Early wrap to this years challenge

Although this challenge is still on-going, I am quite done for this year. I managed to complete 17 paintings since it began, but you see a surprise early arrival had me packing up my bags and flying off to Calgary!  My beautiful new grandson Henry was born a few weeks early!  And so I said to heck with the challenge and hopped on the first available flight. 

And I do have a few more on the easel waiting for my return.

2018 painting challenge by Shideler.jpg

This is the fifth time that I have participated in a 30 Day Challenge.  You can see my previous efforts here. With each challenge I like  to have a goal, something to learn - that I work towards. I feel pretty good about what I accomplished with my approach this year. I had decided to only work in oil.  It is a medium that I have been exploring for awhile now and think I have come to an understanding how to work with it. At least how I think that I want to work with it.

Grisaille how cool a word is that?

What I know to be true, at least for me, is that I do like to plan my work and have a grisaille underpainting prior to adding colour.  Not all subjects require this step.  But for me with the way my mind works, it makes the colour application make more sense.  You see I like to work with thin, transparent glazes.  Slowly building up the colours before I add in strategically placed thicker juicy paint.  Oh, did I just expose the watercolourist in me?  This is funny now that I have said it!  Old habits die hard.

And then there is Alla Prima

Painting alla prima (in one session) made sense for a few of the paintings - working really well with the mussel shells.  In fairness, I have painted so many mussel shells over the years that I could probably paint them in my sleep - they are a subject that I know so well. 

Honestly, I would have approached he painting with the sweet little sparrow differently knowing what I think I know now.  I think I would have felt better painting this one if I had taken the time to do an underpainting.  Because the bird was included as part of the landscape and not painted as a central subject, the background and leaves felt like busy work.  I was not as satisfied with the end result as I would like to have been.  It works, but I had a different vision of it in mind.

Helpful hint 

You have to get over your, um my... need to go back in and add in more detail.  In one sitting means just that. It is so hard to resist. But, in my mind - there really is no rules.  Rules are self imposed and made to be modified and ignored when convenient. 

Lessons learned

The other, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that applying many layers of paint over each other, without a few days dry time will create muddy colours.  I learned a new use for my pallet knife. Scraping.  Yep.  I had to remove areas on a few of the painting in order to re-apply the right colour intensity.

Until next time, cheers





Week 3 of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

I have learned so much with this challenge.  It was not enough to commit to a painting a day - I felt the need to add a layer of complexity by adding in a medium that I feel that I am just beginning to understand.  I am an oil painter that needs to allow for dry time for glazing.  Alla prima is really maybe not my thing - but feel i have been successful with my attempt.

Week 3 30 day challenge by Helen Shideler

Day 11 - Lunch on the Bar

The photo does not do this painting justine.  The feathers on the bird are quire detailed.  What I am finding is that it is difficult to photograph wet oils.  The light catches the thicker paint and the blackish tones look like a hole - but in person - you do not see that effect.  Here's whats funny - I counted the plover last week - oops

Day 14 - Watchful

Yeah, I may have missed  a day or two or three.  LIfe happens.  I love this gull and for the most part, the painting turned out exactly as I envisioned.  I did have to go back in a couple of day later to enhance the values.  It was fun to paint and I may also paint his brother

Day 15 - Stepping Stones

 was born in Cape Breton, very close to a beach. as long as I can remember I love shore birds. They give me a sense of peace and joy. Colours are a bit off in this photo but you get the idea

Day 16 - Home on the Beach

You can sure tell it is February and I am longing for warm summer days at the beach. These birds make me so happy 

Day 17 - Crusty Crustacean

No shortage of inspiration from the sea. Happy to be more than halfway through the challenge, my larger work on my shiny new easel is starting to call out to me. 

Day 18 - Young Cormorant

Yeah, I have a thing for beach birds. I was so taken with the posture of this young bird. It’s all in the attitude. The reference photo was taken last summer at Rockwood Park in Saint John.  This is an amazing location to photograph birds and some of the prettiest landscapes in New Brunswick!

Phoebe by Helen Shideler

Day 19 - Phoebe

This will be my last offering for the 30 day challenge. Also - this is the first attempt at a furry face in oils.  I like it!!!

The challenges is getting cut a  short by the early arrival of a beautiful new grandson.  I am off to Calgary without paints and computer.  I cannot wait to get my lips on his little belly!!  sigh!!!

