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.

Nut Case by Helen Shideler

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

South African Vacation Part 1

Cape Town

It seems like our trip to Cape Town, South Africa was in the planning stages for a year. And here it is nearing the end of our most wonderful adventure.

We arrived a few days in advance of a very special family wedding, staying a few days in the southern suburbs at Hope of Constantia. This was one of the most magical places I have ever seen. The property was large enough to house all our travelling family with room to spare. The outside space was like a healing spa for those of us who travelled far and loved the opportunity to escape from the early onset of winter at home.

Braai you say?

We were introduced to the fine art of BBQing South African style. The bride’s brother Nicci worked his magic at the Braai carefully cooking the food to perfection. This is always a special event! The braai is a barbeque that starts with certain types of wood, burnt until is creates a bed of hot coals, and then the meat is placed on to cook. Lamb and springbok sausages. Lots of salads. Family gathering.

And the wedding of course

The reason for this trip was a most wonderful family wedding. Such a beautiful event, ceremony and location. All so very special an we feel so grateful for having attended.

African vacation Part 2 - the Safari to follow…

All the best of the season to you

Spring Scentsation

Spring Scentsation is a relatively large oil painting of a soft and fragrant while lilac that grows on our property line in the back yard.  There is quite a story getting the painting to this point.

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Inspiration is everywhere

A few years back when visiting my daughter, we went for many walks around her area in Vancouver.   It seemed to me that almost every property we walked by had a tree line border framing in their yard.  They were really well designed.  Tall trees with shrubs at their base.  There really was no need for weeding as the growth from the shrubs kept them in check.  Everything grows uber big in Vancouver and very fast!

I was inspired.  When I got home I let mentioned by big idea to my husband,  whose pride and joy is the lawn – that I was proposing for us to dig up a lot of the lawn and create a lovely tree line.  Took some convincing.  But we did it.  

The only problem is the deer

One thing that I really wanted to grow is a white lilac.  We planted it in the tree line, quite close to our neighbour’s gigantic apply tree (that we secretly prune back every chance we get - so our plants will get enough light).  It was so lovely.  That spring the blossoms opened up and my heart sang…for one night.  Bambi and her entourage came through in the darkness and ate every single blossom.  

Once again, we declared war! Our lovely white lilac now resides in a chicken wire cage that is tall enough to foil the appetites of those garden marauders! It will remain a caged specimen until it grows large enough that the deer’s munching will not cause it any real harm. Likely three more years.

Point of all this is to say -  I love white lilacs. Most of this effort over the past few years, was to be able to paint it!

And paint it I have.  This piece took an inordinate amount of time.  I usually paint the background last.  But this time I went in way sooner than I think I should have.  It was ok. Only ok.  I knew that and had to brave up to go back in and modify it.  And so I did.  And it was decidedly better.  Only better.  Not quite pulling up a bit of drama like I was hoping for.  I continued working on the florets while I contemplated shredding or burning it.

Lessons learned

Third times a charm.  Yes, I went back in a third time and repainted the entire background again! Obviously, the previous layers influence the top layer, with the green remaining in the same hue, but this time I am happy with the results.  Note to self – wait to paint the background until you are sure you know the results you want to achieve. 

To give you an idea of the size (48 x 30”)

Helen Shideler with Spring Scentsation


Soggy doggies

So much fun painting this series of soggy doggies. This is a series that I have had planned for a number of years. Have taken so many reference photos in preparation and have now finally decided to start them. Happy dogs make me happy!

Trophy Stick by Helen Shideler

Never paint only one

You learn so much when you start to paint in a series. I wanted to strike a balance between a looser and less detailed background, while painting the subject with a higher degree of realism - all this while attempting to capture movement. No small task. Oh yes - in a small format and in oils. So far the paintings are 8” x 10”. I think the next round will start to get a bit larger 9 x 12” or 11x14”.

Oh Helen, must you do try to challenge yourself all the time? Apparently! And apparently I like it.

Get the Stick by Helen Shideler

Christmas commissions

I decided to paint a few relatively small paintings in between the secret commissions so I would have some fun things to share. The commissions will be shared after the holidays of course. Now that I have completed these requests I am able to get back to the large white lilac. Hoping to have it completed prior to the holidays!

Fetching Fun by Helen Shideler

Fetching Fun and a bit of trouble

So I got myself into a bit of trouble with this one. Knowing that oil and water don’t mix - right? And the hazards of painting when slightly exhausted.

Fetching Fun by Helen Shideler

Change of pace

I thought I would get started painting this little 8 x 10” oil.  It presented a rather nice diversion from the large white lilac waiting over my shoulder.

I organized may paint.  Squeezed out the right amount of luscious oil paint.  Then proceeded to paint.  With this type of painting I generally start with the background first.  That way the fur that is blowing in the wind is on top of the background paint rather than blocked in around it. This helps to make the painting look alive and suggest movement. 

One of the benefits of painting tired is that I was not too caught up in the details of the fur and water but rather the movement of the water. This allowed for looser, flowy handling of the paint.  

The trouble starts

Soon it was time to add in some more colour.  Bailey’s collar. Bailey’s tongue. And the white-ish patch on his chest.  I squeezed out some more paint but found that the paint was drying far too quickly.  I muttered about the mini-split heater above my head speeding up the drying time. The paint was even getting funky on my palette. 

Oh Helen, Helen, Helen

I continued to paint on, muttering about it as I went.  When all of a sudden it occurred to me that the second series of paint I squeezed came from a different location! Drat!  For the second round I grabbed my acrylics not my oils.  And I even keep my oils and acrylics on different areas of the studio so this would not happen!  Face palm!  Was this a disaster?  Did I already say drat? 

Had to rationalize this. A few thoughts:

    • You can paint oil paint over acrylics 

    • My oil paints are water mixable 

    • Acrylic paints are also water mixable

    • I mixed my acrylic paint into my oil paint

    • Disaster averted?

Lessons Learned?

Separating my supplies seems so logical to me. My foolproof plan translated to proof of a …..