Borscht Anyone and another really good week

Borscht Anyone?  This was a painting I had in mind since last fall.  I took a series of photos at a farmers market in Vancouver while visiting with family (sigh). I took so many photos! These beets were calling to me.  Again with the dilemma. Oil? Watercolour? Poured painting? 

For some reason this past year, when I think of watercolour, I automatically think of pouring.  The freedom I have this this process feels so rewarding. And I can release some of my tendency to be a detail crazy painter,

Borscht Anyone by Shideler

I did the last pour yesterday, removed the masking compound this morning. The underpainting made me happy and I knew I should be able to top dress this in one painting session.  This is a goal I try to set with all my poured paintings of this size.  There are no rules other than ones imposed for me by me.  And apparently I have many....just saying...

Slide show below - click to move through

 

Happy Helen

Sometimes the universe lines up so well. I am having a marvellous May!  I mean pinch me!  I am so grateful and happy I am coming apart at the seams.  This week I sold two 1/2 sheet poured paintings and had an interview with CBC TV News for the painting on the window from the Saint John City Market. And so many people see my daughters in the painting! 

I am so grateful when someone appreciates my work enough to purchase it - and from my website.  Happy Helen

Making a Splash by Shideler

And then there was this...

An interview with CBC TV News for to support the fundraiser for Pro Kids with area artist painting a piece of history - a window from the Saint John City Market!  I am normally quite camera shy - but wanted to do this because I love the project so much.

Link to story here

Link to news story here - it is about the third story in the clip

Link to P.R.O. Kids here

Cheers everyone

 

 

 

 

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

Cheers

 

 

 

 

Special Supper

I choose to paint Special Supper because I felt I needed a challenge! Jeepers!  Designing a poured watercolour around lobsters sitting on a lobster platter may not have been my smartest move.

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Wing and a prayer

The thing is, I could see the finished painting in my mind.  Which when you start a painting you should be able to do.  Breaking the colours out into layers in this case was very complex especially since the painting is basically monochromatic. And red. Once the values started to get deeper, I actually lost my roadmap.  I was unable to distinguish between critter and platter. You see, both the real lobsters and the lobsters on the platter have many legs!  

And I had to start winging it, crossing my fingers and offering up a prayer. This was tough.  The slideshow below will show you what I mean.  Once that final pour was ready applied I basically had to hold my breath.  Did I mention red is tough?

Unsure of what to do

Once I removed the masking compound, I hid it away for awhile until I could figure out if it was going to work or not.  Apparently I hide things from my view if I don't want to deal with it. 

Just the other day, I pulled it back out and the path forward was so clear.  It was like a real aha moment. Oh, I am not showing the painting with the mask removed on purpose.

Feeling productive and happy

It has been a very productive week.  First my beautiful new RIcheson Santa Fe II Easel arrived.  It is even more special than I hoped it would be! Kind of makes me forget how frustrated I was when my previous easel had broken. My wallet it much lighter but I am very happy able to paint  large again. I completed "Tender Blues".  This was sure a long time in the painting.

Tender Blues by Helen Shideler

Tender Blues fresh off the easel

How do you know when a painting is completed?  Quite often you look up and can not see any place left to put paint.  Literally this was how it worked for me with this one. So the new easel is quite the asset.  There is a shelf on the easel where my brushes, water and palette are placed right in front of me.  No twisting and turning every 20 seconds or so.  I cannot believe the difference it made even with my concentration just to have eyes forward.  

I was literally working away and realized there was no place left for me at add paint. I love it when that happens.  I signed it and stepped back. I'll look at it for a few days to make sure I am happy with it before it gets varnished.  This is a large painting 30" x 30" on gallery wrapped canvas.  I painted the edges black - makes quite a difference and does not require a frame.  I like the clean, contemporary look. 

WIP Market Fresh by Helen Shideler

New beginnings

I wasted no time getting a new painting started.  This is a large oil that I have started to block in.  I am approaching this one slightly differently than I usually do.  Typically I would have done a grayscale underpainting and over painted with colours.  You know, I really just felt like slopping paint around.  I love the buttery texture of oil paint and wanted to have some fun with it.  This is still an underpainting and will require a number of layers to bring it to life.  But I am loving the way it is starting to develop.  This may be a fingers crossed scenario....

WIP Special Occasion by Helen Shideler

Two to pour

I also drew out two watercolors that I intend to pour.  Have the first masking on one of them.  This trio is sitting on a platter that I was gifted for Christmas. It has images of lobsters on it - this will make for an interesting pouring exercise.  But hey, I am up for the challenge.  And if I really mess it up, you will never see it.  

 

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?

 

 

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.  

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

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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.

