Early wrap to this years challenge

Although this challenge is still on-going, I am quite done for this year. I managed to complete 17 paintings since it began, but you see a surprise early arrival had me packing up my bags and flying off to Calgary!  My beautiful new grandson Henry was born a few weeks early!  And so I said to heck with the challenge and hopped on the first available flight. 

And I do have a few more on the easel waiting for my return.

2018 painting challenge by Shideler.jpg

This is the fifth time that I have participated in a 30 Day Challenge.  You can see my previous efforts here. With each challenge I like  to have a goal, something to learn - that I work towards. I feel pretty good about what I accomplished with my approach this year. I had decided to only work in oil.  It is a medium that I have been exploring for awhile now and think I have come to an understanding how to work with it. At least how I think that I want to work with it.

Grisaille how cool a word is that?

What I know to be true, at least for me, is that I do like to plan my work and have a grisaille underpainting prior to adding colour.  Not all subjects require this step.  But for me with the way my mind works, it makes the colour application make more sense.  You see I like to work with thin, transparent glazes.  Slowly building up the colours before I add in strategically placed thicker juicy paint.  Oh, did I just expose the watercolourist in me?  This is funny now that I have said it!  Old habits die hard.

And then there is Alla Prima

Painting alla prima (in one session) made sense for a few of the paintings - working really well with the mussel shells.  In fairness, I have painted so many mussel shells over the years that I could probably paint them in my sleep - they are a subject that I know so well. 

Honestly, I would have approached he painting with the sweet little sparrow differently knowing what I think I know now.  I think I would have felt better painting this one if I had taken the time to do an underpainting.  Because the bird was included as part of the landscape and not painted as a central subject, the background and leaves felt like busy work.  I was not as satisfied with the end result as I would like to have been.  It works, but I had a different vision of it in mind.

Helpful hint 

You have to get over your, um my... need to go back in and add in more detail.  In one sitting means just that. It is so hard to resist. But, in my mind - there really is no rules.  Rules are self imposed and made to be modified and ignored when convenient. 

Lessons learned

The other, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that applying many layers of paint over each other, without a few days dry time will create muddy colours.  I learned a new use for my pallet knife. Scraping.  Yep.  I had to remove areas on a few of the painting in order to re-apply the right colour intensity.

Until next time, cheers

 

 

 

 

Week 2 of the 30 Day Challenge

Still keeping up with the challenge having completed 11 paintings in 11 days.  I am having so much fun with all of these.  Mussel shells and corvids are some of my long time favourite things to paint.  I think I may have a few more ravens in my system.  Thinking I am going to venture into watercolours this coming week. 

Week 2 2018 Shideler.jpeg

Day 6 - Fundy Blues I

It almost always comes back to mussel shells for me. I have  previously painted them as poured watercolours in a full sheet format.  Three different versions.  And honestly, there were three of my all time favourite poured painting. And I have painted them as large acrylics. So now in oil.  I am thinking there will be a rather large oil in my future as well.

Day 7 - Fundy Blues II

Mussels officially became a series. I love all the variations of the colours and frankly, they literally are a taste of home. The shape is organic so they are forgiving.  Gotta love that!

Day 8 - Fundy Blues III

Funny how we can change our minds.  I now think three may be enough in this series.  I really see this becoming a huge oil painting. 

Day 9 - Front and Center

Well, I fell a day behind on Friday. We had plans in the evening but I knew I could get caught up this weekend.  Really enjoying this series - fun and strong birds. Intriguing intelligence. Love them

The wet paint captures more light than there is on the painting but it is close.

Day 10 - Check that out

And with this fella, I am caught up! His curiosity is certainly showing, head swung over his shoulder. What do you suppose he sees? 

Day 11 - Lunch on the Bar

I have to admit, I am finding the challenge challenging!  It is all about oil paint.  Normally I work on a piece over a week or two.  Taking time to allow the paint to dry a bit between sessions.  This allows for glazing and layering the paint without risk of making mud! 

When I started the challenge I promised myself that I will not go back into a painting. When it’s done it’s done right? Nope, not this time. I think I want to add darker watery tones after a few days drying.

 

 

Here we go again

I joined the 30 Paintings in 30 Day Challenge once again.  It is actually my fourth time participating.  I sort of tell myself when ever I commit to it - it is a huge commitment and the other larger pieces I am working on get neglected for awhile.  But the sense of accomplishment that I get from doing it is well worth the effort.

Week 1 30 paintings in 30 days Shideler

So far...

So far all of these are oil on panels.  The square ones are on cradled panel, the 10 x 8" are on flat panel and will require frames.  I am really unsure how long I will stay with the oils as I prefer to allow for a fews days of drying time and then go back in with the finishing glazes and bring out the detail.

