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


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 …..

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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.

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

 

 

 

 

WIP Amethyst Blues

Earlier in the year, I set out to paint my blue hydrangea in both watercolour and also in acrylics.  Amethyst Blues is the acrylic version.  And it is seemingly taking forever.

WIP Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

Honestly, I do not know what I was thinking

Painting the same image twice?? What on earth was I thinking??? This is a rather large painting 30"x30" and I have finally spanned the paint to both side edges.  This feels like quite the accomplishment.  Now, not all the petals in that span are complete but they do have colour on them.  It's interesting, but I find working with acrylic paint more challenging than watercolour.  I can't explain it.  But I find acrylic can be stressful.

The good news? It is really starting to take shape. And another observation?  No matter what medium I work in it is recognizable as my style.  I think it is all about the detail work and colour intensity.

Self doubt for a good reason

I always have more than one painting on the go. Because I love the effect of the pouring process, I have been trying to work out in my head how to replicate or emulate the poured painting process that I use in watercolour in acrylics.  I thought about this at great length. I even dreamt about it.  And then i decided to go in.  After the first pour.  I thought this is pretty ridiculous. Why not just paint it?  

I set it aside and thought what can I lose with one more pour.  Somewhat determined I went through another painstaking masking application. When I started to pour the next layer, well it started to lift and run.  You see the first layer of paint was applied pretty thin.  With acrylics if the paint is not applied thick enough on the base layer it will lift.  Crap. So I let it dry.  Then I decided to apply the paint with a big brush.  Better.  But I came back to my original thought...just paint it.  Forget about the masking compound.

WIP Helen Shideler

And yet again I wondered what I am doing

I removed the masking compound - some of the paint came off with it.  I like that you can see it is the gates at the entrance to the Loyalist Burial Ground in the winter.  I think I "see" this subject as a rich, juicy oil painting.  Not a washed out acrylic.

Lesson Learned

I think the universe was trying to tell me something.  The very first article I read today was "5 unusual habits to keep you growing artistically" by Christopher Gallego. Really good read suggesting things like "Paint some crap" and "do the impossible" such as paint huge and get out of your comfort zone.  Pretty much checked off a few of the boxes with this experiment.  Happy I tried.  I will be gessoing over this one soon and will have a pristine new blank canvas!

 

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Another 30 day challenge complete

Another 30 Paintings in 30 Day Challenge is completer for another year!  

I simply cannot get over how fast time goes when you are having fun.  

30 in 30 Helen Shideler

When I look at each of these little paintings I get such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.  

A lot of these were paintings I wanted to do in one form or another and this challenge lets me do that - to get around to your to-do list.  Some I knew would not lend themselves to larger pieces in the way I like to paint. Sometimes I just get so busy that I do not take the time to paint smaller pieces and just go with it. And so I love this challenge.  It keeps me very busy, very productive and I think it is a wonderful way to help move January along!

There were only a couple of days whereby I felt pressure to get into the studio and only two days where is was not really possible.  Hence there are 28 paintings displayed in my challenge collage.  But that is ok.   I hit a couple of potholes along the way as well.  I ran out of panels.  I had some ordered in advance but they took awhile to come in.  

All gessos are not the same!

When I did get them they were not Apmersand.  They were a nother brand Gotterick and required gesso prior to being painted.  So I lovingly laid out all my panels.  Got out my little paint tray and roller.  Opened up my gesso. Horrors! My gesso was moldy.  Got on the phone once again.  Help me I exclaimed.  Thank goodness Endeavours were able to get the Gesso to me the next day!  

I started in that evening.  Each panel required three coats with ample drying time in between. And then sanding.  The roller created a wavy texture on the panels.  Not a good texture for painting small paintings in detail.   When I started sanding, well the gesso kind of rolled and not sanded as expected.  My new gesso felo more like plastic than gesso.  No time to back out now.  Oh dear.  Such stress. OMIGOODNESS!

The gesso I purchased was a reputable brand, Golden...go figure.  Not what I expected at all.

