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.

WIP Hydrangea.jpg

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


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

Mystic Blues

Every now and then I complete a painting that takes me by surprise when I catch a glimpse of it.  This has happened!  It may be just be the sheer size of this one - Mystic Blues is the largest painting that I have completed so far.  I am really hoping that it captures a sense of romance with the subtle varieties of blues and pinks. Sigh!  Works for me!

Mystic Blues by Helen Shideler

Blue so blue so soft

So I must admit I am a bit obsessed with blue hydrangea and blue flowers, and well, soft blues. I love the softness of the flowers with their subtle colour variations and the overall emotion that blue flowers evoke.  As a child I remember how the wild flax flowers that grew on the side of the road in Cape Breton literally took my breath away.  I would run across the road to marvel at them.  Completely fascinated with the colour.  Turquoise is still one of my favourite colours - I have many.

Paint repeat paint repeat paint....

And so, wondering what one of my next paintings will be?  You got it, yet another hydrangea.   I plan to start a poured watercolour in the near future.  Then I may have finally exhaust my blue hydrangea obsession.  Here is the plan - a full sheet.  Does anyone out there have any patience pills? Or a gallon of masking compound? Or a large bottle of white wine?  

Click to scroll through

Time for a quick change

After painting all those blues, I wanted to paint something relatively quick as I leave tomorrow for a long short trip to San Diego, (I am on the East Coast of Canada), and did not want to start another major piece.  Beach Buddies was a joy to paint.  Fun and happy colours of summer.  Bringing back memories of a wonderful family vacation last year on Prince Edward Island.  Absolutely one of my all time favourite places in the world! 

Beach Buddies by Helen Shideler

WIP Mystic Blues

So here it is.  Usually when I conceptualize a painting, I "see" it in a particular medium - be it watercolour, oil or acrylics.  But this blue hydrangea behaved differently for me and said you need to do it all.  I have completed it in watercolour and acrylics.  And now in oil...

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Patience pill anyone?

The watercolor version to me is traditional and stands on its own.  When I completed it I stepped back and felt is was good.....but wondered what would it look like in acrylics? Hmmm... and so I began a rather epic adventure in blue.

Saying that acrylic paint is vibrant is almost an understatement.  They fact that this paint cures and the colours deepen for a few days after they are applied adds to a bit of a mystery about them.  

And then there is buttery oil paint. Omigoodness I am in love with oil paint!  The colours remain true as they dry making them a bit more predictable than watercolurs or acrylics. And you can play with them.  And blend until your hearts content. I have so much to learn!

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Tender Blues in acrylic

A vibrant rendition of the blue hydrangea.  VIsitors to my studio stop in their tracks - I love the reaction.  It is a bit showy.  Both bold and modern. The blue shades are more intense - almost on the deep thalo shade.  Love saying that it is contemporary and fun. 36"x36" and I admit a nail biter to work on. Each painting session I was able to complete one flower in the bloom.  Acrylic paint dries so fast that blending is a real challenge. Did you say challenge? Apparently complexity and details are my key motivators.  No kidding??????

amethyst shades of blue by shideler

Amethyst Shades of Blue in watercolours

More traditional and ethereal, highly detailed and a softer version from the acrylic.  It's funny but I remember painting every single petal.  Making sure the shades and values were spot on in order to create the depth and suggest the volume of the bloom.  I played with the pigment and tested before I applied paint to the work.  This version was a true labour of love.  Did I mention I love watercolours.  They speak my language. And I feel confident with this medium.  So many years of working with it has taught me how it will behave in various conditions -  and I can predict it.  It is very natural and comfortable for me.

Feeling productive and happy

It has been a very productive week.  First my beautiful new RIcheson Santa Fe II Easel arrived.  It is even more special than I hoped it would be! Kind of makes me forget how frustrated I was when my previous easel had broken. My wallet it much lighter but I am very happy able to paint  large again. I completed "Tender Blues".  This was sure a long time in the painting.

Tender Blues by Helen Shideler

Tender Blues fresh off the easel

How do you know when a painting is completed?  Quite often you look up and can not see any place left to put paint.  Literally this was how it worked for me with this one. So the new easel is quite the asset.  There is a shelf on the easel where my brushes, water and palette are placed right in front of me.  No twisting and turning every 20 seconds or so.  I cannot believe the difference it made even with my concentration just to have eyes forward.  

I was literally working away and realized there was no place left for me at add paint. I love it when that happens.  I signed it and stepped back. I'll look at it for a few days to make sure I am happy with it before it gets varnished.  This is a large painting 30" x 30" on gallery wrapped canvas.  I painted the edges black - makes quite a difference and does not require a frame.  I like the clean, contemporary look. 

WIP Market Fresh by Helen Shideler

New beginnings

I wasted no time getting a new painting started.  This is a large oil that I have started to block in.  I am approaching this one slightly differently than I usually do.  Typically I would have done a grayscale underpainting and over painted with colours.  You know, I really just felt like slopping paint around.  I love the buttery texture of oil paint and wanted to have some fun with it.  This is still an underpainting and will require a number of layers to bring it to life.  But I am loving the way it is starting to develop.  This may be a fingers crossed scenario....