Thank you for following along

Cheers - and spring is almost just around the corner



Week 2 of the 30 Day Challenge

Still keeping up with the challenge having completed 11 paintings in 11 days.  I am having so much fun with all of these.  Mussel shells and corvids are some of my long time favourite things to paint.  I think I may have a few more ravens in my system.  Thinking I am going to venture into watercolours this coming week. 

Week 2 2018 Shideler.jpeg

Day 6 - Fundy Blues I

It almost always comes back to mussel shells for me. I have  previously painted them as poured watercolours in a full sheet format.  Three different versions.  And honestly, there were three of my all time favourite poured painting. And I have painted them as large acrylics. So now in oil.  I am thinking there will be a rather large oil in my future as well.

Day 7 - Fundy Blues II

Mussels officially became a series. I love all the variations of the colours and frankly, they literally are a taste of home. The shape is organic so they are forgiving.  Gotta love that!

Day 8 - Fundy Blues III

Funny how we can change our minds.  I now think three may be enough in this series.  I really see this becoming a huge oil painting. 

Day 9 - Front and Center

Well, I fell a day behind on Friday. We had plans in the evening but I knew I could get caught up this weekend.  Really enjoying this series - fun and strong birds. Intriguing intelligence. Love them

The wet paint captures more light than there is on the painting but it is close.

Day 10 - Check that out

And with this fella, I am caught up! His curiosity is certainly showing, head swung over his shoulder. What do you suppose he sees? 

Day 11 - Lunch on the Bar

I have to admit, I am finding the challenge challenging!  It is all about oil paint.  Normally I work on a piece over a week or two.  Taking time to allow the paint to dry a bit between sessions.  This allows for glazing and layering the paint without risk of making mud! 

When I started the challenge I promised myself that I will not go back into a painting. When it’s done it’s done right? Nope, not this time. I think I want to add darker watery tones after a few days drying.



Here we go again

I joined the 30 Paintings in 30 Day Challenge once again.  It is actually my fourth time participating.  I sort of tell myself when ever I commit to it - it is a huge commitment and the other larger pieces I am working on get neglected for awhile.  But the sense of accomplishment that I get from doing it is well worth the effort.

Week 1 30 paintings in 30 days Shideler

So far...

So far all of these are oil on panels.  The square ones are on cradled panel, the 10 x 8" are on flat panel and will require frames.  I am really unsure how long I will stay with the oils as I prefer to allow for a fews days of drying time and then go back in with the finishing glazes and bring out the detail.

Day 1 - Vantage Point

That's the crow in the centre.  I took a series of photos of this crow at Rockwood Park in Saint John.  He wasn't bothered by my being there, but her certainly kept one eye on me most of the time.  I am quite happy with this painting and composition.  The moss and lichens on the tree really intrigue me.  I may have to do a similar piece only larger.

Day 2 - Sitting Sweetly

That's the chickadee posing on the branch.  I loved every moment working on this one.  I always stop to watch the antics of these special little birds.  And heaven knows, I have certainly painted lots of them.

Day 3 - Having Fun

This is my grandson playing in the water.  In the photo his expression is one of pure joy.  SOmehow in my efforts to paint him, his expression went from one of joy to the water is cold!  Ok, I may never attempt to paint a face that tiny again.  With a face, there is little opportunity to mess up. Painting a face this small, well there is every opportunity to mess up just a slight movement of the brush can wreck it.  Also, if you go back in the paint blurs and gets muddy.  No fun at all. Photo credit to his Dada.  I normally only paint from my own photos unless it is for a commission or in this case, I could not resist

Day 4 - Sweet Surprise

That is the very green painting with the song sparrow.  True to fashion, I went down the path of trying to get too much detail in a small painting.  This took forever.  Even when I tried to paint think and juicy - it still took way too long. I have to rethink my approach!  He is a rather sweet little bird sitting in my apple tree.

Day 5 - Proud

That is the raven up there with his chest all held high and fluffed up.  Ok, I confess, I have a thing for painting corvids.  Not that that is a secret or anything.  I paint many each year - much like chickadees.  I love how he is standing so tall and proud, a little look of "go ahead, make my day". I always start with the eye and then move onto the beak/bill.  If I get the head right the painting works

Until next week - cheers. Oh, I am open for suggestions on what to paint for this challenge.  Feel free to offer requests of what you like to see me paint - I may just get to it!

Thanks for following along!





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.


Week 3 Round Up

This week presented some interesting new challenges for me  

First I had a meeting for the Kings County Studio Tour on Thursday evening  and sore eyes.  So I didn't paint Thursday.  But the real challenge was around painting materials.  I ran out of panels. So I ordered some in from my friends at Endeavours.

