Seasonal corvids

I decided to paint a crow this weekend for a few reasons. Firstly, I am working on a secret commission or three that I cannot share. And it is so close to Halloween I really needed to paint a corvid!

Stepping Out by Helen Shideler

Here is the thing

We have many crows in our yard. They watch us when we BBQ. They sit on the power lines and look at us. They watch us when we are on our deck in case we may be eating. They watch us when we are eating. One crow in particular, this is pretty cool… keeps one eye on us. When we look up it does this spy thing and tries to look nonchalant, inconspicuous - incognito. Should we dare drop a tidbit the routine gets really amusing. It will look away. Watches. Then when we look away, it will fly down so casually, steal the bite away. It’s a game we play.

Crow Crow Crow

Sometimes we feed them. Because it is hard not to. I stand in the back driveway and call crow, crow, crow. Then they nonchalantly appear and wait until we turn our backs to come in for the tidbits. Again, it’s a game we play.

Habit forming

I paint corvids. Every chance I get. Below is a collage of a few of them. There are many more and a few not shown are award winners.

Crow Collage by Helen Shideler

Until next time, Happy Halloween

On Watch

It is that time of year when I feel like I disappear.  I have secret commissions that I am working on and of course, am unable to share.  I can share my most recent acrylic painting of a crow - On Watch

Observation Perch by Helen Shideler

From how do I do this - to I got this

When travelling around Arizona last year, I happened upon this crow perched on a rock framed by two tree trunks.  I knew instantly that I planned on painting this scene.  I took a few reference photos... until my subject flew away.   Only the tree trunks that  drew me in felt like brackets and I decided the painting would be stronger without them.

Rocks make me think.  Sometimes too much.  I found I was fretting over them and then realized, jeepers I can do this  and instantly I knew how to approach them.  I know eh? Although I had to take a drive to Michael's Art Supplies first.

All in the technique

I purchased a little bag of sea sponges and formed the underpainting with various shades of grays.  Once I had the rock blocked in, I could see lichen shapes emerging.  I then added shadows to lift the lichens and highlights to make them convincing.  And oh what fun, the subtle shades of mauve, blues and greens brought  the rock to life - so to speak.  

It's healthy to be nervous

I think it is healthy to be nervous when painting.  It really makes you think before you apply paint. And I believe nervous anticipation...preoccupation, obsession, makes you pull from different places and come up with approaches you may not have thought of otherwise. 

My dang easel

And in the middle of everything like deadlines, my dang easel came crashing down once again.  I love that stupid crank easel but i think it is in line to be replaced.  This is the third time it came crashing down sending the ball bearings heaven knows where.  This time the little housing for the ball bearings dented.  I am investigating replacement parts.  But am feeling uncertain. The place where I purchased it did not instill any confidence - fingers crossed.

missing ball bearings

Notice the missing ball bearings? Any recommendations for a good studio easel?

 

 

Time to catch up

This weekend was all about plein air painting in Hampton at the John Peters Humphrey Bloomin Artists event.  This really is a catch up post.  I have been working on a few secret commissions and am unable to share...yet.

I packed up my car.  Easel? Check! Snacks? Check!  Oh wait, pencils, clamps, paper towel holder? Left on the chair in my studio.  Not a pencil or pen to be had. Then the talking to myself began. What will I do with out a pencil I asked?  I answered any plein air painter worth their salt can do this with out a pencil. And this is pretty much how Saturday went.  I forgot to drink enough water wound up wilted by early afternoon as a result.

Saturday, July 15th

The first painting "Hampton Marsh" I was trying to not be a meal for all the black flies.  Nasty little distractions.  I just had to suck it up and paint on.  For the second painting, the painter on the dock left and I grabbed his spot.  There was enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away.  And enough of a breeze that I thought it was going to rain.  It got quite cool.  And I had to work fast and furiously.

