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

The Pond in Mid Summer Update 5

Fear factor

The Pond in Mid- Summer may be compet! I feel like I have been working on this for such a long time.. and I have.  What is interesting is the fear factor kicked in.  I was almost afraid to complete it as I really had no idea what to paint next!

The Pond in Mid-Summer by Helen Shideler

Master procrastinator

I really think I have been dragging my heels with this.  Last week I completed "Rhodo Rhapsody", a transparent watercolour that I have been, for lack of a better word..savouring for the last, ummmm year!

So with completing a watercolor last week and completing this one this week, I think I have some blank canvas shock going on.  Until yesterday I honestly had absolutely no idea what to start next.  I almost never have this problem.  I am so full of ideas that I literally cannot sleep!

I perused almost all of my reference photos and you know, I kept coming back to blue hydrangeas.  Stay tuned. One in watercolour - full shee.  One in acrylic 36 x36.  And what can I do with oil.  I have a new project!

Can you spy the dragon fly?

Pond in mid-summer by Helen Shideler
Pond in mid-summer by Helen Shideler

Rhodo Rhapsody

I little over a year ago, I was out walking along the seawall in Vancouver when I came across this amazing rhododendron.  It literally stopped me in my tracks.  And as good fortune would have it, I happened to have my camera with me. Pure rhododendron rhapsody.

Rhodo Rhapsody by Helen Shideler

The Vancouver difference

They grow to be quite huge in Vancouver - everything grows to be quite huge in Vancouver and, they have so many varieties.  I had never seen this one before ever.  It is amazing. I took many photos knowing I would one day be painting it.

I have since noticed that the nurseries in the Maritimes are now carrying them. We will be planting one for sure this spring.

When the sun shines

I love the play of light in this painting.  How the lower blooms are cooler and slightly in the shade. And how the top bloom appears warmer in the sun and how the bright sun affects the colours of the leaves.  The delicious little bits of light dancing across the leaves were so gratifying to paint. 

Confession

I felt that the painting was completed yesterday afternoon.  I signed it and proceeded to scrutinize it looking for areas that may require some colour balancing or attention in some way. Then this morning when I opened Facebook, I was presented with a memory from last year.  You guessed it (blush) - I started this painting exactly one year ago.  I could not believe it.  My how time flies.  In fairness I set it aside so I could work on a few commissions.  But a whole year ago!

WIP Update 3 The Pond in Mid-Summer

From side to side

I know it may not look like it, but I am really making progress with my pond painting. As of today the paint now touches the left edge.  This feel like a milestone.

The Pond in Mid-Summer by Helen Shideler

Getting there

Now that I have paint spanning from almost edge to almost edge, it it time to start thinking about what will be coming next.  I have a birch cradled panel the same size as this painting (24"x48") that I have begun priming with gesso.  I have a few ideas of what to paint - but I am thinking about a portrait oriented painting.  Hmmm the eagle in the pine tree at our cottage...bright red hollyhocks, or the sun breaking through the fog in the early morning at a beach.  Hmmm the possibilities are endless.

The gesso-ing process a pain in the rear.  I guess I really hate the feeling of sandpaper.

What comes next?

I have at least one more froggie to place. The one I have in mind is floating in the water with it's legs dangling below him.  And I just happen to have a good variety of photos of leopard frogs at the ready.  Oh, and I have more work on the water lilies including adding in a couple of discreet buds.

Traveling Colours

So excited.  I booked my flight to get me to San DIego and the Plein Air Conference and Expo PACE 2017 .  This is special for so many reasons.  Being at a convention with 900 artists is beyond anything I could ever imagine.  And especially special as I get to spend a week with Jane Feeeman and Marilyn Wear.  I am so excitedtruly blessed!

#PACE

WIP Update 2 The Pond in Mid Summer

Take me back to those summer days

We are starting to see these winter days start to lengthen and can feel the power coming back to the sun.  And so we allow ourselves to drift into memories of summer. I absolutely love summer. The long days. The heat. And the nostalgia. We dream about it, we long for it and when it is here we savour it. That is what this painting represents to me. Feelings. Memories. Longing.

