Monday, April 29, 2013

Rainbow Row

"Rainbow Row" 17" x 35" watercolor by Carrie Waller

I am happy to share with you my completed painting "Rainbow Row".  It's a big dude so it took some time but I'm thrilled with the outcome!  This is part of a series I'm working for gallery show.  
"Bottled at the Source" 15" x 27.5" watercolor by Carrie Waller
I'm also happy to share that I sold "Bottled at the Source" this week.  I'll be shipping this off to a collector in Alabama.
"Celebration" 18" x 24" watercolor by Carrie Waller
I also received word that my painting "Celebration" was accepted into the National Watercolor Society Member's show.  I have been trying to ship this painting off and haven't been able to get it out of Arkansas.  I started at UPS but they won't insure it unless it is packed by UPS standards which includes styrofoam peanuts, which is against NWS rules.  So off to the Post off I went, but they have no way to give you a return shipping label, also required by NWS.  Back to UPS I went, but without an exact return date they can't print the return shipping label.  So I created an UPS account and am hoping this will solve my problems.  Any advice from anyone that has done this???? Please????


Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Feature: Suzie Seerey-Lester

"Setting Off" by Suzy Seerey-Lester

Today I'm bringing Suzie Seerey-Lester.  Suzie Seerey-Lester is a distinguished wildlife and landscape artist whose works depict large mammals, birds of prey, magnificent underwater creatures and environmentally sensitive tableaus.  She is a master in the art of Plein Air painting and is in the process of painting throughout America. 

To see more of her work visit her website.

How did you get your start?  What's your artistic journey so far?

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, but moved to Springfield, Virginia when my parents divorced – I was about 3.  We lived with my grandmother who was a wonderful inspiration to me.  

I was the first woman Scuba Diving Instructor Trainer in the early 70s, while I was still in High School.   That’s when I really started to paint.  I was lucky enough to see whales, sharks, dolphins and all the magical creatures that live in the sea.  So I decided to paint them so I could share them with the world.  I wasn’t very good.  I took the paint right out of the tube, never mixing colors!  I did sell quite a few paintings, even though they were very primitive.

I continued my career as a Diving Instructor for 18 years, including working for the CIA.   I taught CIA agents, FBI, Park Police, and local police, how to do “special” things underwater.   I trained President Gerald Ford’s Secret Service Agents to dive as well.  So I traveled to exoitic locations to teach diving, and continued to paint on the side.

In 1990, while living in San Diego, I took my first real art class. It was amazing to me that you could make things look close up, or far away with the use of color.  You could make things round, or in perspective.  I continued with the school every weekend that I was home. By this time I was working for DHL (international courier company) traveling around the world.  In 1994 a friend suggested I take a painting class with her, in Guatemala!  So I did!!  John Seerey-Lester and Alan Hunt were the instructors for the 35 students that traveled to Tikal.  The first night John explained that a group of four students with go with him at 4:00 am to climb a 200 foot tree to see the canopy wake up – toucans flying by, parrot waking up, and the temples come out of the mist.   I was in that first group.  It was magical!!  

I continued to do mixed shows and museum exhibits both domestically and internationally, including some shows that John was showing in as well.

I became a professional artist in 2000 when I married John.
"Morning Flight" by Suzie Seerey-Lester
If you could live anywhere where would you live?

love the gulf coast of Florida, on the beach!   To me that is paradise.  As artists we could live anywhere.  John choose to live in the Venice area when he arrived from England in 1980. I had lived in San Diego for 25 years, but loved the quiet life in Florida. With more birds than people.

What's your favorite thing to paint and why?

My favorite things to paint are old barns and birds, and sometimes old barns with birds!!   I feel that these barns are our vanishing treasures and need to be captured in paint before they disappear.  I love the light coming thru the slats of the barn or the open door flooding the floor with the brilliant morning light.  There are so many interesting things to be found in barns.   Birds are just so elegant and beautiful – in Florida we are surrounded by wonderful birds – Great Blue Herons, Rosetta Spoonbills, Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Wood Storks, Barred Owls, Egrets, Ibis, just to name a few that we see almost every day.
"Nosin Around" by Suzie Seerey-Lester
Could you talk about your painting techniques?

