The Making of 'Northern Reflections'

05 March, 2018 2 comments Leave a comment

I grew up in the Canadian Shield region of Canada, just east of Algonquin Park. The northern Ontario landscape of my childhood - lakes, rivers, pine trees, sand, and rock - remains vividly in my mind to this day. The majority of my paintings contain one or more of these landscape elements.

Karen Richardson on Stoney Lake

The last few summers, my husband and I visited with long-time friends at their cottage on Stoney Lake in central Ontario. The above photo of me was taken on their boat when we were cruising the lake.

I have taken many beautiful photographs of the scenery on Stoney, which looks similar in many ways to the region in which I spent my childhood. The photo below is the view from our friends' dock.

Photo of Stoney Lake by Karen Richardson

I decided this would be a great reference photo for a six-week advanced watercolour class I taught at Meta4 Gallery in Port Perry last fall. The scene had interesting reflections, rocks, mosses, lily pads, and tree trunks.

Here are some photos of my students at work on their paintings.

Students in Karen Richardson's watercolour class

Students in Karen Richardson's watercolour class

Below are photographs of my demonstration painting, showing how it progressed. The lower half is already finished. I used a new and unusual method for painting the reflections on the water, and became so engrossed in the process that I forgot to pause and take photos in those earlier stages. 

Northern Reflections, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson.

In the first photo (above), the base layer has been applied to the rocks, moss, and forest greenery. Salt was sprinkled on the stone and moss while the paint was wet, to create a textured effect. When dry, the salt was brushed off.

 Northern Reflections, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

In the second photo (above), the upper left quadrant has the second layer done. I used two-brush technique, (one brush loaded with paint and the second brush loaded with water), working on dry paper. This allows control of the paint flow to a minute degree.

Northern Reflections, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

In the third photo (above), the second layer of paint has been applied to the upper right quadrant. The painting is about 95% finished at this point. The remaining steps are to go over the whole painting, adding more dark shadows into the forest background, and adding more texture to rocks and moss using a dry-brush technique.

Karen Richardson with her watercolour students

The photo above shows me and my students with our finished paintings. Everyone did an amazing job and enjoyed learning some new techniques. No two paintings looked alike, even though we used the same reference photo.

Northern Reflections, watercolour by Karen Richardson 

Here is a photo of the finished painting in its frame. Northern Reflections, watercolour, 16 x 20". I am very pleased with the way it turned out. When I look at my painting, I feel like I am back in a little piece of heaven on a northern lake. Click here for more details about this piece.

What is your favourite region to visit? 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. Nathalie Villeneuve March 07, 2018

    This is a very beautiful painting. I love the feel of it. It’s almost as if we stare at it long enough we start seeing the water moving.

  2. Richard Gauder March 06, 2018

    I love how students get to work along side you and learn all your key techniques and secrets!