Earthbound Artist

Articles tagged as lake (view all)

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.

Northern Lakes in Springtime

04 June, 2019 3 comments Leave a comment

Northern Lake near Sudbury Ontario. Photo by Karen Richardson 

If you have been following my posts and new paintings this year, you will have heard of my new Northern Lakes series, which focuses on rock-filled shorelines studded with sculpted pine trees, and calm blue water.

Pictured above is Daoust Lake, which is beside a private campground south of Sudbury, Ontario. Places like this restore my energy and connect me with my roots. I grew up in a rural village near Algonquin Park in northeastern Ontario and my high school campus overlooked the Ottawa River. The scenery of the Canadian shield has become the epicenter of my artistic inspiration for the past year.

Lake Superior at Gros Cap. Photo by Karen Richardson

With this theme in mind, it should come as no surprise that my first major RV camping trip this spring was a 4,000-km journey across the north shore of Lake Superior (shown above, at Gros Cap) to Lake of the Woods and back. This post includes some of my best scenery shots from our trip.

Chippewa Falls. Photo by Karen Richardson

As we made our way along the Trans-Canada highway, I took the photo above of Chippewa Falls. Spring runoff had water roaring through here to Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior. Water levels were higher than normal in most places we visited, due to wet spring weather this year.

Lake of the Woods. Photo by Karen Richardson

My husband and I often visit Lake of the Woods because his sister lives there. Shown above is one of the beautiful views from her home. Although this scene is in northwestern Ontario near the Manitoba border, the landscape reminds me of the Kawarthas (in central Ontario where we live now) and the upper Ottawa Valley (where I grew up).

Nipigon viewing tower. Photo by Karen Richardson

On our return journey, we stopped to explore the town of Nipigon, which has a new campground at the marina and a new 5-stories-tall viewing platform near the Trans-Canada highway. The photo above shows my husband John taking in the panoramic views from the top of the platform. Shown below is the view of Nipigon Bay near the mouth of the Nipigon River, which is Lake Superior's largest tributary.

Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior. Photo by Karen Richardson

The view in the opposite direction shows the beautiful new bridge over the Nipigon River (below). This is the one place in Canada where there is only one highway connecting eastern and western Canada.

Nipigon River bridge. Photo by Karen Richardson

Once again, we stopped at Marathon so I could take more photographs at Pebble Beach. This is a magical place that can look very different from day to day, depending on the weather. The water is perfectly clear, even on windy days, and the rocks are smooth and colourful. The photo below shows some grapefruit-sized underwater stones on a calm weather day.

Pebble Beach at Maration on Lake Superior. Photo by Karen Richardson

Our two-week spring trip was over all too soon. Some day I will visit Lake Superior in the fall, when the landscape is adorned in autumn splendour (and no black flies!).

Do you have favourite spots to recommend on Lake Superior? If you have suggestions 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 see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of Summer Retreat

04 June, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Summer Retreat by Karen Richardson 

In my artistic practice, usually each painting I make is inspired by a different photograph. But every now and then I photograph a scene that captivates my imagination so strongly that I want to develop more than one painted interpretation.

Such was the case with a chance photo I took in the Georgian Bay region on one of our many excursions there. The photo showed a tiny cabin perched on a rocky island, with some gorgeous pine trees nestled around it.

I decided to use the photo for demonstration purposes in two watercolour classes I taught in 2016, where I showed students how to invent an imaginary scene using the two reference photos shown below.

Refuge' (16 x 12") and 'Island in the Storm' (11 x 14"), shown below, were my two demonstration paintings.

Refuge by Karen Richardson  Island in the Storm by Karen Richardson

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

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 2-minute story:

For more information 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, s

The Making of 'Summer Memories'

24 May, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Summer Memories by Karen Richardson

Summer Memories (watercolour 18 x 24", shown above) is part of a series of paintings focusing on reflections in calm northern lakes. I love the clarity of light in this scene, where a swimming raft floats in the perfect calm of a new day, lily pads rest serenely on the surface, and the clear water reveals ancient stones near the shore. Looking at this peaceful place, the viewer remembers lakeside memories just like this.

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 1 (above)

This painting began with a graded wash of blue paint, darker at top and bottom, to represent the clear blue sky and its reflection in the foreground water. When that was dry I drew a pencil outline of all objects in the scene, using several photos as reference.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 2 (above)

I masked off the waterlily leaves and some thin lines on the water near the horizon with masking fluid. When dry, I added several more layers of blue to the top and bottom of the scene, making sure to keep the horizon area white. This gives the effect of glowing light.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 3 (above)

The next day, after the blue paint layers were fully dry, I added shadows around and within the underwater stones.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 4 (above)

Once the stones were fully dry, I removed the masking fluid from the waterlily leaves and painted them.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 5 (above)

I began to paint the grisaille layer on the far shore and reflections. This gray paint locks in the shadow details of the pencil drawing while I can still see it clearly. There will be more colour layers added later.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 6 (above)

Once the grisaille layer was fully dry, I started blocking in several different green sections on the far shore and reflections. This variety of colour will make the trees look more natural.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 7 (above)

After adding a third layer of colour to the far shore and reflections, I painted the raft and its reflection, which took several layers to achieve the depth of colour needed for the shadowed parts. Then I removed the thin horizonal lines of masking fluid near the far shore and painted them pale blue. This simulates the effect of a slight breeze in the distance.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour by Karen Richardson 

Once the paint was fully dry, I mounted the watercolour paper to an archival wood panel, then varnished to provide protection from UV fading, then mounted the panel in a black wood floater frame to complete 'Summer Memories', watercolour 18 x 24".

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.