I paint in both oils and acrylics, depending on what I am painting.   If I want strong bright colors, I will use oil.   If I am painting atmosphere – mist, rain, snow, etc., I will use acrylics.     In both oil and acrylic I start with a Masonite panel.  I then apply at least one coat of mid gray gesso.  This seals the panel, gives a tooth to the surface (some “pre gessoed” masonite is so slick the paint won’t stick – its like painting on a refrigerator), and the surface is now a mid-tone.  When painting on the mid-tone, I can immediately see my whites, my darks and mid-tones.   When painting white birds (in acrylic)– like ibis or wood storks, I will use the gray of the panel as the base for the shadow of the bird.  So the white part of the bird may have 100 layers of white gesso, while the shadow area will have reflected light and warm colors in fewer layers.  The same with snow.  I use the background as the shadow, and layer the gesso over the shadows. I paint with acrylic in thin layers, over and over, which gives the painting that soft feeling.  Acrylic also gives me the control to paint in lots of detail, quickly.  When using oil, I also paint very thin, so I can change shapes easily.  When I am happy with the painting, I will start to apply thicker paint.
"Morning Mist-Great Horned Owl" by Suzie Seerey-Lester
Do you have go-to paint/colors, what  are your favorites?

My pallet, in both oil and acrylic is: Payne’s Gray, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Transparent Brown (acrylic), Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Cad Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Viridian, Titanium White (oil) Gesso (Acrylic).  We use Rembrandt Oils and some Richeson Oil colors, and Rembrandt Acrylics.   I use a lot of Payne’s and raw umber.

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My favorite artists are Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh – the old masters, and Andrew Wyeth.  Because my jobs allowed me to travel all over the world, I was lucky to visit some of the best museums. The Louvre, in Paris, The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, Dali in Barcelona, and of course all the wonderful museums in the US.  I love Vermeer and Rembrandt for their use of light, and Andrew Wyeth for his minimal use of color.

My biggest inspiration as an artist is my husband, John Seerey-Lester.  He is one of the world’s top wildlife artists and an incredible artist.  He has taught me most about painting than any else.  He inspires me to get better and better, to paint every day.  We paint side by side every day, and feed off each other as we paint.  If he sees something that needs to be worked on (in one of my paintings) he makes me figure out what is wrong, so I can correct it.  What a great way to learn.  We are each other’s extra set of eyes.  
"Out of Gas" by Suzie Seerey-Lester

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

Some of my crowing achievements are: 
  I wrote an award-winning book: My Painting Is Done, Now What Do I Do?   It is a business book for artists.
Exhibited in Birds In Art 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011
Master Artist two man show at the Waterfowl Festival 2012
Exhibited in Artists for Conservation 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Honored by the NRA for my artwork at the 2013 Women’s Leadership Forum.
2012 Artist Magazine Annual Art Competition, Finalists Award, with an honorable mention in the wildlife category for Sudden Flurry
2011 Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition, Finalists Award, with an honorable mention in the wildlife category for Swan Song
Top 100 in Paint America for two different paintings, Juror’s Award in Paint America for the judges’ favorite painting of the entire show, 
Judges Award from LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, 
Artist of the year for The Ocean Foundation,
Two Top 200 and Top 100 in “Arts for the Parks”, 
The Bennington Art Museum, Animals In Arts Tour, 
Coos Bay Art Museum, where she received an Award of Merit, 
Grant’s Pass Museum, 
Florida Museum for Women Artists first juried show, 
Society of Animal Artists - Art and the Animal Show 
Honored by The Raymond James Companies as their first “Women In Arts” wildlife artist.
Two-man show in a castle outside Barcelona Spain in 2002 and 2004.   
Member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who.  
Artwork published in “The Best of Oil Painting” book. 
John & I were on the cover of Wildlife Art News, 
Featured in Sporting Classics Magazine, and the SKB News.  
Sold paintings at Christie’s and Sotheby’s Art Auctions in London, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the Honolulu Zoo.  
Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists (SAA), Artists for Conservation (AFC), Oil Painters of America (OPA), American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA), The Wildlife Artists Association (WAA), a founding member of Southern Plein Air Artists (SPAA), and The PhArtists.  
"Swan Song" by Suzie Seerey-Lester