WIP Special Occasion by Helen Shideler

Two to pour

I also drew out two watercolors that I intend to pour.  Have the first masking on one of them.  This trio is sitting on a platter that I was gifted for Christmas. It has images of lobsters on it - this will make for an interesting pouring exercise.  But hey, I am up for the challenge.  And if I really mess it up, you will never see it.  

 

Kinda sort of busy

Ah, the holidays.  They have taken their toll on my productivity.  But, in fairness I always know I may not get as much done as I hoped.  Often I have more ambition than time. And family and friend come first.  Tender Blues is a large painting. With a whole lot of little florets that seem to be taking more time than usual.  This is my impatience showing I fear.

WIP Tender Blues by Helen Shideler

A couple of things 

My acrylic paints are acting funny and not in a charming way.  A couple of things are going on.  First, my heat source.  The mini split operates with a fan to distribute the heated air.  The heated air dries the paint out so fast on my pallett. No amount of spritzing it will water seems to help.  It is drying out way to fast.  Second, well they paint is going funky in the tubes.  It seems to be thickening up and gloppy - like toothpaste.  I do not know what is making it do this - but I really do not like it.  The texture of the paint will not apply smooth and there is certainly no blending ability.  What the heck?

Anyone else experiencing this problem?  And it is not limited to any brand in particular,  Hmm, I think it is time to get serious with oils.

My daughter Katie was supposed to fly home on Friday -you know the day after the storm.  YOu can imagine what happened.  Flights delayed everywhere and some cancelled creating a backlog of weary travellers.  From mechanical failures and get this, the plane would not start this morning from the cold! Delays.  Cancellations.  On the up side, we got to spend more time with her. Maybe tomorrow she will be able to fly out.

Pet portraits

I have also been working on a few commissions.  I am able to share this one with you now.  Meet "Murphy" a portrait of a very expressive labradoodle.  So much fun to paint this guy.  HIs owners were surprised by this thoughtful gift and very happy with it!  Gotta love that! And I will be delivering another one tonight. Gotta love that as well.

Murphy pet portrait by Helen Shideler

My poor easel

Still broken.  My husband managed to get it back together enough that I can use it.  The crank awkwardly still cranks.  (he missed putting one of the ball bearings back in but we will not tell) But it is stable enough that I can use it.  Unable to easily raise and lower it.  But it is usable while I wait for my shiny new, incredible easel motors towards me.  EEEEEEEEEE so excited.

Cheers for now

 

 

 

WIP Amethyst Blues

Earlier in the year, I set out to paint my blue hydrangea in both watercolour and also in acrylics.  Amethyst Blues is the acrylic version.  And it is seemingly taking forever.

WIP Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

Honestly, I do not know what I was thinking

Painting the same image twice?? What on earth was I thinking??? This is a rather large painting 30"x30" and I have finally spanned the paint to both side edges.  This feels like quite the accomplishment.  Now, not all the petals in that span are complete but they do have colour on them.  It's interesting, but I find working with acrylic paint more challenging than watercolour.  I can't explain it.  But I find acrylic can be stressful.

The good news? It is really starting to take shape. And another observation?  No matter what medium I work in it is recognizable as my style.  I think it is all about the detail work and colour intensity.

Self doubt for a good reason

I always have more than one painting on the go. Because I love the effect of the pouring process, I have been trying to work out in my head how to replicate or emulate the poured painting process that I use in watercolour in acrylics.  I thought about this at great length. I even dreamt about it.  And then i decided to go in.  After the first pour.  I thought this is pretty ridiculous. Why not just paint it?  

I set it aside and thought what can I lose with one more pour.  Somewhat determined I went through another painstaking masking application. When I started to pour the next layer, well it started to lift and run.  You see the first layer of paint was applied pretty thin.  With acrylics if the paint is not applied thick enough on the base layer it will lift.  Crap. So I let it dry.  Then I decided to apply the paint with a big brush.  Better.  But I came back to my original thought...just paint it.  Forget about the masking compound.

WIP Helen Shideler

And yet again I wondered what I am doing

I removed the masking compound - some of the paint came off with it.  I like that you can see it is the gates at the entrance to the Loyalist Burial Ground in the winter.  I think I "see" this subject as a rich, juicy oil painting.  Not a washed out acrylic.

Lesson Learned

I think the universe was trying to tell me something.  The very first article I read today was "5 unusual habits to keep you growing artistically" by Christopher Gallego. Really good read suggesting things like "Paint some crap" and "do the impossible" such as paint huge and get out of your comfort zone.  Pretty much checked off a few of the boxes with this experiment.  Happy I tried.  I will be gessoing over this one soon and will have a pristine new blank canvas!

