Earthbound Artist

Articles tagged as The Business of Art (view all)

How I Sold This Painting to a Middle East Buyer

31 October, 2018 6 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.

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.

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.

The Artist's Studio

05 February, 2018 9 comments Leave a comment

Karen Richardson's Studio

At the end of last year, I took some time to catch up on paperwork in my studio office, finish some framing, and do a general studio tidy-up. Once that was done, everything looked so uncluttered and clean I took some photos to show you what a working artist's studio looks like. I also want to share with you some key features that make my creative space both comfortable and efficient. Welcome to your personal virtual studio tour!

When you come down the stairs to enter my studio, you see the panorama shown above. It is an L-shaped space, with my creative area on the left and my gallery and teaching space on the right.

Our home is a bungalow with 8' ceilings on both levels. In the lower level, large above-ground windows face west and north, to fill the space with light so it doesn't feel like a basement. We added four 2' x 4' LED ceiling light fixtures that greatly enhance the natural illumination.

Karen Richardson's Studio

The photo above shows my studio office. The desk and black file cabinet on the right house my computer and day-to-day office files and reference binders. On top are white photo storage boxes containing reference photos I have taken, sorted by subject matter and season. I take thousands of photos but just print the ones I think I may use as painting reference some day.

The white bookcase on the left mainly holds my collection of painting technique reference books, plus office stationary. The glass doors keep the dust out and make it easy to find what I'm looking for. The window in the middle is the one on which my wild turkey visitor knocked last month.

Karen Richardson's Studio

The photo above shows my office and creative space. On the left is my trusty collapsible print rack that I take to art shows as well as use in the studio, to display my giclee prints and matted paintings. The small bookshelf in front displays Watercolour Toolbox, the art instruction book I wrote. On top of the desk hutch is the satellite radio receiver that supplies whatever genre of music I choose, to keep me company as I work. Mostly I listen to soft rock or quiet jazz.

On the back wall is the tiny gas fireplace we added to this space, to make it cosy in cooler weather. I have it on all day, every day in winter. To the right of that, under the north window, is the drafting table where I do most of my painting. The working surface is 3' x 4', large enough for a full sheet of watercolour paper plus reference photos displayed to the sides.

In front of that is a desk credenza just over 5' long, that is very handy for assembling frames or doing any job needing a large horizontal surface. When one of my painting buddies comes here, she works at this desk while I paint at the drafting table.

Karen Richardson's Studio

To the right of my drafting table is an Ikea cabinet I bought over 30 years ago. It primarily stores unused framing materials, painting supports, paint palettes, paint tubes, and rags. The photo above shows it with the doors open. The adjustable shelves are 24" x 30", so this cabinet stores a lot of stuff.

Karen Richardson's Studio

Continuing around my creative space to the right, I have a black flat file cabinet that holds an astounding amount of watercolour paper, paintings in progress, brushes and other art supplies, office supplies, giclee prints, art card supplies, and archival bags. I bought this used metal cabinet from one of my framing suppliers when they no longer needed it, and I had it repainted at an automotive paint shop. Each of the ten drawers is 2' x 3' inside, so that is 60 square feet of horizontal storage in total. I love the efficiency of this cabinet! 

Around the corner to the right is my painting display space. I have professional grade wall hooks spaced 24" apart horizontally, with a second row 20" below the top row. This layout fits most sizes of finished paintings, without having to move hooks, although some of the larger pieces may cover two hooks.

Karen Richardson's Studio

My display space shown above consists of three walls, one 10 feet wide, one 12 feet wide, and one 8 feet wide. There is a short hallway to the right with display walls 2 feet and 6 feet wide. This gives me a total of 38 linear feet of gallery space. This is also the room I use for teaching my watercolour workshops. I teach up to five students at a time, and we each work on a 2' x 4' portable table. The photo below shows a typical class (and a different display of paintings).

Watercolour workshop in Karen Richardson studio 

No art studio or teaching space would be complete without a bathroom. In the photo below, you can see the bathroom we added on this level when we renovated. I also display a couple of finished paintings in there.

Karen Richardson's Studio

This completes the tour of the public area of my studio practice. The photos below show more studio storage and equipment that is in our furnace room and not accessible to the public (except on this virtual visit).

