Time to catch up

This weekend was all about plein air painting in Hampton at the John Peters Humphrey Bloomin Artists event.  This really is a catch up post.  I have been working on a few secret commissions and am unable to share...yet.

I packed up my car.  Easel? Check! Snacks? Check!  Oh wait, pencils, clamps, paper towel holder? Left on the chair in my studio.  Not a pencil or pen to be had. Then the talking to myself began. What will I do with out a pencil I asked?  I answered any plein air painter worth their salt can do this with out a pencil. And this is pretty much how Saturday went.  I forgot to drink enough water wound up wilted by early afternoon as a result.

Saturday, July 15th

The first painting "Hampton Marsh" I was trying to not be a meal for all the black flies.  Nasty little distractions.  I just had to suck it up and paint on.  For the second painting, the painter on the dock left and I grabbed his spot.  There was enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away.  And enough of a breeze that I thought it was going to rain.  It got quite cool.  And I had to work fast and furiously.

Hampton Marsh by Helen Shideler
The Junction by Helen Shideler

Sunday, July 16th

Pansy Patch by Helen Shideler

In the crazy heat of the day, I spent way too long on this painting.  High humidity.  Hot, did I mention how hot it was?

I really love pansies. This little flower has so much personality and comes in so many colour variations and sizes. 

As I was happily painting away, I became increasingly aware of a particular nearby hornet. It seemed to be determined to investigate the exact spot I was standing on.  I backed away, hoping it would leave.  No. It kept investigating whatever it was investigating.  

Finally it flew off.  Really, I had a vision of it flying up my pant leg.  Not a pleasant vision.  I have a story about me and stinging things in my clothing. May not share, at least not yet!

 

And then there was this

I could not resist painting my grandson Theo.  "just wading 10"x8" oil on panel

JUst Wading by Helen Shideler

And this

I was contacted about the little oil painting on the right - but it was already sold.  From that inquiry, I received a commission to paint it again in acrylic with a few modifications.  The painting was fun so I agreed.  Can you spot the changes?

Double Take by Helen Shideler

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.

 

Can we slow down summer please

Well, it is hard for me to believe that yet another Studio Tour has come and gone. Time is moving a little too quickly this year.  How can we slow down summer?

I love the meets and greets that come with participating in the tour.  So many nice people coming through and all interested in art.  How amazing is that?  A number of people are "followers" of my work.  This is so encouraging and humbling at the same time.  Life is good.

With all the preparation for the tour I fell behind a bit with my painting - but I did manage to complete the three small oils (8x10") I was working on. Time to start another before I lose the momentum.

Walk in the Park by Helen Shideler

"Walk in the Park" is a fun 8"x8" oil of a strutting crow.  This little guy proved to be very popular.  I guess what I saw in him others saw as well.  He could have been homed five times this weekend! I find it amazing how many people love crows and ravens.  I know I certainly do but thought is was an artsy thing.

King of the Castle by Helen Shideler

"King of the Castle" this gull really felt he owned the place.  He was perched up so proudly on this concrete post with a view of the nearby restaurant and the sea.  He was talking it all in.  Ever watchful for that morsel that would be presented should someone dare to drop a bite.  I was leaning on the fence taking photos of some cormorants when I noticed him.  He did not seem to care how close I was and truly, it took awhile before I even realized that he was there - my husband had to point him out.

Plein Air Pretties by Helen Shideler

The first day at the PACE Plein Air Conference April in San Diego, people has not had a chance yet to mix and mingle.  There were all kinds of plein air painters milling about in the hotel lobby. These two caught my attention.  I thought they looked so interesting looking at their walking map of the area. I knew I would be painting them.  Plein Air painters are always interesting to people watch!

I have a lot going on

I sure have a lot going on this time of the year.  In addition to preparing for next weekends Kings County Studio Tour, I also maintain the website for the Tour.  So I am double busy right about now. We are happy that the Lyndsay Armstrong-Media from the Telegraph Journal wrote a story that was published this past week

Still painting a lot.  Keeping up with my pledge to myself to create a small oil painting a week. You can see the progress below. Having to allow for some dry time between the layers of paint extends the time to complete  - but I currently have two on the easel and have a plan for the next one.  Just need to order in some more panels.

on the easel by Helen Shideler

Update 5 Amethyst Shades of Blue and a few others

So happy when I reach this stage of a painting.  The main blossoms of Amethyst Shades of Blue are pretty much completed, at least for now.  I always reserve colour balancing for the last stages of the work.  And so now I am starting to work on the leaves and background.

Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Magic of colour

This will be the last update of this painting until the whole piece is complete. I am thinking that I have to preserve some intrigue. What do you think?

I will say that his painting looks pretty striking from across the room.  It is large, (full sheet), pretty had to see the scale in a blog post.

I think that I have fallen in love with blue all over again.  There are so many shades. So many moods - from baby softness to stormy seas and moody skies.  The tender blue effect that I have been able to represent in this painting makes my soul happy.  Cannot explain it , it just does.  I believe that the magic of colour is to evoke mood and stimulate memories.

On another note

I am also working on a number of small oils.  Trying to do one a week.  I think of this as training for the Plein Air Conference and Expo in Santa Fe next April. The three I have completed are below. (They are available in the store section of this web site).

Oil paintings by Helen Shideler

And two more in progress Walk in the Park and Plein Air Painters are sketched out on panel with diluted paynes grey.

WIP Helen Shideler

Wish me luck with my adventure with oils.

Update 4 Amethyst Shades of Blue

Finally back in the studio working on Amethyst Shades of Blue

My goal for the day was to complete the large blossom.  Although I did not quite get there, I am pleased with my progress.  I will complete it soon...right?

Amethyst SHades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Lolligagging

Here is a word for you.  I identify with it.  Well maybe I may just like the sound of the word.  I have share with you previously that I am a master procrastinator.  Well, I have decided to frame it up in a new way.  Lollygagging!  I spent the entire day in my studio yesterday finding stuff to do - you know busy work and justifying why I was not actually painting.  Have to put new paint and stuff away. Jeepers my table is dusty. Reminisce about San Diego.  Omigoodness look at all the piles of paper and stuff and so on.....

Funny point - I just looked up the definition of lollygag and it does not quite mean what I thought - but I still like the word and will use it how ever I like nothing heinous about it as the Urban Dictionary would have me believe

Challenging myself again

Attending the PACE 2017 Conference taught me one thing.  The art world is into oil painting more than watercolours.  When visiting the many galleries there was a clear message - very little watercolours.  This is not discouraging in any way.  I love watercolour and will always love watercolour.  But is does tell me that I have to expand my perspective and at least dedicate some time once again to exploring oils.  And really, not a huge issue as I love, love, love their buttery texture. And all learning is good  - right?

So here it is

Sweet Tweet by Helen Shideler

Omigoodness.  I cannot believe I am saying this, but I am going to commit to me that I will produce one small oil painting a week in addition to the other larger projects that I am working on.  "Sweet Tweet" is an 8"x8" oil on cradled panel and is available here

Memories of California

I am somewhat jet lagged after just returning home from almost three weeks in magical California.  Seriously with all the flight delays my head hit the pillow at 4:30am! Other than trying to get home, it was truly an amazing experience.  Although it was seriously chillier than I expected it would be.  But the sun was shining almost every day and the sky was so blue.

Never had the chance to share the experience while I was travelling.  Happiness is being that kind of busy.

PACE 2017 San DIego

PACE 2017 - This is a lot of what it was about

The opportunity to paint along side of plein air artists, watch what other are doing and learn from almost everyone.  And one of my personal favourite sports - checking out everyone's gear!  I was on the hunt for lighter gear to take when I am flying.  I had a chance to talk with lots of people to see if and why they love their stuff.  And to see what they would recommend.  Wonderful opportunity. 

The presentations were informative. I took many notes and also sketched some of the people sitting in front of me.  I have a travel sketchbook that I have taken away with me the past four years.  It reads like a journal with good detailed information from the sessions. I get to relive the the experience each time I open it up.  Really happy I have been doing this.

PACE 2017

Friends

This year I met up with Jane Freeman and Marilyn Wear once again.  We have managed to meet up once a year for the past four years - and plan to do it again in Santa Fe in 2018.  

We have so much fun attending the sessions, painting at new locations,  offering advice and opinions on art products and of course the conversations at meal time.  And checking out what each of us may have purchased at the Expo

We met up with so many people and had the opportunity to bond in art.  I would not even know where to start.  Just really grateful for the experience.

