Mourning Glow

Hey everyone. It has been so long since I have been able to complete a painting. Happy I finally completed Mourning Glow. Not so happy my studio is still torn apart for so long.

Mourning Glow by Helen Shideler

Mourning Doves

My husband and I look at mourning doves with two lenses. They are peaceful birds, quite elegant in their own right and with a beautiful mournful song. I love how they seem to glow when the sun starts to rise and shines on their fronts. Pretty sure they face into the sun to welcome the morning light! Wouldn’t you?

The other lens is less flattering. They are bird seed hogs and well, they mess where ever they want - which is usually on our deck furniture. Yuck! Placing them squarely in the pigeon category!

But I love that they roost in our trees so close to our house. I recently completed another painting of a trio of Mourning Doves roosting in our apple tree - Moody Mourning - Blog post click here

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

The colours of their feathers

Mourning doves have a most interesting pallette. A hint of blue, taupe, gold and mushroom tones. Quite lovely to work with. You can see the colour variations played out in these two paintings captured in very different lighting conditions. They can be elegantly monochromatic and then dramatic when the sun shines directly on them.

Mourning Glow is available here

My poor studio

Still looks like this! Torn apart with no real end in site. The kitchen counter works but the lighting is not really great for painting. Soon, I hope soon.

Hopefully I will not be as long with my next painting

Moody Mourning

Moody Mourning oil painting fresh off the easel. This painting was an interesting journey as I decided to take a different approach with my painting process. I created a detailed underpainting with Paynes Grey in acrylics and then painted with oils over it.

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

It was an interesting process for me. Often I will do a loose underpainting with thin oils and then paint the detail. This is the first time I worked in almost full detail. And I have to admit when I first started to apply the oils, I was pretty uncertain.

Lessons Learned

Uncertain because of the atmosphere I was trying to capture and the quality of the colours. No thin transparent washes would work with the subdued colours. Need white. This made the paint quite opaque and almost completely covered my original efforts. At first I started to thin it down so I could still see and work with my underpainting, Then I went in as usual - painting each feather individually. The underpainting exercise was still very valuable as I really knew my subject and helped to guide my painting.

My approach with the branches was a bit different as I was able to keep the paint a bit more transparent as to let underpainting work.

Moody Mourning by Helen Shideler

Bit of a rough week

We had a crazy winter storm come a couple off weeks ago. The storm followed a previous storm that dumped a lot of hail and then freezing rain. Then it flash froze. A few days later a second storm came through bringing crazy heavy rain. Resulting from all this was some unfortunate damage to my studio. We had to move everything out of there and rip up the flooring etc. I am afraid it may be awhile before we can get it taken care of and put it back together. Really unsure what this will do to may painting - Everything is in boxes and I am unsure what is where - eeks.

Fingers crossed

Until next time, cheers



Loving this season

Ceilidh

There are so many magical, wonderful things to love about the Christmas season. All the new memories created and moments so precious. I am ever so grateful that what I do often contributes to creating wonderful memories for others in the form of creating cherished memories with Christmas commissions! I have been blessed with the opportunity to paint a few this year.

Ceilidh by Helen Shideler

We all love our fur babies so much. The opportunity to capture in paint such a special love for a family is so rewarding for me. This series was a gift for the whole family. The painting above is 12” x 12” and the two below are 6” x 6”.

Mulder and Lyndsay

Mulder & Lyndsay

I always love to be a part of a secret plan, especially when they have been planned and dreamt of for awhile. I love the thought process that people go through before they commission someone to do a painting.

When they share their story with me - I want to be able to “Wow” them with the finished painting. And of course, I also love to hear the story of their reaction to a most thoughtful gift - this my friends is why I paint commissions.

Reaction “we made her cry” in a nice way of course!

Wishing you all the very best of this holiday season. May 2019 be the best year ever for us all!

Until next time

Helen

Fetching Fun and a bit of trouble

So I got myself into a bit of trouble with this one. Knowing that oil and water don’t mix - right? And the hazards of painting when slightly exhausted.