Lessons Learned

The most important lesson I learned in order to be successful in producing a painting a day is to plan your work.  I found the days I struggled is when I did not start another painting immediately after completing one.  Thinking takes up too much precious painting time.  And it is distracting with all the rabbit holes and diversions along the way.  I am a daydreamer after all.

The other lesson I seem not to learn is to relax the detail a bit.  I found as time when on, instead of painting looser I actually tightened up.  Look at the ravens as an example.  I had a good working philosophy,  Get the eyes and facial features right and the rest of the painting will take care of itself.  This is really true and important. Only I found that often I could not just go with it, resulting in a number of these paintings taking longer than I hoped.

Some were pure joy to paint, "Stymied" for example.  I loved painting that pig.  I loved painting my grandson (portraits are nerve wracking).  I loved painting the shore birds.  Heck I loved painting them all. 

Thank you all for following along with me.  

I really appreciate your encouragement and support.

    

Winters Light Shines Through

I have to admit this was an ambitious painting.  I think I may have a thing about straight lines and me not really know what to do with them.  I always thought I have a steady hand and a good eye... but am not thinking my astigmatism may not know how to deal with them.  Seeing this finished painting sure brings a smile to my face.

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The thing is I often have more ambition than brains.  

Just as I finished signing this one I ran upstairs with my camera and took a series of photos of the same window with the green of the grape vines showing through.  I have to admit it looks kind of sharp.  And it looks cool in the spring with the pink apple blossoms too. Wonder how it will look with the fall foliage? I am unsure that I need to paint it in all the seasons.  

The other thing i, I wanted it to be somewhat painterly.  I drew it out as I went - except for the outside graphic shapes - which sort of line up with the actual window (a little bit of artistic licence here).  I know you know that I am very much a precise painter so just based on that I may feel the need for a do over in another season.  

Helpful Hint:

I test drove some of my new Danial Smith Prima Tec pigments on this

Mostly I love them.  I always recommend to people to test what you are about to do on a sample piece of paper.  It is important that it be the same type of paper as the paint will behave differently on different weights and textures.  A lot of these pigments are staining.  You cannot lift them.   When you add certain colours after, such as anything remotely yellow you get a grey mess that you cannot redefine the shapes without a lot of effort and a few choice words! 

At the end of the day these pigments were the right approach.  The little bit of granulation helped to simulate the texture of the glass.

Inspitation

Inspired by a glass panel by Ingo and Julie Doetsch, Raven Glass Studio from Fredericton NB

 

 

WIP Winters Light Through the Glass

We have a wonderful hanging stained glass window that was given to us 

Over the years we (really me) watch with fascination of how the right changes with each season.  Winter is particularly beautiful with the deep colour of the sky and the reflections of the snow.  You can see the effect of winters light through the glass!

I have taken oh so many photos of the stained glass

Knowing eventually I would be going to paint it.  The invitation to participate in “Stained Glass revisited” coming up in September provided just that opportunity. This was interesting. I always saw this painting as a thick acrylic work.  That was, until I tried to get started and now with a close deadline.

I started to work out the details and realized that the shape of the canvasses I have on hand were the wrong proportion.  Too square a shape meaning that I would have had to paint more background.  And that really would not work.  My artistic eye would not let me proceed and the fact that I do not have time for a redo!

I pondered what to do. 

I really wanted to get started and could not afford the time of shipping in another canvas.  Then it hit me.  Rather embarrassing really.  Watercolour.  Duh!  I could cut the paper into whatever shape I needed!  Oh my.  Sometimes I baffle me.

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Then I got real excited. 

On a recent trip to Arizona to the Plein Air Convention and Expo (PACE), I purchased a few tubes of Daniel Smith’s Prima Tek paints. And now I have a really exciting painting to play with them.  And I am loving them!

The glass represented in this painting has texture and is not smooth all over.  These granulating paints are working beautifully to help me simulate the glass. Some of the colours are luscious (not there is a word you do not get to use everyday). 

Lessons Learned

You have to be really cautious when you mix the Prima Tek  colours with regular waterolours.  They can get muddy fast

I highly recommend you paint an under wash first rather than mixing the colours together.  Now when I mixed two Prima Tek colours together, they worked fine.  But the wash had to be under not over these paints