The Making of 'Holding On'

18 July, 2018 1 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. 

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  1. Elfrida Jeppesen January 10, 2019

    I love your detailed information in your E-mails. When are you write another book?- this time for intermediates. I have your first one.I am handicapped now,so I cannot attend your classes.