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

Chickadee dee deeee

Sweet, fat, fluffy and round.  

And cute! Dear little chickadees. I cannot stop painting them.  They make me so happy.  We admire them daily as they flit in and out of our feeders.  They fly in and steal a sunflower seed.  Fly into the grapevines or into a nearby tree.  Crack open the seed.  And then come back again.  Over and over for most of the day.  So entertaining!

Chickadee dee dee by Helen Shideler

Not a crazy bird lady

Before you get the idea I am a crazy bird lady,  I will explain.  You see we have large windows all over our house and place the feeders strategically so you can catch a glimpse as you walk by.  Quite heavenly.  Tonight there was a pair of cardinals outside the kitchen window.  I am amazed at how red he truly is this time of year.  She was in  the feeder and he was ever watchful.  Until he saw me watching them. And then they were gone.

Chickadee by Helen Shideler

And so there are two little chickadee painting.  The one on the bottom is sold

Spring Scentsation on the easel

On the easel for awhile

This fall has had me going madly off in all directions.  Literally.  I have twice travelled across the country clearing four time zones in each direction.  Had two nasty sinus infections that literally had me down and out.  Add in a kitchen reno and phew a trip to Newfoundland!  No wonder these paintings are taking awhile to finish.

Spring Scentsation by Helen Shideler

It seems that every night after I have worked on this

and then lie in bed trying to go to sleep, my mind is so active continuing to paint the little lilac florets.  Sometimes I can even feel my hands moving. I enjoy every sleepless moment of it!  You see it is not every painting that imprints on my brain like this.  I think that is reserved for the special ones.  The ones that literally excite you to the point that they keep you awake at nights.  I so love the goopy bits of paint that help to define and sculpt the blossoms. And delight on the many colour variances in those little petals. From the various shades of lilac to the pinks to blues and how the colours are affected by the light and shade.

 

 

 

we have a happening little backyard pond

Our little garden pond is has proven to be a real happening place. 

It is a proverbial bee hive of activity.  Honey bees fly down to the pond to get a drink of water.  They will land on a lily pad and walk to the little puddle of water in the centre.  They will also land and a gently sloping edge rock and walk to the surface of the water.  I often wondered why there were so many of them.  This took us awhile to figure out.  You see we have pretty extensive gardens so you expect and hope for bees.  Why so many at the pond? There is a real congregation.  I really wanted to figure it out.  I would pay attention to the direction they were flying off to (secretly concerned they may be nesting under our deck).  There is only so long you can see a little bee flying away from you as they disappear into the landscape pretty quickly. They appeared to be leaving in the same general direction flying off towards our apple trees.  Here is where it gets embarrassing.  We were marveling over our buzzing visitors for a few summers when I happened to mention them to our next door neighbor.  Carol said something like… look up at the crest of the hill Helen towards Pat’s house.  See those white boxes at the back corner of her property?  Well they are bee hives. Pat is a bee keeper. Flash of embarrassment.  And I consider myself to be an observant person.

There is a little frog living along the rocks at the waters edge. It climbs out of the water to warm itself on the rocks on sunny days.  Every time I see him my heart skips a beat.  I am sure his does too because when it sees me there is a big splash as he jumps into hiding in the water.  I have been stealth like in my endeavours to catch a few photos.  

Another interesting visitor to the pond are dragon flies.  This is an interesting point.  Dragonflies seem to be self-aware.  As soon as I get my camera focused they are gone.  Darn.  I have missed so many photos.

The deer eat our garden plants close to the waterfall.  Sparrows like to bathe in the waterfall.  And Gary and I like to sit and bask in the comforting sound of the waterfall with an ever watchful eye for the next visitor.

Anxiously Waiting

I have a new appreciation for how dedicated and anxious nesting birds really are.

Take this robin for instance.  Gary and I recently made a trip up to the cottage with the intention of cleaning and freshening it up.  We packed up our car to the roof and headed out.  Once we go to the cottage, we had to make several trips inside with our arms loaded up.  Fist trip in we did not see the nesting robin. But it saw us.  In a flurry of rather noisy, flapping and with a look of indignation - then the robin left the nest every time one of us walked by.  This went on for quite while until they either got tired out or simply gave up.  I eventually was able to un-intrusively get a few reference photos.  

Anxiously Waiting by Helen Shideler

When I took the photos I knew there was a painting in there.

Yesterday, while painting at Hooper's Studios and Gallery for the opening of "Four Watercolour Painters" (of which I am one), I decided to paint this scene.  I very loosely sketched out the bird in the nest. It took shape very quickly.

I was careful not to overwork the cedar shakes as I wanted the focal point to be obvious. The robin was fun to paint.  The nest took more concentration than I expected.  As a result, I was unable to complete the painting in one sitting.  Contributing to distracting me from completing it was the fact it was 32 degrees celsius with high humidity.  Hard to paint in a sauna.  Hard to paint in high humidity with watercolours - you cannot in any way shape or form get a crisp line. 

I packed up.  Drove home and enjoyed the amazing show of lightning on display. And finished the painting this morning,  

Painting of a Dragonfly on the Fence

Dragonflies  

We have a backyard pond complete with a waterfall and lily pads.  And dragonflies are frequent  visitors.  Frequent but they do not rest for long. Almost never long enough for me to run and get may camera and get back down the stairs.  And my camera is by the door when I am home!  Another missed opportunity.

On the Fence 

On the Fence 

But I have gotten lucky a few times

One summer a dragonfly landed on my friend Jackie’s belly. And  I had my camera right there.  I just had to convince her not to swoosh him away until I got the photos.   The photos were really over exposed as her top was white but, as an artist, I am pretty good at improvising.  That painting is shown at the bottom of this post.

At a visit to M Mills to see the flocks of migratory sea birds I was so surprised by number of dragonflies. So many varieties. So many really big ones. So big.  And hovering doing the helicopter flight thing.  I spent the entire day there trying to get a great photo of one and you know?  They are super  fast.  Just as soon as I would have the camera on the ready they were gone.  Every single time.

On a recent trip to Arizona as I was strolling down a path in the 100 degree sunshine (melting) when I spied a dragonfly resting on a fence right beside me.  Actually resting.  My camera was actually around my neck.  So,  I got some pretty cool photos.  The result is show below in “On the Fence”.  This is a 9”x12” acrylic on Ampersand Claybord.

I know you have heard me talk about Claybord previously  

I have a love hate relationship with it.  Almost always the acrylic paint does not behave as I expect it to making for some stressful moments and multiple do overs.  What I love about it is that when you mess it up you are able to scrub off most of the paint and start over.  What I hate about it is (and all acrylic paint for that matter) is that the layers of paint have to be completely dry between the layers or the bottom paint will lift off.  Uncool.  This is particularly bad on Claybord.

The background of this painting is a really good bad example of this  

Blending is particularly challenging especially on the base coats.  Once you have your base coat down it does get easier to work with.  The smooth surface allows for highly detailed paint application.  Love this.  Then I had to draw the dragonfly on the painted layer.  This is nerve wracking as you really do not want to erase on paint or have to correct your drawing with paint (although this works really well trust me).

This painting is scheduled to hung in the upcoming shaw at the Saint John Arts Centre "Stained Glass Revisited" in September

Jackie's Dragon by Helen Shideler