Fabulous Florida

It is so hard to believe that we have come to the end of our fabulous Florida vacation. We had this planned since we started having the water issues with our property due to the harsh winter, you know the snow - torrential rains then flash freezing cycles! Had to escape.

Can I actually move here?

I brought along my watercolour paints in hopes of getting some painting time. Treasure Island’s Sunset Beach was a wonderful place to paint when it wasn’t too hot or too breezy. Every day was perfect. Perfect sun, perfect weather and perfect sky. The paintings are smallish 8 x 10” or smaller and are below in the slide show.

And the Wildlife

We got to see so many different birds. I think that the most unusual was the anhinga. At first I thought it was a swimming snake. It was in the water swimming or wading and all you could see was its long neck sticking out of the water. A few minutes later is cam out of the water and sat in the sun to dry its wings.

And the amount of pelican photo I was able to get. There is a painting or three in there for sure. Oh and the shorebirds. So happy that my husband is patient. Pretty hard for me to walk a continuous straight line without stopping for photos!

We walked around the lakes as part of of daily routine while in Orlando. My daughter Jenn warned me about alligators. In my naive way, i thought they really wouldn’t really put a path around a lake with gators in it would they? Simple answer. Yes!

Slide show below

Update on my Blooming Colours Studio

Work on putting my studio back together starts next week. I really miss it - hopefully it will be up and running soon. Challenging to paint when everything including my paint and brushes got packed up and placed in storage through all the crazy weather happenings this year!.

Until next time…


On plein air painting and weed whackers

So many lessons learned. 

So many of them this very weekend! 

Lesson 2

I thought I was clever setting up to paint on the pergola under the grape vines that have all been pollinated - which means the teeny tiny little flowers are ready to shed, especially on this windy day.  Lesson? Teeny, tiny little flowers stick to oil paintings and to wet oil paint on the palette! Oh dear!

Lesson 3 and a product review

I have a mixture of water mixable oil paint from three different makers.  It was today I realized that the paint that seemed tooth-pasty, gloppy and hard to mix was made by one particular brand. Before I realized it was one brand, I was pretty sure I was about to revert back to traditional oils.  Still think I may.  But the brand in question is Holbein Duo.  Never again.  Love my Cobra paints. Face palm

Lesson 4

Once completing a couple of little, juicy oils, I decided to place them on our rock wall to aid in the drying process.  Only I did not tell my husband.  But I did hear him outside with the weed whacker. Only I did not hear him on time. Lesson? It is possible to pick of little bits of grass and whacked weeds with an exacto knife and a fine rubber tipped thingy.  Especially if you have lots of time on your hands. Sigh! Head shake!

Backyard painting series by Shideler

Painting Callie, a fun commission

I am always so happy and honoured to be a part of a secret project.  In this case painting this sweet little doggie intended as a surprise gift for someone special.  Painting dogs makes me happy and I so love the reaction of the doggie owners. Feeling blessed!

Callie by Helen Shideler

Lesson 5

This is for my husband.  Move the glass top coffee table before you start to build something heavy.  Cha Ching! Another $120 please! Rats!!! Second one this year!

In a jam, strawberry that is

Lesson 1


So yesterday I decided it was time to make two batches of strawberry jam at the same time.  I was home alone at the time.  Not that is really relevant  - until it was.  I had sterilized the bottles.  Measured out the 7 cups of sugar.  Squeezed the lemons.  Hulled and tried to mash the berries.  Well now, the berries were fresh and firm and had a different idea.  Every time I went in the the masher the berries would slip and jump out of the bowl.  Big mess happening.  Meanwhile I was boiling the lids and covers.

Finally remember that I have a blender.  Excellent mashing tool.  Finally get everything boiling on the stove.  Phone rings.  Why I thought I needed to answer it is beyond me.  Water starts to boil over.  Felling like I am getting anxious.  Two batches on the stove now.  Hands are shaking.  Wait, did I eat anything since my very early breakfast?  Scooping the syrupy, sticky strawberry mixture into bottle and over my oven mitts. Just because. And the second batch comes to a boil.  The jars were scalding hot and I choose to move them with by bare hands.

It is almost a miracle that I got through this endeavour without getting scalded.

Product review

Jack Richeson panels - the stupid paper wrapper they put over a portion of the panel leaves a paint resistant film!  WHY?   They seem to work fine with acrylics though.

Now looking for linen or birch panels for plein air painting.




Oh plein air how you taunt me

Plein Air taunts me

So it was the hottest day of the summer so far.  30 degrees with a humidex of 38.  And I decide to set up to paint in my backyard.  I angled my easel into the sun. Smart!  Remembered to wear my sun hat.  And started to paint.  

Sweat dripping off my brow, running down my face making spots on my glasses.  So very hot. And a foolish teeny tiny red ant decided to check out the various colours on my palette.  I had a hard time convincing it to leave.  It got its tiny feet stuck in the yellow paint.

I had on a funky hat. You know the one - with the long back to protect your neck? Lightweight and with sun protection in it.  I bought it at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado (I admit, I just like saying that) a couple of years ago.  When I finally took it off, my hair was a mess of dripping - am I sharing too much?

100 degrees of discomfort

As the day progressed it got even hotter and soon I found myself in full sun.  It was at that moment that I realized I probably should be wearing sunscreen.  Opps.  And to add to my discomfort a mosquito or three liked my sunscreen.  And to top it off, my water mixable oil paints started to change texture. Paint gone wrong.  Dried to palette and was unable to mix colours.  The white, holy moly, went all gloppy making it impossible to mix or event pick up a small amount to create a highlight. crap

But I managed to create

So these two paintings took about two hours each. They say paint what you know - and I know this space.  I am hoping that one day I will be as confident painting en plein air as I am creating in the studio.  Fingers crossed

Backyard pond by shideler
Backyard garden by Shideler

secret commission

ouch - that I am unable to share

until next time, have a lovely summer










Beautiful Bermuda and some other stuff

We are vacationing in Bermuda with family for a few very special reasons.  Announcing a new grand daughter expected in December and an engagement. Life is good!  

