Earthbound Artist

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The Making of 'Bring a Paddle'

27 June, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

Bring a Paddle (12 x 12", shown above) was inspired by my travels to countless northern lakes over the years, including Georgian Bay, the Thousand Islands, and the Temagami region. My husband and I have a canoe and kayaks and enjoy exploring peaceful lakes on these watercraft.

Where we live in Ontario, we see gorgeous fall colours in our abundant forests, including the splendid reds of our sugar maples. I decided on a fall-themed painting, featuring the rich dark blue of our autumn lakes, contrasted with lush foliage colours punctuated by iconic white pines.

I used numerous reference photos of northern lakes, islands, and canoes to compose this imaginary scene. Shown below are some of the photos, a concept sketch for the island, and the initial pencil drawing on watercolour paper.

Reference photos for Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

This is the canoe reference photo I selected (below), taken by my friend Averill and used with her permission. I changed the green canoe to red to coordinate with the red maple trees in the painting.

Photo of canoes by Averill Ambrose 

After completing the painting, I was particularly pleased with the water ripples and reflections, as they are difficult to achieve, especially when combining multiple references and working on wet paper.

Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

Fortunately I had the foresight to take photos of each stage of this challenging painting as I worked. From these work-in-progress photos, I assembled a short time lapse video, so you can see the flow of this piece to its completion.

Click on the image below to view the 100-second story:

 

I posted in-progress photos of this painting on Facebook and had an offer to purchase before the painting was finished. The Montreal buyer said "I keep missing opportunities to get the ones I love. The last one left before I could... Bring a Paddle already has my heart even if not done yet... As soon as I saw it I knew I couldn't live without [it]... I see great things all the time [on Facebook] but yours speak to me."

I love to hear comments such as this. My goal is to make the world a happier place... one painting at a time. I think I scored a big hit with this one.

For more details about this painting, click here.

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 to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

April New Works and Their Stories

10 May, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Paintings by Karen Richardson

It is remarkable how many memories can be captured in a simple lake scene. I grew up in the Canadian Shield region of Ontario, just east of Algonquin Park, so landscapes filled with clear water, sturdy rocks and wind-sculpted pine trees are ingrained in my soul.

April was another productive month in my studio, as I continued to create exciting new work in my northern lakes series. I love painting the effect of calm water and the stillness it imparts to the viewer. Many people tell me these paintings remind them of their childhood too.

Summer Retreat by Karen Richardson

Shown above is 'Summer Retreat' watercolour on panel (no glass) 24 x 18". This was inspired by several earlier paintings I created of stormy skies over an island cabin. Here are those earlier paintings:

Refuge by Karen Richardson  Island in the Storm by Karen Richardson

'Refuge' (16 x 12") and 'Island in the Storm' (11 x 14"), shown above, were created in 2016 as demonstration paintings at watercolour workshops, where I showed students how to invent an imaginary scene using two reference photos. Here are my reference photos below.

The image of a wee abode perched on a rocky isle continued to haunt my imagination, even after the 2016 paintings were completed and found their forever homes. I wondered what it would look like under clear blue skies and in a large format. 'Summer Retreat' was the result. For more information about this painting, click here.

 

 Summer Memories by Karen Richardson

'Summer Memories', watercolour on panel (no glass) 18 x 24" shown above, was inspired by a scene I painted in February, called 'Welcome to the Lake' (18 x 24", shown below with reference photo to the right).

Welcome to the Lake by Karen Richardson   Photo of Big Cedar Lake by Karen Richardson

I was enthralled with this earlier painting because it is the view from the cottage my husband's family used to own on Big Cedar Lake near Apsley. We have many wonderful memories of this lovely spot, and when 'Welcome to the Lake' sold in March (to a family who also had a raft like this one at their cottage), I felt compelled to create another version of the scene. I moved the raft and added some lily pads to make a new composition and I love the result.

For more details about Summer Memories, click here.

I have several other excellent reference photos from our times on Big Cedar Lake and plan to make more paintings of iconic summer memories.

 

Come Fly With Me by Karen Richardson

Shown above is 'Come Fly With Me', watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 16", which was inspired by a weathered piece of driftwood on the beach at Neys Provincial Park near Marathon, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Superior. We camped there last summer and I took a bunch of awesome reference photos. Here is the one that inspired this painting, along with a gull photo by Iris Vallejo (used with permission).

