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.

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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!

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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…

Cheers

A bit of an around to it

I had set aside this poured watercolour awhile back waiting for the inspiration to hit me to finally finish it. Took longer than I expected for me to get around to it - but a lot of that was my availability. Or lack of it. And for so many good reasons, family visiting and then a couple of weeks in Vancouver, sigh!

Blue Hydrangea painting by Helen Shideler

Master procrastinator

I was starting to think of a couple more paintings that I would like to get started. One of them may be poured and the other I am still unsure of how to approach it. While considering these two new pieces, I remembered that I have this hydrangea tucked away waiting for some attention. I decided that before I start more work, I really should finish something.

It’s so funny. I would take it out, look at it and then put it away. This went on for awhile. I have become quite good at stalling, procrastination, avoidance. Hmmmmm

Honestly, I think I go into shock at the revealed image once I remove the masking compound. There is such a huge difference in the way you are used to seeing the piece. And the colours seem so pale with the gunk off.

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And an update on Spring Scentsation

This painting really has a lot to do with why I need to feel the accomplishment of completing a project. I have been working on it forever and am still not through the underpainting. Fortunately, the finish work should not take anywhere near the amount of time.

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Cheers


Borscht Anyone and another really good week

Borscht Anyone?  This was a painting I had in mind since last fall.  I took a series of photos at a farmers market in Vancouver while visiting with family (sigh). I took so many photos! These beets were calling to me.  Again with the dilemma. Oil? Watercolour? Poured painting? 

For some reason this past year, when I think of watercolour, I automatically think of pouring.  The freedom I have this this process feels so rewarding. And I can release some of my tendency to be a detail crazy painter,

Borscht Anyone by Shideler

I did the last pour yesterday, removed the masking compound this morning. The underpainting made me happy and I knew I should be able to top dress this in one painting session.  This is a goal I try to set with all my poured paintings of this size.  There are no rules other than ones imposed for me by me.  And apparently I have many....just saying...

Slide show below - click to move through

 

Happy Helen

Sometimes the universe lines up so well. I am having a marvellous May!  I mean pinch me!  I am so grateful and happy I am coming apart at the seams.  This week I sold two 1/2 sheet poured paintings and had an interview with CBC TV News for the painting on the window from the Saint John City Market. And so many people see my daughters in the painting! 

I am so grateful when someone appreciates my work enough to purchase it - and from my website.  Happy Helen

Making a Splash by Shideler

And then there was this...

An interview with CBC TV News for to support the fundraiser for Pro Kids with area artist painting a piece of history - a window from the Saint John City Market!  I am normally quite camera shy - but wanted to do this because I love the project so much.

Link to story here

Link to news story here - it is about the third story in the clip

Link to P.R.O. Kids here

Cheers everyone

 

 

 

 

Summertime Promises

Summertime Promises

I completed this painting on the day of the Royal Wedding and also my husband's birthday.  All this just happens to coincide with the Victoria Day long weekend.  All this is truly symbolic.  The May long weekend heralds in the promise of summer and is filled with hope.  Lazy long weekends, adventurous tours, putting in the garden... you know the feeling

Summertime Promises by Helen Shideler

Warm enough to chill

I don't know about you, but my soul has been longing to be warm so we can just chill.  Our season on the East Coast is relatively short.  We wait so long for its arrival. So many happy plans and ideas - all to make memories that last season over season.  Gardening is a big part of our summer.

We typically garden up as high as we can trying to outwit the local deer population.  As a result of this our house is adorned with an impressive number of hanging baskets.  Other than the two that welcome you on either side of our front door, these baskets are each unique.  Planted with whatever catches our eye in the garden centres.  Some years it may be purples, sometimes yellow and sometimes a happy blending of many colours.  

This hanging basket that I painted "Summertime Promises"  filled my heart with joy watching it grow.  I mean, you can't get much more perfect than with yellow, vermillion and shades of maroon all on one blossom.  I knew when I purchased it that it would be painted.  I mean how could it not be? I took many reference photos, and as often, I tended to prefer the ones taken in full sun. 

What do you think?

A few weeks ago when I decided it was time to start a few more poured paintings, this image came to mind.  I sketched it out with a bit more detail than usual around where the leaves and stems were.  When you pour a painting, often the placement of the colours my be less important that the structure of the subject.  As I started working on this, I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe it should be painted as a large, juicy oil painting.  What do you think?

