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






Entry into the CSPWC Open Water National Show 2015

Pretty excited and happy to have been selected to participate it the CSPWC 90th Annual National Open Water Show this year in Halifax at the Nova Scotia Archives. 

I recently embarked on a project to paint ravens.  When at Yellowstone National Park last fall there were a number of particularly friendly ravens in the parking lot at Artist’s Point.   They were walking around the travel trailers looking for hand-outs and cawing their hearts out.  One raven in particular was following me around and without being intrusive, I was able to get many really nice reference photos.  I was literally on my knees looking him in the eye and chatting with him.

Call of the Raven

“Call of the Raven” was selected for the 2015 Show!  This painting was pretty meticulously rendered and painted – with each individual feather painted with controlled wet-in-wet layers.  I find the colouration of the raven fascinating – how it looks to be almost molded out of pewter and still have rich blue and purple iridescent notes.

These reference photos were the foundation for a number of paintings including “Call of the Raven”,  The “Sentry”, “A Look Back” and a number of smaller paintings.  My intention when I stated this project was with Open Water in mind.

Invitation to the show opening is below

Center of Attention

"Center of Attention"  Watercolour on Ampersand Aquabord (14 x 11")

I am now on a mission to complete paintings that I started prior to embarking on the January challenge.  I have two more sunflower paintings in progress in oil - and it is looking like they are already spoken for.  Motivation!!!

Spring is in the air and I am loving the sunny, happy colours.  Well, spring is not really in the air.  This week we had another pounding blizzard.  We have so much snow.  I honestly cannot remember when I have seen so much of the white stuff.  I always used to think fresh snow was so beautiful.  And that storms are inspirational.  Notice the tense?  Used to.  This last storm  had me feeling restless and somewhat frustrated.  But I painted.

Centre of AttentionBack to the colours here.  Previously I painted "Flirting with Sunshine" as a companion painting. Both are custom framed the same in a dark, rich frame.

Flirting With Sunshine by Helen Shideler


The Sentry Raven Painting is Finished

Water-color painting of a raven

The Sentry water-colour painting of a lone raven is finally finished.

Or at least I think it is.  I will likely stare at it for a few days scrutinizing it and then deciding.  But hey, It must be close, I actually signed it.

This painting presented a number of challenges for me.  Mainly naming it.  You can read all about my journey with this here. And after all that research I decided upon The Sentry.  And I still waffled between that and The Sentinel.  They mean almost the same thing to guard, although Sentry is usually associated with guarding a passage or a gate.

The other major challenge for me is determining if it is really finished or not.  When I was in high school art class Mr. Swedersky always coached me to stop working - just stop before you ruin it!

With this style of minimalistic background in order to feature the bird, it is difficult to decide when is enough enough?

The Sentry is a transparent water-colour painted on Arches 300lb paper and is a 1/2 sheet  is available on my web site at .  Link to The Sentry