The Making of 'I Think I Found One'

07 May, 2024 0 comments Leave a comment

If you are familiar with my artwork, you know that my paintings often feature the distinctive rock and stone of the Canadian Shield region. This past winter, I took some time to delve into this subject in a BIG way.

From January to March, I worked bit by bit on the largest watercolour landscape I ever have done. The subject was one of my favourite pebble beaches on Lake Superior.

Each of the stones in this scene required 3 to 6 layers of paint to achieve a realistic result. My goal was to create pebbles so true-to-life that you want to reach in and pick one up to examine its wonders.

I took the reference photos for this project in the summer of 2022, when my husband and I visited Marathon on the north shore of Lake Superior. The primary reference was the photo above, showing him looking down at the beach stones.

I love the way his silhouette contrasts with the foggy treeline as it disappears into the misty background. I had to lay down on the stones to capture the camera angle I wanted, where all the lines converged on that distant figure.

I also took about fifty other photos of individual stones with unusual patterns and striking colours I found elsewhere on this beach. These became very useful as I worked on the final stages of my painting, so I could insert some of these more interesting features into the foreground stones.


The most difficult part of this scene, believe it or not, was the forest. I knew I had to get that right before I invested weeks and weeks into painting stones.

Portraying masses of tree foliage has always been a challenge for me, but I took it one step at a time, beginning with the misty sky and water in the distance and working forward to the more vibrant deep greens on the left side of the painting.

Shown here is the finished artwork, 'I Think I Found One', varnished watercolour on 28 x 40 inch panel. I breathed a happy sigh of relief when this one was done!

Over the three months of this project, I remembered to take a photo of my work in progress at the end of each painting session. Recently I assembled the photos into a time lapse video showing the sequencing of my work on this piece. Click on the image below to view the 2-minute video.

I developed a profound bond with this painting during our time together as its creation journey unfolded. It represents important aspects of my life: a love of travel and exploring new places together, a fascination with stones, and an enduring connection with Lake Superior.

For the time being, I am keeping this special painting in our home, to enjoy every day. At some point in the future, this piece will tell me when I can let it go to its forever home.

Prints of this painting are available in a variety of sizes on canvas, paper, and other substrates from my print-on-demand publisher Fine Art America. Click here to see the selection.

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