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

WIP - Birds of a Feather Update #3

Otherwise known as the Fine Art of Procrastination!

Work in Progress - Helen Shideler

Turns out I am pretty good at it!  You know the feeling -  when something is really big and complex or labour intensive and you would rather have a root canal than tackle it?  Yepper.  I got it.  Since I first started this painting I have completed 4 others and started three more!

This past week I got looking at this piece once again and realized it was further along than I thought.  Originally, I was hoping to keep the base light in tone with the drip marks quite evident.   After a time of scrutinizing the work I have already done, I knew I have to rethink my approach.  The top of the painting is heavy in tone with the colours of the large evergreen.

I photocopied my reference photos in black and white and increased the contrast.  The original reference photos are pretty much monochromatic.  I really need to see the contrast in order to move forward.  This was helpful.  I do not know why I hadn’t thought of it before now!  May be the eight paintings I have in play right now have kept me busy enough not to focus here.  Procrastinate much?

Deep breath.  I went in and started to darken the branches of the weeping mulberry shrub.  When I step back now, I am pleased with the progress and realize I have to take the whole shrub even deeper.  Stay tuned for more progress….

You procrastinators out there have to read this. It explains why we are what we are!

WIP - Birds of a Feather Update #2

WIP Birds of a Feather - Helen ShidelerSo, I have reached that stage

You know the one.  The one where your current painting looks like crap as it is only half way through and you cannot wait to either finish it or burn it!  So I am taking a breather , mainly to stare it down, to scrutinize the work and hopefully figure out where I need to focus next.

This is a different variation on a poured painting.  First I soaked the Aquabord.  Then instead of just pouring the paint on, I was very deliberate in the placement of the colour.  Then I used my trusty spray bottle to create vertical interest by pulling the colours down the surface.

I used so much water that I soaked two bath towels.  Once I was satisfied with the amount of colour and the effect.  I let it dry overnight.  The next step is more painting directly wet into dry.  This stage is going to take quite awhile.  The weeping mulberry will take a fair amount of time - I think I will paint the mourning doves (otherwise known as turtle doves) last.

Birds of a Feather - WIP Update #1

A few years ago I was captivated by a group of Mourning Doves sitting on a weeping mulberry shrub outside the window of my mother-in-law’s bedroom window.  They were huddled there on that very cold day as the shrub happened to be located near the dryer vent.  The warm air kept them huddled there for hours.  They were keenly aware I was there photographing them.  You can see they kept at least one eye on me – and this went on for an extended period of time.   Often there would be a disturbance when new doves  wanted to roost in this prime warm location.  They can be feisty when defending roost. Helen Shideler - Birds of a Feather - WIP

As I mentioned, I took the photos a few years ago.  And I have just started the painting this week.  That is because it is a complex subject.  Now I have never been one to shy away from a challenge or complexity, but this series of photos is special.  It is a tangled mess of twigs and I had almost no clue at all on where to start.  Last year, I revisited these reference photos a number of times.  Admired them.   Then I tucked them away safely waiting for the time I would actually muster up the courage and just go for it!

Then it happened.  Last week I pulled out this series of photos again.  And I had it.  I knew the exact way to approach this.  At least to start it.  I loosely drew it out. And then I set it aside with a feeling of  “are out of your mind?”  The very next day as I sat there looking at my drawing and idea arrived in my head.  I am thinking there was divine intervention here.  And the message was not - quick burn it and no one will ever know!  It was a decisive  thought, you have masque and know how to use it!  I hastily got out the masque, a little pot of Dawn dish soap (every artist’s friend) and went in. And applied more than I initially thought it would.

Helen Shideler- Birds of a Feather WIP

Let dry for 24 hours before starting  the next stage.  Here is where I am at now.  Second stage complete.

I should mention this painting in on Ampersand Aquabord 22” x 30” – hence the let dry for 24 hours..   After I started the second stage I began to wonder how it would look in the very slick Claybord surface.  Dang, that may have to be another painting!