 

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Amethyst Shades of Blue completed

Being curious means more work

After what seems like an eternity, I have finally completed one of the blue hydrangea paintings! You may remember awhile back I decided to challenge myself to paint the same subject in two mediums. Why, you ask? Because I had an interesting moment of indecisiveness. And I was curious. Normally I know exactly what I want to do, accomplish with a painting.  With the blue hydrangea I was pretty sure it would work best in watercolour.  No wait in acrylic... no wait - what about oils?

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

It takes two

While working on two different versions of the same subject in two different mediums was an interesting exercise, I found I was growing eager to actually complete one of them.  At first I thought the watercolour painting was the medium to accomplish what I envisioned.  I absolutely love the medium.  It's versatility.  It's depth and the ability to blend in softness.  Love it. And am pretty happy with the result.

More to follow in a few weeks on the acrylic version and why I love painting it as well.

WIP Blue hydrangea in watercolour by Helen Shideler

A bit of trouble in the studio

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This crow can wait

Ok, so I squeezed out all of my paint for this session.  Got out my water mixable medium and proceeded to paint. So freaking weird. The paint was not mixing right. Was not sticking to the surface and "pulled " away, almost receding. I tried and I tried to make it work.  There is a lesson learned folks. Always. Always keep your acrylics separated from your oils.  Just one colour can ruin your day. In this case white.

Doh!!!!!

WIP Amethyst Blues Update 3

Amethyst Blues

I realized that showing a little corner of this painting at a time would not show the full picture of the work in progress (WIP).  This is a rather large painting 30"x30" and the progress feels slow to me. Showing the whole canvas will give you a better idea of the scale and detail. So many shades of blue.

I normally loosely draw my subject and refine it as I go. Interestingly enough, I really think if I spent more time on the initial drawing it may be a bit quicker.  But I am always too impatient and want to dive in.  I try to adjust my approach.  But, you know, after all these years, i guess it is my approach.

WIP Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

The humour of Mother Nature

I am sitting on my deck writing this blog post.  One leg in the beautiful sun and one leg in the rain. Literally!  Mother Nature is not quite sure what to serve up today. I must go look for the rainbow.  I am certain there must be one. This is quite freaky, really! 

I have been away much of the summer, as a result, I have not had a lot of time in the studio.  Lets be honest, if the sun is out...I am out.  So being away is really an excuse.  I was so happy to get back at it albeit a little discombobulated.  Smooth was not on my agenda for the day. 

This is how I roll

Lets face it - i am a born klutz. Everything I touched I either dropped or misplaced.  My particular favourite mis-adventure was my brush cleaner.  It is some kind of thick oily soap. So as I was getting ready to clean my favourite Rosemary brush, my elbow hit the open bottle of the soapy stuff. Well it went flying. Upside down.  Which means I had an oily, soapy trail across the floor, over the garbage can and on the counter.  Not a bad word did I say.

What I will say is that it took me 20 minutes to clean it all up.  I hope to heavens I got it all and no one slips on it (most likely me).

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Monthly crow paintings

Awhile back I decided to start an 8"x10" oil painting each week. Just because.  I am actually thinking of taking oils with me to Santa Fe next April and I want to be practiced up .  I decided that one of the painting should be a crow, another should be "Beachy People" and the other two up to whatever I feel like in the moment.  With this plan, the pressure of coming up with ideas diminished somewhat.

I really like this strutting fella.  He wa strutting through our lawn towards a piece of bread I tossed to him.  He was both focused and watchful. Not completely sure it is finished .....

WIP Amethyst Blues and the Summer Sunshine Factor

The interesting thing about summer is when the sun is out, I am out.  It is not possible for me to stay indoors and so work in the studio s-l-o-w-s down and is often neglected.  Such is the case with Amethyst Blues.  This painting has been on the easel for far too long.  This morning it talked to me and I dove in.

WIP AMethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

The summer sunshine factor

I find that when I am working in acrylic, I really need an extended period of time to paint. Waste not want not (paint I mean). Summer is often fickle and this year, we have been starved for heat and sunshine. So when Mr. Golden Sun is shining I am so stir crazy that I have to go out.  The summer factor really digs into my studio time. Ah, the choices we have to make.

Watercolours allow you to grab an hour or two whenever you feel like it.  Acrylic not so much.  Time has to be scheduled and planned.

Feeling joy while on vacation

One of of my favourite memories as a little girl was waking up from a nap with the warmth of  sun shining on me and the sensation of the cooling breeze flowing in. The curtain would be dancing in the breeze and I literally thought it was heaven. The scent of the salt air  The memory of this is still heaven to me.

I got to relive this memory once again while on vacation in PEI

We were still living in Cape Breton. Our little house was close to the shore.  I was laying on my bed. Just awaking from my nap. It was sunny and warm outside. My window was wide open and the breeze was blowing my light curtain across my bed. I felt so safe and so content as I lie there basking in the sensation and scent.  Confession, I tried to take as many naps as possible this trip.

The summer sunshine factor 

And a wonderful family reunion! Note: the person jumping is a stranger -I just love the freedom of the moment.