WIP Poured Painting Reveal

My nervousness exists

Well I did it.  I was procrastinating but I got around to it.  I was quite nervous about trying to do a poured painting with water and clouds.  I mean clouds are soft and water is fluid.  Poured painting is edgy...it has edges and shapes and did I mention edges?  

Moody Moment - poured watercolour by Helen Shideler

Sometimes with a poured painting - they look pretty good with the heavy layers of masking compound literally masking the painting underneath it all.  At some point you have to suck it up, take a deep breath and go for it.  Get that crap off....

Peel off the bandaid

Then I didi it.  I had to build up to it.  Schedule it.  And then I went in. Grabbed my rubber cement pick up and removed all the masking compound.  And you know all my removal anxiety was unfounded ..it was not half bad.   Actually is was pretty good.  


So much to paint so little time

I am seriously restless

I think I have a huge case of spring fever once again.  Working away on two traditional watercolours  paintings "Cascading Blooms" the climbing rose and "TBD" rhodo.  Oh and a rather large landscape commission in acrylic that I cannot share with you yet (this is torment).  And all the while dreaming of Arizona and the PACE (Plein Air Conference & Expo) in Tucson this April. I have already started my what-to-pack list.

WIP Poured Painting Demo Piece by Shideler

Does this ever happen to you

When out of the blue I started thinking about poured watercolour paintings. Ok, not really out of the blue..I have to have a painting in progress to take to my talk at the Saint John Art Club meeting on March 24th.  But I have so much inspiration! I honestly do not know where to start. I love my creative life and love that sometimes I am on inspiration overload and cannot seem to finish anything and then almost cannot start something new because I cannot choose...but have many paintings progressing.

WIP Secret Commission by Helen Shideler


I have an image in my mind of a series of seascapes hanging on one wall in a show.  It's my around-to-it.  Thinking that I may kick start that series I decided do a seascape as part of my poured painting demo.  H: pouring paint does not create soft edges.  Helpful hint: Clouds and water are soft and free-er with no hard edges.  Unsure how this one is going to develop - I have my fingers crossed. The salvation is it could always become a mixed media painting.  I always maintain there is nothing you cannot fix with acrylic paint (except maybe an oil painting).

WIP Poured Painting Demo piece by Helen Shideler

Doubting myself

And then I started another for the demo.  My just-in-case painting.  My backup plan so to speak. A safer subject.  Once drawn out I realized this would be a real cool full sheet poured painting. Maybe for another day. 

Create a Little Magic Every Day


I recently read a blog post that offered words of wisdom for artists.  The first piece of advice that I identified with was to journal as you paint.  The thoughts and ideas you compile become foundational and inspiration for blog posts.  I like this!

The second is to alway shave a notebook close by to capture your ideas as they happen.  Well, I tried this and was completely surprised how quickly the ideas started to flow.  So glad I had a little notebook close by!

This is my new special journal...


My Adventure

Painting is an adventure for me.  I never quite know what direction it is going to take me in.  Sure I always have a bit of a roadmap, but it is the surprises that I am presented with that often lead to my best work.

A few years ago I had a concept stuck in my head.  And I really could not define it.  I just felt it. And am definitely moving in that direction.  I know it is a different path that I will be taking.

Two years ago in Jackson Hole WY, I discovered the art of Andrew Denman and was completely blown away.  He was painting backgrounds in the etherial way I had in my head.  And he was doing it! I am hoping to capture a similar depth in watercolour, minus masking and definitely no sanding.  Now Andrew's work is leaning more towards abstraction than I intend to go, but I love his work and am completely fascinated with it.  

I intend to experiment with negative painting in 2016 over pouring paint.  I may still be trapped a bit in the world of masking for awhile while I figure all this out, but I hope to achieve the concepts still in my mind without it. 

About a year ago an artist friend mentioned to me that my work is reminding her more and more of Denman's.  Momentarily flattered, then I was taken aback.  I am not trying to emulate his style although I am completely fascinated with it.  I live the flavour and intention of expressing the background of a painting in a surprising way.

My New Fascination

My new fascinations is around negative painting.  I have been exploring poured paintings for a number of years.  There is always something to learn with this technique.  It is darn difficult and challenging ad that is why I love it.  Just not completely in love with the sharp edges created with masking compound.  I am looking to achieve a softer feeling while maintaining the impressive degree of depth possible with pouring.  


I am hoping that in 2016 I will be able to move the bar to a higher standard in  my experimental work by exploring and learning about negative painting.  I just have to learn to think backwards.  Piece of cake right?

Happy New Year all.

Thank you for your continued interest and support, and oh yes - your continued investment in collecting original art (and mine too please).