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years?  Dream big here:)
  1. I would love to win a $400 million lottery so I could set up an anonymous safety net for artists in need.  If an artist has big medical bills – to pay them without them knowing.  If an artist looses a love one, to help them with counseling or paying their bills.  If an artist is about to loose their home, to step in and save it for them, again with out the artist knowing who helped.
  2. I would love to build a home with a separate studio building.  Custom designed studio for what works for us, at least 3000 square feet.
  3. Have one of my painting sell in excess of $100,000.00.
  4. Have a book of my paintings published.
  5. Get better painting my favorite subjects.
What is your advice for other artists whoa re just getting started in their career?

My advice for an artist just starting is to do your best work.  Do not let anything go out of your studio unless you are proud of it.  No mater what (deadlines, cash flow)– make sure it is your best work. If you start taking short cuts, your work will suffer.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

The best advice that I received as an artist is to paint every day.  The more you paint, the better you will become.

"Born Storming" by Suzie Seerey-Lester
Chocolate or Vanilla?

Dream vacation spot?

Favorite Author?
James Patterson

Favorite Movie?
Out of Africa

Romance  or Comedy?

Favorite dessert?
Red Velvet Cake

Night owl or morning person?
Morning Person

This was fun, thank you so much.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday: "Rainbow Row"

"Rainbow Row" 17" x 35" work in progress watercolor by Carrie Waller 
Here are my work in progress pics for my newest painting.  I finally have a title, my Mom came up with Rainbow Row (she lives in Charleston) and I think it's perfect.  I loved all the titles that you guys sent in as well and plan on using some of those for future painting titles.

I have this painting finished but I'm not unveiling until Monday so until then you can see the work in progress sneak peeks:)

Oh and as far as my laundry list of crazy tasks to finish that I mentioned in last post, my second child just got sick so I'm scratching the yard sale.  Feels good to type that:)  I had a dream last night that I was almost finished packing for our move and I packed the wrong house:)


Monday, April 22, 2013

Almost Done!!!!

Hi Everyone,
work in progress by Carrie Waller, watercolor 17 x 35

I'm painting like a crazy woman with too many deadlines looming.  Oh yeah and I have to move (we're military, our landlords sold our house, boo--so we are moving to a house on the same street).  Have a gallery show on May 9th, a commission due end of this week and working on another project that I have a meeting via skype this Thursday and still don't have any concrete ideas, aaaaaghhhhhh!  Oh and the only time I can have a garage sale (HOA restrictions) is on April 27th, so I'm trying to squeeze that in too.

I will get this all done, I just may not sleep:(

Here is where I am at the moment, have to finish this up today.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Feature: Iain Stewart

Friday Feature: Iain Stewart

 Hi Everyone,
"Thurlow Dam from Fitzpatrick Bridge-Tallassee Alabama" 13"x9" original watercolor by Iain Stewart
Iain came on to my radar about a couple years ago when we were both in the Louisiana Watercolor Society's International Show.  I noticed that he also lived in Alabama so we became fb buddies and I got to meet him and his lovely wife in person in New Orleans at the LWS reception.  Iain has a great sense of humor and of course does amazing things in watercolor.  Iain also just won 1st place in Watercolor Artist Magazine and is in the Art of Watercolour, way to go Iain:)

If you want to see more paintings by him check out his blog and website.

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

My father is a watercolorist. Muir Stewart. I’ve watched him paint all of my life. That being said, I do consider myself mainly self taught. I know that sounds strange, but my father was not big on formal lessons. I’ve had maybe two or three from him between the ages of 10 and 18. I didn’t start painting in earnest until University. I am trained as an Architect and quickly moved into architectural rendering after graduation. Presentation was always a strong point of mine. I had thoughts of doing gallery work, but found myself too busy. That all changed in the recession. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing on my end. I was able to commit almost full time to a serious exploration of how I really want to paint. If I look at work from even 3 years ago I feel that I’m light years past it now.