The Pond in Mid Summer by Helen Shideler

 Memories of days gone by 

I have been receiving a lot of wonderful feedback about this painting and a lot of people are on the same page as I am. It pulls them into a moment of relaxation and reflection. We all seem to identify with it. That is exactly what I was hoping for when I started this large painting.

I am enjoying how this painting is developing, painting from right to left as I always do.  I guess it help me to prevent any pencil smudges.  It just doesn't feel right for me to paint left to right - and I am right handed.  Cannot explain that. 

Discoveries

I have started to add in the froggies as many of you requested. There will be a few more subtly placed in the painting.  I love to create that moment of discovery for you - when you are looking at a painting and suddenly see a hidden element like a bee or an ant.  I will tell the sad story of the spider later and how it cost me the sale of a painting another time.

I asked for help to name this painting.  A friend of mine suggested Peekaboo.  I told her she she was too late.  Had already used it on the watercolour painting of mine shown below!

Sorry but the pin button will not work on this image

Sorry but the pin button will not work on this image

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

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?

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 3 Round Up

This week presented some interesting new challenges for me  

First I had a meeting for the Kings County Studio Tour on Thursday evening  and sore eyes.  So I didn't paint Thursday.  But the real challenge was around painting materials.  I ran out of panels. So I ordered some in from my friends at Endeavours.

Panels arrived.  A different brand than usual - Gotterick.  Well they only had one coat of Gesso on them  and the panels seemed to have a few hairline cracks.  Shoot.  So I had to get out my gesso.  I opened up all the panels, laid them out on the table, opened up the gesso and ....CRAPOLA!!!  Gesso was moldy.  Had to call my good friends at Endeavours once more to order gesso and in a hurry please.  

Gesso arrived, panels promed and lightly sanded.  And you know, they are not the same.  Ampersand is a far better solution and panel. These are ok though, just not the same.

Day 15 - Garden Interloper

They appear with the illusion of something elegant, almost regal.  But they are no more than Quispamsis garden rats.  White tail deer.  The vermine you love to hate rather hate to love.  They are garden interlopers.  They appear many times a day and eat insatiably.  Every thing in site is on theri menu but not the stuff you don't particularly care about.  Like the weeds (native deer food) or fallen apples.  No they wait until your flower buds are about to burst forward with beautiful blossoms and pop it like cotton candy.

Day 16 - Stymied

I loved the way this painting developed.  I used acrylics as watercolours for the base painting, then applied a number of layers to intensify the colours...then went back in with opaque layers.  I have to admit, I am thinking the title of the painting is particularly clever, eh?

Day 17 - Checking Things Out

This painting took a surprising amount of time to the point I decided not to paint another one for todays challenge.  Ducks have long been one of my favourite subjects with their perpetual grins and round cheeks.  They stand tall and proud and give the illusion of confidence. 

Day 18 - What's That?

Did you know I love ravens.  And crows. And likely all birds?  The black birds present an interesting challenge when painting them.  Their wonderful iridescent feathers gleam in the sun.  Shades of blue, teal and often purple are waiting for the artist's eye  to capture that fleeting moment

Day 19 -  Watching Me Watching You

A repeat performance. I could not leave it to one raven could I?  I went mining through my reference photos and you know?  I have a lot of ravena ns crow photos.  Stay tuned I think I am going to paint a large one after this challenge.  Oh and after I finish the lilac painting.

Day 20 - Singing in the Snow

Sweet little chickadees.  This is a teeny tiny painting.  Only 4"x4" on gallery wrapped canvas. Actually the little bird is likely life size in the painting.

Day 21 - Everyday's a Beach Day

And another favourite.  For about three years I have been trying to get a photo shoot in with sanderlings, plovers and sandpipers.  I have a really cool idea for a very large painting.  I think i really love beach birds because I love the beach so much.  I love the scent of the salt air and the warm breezes.  I would love to be there now!

  

 

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.