We were able to spend several hours each day just floating in the pool. When was the last time you were able to do that? Sigh..... Actually here it is a necessity to get relief from the heat and humidity. But that sounds like complaining and I certainly do not want to do that. ever so grateful for this experience.

Evening view from balcony. 


A bit of time to paint

Between the heat, humidity and gentle rain I did manage to get some paintings done.  Interesting though, the paint dried out immediately and the paper stayed moist.  Who doesn't love a challenge...eh?




A bit of a challenge with the internethere, this will be a short post. I delivered this commission this week. It was a birthday surprise and went over very well.



Niko. 10"x8" acrylic on gessoboard

Time to catch up

This weekend was all about plein air painting in Hampton at the John Peters Humphrey Bloomin Artists event.  This really is a catch up post.  I have been working on a few secret commissions and am unable to share...yet.

I packed up my car.  Easel? Check! Snacks? Check!  Oh wait, pencils, clamps, paper towel holder? Left on the chair in my studio.  Not a pencil or pen to be had. Then the talking to myself began. What will I do with out a pencil I asked?  I answered any plein air painter worth their salt can do this with out a pencil. And this is pretty much how Saturday went.  I forgot to drink enough water wound up wilted by early afternoon as a result.

Saturday, July 15th

The first painting "Hampton Marsh" I was trying to not be a meal for all the black flies.  Nasty little distractions.  I just had to suck it up and paint on.  For the second painting, the painter on the dock left and I grabbed his spot.  There was enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away.  And enough of a breeze that I thought it was going to rain.  It got quite cool.  And I had to work fast and furiously.

Hampton Marsh by Helen Shideler
The Junction by Helen Shideler

Sunday, July 16th

Pansy Patch by Helen Shideler

In the crazy heat of the day, I spent way too long on this painting.  High humidity.  Hot, did I mention how hot it was?

I really love pansies. This little flower has so much personality and comes in so many colour variations and sizes. 

As I was happily painting away, I became increasingly aware of a particular nearby hornet. It seemed to be determined to investigate the exact spot I was standing on.  I backed away, hoping it would leave.  No. It kept investigating whatever it was investigating.  

Finally it flew off.  Really, I had a vision of it flying up my pant leg.  Not a pleasant vision.  I have a story about me and stinging things in my clothing. May not share, at least not yet!


And then there was this

I could not resist painting my grandson Theo.  "just wading 10"x8" oil on panel

JUst Wading by Helen Shideler

And this

I was contacted about the little oil painting on the right - but it was already sold.  From that inquiry, I received a commission to paint it again in acrylic with a few modifications.  The painting was fun so I agreed.  Can you spot the changes?

Double Take by Helen Shideler

Plein Air in Arizona

I have just returned from the Plein Air Conference and Expo (PACE 16) in Tucson Arizona! And what a wonderful experience it was.  I will be creating a few posts on this experience I am sure. There was so much to do and to take in.  


I met up with a few friends there Jane Hagen Freeman and Marilyn Wear.  Marilyn was a prize winner - was so exciting to be there to see her win!  We attended many daily sessions for interest and to help us hone our plein air skills.  I also met up with Poppy Balser from Nova Scotia!

Shideler Plein Air Arizona 2016

It was so hot there that my watercolours kept drying on the palette before I could get the paint to paper.  I persevered and managed to complete three sketches.  One of the most important lessons was the importance of first completing a value sketch to help plan your work.  We herd this a lot and frankly, you cannot hear it enough if you do not do this step.

I dod not keep all my value sketches for some reason as I quite liked them.  Below are a few of the ones that made it safely home.  The sketch on the bottom was be being distracted in one of the sessions - I love to sketch groups of people.

Sketches by Helen Shideler

And we got to visit with some pretty amazing artists

Marilyn, Jane and I with Frank Ebert
Thats me with Georgia Manseur




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!

Happy Canada Day

The best intentions do not always go according to plan

The Dyke at Red Head

Had the day planned.  Painting in the morning in Red Head.  Got up.  The sun was shining. Yes a wonderful day to paint.  Loaded up the car and drove into Saint John.  As we approached town you could not help but notice the fog.  Heavy fog over the Bay.  Fog so think you could not see Partridge Island, my intended target for the day.

Anyway I set up my easel.  Got my pallet out, poured water into the funny blue cup you see there on the easel.  And one of the legs slipped.  Water went everywhere.  So I cleaned up that mess.  Poured some more water into the cup and did not like where I positioned the easel.  So I carefully moved it ever so gently to the side.  And what should happen?  Well the leg collapsed yet again and I dove to save the set up.   

The water in the funny cup landed on my chest!  I was soaked from the neck down! And my nice little grey and white t-shirt caught my palette and is not dotted with vibrant watercolour gobs. Oh well.  

When you looked at the sky it was pretty monochrome.  Various shades of pale grey.  Fog. But I could feel the sun trying to come out.  By the time I painted the foggy sky and a bit of the water, the fog had lifted enough to see the island and the breakwater.

Success!  Only not really. I am not satisfied with the painting. I love colour and this is well...too pale for me.  I will be back the first sunny day to get it right.  Oh, on time for the Fundy Group of Plein Air  Painters show at eh Saint John Arts Centre opening next Friday!  No pressure at all.

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