"The Water house, Staithes, England" 14"x14" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Where were you born?
I was born in Glasgow, Scotland.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
I’m fairly happy where I am now, but if we’re opening up real dreaming here I’d have multiple residences and do sort of a migratory progression to each one. Still, Europe, is really high on the list if we’re choosing just one.
"Santa Maria del Fiore" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

Cityscapes. No question. As an architect I’m drawn to the built environment naturally. Still, I think it has a lot to do with how different elements become layers in such distinct ways. The buildings themselves are static, but at street level you have this beautiful orchestration of movement and energy. I also find the depth that can be achieved by taking a view from the middle of the street fascinating, although taking reference photography can get tricky.

Could you talk about your painting techniques?
My style seems to evolve rather quickly so I’m rarely tied to a specific technique. I’m very willing to test new ideas and to a certain extent embrace the failure as much, if not more, than success. I tell my students if you’re going to muck it up then make it a spectacular failure. I try to hold on to that myself.

As far as actual technique goes I believe you must build from strong drawing skills. Real comfort with a pencil will naturally extend to your brush. In drawing interest is achieved by mixing line weight, stroke, and texture. This is the same with watercolor. If I find myself becoming too careful that is usually a good indicator that on the next pass I need to loosen things up.
"5th Ave from Washing Square Park" 17" x 7.5" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Do you always work from a sketch or do you use photo references?

Both. A camera is invaluable when time is limited or you want to document a lot of information. The problem that arises when only using a camera is I find that I don’t actually become immersed in a subject. I need to work on location to continue to learn how to simplify what I see and get at the heart of the subject. I don’t think this can be done by only referencing photography. The work I do on site is selfish and all about me and how I see things. I know it will rarely be viewed by others. It’s my favorite work.

How did you arrive at your current style?
This is where we do get back to my father. He likens my artistic education to that of a farmer’s son. The son watches the father milk the cows and bring in the hay, or what have you, and he learns how to do those tasks. I’ve watched my father paint my entire life and there is a huge amount of him in me. I think I’ve only recently begun to paint in what could be called “my style.” The breaking away from my father is crucial in claiming my own style. I think it’s safe to say I don’t paint like him now. You’ll always see a little Muir in my work and I’m happy in that, but it’s more important that you see me.
"Sunlit Corner NYC No 1" 10" x 14" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Ok, these keep coming. Muir Stewart. See what I mean?

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Drive. The need to paint. Taking joy in the process of painting and allowing yourself to be selfish without feeling guilty about it. That last one requires a very special partner in life. Painting time is my time. It’s my job, but it’s more than that. It changes how I view the world. Once you learn how to use your artist’s eye you can never go back. Most importantly you have to enjoy, and I mean damned well love, what you do.

"St. Charles Line at 4th" 15.5" x 6.5" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Winsor and Newton without a doubt. My go to colors are cobalt blue, burnt siena, french ultramarine, raw umber, yellow ochre, light red, alizarin crimson, and neutral tint.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

Can you do watercolor in zero gravity? I made a 5 year plan 3 years ago. I’ve checked a lot of dreams as realized off of that list. I am unbelievably thankful for the direction my career is moving in. Quite simply I want to make a comfortable living doing what I love. I think that’s dreaming big. Ok, and maybe a few homes scattered here and there where I could have a sort of traveling artists colony thingy set up. Also a sailboat. A big one.

"Tallassee Alabama No 2" 10" x 6" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Plastics my boy. There’s a future in plastics. Seriously though, don’t do it unless you love it and be prepared to do other things in support of it. Find someone who is abundantly patient and don’t ask them to look at your work as soon as they walk in the door. Most importantly, enjoy it. I don’t subscribe to the tortured artist thing myself. It seems to work for Morrissey, but I have to like what I’m doing.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Paint a sky a day.

Chocolate or vanilla? Both.

