Earthbound Artist

How I Sold This Painting to a Middle East Buyer

31 October, 2018 5 comments Leave a comment

Holding On by Karen Richardson

It all started with a Facebook post I made last week, about a painting that was accepted into a local juried art show.

'Holding On' (pictured above), a large watercolour in my Lake Superior Series, was one of 65 paintings selected from 181 entries in PineRidge Arts Council's Annual Juried Show. The accepted works are on display at the McLean Community Centre in Ajax from October 23 until November 24, 2018.

I posted this announcement on Facebook one evening last week, along with the photo. The next morning, I was delighted to receive this message: "Dear Karen, hope you are well! I love the painting Holding On and would like to buy it. ūüôā please do let me know if it is for sale, I could transfer the funds to you through the Internet. I am now working for UNICEF in Kabul Afghanistan! Hopefully I will be home for Christmas. All the best." The sender was a long-time friend and former co-worker from my years at Hubbell Canada.

I thanked her and sent her the price of $2000 and my email address, and a few hours later received the funds via bank transfer. I advised the arts council of the sale and sent them their commission cheque. 'Holding On' will remain on display in Ajax for the duration of the show and then I will store it until the buyer can pick it up.

After the sale, she commented: "As soon as I saw you post the painting it just spoke to me and I had to have it! It is serene, calming, beautiful, and for me represents success despite all the odds! :) I look forward to enjoying it for year's to come! It will definitely have a forever home! ūüíĖ"

To see the creation story of 'Holding On', including a time-lapse video, click here.

This sale marks the 20th country from which collectors have acquired my paintings, and is the first sale of my work to the Middle East.

Caught in the Rain by Karen Richardson

This year, several other paintings have found homes outside of Canada. 'Caught in the Rain' (shown above), went to a buyer from Boca Raton, Florida.

'Clarity' and 'Listen to the Lake' (shown below) were acquired by collectors from Boston, Massachusetts.

Clarity by Karen Richardson    Listen to the Lake by Karen Richardson

The acquisition of my paintings by like-minded people all over the world, through galleries, art shows, open studios, and social media, provides profound encouragement, and tangible support, for a sustainable, art-centred life. I send a heartfelt 'Thank You' to the many fine folk who have welcomed over 600 of my paintings into their homes and hearts over the past three decades.

Your comments are welcome. Please use the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to learn more about the life of a professional artist, travel tales, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of 'Superior Gems'

12 September, 2018 2 comments Leave a comment

 Superior Gems, watercolour by Karen Richardson

All my life, I have felt the magnetic pull of stone, from mountains to boulders to pebbles to grains of sand. Perhaps it was my childhood spent near Algonquin Park, surrounded by the terrain of the Canadian Shield, that makes me instinctively drawn to rock-filled wilderness scenery.

Many people I meet at art shows or in my art classes are as captivated by beach pebbles as I. We often talk about our shared fascination with smooth stones, especially those displaying unusual colours or interesting patterns.

During a classroom chat, one of my painting students suggested I would enjoy a visit to Pebble Beach in the town of Marathon on Lake Superior's northern shore.

A few months later, travels took my husband and I by that location, and we made a point to check out this beach. Am I ever glad we did! Shown below is the view looking eastward from the entrance path.

Photo of Pebble Beach (view eastwards) at Marathon, Ontario by Karen Richardson

Marathon's Pebble Beach is composed of smooth round stones the size of citrus fruits - from limes to grapefruits. The colours are rich and varied, especially when the stones are wet, and many have interesting stripes or other markings. One wonders how stones from many different rocky origins ended up in one place. I was glad I had my hiking boots on, as walking on these piles of shifting 'bowling balls' with camera in hand was a tricky prospect. Shown below is the westward view along Pebble Beach.

Photo of Pebble Beach (view westwards) at Marathon, Ontario by Karen Richardson

I visited there shortly after a rain shower - what I call a 'soft' day. I loved the combination of vividly coloured stones and misty background.

Recently I completed my first painting of this beach (shown at the top of this post) and am totally thrilled with it. I chose a low point of view for the composition to give the stones more prominence, and I selected the title because these stones are as breathtaking as jewels to me.

I photographed each step of my painting process and created a one-minute time lapse video, to show you the flow of this painting's creation. Click on the picture below to view the video and get an idea of how I work.

