Cubby

Cubby’s little face was delightful to paint. Being asked to capture his sweet and expressive face filled my heart with so many feels. So happy to have been asked to paint him..

Cubby by Helen Shideler

Capturing his expression

As usual I start with the face - usually the eyes. But, this time i started with Cubby’s tongue and mouth. I figured that I had to get that just right before I went to far. Then I started to paint his nose. Noses are almost always in the middle of my paint progress - hmmm, also the middle of the face. Then I moved onto his expressive eyes.

Those curls

Ok, I love painting dogs. Especially doggies with long or curly fur. This is where the painting is fun and quite a bit looser. The face has to be right - but the fun can be handled with an approach that is a bit more free. And did I mention fun.

Rainbow bridge

Cubbie has recently joined his sister Callie over the rainbow bridge. I am honoured to have been asked to capture their likeness for the owners.

A nice story

I love a nice story. And I have one to share with you.

Awhile back I offered to donate a pet portrait as a fundraiser for a group (Red Head Strays helping cats strut) that works tirelessly to rescue and foster cats. In thought I would have completed the painting in January,but Mother Nature had other ideas. I think you know the story. Snow. Rain. Flash freezing. And of course, pretty sure you know how this went - the basement and studio mess as a result.

Lilly and Bernie by Helen Shideler

The story goes like this

Once upon a time there were two little girls who liked to swing on swings, giggle and talk. Some of the things they talked about were the Beetles and their two amazing hits: I want to hold your hand and She loves you yeah yeah yeah. And so one of the little girls taught the other about the all important pop music and what one must know. Then the little girls sang a lot while swinging.

And the memories are warm and wonderful.

Flash forward

In the aftermath of the winter house mess, we were finally ready to start moving around the boxes of stuff around in our house and go through them. What stays? What goes? What I had been looking for and really missing. Like all my paints and art supplies! My acrylics paints emerged and I could finally start the painting that a very patient person won in a draw.

Once I had the painting finished, I reached out to the winner to say hey, guess what. A couple hours went by and her name registered with me. Could this be the girl I had such fond childhood memories of?

And it was. Say what you want about social media, but this was a fun encounter made possible by Facebook. Karma and the universe move in a wonderful synchronized way.

I am happy to have been able to paint her fur babies Lilly and Bernie!

Life is so good

Loving this season

Ceilidh

There are so many magical, wonderful things to love about the Christmas season. All the new memories created and moments so precious. I am ever so grateful that what I do often contributes to creating wonderful memories for others in the form of creating cherished memories with Christmas commissions! I have been blessed with the opportunity to paint a few this year.

Ceilidh by Helen Shideler

We all love our fur babies so much. The opportunity to capture in paint such a special love for a family is so rewarding for me. This series was a gift for the whole family. The painting above is 12” x 12” and the two below are 6” x 6”.

Mulder and Lyndsay

Mulder & Lyndsay

I always love to be a part of a secret plan, especially when they have been planned and dreamt of for awhile. I love the thought process that people go through before they commission someone to do a painting.

When they share their story with me - I want to be able to “Wow” them with the finished painting. And of course, I also love to hear the story of their reaction to a most thoughtful gift - this my friends is why I paint commissions.

Reaction “we made her cry” in a nice way of course!

Wishing you all the very best of this holiday season. May 2019 be the best year ever for us all!

Until next time

Helen

Soggy doggies

So much fun painting this series of soggy doggies. This is a series that I have had planned for a number of years. Have taken so many reference photos in preparation and have now finally decided to start them. Happy dogs make me happy!

Trophy Stick by Helen Shideler

Never paint only one

You learn so much when you start to paint in a series. I wanted to strike a balance between a looser and less detailed background, while painting the subject with a higher degree of realism - all this while attempting to capture movement. No small task. Oh yes - in a small format and in oils. So far the paintings are 8” x 10”. I think the next round will start to get a bit larger 9 x 12” or 11x14”.

Oh Helen, must you do try to challenge yourself all the time? Apparently! And apparently I like it.

Get the Stick by Helen Shideler

Christmas commissions

I decided to paint a few relatively small paintings in between the secret commissions so I would have some fun things to share. The commissions will be shared after the holidays of course. Now that I have completed these requests I am able to get back to the large white lilac. Hoping to have it completed prior to the holidays!