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat? Both- preferably one after the other and repeat.

Book or movie? Book before movie.

Favorite author? P.G. Wodehouse.
"Dirty Santa" original watercolor on paper by Iain Stewart
 Favorite movie? At this time of year? Bad Santa.

Romance or comedy? Comedy.

Favorite ice cream flavor? Rocky Road.

Night owl or morning person? I’ve had a lot of fun over the years taking the night owl side on in to morning, but nowadays. Morning person.

Cake or Cupcakes? Both.

Thank you so much Iain:)  Wonderful interview!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday: Large Rainbow Bottles

Add caption

I'm working on my large version of rainbow bottles.  Below is a small section that I painted as a 6x9 version.  The above painting is much larger 17ish by 35ish.  Makes it a little difficult to get great wip pictures.  I'm on the shorter side and I'll have to pull out  my step stool to get some straight on pictures.

6"x9" first painting in my rainbow bottle series
I'm chomping at the bit to go paint so I'll see you Friday for the Friday Feature and check back in Monday to see if I have this painting finished.  I have a gallery show coming up on May 9th, so I'll pretty much be painting at lightening speed until then.

Oh and Jerry's Artarama made me their featured fan art of the week.  How cool is that:))
click here


Monday, April 15, 2013

Watercolor Artist June Issue

"Anticipation" top image was my submission for the "What Do You Love" Watercolor Artist competition.  Beyond thrilled to be and Honorable Mention Winner.
So when I first started painting seriously about 3 years ago I made my out of the world dream list.  On my dream list was to be published in one of the big art magazines.  So it was a surreal moment this weekend to get my advanced copy of June's Watercolor Artist Magazine.  On page 55 I have a painting published.  Pretty crazy stuff!!!  I have been on an incredible journey so far.  I have had my ups and downs and seeing my painting on page 55 just makes me want to work even harder.   My late night painting sessions, lack of sleep, and obsession with painting are paying off.  I can not wait to see what the future holds.  I sooooo appreciate my blogging and facebook friends.  I am so motivated every time I post something and hear from you.  The encouragement and advice is invaluable, I feel so fortunate to be an artist at this time.  So thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Feature: Nicky Campbell

 Hi Everyone,

Today I have Nicky Campbell as my Friday Feature.  Nicky is a watercolor artist out of Johannesburg, South Africa.  I was struck by her interesting compositions and bold colors.  I look forward to seeing her creative paintings in the future.

To see more of her work visit her facebook page.

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

I have painted and drawn since I can remember. I was fortunate to grow up in a family of artists, crafters and writers but when I got married and had children my paints were forgotten buried deep in a cupboard somewhere. A couple of years ago I started getting ill and eventually lost my vision completely. Thanks to the most amazing neuro-surgeon I came out of hospital with my vision but was unable to work anymore. I was at home with nothing to do and felt frustrated so I pulled out the paints that were buried deep in my cupboard and started painting. First I painted eyes because I had almost lost my vision then the people around me that I thought I would never be able to see again. I was hooked and haven’t stopped painting since. My paintings are a celebration of life and all the people I love in it!

Where were you born?
Johannesburg South Africa

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
Africa is my home, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world but I would love to travel and visit as many art museums and galleries as possible!

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
I love painting people more than any other subject .I love having someone’s personality come to life as paint them. Every face has a story to tell.

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

I still have so much to learn so I haven’t got a set technique. With every painting I try a new technique that I’ve learnt from studying other artists .I do spend hours drawing because I believe it doesn’t matter how well you paint if your drawing is wrong your painting won’t work. Then I build up my paintings in layers of glazes. I am not a fan of masking fluid so I preserve whites by painting carefully and wet on to dry as I find I don’t have control when I paint wet onto wet.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

My favorite paint is Winsor and newton.For portraits I mainly use Ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and rose madder. My absolute favorite colour is ultramarine blue; I would quite happily do monochrome portraits with this colour.

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

That is a hard question to answer, I don’t think I have a favorite artist .At the moment my biggest inspiration is J.M.W Turner .His watercolours have amazing atmosphere and light .He continuously experimented which I think is the key to growing as an artist.