Hampton Marsh by Helen Shideler
The Junction by Helen Shideler

Sunday, July 16th

Pansy Patch by Helen Shideler

In the crazy heat of the day, I spent way too long on this painting.  High humidity.  Hot, did I mention how hot it was?

I really love pansies. This little flower has so much personality and comes in so many colour variations and sizes. 

As I was happily painting away, I became increasingly aware of a particular nearby hornet. It seemed to be determined to investigate the exact spot I was standing on.  I backed away, hoping it would leave.  No. It kept investigating whatever it was investigating.  

Finally it flew off.  Really, I had a vision of it flying up my pant leg.  Not a pleasant vision.  I have a story about me and stinging things in my clothing. May not share, at least not yet!

 

And then there was this

I could not resist painting my grandson Theo.  "just wading 10"x8" oil on panel

JUst Wading by Helen Shideler

And this

I was contacted about the little oil painting on the right - but it was already sold.  From that inquiry, I received a commission to paint it again in acrylic with a few modifications.  The painting was fun so I agreed.  Can you spot the changes?

Double Take by Helen Shideler

Update 6 Amethyst Shades of Blue and some other stuff

Trusting my intuition

I had set this painting aside for a little while while I was finishing off some smaller works for the recent studio tour. I must have picked it up three or four times this week - and then set it back down. You see, I know how complex the background is in the reference photos and wanted to be sure how I was going to tackle it.  I finally convinced myself to just get started and trust my intuition and go with it.   Glad I picked it back up.  I am still somewhat fearful as I know the amount of time and effort required to complete it.  Did I mention I have a deadline of June 30th?

WIP Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Rain rain go away...

It has been raining everyday this week.  Beautiful steady, falling straight down,  soaking rain.  And when it was not soaking rain, well it was torrential rain.   Thankfully the temperature was somewhat tropical.  The gardens are so lush and beautiful in appreciation.  The planters, well that is another story of - soggy petunias. By the time we are able to mow the lawn again it will likely be a foot deep.  No sign of the rain stopping anytime soon.  

Helen's garden

New supplies means new work

I receive the gesso board panels I ordered this week.  Now I am able to get to the two commissions I have and also start another of my somewhat weekly oil painting.  Funny how much I love receiving a new shipment of art supplies.  Does not have to be anything really exciting or new. Just art supplies.  I always imagine what I am going to do with them all.  I imagine series of work.  Almost always.

WIP Helen Shideler

Eden Energy Medicine

This weekend I attended an Eden Energy Medicine (EEM) workshop with Sue Hooper.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the experience.  Sue is an amazing and gracious instructor. Coming off the work getting ready for last weeks KCST I needed to switch it up and slow it down. The exercises will with fit in nicely with my current morning stretching and balancing routine.

 

The Pond in Mid Summer Update 5

Fear factor

The Pond in Mid- Summer may be compet! I feel like I have been working on this for such a long time.. and I have.  What is interesting is the fear factor kicked in.  I was almost afraid to complete it as I really had no idea what to paint next!

The Pond in Mid-Summer by Helen Shideler

Master procrastinator

I really think I have been dragging my heels with this.  Last week I completed "Rhodo Rhapsody", a transparent watercolour that I have been, for lack of a better word..savouring for the last, ummmm year!

So with completing a watercolor last week and completing this one this week, I think I have some blank canvas shock going on.  Until yesterday I honestly had absolutely no idea what to start next.  I almost never have this problem.  I am so full of ideas that I literally cannot sleep!

I perused almost all of my reference photos and you know, I kept coming back to blue hydrangeas.  Stay tuned. One in watercolour - full shee.  One in acrylic 36 x36.  And what can I do with oil.  I have a new project!

Can you spy the dragon fly?

Pond in mid-summer by Helen Shideler
Pond in mid-summer by Helen Shideler

WIP Update 3 The Pond in Mid-Summer

From side to side

I know it may not look like it, but I am really making progress with my pond painting. As of today the paint now touches the left edge.  This feel like a milestone.

