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



Spring Scentsation

Spring Scentsation is a relatively large oil painting of a soft and fragrant while lilac that grows on our property line in the back yard.  There is quite a story getting the painting to this point.

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Inspiration is everywhere

A few years back when visiting my daughter, we went for many walks around her area in Vancouver.   It seemed to me that almost every property we walked by had a tree line border framing in their yard.  They were really well designed.  Tall trees with shrubs at their base.  There really was no need for weeding as the growth from the shrubs kept them in check.  Everything grows uber big in Vancouver and very fast!

I was inspired.  When I got home I let mentioned by big idea to my husband,  whose pride and joy is the lawn – that I was proposing for us to dig up a lot of the lawn and create a lovely tree line.  Took some convincing.  But we did it.  

The only problem is the deer

One thing that I really wanted to grow is a white lilac.  We planted it in the tree line, quite close to our neighbour’s gigantic apply tree (that we secretly prune back every chance we get - so our plants will get enough light).  It was so lovely.  That spring the blossoms opened up and my heart sang…for one night.  Bambi and her entourage came through in the darkness and ate every single blossom.  

Once again, we declared war! Our lovely white lilac now resides in a chicken wire cage that is tall enough to foil the appetites of those garden marauders! It will remain a caged specimen until it grows large enough that the deer’s munching will not cause it any real harm. Likely three more years.

Point of all this is to say -  I love white lilacs. Most of this effort over the past few years, was to be able to paint it!

And paint it I have.  This piece took an inordinate amount of time.  I usually paint the background last.  But this time I went in way sooner than I think I should have.  It was ok. Only ok.  I knew that and had to brave up to go back in and modify it.  And so I did.  And it was decidedly better.  Only better.  Not quite pulling up a bit of drama like I was hoping for.  I continued working on the florets while I contemplated shredding or burning it.

Lessons learned

Third times a charm.  Yes, I went back in a third time and repainted the entire background again! Obviously, the previous layers influence the top layer, with the green remaining in the same hue, but this time I am happy with the results.  Note to self – wait to paint the background until you are sure you know the results you want to achieve. 

To give you an idea of the size (48 x 30”)

Helen Shideler with Spring Scentsation


Soggy doggies

So much fun painting this series of soggy doggies. This is a series that I have had planned for a number of years. Have taken so many reference photos in preparation and have now finally decided to start them. Happy dogs make me happy!

Trophy Stick by Helen Shideler

Never paint only one

You learn so much when you start to paint in a series. I wanted to strike a balance between a looser and less detailed background, while painting the subject with a higher degree of realism - all this while attempting to capture movement. No small task. Oh yes - in a small format and in oils. So far the paintings are 8” x 10”. I think the next round will start to get a bit larger 9 x 12” or 11x14”.

Oh Helen, must you do try to challenge yourself all the time? Apparently! And apparently I like it.

Get the Stick by Helen Shideler

Christmas commissions

I decided to paint a few relatively small paintings in between the secret commissions so I would have some fun things to share. The commissions will be shared after the holidays of course. Now that I have completed these requests I am able to get back to the large white lilac. Hoping to have it completed prior to the holidays!

Fetching Fun by Helen Shideler

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 …..

Seasonal corvids

I decided to paint a crow this weekend for a few reasons. Firstly, I am working on a secret commission or three that I cannot share. And it is so close to Halloween I really needed to paint a corvid!

Stepping Out by Helen Shideler

Here is the thing

We have many crows in our yard. They watch us when we BBQ. They sit on the power lines and look at us. They watch us when we are on our deck in case we may be eating. They watch us when we are eating. One crow in particular, this is pretty cool… keeps one eye on us. When we look up it does this spy thing and tries to look nonchalant, inconspicuous - incognito. Should we dare drop a tidbit the routine gets really amusing. It will look away. Watches. Then when we look away, it will fly down so casually, steal the bite away. It’s a game we play.

