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






Sunshine and Shadows floral painting

This sunshine filled floral painting makes me happy.  It's funny, whenever I think I am finished a painting I will often have self doubt.  That was the case with this one.  I decided to set it aside for awhile and went upstairs to start supper.  When I went back into the studio it stopped me in my tracks.  It was as luminous as I had hoped to capture! And the yellows so sunny. 

Sunshine and Shadows by Helen Shideler.jpeg

Poured or sprayed paintings

I approached this painting slightly differently by spraying the paint onto the wet surface.  I actually thought that it may be less messy. Boy, was I wrong.  The coloured mist went everywhere. All over my drafting table, the floor and my hands were unbelievable!  I went pack to pouring quite quickly.  The colour saturation seemed to be diffused as well - not at all the look I was going for.  I may say the spray bottles for a misty day painting another time.

Getting the gunk off

WIP Sunshine & Shadows by Helen Shideler.jpeg

The underpainting revealed


When you remove the masking compound you also remove a certain amount of the paint you applied.  Sometimes the underpainting is filled with drama at the reveal stage.  Most of the time you have to go back in with some strategic brushwork to make the painting come alive.  Once the centre of the flowers were painting in it really started to take shape.  

Yellow is an interesting colour to pour.  It behaves differently than expected.  Or maybe if was because it was the layer of paint that I sprayed on?  The luminous quality I was trying to achieve was flat.  Some very quick brushwork brought it back to life.

Helpful hint

I use a rubber cement pick up to remove the mask picture to the side.  Shown in the wrapper, before use and after use.


Sunshine Yellow Azaleas WIP

Sunshine Yellow by Helen Shideler I just finished this poured water-color commission of sunshiny yellow azaleas. I think what I like best about poured paintings is how fast they seem to build. The process keeps you engaged daily - I typically work on them each day for about two weeks. Each stage has to dry completely before you move onto the next. But the progress really builds nicely. There were seven pours with this painting.

WIP Sunshine Yellow by Helen ShidelerOnce completely dry I removed the frisket. I call this the peel reveal. Some artists take their work to this stage and call it done. I personally cannot do this, although I have been tempted a few times with the mussel paintings. Being detail oriented I have to go back in and enhance the work with additional brushwork to increase the overall colours and values and bring up the detail. I like my subject to almost “lift” off the paper. In order to achieve this level of dimension I have to go back in and enhance the pours.

This painting was worked from two very different reference photos that I took last year. One for composition and the other for colours. I found this to be especially tricky with the masking. I had to really pay attention on this one. Much care had to be taken to apply the mask to white areas that are not there in the composition photo.

Some of the stages are illustrated below in the photos. I did not include every mask application or pour as some of the sessions appeared quite subtle in the progress photographs. But this will give you the idea of how the process builds.

I will take this painting in to be scanned and then framed this week. I hope my client loves it!

Do you have any question on this painting process?


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


Flirting With Sunshine Sunflower painting on Aquabord

Flirting With Sunshine by Helen ShidelerFresh off the easel. This is a watercolour painting of a bright and happy sunflower painted on Aquabord.  I love the transparency and vibrancy you can achieve with this surface, just unsure if if I love it with watercolours - I know I really love it with acrylics.  The problem is with me. My lack of patience for the washes to dry completely in between applications!  This is a key step with this surface. I may need patience pills. (painting is 14" x 11" unframed, will be framed in a floating frame once it's partner below is completed). The resolution on this image is a bit blurry, but you get the idea. I have a companion piece on the go as well.  I am thinking that once this one is complete, I will go back to the traditional watercolour on paper - at least for awhile!WIP Helen Shideler