Work in progress 

Step by step process below.  Many pours later and a pound of masking (just kidding), the underpainting is revealed.  From this point I added in some brushwork to complete the painting.

Lessons Learned

Sometimes I may be a bit impatient.  Sometimes I may not wait long enough for the paper to dry before I apply the next round of masking compound.  Why am I calling this out you ask?  Well the masking will seep into the dampness of the paper.  You cannot see it go, but the area around the bit with fresh masking will also resist paint - creating halos around the ares.  Not at all a desirable look in a crisp painting.  You can pour until your hearts content.  It will not allow the paint to get any deeper in value.  

So, this became a mixed media painting.  I had to crack out the acrylics to get the deep background colour.  Sometimes this is a lesson I feel the need to relearn.  Patience Helen, patience.

Until next time

Cheers

 

 

 

 

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!

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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!

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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

Helen

 

To Santa Fe and back

This trip had been loosely planned for a year.  I mean we all registered on the last day of PACE 17 when we hear it would be in Santa Fe.  Other than that, we waited until January to book flights and the hotel room for the trip home. And maybe just maybe, we should have really scrutinized the schedule first.  Who has time to be that planful?

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On the road again

Two friends and i planned to meet at the airport in Albuquerque, rent a car (really really expensive) and drive to Santa Fe. I Googled the satellite maps to look at the roads to mentally prepare me for the drive.  And although I thought I was ready - but absolutely noting can prepare you for that type of traffic - unless you live in San Francisco, maybe... The car agency rental person warned be, but frankly I thought it was a ploy to sell more insurance.  They spoke of inebriated drivers, reckless drivers and crazy drivers.

We persevered and make it safely to our destination.  Only, I speak in kilometres not in miles.  Jeepers creepers the drive was a lot longer than I anticipated- and the resort was off the beaten track in a place called Buffalo Thunder.  The resort was wonderful.   Only there was nothing else in the general proximity other than a couple more casinos.  No grocery stores.  No place to shop. 

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The PACE 18  sessions were amazing.  Brienne Brown.  Barbara Tapp. Cindy Baron. And so many more.  They talked of throwing the paint down with out a drawing (gasp) and maybe draw later (again gasp).  But being there to learn, I decided to throw away everything I thought I knew and try it. Well, it kinda sorta works.  With a lot more practice it may just really work.  Above are my attempts.

View from behind

PACE included paint outs in various locations including El Santuario de Chimayó.  While we were there the wind was quite strong to the point I decided that setting up my easel may be a bit risky.  I found a bench and noticed all the painters painting in front of me.  And I love sketching figures. Had a lot of fun with there.  And yes, there will be a painting soon!

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Cheers, until next time

Country Garden Favourite

Country Garden Favourite is a traditionally painted watercolour of hollyhocks

Hollyhocks and mallow were a couple of my mothers favourite flowers. And I guess, seeing them through her eyes as a child helped me to gain an appreciation for them as well. I always associate them with an old fashioned country garden.  I truly love these blooms for their beauty and the nostalgia.  No wonder I love to paint them.

Country Garden Favourite hollyhock painting by Helen Shideler

They bring me back to Cape Breton

Good memories.  Salty air. Sunshine.  Wonderful memories of a place that was truly wonderful to be a child in. There is another flower that takes me back there  as well - wild blue flax.  This past summer, I saw it growing in PEI.  I was so happy to see them.  The colour is amazing.

 Speaking of blue

I knew when I started this painting that I wanted to paint the background as sky blue, rather than the background in my reference photos.  The background in the photos was rather dull and I wanted this painting to be crisp and to feel like a warm summer's day.  For fun I googled "Blue Sky” colour.  This really cool page came up in Wikipedia.  So many shades of blue.  So many shades of sky.  

Originally my plan was to do this painting as a poured watercolour.  I changed my mind for a few reasons.  One I was running out of masking compound and two, I wanted to keep the petals delicate and soft.  Pouring can give you hard edges.  There is a way around that, but it requires applying the mask on damp paper.  And maybe three, I often like to draw as I go.  When you pour it is much easier to have your drawing mapped out.  It is really easy to get lost without a careful rendering.

Hope you enjoy this painting as much as I enjoyed working on it.