The Pond in Mid-Summer by Helen Shideler

Getting there

Now that I have paint spanning from almost edge to almost edge, it it time to start thinking about what will be coming next.  I have a birch cradled panel the same size as this painting (24"x48") that I have begun priming with gesso.  I have a few ideas of what to paint - but I am thinking about a portrait oriented painting.  Hmmm the eagle in the pine tree at our cottage...bright red hollyhocks, or the sun breaking through the fog in the early morning at a beach.  Hmmm the possibilities are endless.

The gesso-ing process a pain in the rear.  I guess I really hate the feeling of sandpaper.

What comes next?

I have at least one more froggie to place. The one I have in mind is floating in the water with it's legs dangling below him.  And I just happen to have a good variety of photos of leopard frogs at the ready.  Oh, and I have more work on the water lilies including adding in a couple of discreet buds.

Traveling Colours

So excited.  I booked my flight to get me to San DIego and the Plein Air Conference and Expo PACE 2017 .  This is special for so many reasons.  Being at a convention with 900 artists is beyond anything I could ever imagine.  And especially special as I get to spend a week with Jane Feeeman and Marilyn Wear.  I am so excitedtruly blessed!

#PACE

WIP Update 2 The Pond in Mid Summer

Take me back to those summer days

We are starting to see these winter days start to lengthen and can feel the power coming back to the sun.  And so we allow ourselves to drift into memories of summer. I absolutely love summer. The long days. The heat. And the nostalgia. We dream about it, we long for it and when it is here we savour it. That is what this painting represents to me. Feelings. Memories. Longing.

The Pond in Mid Summer by Helen Shideler

 Memories of days gone by 

I have been receiving a lot of wonderful feedback about this painting and a lot of people are on the same page as I am. It pulls them into a moment of relaxation and reflection. We all seem to identify with it. That is exactly what I was hoping for when I started this large painting.

I am enjoying how this painting is developing, painting from right to left as I always do.  I guess it help me to prevent any pencil smudges.  It just doesn't feel right for me to paint left to right - and I am right handed.  Cannot explain that. 

Discoveries

I have started to add in the froggies as many of you requested. There will be a few more subtly placed in the painting.  I love to create that moment of discovery for you - when you are looking at a painting and suddenly see a hidden element like a bee or an ant.  I will tell the sad story of the spider later and how it cost me the sale of a painting another time.

I asked for help to name this painting.  A friend of mine suggested Peekaboo.  I told her she she was too late.  Had already used it on the watercolour painting of mine shown below!

 Sorry but the pin button will not work on this image

Sorry but the pin button will not work on this image

WIP Pond Painting First Post

Pond Painting

I have been planning a series of large & dramatic paintings in my mind.  I ordered a large canvas and a few panels from my favourite art supply store. Started the work and went -eh?  At first it seemed to fill my easel.  But now I wish it was even bigger.  Next one!!!

Pond painting by Helen Shideler

Monochromatic Greens

Painting with green in acrylic is quite the challenge.  The colours are never quite what you expect. And then they dry darker.  Greens in watercolour are so much easier.  And there is not any standardization in colours between brands. Sap green in one brand may be garish and in another almost olive.  What the heck.  That brings me to the colour I love to hate.  Viridian!  It is up there with the ever challenging cerulean  (in watercolour) . Vididean is neon, unforgiving and yet essential to mix living greens found in our northern climate.  Then you have to mix the bejeebers out of it to make it believable!

Questions for you

What would you title a pond painting?

Would you add in froggies or koi fishies?  Or both?

Helpful hint

As I often work on many painting at the same time, it is easy to forget which colours I was working with on which painting.  And so I journal.  I purchased a moleskin book that accepts watercolour and use it as a bit of a colour diary.  I will also write down my thoughts as I am painting on the opposite site.  This really helps with it come sto blogging!

Pond Painting Journal by Helen Shideler

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.

    

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