Demo Poured Painting Colours of Autumn

Yesterday was such a nice day.  I had the opportunity to paint at the Hooper's Studio in Hampton with some really great folks.  This is the kick off weekend for their Small Works Show and they invited a number of us to participate.

I worked on a demo poured painting piece.  The first photo is the painting with all the layers of masking compound still on. 

The finished painting is below.  As this was a demo, I had to take some "short cuts" to try to get it done in a day.  Typically I prefer to pour one colour in a session.  For this piece I had to pour two and sometimes three colours in one session.  I liked the way the colours mingled on the wet paper but the paler washes were a bit overwhelmed by the deeper and/or brighter shades. I also had to use the hair dryer to speed up the mask and pours.  Week.  I never like to use a hairdryer with masking.  Oh well.

Autumn Colours by Helen Shideler

Once I removed the mask I went in and enhance the painting with a few strategic washes and a bit of detail brushwork.  Overall I am quite happy with the outcome.  This is an 8 x 10 Painting matted in an archival mat and in a cello envelope.  It is available on my web site.

yours truly, Joe Pach, Mary Kay O'Brien, David MacKay

yours truly, Joe Pach, Mary Kay O'Brien, David MacKay

Lots of Love in Vancouver

I've been in Vancouver or the past three weeks  savouring every wonderful moment with my two grandsons. Yes two.  Everett arrived a few days after I arrived.  I naively thought I would be able to catch up with the 30 Paintings in 30 Day Challenge. And as much as I would like to share with you that I was able.  Well I was not.  However snuggles and storybooks trump painting for awhile!

I have managed to complete five small paintings during this time.  I painted some daisy and then figured it would work well as a poured painting.  So I redid it.  Both are below - which is your preference - the traditional approach...

Daisy Days I

...or the poured painting?

Daisy Days II - Poured Painting

And then I thought I should do it once more as a negative painting.  Have not had the chance to do this but I may.  I think it is a good opportunity to illustrate the versatility of watercolour.

I brought along my iPad thinking I would-be able to blog during my visit.  However my iPad did not recover from me dropping in on its corner last month.  I had the glass replaced (subsequently voided the warranty - but that is another story) but the touch screen was acting up frustratingly so.  Anyway I just managed to get my technology in order just two days before I was to travel back home.  I am a complete Apple fan after this experience!

True love 

True love 

Summer's Jewels - Nasturtiums

Summers Jewels by Helen Shideler Summer's Jewels was so much fun to work on - I mean I completely love these colours.  And I completely loved pouring the colours of nasturtiums!  There were a few moments of uncertainty - like when the making compound really did not want to come off.  Took me a few hours.... and a blister to make it happen!  This painting went through seven different pours - one colour I applied twice to increase the intensity.

Below is the peel reveal

WIP Helen Shideler

I friend and I were recently discussing colours what subjects pour better or what make a successful poured painting. Whether monochromatic or complimentary colours pallets would be more effective? I really hadn’t thought about it quite like that. And that got me thinking how I would approach this post.

I normally select a subject from a series of photos I have taken, print them and then take a photocopy in black and white. What I am looking for are values. This is so important to pouring – you simply have to be able to see and establish contrast for the pours to work properly and establishing dimension.

Secondly you need a solid, proportionate drawing as a guideline. Not a lot of detail. You need to be able to see where the values are. This is very important as application of the poured paint on a wet surface often creates abstract or surreal shapes.

I actually found this painting to be rather difficult as it has similar tones throughout and limited contrast.

The other consideration is that pouring yellow over yellow may not provide enough value distinction without the addition of an additional colour. Example: cad yellow light for the first applicant then add green gold or yellow ocher to change the tone and value for the second pour. If you add deeper yellows your painting may become opaque right before your eyes. This is fine if you are ok with flatter colours. Red is also a challenge to pour for the same reason.

Tip: I always have a piece of the same paper as my painting beside my work area to test how the colours will work when poured over each other.

The rest of the story

Sunshine Yellow Azaleas WIP

Sunshine Yellow by Helen Shideler I just finished this poured water-color commission of sunshiny yellow azaleas. I think what I like best about poured paintings is how fast they seem to build. The process keeps you engaged daily - I typically work on them each day for about two weeks. Each stage has to dry completely before you move onto the next. But the progress really builds nicely. There were seven pours with this painting.

WIP Sunshine Yellow by Helen ShidelerOnce completely dry I removed the frisket. I call this the peel reveal. Some artists take their work to this stage and call it done. I personally cannot do this, although I have been tempted a few times with the mussel paintings. Being detail oriented I have to go back in and enhance the work with additional brushwork to increase the overall colours and values and bring up the detail. I like my subject to almost “lift” off the paper. In order to achieve this level of dimension I have to go back in and enhance the pours.

