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

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?