We've been to the beach

We have just returned from a wonderful family vacation on Prince Edward Island - where it is possible to take in a couple of different beaches each day without driving for more than 20 minutes. Each beach has its own uniqueness and so far, my favourite is all of them!

Plein Air sketches

I so very much love the island with all it’s glorious sandy beaches. And of course love all the family memories created with all of the island experiences we got to enjoy.

Originally I hoped to paint at least one plein air sketch each day, but it wasn’t always possible. It was pretty windy most of the time we were there. I didn’t even take my easel out of the car during that whole week. My Soltek would have been flying down the beach! But I am happy with the ones I managed to paint. I think they capture that wonderful feeling of summery days and sea breezes.

Plunging for clams

This is a new one for me. Originally from Cape Breton I was no stranger to clamming but with a shovel or a claw rake. In this very secret location we waded into the water, buckets close by and plunger in hand. Such a wonderfully fun and delicious experience. And I managed to get a number of reference photos for future paintings. A winning day for sure.


Down by the bay

One of the most memorable events was taking a pontoon boat tour of Fortune Bay. It was another sunny and windy day - so windy in fact that our boat ride was limited to staying in the calmer waters of the bay and the river. We did not mind at all. In fact, our littlest sailor was invited to captain the boat. This will be an experience we will always remember and I am sure he will never forget. His little face was beaming with pure joy.

I forgot to mention the food

Along with the clams we collected, we purchased fresh fish off the MR Seafood truck that comes into Souris twice a week. Fresh scallops, hake and mussels rounded out the delicious seafood offerings that we were fortunate to enjoy a few times - served with fresh island potatoes and garden fresh vegetables. It really doesn’t get better than this - especially when shared with family!


Studio reno update

Slowly getting there. I was so hopeful that the workers would have made more headway this past week. Still not a workable space, everything still covered in plastic and no water. Soon I hope…



Can you find your pair?

Footloose or that Barefoot Feeling is a large acrylic (30 x 36”) on canvas.

This was a wonderful family day at the beach. The sand was too deep to walk in so you had to kick off your shoes to get anywhere. I loved the natural groupings of the various family shoe piles.

That summertime feeling

This painting made me profoundly happy to paint. The shoes presented an interesting perspective and I’ll admit that at first I wondered what I was getting myself into. I thought about it a bit and then decided to approach the shapes much like I do when painting a flower. I kid you not, this perspective has helped me solve how to paint may different subjects. Even portraits! By associating it with something I know it took my fear and apprehension away. Seriously and thankfully.

I started with the purple crocs, then went on to paint the redish sandals beside them. I giggled all the way through them. They gave me so much joy to paint. Apparently I really needed a break from white lilacs!

What I am most happy with is that some of the shoes look like you could slide your feet right into them. Sigh…. I love that barefoot feeling!

Oh the grass

The sand was pretty quick to layer in and pretty much had to be in place as a foundation for the grass. Oh the grass! This painting was certainly thought provoking. I really had to think this through as I was not up for painting every single individual blade. In the foreground it was necessary but as the painting moved away from the front there was an opportunity to suggest the shapes and colours. Then bring the detail up in a few to give the illusion of depth.

to give you an idea of the scale of the painting

to give you an idea of the scale of the painting

I can still feel the sun from this day.

Soon I will share another post from our South African vacation. I think you’ll like the photos of the elephants and penguins.


Repairing the Rigging and some really good news

This past summer the Tall Ships visited Saint John as part of Canada's 150 Birthday celebrations.  It was a magical, majestic site and made you proud to live here.  I was completely fascinated by the people who were "Repairing the Rigging".  I mean they appear to have absolutely no fear of heights!


I, on the other hand, found myself to be on the bring of dizziness just photographing them.  Vertigo! But I was still able to be quite strategic as I lined up my shots.  I loved all the lines from the cranes across the harbour to the rigging on the ships.  As I lined up the angles for my reference shots, I was envisioning this as a poured watercolour painting.

After the first bit of masking was applied, I quickly realized there was no additional opportunity to apply masking.  One application did the trick.

A new toy

I recently saw this exciting tool advertised in Curry's newsletter a new high precision masking fluid marker by Pebeo.  Well then, I had to order two.  Sort of love it.  It comes with an extra bit as well, unsure why but I am sure it will be revealed to me as I use it.  Unable to get quite the fine lines I was hoping for - I used to create my signature int the painting above.

And some good news

Dear Helen

On behalf of the SCA, it is my pleasure to inform you that your application for Elected Membership into the Society of Canadian Artists has been successful. Congratulations!

As an Elected Member you may use prestigious 'SCA' designation after your name, participate in the annual members’ exhibition and qualify for society awards. As well, you will receive the SCA newsletter featuring articles by members, listing calls for artists, contests, and local and regional art events, delivered to your inbox three times annually. You will also receive invitations to Society Exhibitions and other events.

Now I will be signing my paintings with SCA as well!  Very excited!


