Entry into the CSPWC Open Water National Show 2015

Pretty excited and happy to have been selected to participate it the CSPWC 90th Annual National Open Water Show this year in Halifax at the Nova Scotia Archives. 

I recently embarked on a project to paint ravens.  When at Yellowstone National Park last fall there were a number of particularly friendly ravens in the parking lot at Artist’s Point.   They were walking around the travel trailers looking for hand-outs and cawing their hearts out.  One raven in particular was following me around and without being intrusive, I was able to get many really nice reference photos.  I was literally on my knees looking him in the eye and chatting with him.

Call of the Raven

“Call of the Raven” was selected for the 2015 Show!  This painting was pretty meticulously rendered and painted – with each individual feather painted with controlled wet-in-wet layers.  I find the colouration of the raven fascinating – how it looks to be almost molded out of pewter and still have rich blue and purple iridescent notes.

These reference photos were the foundation for a number of paintings including “Call of the Raven”,  The “Sentry”, “A Look Back” and a number of smaller paintings.  My intention when I stated this project was with Open Water in mind.

Invitation to the show opening is below

Bloomin' Artists Day 1

Today was the perfect day for painting in gardens. At first I was a little nervous.  It had been raining pretty much all week. And today was overcast, a bit of a fallish nip in the air - I am sorry to say - perfect for blood sucking bugs weather.

The Leopard's Pad - en Plein Air by Helen Shideler

This 10 x 8 Painting took quite awhile to complete.  The air was heavy with moisture due to the heavy cloud cover.  Watercolour paper tends to absorb any moisture int the air making the layers of paint to take longer to dry.  Each of these lily pads took about 5-6 washes to complete.  Hence the amount of time.  Of course the little leopard frog moved away from me and I had to wander about the pond to get a look at its little face in order to finish up.

Particular Pansies - En Plein Air - by Helen Shideler

I have never seen pansies in this particular colour range previous to today.  So, I had to paint them. While painting in Rob and Jean Northrup's fabulous gardens, I was reminded about how interesting little no-see-ums are and how their bite burns! Crazy.  Such a painful bite from such a teeny tiny little bug!!!

Helga Lobb and Cheryl Crowley

And the best part of events like these you ask?  Why catching up with fellow artists and chatting as you work!   What a great day!

Painting at the Nature Park

Yesterday was such a beautiful day that I had to get outdoors and paint.  This requires a lot of thinking on my part.  Do I want to take my watercolours?  Or perhaps my Oils?  Or even acrylics?  As I pondered and gathered up my stuff, I decided to bring both watercolours and acrylics.

Ran through the usual checklist, water - check, paper towels - check, garbage bag- check, hat- check etc.  Finally I had the car all paced up.  Then another decision  - where to go?  I went to Meenans Cove Beach but was unable to get parked close enough to where I wanted to paint.  This is quite important as I hurt my knee and walking over rough ground hurts.  So I went to Rockwood Park  and drove around. In fact I drove past the point I was looking foe.  Then I found myself at one of my favourite places on earth, the Irving Nature Park.

I pulled out my watercolours and thought I was in heaven.  I think I have come to a conclusion.  I really do not have to pack up my entire studio to go out painting for the day.  I need my watercolours or my water soluble oils.  I almost never paint with acrylic outside. 

And produced this 11 x 14" watercolour sketch in a little over an hour.  I had to leave as I was quickly mosquito lunch and did not have any bug spray with me.  Ph well.  Must remember to add bug spray to the list.  

It was interesting to watch the behaviour of a little red squirrel who seemed to be protesting me being there.  Every time a car parked nearby, it would emerge front eh tree, chirping wildly and run up to the car. Apparently the squirrels are expecting to be fed.  I did not know this - hence the reason it was protesting my presence there.

Getting ready for this event

Sketch Book Memories

Working away in my studio getting ready for the 2015 Kings County Studio Tour, when I came across a number of my sketch books. There are some wonderful memories in a sketch book.  I love how sketching makes time fly.  Really quite unbelievable how you can get lost in doing a sketch. Every year it seems we take on a challenge just before the tour. This years challenge getting ready is installing new flooring for the studio.  During the week of the tour.   Last year the challenge was to paint the studio.  Everything had to be taken out and crammed into adjoining rooms.  Phew!  No stress in that.  So this year, my husband though we should have flooring installed. It really does need the flooring - we do not want people tripping over the height difference.  Once again we (really he) cleared everything out of the studio and crammed the stuff into the adjoining rooms.  He is down there working away right now. And I am taking photos of my sketch book, reminiscing and blogging.

IMG_8234_newWhen I get the chance to travel I almost always have my sketch book nearby.  You never know when the inspiration is going to hit you.  Like outside the apartment window.... Vancouver is lovelyIMG_8235_newOr when the movies at your seat are unavailable, they are available for the rest of the seats on the plane, just in your row and it is a long flight...IMG_8237_newSometimes the people around you are inspirational.  I love this guys hair!


Plaid shirts, well who could possibly resist? Have to draw that

IMG_8239_newOr when the flight is just too long and you have already watched two movies and there is not enough time to catch another one.

Sketching on a plane is hard work,  The plane is moving and it throws your hand/eye coordination.  And sketch books are awkward.  I will be keeping my eye out for one that has coils and can be folded back.  When they are open flat they are awkward because there is limited room on that tiny table.  Strangely enough no one really checks out what you are doing.  Usually people cannot resist watching and asking questions.