Day 1 - Vantage Point

That's the crow in the centre.  I took a series of photos of this crow at Rockwood Park in Saint John.  He wasn't bothered by my being there, but her certainly kept one eye on me most of the time.  I am quite happy with this painting and composition.  The moss and lichens on the tree really intrigue me.  I may have to do a similar piece only larger.

Day 2 - Sitting Sweetly

That's the chickadee posing on the branch.  I loved every moment working on this one.  I always stop to watch the antics of these special little birds.  And heaven knows, I have certainly painted lots of them.

Day 3 - Having Fun

This is my grandson playing in the water.  In the photo his expression is one of pure joy.  SOmehow in my efforts to paint him, his expression went from one of joy to the water is cold!  Ok, I may never attempt to paint a face that tiny again.  With a face, there is little opportunity to mess up. Painting a face this small, well there is every opportunity to mess up just a slight movement of the brush can wreck it.  Also, if you go back in the paint blurs and gets muddy.  No fun at all. Photo credit to his Dada.  I normally only paint from my own photos unless it is for a commission or in this case, I could not resist

Day 4 - Sweet Surprise

That is the very green painting with the song sparrow.  True to fashion, I went down the path of trying to get too much detail in a small painting.  This took forever.  Even when I tried to paint think and juicy - it still took way too long. I have to rethink my approach!  He is a rather sweet little bird sitting in my apple tree.

Day 5 - Proud

That is the raven up there with his chest all held high and fluffed up.  Ok, I confess, I have a thing for painting corvids.  Not that that is a secret or anything.  I paint many each year - much like chickadees.  I love how he is standing so tall and proud, a little look of "go ahead, make my day". I always start with the eye and then move onto the beak/bill.  If I get the head right the painting works

Until next week - cheers. Oh, I am open for suggestions on what to paint for this challenge.  Feel free to offer requests of what you like to see me paint - I may just get to it!

Thanks for following along!

 

 

 

 

On Watch

It is that time of year when I feel like I disappear.  I have secret commissions that I am working on and of course, am unable to share.  I can share my most recent acrylic painting of a crow - On Watch

Observation Perch by Helen Shideler

From how do I do this - to I got this

When travelling around Arizona last year, I happened upon this crow perched on a rock framed by two tree trunks.  I knew instantly that I planned on painting this scene.  I took a few reference photos... until my subject flew away.   Only the tree trunks that  drew me in felt like brackets and I decided the painting would be stronger without them.

Rocks make me think.  Sometimes too much.  I found I was fretting over them and then realized, jeepers I can do this  and instantly I knew how to approach them.  I know eh? Although I had to take a drive to Michael's Art Supplies first.

All in the technique

I purchased a little bag of sea sponges and formed the underpainting with various shades of grays.  Once I had the rock blocked in, I could see lichen shapes emerging.  I then added shadows to lift the lichens and highlights to make them convincing.  And oh what fun, the subtle shades of mauve, blues and greens brought  the rock to life - so to speak.  

It's healthy to be nervous

I think it is healthy to be nervous when painting.  It really makes you think before you apply paint. And I believe nervous anticipation...preoccupation, obsession, makes you pull from different places and come up with approaches you may not have thought of otherwise. 

My dang easel

And in the middle of everything like deadlines, my dang easel came crashing down once again.  I love that stupid crank easel but i think it is in line to be replaced.  This is the third time it came crashing down sending the ball bearings heaven knows where.  This time the little housing for the ball bearings dented.  I am investigating replacement parts.  But am feeling uncertain. The place where I purchased it did not instill any confidence - fingers crossed.

missing ball bearings

Notice the missing ball bearings? Any recommendations for a good studio easel?

 

 

Update 6 Amethyst Shades of Blue and some other stuff

Trusting my intuition

I had set this painting aside for a little while while I was finishing off some smaller works for the recent studio tour. I must have picked it up three or four times this week - and then set it back down. You see, I know how complex the background is in the reference photos and wanted to be sure how I was going to tackle it.  I finally convinced myself to just get started and trust my intuition and go with it.   Glad I picked it back up.  I am still somewhat fearful as I know the amount of time and effort required to complete it.  Did I mention I have a deadline of June 30th?

WIP Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Rain rain go away...

It has been raining everyday this week.  Beautiful steady, falling straight down,  soaking rain.  And when it was not soaking rain, well it was torrential rain.   Thankfully the temperature was somewhat tropical.  The gardens are so lush and beautiful in appreciation.  The planters, well that is another story of - soggy petunias. By the time we are able to mow the lawn again it will likely be a foot deep.  No sign of the rain stopping anytime soon.  