Panels arrived.  A different brand than usual - Gotterick.  Well they only had one coat of Gesso on them  and the panels seemed to have a few hairline cracks.  Shoot.  So I had to get out my gesso.  I opened up all the panels, laid them out on the table, opened up the gesso and ....CRAPOLA!!!  Gesso was moldy.  Had to call my good friends at Endeavours once more to order gesso and in a hurry please.  

Gesso arrived, panels promed and lightly sanded.  And you know, they are not the same.  Ampersand is a far better solution and panel. These are ok though, just not the same.

Day 15 - Garden Interloper

They appear with the illusion of something elegant, almost regal.  But they are no more than Quispamsis garden rats.  White tail deer.  The vermine you love to hate rather hate to love.  They are garden interlopers.  They appear many times a day and eat insatiably.  Every thing in site is on theri menu but not the stuff you don't particularly care about.  Like the weeds (native deer food) or fallen apples.  No they wait until your flower buds are about to burst forward with beautiful blossoms and pop it like cotton candy.

Day 16 - Stymied

I loved the way this painting developed.  I used acrylics as watercolours for the base painting, then applied a number of layers to intensify the colours...then went back in with opaque layers.  I have to admit, I am thinking the title of the painting is particularly clever, eh?

Day 17 - Checking Things Out

This painting took a surprising amount of time to the point I decided not to paint another one for todays challenge.  Ducks have long been one of my favourite subjects with their perpetual grins and round cheeks.  They stand tall and proud and give the illusion of confidence. 

Day 18 - What's That?

Did you know I love ravens.  And crows. And likely all birds?  The black birds present an interesting challenge when painting them.  Their wonderful iridescent feathers gleam in the sun.  Shades of blue, teal and often purple are waiting for the artist's eye  to capture that fleeting moment

Day 19 -  Watching Me Watching You

A repeat performance. I could not leave it to one raven could I?  I went mining through my reference photos and you know?  I have a lot of ravena ns crow photos.  Stay tuned I think I am going to paint a large one after this challenge.  Oh and after I finish the lilac painting.

Day 20 - Singing in the Snow

Sweet little chickadees.  This is a teeny tiny painting.  Only 4"x4" on gallery wrapped canvas. Actually the little bird is likely life size in the painting.

Day 21 - Everyday's a Beach Day

And another favourite.  For about three years I have been trying to get a photo shoot in with sanderlings, plovers and sandpipers.  I have a really cool idea for a very large painting.  I think i really love beach birds because I love the beach so much.  I love the scent of the salt air and the warm breezes.  I would love to be there now!



Week 2 of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

I am very happy that I have been able to keep with the challenge so far.  Typically I wind up with 28 or so.  This time I am pretty determined to complete the 30.  Fingers crossed please.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Helen Shideler

These were painted in reverse order

So you will have to look at the paintings from the bottom up...I never thought  

Day 8   "After Christmas"

I loved this snap since the moment I took the photo.  It was fun watching Everett's confidence grow while on the rocking horse.  At first he was tentative even climbing on it.  His initial rocking was kind of broken and not very smooth.  By the end of his visit, he would climb up like a pro and rock his little heart out.  It was one of his favourite perches to watch Paw Patrol!

Day 9 "Oh Hello There"

Day 10 "Oh I See You"

The elusive and Camera-shy male cardinals are always a challenge to capture in a photo.  They are so self aware they feel the lens of the camera focus on them.  And POOF they are gone.  I had to be really patient to be able to capture reference material that I was able to use

Day 11 "Front and Center"

The female cardinal is no where near as shy or skittish as the bright red male.  She is almost tame in comparison.  He sits high on the pergola and she spends more time at the feeder.  He will fly in, swipe a sunflower seed and take it to a high vantage point to crack and eat. She is a very pretty bird on her own until you see the male!

What surprised me the most, is after I posted this painting, so many people mentioned they have never seen a female cardinal before!

Day 12 "Waiting For My Turn"

There are so many American Goldfinches at the feeders. They seem to come in all at once, to the point where there isn't room at the feeders for all of them.  And many of them forage on the deck under the feeders. They are delightful. And although  it is still early, I think they are  already starting to get brighter for spring

Day 13 "Surprise Visitor"

One afternoon we looked out at the feeder and much to our surprize we had two male Hairy Woodpeckers.  I stopped to watch them for a few minutes and then the little voice said Helen grab your camera.  So happy I listened. Have a few good reference photos to work with.

