Amethyst Shades of Blue completed

Being curious means more work

After what seems like an eternity, I have finally completed one of the blue hydrangea paintings! You may remember awhile back I decided to challenge myself to paint the same subject in two mediums. Why, you ask? Because I had an interesting moment of indecisiveness. And I was curious. Normally I know exactly what I want to do, accomplish with a painting.  With the blue hydrangea I was pretty sure it would work best in watercolour.  No wait in acrylic... no wait - what about oils?

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

It takes two

While working on two different versions of the same subject in two different mediums was an interesting exercise, I found I was growing eager to actually complete one of them.  At first I thought the watercolour painting was the medium to accomplish what I envisioned.  I absolutely love the medium.  It's versatility.  It's depth and the ability to blend in softness.  Love it. And am pretty happy with the result.

More to follow in a few weeks on the acrylic version and why I love painting it as well.

WIP Blue hydrangea in watercolour by Helen Shideler

A bit of trouble in the studio

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This crow can wait

Ok, so I squeezed out all of my paint for this session.  Got out my water mixable medium and proceeded to paint. So freaking weird. The paint was not mixing right. Was not sticking to the surface and "pulled " away, almost receding. I tried and I tried to make it work.  There is a lesson learned folks. Always. Always keep your acrylics separated from your oils.  Just one colour can ruin your day. In this case white.

Doh!!!!!

WIP Amethyst Blues Update 3

Amethyst Blues

I realized that showing a little corner of this painting at a time would not show the full picture of the work in progress (WIP).  This is a rather large painting 30"x30" and the progress feels slow to me. Showing the whole canvas will give you a better idea of the scale and detail. So many shades of blue.

I normally loosely draw my subject and refine it as I go. Interestingly enough, I really think if I spent more time on the initial drawing it may be a bit quicker.  But I am always too impatient and want to dive in.  I try to adjust my approach.  But, you know, after all these years, i guess it is my approach.

WIP Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

The humour of Mother Nature

I am sitting on my deck writing this blog post.  One leg in the beautiful sun and one leg in the rain. Literally!  Mother Nature is not quite sure what to serve up today. I must go look for the rainbow.  I am certain there must be one. This is quite freaky, really! 

I have been away much of the summer, as a result, I have not had a lot of time in the studio.  Lets be honest, if the sun is out...I am out.  So being away is really an excuse.  I was so happy to get back at it albeit a little discombobulated.  Smooth was not on my agenda for the day. 

This is how I roll

Lets face it - i am a born klutz. Everything I touched I either dropped or misplaced.  My particular favourite mis-adventure was my brush cleaner.  It is some kind of thick oily soap. So as I was getting ready to clean my favourite Rosemary brush, my elbow hit the open bottle of the soapy stuff. Well it went flying. Upside down.  Which means I had an oily, soapy trail across the floor, over the garbage can and on the counter.  Not a bad word did I say.

What I will say is that it took me 20 minutes to clean it all up.  I hope to heavens I got it all and no one slips on it (most likely me).

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Monthly crow paintings

Awhile back I decided to start an 8"x10" oil painting each week. Just because.  I am actually thinking of taking oils with me to Santa Fe next April and I want to be practiced up .  I decided that one of the painting should be a crow, another should be "Beachy People" and the other two up to whatever I feel like in the moment.  With this plan, the pressure of coming up with ideas diminished somewhat.

I really like this strutting fella.  He wa strutting through our lawn towards a piece of bread I tossed to him.  He was both focused and watchful. Not completely sure it is finished .....

WIP Amethyst Blues and the Summer Sunshine Factor

The interesting thing about summer is when the sun is out, I am out.  It is not possible for me to stay indoors and so work in the studio s-l-o-w-s down and is often neglected.  Such is the case with Amethyst Blues.  This painting has been on the easel for far too long.  This morning it talked to me and I dove in.

WIP AMethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

The summer sunshine factor

I find that when I am working in acrylic, I really need an extended period of time to paint. Waste not want not (paint I mean). Summer is often fickle and this year, we have been starved for heat and sunshine. So when Mr. Golden Sun is shining I am so stir crazy that I have to go out.  The summer factor really digs into my studio time. Ah, the choices we have to make.

Watercolours allow you to grab an hour or two whenever you feel like it.  Acrylic not so much.  Time has to be scheduled and planned.

Feeling joy while on vacation

One of of my favourite memories as a little girl was waking up from a nap with the warmth of  sun shining on me and the sensation of the cooling breeze flowing in. The curtain would be dancing in the breeze and I literally thought it was heaven. The scent of the salt air  The memory of this is still heaven to me.

