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.

 

 

 

Early wrap to this years challenge

Although this challenge is still on-going, I am quite done for this year. I managed to complete 17 paintings since it began, but you see a surprise early arrival had me packing up my bags and flying off to Calgary!  My beautiful new grandson Henry was born a few weeks early!  And so I said to heck with the challenge and hopped on the first available flight. 

And I do have a few more on the easel waiting for my return.

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This is the fifth time that I have participated in a 30 Day Challenge.  You can see my previous efforts here. With each challenge I like  to have a goal, something to learn - that I work towards. I feel pretty good about what I accomplished with my approach this year. I had decided to only work in oil.  It is a medium that I have been exploring for awhile now and think I have come to an understanding how to work with it. At least how I think that I want to work with it.

Grisaille how cool a word is that?

What I know to be true, at least for me, is that I do like to plan my work and have a grisaille underpainting prior to adding colour.  Not all subjects require this step.  But for me with the way my mind works, it makes the colour application make more sense.  You see I like to work with thin, transparent glazes.  Slowly building up the colours before I add in strategically placed thicker juicy paint.  Oh, did I just expose the watercolourist in me?  This is funny now that I have said it!  Old habits die hard.

And then there is Alla Prima

Painting alla prima (in one session) made sense for a few of the paintings - working really well with the mussel shells.  In fairness, I have painted so many mussel shells over the years that I could probably paint them in my sleep - they are a subject that I know so well. 

Honestly, I would have approached he painting with the sweet little sparrow differently knowing what I think I know now.  I think I would have felt better painting this one if I had taken the time to do an underpainting.  Because the bird was included as part of the landscape and not painted as a central subject, the background and leaves felt like busy work.  I was not as satisfied with the end result as I would like to have been.  It works, but I had a different vision of it in mind.

Helpful hint 

You have to get over your, um my... need to go back in and add in more detail.  In one sitting means just that. It is so hard to resist. But, in my mind - there really is no rules.  Rules are self imposed and made to be modified and ignored when convenient. 

Lessons learned

The other, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that applying many layers of paint over each other, without a few days dry time will create muddy colours.  I learned a new use for my pallet knife. Scraping.  Yep.  I had to remove areas on a few of the painting in order to re-apply the right colour intensity.

Until next time, cheers

 

 

 

 

Kinda sort of busy

Ah, the holidays.  They have taken their toll on my productivity.  But, in fairness I always know I may not get as much done as I hoped.  Often I have more ambition than time. And family and friend come first.  Tender Blues is a large painting. With a whole lot of little florets that seem to be taking more time than usual.  This is my impatience showing I fear.

WIP Tender Blues by Helen Shideler

A couple of things 

My acrylic paints are acting funny and not in a charming way.  A couple of things are going on.  First, my heat source.  The mini split operates with a fan to distribute the heated air.  The heated air dries the paint out so fast on my pallett. No amount of spritzing it will water seems to help.  It is drying out way to fast.  Second, well they paint is going funky in the tubes.  It seems to be thickening up and gloppy - like toothpaste.  I do not know what is making it do this - but I really do not like it.  The texture of the paint will not apply smooth and there is certainly no blending ability.  What the heck?

Anyone else experiencing this problem?  And it is not limited to any brand in particular,  Hmm, I think it is time to get serious with oils.

My daughter Katie was supposed to fly home on Friday -you know the day after the storm.  YOu can imagine what happened.  Flights delayed everywhere and some cancelled creating a backlog of weary travellers.  From mechanical failures and get this, the plane would not start this morning from the cold! Delays.  Cancellations.  On the up side, we got to spend more time with her. Maybe tomorrow she will be able to fly out.

Pet portraits

I have also been working on a few commissions.  I am able to share this one with you now.  Meet "Murphy" a portrait of a very expressive labradoodle.  So much fun to paint this guy.  HIs owners were surprised by this thoughtful gift and very happy with it!  Gotta love that! And I will be delivering another one tonight. Gotta love that as well.

Murphy pet portrait by Helen Shideler

My poor easel

Still broken.  My husband managed to get it back together enough that I can use it.  The crank awkwardly still cranks.  (he missed putting one of the ball bearings back in but we will not tell) But it is stable enough that I can use it.  Unable to easily raise and lower it.  But it is usable while I wait for my shiny new, incredible easel motors towards me.  EEEEEEEEEE so excited.

Cheers for now

 

 

 

Beautiful Bermuda and some other stuff

We are vacationing in Bermuda with family for a few very special reasons.  Announcing a new grand daughter expected in December and an engagement. Life is good!  

We were able to spend several hours each day just floating in the pool. When was the last time you were able to do that? Sigh..... Actually here it is a necessity to get relief from the heat and humidity. But that sounds like complaining and I certainly do not want to do that. ever so grateful for this experience.

Evening view from balcony. 

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A bit of time to paint

Between the heat, humidity and gentle rain I did manage to get some paintings done.  Interesting though, the paint dried out immediately and the paper stayed moist.  Who doesn't love a challenge...eh?

 

 

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A bit of a challenge with the internethere, this will be a short post. I delivered this commission this week. It was a birthday surprise and went over very well.

 

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Niko. 10"x8" acrylic on gessoboard

Irish Anticipating

Now that Christmas gifting is behind us, I am able to post "Irish Anticipating" 

Irish is my daughter and her husband's much loved doggie.  She has been hinting at me painting him for awhile now. So I thought I would surprise her. Not an easy task as she has eagle eyes!