Helen's garden

New supplies means new work

I receive the gesso board panels I ordered this week.  Now I am able to get to the two commissions I have and also start another of my somewhat weekly oil painting.  Funny how much I love receiving a new shipment of art supplies.  Does not have to be anything really exciting or new. Just art supplies.  I always imagine what I am going to do with them all.  I imagine series of work.  Almost always.

WIP Helen Shideler

Eden Energy Medicine

This weekend I attended an Eden Energy Medicine (EEM) workshop with Sue Hooper.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the experience.  Sue is an amazing and gracious instructor. Coming off the work getting ready for last weeks KCST I needed to switch it up and slow it down. The exercises will with fit in nicely with my current morning stretching and balancing routine.

 

Blue Hydrangea Paintings

A dilemma 

I always love starting new work.  Once I decided on what I wanted to paint next, I had a bit of a hard time making up my mind as to which media to use - so I decided to to do one of each.  Blue hydrangea seems to scream watercolour.  But I wanted to see if I could capture the softness in acrylic as well. I am always up for a challenge.

Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

Amethyst Blues (watercolour) and Amethyst Shades of Blue (acrylic)

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Sorting and picking

The process I use when I start to select my pallet is to pick through my paint bins and select the tubes I think are best suited.  Confession time,  I have my paint in bins sorted by colour!  Makes life so much easier when looking for colours.

Then I squeeze a bit from my selections onto my pallette.  Before I ever touch paint to a new work, I play with the paint to make sure I am happy with the mixes.  It can be difficult to add in new colours part way through a painting is you are not strategic. I also have a wonderful little journal where I paint little swatches and label them.  This helps me to remember my paint choices should I set the work aside for whatever reason.  And I really like my journal.  It is shaping up into a really cool diary of sorts.

Helen Shideler Palette

WIP Pond Painting First Post

Pond Painting

I have been planning a series of large & dramatic paintings in my mind.  I ordered a large canvas and a few panels from my favourite art supply store. Started the work and went -eh?  At first it seemed to fill my easel.  But now I wish it was even bigger.  Next one!!!

Pond painting by Helen Shideler

Monochromatic Greens

Painting with green in acrylic is quite the challenge.  The colours are never quite what you expect. And then they dry darker.  Greens in watercolour are so much easier.  And there is not any standardization in colours between brands. Sap green in one brand may be garish and in another almost olive.  What the heck.  That brings me to the colour I love to hate.  Viridian!  It is up there with the ever challenging cerulean  (in watercolour) . Vididean is neon, unforgiving and yet essential to mix living greens found in our northern climate.  Then you have to mix the bejeebers out of it to make it believable!

Questions for you

What would you title a pond painting?

Would you add in froggies or koi fishies?  Or both?

Helpful hint

As I often work on many painting at the same time, it is easy to forget which colours I was working with on which painting.  And so I journal.  I purchased a moleskin book that accepts watercolour and use it as a bit of a colour diary.  I will also write down my thoughts as I am painting on the opposite site.  This really helps with it come sto blogging!

Pond Painting Journal by Helen Shideler

Another 30 day challenge complete

Another 30 Paintings in 30 Day Challenge is completer for another year!  

I simply cannot get over how fast time goes when you are having fun.  

30 in 30 Helen Shideler

When I look at each of these little paintings I get such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.  

A lot of these were paintings I wanted to do in one form or another and this challenge lets me do that - to get around to your to-do list.  Some I knew would not lend themselves to larger pieces in the way I like to paint. Sometimes I just get so busy that I do not take the time to paint smaller pieces and just go with it. And so I love this challenge.  It keeps me very busy, very productive and I think it is a wonderful way to help move January along!

There were only a couple of days whereby I felt pressure to get into the studio and only two days where is was not really possible.  Hence there are 28 paintings displayed in my challenge collage.  But that is ok.   I hit a couple of potholes along the way as well.  I ran out of panels.  I had some ordered in advance but they took awhile to come in.  

All gessos are not the same!

When I did get them they were not Apmersand.  They were a nother brand Gotterick and required gesso prior to being painted.  So I lovingly laid out all my panels.  Got out my little paint tray and roller.  Opened up my gesso. Horrors! My gesso was moldy.  Got on the phone once again.  Help me I exclaimed.  Thank goodness Endeavours were able to get the Gesso to me the next day!  

I started in that evening.  Each panel required three coats with ample drying time in between. And then sanding.  The roller created a wavy texture on the panels.  Not a good texture for painting small paintings in detail.   When I started sanding, well the gesso kind of rolled and not sanded as expected.  My new gesso felo more like plastic than gesso.  No time to back out now.  Oh dear.  Such stress. OMIGOODNESS!

