they roost in our trees so close to our house. I recently completed another painting of a trio of Mourning Doves roosting in our apple tree - Moody Mourning - Blog post click here

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

The colours of their feathers

Mourning doves have a most interesting pallette. A hint of blue, taupe, gold and mushroom tones. Quite lovely to work with. You can see the colour variations played out in these two paintings captured in very different lighting conditions. They can be elegantly monochromatic and then dramatic when the sun shines directly on them.

Mourning Glow is available here

My poor studio

Still looks like this! Torn apart with no real end in site. The kitchen counter works but the lighting is not really great for painting. Soon, I hope soon.

Hopefully I will not be as long with my next painting

Moody Mourning

Moody Mourning oil painting fresh off the easel. This painting was an interesting journey as I decided to take a different approach with my painting process. I created a detailed underpainting with Paynes Grey in acrylics and then painted with oils over it.

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

It was an interesting process for me. Often I will do a loose underpainting with thin oils and then paint the detail. This is the first time I worked in almost full detail. And I have to admit when I first started to apply the oils, I was pretty uncertain.

Lessons Learned

Uncertain because of the atmosphere I was trying to capture and the quality of the colours. No thin transparent washes would work with the subdued colours. Need white. This made the paint quite opaque and almost completely covered my original efforts. At first I started to thin it down so I could still see and work with my underpainting, Then I went in as usual - painting each feather individually. The underpainting exercise was still very valuable as I really knew my subject and helped to guide my painting.

My approach with the branches was a bit different as I was able to keep the paint a bit more transparent as to let underpainting work.

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

Bit of a rough week

We had a crazy winter storm come a couple off weeks ago. The storm followed a previous storm that dumped a lot of hail and then freezing rain. Then it flash froze. A few days later a second storm came through bringing crazy heavy rain. Resulting from all this was some unfortunate damage to my studio. We had to move everything out of there and rip up the flooring etc. I am afraid it may be awhile before we can get it taken care of and put it back together. Really unsure what this will do to may painting - Everything is in boxes and I am unsure what is where - eeks.

Fingers crossed

Until next time, cheers



Footloose

Can you find your pair?

Footloose or that Barefoot Feeling is a large acrylic (30 x 36”) on canvas.

This was a wonderful family day at the beach. The sand was too deep to walk in so you had to kick off your shoes to get anywhere. I loved the natural groupings of the various family shoe piles.

That summertime feeling

This painting made me profoundly happy to paint. The shoes presented an interesting perspective and I’ll admit that at first I wondered what I was getting myself into. I thought about it a bit and then decided to approach the shapes much like I do when painting a flower. I kid you not, this perspective has helped me solve how to paint may different subjects. Even portraits! By associating it with something I know it took my fear and apprehension away. Seriously and thankfully.

I started with the purple crocs, then went on to paint the redish sandals beside them. I giggled all the way through them. They gave me so much joy to paint. Apparently I really needed a break from white lilacs!

What I am most happy with is that some of the shoes look like you could slide your feet right into them. Sigh…. I love that barefoot feeling!

Oh the grass

The sand was pretty quick to layer in and pretty much had to be in place as a foundation for the grass. Oh the grass! This painting was certainly thought provoking. I really had to think this through as I was not up for painting every single individual blade. In the foreground it was necessary but as the painting moved away from the front there was an opportunity to suggest the shapes and colours. Then bring the detail up in a few to give the illusion of depth.

to give you an idea of the scale of the painting

to give you an idea of the scale of the painting

I can still feel the sun from this day.

Soon I will share another post from our South African vacation. I think you’ll like the photos of the elephants and penguins.

Cheers

Loving this season

Ceilidh

There are so many magical, wonderful things to love about the Christmas season. All the new memories created and moments so precious. I am ever so grateful that what I do often contributes to creating wonderful memories for others in the form of creating cherished memories with Christmas commissions! I have been blessed with the opportunity to paint a few this year.

Ceilidh by Helen Shideler

We all love our fur babies so much. The opportunity to capture in paint such a special love for a family is so rewarding for me. This series was a gift for the whole family. The painting above is 12” x 12” and the two below are 6” x 6”.

Mulder and Lyndsay

Mulder & Lyndsay

I always love to be a part of a secret plan, especially when they have been planned and dreamt of for awhile. I love the thought process that people go through before they commission someone to do a painting.

When they share their story with me - I want to be able to “Wow” them with the finished painting. And of course, I also love to hear the story of their reaction to a most thoughtful gift - this my friends is why I paint commissions.

Reaction “we made her cry” in a nice way of course!

Wishing you all the very best of this holiday season. May 2019 be the best year ever for us all!

Until next time

Helen