Fetching Fun by Helen Shideler

Fetching Fun and a bit of trouble

So I got myself into a bit of trouble with this one. Knowing that oil and water don’t mix - right? And the hazards of painting when slightly exhausted.

Fetching Fun by Helen Shideler

Change of pace

I thought I would get started painting this little 8 x 10” oil.  It presented a rather nice diversion from the large white lilac waiting over my shoulder.

I organized may paint.  Squeezed out the right amount of luscious oil paint.  Then proceeded to paint.  With this type of painting I generally start with the background first.  That way the fur that is blowing in the wind is on top of the background paint rather than blocked in around it. This helps to make the painting look alive and suggest movement. 

One of the benefits of painting tired is that I was not too caught up in the details of the fur and water but rather the movement of the water. This allowed for looser, flowy handling of the paint.  

The trouble starts

Soon it was time to add in some more colour.  Bailey’s collar. Bailey’s tongue. And the white-ish patch on his chest.  I squeezed out some more paint but found that the paint was drying far too quickly.  I muttered about the mini-split heater above my head speeding up the drying time. The paint was even getting funky on my palette. 

Oh Helen, Helen, Helen

I continued to paint on, muttering about it as I went.  When all of a sudden it occurred to me that the second series of paint I squeezed came from a different location! Drat!  For the second round I grabbed my acrylics not my oils.  And I even keep my oils and acrylics on different areas of the studio so this would not happen!  Face palm!  Was this a disaster?  Did I already say drat? 

Had to rationalize this. A few thoughts:

    • You can paint oil paint over acrylics 

    • My oil paints are water mixable 

    • Acrylic paints are also water mixable

    • I mixed my acrylic paint into my oil paint

    • Disaster averted?

Lessons Learned?

Separating my supplies seems so logical to me. My foolproof plan translated to proof of a …..

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

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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.

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Kinda sort of busy

Ah, the holidays.  They have taken their toll on my productivity.  But, in fairness I always know I may not get as much done as I hoped.  Often I have more ambition than time. And family and friend come first.  Tender Blues is a large painting. With a whole lot of little florets that seem to be taking more time than usual.  This is my impatience showing I fear.

WIP Tender Blues by Helen Shideler

A couple of things 

My acrylic paints are acting funny and not in a charming way.  A couple of things are going on.  First, my heat source.  The mini split operates with a fan to distribute the heated air.  The heated air dries the paint out so fast on my pallett. No amount of spritzing it will water seems to help.  It is drying out way to fast.  Second, well they paint is going funky in the tubes.  It seems to be thickening up and gloppy - like toothpaste.  I do not know what is making it do this - but I really do not like it.  The texture of the paint will not apply smooth and there is certainly no blending ability.  What the heck?

Anyone else experiencing this problem?  And it is not limited to any brand in particular,  Hmm, I think it is time to get serious with oils.

My daughter Katie was supposed to fly home on Friday -you know the day after the storm.  YOu can imagine what happened.  Flights delayed everywhere and some cancelled creating a backlog of weary travellers.  From mechanical failures and get this, the plane would not start this morning from the cold! Delays.  Cancellations.  On the up side, we got to spend more time with her. Maybe tomorrow she will be able to fly out.

Pet portraits

I have also been working on a few commissions.  I am able to share this one with you now.  Meet "Murphy" a portrait of a very expressive labradoodle.  So much fun to paint this guy.  HIs owners were surprised by this thoughtful gift and very happy with it!  Gotta love that! And I will be delivering another one tonight. Gotta love that as well.

Murphy pet portrait by Helen Shideler

My poor easel

Still broken.  My husband managed to get it back together enough that I can use it.  The crank awkwardly still cranks.  (he missed putting one of the ball bearings back in but we will not tell) But it is stable enough that I can use it.  Unable to easily raise and lower it.  But it is usable while I wait for my shiny new, incredible easel motors towards me.  EEEEEEEEEE so excited.

Cheers for now

 

 

 

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. 

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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?

 

 

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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.

 

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Niko. 10"x8" acrylic on gessoboard

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