The gesso I purchased was a reputable brand, Golden...go figure.  Not what I expected at all.

Lessons Learned

The most important lesson I learned in order to be successful in producing a painting a day is to plan your work.  I found the days I struggled is when I did not start another painting immediately after completing one.  Thinking takes up too much precious painting time.  And it is distracting with all the rabbit holes and diversions along the way.  I am a daydreamer after all.

The other lesson I seem not to learn is to relax the detail a bit.  I found as time when on, instead of painting looser I actually tightened up.  Look at the ravens as an example.  I had a good working philosophy,  Get the eyes and facial features right and the rest of the painting will take care of itself.  This is really true and important. Only I found that often I could not just go with it, resulting in a number of these paintings taking longer than I hoped.

Some were pure joy to paint, "Stymied" for example.  I loved painting that pig.  I loved painting my grandson (portraits are nerve wracking).  I loved painting the shore birds.  Heck I loved painting them all. 

Thank you all for following along with me.  

I really appreciate your encouragement and support.

    

Week 2 of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

I am very happy that I have been able to keep with the challenge so far.  Typically I wind up with 28 or so.  This time I am pretty determined to complete the 30.  Fingers crossed please.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Helen Shideler

These were painted in reverse order

So you will have to look at the paintings from the bottom up...I never thought  

Day 8   "After Christmas"

I loved this snap since the moment I took the photo.  It was fun watching Everett's confidence grow while on the rocking horse.  At first he was tentative even climbing on it.  His initial rocking was kind of broken and not very smooth.  By the end of his visit, he would climb up like a pro and rock his little heart out.  It was one of his favourite perches to watch Paw Patrol!

Day 9 "Oh Hello There"

Day 10 "Oh I See You"

The elusive and Camera-shy male cardinals are always a challenge to capture in a photo.  They are so self aware they feel the lens of the camera focus on them.  And POOF they are gone.  I had to be really patient to be able to capture reference material that I was able to use

Day 11 "Front and Center"

The female cardinal is no where near as shy or skittish as the bright red male.  She is almost tame in comparison.  He sits high on the pergola and she spends more time at the feeder.  He will fly in, swipe a sunflower seed and take it to a high vantage point to crack and eat. She is a very pretty bird on her own until you see the male!

What surprised me the most, is after I posted this painting, so many people mentioned they have never seen a female cardinal before!

Day 12 "Waiting For My Turn"

There are so many American Goldfinches at the feeders. They seem to come in all at once, to the point where there isn't room at the feeders for all of them.  And many of them forage on the deck under the feeders. They are delightful. And although  it is still early, I think they are  already starting to get brighter for spring

Day 13 "Surprise Visitor"

One afternoon we looked out at the feeder and much to our surprize we had two male Hairy Woodpeckers.  I stopped to watch them for a few minutes and then the little voice said Helen grab your camera.  So happy I listened. Have a few good reference photos to work with.

Day 14 "On the Ready"

Poor old Sadie. Her stare always seems so intense.  But really, as a hunting dog her stare is typical of her breed.  Always on the ready for a command or to chase something out of the brush. Mark adopted as a senior rescue.  In her previous life she was a puppy mill dog.  She never knew love and kindness before her adoption.

East Looking West

This commission has long been a work in progress

You see I knew the client would be back in Saint John for Christmas. And so I dawdled quite a bit. Actually a lot.  I did the photography last summer and started the painting earlier this year.  The sky took me an unusual amount of time.  I really worked hard to achieve the degree of perspective with the clouds receding in the distance.

I love this place

As a child we first lived in Red Head after moving there from Cape Breton.  The rocks along the dike were much smaller back then and often overwhelmed by the waves during a storm surge.    Our father would time the waves and then make a run for it on our little VW Beetle.  Often times a wave would crash over the car. The car would jolt sideways a bit and there was no way the wipers could be effective.  Often the waves were accompanied by a litany of expletive deleteds!  And the defending logic that the salt water was not good for the car.

The process was both thrilling and terrifying to my little girl self.  To this day I have dreams of being stranded on the Red Head side of the dike and have to figure out how to navigate across.  I always do find a way across by the way, but it is often full of peril.

East Looking West by Helen Shideler

I was thrilled to be asked to paint this location

The skyline, Partridge Island, the Bay and the beach were really fun to pull together.  The detail on the Island was so much fun to paint.  I love the way it turned out.  The foreground beach almost painted itself.  I painted the rocks last - one at a time.

Happy to say "East Looking West" is now a completed painting.