Fetching Fun by Helen Shideler

Change of pace

I thought I would get started painting this little 8 x 10” oil.  It presented a rather nice diversion from the large white lilac waiting over my shoulder.

I organized may paint.  Squeezed out the right amount of luscious oil paint.  Then proceeded to paint.  With this type of painting I generally start with the background first.  That way the fur that is blowing in the wind is on top of the background paint rather than blocked in around it. This helps to make the painting look alive and suggest movement. 

One of the benefits of painting tired is that I was not too caught up in the details of the fur and water but rather the movement of the water. This allowed for looser, flowy handling of the paint.  

The trouble starts

Soon it was time to add in some more colour.  Bailey’s collar. Bailey’s tongue. And the white-ish patch on his chest.  I squeezed out some more paint but found that the paint was drying far too quickly.  I muttered about the mini-split heater above my head speeding up the drying time. The paint was even getting funky on my palette. 

Oh Helen, Helen, Helen

I continued to paint on, muttering about it as I went.  When all of a sudden it occurred to me that the second series of paint I squeezed came from a different location! Drat!  For the second round I grabbed my acrylics not my oils.  And I even keep my oils and acrylics on different areas of the studio so this would not happen!  Face palm!  Was this a disaster?  Did I already say drat? 

Had to rationalize this. A few thoughts:

    • You can paint oil paint over acrylics 

    • My oil paints are water mixable 

    • Acrylic paints are also water mixable

    • I mixed my acrylic paint into my oil paint

    • Disaster averted?

Lessons Learned?

Separating my supplies seems so logical to me. My foolproof plan translated to proof of a …..

Can we slow down summer please

Well, it is hard for me to believe that yet another Studio Tour has come and gone. Time is moving a little too quickly this year.  How can we slow down summer?

I love the meets and greets that come with participating in the tour.  So many nice people coming through and all interested in art.  How amazing is that?  A number of people are "followers" of my work.  This is so encouraging and humbling at the same time.  Life is good.

With all the preparation for the tour I fell behind a bit with my painting - but I did manage to complete the three small oils (8x10") I was working on. Time to start another before I lose the momentum.

Walk in the Park by Helen Shideler

"Walk in the Park" is a fun 8"x8" oil of a strutting crow.  This little guy proved to be very popular.  I guess what I saw in him others saw as well.  He could have been homed five times this weekend! I find it amazing how many people love crows and ravens.  I know I certainly do but thought is was an artsy thing.

King of the Castle by Helen Shideler

"King of the Castle" this gull really felt he owned the place.  He was perched up so proudly on this concrete post with a view of the nearby restaurant and the sea.  He was talking it all in.  Ever watchful for that morsel that would be presented should someone dare to drop a bite.  I was leaning on the fence taking photos of some cormorants when I noticed him.  He did not seem to care how close I was and truly, it took awhile before I even realized that he was there - my husband had to point him out.

Plein Air Pretties by Helen Shideler

The first day at the PACE Plein Air Conference April in San Diego, people has not had a chance yet to mix and mingle.  There were all kinds of plein air painters milling about in the hotel lobby. These two caught my attention.  I thought they looked so interesting looking at their walking map of the area. I knew I would be painting them.  Plein Air painters are always interesting to people watch!

The Pond in Mid Summer Update 5

Fear factor

The Pond in Mid- Summer may be compet! I feel like I have been working on this for such a long time.. and I have.  What is interesting is the fear factor kicked in.  I was almost afraid to complete it as I really had no idea what to paint next!

The Pond in Mid-Summer by Helen Shideler

Master procrastinator

I really think I have been dragging my heels with this.  Last week I completed "Rhodo Rhapsody", a transparent watercolour that I have been, for lack of a better word..savouring for the last, ummmm year!

So with completing a watercolor last week and completing this one this week, I think I have some blank canvas shock going on.  Until yesterday I honestly had absolutely no idea what to start next.  I almost never have this problem.  I am so full of ideas that I literally cannot sleep!

