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Commission – Just Delivered

29 May

Helen Shideler- Heather's Path

This painting is a commission from a girl I went to school with.  Because of certain “life happenings” that we sort of have in common,  she reached out to me to paint a special piece for a very special someone in her life.  This is quite an honor for me to have been able to work with her on this project.

She was very specific.  Although she did not realize it at the time, she really had a clear image of what she was looking for, in terms of how she wanted it to feel.  She just was unable to clearly articulate it at first.

We exchanged a number of emails.  I sent her almost every image I had ever taken of  paths in the woods one or two at a time.  This worked very well.  The feedback she shared as she reacted to the various photos helped me to narrow it down to a sense of colours and the overall feeling.

Then I began the work. Irises from my garden.  A Rhododendron from my garden and two from the internet.  The rail fence from a photo I had taken of the Irving Nature Park etc., etc,

She saw the painting today for the first time and she smiled from ear to ear.  It was exactly what she was hoping for. May I just say PHEW! I am so grateful and excited that she loves it and has confidence that the recipient of her very thoughtful gift will also love it!

I am anxiously awaiting the reaction.



Update # 3 Late August Completed!!!

12 Nov

So this is an interesting way to post a Work in Progress.  I can no longer show you the complete completed work….until I deliver it!  They would like to be surprised and see it in person first.  I can share the grasses have a wonderful orangey glow and you can almost feel their movement in the wind.  There are some brushy grass in the near front that were fun to paint and add much to the depth of the painting.   I discovered a new colour in acrylic  – nickle Azo Yellow.  Really have to be careful with this one – a little goes a long way – and I mean  a long way.   Almost as bad (as good?) as Payne’s Grey

The colours of the ocean waves include a mauvey glow and cerulean blues.   The waves and ripples have  dark areas that were developed with Payne’s Grey.  The cresting waves have a hint of a golden glow.   The beautiful colours of late August.

I will spend the next two or three days staring at the painting – wondering what modifications if any are required.  From there I will remove it from the stretcher bars and send off to Vancouver!   I may want to do come colour balancing on this – but for now, it just feels finished.

Green With Envy – WIP Complete

21 Oct

I have reached the nearly finished stage of this painting.  I will stare at it and scrutinize it for a few days to see if I feel the need to go back in and color balance or make any adjustments at this time.

The amount of work on this painting reminds me a lot of a previous transparent watercolor piece “Raindrops on Sedum” (below) in terms of complexity.  This painting won Best in Show at the CSPWC S’s For the Love of Art  Associate Show in Halifax in 2006.  Both of these paintings had a false start.  I had them drawn out, started painting them and decided to abandon the first drawing and start over.  Phew, thank  goodness I do not get that urge too often!

Green, Greenish?

17 Oct

Ah…the colour of lush gardens and spring and grass and the lawn after a good rain.  Green conjures up so many images in my mind.  I remember that as a little girl no more than seven years old, I thought emerald-green was the most beautiful colour in the entire world.  My father once drove across town (really far and in the snow) in order to take me to K-Mart to purchase a green ring that I saw there the previous day.  I could not get my mind off the colour of that ring. I was completely delighted with my prize until the very next day when my finger turned green. Not a nice shade of green either,  but a sort of blackish, olive-y green. And I soon learned a new word – eczema!  I also learned the price of  pride is pain as I continued to wear the ring!

I still do love green.  Makes me think about images of spring and freshness.  Wikki describes green as “In the visible spectrum of light it is located between yellow and blue, and it is one of the three additive colors, along with red and blue, which are combined on computer screens and color televisions to make all other colors. Green is the color most commonly associated with nature and the environmental movement, Islam, spring, hope and envy”


This WIP is very green.  Many shades of green.  And yet, a suitable title eludes me.  Normally a painting just names itself.  Others I struggle with.  However, the painting is coming along quite nicely.  This is being worked from a series of photographs I took this summer for this commission.  It represents a combination of a few photos, this leaf from this one, that leaf from that one and no insect holes please.  The colors I am using are below.


WIP – Hosta la Vista Baby and why someone should really help me name this one

8 Oct

 And  so it began.  A while back I was approached by a client who saw my hosta painting “Sunshine Shadows”  in acrylic.  She mentioned that both she and she husband are hosta enthusiasts and they would love a hosta painting.  No… no… no… not the painting I had already painted.

Apparently my prized hosta  is well,  a common variety  – please understand, I really only prize it for our ability for having kept the local deer population from eating it long enough to get a number of photos.  The hosta came with the house and I love it.  Where we live hosta are a loosing game… they are a unique family of garden plants known as deer salad!  For a few years I managed to keep it safe from Bambi’s grazing eyes and voracious appetite.  Then one spring day it happened.  Bambi and her family cleaned out our entire hosta garden.  Gnawed  it down to the ground!  All that was left of our hostas was a sorry stubby stand for us to lament over.    Well we pined, we plotted, we planned and we decided our hostas had to move.

So you get the idea why we prize this particular plant – perhaps the sorry story in detail another blog post.  This would likely also be accompanied with the “why I hate  tulips” post – maybe next spring.  And so, back to the beginning.  This summer my client and I had a plan.  Her family would be away for a weekend and it would be the perfect opportunity for a clandestine photo shoot.