Irish Anticipating by Helen Shideler

Eagle eyes and a super sleuth

I had to be really careful not to leave the painting or the photos lying around.  This was not easy for me to do as I had to grab time when she was not here - and I tend to leave my current work out for easy access and review.  Katie is super observant and would notice the tiniest hint of all things Irish.

Irish was adopted from a shelter that uses monthly themes as a naming convention.  Irish was picked up in March hence his name.  And he looks really good in green, just saying.

Irish Anticipating by Helen Shideler
 I think it went over well - don't you?

I think it went over well - don't you?

Here is a tiny preview of a Christmas commission.  Will post more soon

Partridge Island by Helen Shideler

30 Day Challenge Complete for Another Year

This year was for the birds.

In a matter of speaking.  Although if you asked me the week prior to the challenge what it would was going to look like I probably would not have suggested I would paint birds and in acrylics exclusively.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge 2016

Wow, I find it so difficult to believe this challenge came and went so quickly. Although I felt each and every day of January because of the commitment.  And I want to thank everyone for your continued support.  I have to admit, people asking me daily what will you be posting tonight kept just enough heat on to keep me going!

Moving on

We are into February already and larger projects are starting to take up my focus.    I have sooo much work to do. I get so excited with the possibilities. Only I may have way too much inspiration.  If that is even possible?

When I committed to the challenge I knew I wanted to paint some birds.  I did a lot of photography in our yard between Christmas and New Years.  The cardinals were so elusive. At first I was only able to catch a shot off in the distance.  As time went on I figured out where I could hunker down and not scare them away as I attempted to photograph them.  I was so happy with the results.  

Interesting enough

I started the challenge with a husky and finished with a husky.  I love painting animals as much as I love flowers, and birds, and bees and  and and

You get the idea.  

Wishing you my friends, a bright and colourful February!

 

Week 1 - 30 Paintings in 30 Days

I love this challenge

I particularly love this challenge when it happens in January.  It is such a perfect time of year to hunker down in the studio and paint till my hearts content. I take this opportunity to paint material that I have been thinking about for awhile, to explore new subjects, materials and techniques.  

Day 1 – “Lily”

I have a vision of painting many doggies on large scale canvases.  It is something I will get around to do one day – but in the meantime, painting dogs small scale during this challenge is great practice and fun.  I smile all the way through.

Day 2 – “Sitting Pretty”

Between Christmas and New Year’s I was on a photo mission. I braved the elements for many days patiently waiting for the right photo ops to present. I knew I was on a chickadee hunt as the cardinals have proven to be too elusive and skittish.  I guess being bright red they have to be very self-aware at all times.

These sweet little black capped chickadees are spending a lot of time in the brushed getting ready for their turn at our feeders. We get so much enjoyment out of their antics. They always seem to know we are there watching them - or are they watching us?

Day 3 – “Sing For Your Supper”

This little sweetie had just landed at the feeder and was all fluffed up. See, one foot has not yet fully landed on the perch. I tried to catch it in motion coming in - but that was a complete blur. They are freakishly fast. Anyway - He looks like he is so happy he is about to break into song!

Day 4 – “Ruffled Tail Feathers”

The chickadees wait for their turn at the feeder in the burning bush beside the house and in the grape vines that grow over the pergola.  They have may place to perch and I think pose for me.  This little fella I think had an altercation with something.  His poor tail is all ruffled and ragged.

Day 5 – “Playful Perch”

Ok, I think this little fella was posing for me.

Day 6 – “At the Feeder”

At this point I discovered that I can take photos through the window with my long lens.  Oh happy day.  No more froze nose and toes for me! Obviously I have spent a lot of time bird watching...stalking. This little guy was working so hard to crack the sunflower seed that he dropped it. Good thing the feeder was full!

Day 7 – “Patiently Waiting”

There is a definite pecking orer at our feeders.  First the red squirrels or furry birds as we call them.  Then the mourning dove and the grackle (why has it not migrated).  And then the chickadees.  I often refer to them as patient – but they are certainly not.

And I can honestly say - this is the last chickadee for awhile! Week one is behind me now and it is time to start another series. Gee, whatever will it be?

 

Furry Face Franklin

I had a total blast painting this spunky little fella.  Ever since I was a child I wanted a schnauzer and I would call him Snitzle - I do not know why. Just sounded like a fun thing to do.

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I have been painting dogs lately for the pure joy of painting.  Dogs have been among my favourite people forever. I love their expressions and how they have their own individual personalities.  And of course, the furrier the better.  

The series I am working are are 10"x8", painted on Gessobord and framed in white floating frames.    To see them in a group together is quite fun.  Some of the series will be off to their forever homes soon!

Did You Say Walk? Hmmm?

My fur grand-doggy never fails to amuse me.  Oliver is with-a-doubt-about-it one of the most expressive doggies I have ever met! He is handsome.  Silly.  Sometimes annoying and always entertaining. Did I mention expressive?

When he is trying to make a point he will simply, and intently stare at you.  Each stare has a specific meaning.  And if you dare venture to say anything close to what he is hoping for - he tilts his head and stares into your eyes.  So words like walk, beach, supper, breakfast, food, car, or outside have real meaning to Oliver. 

The degree of head tilt absolutely matched the message he is trying to convey.

Did You Say Walk?

The image has a bit of contrast distortion - unsure why - the painting is smoother.  

Another Oliver quirk - he loves muffins! See, a doggie after my own heart!