IMG_8240_newOr when you are enjoying a meal in a restaurant when you literally have the place to yourself other that that one other weary traveller at the table near youIMG_8241_new And then there is the view of your table

IMG_8242_newOr waiting to take the red eye back home


What I learned

What I learned while attempting to Painting 30 28 Paintings in 30 Days -  once I got over my initial fear of the magnitude of the commitment and started the work.  First I went into this with a few ground rules for myself:

  1. I would not compromise on quality
  2. I wanted to use this challenge to explore new surfaces and mediums


What I learned:

I like to paint watercolors on larger paper 11.5 x 14, what we call ¼ sheet.  It took only Day 1 and Day2 for me to realize this was not sustainable. They just take too long!

Factory made canvasses always require an additional coat of gesso.  Without it you get little white spots or spaces that really show up through the paint.  Grrrr!

I LOVE Ampersand Claybord and Gessobord with acrylic paint.  The panels allow me to paint with the degree of detail my work is known for

You have to learn how to paint all over again when you use Claybord – it is slick and absorbent and has a personality all of its own.  I do love how the paint appears brighter on this surface that it appears on canvas.

I cannot compromise detail.  Can’t.  Nope not possible.  I am unable to paint loose because it looks unfinished to me.  I am compelled to go back in.  As a result of this quirk, my little paintings took 3-4 hours to complete.   One or two took much longer – hence the 2 shy of 30.

Have I mentioned I do not like painting small-scale with acrylics on canvas - Acrylic on canvas has to be reserved for HUGE pieces?

Sometimes you have to grab yourself by the shoulders and say get to the studio.  Once there I was pretty happy about it.

It is ok to squeeze out too much paint.

Use a strippable palette on your palette for easier clean up – and to switch out colours if foolish enough to try to paint two at a time.

Acrylic paint can go pasty in the tube – time to replace it.  Most of the brands do this. Tri-Art tubes and lids are garbage.  I love the paint but it is not much good to you if you cannot use it.  Oh and their mirror pigment is amazing! Also dried up in the tube!  Wonder is they still make it?

Metallic and iridescent paint flattens your work, or can make it look too crafty.  Use with caution.

People love to purchase smaller paintings ☺.   A number of people were excited to start their new art collection! Gotta love that!!!

IMG_7913_new IMG_7912_new

30 Paintings in 30 days Final Week

Wow.  What can I say.  I really did stick with the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.  Only I painted 28.  Really 27 as my last painting was finished today - after the end of the challenge.  I am so glad I did this.  I wanted to use materials and subjects  I do not always get around to.  And I learned a lot. I learned that I actually do like acrylic paint.  I just do not like to use it on canvas as I am unable to get the degree of detail I want to achieve. And I LOVE Ampersand Claybord with acrylics!  I will blog about that next week!   And this is almost what is looks like - there a few missing because I struggled with the program. But you get the idea. And this weeks efforts are below. SHideler 30 paintings in 30 days

Day 26 - "Beez on Sedum" is a water-colour on Arched 300 lb paper. 5.5"x11"

Beez on Sedum by Helen ShidelerDay 27 - "High Tide Back Beach" in PEI.  Acrylic on Claybord 7"x5"High Tide Back Beach by Helen ShidelerDay 28 -  "Heavenly Hollies" 7"x5" Acrylic on Claybord Heavenly Hollies by Helen ShidelerDay 29 - "Lunch Break" is an 10 x 8" acrylic on Claybord


Day 30 - "Flirtin" 10 x 8" acrylic on Claybord.  I refer to this style as Contemporary Realism.  Loot at their eyes.  They are seriously flirting!Flirtin by Helen ShidelerThese paintings are available on my website.  Click HERE for more information.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Week 4

This week proved to be more time consuming than last week.  This weeks paintings have taken more time than I expected.  It is that detail orientation thing I have.  As a result I have only completed six.  I know I could still catch up... but I do not to put too much pressure on myself right now.  Attempting 30 paintings in 30 days is enough of a stretch... This has been a good week for selling as well.  Quite a number of these little paintings have made journeys to new homes or will be soon - this is fun and rewarding.  If you would like more information or see how you too can own one of these little paintings, you can view the collection by clicking HERE .

Day 19

"Eenie Meanie" is an 8x10 acrylic on canvas.  This was interesting to work on as I had to figure out how to handle the mussels under the water.

Eenie Meanie by Helen ShidelerDay 20

"Good Mourning"  a 6"x6" acrylic of a mourning dove outside my kitchen window.

Good Mourning by Helen ShidelerDay 21

"Changing Weather" I love this location in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.  The weather is constantly changing and every where you look is a potential for a painting.  This is a 10"x8" acrylic on Gessobord.  I thought i was all out but happily I found this board in hiding!

Changing Weather by Helen ShidelerDay 22

"Pond of Dreams"  I have always wanted to paint this little visitor to our backyard pond.  This painting makes me happy, and it is SOLD.

Pond of Dreams by Helen ShidelerDay 24

"Last Stand" was painted from reference photos I took a number of years ago in the Irving Nature Park on one very grey day. I would always take a break here to ponder this tree.  I liked the sense of isolation without it being grim.  It was once tall and proud looking out to sea!  I had to resist the urge to add in a crow - looks like a place a crow should roost. You may have noticed that there is no Day 23 painting. This one took too long to complete in one session.  Heres the blip.

Last Stand by Helen ShidelerDay 25

"Waddling Wanderers" was pure joy to paint!  These two happy geese look as though they are engrossed in conversation.  Maybe they are talking about the challenges of moulting as one of these is either in the middle of a moult - or has been in a heck of a fight.  I go for the moult.

Wandering Waddlers by Helen Shideler