A good cause

I have been asked to participate in a fund raiser for a really good cause in Saint John for P.R.O. Kids. This group provides assistance for kids in need of support to play sports, recreational, art and cultural activities.  Uncertain for certain - but do you see children playing on a beach in that window?

Cheers, until next time



East Looking West

This commission has long been a work in progress

You see I knew the client would be back in Saint John for Christmas. And so I dawdled quite a bit. Actually a lot.  I did the photography last summer and started the painting earlier this year.  The sky took me an unusual amount of time.  I really worked hard to achieve the degree of perspective with the clouds receding in the distance.

I love this place

As a child we first lived in Red Head after moving there from Cape Breton.  The rocks along the dike were much smaller back then and often overwhelmed by the waves during a storm surge.    Our father would time the waves and then make a run for it on our little VW Beetle.  Often times a wave would crash over the car. The car would jolt sideways a bit and there was no way the wipers could be effective.  Often the waves were accompanied by a litany of expletive deleteds!  And the defending logic that the salt water was not good for the car.

The process was both thrilling and terrifying to my little girl self.  To this day I have dreams of being stranded on the Red Head side of the dike and have to figure out how to navigate across.  I always do find a way across by the way, but it is often full of peril.

East Looking West by Helen Shideler

I was thrilled to be asked to paint this location

The skyline, Partridge Island, the Bay and the beach were really fun to pull together.  The detail on the Island was so much fun to paint.  I love the way it turned out.  The foreground beach almost painted itself.  I painted the rocks last - one at a time.

Happy to say "East Looking West" is now a completed painting. 


30 Paintings in 30 days Final Week

Wow.  What can I say.  I really did stick with the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.  Only I painted 28.  Really 27 as my last painting was finished today - after the end of the challenge.  I am so glad I did this.  I wanted to use materials and subjects  I do not always get around to.  And I learned a lot. I learned that I actually do like acrylic paint.  I just do not like to use it on canvas as I am unable to get the degree of detail I want to achieve. And I LOVE Ampersand Claybord with acrylics!  I will blog about that next week!   And this is almost what is looks like - there a few missing because I struggled with the program. But you get the idea. And this weeks efforts are below. SHideler 30 paintings in 30 days

Day 26 - "Beez on Sedum" is a water-colour on Arched 300 lb paper. 5.5"x11"

Beez on Sedum by Helen ShidelerDay 27 - "High Tide Back Beach" in PEI.  Acrylic on Claybord 7"x5"High Tide Back Beach by Helen ShidelerDay 28 -  "Heavenly Hollies" 7"x5" Acrylic on Claybord Heavenly Hollies by Helen ShidelerDay 29 - "Lunch Break" is an 10 x 8" acrylic on Claybord


Day 30 - "Flirtin" 10 x 8" acrylic on Claybord.  I refer to this style as Contemporary Realism.  Loot at their eyes.  They are seriously flirting!Flirtin by Helen ShidelerThese paintings are available on my website.  Click HERE for more information.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Week 4

This week proved to be more time consuming than last week.  This weeks paintings have taken more time than I expected.  It is that detail orientation thing I have.  As a result I have only completed six.  I know I could still catch up... but I do not to put too much pressure on myself right now.  Attempting 30 paintings in 30 days is enough of a stretch... This has been a good week for selling as well.  Quite a number of these little paintings have made journeys to new homes or will be soon - this is fun and rewarding.  If you would like more information or see how you too can own one of these little paintings, you can view the collection by clicking HERE .

Day 19

"Eenie Meanie" is an 8x10 acrylic on canvas.  This was interesting to work on as I had to figure out how to handle the mussels under the water.

Eenie Meanie by Helen ShidelerDay 20

"Good Mourning"  a 6"x6" acrylic of a mourning dove outside my kitchen window.

Good Mourning by Helen ShidelerDay 21

"Changing Weather" I love this location in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.  The weather is constantly changing and every where you look is a potential for a painting.  This is a 10"x8" acrylic on Gessobord.  I thought i was all out but happily I found this board in hiding!

Changing Weather by Helen ShidelerDay 22

"Pond of Dreams"  I have always wanted to paint this little visitor to our backyard pond.  This painting makes me happy, and it is SOLD.

Pond of Dreams by Helen ShidelerDay 24

"Last Stand" was painted from reference photos I took a number of years ago in the Irving Nature Park on one very grey day. I would always take a break here to ponder this tree.  I liked the sense of isolation without it being grim.  It was once tall and proud looking out to sea!  I had to resist the urge to add in a crow - looks like a place a crow should roost. You may have noticed that there is no Day 23 painting. This one took too long to complete in one session.  Heres the blip.

Last Stand by Helen ShidelerDay 25

"Waddling Wanderers" was pure joy to paint!  These two happy geese look as though they are engrossed in conversation.  Maybe they are talking about the challenges of moulting as one of these is either in the middle of a moult - or has been in a heck of a fight.  I go for the moult.