 

I am looking forward to doing more paintings of this remarkable beach. If you are a 'rockaholic' like me, you will understand my compulsion.

For more information about this painting, click here.

Do you have favourite spots on Lake Superior I should visit? If you have suggestions or comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Why I Share my Art with the World

27 August, 2018 2 comments Leave a comment

Hardwood Floor, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Recently, a thought-provoking question came from one of my Facebook friends, who asked if I find it hard to part with my paintings when they sell, since I put so much of myself into creating them. This question made me think of several favourite pieces that I no longer own.

The truth is, when a really successful piece sells quickly, I do feel a bit of a pang inside, because I still have a powerful emotional connection with the finished artwork. 

The images in this post reveal paintings that still own a piece of my heart, even though they have long ago been acquired by collectors.

Pictured above is Hardwood Floor, painted in 2002. I enjoyed it for three years before it found its new owner, but I still miss it. The colours just sing to me and I like the idea of finding beauty in imperfect or ordinary things.

Sweet Slumber, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The painting above is Sweet Slumber (1990) which graces a home in Calgary, Alberta. I love the contrast of complementary colours, orange and blue, in this piece, as well as the diagonal and vertical lines that guide the viewer's eye around the composition.

Autumn Welcome, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Above is Autumn Welcome (1995), inspired by a beautiful historic home in Port Perry and a twig chair made for me by a friend. I love the seasonal elements that celebrate autumn and the contrast of the red-orange brick with the dark green of the porch and roof. Fittingly, this painting was acquired by the home owners. 

Noteworthy, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is Noteworthy (2006) and below is Sun, Sand and Sea (2006). Both were inspired by trips to the Maritimes and sold the same year they were created. I adore the balanced composition and fresh colour palette of Noteworthy, and the contrasting textures and subdued colours in Sun, Sand and Sea.

Sun, Sand and Sea, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I have had lots of practice saying good-bye to paintings, with over 600 of them sold to collectors since 1986, and I am still young enough to think I have 'unlimited' opportunity to paint more great pieces.

Below is Desert Compadres (2009), inspired by our trip to the American Southwest. This Collared Lizard ran right up to me as I was standing in the Painted Desert taking photos. This normally elusive creature posed on the colourful gravel at my feet for about 30 seconds and I got several clear close-up shots to use as painting references. I couldn't believe my good luck. I added the cactus to the scene in my painting, which sold before it was finished.

Desert Compadres, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I take photos of every completed painting and keep an archive to refer back to, so I can continue to enjoy my sold pieces. Below is Simply Amaizing (2009). The step-by-step process of painting this remarkable larger-than-life piece is detailed in my book Watercolour Toolbox. I love the light and shadow in this painting, as well as the range of colour. Every sunlit corn kernel has a highlight and a shadow containing reflected light.

Simply Amaizing, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Essentially though, I paint in order to share my reverence for peaceful and beautiful places, usually in the natural world, with folk who feel the same. Below is Magnolia Serenade (2012) which sold the following year. I am drawn to the dreamlike quality and soft colours of this painting. The background was challenging but turned out beautifully.

Magnolia Serenade, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I experience a thrill when one of my 'kids' goes to its forever home, where it will enrich other people's lives for decades to come. February Flow (2016), shown below, sold just two months after I finished it, which is wonderful, but I do miss this awesome painting. I love the contrasts within it - light/dark, fluid/frozen, and powerful/delicate.

February Flow, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Last year, I painted a set of three watercolours of pebble stacks, each named after a different cocktail. I only got to enjoy them for three months before they went to their forever home in Washington state. Shown below is one of them, Martini on the Rocks (2017).

Martini on the Rocks, watercolour by Karen Richardson

My art business motto is "Making the world a happier place... One painting at a time." So I am committed to sharing my paintings with a wide audience, but sometimes that does tug on my heart strings.

Cheers everyone. And feel free to share!

Your comments are welcome. Please use the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to learn more about the life of a professional artist, travel tales, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of 'Holding On'

18 July, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

Holding On, watercolour by Karen Richardson

My camping trips to Lake Superior last summer and this spring continue to inspire new paintings. This region of Ontario has become one of my top Canadian travel destinations, and every time I visit there the landscape absolutely captivates me.