Photo of Beach at Neys Prov Park by Karen Richardson   Seagull reference photo credit: Iris Vallejo (Pixabay)

For more information about Come Fly With Me, click here.

 

Wild Blue Yonder by Karen Richardson

'Wild Blue Yonder' watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 6", shown above, was inspired by this photo below of a winter scene that I took back in the 1980's during a snowmobile trip.

Winter Pines photo by Karen Richardson

This photo also inspired this winter watercolour scene below, 'Enchantment' 5 x 14" which I painted and sold in 2006.

Enchantment by Karen Richardson

I find this grouping of pine trees very appealing so I decided to make a vertical summer lake scene, place the trees on a rocky island, and invent their reflections. Here is the concept sketch I made of the imaginary island prior to starting the painting:

Sketch for Wild Blue Yonder painting by Karen Richardson

I added the underwater stones in the foreground of the painting to balance the composition and give an indication of a rock-based region like the Canadian Shield. 

The literal meaning of Wild Blue Yonder is 'a location far away that is appealingly unknown and mysterious'. What a perfect title for this imaginary scene.

To see more details about 'Wild Blue Yonder', click here.

 

Dive Right In by Karen Richardson

The last painting I created in April is shown above. 'Dive Right In' watercolour on panel (no glass) 8 x 8" shows the view from my sister-in-law's dock on Lake of the Woods near Kenora, Ontario. It is perfect in its simplicity and will bring back wondrous memories for many people, of sweet summer days spent on peaceful northern lakes.

For more information about 'Dive Right In', click here.

Does any of these paintings bring to life a childhood memory for 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 painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

March New Works and Their Stories

21 April, 2019 2 comments Leave a comment

Misty Memories, watercolour by Karen Richardson

March was another productive month in my studio, as I continued to create new work in my northern lakes series. I am preparing for my Spring Open Studio (which is on the last weekend in April every year) and I need to replenish my commercial galleries for the upcoming tourist season.

Shown above is Misty Memories, watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 16", a scene inspired by the raft at my husband's family's cottage in the Kawartha Lakes region. Over the years, I photographed this raft in many atmospheric conditions - calm, wind, sunshine, storm, sunrise, evening, fog, and so on. This scene evokes the memory of a tranquil morning moment, looking out at the quiet lake cloaked in mist, anticipating another special day at the cottage. A gentle breeze has started to ripple the water, beginning to reveal a glimpse of pine trees on the far side of the bay. Click here for more details about Misty Memories.

 

 Mystical Morning, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Pictured above is Mystical Morning, watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 16". This is the fourth and largest version I painted of this scene, which depicts a red canoe pulled up onto the rocky shore, nestled under two glorious white pines on the point. Wisps of mist rise from the lake to reveal the forest on the far shore. A new voyage of exploration is about to begin. Click here for more details about Mystical Morning.

 

Drifter's Dream, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The painting above is titled Drifter's Dream, watercolour (no glass) 12 x 12". I deliberately left the bottom half of this composition without wildlife, boats, canoes, rafts, or any other evidence of human presence. I want viewers to experience the restorative peace of this quiet lake and let their imaginations decide what is hidden beneath the enveloping fog. Click here for more details about Drifter's Dream.

 

Last Cast, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is Last Cast, watercolour on panel (no glass) 8 x 8". I created this simple scene as I was experimenting with different colour combinations for lake mist. I thought this rose/violet/gray combination was lovely and the scene is very calming. Click here for more details about Last Cast.

 

Sun, Sand and Sea, watercolour by Karen Richardson

 

Back in 2006 I painted Sun, Sand and Sea, watercolour 5 x 14" shown above, and it sold later that year. I always thought this charming scene would look great as a larger painting.


This winter, I finally made time to create the new version, titled You Can't Catch Me, watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 24", shown below. I used more dramatic colour contrasts in the new work. Click here for more details about this piece. 

You Can't Catch Me, watercolour by Karen Richardson

You Can't Catch Me sold before I finished it. A collector of my work saw the painting in progress in my studio and loved the scene because it reminded her of a beach in England where she visited with friends regularly.

After she took the completed painting home, she emailed me to say “It’s hung! And am I ever pleased. It’s hung at such a height, I feel as though I could walk right into it. It will take me back to England every time I see it, which is all day, every day.”

And that is how I make the world a happier place... One painting at a time.

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. 

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