Karen Richardson studio

Shown above is my wonderful automotive storage rack. Each shelf is capable of supporting up to 500 lbs. This rack stores my painting transport boxes, shipping materials, business records, bulk storage of Watercolour Toolbox books, art show lighting equipment, framing materials, as well as some household items. Those 13 binders on the right are scrapbooks that document my entire art career to date (paintings, awards, shows, etc.). All this on a bit of floor measuring 2' x 6'.

Below, also in the furnace room, is my mat- and cardboard-cutting table. The slots underneath store mat board, and painting transport boxes, bags, and portfolios. The drawers hold my framing hardware, tools, and equipment.

Karen Richardson studio

I hope you have enjoyed your personal virtual art studio tour. I hope to see you in person in my studio at some point in the future.Visitors are welcome by appointment, or during an Open Studio event.

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. 

A Winning Season

01 November, 2016 1 comment Leave a comment

It seems I live a charmed life. From every show I have exhibited in, for the last few months, I have brought home an award. How long can it last?

My recent winning streak started at The Northern Art Show in Apsley in August, where my display booth won the People's Choice Award and a cash prize. Here are photos of parts of my booth.

Karen Richardson's watercolour display at The Northern Art Show in Apsley, August 2016.   Karen Richardson's watercolour display at The Northen Art Show in Apsley, August 2016.

In September, I had two paintings accepted into the Kawartha Art Gallery's Annual Juried Show, and they both won awards and cash prizes. Rhapsody in Red won the 'Technical Skills & Use of Colour Award', and Caught in the Rain won an Honourable Mention. Both paintings are pictured below.

Rhapsody in Red, watercolour by Karen Richardson   Caught in the Rain, watercolour by Karen Richardson

In October, Ajax Mayor Steve Parish presented me with the Mayor's Award and cash prize at the PineRidge Arts Council Annual Juried Art Exhibition, for my painting Sunbathing Swallowtails, pictured below.

This show of 64 paintings is now being exhibited at the McLean Community Centre, 95 Magill Drive, in Ajax until November 26. The juror selected the paintings in the show from 178 pieces submitted by 96 artists, and the PRAC awarded almost $5,000 in prizes.

Karen Richardson with her award winning watercolour, Sunbathing Swallowtails

Here is a detail from Sunbathing Swallowtails:

Detail of Sunbathing Swallowtails, watercolour by Karen Richardson

My next big show will be the 40th Annual Buckhorn Fine Art Festival next August. Wish me luck!

And what did I do with all my winnings, you ask? Well, I tucked it all away in our 'vacation jar', ready to fund our upcoming winter snowmobiling adventure on Baffin Island. Stay tuned!

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


A Lifetime of Enjoyment

20 July, 2016 4 comments Leave a comment

I spend a lot of time reading articles about the creation of art as well as the marketing side of the art business. I adore working creatively, but I also want to share my art with the world, rather than just keep it as a solitary pursuit. I recognize the fact that I need to find good homes for my art.

Wild Wonders - Lynx (Private Collection)

Recently, I came across a blog post by McKenna Hallett, directed at artists who are reluctant to act as their own 'salesperson' at art festivals. I think almost all artists, natural introverts, have faced this hurdle. The article grabbed my attention with this statement:  "You are not selling art. You are giving collectors the exclusive rights to a lifetime of personal enjoyment." That puts things in a new perspective.

'Rivers in Time' and 'Featherstone' (Private Collection)
Later, the article went on to say "Your art nurtures the creative soul in all who view it and forever enriches the lives of those who own it", making the case that artists are doing the world a favour by helping collectors find and purchase art.

'Desert Compadres' (Private Collection)
These statements resonate with me, especially when I think back about all the appreciative comments I have heard over the years, from previous buyers of my paintings. This lead to the creation of my tagline "Making the World a Happier Place... One Painting at a Time."

'Give Me Shelter' (Private Collection)

I have started collecting photos taken by some of these wonderful patrons, showing my artwork hanging in their homes or offices, in places where the paintings can be enjoyed on a daily basis. I plan to create a web page of this 'In Situ' art, to let people see my art where it enriches lives.

'Lunenburg Light' (Private Collection

The photos in this article are all from clients who have expressed appreciation for the joy my art brings to them. I thank you all.

If you are a collector of my work, I would love to hear your comments about how my art has made your life better in some way. If you could send me a photo showing my art in your decor I would be most grateful. Email your comments or photos to me at

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