Wandering Waddlers by Helen Shideler



30 Day Painting Challenge Week 3

I am another week in.  And I have managed somehow to keep up. In order to come up with a painting a day, I noticed I have a bit of a trend going on.  I seem to select subjects in pairs.  Less thinking about it, I can get right to it and it is double the fun. I have been receiving a number of inquiries asking if these little paintings are for sale. They are. I have been so busy painting I forgot about that part.  I think I need help with this art marketing thing.   For more information you can visit my website by clicking here all the paintings are placed there  each day as they are completed.

Day 12

"Around the Bend" is an 8"x10" acrylic on Claybord of a spot at the Irving Nature Park in Saint John, NB.Around the Bend

Day 13

"Sunshine Yellows"  is a fun little sunflower painted in acrylic on canvas 6"x6"

Sunshine YellowDay 14

"For Dad" is 10"x8" acrylic on Claybord.  I think I giggled all the way through the painting of this lobster.  I was speaking with my friend Imelda today and said they cracked me up as I painted them. She asked if the pun was intended.  For a moment I drew a blank.  I did not realize that I even said that.  Then I repeated it.  Oh my.

For DadDay 15

This first lobster was so much fun to paint that I decided to paint another. "Guest of Honour"  is also an acrylic on Claybord  8"x10"

Guest of HonourDay 16

"three in the Tree" this was plain outright fun to paint.  The crows are almost always in the big ash tree in our backyard.  They seem to pose for my camera.  This  is a 6" x 12" acrylic on Claybord

Three in the TreeDay 17

Again with  the two similar kind of theme going on.  "Look Over There" is also a 6"x12" acrylic on Claybord.

Look Over ThereDay 18  SOLD

"Bouctouhe Boardwalk" has a nice feel to it.  I would like to be there right now.  Only have it  warm and sunny instead of the middle of January.  No lies, this was a tricky little beast to paint.  Little tiny line all over the place.  No repeat of this one unless it is huge! This is a 7"x5" acrylic on gesso board

Bouctouche Boardwalk


30 Day Painting Challenge Week 2

This the second week of the 30 Paintings in 30 Day Painting Challenge

I fully understand the name of this now as it is most certainly a challenge.  Completing a painting a day is more of a draw (pun intended) of time and energy than I figured.  I know the level of commitment for a sketch a day and it is reasonable.   It is just I am not a fast painter.  And I paint with a lot of detail.  The detail is where I get my satisfaction.  So I am slow - so slow that the painting of the crow... well it took me two days!

Day 5

Not on the Menu

"Not on the Menu"

Acrylic on Ampersand Claybord

$65 Available Click here for more information

The photograph id not doing this little painting justice.  It is one of my favourites. Of course knowing the awkward positions I had to get into to actually get the photograph may influence my opinion.

Day 6

Mermaid's Bouquet

"Mermaid's Bouquet"

Acrylic on Ampersand Claybord

$65 Available Click here for more information

This photos for this painting were taken on the same day last summer in PEI.  This painting is looser than usual for me - but the water was deeper that you  would think and it obscured some of the details.

Day 7

Taking Flight

"Taking Flight"

Acrylic Canvas

$65 Available Click here for more information

Ahh, Fortune Bay in PEI.  One of my absolute favourite places on earth.  This guy was hanging out in the marsh across the road from our sisters house.  They are so many herons that hang out there - a real treat for your eyes!

Day 8 and ahem Day 9


"Inquisitive One"

Acrylic on Ampersand Claybord

$125 Available Click here for more information

I love crows.  I had so much fun painting up the details.  Only it took me two days to complete.  I think it was worth the effort!

Day 10


"In the Marsh"

Acrylic on Ampersand Claybord

$125 Available Click here for more information

I also love St. Andrew's in New Brunswick.  I take advantage of every opportunity to visit.  It is less than a two-hour drive from home and it is so worth the day trip.

Day 11



Acrylic on Ampersand Claybord

$125 Available Click here for more information

This is a bright and beautiful peon from our garden.  I will be painting a similar version only much larger later this year.  pretty excited to get that one started!

Shooting birds as reference photos

Oh-me-oh-mi.  I have been shooting birds. Shooting birds as reference photos for future paintings. A lot of birds and I have so many ideas of what to do with them all.  So much work to do.  So many paintings dancing around in my mind!  I almost do not know where to start. Oh the possibilities I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit this summer.  During the course of my adventures I have been photographing some interesting settings.  From a stand of dead trees, to many beaches, to an old post and rail fence.  They are perfect backdrops for bird paintings that I have in mind.  Perfect for paintings of crows, seagull and ducks.  I have been chasing sandpipers for about two years for reference photos for a commission and this past Labour Day I actually got them.  I am happy about that.

During the course of the winter you will see several paintings emerge from my studio based on  the amour of photography I was able to do this summer.

And I pretty much have to wait until I get back from the SKB Workshop in Wyoming this September before I can get going on them  (Susan Kathleen Black Foundation).