For my latest painting in the Lake Superior series, I decided to invent a scene using diverse photographic references. The genesis of the idea was a photo I took years ago in Algonquin Park, of pine tree roots grasping what appeared to be solid rock. I saved this photo for decades, and knew it would make a great painting concept one day.

Lake Superior viewed from Rossport, Ontario, photo by Karen Richardson

For the background, I used the actual view of islands in Lake Superior at Rossport, Ontario (shown above). For the foreground I used a photo of a hardwood tree trunk and roots that I captured on the Bruce Peninsula a few years ago. The rocks I made up, loosely inspired by my photos taken on the Lake Superior waterfront trail at Rossport.

Fortunately I had the foresight to take photos of each stage of this challenging painting as I worked on it. From these work-in-progress photos, I assembled an 80-second time lapse video, so viewers could see the flow of this piece to its completion. Click on the picture below to view the video.

Since I did not have one reference photo of the total scene, I really stretched my design, drawing, and painting skills for this project. I had to evaluate after each step and decide what needed to be done next to make the scene look more real. And I had to make sure the lighting and mood of the background and foreground remained consistent.

When I viewed the completed painting, I had a compelling urge to visit this imaginary place, to sit in the shade of this tree, feel the breeze on my face, smell the clean air, and admire the magnificent view. Can you feel it too?

For more information about this painting, click here.

What does 'Holding On' say to you? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Meet My Spring Grads

21 June, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

This spring, during watercolour workshops at my Lindsay studio, I had the pleasure of painting with 25 students.

Half of them were in my Pebbles 1-2-3 one-day workshops. Here are the graduation photos from those beginner level sessions. Notice all the smiles! In the first photo, you can see my demonstration painting in the foreground.

Pebbles 123 Beginner Watercolour Class by Karen Richardson

Pebbles 123 Beginner Watercolour Class by Karen Richardson

Pebbles 123 Beginner Watercolour Class by Karen Richardson

Another popular subject was Weathered Wood and Stones, a 2-day workshop that ran twice. I included some 'action' shots below.

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Isn't it remarkable how different each painting is, even though we used the same reference photo? We used actual stones for individual inspiration. The photos below are from the second version of the class.

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

I taught a three-day Sea Shells on Sand workshop for intermediate/advanced students, that produced amazing results. Rather than a reference photo, we used actual shells (donated by one of the students), as well as sea glass and bits of driftwood, to make unique creations. Pictured below are me and my students with our paintings well underway.

Sea Shells on Sand advanced watercolour class with Karen Richardson

Pictured below is a finished painting by one of my students:

Student work from Sea Shells on Sand workshop with Karen Richardson 

And here is my finished demonstration painting Seaside Treasures, including a few detail shots:

Seaside Treasures, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Seaside Treasures (detail), watercolour by Karen Richardson

Seaside Treasures (detail), watercolour by Karen Richardson

Click here for more details about Seaside Treasures.

Thank you to all my students, who made a watercolour journey with me this spring. Together, we learned a lot!

My Fall 2018 Workshops (1-day, 2-day, or 3-day) will run within the mid October to end of November time frame and will feature some of the same popular subjects that I taught in the spring. Click here to see the workshop schedule.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting tips, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of 'Crystal Clear'

04 June, 2018 1 comment Leave a comment

Photo of Lake Superior by Karen Richardson

Last summer, I was thrilled to spend some time camping along the north shore of Lake Superior, not far from the rocky point shown above (you can read about my trip at Exploring Lake Superior - At Last).

I came home with an extensive collection of reference photos to inspire new paintings. The combination of a world-class variety of colourful rocks and stones and extremely clear water makes for awesome painting subjects. I have completed several excellent pieces, and described some of my painting processes in these articles The Superior Paintings Begin and The Making of 'Listen to the Lake'.

The scene above is in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park (Rossport) and was the subject of a three day advanced workshop I taught in my Lindsay studio. Shown below are the steps involved in capturing this scene in a watercolour painting. There is also a short video of part of the early painting process.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

After drawing the scene in pencil on 300 lb cold press watercolour paper (above), I used masking fluid to mask out the twigs and leaves of the shrubbery and the three small rocks sticking out of the water. This temporary protective coating preserved the white paper for a later painting stage. Then I painted a layer of warm gray in the reflection of the far point.