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

The biggest so far is being brave enough to make being an artist my day job.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
  1. exhibit my paintings
  2. sell my paintings
  3. Have a beautiful studio of my own
  4. Travel to Italy to paint
  5. Most of all to still be able to get up and paint every day.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Paint what you love. Learn all the rules and then be brave enough to break them. Paint or draw a little bit everyday and most of all have fun!

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

To not only practice painting but to study art history and learn from the masters.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate without a doubt !

Your dream vacation spot?

Italy , I have wanted to visit Italy and explore the amazing art history since I was little girl .

Book or movie?

Movie so I can paint while I watch

Favorite author?

Agatha Christie.Theres nothing better than curling up one of her crime novels and a cup of coffee.

Favorite movie?
Dirty Dancing

Romance or comedy?

Favorite dessert?
Chocolate Mousse.ALWAYS

Night owl or morning person?

Night owl definitely. My children refer to me as the one who roars in the morning !

Thank you so much Nicky:)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bottle Painting # 2

Bottle Series painting #2 6" x 9" original watercolor by Carrie Waller
So here is the second of my series.  I had a huge response to the first painting.  I was thrilled!  This painting is a zoomed in version, the next painting is going to be even more magnified.  I playing with this idea of cropping in closer and cropping in again until you have a straight up abstract painting.

I love this new painting.  I love the colors I love the playfulness.  I'm really having fun with this series.  Looking forward to the next painting in the series.

Bottle Series painting #1 6" x 9" original watercolor by Carrie Waller
I want to thank everyone for all the titles that you sent in.  I have a long list now.  I'm waiting until I'm further into the series to make final decisions.  I want to look at the whole series before I commit.

I'll be sharing the work in progress pictures on Wednesday.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Feature: Helen Shideler

"Drama Queen" original watercolor by Helen Shideler

It's Friday Feature day.  Today I have the fabulous Helen Shideler.  Helen's paintings are full of life with a sense of whimsy.  She uses vivid watercolor colors focusing on details and the precise handling of the paint.  A majority of her work is produced in a series, she says that she paints what interests her therefore one painting usually lends itself to the next.

To see more of her work visit her blog, website and facebook page.

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?
I have always drawn and been interested in painting.  When I was 17 I won a scholarship for a summer wildlife workshop with Gary Lowe.  I was in heaven.  The workshop was in St. Andrews, New Brunswick right on the sea and offered so many things to paint.  We actually learned a bit about taxidermy, having to stuff the bird we were painting in order to preserve them.  But most importantly, I was introduced to watercolor paint.  Not the cake-y stuff we used in school but real W&N watercolor paint.  I was in heaven!

To me, being an artist is more than painting.  It is looking at everything with fresh eyes.  Looking for those exciting and fleeting moments of great light, the perfect shadow and the beauty of clouds and trees.  Admiring the soft textures of flowers,  wet leaves and rocks, being fascinated by bees, etc.  My journey has and continues to be about respecting nature, being surrounded by it as much as possible and reveling in it.
"Raindrops on Sedum" original watercolor by Helen Shideler
Where were you born?
In beautiful Sydney, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
Someplace warmer with a vibrant art community with low crime rates.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
I am attracted to many elements in nature. I am drawn in by light, texture and detail and oh, rich color.  My husband and I are active gardeners.  Frankly, I think I garden to ensure I have a wide variety of subjects to paint in my studio when the season changes and chases us indoors.  I paint intimate florals, up close and personal,  gnarly branches and birds.  My current favorite subject are ducks. They make me happy with their round cheeks and perpetual smiles. 
"Ruby Red Tulips" original watercolor by Helen Shideler
Could you talk about your painting techniques?  
I really have two painting approaches, both filled with enthusiasm and energy.  My more traditional paintings are drawn out in relatively loose detail making sure proportions and perspectives are correct.  I paint in a controlled manner in that I wet only the areas I am applying the paint. I then float in the color allowing it to mingle and mix on the paper.  Often times I will remove or blot out almost as much paint as I apply.  Once the area is dry or a bit damp, I will go back in and sharpen up the details, float another wash - or whatever it takes to get the desired effect.  