With careful plotting and many shots later, we agreed on two in particular.  You know commissions, one leaf from this …one leaf from that.  And Oh… I really like this colour.  And so it began.   This is the beginning, the WIP and I really need help in naming this one please!

A lonely visit to the beach of my childhood – Mispec Beach

29 Jul

I have a painting commission to do of shorebirds.  This is the right time of year for photographic reasearch as the birds are in the early stages of their fall migration.  I know there is a shorebird conservatory a few hours from here (Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Conservatory and Interpretive Centre), but I though I would take my chances with a beach nearer to home.  Also, I would never pass up the chance to head out to Micpec Beach located at the edge of Saint John.

The day was overcast, slight rain, no wind and 24 degrees. Perfect beach day for an artist with a camera.  When I arrived at the beach, I was taken aback.  I know a storm surge wiped out the trails and stairs a few years ago, but holy hannah I was not really prepared for what I saw.  An area of  parking lot was chained off – to keep visitors for f the edge that was compromised by the storm.  I felt like I was on a lost and lonely overgrown movie set.  The canteen was boarded in, there are paddlelocks on the washroom and the place is suffering from lack of repair and neglect.

The  photo above is taken from the look out area above the beach… only a few cars there and a few people walking on the beach.  Strange sense of loneliness.  And so I walked the on the beach towards the fast approaching tide,  happy just to be there, and wondering where the birds are.  Sure there were a few species of gulls – but no shorebirds, no phalaropes, no plovers and no sign of any sandpipers.  But worst of all , there were no sounds of children playing!    While making my way back to my car, ever looking for a piece of beach glass I noticed the litter.  Empty plastic cups, cigarette buts. Well makes me sad… mad… frustrated.  Even if the place is not longer a public place, I cannot imagine why anyone would think it is ok to leave their trash behind!  People!.    

So, back to the parking lot for a few last photos. I wanted to soak in the sounds and the scents of the beach.  The din was shattered! Jeepers, I heard a shotgun blast from the woods across the street – very close across the street.  Made me nervous enough to think it was time to bid farewell to the ever beautiful Micpec Beach and head for home. On the way to my car, the second holy crap kerpow sounded.  Well I left rather quickly.  The shots added to the all too intense sense of isolation. (So my friend Susan just let me know this is actually a police shooting range – phew)

So, at home I decided to Google the fate of the beach.  This is a link to a story in the Telegraph Journal  and this is a link to the save Mispec Beach Facebook page.  I just asked to join this  page – I hope you will also!

My painting is on the front page of “The Showcase Magazine”

11 Jun
In April I was approached by Nina Ulloa the Publisher/Editorial Director of “The Showcase Magazine” to allow them to use one of my paintings on the cover of the June edition of the magazine!  The magazine is publishes out of Warren, NJ.  Of course I said YES.  I think it looks wonderful – very exciting!
An there is more  on page 4 – you can visit the maagazine by clicking here 

Spring Travels

25 Mar

Just completed.. companion commission

This watercolor is a composite of three photos of the same area somewhere down south.  The owners of the painting are well travelled. Thy have been keeping thier eyes open for a subject that would work with their first painting.  I love the colors of the water and the feeling of the painting. I would like to be there right about now.

Commission Trials and Tribulations

18 Mar

So… I have been working on this commission.  My clients purchased a painting  awhile ago and wanted a companion piece in another season.  They are well-travelled and were keeping an eye out for inspiration. I started the painting, got mostly through it and wondered if the boat was too large. So I started it over.  Now when I look at the first painting – I think it is fine – not finished but fine.  Somehow, when a painting is in the early stages it may appear to be funky.  Almost all paintings do this.  And I know it – but started it over anyway.

Stay tuned for progress – I will  finish both and give them a choice.

The painting below is the companion piece!

Old Reliable

28 Jun

Honestly, I think I was more afraid to start this commission than I have ever been when starting a portrait.  The owner of this tractor loves it.  He is more than proud of it. And so my conundrum (I love that word).   Painting nature is a bit more forgiving and less precise than rendering something that has been manufactured.  Tractors are specific, they have gears & grills, shiny parts and mucky parts along with very specific angles, perspective and proportions. 

The drawing has to be precise and representational of all the details.  No room for errors here.  Have to invest the time upfront to get it right.  Typically, I approach a painting with a very loose drawing focusing on volume – how much space the subject occupies, proportions, and the best composition to do it the most justice.  So I had to switch gears with this one. No pun intended.

In order to capture the softness of the spring sky I used a gel medium to keep the acrylic paint wet longer to allow for more blending.  Then I began working on the details of the horizon and the areas between the rail fence. 

Next I fussed with getting the reds right.  I mixed and tested and mixed some more.  Somewhere along the line I began to relearn that acrylic reds are difficult.  The colors deepen as they dry – whereas with watercolor they lighten.  Often deepening for several hours after the color has been applied.  Also acrylic reds have a tendency towards streaking. Layer after layer after layer of red and orange were applied.  The next day more layering of lighter reds. You get the idea. 

And finally, it is complete and I am at the starting stage.  This is when I stare at the painting with squinty eyes and a critical view.  Looking for any area requiring tweaking and fussing.  I generally wait two- three days before sealing the work and framing – just in case….
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