 

WIP Amethyst Blues Update 3

Amethyst Blues

I realized that showing a little corner of this painting at a time would not show the full picture of the work in progress (WIP).  This is a rather large painting 30"x30" and the progress feels slow to me. Showing the whole canvas will give you a better idea of the scale and detail. So many shades of blue.

I normally loosely draw my subject and refine it as I go. Interestingly enough, I really think if I spent more time on the initial drawing it may be a bit quicker.  But I am always too impatient and want to dive in.  I try to adjust my approach.  But, you know, after all these years, i guess it is my approach.

WIP Amethyst Blues by Helen Shideler

The humour of Mother Nature

I am sitting on my deck writing this blog post.  One leg in the beautiful sun and one leg in the rain. Literally!  Mother Nature is not quite sure what to serve up today. I must go look for the rainbow.  I am certain there must be one. This is quite freaky, really! 

I have been away much of the summer, as a result, I have not had a lot of time in the studio.  Lets be honest, if the sun is out...I am out.  So being away is really an excuse.  I was so happy to get back at it albeit a little discombobulated.  Smooth was not on my agenda for the day. 

This is how I roll

Lets face it - i am a born klutz. Everything I touched I either dropped or misplaced.  My particular favourite mis-adventure was my brush cleaner.  It is some kind of thick oily soap. So as I was getting ready to clean my favourite Rosemary brush, my elbow hit the open bottle of the soapy stuff. Well it went flying. Upside down.  Which means I had an oily, soapy trail across the floor, over the garbage can and on the counter.  Not a bad word did I say.

What I will say is that it took me 20 minutes to clean it all up.  I hope to heavens I got it all and no one slips on it (most likely me).

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Monthly crow paintings

Awhile back I decided to start an 8"x10" oil painting each week. Just because.  I am actually thinking of taking oils with me to Santa Fe next April and I want to be practiced up .  I decided that one of the painting should be a crow, another should be "Beachy People" and the other two up to whatever I feel like in the moment.  With this plan, the pressure of coming up with ideas diminished somewhat.

I really like this strutting fella.  He wa strutting through our lawn towards a piece of bread I tossed to him.  He was both focused and watchful. Not completely sure it is finished .....

WIP Winters Light Through the Glass

We have a wonderful hanging stained glass window that was given to us 

Over the years we (really me) watch with fascination of how the right changes with each season.  Winter is particularly beautiful with the deep colour of the sky and the reflections of the snow.  You can see the effect of winters light through the glass!

I have taken oh so many photos of the stained glass

Knowing eventually I would be going to paint it.  The invitation to participate in “Stained Glass revisited” coming up in September provided just that opportunity. This was interesting. I always saw this painting as a thick acrylic work.  That was, until I tried to get started and now with a close deadline.

I started to work out the details and realized that the shape of the canvasses I have on hand were the wrong proportion.  Too square a shape meaning that I would have had to paint more background.  And that really would not work.  My artistic eye would not let me proceed and the fact that I do not have time for a redo!

I pondered what to do. 

I really wanted to get started and could not afford the time of shipping in another canvas.  Then it hit me.  Rather embarrassing really.  Watercolour.  Duh!  I could cut the paper into whatever shape I needed!  Oh my.  Sometimes I baffle me.

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Then I got real excited. 

On a recent trip to Arizona to the Plein Air Convention and Expo (PACE), I purchased a few tubes of Daniel Smith’s Prima Tek paints. And now I have a really exciting painting to play with them.  And I am loving them!

The glass represented in this painting has texture and is not smooth all over.  These granulating paints are working beautifully to help me simulate the glass. Some of the colours are luscious (not there is a word you do not get to use everyday). 

Lessons Learned

You have to be really cautious when you mix the Prima Tek  colours with regular waterolours.  They can get muddy fast

I highly recommend you paint an under wash first rather than mixing the colours together.  Now when I mixed two Prima Tek colours together, they worked fine.  But the wash had to be under not over these paints

WIP Poured Painting Reveal

My nervousness exists

Well I did it.  I was procrastinating but I got around to it.  I was quite nervous about trying to do a poured painting with water and clouds.  I mean clouds are soft and water is fluid.  Poured painting is edgy...it has edges and shapes and did I mention edges?  

Moody Moment - poured watercolour by Helen Shideler

Sometimes with a poured painting - they look pretty good with the heavy layers of masking compound literally masking the painting underneath it all.  At some point you have to suck it up, take a deep breath and go for it.  Get that crap off....

Peel off the bandaid

Then I didi it.  I had to build up to it.  Schedule it.  And then I went in. Grabbed my rubber cement pick up and removed all the masking compound.  And you know all my removal anxiety was unfounded ..it was not half bad.   Actually is was pretty good.