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...

Bluetiful Bloom by Shideler.jpeg

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!

TenderBluesbyShideler.jpeg

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.

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!!!!!

Update 5 Amethyst Shades of Blue and a few others

So happy when I reach this stage of a painting.  The main blossoms of Amethyst Shades of Blue are pretty much completed, at least for now.  I always reserve colour balancing for the last stages of the work.  And so now I am starting to work on the leaves and background.

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Magic of colour

This will be the last update of this painting until the whole piece is complete. I am thinking that I have to preserve some intrigue. What do you think?

I will say that his painting looks pretty striking from across the room.  It is large, (full sheet), pretty had to see the scale in a blog post.

I think that I have fallen in love with blue all over again.  There are so many shades. So many moods - from baby softness to stormy seas and moody skies.  The tender blue effect that I have been able to represent in this painting makes my soul happy.  Cannot explain it , it just does.  I believe that the magic of colour is to evoke mood and stimulate memories.

On another note

I am also working on a number of small oils.  Trying to do one a week.  I think of this as training for the Plein Air Conference and Expo in Santa Fe next April. The three I have completed are below. (They are available in the store section of this web site).

Oil paintings by Helen Shideler

And two more in progress Walk in the Park and Plein Air Painters are sketched out on panel with diluted paynes grey.

WIP Helen Shideler

Wish me luck with my adventure with oils.

Spring Scentsation Update 2

Spring Scentsation is coming along.  

I have finally ventured into new colour territory.  Bring on the Greens

Spring Scentsation WIP by Helen Shideler

I love how some paintings are a constant joy as your work develops.  

I have loved every floret on this work.  Interesting enough I am also loving the freedom of painting the background.  Well, after I paint the edges around the florets!

But with this much detail and painting with small brushes for most of this I have not grown tired. Each new phase is engaging for me.  Usually when a painting is about 2/3 through I retire it until I get the next painting to this phase. Then I retire the new one for a bit.  Then go back to the first. Been a constant pattern for me. 

Funny, when I started this I was so sure I would use large brushes and paint loosely. Started it.  Went back in to refine the details. And was completely hooked on my small brushes once again.  Painting detail is who I am.  Exploring is one thing as long as you are true to who your are I guess.  

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!

 

WIP - Black Velvet - Update 1

Black Velvet This Black Velvet Bearded Iris is one of the first to open in my garden each spring.  Each year, when I happen upon it – it literally takes my breath away.  Always a show stopper.  Initially you see a dark velvety bloom.  Upon closer inspection, you see the red and purple tones.  I could not wait to get painting this beauty.  I knew it would have to be large and I decided upon a square shape even though logically you would suggest a rectangular shape.  The question of the day - should I paint the background white or a vibrant yellow green?

This painting is a rather large acrylic painting 30 x 30”.