I got to relive this memory once again while on vacation in PEI

We were still living in Cape Breton. Our little house was close to the shore.  I was laying on my bed. Just awaking from my nap. It was sunny and warm outside. My window was wide open and the breeze was blowing my light curtain across my bed. I felt so safe and so content as I lie there basking in the sensation and scent.  Confession, I tried to take as many naps as possible this trip.

The summer sunshine factor 

And a wonderful family reunion! Note: the person jumping is a stranger -I just love the freedom of the moment.

 

 

Update 5 Amethyst Shades of Blue and a few others

So happy when I reach this stage of a painting.  The main blossoms of Amethyst Shades of Blue are pretty much completed, at least for now.  I always reserve colour balancing for the last stages of the work.  And so now I am starting to work on the leaves and background.

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Magic of colour

This will be the last update of this painting until the whole piece is complete. I am thinking that I have to preserve some intrigue. What do you think?

I will say that his painting looks pretty striking from across the room.  It is large, (full sheet), pretty had to see the scale in a blog post.

I think that I have fallen in love with blue all over again.  There are so many shades. So many moods - from baby softness to stormy seas and moody skies.  The tender blue effect that I have been able to represent in this painting makes my soul happy.  Cannot explain it , it just does.  I believe that the magic of colour is to evoke mood and stimulate memories.

On another note

I am also working on a number of small oils.  Trying to do one a week.  I think of this as training for the Plein Air Conference and Expo in Santa Fe next April. The three I have completed are below. (They are available in the store section of this web site).

Oil paintings by Helen Shideler

And two more in progress Walk in the Park and Plein Air Painters are sketched out on panel with diluted paynes grey.

WIP Helen Shideler

Wish me luck with my adventure with oils.

Update 4 Amethyst Shades of Blue

Finally back in the studio working on Amethyst Shades of Blue

My goal for the day was to complete the large blossom.  Although I did not quite get there, I am pleased with my progress.  I will complete it soon...right?

Amethyst SHades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Lolligagging

Here is a word for you.  I identify with it.  Well maybe I may just like the sound of the word.  I have share with you previously that I am a master procrastinator.  Well, I have decided to frame it up in a new way.  Lollygagging!  I spent the entire day in my studio yesterday finding stuff to do - you know busy work and justifying why I was not actually painting.  Have to put new paint and stuff away. Jeepers my table is dusty. Reminisce about San Diego.  Omigoodness look at all the piles of paper and stuff and so on.....

Funny point - I just looked up the definition of lollygag and it does not quite mean what I thought - but I still like the word and will use it how ever I like nothing heinous about it as the Urban Dictionary would have me believe

Challenging myself again

Attending the PACE 2017 Conference taught me one thing.  The art world is into oil painting more than watercolours.  When visiting the many galleries there was a clear message - very little watercolours.  This is not discouraging in any way.  I love watercolour and will always love watercolour.  But is does tell me that I have to expand my perspective and at least dedicate some time once again to exploring oils.  And really, not a huge issue as I love, love, love their buttery texture. And all learning is good  - right?

So here it is

Sweet Tweet by Helen Shideler

Omigoodness.  I cannot believe I am saying this, but I am going to commit to me that I will produce one small oil painting a week in addition to the other larger projects that I am working on.  "Sweet Tweet" is an 8"x8" oil on cradled panel and is available here

Update 2 Amethyst Shades of Blue

The sun came out

The first real sign of spring and I want to break free and escape the indoors.  Uh oh methinks my goal of completing this painting before I leave for San DIego in less than two weeks just got seriously challenged!  Seriously, if the sun is out then I am out!

WIP Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Tender shades of blue

I have to admit that I am loving working on this painting.  I love working with these tender shades of blue. Please understand from my perspective blues can be tricky.  If you are not careful it can give the appearance of plastic or be garish.  Really have to keep the touch light with the paint and apply with in layers.

The image above really does not show you the scale of this painting.  It is a full sheet watercolour - 22"x30" unframed!  The acrylic version peeking out from underneath is 30"x30".  I am so excited to see them completed and beside each other - for no other reason than just because.

WIP Section Helen Shideler

Up close and personal

I love sharing little corners of paintings that excite me - pretty much any new space I am working on.  I really think that working with so many shade of blue is invigorating.  I know why...it is because we have not seen any blue in the sky for so long....long, damp, dark spring!

Blue Hydrangea Paintings

A dilemma 

I always love starting new work.  Once I decided on what I wanted to paint next, I had a bit of a hard time making up my mind as to which media to use - so I decided to to do one of each.  Blue hydrangea seems to scream watercolour.  But I wanted to see if I could capture the softness in acrylic as well. I am always up for a challenge.

Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

Amethyst Blues (watercolour) and Amethyst Shades of Blue (acrylic)

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Sorting and picking

The process I use when I start to select my pallet is to pick through my paint bins and select the tubes I think are best suited.  Confession time,  I have my paint in bins sorted by colour!  Makes life so much easier when looking for colours.

Then I squeeze a bit from my selections onto my pallette.  Before I ever touch paint to a new work, I play with the paint to make sure I am happy with the mixes.  It can be difficult to add in new colours part way through a painting is you are not strategic. I also have a wonderful little journal where I paint little swatches and label them.  This helps me to remember my paint choices should I set the work aside for whatever reason.  And I really like my journal.  It is shaping up into a really cool diary of sorts.

Helen Shideler Palette

Rhodo Rhapsody

I little over a year ago, I was out walking along the seawall in Vancouver when I came across this amazing rhododendron.  It literally stopped me in my tracks.  And as good fortune would have it, I happened to have my camera with me. Pure rhododendron rhapsody.

Rhodo Rhapsody by Helen Shideler

The Vancouver difference

They grow to be quite huge in Vancouver - everything grows to be quite huge in Vancouver and, they have so many varieties.  I had never seen this one before ever.  It is amazing. I took many photos knowing I would one day be painting it.

I have since noticed that the nurseries in the Maritimes are now carrying them. We will be planting one for sure this spring.

When the sun shines

I love the play of light in this painting.  How the lower blooms are cooler and slightly in the shade. And how the top bloom appears warmer in the sun and how the bright sun affects the colours of the leaves.  The delicious little bits of light dancing across the leaves were so gratifying to paint. 

Confession

I felt that the painting was completed yesterday afternoon.  I signed it and proceeded to scrutinize it looking for areas that may require some colour balancing or attention in some way. Then this morning when I opened Facebook, I was presented with a memory from last year.  You guessed it (blush) - I started this painting exactly one year ago.  I could not believe it.  My how time flies.  In fairness I set it aside so I could work on a few commissions.  But a whole year ago!

Spring Scentsation

Spring Scentsation

Large acrylic painting of lilacs is finally signed and off the easel.  

Spring Scentsation by Helen Shideler

I think I heard a heavenly choir of angels 

Hallelujah!  Really I mean it. I have spent so much quality time with this painting.  First scoping all the lilac shrubs in Quispamsis, Rothesay and beyond.  Then taking photos. I scouted, I hunted and even had friends on the lookout for me.  Interesting enough these particular blooms grow in my own backyard.  

Worth crying over

Then I remembered what I forgot.  The wonderful scent of heavily perfumed lilacs are an allergy trigger for me. I managed to take photos through my watery eyes.  This was pretty funny. I was taking photos of the lilacs and my eyes started running. Not just teary, but full on running like a tap. Then my sinuses filled up and I was leaking everywhere.  I was literally catching rivers of tears off my chin! Not a cute image I know, but it shows just how stubborn I can be.  I stayed out there taking photos until I literally no longer could see through my tears and had absolutely no idea what I was getting. Confirming my suspicion that I am allergic to lilacs. And I did this repeatedly evening after evening until the blooms were too far past their prime.

Allergies will not stop me from loving and painting them!   Interesting enough, they were so imprinted on my mind that I could actually smell them as I was painting.  Then when I went to bed I continued to paint them in my dreams.  Really, really imprinted!

Size matters

Gary holding "Spring Scentsation"

The painting process was interesting.  At first I tried, honestly tried to paint loose and flowing. Determined to use some nice new #12 brushes. Oh the satisfaction from loose and flowing strokes!  Only I couldn't.  I gave up on the big brushes very early in the process and reverted back to my #2s and #4s.  Then I went back in and fixed the florets that I first started with.  Ah, my comfort zone - complexity and detail.  

I have another canvas or two this size.  What should I paint next?

Spring Scentsation Update 2

Spring Scentsation is coming along.  

I have finally ventured into new colour territory.  Bring on the Greens

Spring Scentsation WIP by Helen Shideler

I love how some paintings are a constant joy as your work develops.  

I have loved every floret on this work.  Interesting enough I am also loving the freedom of painting the background.  Well, after I paint the edges around the florets!

But with this much detail and painting with small brushes for most of this I have not grown tired. Each new phase is engaging for me.  Usually when a painting is about 2/3 through I retire it until I get the next painting to this phase. Then I retire the new one for a bit.  Then go back to the first. Been a constant pattern for me. 

Funny, when I started this I was so sure I would use large brushes and paint loosely. Started it.  Went back in to refine the details. And was completely hooked on my small brushes once again.  Painting detail is who I am.  Exploring is one thing as long as you are true to who your are I guess.