Social Climber poured watercolour

Poured watercolour of a clematis.  I just had to call this painting Social Climber as there are so many blossoms growing over top of one another.  So many rich shades of blues, pinks and purples.

Social Climber poured watercolour by Helen Shideler

When to say when

There are times when I am unsure to call a painting complete or not.  I find this challenges me more with poured watercolours than traditional painting styles. The paint stains the paper quite heavily when you pour, often creating sharper edges than you can tell during the process.  It is harder to edit the painting while balancing the tone and maintaining transparency of colour. 

When I remove the masking compound, I think the underpainting looks washed out as the mask holds pigment on top.  When you take off the mask this layer of pigment is also removed.  Was never intended to stay, but it is usually quite bold. You sure miss it when it has been removed.

I use my reserved paint from the pouring process to go back in and enhance the underpainting.  This one is a bit different in that I did not pour green just applied a bit with my brush.

Step away from the painting

FIrst is knowing when to say when.  Put the brushes down.  Step away from the painting.   And, really poured watercolours need to be viewed from across the room.  You see the illusion better and not each individual mask or paint application.  All kidding aside,  the further back you are the more dimensional the work appears to be! Pretty cool actually.

A few steps of my painting process in slideshow below

Click to scroll through

This clematis grows in my sister-in-law Teri's magical garden in PEI.  

Spring Scentsation

Spring Scentsation

Large acrylic painting of lilacs is finally signed and off the easel.  

Spring Scentsation by Helen Shideler

I think I heard a heavenly choir of angels 

Hallelujah!  Really I mean it. I have spent so much quality time with this painting.  First scoping all the lilac shrubs in Quispamsis, Rothesay and beyond.  Then taking photos. I scouted, I hunted and even had friends on the lookout for me.  Interesting enough these particular blooms grow in my own backyard.  

Worth crying over

Then I remembered what I forgot.  The wonderful scent of heavily perfumed lilacs are an allergy trigger for me. I managed to take photos through my watery eyes.  This was pretty funny. I was taking photos of the lilacs and my eyes started running. Not just teary, but full on running like a tap. Then my sinuses filled up and I was leaking everywhere.  I was literally catching rivers of tears off my chin! Not a cute image I know, but it shows just how stubborn I can be.  I stayed out there taking photos until I literally no longer could see through my tears and had absolutely no idea what I was getting. Confirming my suspicion that I am allergic to lilacs. And I did this repeatedly evening after evening until the blooms were too far past their prime.

Allergies will not stop me from loving and painting them!   Interesting enough, they were so imprinted on my mind that I could actually smell them as I was painting.  Then when I went to bed I continued to paint them in my dreams.  Really, really imprinted!

Size matters

Gary holding "Spring Scentsation"

The painting process was interesting.  At first I tried, honestly tried to paint loose and flowing. Determined to use some nice new #12 brushes. Oh the satisfaction from loose and flowing strokes!  Only I couldn't.  I gave up on the big brushes very early in the process and reverted back to my #2s and #4s.  Then I went back in and fixed the florets that I first started with.  Ah, my comfort zone - complexity and detail.  

I have another canvas or two this size.  What should I paint next?

WIP - Black Velvet - Update #2

Helen Shideler - Black Velvet Iris paintingMaybe it is has something to do with the monochromatic palette, or maybe it is the large size (30 x 30”) but it sure feels like this painting is taking me a long time.  I really have been working on this – although not exclusively.  Since my first post, I have had a number of painting sessions.  When I look at the photo from the original post I can clearly see my progress.  But when I start another painting session it looks the same in my mind.   Contributing to this illusion may the bright white background.  But….whenever I enter my studio and see it on the easel it - catches my breath.   So I must be heading in the right direction. I have worked my way around all the petals and am now about to focus on the front “fall” petal and the fuzzy “beard” area.   There is a lot of color in this area will be fun to paint!

I still have not decided if I am going to paint a light background or paint it white-ish for a more contemporary look.  I will give you a chance to weigh in on the next post.

Hmmm, I am craving a grape popsicle all of a sudden!


WIP - Picotee Petunias - Poured Painting

Helen Shideler Poured FLoral  

Pretty purple picotee petunia petticoats 


Ahh, the name game and I am stuck on “p” alliterations

Never wanting to be hokey, looking for a name that sticks…well, this is just tempting.  Likely a poem in here somewhereThis is the most pre-planned poured painting I have worked on.  I knew the colors before I started.  I had them all laid out - rich magentacarmine quin red.  All delicious shades!  Even through all the layers of masquing compound I was pretty happy with the way the painting was developing.  Once I removed the masque,  I almost called it finished, but I know the next step will bring it to life!  Stay tuned!