Spin to win and nervousness

Part of the excitement was the opportunity to spin to win. Every morning the 1000 attendees sat with anticipation to see if their name would be drawn.  On the last day, anticipation turned to nervousness as I heard my name being called out. I think I may have said crap!  We had to go up on the stage and do a happy dance. I hid behind the wheel but got caught and had to go out on the stage.  I was quite surprised at my reaction - I was trembling inside.  I really do not like attention.  

Wheel spin

New tricks

After PACE wrapped up, Gary came down to San Diego and we toured around, did the tourist thing and travelled up the coast to San Francisco. Coronado Island. Carmel-by-the-Sea. Monterey. Santa Monica. Santa Barbara. Napa. San Francisco. Alcatraz.  Names of places that conjure up so many romantic images in my mind. Fabulous trip.  Wonderful company.  Sigh!

And Gary managed to convince me that selfies are a good thing.  Ha Ha. I really do not like to be photographed.  Have to admit that selfies make fun memories.  Actually it was Marilyn that started the selfie thing.

Update 3 Amethyst Shades of Blue and picking and packing

And then it happened!

I am excited with the completion of each petal.  Then I look to see where I should take my brush next. Drawing further.  Analyzing and looking to understand the negative spaces between the petals. Then getting brave enough to go in with my brush.  

And then it happened. I had my brush fully loaded with a deep shade of blue.  Went to the painting and for some unexplained reason, my brush flicked out of my hand and landed on a light coloured petal. There are words for moments like these.  None that I can share here, but boy-o-boy I moved fast! Fortunately I was able to lift the wayward paint and work the stain into the petal.  Jeepers Helen!

WIP Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Picking and packing

It always amazes me how fast time goes.  Last year at this time, I was already at PACE 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. Facebook kindly reminds me each time I open it up, greeting me with last year at this time photos. AND here I am, getting ready for PACE 2017 in San Diego! Five more sleeps!

I think the hardest part of all this is getting organized and making decisions.  I spent the better part of this weekend trying to figure it all out.  I took out my amazing Soltek Easel only to realize what I have to keep learning.  It is too heavy to fly.  Then I took out my Plein Air Pro for watercolours. And decided this trip would be about watercolour!  That decision made it easier to get packing.

Anxiously Waiting by Helen Shideler

Donation Kermesse Art Show & Sale IWK Auxiliary

One of my favourite charities is the whole world is the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax.  My beautiful son lived there for much of his 3 1/2 years. Although life did not take us down the path I so hoped and prayed for, I hold the hospital and the care team is such high regard. Each year I donate a painting - this year I donated this painting to their upcoming Kermesse Art Show & Sale in May.  The painting is called "Anxiously Waiting" and I think it personifies all the emotions that I felt and that most parents feel when one of their children is unwell.

Hurry up and Wait and Anxiously Waiting a tough code to live by. And April is the Cruelest Month also resonates.  Anniversaries are tough. Maybe just maybe I am finding comfort in all these Amethyst Shades of Blue with two paintings of blue hydrangeas on the go.  

I have a profound love for spring. A promise of new beginnings and fresh starts.  And it has finally arrived on the Canadian East Coast (although please do not look at the weather forecast for tomorrow night).  Five more sleeps and may I not hear the snow wor again until Christmas!

Update 2 Amethyst Shades of Blue

The sun came out

The first real sign of spring and I want to break free and escape the indoors.  Uh oh methinks my goal of completing this painting before I leave for San DIego in less than two weeks just got seriously challenged!  Seriously, if the sun is out then I am out!

WIP Amethyst Shades of Blue by Helen Shideler

Tender shades of blue

I have to admit that I am loving working on this painting.  I love working with these tender shades of blue. Please understand from my perspective blues can be tricky.  If you are not careful it can give the appearance of plastic or be garish.  Really have to keep the touch light with the paint and apply with in layers.

The image above really does not show you the scale of this painting.  It is a full sheet watercolour - 22"x30" unframed!  The acrylic version peeking out from underneath is 30"x30".  I am so excited to see them completed and beside each other - for no other reason than just because.

WIP Section Helen Shideler

Up close and personal

I love sharing little corners of paintings that excite me - pretty much any new space I am working on.  I really think that working with so many shade of blue is invigorating.  I know why...it is because we have not seen any blue in the sky for so long....long, damp, dark spring!

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