Social Climber poured watercolour

Poured watercolour of a clematis.  I just had to call this painting Social Climber as there are so many blossoms growing over top of one another.  So many rich shades of blues, pinks and purples.

Social Climber poured watercolour by Helen Shideler

When to say when

There are times when I am unsure to call a painting complete or not.  I find this challenges me more with poured watercolours than traditional painting styles. The paint stains the paper quite heavily when you pour, often creating sharper edges than you can tell during the process.  It is harder to edit the painting while balancing the tone and maintaining transparency of colour. 

When I remove the masking compound, I think the underpainting looks washed out as the mask holds pigment on top.  When you take off the mask this layer of pigment is also removed.  Was never intended to stay, but it is usually quite bold. You sure miss it when it has been removed.

I use my reserved paint from the pouring process to go back in and enhance the underpainting.  This one is a bit different in that I did not pour green just applied a bit with my brush.

Step away from the painting

FIrst is knowing when to say when.  Put the brushes down.  Step away from the painting.   And, really poured watercolours need to be viewed from across the room.  You see the illusion better and not each individual mask or paint application.  All kidding aside,  the further back you are the more dimensional the work appears to be! Pretty cool actually.

A few steps of my painting process in slideshow below

Click to scroll through

This clematis grows in my sister-in-law Teri's magical garden in PEI.  

Magenta Magic

Magenta Magic

is a poured watercolour painting of colour rich hollyhocks. Every time I do a poured watercolour I learn something new. Or re-learn something over and over.  When you remove the masking compound, it changes the colours beneath it.  For some reason the colours dull down.  So weird.  I would have said it was just yellow.  But no, it is that way with most colours. And I really do know this and yet keep getting surprised by it. And that is why I call pouring process underpainting.  Although the finishing brushwork is minimal.

Magenta Magic by Helen Shideler

Magenta or fuschia?

That is the question of the day. These two colours are often used interchangeably and incorrectly. Magenta is somewhat redder and fuscia is more on the wine-ish side.  Just like the plant it is names after. The interesting thing is that when I was trying to photograph this painting, it would change colour depending on the sun shade factor.  In the sun it was fuschia.  No doubt.  But away from direct sun it is definitely magenta.  Had me fascinated and quite dissatisfied with my photography efforts and the effects of warm and cool lighting.

Fun fact.  The same colours go into the mixing of magenta and fuschia 

Work in progress

Below illustrated just a few of the steps in this process.  There are many more steps involved.  But this will give you a sense of how it progresses.  What I think I like most about this process is really two things.  The first is that it gets me into the studio every day.  But mostly it is how dimensional the completed painting is. They quite literally pop off the paper! From a distance they appear quite photographic and yet up close you can see the "legs", dribbles and splatters of the paint.  

I always have to tell my husband to stand back about ten feet.  He is one of my trusted advisors to the question is it done yet.  He will get up close for his inspection and i know the dribbles confuse him.  He'll point them out and I say they are supposed to be there.   HE says oh with a really confused expression.

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Sunshine and Shadows floral painting

This sunshine filled floral painting makes me happy.  It's funny, whenever I think I am finished a painting I will often have self doubt.  That was the case with this one.  I decided to set it aside for awhile and went upstairs to start supper.  When I went back into the studio it stopped me in my tracks.  It was as luminous as I had hoped to capture! And the yellows so sunny. 

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Poured or sprayed paintings

I approached this painting slightly differently by spraying the paint onto the wet surface.  I actually thought that it may be less messy. Boy, was I wrong.  The coloured mist went everywhere. All over my drafting table, the floor and my hands were unbelievable!  I went pack to pouring quite quickly.  The colour saturation seemed to be diffused as well - not at all the look I was going for.  I may say the spray bottles for a misty day painting another time.

Getting the gunk off

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The underpainting revealed

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When you remove the masking compound you also remove a certain amount of the paint you applied.  Sometimes the underpainting is filled with drama at the reveal stage.  Most of the time you have to go back in with some strategic brushwork to make the painting come alive.  Once the centre of the flowers were painting in it really started to take shape.  

Yellow is an interesting colour to pour.  It behaves differently than expected.  Or maybe if was because it was the layer of paint that I sprayed on?  The luminous quality I was trying to achieve was flat.  Some very quick brushwork brought it back to life.

Helpful hint

I use a rubber cement pick up to remove the mask picture to the side.  Shown in the wrapper, before use and after use.