Day 14 "On the Ready"

Poor old Sadie. Her stare always seems so intense.  But really, as a hunting dog her stare is typical of her breed.  Always on the ready for a command or to chase something out of the brush. Mark adopted as a senior rescue.  In her previous life she was a puppy mill dog.  She never knew love and kindness before her adoption.

Week One of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Fun to see my efforts in a grouping like this

Week 1  30 in 30 days challenge Helen Shideler

Day 1 Purple Finch

Being greeted by these brightly coloured birds was breath-taking.  They are not a regular visitor to our feeders but were around for a few days at Christmas.

Day 2 Seed Stuffer

Our feeders provide us a constant source of entertainment when we are sitting down to eat. They are located right outside our large kitchen window. The little red squirrel has claimed on of the birdhouses as its own, chewed the opening to make it larger and stores is seeds in the birdhouse.

Day 3 Lunch on the Deck

These amazing little birds gather as group every morning and afternoon at the feeders we have on our deck. They stay for hours providing plenty of entertainment for those of us lucky enough to be there. They fight over the perces at the feeders - kind of cute.

Day 4 Nut Job

The daily antics of our little red squirrels give us so much amusement.  They appear to be so expressive as they raid our seed and nut staches.  

Day 5 Cheeky Chickadee

These little birds amaze me with their spirit.  I cannot get over how these little birds will loudly inform us when the feeders are empty.  Or even tell us off when we are out on the deck and in their way to the feeders.  Cute and spirited.  Almost my favourite!

Day 6 Out on a Limb

Sweet and lively chickadees always make my heart sing.  

Day 7 Song Sparrow

Another Sweet visitor to our feeders.  This one seems to be patiently waiting its turn at the feeders.

30 Day Challenge Complete for Another Year

This year was for the birds.

In a matter of speaking.  Although if you asked me the week prior to the challenge what it would was going to look like I probably would not have suggested I would paint birds and in acrylics exclusively.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge 2016

Wow, I find it so difficult to believe this challenge came and went so quickly. Although I felt each and every day of January because of the commitment.  And I want to thank everyone for your continued support.  I have to admit, people asking me daily what will you be posting tonight kept just enough heat on to keep me going!

Moving on

We are into February already and larger projects are starting to take up my focus.    I have sooo much work to do. I get so excited with the possibilities. Only I may have way too much inspiration.  If that is even possible?

When I committed to the challenge I knew I wanted to paint some birds.  I did a lot of photography in our yard between Christmas and New Years.  The cardinals were so elusive. At first I was only able to catch a shot off in the distance.  As time went on I figured out where I could hunker down and not scare them away as I attempted to photograph them.  I was so happy with the results.  

Interesting enough

I started the challenge with a husky and finished with a husky.  I love painting animals as much as I love flowers, and birds, and bees and  and and

You get the idea.  

Wishing you my friends, a bright and colourful February!


Week 3 - 30 Paintings in 30 Days

Time marches on - only one week left of the challenge

Day 15 – Striking a Pose

This painting took a serious long time to complete. And I had a real challenging time to title it.

Then, when we stood back and looked at it - well, my daughter and I see a large doggies face and a cat lite "Cats" face on it's back. Then we stopped trying to come up with a clever name. The resolution has been lowers for the posting so the colours are not showing as rich as they really are and the unintentional other critters not as obvious.

Day 16 – Out  for a Paddle

I always come back to ducks. They make me so happy with their perpetual smiles, cheeky cheeks  and happy attitude (I think). We have mallards that visit the bird feeders outside my studio window daily. And every time I see them I pause and watch them.

Day 17 – Twin Beaks

Once upon a time, quite recently actually, I think I mentioned that I may be done painting chickadees. Well I was wrong.  And now they are multiplying.  So much fun.

Day 18 – Breath Taking

Cardinals are daily visitors to our garden feeders. And no matter how many times I see them, I stop in awe. They absolutely take my breath away - overtime. They are very shy and skittish. If you so much as make eye contact they are gone so fast. Even trying to take photograph them requires a quiet camera and stealth like precision shooting.

Day 19 – opps

I skipped this day!  Decided to be a rebel.  My husband and I went out for supper instead.  I really needed a break.

Day 20 – On a Mission

On a Mission as this gull is looking pretty determined to get somewhere fast.  
The one in the bin was another gull (uncooperative sky)

Day 21 - Trying to Hide

I am always amazed at how shy cardinals are. They are so self aware- they see you before you see them and quite often you see them leave. But when they hesitate - they always have at least one eye on you, Being so red I guess you have to try to hide as best you can.

These paintings are available on my website www.helenshideler.com