I mixed blue and gray washes (below), using test strips of watercolour paper to verify the colours were accurate to my reference photo. All the colours in this painting were mixed from primary colours blue, red, and yellow.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

After I wet the paper where the highlight would be off the end of the point (below), I started painting with the blue mixture for the upper portion of the lake water, gradually blending in the gray mixture as I worked into the lower portion of the lake water.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

One of my students took a video of me painting just this section above, while I explained what I was doing, and why. Anyone interested in the details of this process will want to click on the image below to view the 10-minute video.

In the photo below, I have painted the gray shadow layer on the large rock outcroppings. I like to paint my shadows first, while I can see my pencil lines clearly.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

Shown below, after the shadow layer dried, I re-wet the rocks with clear water, added quick strokes of tan and gray, then sprinkled salt on top. Each grain of salt absorbed a bit of paint, leaving a pale splotch in the colour. When fully dry, the salt was brushed off. I also painted the first layer of the distant shore hills and penciled in the outlines of the underwater stones.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

In the photo below, I masked out the shapes of lichens in the foreground rock, and deepened the gray shadows with more paint. In the background rock, I used dry brush 'scumbling' to suggest rock colours and textures. The shadow layer was added to the distant shoreline.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

In the photo below, I have removed the masking from the foreground rock, revealing the lichen shapes. Using negative painting techniques, I painted outside of each underwater rock shape. When fully dry, I removed the masking from the shrubbery and stones, revealing the white paper. 

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

The final step was to paint the leaves, twigs, and three stones above the water level. The mounted and framed painting, Crystal Clear, is shown below. For more details about this finished work, click here. 

Crystal Clear, watercolour on panel by Karen Richardson

What does this scene say to you? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Treefrog - Hiding in Plain Sight

04 June, 2018 7 comments Leave a comment

One Two Treefrog, watercolour by Karen Richardson

One day I was reviewing some wildlife photos I had taken years ago, and came across a snapshot of a tiny tree frog that visited my Port Perry patio one day. The frog, an expert in camouflage, looked exactly like a flattened round pebble.

If you know me at all, it will come as no surprise that I tend to bring home stones from my travels. I have a large collection of interesting specimens displayed on the window sills in my studio and often feature these pebbles in my paintings.

I decided to paint a horizontal lineup of the frog with two similar stones from my travels last summer. One stone was from the Maritimes and the other was from Lake Superior. I made a short time-lapse video to show my creation of this amusing little painting, so you could see the steps involved. I think it is vastly interesting, even to those who are not painters, and I hope you do too. Just click on the image below to view the 90-second clip.

If you would like more details about the finished piece, click here.

What do you think of my wee frog? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

My Spring Open Studio was Awesome!

07 May, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

Karen Richardson with the winner of her painting Rocks of the Rock

My annual Spring Open Studio event, held on the last weekend in April, was a resounding success, with several major works finding forever homes. I thank everyone who came out to my Lindsay studio to see my new landscapes and nature study paintings, and have a chat and a tour of my creative space.

Everyone who attended was eligible to enter a free draw for my 'Rocks of the Rock' painting, valued at $400. The winner was Erika Thimm, a naturalist and nature photographer from Port Perry (shown with me above).

Erika has been attending my art events for the last 20 years and she brought to my Open Studio a new Canadian Kurdish family of six from Syria, that came one year ago to Port Perry. The children, artistically inclined, especially enjoyed seeing some Canadian art. Erika made this comment after the show: ''I so much enjoy Karen's work, because she brings the spirit of the subjects to the canvas - what I see and feel in Nature.''

Shown below are several photos of my studio, taken just before visitors arrived.

Karen Richardson's Spring Open Studio event

Karen Richardson's Spring Open Studio event

Karen Richardson's Spring Open Studio

Karen Richardson's Spring Open Studio event

Karen Richardson's Spring Open Studio event

The photo below shows three paintings in progress on my drafting table. Visitors enjoyed this glimpse into the process of my artwork creation and I spoke to many people interested in attending my watercolour classes.

Karen Richardson's Spring Open Studio event - paintings in progress

I truly enjoyed hosting my Spring Open Studio. This was a perfect time of year  and I look forward to doing it every April.

If you have any ideas, questions, or comments to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to learn more about the life of a professional artist, travel tales, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

My Interview with Cogeco TV

23 April, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

My Lindsay studio was the setting for a video that Cogeco TV filmed last year. Mike Sloboda hosted the half hour interview as part of his 'All Around The Town' series, and it was a sincere pleasure to converse with Mike.

