Mourning Glow

Hey everyone. It has been so long since I have been able to complete a painting. Happy I finally completed Mourning Glow. Not so happy my studio is still torn apart for so long.

Mourning Glow by Helen Shideler

Mourning Doves

My husband and I look at mourning doves with two lenses. They are peaceful birds, quite elegant in their own right and with a beautiful mournful song. I love how they seem to glow when the sun starts to rise and shines on their fronts. Pretty sure they face into the sun to welcome the morning light! Wouldn’t you?

The other lens is less flattering. They are bird seed hogs and well, they mess where ever they want - which is usually on our deck furniture. Yuck! Placing them squarely in the pigeon category!

But I love that they roost in our trees so close to our house. I recently completed another painting of a trio of Mourning Doves roosting in our apple tree - Moody Mourning - Blog post click here

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

The colours of their feathers

Mourning doves have a most interesting pallette. A hint of blue, taupe, gold and mushroom tones. Quite lovely to work with. You can see the colour variations played out in these two paintings captured in very different lighting conditions. They can be elegantly monochromatic and then dramatic when the sun shines directly on them.

Mourning Glow is available here

My poor studio

Still looks like this! Torn apart with no real end in site. The kitchen counter works but the lighting is not really great for painting. Soon, I hope soon.

Hopefully I will not be as long with my next painting

Spring Scentsation

Spring Scentsation is a relatively large oil painting of a soft and fragrant while lilac that grows on our property line in the back yard.  There is quite a story getting the painting to this point.

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Inspiration is everywhere

A few years back when visiting my daughter, we went for many walks around her area in Vancouver.   It seemed to me that almost every property we walked by had a tree line border framing in their yard.  They were really well designed.  Tall trees with shrubs at their base.  There really was no need for weeding as the growth from the shrubs kept them in check.  Everything grows uber big in Vancouver and very fast!

I was inspired.  When I got home I let mentioned by big idea to my husband,  whose pride and joy is the lawn – that I was proposing for us to dig up a lot of the lawn and create a lovely tree line.  Took some convincing.  But we did it.  

The only problem is the deer

One thing that I really wanted to grow is a white lilac.  We planted it in the tree line, quite close to our neighbour’s gigantic apply tree (that we secretly prune back every chance we get - so our plants will get enough light).  It was so lovely.  That spring the blossoms opened up and my heart sang…for one night.  Bambi and her entourage came through in the darkness and ate every single blossom.  

Once again, we declared war! Our lovely white lilac now resides in a chicken wire cage that is tall enough to foil the appetites of those garden marauders! It will remain a caged specimen until it grows large enough that the deer’s munching will not cause it any real harm. Likely three more years.

Point of all this is to say -  I love white lilacs. Most of this effort over the past few years, was to be able to paint it!

And paint it I have.  This piece took an inordinate amount of time.  I usually paint the background last.  But this time I went in way sooner than I think I should have.  It was ok. Only ok.  I knew that and had to brave up to go back in and modify it.  And so I did.  And it was decidedly better.  Only better.  Not quite pulling up a bit of drama like I was hoping for.  I continued working on the florets while I contemplated shredding or burning it.

Lessons learned

Third times a charm.  Yes, I went back in a third time and repainted the entire background again! Obviously, the previous layers influence the top layer, with the green remaining in the same hue, but this time I am happy with the results.  Note to self – wait to paint the background until you are sure you know the results you want to achieve. 

To give you an idea of the size (48 x 30”)

Helen Shideler with Spring Scentsation


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 …..

Seasonal corvids

I decided to paint a crow this weekend for a few reasons. Firstly, I am working on a secret commission or three that I cannot share. And it is so close to Halloween I really needed to paint a corvid!

Stepping Out by Helen Shideler

Here is the thing

We have many crows in our yard. They watch us when we BBQ. They sit on the power lines and look at us. They watch us when we are on our deck in case we may be eating. They watch us when we are eating. One crow in particular, this is pretty cool… keeps one eye on us. When we look up it does this spy thing and tries to look nonchalant, inconspicuous - incognito. Should we dare drop a tidbit the routine gets really amusing. It will look away. Watches. Then when we look away, it will fly down so casually, steal the bite away. It’s a game we play.

Crow Crow Crow

Sometimes we feed them. Because it is hard not to. I stand in the back driveway and call crow, crow, crow. Then they nonchalantly appear and wait until we turn our backs to come in for the tidbits. Again, it’s a game we play.

Habit forming

I paint corvids. Every chance I get. Below is a collage of a few of them. There are many more and a few not shown are award winners.

Crow Collage by Helen Shideler

Until next time, Happy Halloween

Summer Update and Spring Scentsation

It never fails to amaze me how incredibly fast summer comes and goes.  And how little painting I  actually accomplish from the first of August to the middle of September.  When the sun is out I am out.  Revelling!  This year we have had an amazing amount of family visiting - and we took the time to cherish each moment knowing how fast it goes. 