This painting was worked from two very different reference photos that I took last year. One for composition and the other for colours. I found this to be especially tricky with the masking. I had to really pay attention on this one. Much care had to be taken to apply the mask to white areas that are not there in the composition photo.

Some of the stages are illustrated below in the photos. I did not include every mask application or pour as some of the sessions appeared quite subtle in the progress photographs. But this will give you the idea of how the process builds.

I will take this painting in to be scanned and then framed this week. I hope my client loves it!

Do you have any question on this painting process?


WIP Poured Water-Color Sunshine Yellow

On the easel a poured water-colour painting of sunshine yellow azaleas After completing a number of recent paintings with a more traditional approach,  I had to step back and relearn how to approach work on a poured water-colour painting.  I work in high detail so I spend a lot of time up front planning the work and with the drawing process.  I really recommend that you start out with a solid drawing/outline of your subject – this up front planning will help to prevent problems later when you have a large amount of masking compound and paint applied and the lines get blurred.

WIP Poured Painting by Helen Shideler

This painting is a commission with a bit of a twist.  My client liked the composition of one variety of yellow azalea I photographed and the colors of another.  So this painting is requires additional thinking time to keep it all straight.

Yellows are also tricky to work with.  Even though the colour saturation can be intensified by either layering on additional layers or using deeper pigments, there is really little contrast between the shades until you introduce another colour.  This became particularly noticeable after I applied the second wash.  The depth and dimension only started to develop after the third pour when I introduced the light orange.  Adding to my confusion the dried colour of the mask is yellowish as well.

I keep my spray bottle very close when pouring as I do not want the washes run off to overpower the background area.  After I do the pour and coax the paint where I want it, I spray the background area quite heavily to lighten the impact to that area (unless of course I want the poured colour there).

Coming up next there will be a redder orange pour and then I will start in with the background greens.

There will be at least three more pours before I start the work to remove the mask.

duckie duet and easel troubles

Duckie Duet So today I had one of those days in the studio.  Easel Troubles.  Everything I touched went wrong. The bottom support on my big easel dropped to the floor (through my fingers) with a loud bang and a low bad word.  The ball bearings in the crank went rolling and all the itty bitty pieces of the mechanism separated.  We still have not recovered them all.  Anyone know how to reassemble a crank easel?

So I decided to use my smaller easel.  The air in the studio must be exceptionally dry this time of year.  Could not tighten it to hold the weight of a canvas.  The support that holds the canvas up kept sliding... you got it,  to the floor with a loud bang!    No fingers in the way this time.  So frustrated and with a few fingers throbbing I decided today may not be the day to start something new.

I have come to the conclusion that I will always be painting ducks. Most likely they will all be of mallards as they are so abundant where we live. Often there is a pair hanging out under our bird feeders rooting through and sunflower seeds that the other birds may have dropped or we have spilled on the ground.  And we do have some very duck attractive puddles in our yard every spring.

What should the painting be called? I am mulling over a few but nothing is saying "That's it!"

Just Ducky? Luck Ducky? How you Doin? (with the Joey from friends inflection - would most people get this?), My Place or Yours?,  My Nest or Yours?  (maybe a bit too riské), The Mister and the Missus? (personal favourite), Double Duck? or Town and Country? I so  need a cheesy pickup line to title this painting.  And I am stumped! Then I went to Duckie Duo and to "Duckie Duet".

This is an enhanced poured painting.  The pours were watercolor as are most of the ducks.  The snow on the ground was painted with transparent mixing white acrylic (great product) and the flicked on snow is titanium white acrylic diluted with water to be flickable.

Currently on the Easel

WIP - Helen ShidelerI am currently working on a few paintings.  Three are commissions and one is not.  The one that is not spoken for keeps luring me in.  The above painting started out as a poured watercolour.  Once I removed the countless layers of masking compound, I decided to go back in and enhance the ducks.  This is something I normally do with poured paintings.  Only this time I am really going back in. IMG_8009_new

The colours in the photo above are closer to the real deal - the first photo is overexposed but you get the idea.  This is painted from a series of photos I took last spring.  I really love the expression on the faces of these two ducks.  I started this last year and set it aside to work on Christmas commissions and then the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge this January.  As part of the challenge, I also painted these two duckies smaller and on Ampersand Claybord. I guess I am not finished with this subject yet.

Flirtin by Helen Shideler

"Flirtin" is available on my web site by clicking here