Recently, I came across a snippet from this interview, and thought you might enjoy a glimpse of my art studio and my artist's story. This 3-minute summary captures the highlights of my art background and why I paint; shows me in my studio; and includes some time lapse sequences of paintings being created.

Just click on the image below to view the video.

If you have any comments to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter to learn more about the life of a professional artist and her travel tales, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Fitting In a Winner

15 April, 2018 1 comment Leave a comment

Fitting In, watercolour by Karen Richardson    

Last fall, I created this watercolour painting from a photo taken in Nova Scotia during our 2017 Maritime trip.

I love the apparent simplicity of this composition, with three smooth pebbles sitting in a cleft of weathered driftwood. But the image implies a more complex meaning to me; one of shelter, security, togetherness, and family.

When the painting was completed, I posted a picture of it on Facebook, to ask my online friends for suggestions for a title. The image got a strong response, with about 50 title ideas coming forward. The one I selected was 'Fitting In', but I made note of all the suggestions, to use on future paintings I am creating in a series about cracks and crevices. An artist friend also suggested I add a living creature to the driftwood cleft, peeking over the stones. Hmmm... food for thought.

Karen Richardson with her painting 'Fitting In' at the 2017 PineRidge Juried Art Exhibition.

Then I entered 'Fitting In' in the This Is Home painting competition, sponsored by Artwork Archive. My artwork took first place with over 800 votes on Facebook, winning the Voter's Choice award of US$300. A few weeks later, two of my paintings, including 'Fitting In', were accepted into the PineRidge Arts Council 18th Annual Juried Art Exhibition (shown above). This competition had 190 pieces submitted by 103 artists, with only 65 paintings being accepted into the show by the juror.

During this time, I recognized that this image would be an excellent subject for a watercolour class, allowing me to teach several key aspects, such as choosing a focal point, contrasting light and dark, depicting smooth and rough textures, and mixing subdued colours, to name a few.

So this spring, I taught this subject twice in classes held in my Lindsay studio, and my instincts were correct; my students LOVED painting this scene and learning all I could impart along the way. They used actual stones from my rock collection as reference, to make their creations unique.

Here are photos of my students with their finished pieces:

Weathered Wood and Stones, 2-day watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Weathered Wood and Stones, 2-day watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Several of the students made comments after class:

"I learn so much when I take workshops with you. You have such a fantastic knowledge base. You explain the why as well as the how! Painting in your studio, surrounded by your incredible paintings, is such an inspiration. And you are a joy as a teacher! Thanks a million for an incredible time!" ~Diane S.

"We had such a wonderful time. I learned SO much about handling watercolour and how to achieve different textures. The "ah ha" moment for me was learning how to mix all those subtle colours from just three primaries. Karen is an awesome teacher who is able to convey so much of her knowledge and experience to her students." ~Jan Z.

"Thank you so much for the whole experience. It was such an inspiring and educational two days. I know that is due to your organization, presentation and overall thoughtfulness of your students. I did not really believe I could leave that workshop with a piece of art that resembled what Jan had shown me after she attended the 'Pebbles' workshop. What an amazing feeling that was... Thank you again for sharing your expertise and delighting in the pleasure that your 'gift' brings others." ~Roz G.

I made a new demonstration painting during each session, to show the students various painting techniques, and I decided to add a living creature to each one, to make paintings that were different from my first version. Here are the three paintings shown as a series:

Fitting In, watercolour by Karen Richardson   Curiosity, watercolour by Karen Richardson   A Moment's Rest, watercolour by Karen Richardson

In considering appropriate titles, I first came up with 'Fitting In', 'Sitting In', and 'Flitting In' for the series. Then I thought, since possibly these three paintings will end up in the hands of separate collectors, the humour might be lost. I decided a more appropriate title for the version with the squirrel would be 'Curiosity', and for the version with the butterfly, 'A Moment's Rest'. I would love to hear your thoughts on titles.

These three paintings, part of a group of almost 40 pieces, will be on display at my Spring Open Studio (weekend of April 28 and 29, 1 to 5 pm) in Lindsay. I hope you can meet the trio in person. One can't help but smile when seeing them.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please let Karen know by clicking on the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

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