Anxiously Waiting

I have a new appreciation for how dedicated and anxious nesting birds really are.

Take this robin for instance.  Gary and I recently made a trip up to the cottage with the intention of cleaning and freshening it up.  We packed up our car to the roof and headed out.  Once we go to the cottage, we had to make several trips inside with our arms loaded up.  Fist trip in we did not see the nesting robin. But it saw us.  In a flurry of rather noisy, flapping and with a look of indignation - then the robin left the nest every time one of us walked by.  This went on for quite while until they either got tired out or simply gave up.  I eventually was able to un-intrusively get a few reference photos.  

Anxiously Waiting by Helen Shideler

When I took the photos I knew there was a painting in there.

Yesterday, while painting at Hooper's Studios and Gallery for the opening of "Four Watercolour Painters" (of which I am one), I decided to paint this scene.  I very loosely sketched out the bird in the nest. It took shape very quickly.

I was careful not to overwork the cedar shakes as I wanted the focal point to be obvious. The robin was fun to paint.  The nest took more concentration than I expected.  As a result, I was unable to complete the painting in one sitting.  Contributing to distracting me from completing it was the fact it was 32 degrees celsius with high humidity.  Hard to paint in a sauna.  Hard to paint in high humidity with watercolours - you cannot in any way shape or form get a crisp line. 

I packed up.  Drove home and enjoyed the amazing show of lightning on display. And finished the painting this morning,  

Week 2 - 30 Paintings in 30 Days

The problem with the loony

When The 30 in 30 Challenge facilitates the need and opportunity to paint every day.  I love the discipline it creates for me.  The dedication. And most of all the support and encouragement from family and friends.   And the fact I had to get super organized with ideas and art supplies.  Speaking of art supplies, has anyone else noticed how expensive they have gotten since the Loonie plunged?  

The only personal challenge is that we eat at ridiculous times…no wait, we do that anyway. 

Day 8  "Welcome Visitor"  

I really think the only think trickier that painting with red in watercolour is painting red in Acrylic! I think this handsome cardinal was work the effort.

Day 9  "Snow Day"

This sweet little bird was so patiently waiting it;s turn at the feeder. It was so interesting to watch them. They would feed with the chickadees but when one if it's own kind would try to join in, they would get into an airborne flapping match.

Day 10 "Snowy Morning"

Little companion painting for Snow Day. They look sweet beside each other. All fluffed up and waiting for their turn at the feeders. While canaries are so sweet.

Day 11 "Seeds For Me"

This chickadee cutie was painted by special request as a companion piece for "At the Feeder" painted last week.

Day 12 "Mourning Glory"

I have to admit that this painting has taken the most amount of time so far. Two nights painting - phew. This fella was sitting in our grape vines near the feeder. I think guarding it from other birds so he can have all the seeds to himself. Mourning Doves are greedy and messy feeders. Good thing they are beautiful. My husband would dispute the beauty thing because of the mess they create - all the time!

Day 13 "Goosey Goosey Gander"

Ampersand Aquabord is one of my favourite surfaces for acrylic - even over Gessobord. It is so much more versatile for me. You can easily use acrylics like watercolors for an interesting effects. I even used some frisket - have to admit I was a bit nervous - but it worked out fine. Get nervous every time I try this, unsure why. Once this challenge is over, I will do a "how to" blog post on the process I use.

Anyway - I named this little painting what I did because it sounds fun - but thinking I have two ganders and one goose. Oh well...most people will not know ...I hope.

Day 14 "Looking Back"

I cannot help but think this handsome crow was posing for me - standing there so tall and proud with all it's feathers very neat and smooth.

Special requests

I ma getting a number of special requests for certain birds - if you would like to see something painted (especially if you would like to purchase it) just let me know - no obligation.  If I have  reference photos that I have taken, I will consider the request.


Gone to the Birds

I joined in a challenge to paint 30 Paintings in 30 Days.  The first week quickly became about painting chickadees!

I knew the challenge was coming up so between Christmas and New Years I braved the elements to attempt to get as many photographs as possible.  I stood out on our deck for hours.  Freezing my fingers off while waiting for the perfect photo opportunity.  Interesting enough, it did not take me too long to figure out that these feathers cherubs are much faster than I.  I managed to get many empty feeder shots. And a few with the snow flying as the little cuties flew off the feeder.  

A Discovery 

After about three days of obsessive photographing and freezing I discovered that my Canon camera with my long lens can shoot through the glass at my kitchen window. Well now.  No more freezing.  Interesting enough only the long lens can do it.  Go figure.  So about 500 photos later, I have enough reference material to keep me painting for 90 days!  Loving it.

Oh Yeah

The first painting I did for the challenge was of a white husky appropriately named "Lily".


These painting are available on my web site.  You can get there from here by clicking on AVAILABLE WORK on the top menu on this site and going to artwork portfolio.

Lessons Learned

Due to the inclement and cold temperatures, I decided to use LIquitex acrylic varnish.  They recommend for best results that you first apply a thin (and they mean it) coat of gloss then apply a thin layer of matte. This is great product for work with backgrounds.  Not so much for leaving      the lovely white backgrounds of Gessobord or Clapboard unpainted.  No mater how careful your are you get a bit of frustrating streaking.  

RECOMMENDATION: If you are leaving much of the surface unpainted, you are much better off to use an archival spray varnish.




A Look Back

A Look Back.  This is a transparent watercolour on Arches 300 lb. paper. As transparent as those darks can be that is.  To achieve the depth of colour I had to apply eight washes.  I always get a little nervous when applying deep colours with a fine brush as sometime the point springs a little and little dots of colour appear where you do not want them.  This time was no exception.  However, I saw them as they happened and thankfully was able to clean them right up. I seem to be a little introspective these days and it is showing up in my art.  Unsure if it just the long winter or I am searching for something.  The title of this painting seems fitting somehow.  I tried to come up with a clever title, but this name kept coming back to me.  And the raven is looking back.A Look BackThis is the last painting in this series of raven paintings - as least for now.  I have been painting quite a few birds recently and it got be thinking. I started to marvel at the fact they do not have arms and hands.  This may sound silly, but I think it must be very awkward for them to have to use their beaks for everything. Can you imagine if you had to use your nose and lips to move things around and pick things up with your hands tied behind your back?  Just thinking is all....

And speaking of looking back here are the two previous Ravens paintings in this series:

"Call of the Raven" and "The Sentry"

Watercolour painting of a raven by Helen Shideler

Water-color painting of a raven

These watercolour paintings are available on my web site -  click HERE for more information.