Fast, except maybe for the work on this painting "Spring Scentsation".  Yes, I finally came up with a name that is sticking. And I think it is finally about the halfway mark.

white lilac painting Spring Scentsation by Helen Shideler

Often I start projects without really knowing what I am doing. I do have a plan but am unsure if it the right one. But I go with it!  And I promise, I am learning.  I tinted the canvas all over because I do not like those little white holes (misses) that may appear as I apply the first few layers of paint.  Adding to the changes to my approach, I painted a foundation layer to the background first.  At about the halfway mark, i got brave enough to figure out how to approach and modify the background.  That work in now done - however, I will be going back in to deepen and glaze the area around the bloom.

With my next painting I will be changing my approach once again. 

Rational thinking?

This is a large painting - 30 x 48" and I think it may be a new favourite size.  Honestly, I do not think smaller works take less time - just that your "mistakes" may be less obvious as they are smaller?   Is that rational thinking?

Summertime at our house

Always includes as much family as possible, good food and friends whenever possible. This year was no exception. Our house was coming apart at the seams. Joyful sounds. Good meals. And grandchildren that fill the house!

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On the Fence

crow painting On the Fence by Helen Shideler

I did manage to get another crow painting in. This little 10 x 8” oil is a study for a much larger painting in the future - I got caught up a bit too much in the details for a painting of this size. Must remember to simplify going forward.
 

Next post will be from beautiful BC

until next time may your days be colourful

the problem with Prussian blue

Oh dear me.  So I have this brand new tube Prussian Blue paint in oil (if course).  I tried to squeeze a dab out onto my pallet.  Only it would not come out.  So I squeezed a little harder.  Still no paint.  And then I squeezed a little harder.Success!!!! 

Painter Painting by Helen Shideler

 

Only half the tube shot out. Over the top of my pallet (as in all over the edges), onto the side of my water bottle, across the protective cardboard I had put under my work.  Phew!  Now if you know anything at all about Prussian, it has a reputation of getting away from you.  I really thought that meant as in messing up your mixes.  Nope.  I now know it means literally getting away from you! So, I thought- I can manage this and clean up later. 

I had my roll of paper towel on the table as well.  A breeze came up making the paper towel flap around.  Made it flap across the large squeeze of deep blue paint. 

Confession

When i paint I have a very bad habit of holding a piece of paper towel in my other hand.  This is never a good idea.  Especially when you have some unruly paint out there trying to get you.  I never noticed it until much later. 

You can see where this is going.  A fly landed on my shoulder and I shoed it away.  My hair was blowing in the wind and into my eyes, I tried to move it away.  Then an ant ran up my leg.  Could not let that happen - had to flick it off.  By the time the wind died down, I have Prussian Blue on my forehead.  Up the entire length of my left arm.  In my armpit????? Seriously, how did that happen????? Over the upper part of my right arm and shoulder.  And of course, remember the ant?  Down my left leg. Remember the cardboard protecting my table.  It shifted.  The nice white tiles are slightly blue even after I tried to clean up.

Not to be discouraged, I finished the painting,  Started to take my materials back into the studio.  Made three trips.  Came back for the cardboard and hit my really tall glass of lemon water.  It went across the table, into my hat, soaked a chair with the pulp-y juice.  Needless to say, I was a great source of amusement for my husband who felt the need to show me each one of the blue blotches all over me. hmmmmm

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Another wonderful week

It's always a wonderful week when one sells not one but two paintings!! So happy! So grateful.  Life is good.  Mystic Blues sold at the RNS Art Show & Sale this weekend and so did...

Helen with Mystic Blues

..."On Watch",  painting of a raven keeping a watchful eye on me - while sitting on top of the coolest rock formation I have ever painted. 

The good news continues

Earlier in the week I received an email about my "Magenta Magic" poured painting.

Congratulations
We are pleased to inform you that from 320 paintings submitted from 32 countries worldwide, our Jurors, Anne McCartney CSPWC, AWS, TWSA; Peter Marsh CSPWC, OSA, SCA, TWS; and Rainbow Tse have selected the painting on the labels below as a finalist for the IWS Canada & CSPWC/SCPA’s “A Symphony in Watercolour” Exhibition

This is all so very cool. The universe really does send back good karma when you live with the spirit of giving.  I recently donated a large painting to the IWK Ladies Auxiliary for their Kremese Art Show and Sale next weekend.  And also a bunch of cards to an environmental group for a fundraiser.  And then there is that ginormous window I am painting for ProKids.  Not that I have give to get back other than the feeling that I have done something good.

As an artist,  you have to be selective on how/what you give, how often you give and decide whether or not the cause is near and dear to you - we are asked for donations a lot.  I  have a few favourites that I donate to each year.   

Shideler paintings

New work in progress

A yet to be named poured watercolour.  It still has a long way to go.  The slideshow below takes it through the ugly duckling stage to the point where I have removed the masking compound.  I hope the magic happens in the next step of the process. 

Click through to see the progression so far