I perused almost all of my reference photos and you know, I kept coming back to blue hydrangeas.  Stay tuned. One in watercolour - full shee.  One in acrylic 36 x36.  And what can I do with oil.  I have a new project!

Can you spy the dragon fly?

Pond in mid-summer by Helen Shideler
Pond in mid-summer by Helen Shideler

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.

 

Sunshine Yellow Azaleas WIP

Sunshine Yellow by Helen Shideler I just finished this poured water-color commission of sunshiny yellow azaleas. I think what I like best about poured paintings is how fast they seem to build. The process keeps you engaged daily - I typically work on them each day for about two weeks. Each stage has to dry completely before you move onto the next. But the progress really builds nicely. There were seven pours with this painting.

WIP Sunshine Yellow by Helen ShidelerOnce completely dry I removed the frisket. I call this the peel reveal. Some artists take their work to this stage and call it done. I personally cannot do this, although I have been tempted a few times with the mussel paintings. Being detail oriented I have to go back in and enhance the work with additional brushwork to increase the overall colours and values and bring up the detail. I like my subject to almost “lift” off the paper. In order to achieve this level of dimension I have to go back in and enhance the pours.

This painting was worked from two very different reference photos that I took last year. One for composition and the other for colours. I found this to be especially tricky with the masking. I had to really pay attention on this one. Much care had to be taken to apply the mask to white areas that are not there in the composition photo.

Some of the stages are illustrated below in the photos. I did not include every mask application or pour as some of the sessions appeared quite subtle in the progress photographs. But this will give you the idea of how the process builds.

I will take this painting in to be scanned and then framed this week. I hope my client loves it!

Do you have any question on this painting process?

 

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.

Week 1 30 Day Painting Challenge

30 Paintings in 30 Days.  This is a very ambitious challenge and I am loving every moment of it. One of my New Year's intentions was to be more productive in the studio and to take advantage of the weather whenever possible to paint en plain air. So far I have made it to day 4 ( I will be posting my progress on Sundays so week 1 is not a complete week)

I had a reality check on Day 1after thinking I was going to front end load this. You really have to complete the painting as well - not just start them.

Day 1

Immortality White Iris

"Immortality" White Iris

Water-colour 11" x 9" on Arches 300lb paper

$125 Available Click here for more information

Day 2

Another White Iris

"Another White Iris"

Water-colour 11" x 9" on Arches 300lb paper

$125 Available Click here for more information

I am taking every opportunity with this challenge to experiment.  Here I applied a loose yellowish background wash and then applied Incredible White Mask through a stencil.  Applied another wash and the applied more mask with the stencil and did this four times.  I was pretty happy with the effect.  However, the mask was effective on the first stencil placement.  No matter how well I cleaned it off between applications, the mask would bleed under the stencil.  I have a stencil adhesive spray but did not want to use it on a painting.

Day 3

Unfortunate Beauty

"Unfortunate Beauty"

Acrylic on canvas 6" x 6"

$65. Available - Click here for more information

This rather handsome beetle is an Elder Borer.  My husband called me over to look at the interesting bug he found.  At first we saw only one.  Then we discovered a mess of them on our elderberry trees.

Then I grabbed our bug field guide.  It is both handsome and unwelcome!  We noticed we were experiencing some weird die back on our elderberry trees.  Well this is the culprit.  The adults lay their eggs near the surface and the larvae eat the roots - they leave perfectly round, pencil size hole at the base of the plants.  Boo!

Day 4

IMG_7831_new

"Elder Borer"

Acrylic on canvas 6" x 6"

$65. Available - Click here for more information

One of these beasties dropped down on to a storage bin we have outside.  I was captivated by its shadows and ran for my camera.  My daughter Jennifer was so completely grossed out - she said, and I quote "Mom, you are never going to paint those horrible bugs!".  She meant it.  But she did not count on the 30 day challenge and me needing a variety of subject matter.