I always create a little paint journal for each painting  by applying some of each color to a piece of watercolor paper and labeling them.  I do this because I often have more than one painting on the go at a time and well, you can forget which is which.   

Often, when I am painting a highly detailed piece or a portrait, I will give my mind a break and do a poured painting at the same time.  This helps me to paint my traditional work with a bit of looseness.  I start to get really tight or detailed with my work if I do not do something which includes a freer painting in the mix.  

I start the poured paintings with the same approach as I described previously.  The drawing is particularly important with this technique because the colors are less controlled and float into areas where that color may not exist.  I apply a mask, a layer of paint, more mask -  getting the colors more intense end deeper with each wash.  This process will often have 7 to 8 applications of mask and poured paint.  Once I am satisfied with the depth of the color, I remove the mask.  This can be a real workout.  It is hard work removing that stuff.  I forgot to mention, these are almost always full sheet paintings.  From there I go back in and bring up the detail, soften the edges where the mask was applied if necessary and apply color in places that may need it.

The majority of my work is produced in a series.  I am quite intentional with this as I try to perfect my handling of the subject.  And one painting leads to another then another.

Then I squint at it for a few days to decide if it is really finished or requires any color balancing.  

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I love both Windsor & Newton and most Daniel Smith colors.  Favorites are all the quinacridone colors then sap, green gold, opera rose,  neutral tint, almost every shade of red, cobalt blue.  I have a love /hate relationship with cerulean!  Love indigo, violet, lemon yellow and burnt orange.

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
When I think of artists who dedicate and invest much of their time and effort into their work I admire them.  It takes a lot of stamina to stay with this.  I am inspired by dedication and hard work!

I love The Impressionists, Emily Carr, the Canadian Group of Seven especially Tom Thompson.  I really admire all of the Art Colony Group!   There are so many wonderful artists out there.  

"Summer Finery Clematis" original watercolor by Helen Shideler
What have been some of your crowning achievements?
Having been accepted as a signature member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolor (CSPWC) last May made me feel hugely proud!  To be accepted into this group is a big deal for me - eeee, still so excited.  I have to admit winning Best in Show for a watercolor painting of raindrops on a sedum plant was incredible special as well.  I have hung nine solo exhibitions over the years,  I feel pretty accomplished when I see a large body of my work hanging in one venue and seeing people’s positive reaction.  Both humbling and exciting.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
Oh my... permission to dream. Ok, here goes...
1. Attending the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation Plein Air event in Wyoming in September is really exciting - and is going to happen! 

  1. Be included in an International watercolor show in Europe or Japan - or both
  1. Solo show a gallery in Toronto or New York - dare I dream it?
  1. To tour leisurely around Italy, Portugal, Greece and having the luxury to paint en plein air as I travel
  1. Publish a book featuring my watercolor and acrylic paintings

Dreaming is actually getting easier!
"Maritime Blues" original watercolor by Helen Shideler
What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Work hard, stay with it and develop your own style.  Don’t copy the work of other artists they have already solved any problems there may be - you have to do it for yourself to develop.  And have some fun with it as well!

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
Stop painting before you make it muddy!  Stop painting before you put in so much detail it will get flat!  Learn when to stop!

Chocolate or vanilla?
Absolutely chocolate - dark, milk or white

Your dream vacation spot?
Peru, Greece, Italy any place with history, art and great beaches

Book or movie?
These days would have to say movie. Reading takes too much time from the studio.

Favorite author?
Not sure anymore, I often read books about positive thinking - like Dr. Wayne Dyer,  any natural history type books as well and books about artists.  I love good fiction that is not about wars or have too much violence

Favorite movie?
Thomas Crown Affair - just because 

Romance or comedy?

Favorite dessert?
Apple crisp, lemon pie or cheesecake, fresh fruit salad, berries

Night owl or morning person?
Definitely morning

Thank you so much Helen!  Have a great weekend everyone:)