New Works and the Stories Behind Them

21 January, 2019 5 comments Leave a comment

Canada Rocks #1, watercolour by Karen Richardson

By the time I finished teaching my fall watercolour workshops at the end of November, I had many partially-completed demonstration paintings. My studio was full of 'unfinished business', and I find this visual clutter makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So, in December I got cracking and completed the six paintings shown here. (Click on the pictures for more details about each painting.)

The first three artworks shown here were used to demonstrate painting smooth stones in my Pebbles 1-2-3 single-day workshops. The painting above, 'Canada Rocks #1' includes a collection of reddish pebbles with a red maple leaf resting on a weathered board and represents a rustic version of the Canadian flag. I had such fun painting this one that I came up with a few ideas for other versions of the flag. I'll be working on those this winter.

Superior Lady, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The second pebble painting, 'Superior Lady' (shown above), was inspired by the beautiful beach stones of Lake Superior.  Click here to read about my recent Lake Superior trips and the other paintings they have inspired.

In this painting, I included an American Painted Lady. This is a very common butterfly whose habitat ranges from the sub-arctic to Mexico, east of the Rockies. I deliberately kept the stone colours cool and muted, so the golden tones of this elegant butterfly would shine. 

Superior Monarch, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The remaining pebble painting, 'Superior Monarch' (shown above), also uses Lake Superior beach stones for inspiration, and includes a Monarch butterfly. I had a buyer for this piece before it was even finished, a gentleman who gave it to his wife for Christmas because she was from Sault Ste. Marie (a city on Lake Superior) and was raising Monarchs last summer. I hear she really liked the painting and I am glad it found a home with such an appropriate collector.

Arrived, watercolour by Karen Richardson

'Arrived' (shown above), was the demonstration painting from a three-day advanced workshop. One of my long-time students donated her shell collection so we could use actual objects to paint from (rather than photos). The detail in this piece is incredible, with hundreds of grains of sand, beach glass, stones, and intricate shells. I definitely needed my reading glasses to finish this one!

By the Sugar Shack, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I taught a two-day workshop with this pile of maple leaves on a forest floor as the subject. I called this painting 'By the Sugar Shack' and emphasized the colour contrasts between the newly-fallen red leaf and the older faded leaves. As in all of my paintings, I mixed every colour I needed by combining the three primary colours (red, blue, and yellow). Adding all the blemishes to make the leaves look real took a lot of time, but I liked the result when I was done.

Superior Strength, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Of these six recent works, the painting shown above, 'Superior Strength', is the one to which I feel the strongest connection. It began as my demonstration piece for an advanced watercolour class at Meta4 Gallery in Port Perry. The students and I worked on our paintings for six weeks at class, with homework in between, and still had several days of work at the end to complete the scene. There is an incredible amount of detail in the trees of the far shore, the cracked and lichen-spotted rocks of the foreground, and the reflective-yet-transparent water in the puddles on the rocks. It was very gratifying to see this master work purchased by one of my collectors, a long-time friend, as a Christmas gift for her parents.

This winter, I look forward to creating more new paintings and sharing with you the stories behind them.

Which painting is your favourite? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

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  1. Richard Gauder January 24, 2019

    The Superiors win;)

  2. Laurel Gonneau January 24, 2019

    Karen….love to see your paintings…they soothe my very soul…thank you for sharing…Laurie.

  3. Darlene Ellis Hlozan January 24, 2019

    Superior Strength!!!! It’s so beautiful. wosh I had it on my wall ❤️

  4. Nicole de Mello January 24, 2019

    Absolutely love all of your paintings Karen, haven’t seen one yet that didn’t strike a chord with me. I really love Canada Rocks #1 – just brilliant! Can’t wait to see what else you come up with in this series.

  5. Namaji January 24, 2019

    Superior Strenght speaks most of all. I feel the flow and strength of this creative painting.