glow, sunflower in oils - update #5

Sunflower painted in oils I am truly learning a lot working with oil paint.  I forgot anything I ever new from years ago.  And it is a new playing field as the paint has really evolved.   The water mixable stuff is supreme!   Low odor and easy clean up.  I do have a product preference on this one – my beloved brand with watercolors comes up short with water soluble oil paint.  Too pasty – much like tooth paste.  And I bought a lot of it with high hopes.

Although I admit the drying time surprised me – I was hoping it would somehow be quicker – for a hurry-up-and-wait kind of person like myself – it is hard to be patient.  You are in this gig for at least 7 to 8 weeks!

I finished this up by increasing the colour density to where I wanted it, painted in the lone bee and crisped up the detail.  Crisping is challenging with oil paint.

I am very happy to say “Glow” has been sold and I have a commission for a similar one.  Life is good!


Early Spring in the Duck Pond

Early Spring in the Duck Pond Sometimes the hardest part of the painting process is titling the work.  I have been on a bit of a run this year with painting mallards.  Often, I know the title before I start the sketch. Not this time.  The reference photos were taken in the early spring…..just sayin’

This is an 10 x 8” fluid acrylic on ClayBord.  Yes, I am still painting on this slick surface.  Originally I found it to be rather unforgiving – but know I understand more of the characteristics and am able to work with it.  I like it! There is no quick with this stuff – it takes several many many many thin washes to build up the colour.  I had to resist just going in with thick paint.  Would defeat the purpose of the slippery panel.



WIP - Update 3 - Begonias on Parade

Making some serious progress with a limited amount of time in combination with some travel to Atlanta and lots of other distractions.  However, I can now start to see the finish line!   In the upper right hand corner will be Hercules, a rather large webbing spider that is found, well...everywhere around our house in the summer. When you walk around our decks and gardens, it is wise to carry a stuck out in front of you to  clear the webs in as you go.  Really icky to face plant in a web. Trust me!  Personal experience speaking. Stuff nightmares are made of.... I have made peace with the yellow nickel mineral color for this painting.  Understand, I will never use mineral based watercolor paint again and unless someone can make a compelling case and oh, send them to me for free to try out!  The begonias on the right are just a funny color and this paint works. I tried every other share of yellow in my studio...and this works (humble pie) see definitions 2 & 3.

Begonias on Parade - Helen Shideler

Mallard Trio

IMG_4238 These birds are the most abundant and widely distributed waterfowl species in North America. Although common, I think they are uncommonly handsome - don't you.  Take the drake for instance, who would deny the iridescence of his head to be less than magnificent? With his striking white-collar and white pin tail tips.  Dapper Dabbler Ducks!

And then there is the uncelebrated mallard hen by comparison.  Various shades of brown leaning towards warm orange, yellowish orange bill upturned in a perpetual smile.  I have actually painted many more hens than drakes over the years.  Just because.

Back to this composition… when all the duck photos I took did not line up quite the way I envisioned for the Ducks in a Row idea, I decided that this would be better as three separate companion paintings.  Still love the title Ducks in a Row  – but it does not really work anymore.  Mallard Trio is as good as I got.  I love the attitude of ducks.  They are confident and almost always look as if they have a secret they are not sharing.  The perpetual upturn at the edge of their bill and the well, their cheeky cheeks!  Of course, I personify them.  They make it so easy to do.

And if you have a better name - I am open.....


Dapper Dabbler

As part of the Ducks in a Row Series (apparently) I had taken this photo of a mallard drake just kind of strutting his stuff among the flock.  He has a look of pride that I found to be irresistible.  A Mr Look at Me Now –kind of duck strut.  Standing tall and proud.


What I found to be quite amusing was settling on a title for this  - Do the Duck Strut, Dapper Drake, Mr Handsome, Duck Strut, Dapper Drake Dabbler.

Mallards are a dabbler ducks after all!

And here is likely why I love ducks.  My Mother used to sign this song to me as a child... and I have sung it with my children!  Very happy memories... my daughters added the quacking :)

Little ducky dawdle

Went wading in a puddle

Went wading in a puddle so small - says he it does not matter

How much I splash and splatter

For I’m just a duckie after all

Quack quack

Green With Envy - WIP Complete

I have reached the nearly finished stage of this painting.  I will stare at it and scrutinize it for a few days to see if I feel the need to go back in and color balance or make any adjustments at this time. The amount of work on this painting reminds me a lot of a previous transparent watercolor piece "Raindrops on Sedum" (below) in terms of complexity.  This painting won Best in Show at the CSPWC S's For the Love of Art  Associate Show in Halifax in 2006.  Both of these paintings had a false start.  I had them drawn out, started painting them and decided to abandon the first drawing and start over.  Phew, thank  goodness I do not get that urge too often!

Late August Day - Seaview, Prince Edward Island

There was something magical about the day.  It was the first real indication the season was getting ready to change.  That summer was fading and a new season would soon be upon us.  Even the clouds seemed somehow different.  The sun had a warm orange glow casting a golden hue on the fields. The wind was active, whipping the clouds across the St. Lawrence towards us.  The clouds were heavy, potentially full of rain with brighter fuller clouds peeking out above them. Glorious!  The visible bits of sky were a lighter shade of blue than on the previous days. And the ocean well, was deep blue and turquoise. Intense with white caps rushing towards the shore.  The air smelled wonderful.  The sound of the waves crashing so captivating.  A truly beautiful late August summer’s day.


This was our last full day on the island.  The guests had already begun travelling back to their homes across the globe.  We reveled in this last vacation day.  Attempting to slow the day down so we could take in every single moment.  It seems only natural that something about this day and this feeling would be a natural choice to capture for a wedding celebration painting.   The photo above represents only half or so of the actual painting.  I have started the water, and in acrylic, this stage is too messy looking to share.

There were so may days of photography.  So many subjects including a beautiful wedding.  Yes, somehow, this is the feeling the newlyweds want me to capture.  I have had three painting sessions on the clouds so far.  There are still some tweaking I will do once I have the waters well underway.


WIP - Drama Queen

I started this painting to be a poured painting.  Once I loosely sketched it out - well, I got cold feet.  The challenge with poured paintings can be the harsh edges left by the masqueing compound.  Now I am pretty good at softening all that out, but this lily "Dizzy" is very white and quite red.  The white areas would not respond well to all that required scrubbing - and so I decide to paint in my more traditional transparent watercolor style. Sometimes when I am painting, the work titles itself.  As I was applying the first red-ish washes, Drama Queen leapt into my head and I think I am going to go for it.  Then I Googled the images I have and discovered it is a lily called Dizzy - thinking the title is perfect now!  And, while refining the drawing, outside my studio windows - a catbird was chasing crows with a determination and vocal abilities to be admired - a true drama queen!

Maritime Blues II - Finally Finished!

So, what seems like many many months of planning and painting  - this painting is finally complete.  I started two poured mussel shell works at the same time.  The second, well is my next work in progress. I actually think I may have worked this subject out  of my  system... however, I think there may be one more either oil or acrylic -- for  old times sake :).

WIP - Maritime Blues 2

Well... with all the travelling I have done the past six-week, to Alexandria & DC and then to Vancouver :), I am certainly behind. I was hoping to have Maritime Blues 2 & 3 completed by now.  Fact is, after today, I have to focus on small paintings for  the upcoming Kings County Studio Tour 2012. I have a decent start just not where I would like to be.

So, since I pohotographed this a few hours ago, I have continued to work on it. Thinking I am about half way there.