Crow Crow Crow

Sometimes we feed them. Because it is hard not to. I stand in the back driveway and call crow, crow, crow. Then they nonchalantly appear and wait until we turn our backs to come in for the tidbits. Again, it’s a game we play.

Habit forming

I paint corvids. Every chance I get. Below is a collage of a few of them. There are many more and a few not shown are award winners.

Crow Collage by Helen Shideler

Until next time, Happy Halloween

Summertime Promises

Summertime Promises

I completed this painting on the day of the Royal Wedding and also my husband's birthday.  All this just happens to coincide with the Victoria Day long weekend.  All this is truly symbolic.  The May long weekend heralds in the promise of summer and is filled with hope.  Lazy long weekends, adventurous tours, putting in the garden... you know the feeling

Summertime Promises by Helen Shideler

Warm enough to chill

I don't know about you, but my soul has been longing to be warm so we can just chill.  Our season on the East Coast is relatively short.  We wait so long for its arrival. So many happy plans and ideas - all to make memories that last season over season.  Gardening is a big part of our summer.

We typically garden up as high as we can trying to outwit the local deer population.  As a result of this our house is adorned with an impressive number of hanging baskets.  Other than the two that welcome you on either side of our front door, these baskets are each unique.  Planted with whatever catches our eye in the garden centres.  Some years it may be purples, sometimes yellow and sometimes a happy blending of many colours.  

This hanging basket that I painted "Summertime Promises"  filled my heart with joy watching it grow.  I mean, you can't get much more perfect than with yellow, vermillion and shades of maroon all on one blossom.  I knew when I purchased it that it would be painted.  I mean how could it not be? I took many reference photos, and as often, I tended to prefer the ones taken in full sun. 

What do you think?

A few weeks ago when I decided it was time to start a few more poured paintings, this image came to mind.  I sketched it out with a bit more detail than usual around where the leaves and stems were.  When you pour a painting, often the placement of the colours my be less important that the structure of the subject.  As I started working on this, I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe it should be painted as a large, juicy oil painting.  What do you think?

Work in progress 

Step by step process below.  Many pours later and a pound of masking (just kidding), the underpainting is revealed.  From this point I added in some brushwork to complete the painting.

Lessons Learned

Sometimes I may be a bit impatient.  Sometimes I may not wait long enough for the paper to dry before I apply the next round of masking compound.  Why am I calling this out you ask?  Well the masking will seep into the dampness of the paper.  You cannot see it go, but the area around the bit with fresh masking will also resist paint - creating halos around the ares.  Not at all a desirable look in a crisp painting.  You can pour until your hearts content.  It will not allow the paint to get any deeper in value.  

So, this became a mixed media painting.  I had to crack out the acrylics to get the deep background colour.  Sometimes this is a lesson I feel the need to relearn.  Patience Helen, patience.

Until next time

Cheers

 

 

 

 

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?  

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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

Special Supper

I choose to paint Special Supper because I felt I needed a challenge! Jeepers!  Designing a poured watercolour around lobsters sitting on a lobster platter may not have been my smartest move.

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Wing and a prayer

The thing is, I could see the finished painting in my mind.  Which when you start a painting you should be able to do.  Breaking the colours out into layers in this case was very complex especially since the painting is basically monochromatic. And red. Once the values started to get deeper, I actually lost my roadmap.  I was unable to distinguish between critter and platter. You see, both the real lobsters and the lobsters on the platter have many legs!  

And I had to start winging it, crossing my fingers and offering up a prayer. This was tough.  The slideshow below will show you what I mean.  Once that final pour was ready applied I basically had to hold my breath.  Did I mention red is tough?

Unsure of what to do

Once I removed the masking compound, I hid it away for awhile until I could figure out if it was going to work or not.  Apparently I hide things from my view if I don't want to deal with it. 

Just the other day, I pulled it back out and the path forward was so clear.  It was like a real aha moment. Oh, I am not showing the painting with the mask removed on purpose.