The Making of 'Our Place'

15 May, 2021 9 comments Leave a comment

Our Place, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown here is 'Our Place' an 11 x 14" watercolour that I created recently for good friends of ours, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

This lovely cottage property named 'Screeching Pines' is in the Haliburton Highlands region of Ontario. My husband and I have spent many weekends there, in all seasons, over the last 30 years.

Back in the day, this building was a commercial establishment - a dance pavilion - and after purchasing it, our friends moved the structure onto a new foundation and basement walkout level. Now there are nine comfortable bedrooms plus loft, 4 modern bathrooms, a large garage, a well-equipped kitchen, and an enormous great room with cathedral ceiling - room for a whole gang of people.

Photo by Karen Richardson

In winter months when snow was plentiful, a big group of us would go snowmobiling from here, returning at the end of each riding day, grateful for a warm fire and delicious food followed by board games and conversation.

Photo by Karen Richardson

In spring and fall, we often joined the seasonal changeover crew, putting the dock in or out of the lake, getting snowmobiles ready for riding or storage, cleaning, and working on whatever maintenance or upgrades were scheduled that season.

Photo by Karen Richardson

Occasionally in the summertime, we would drive up on our motorcycles for the day and enjoy some summer fun on the lake with our friends and their kids and grand kids.

So, even though I don't do many architectural commissions these days, when our friend asked if I could make a painting of 'Screeching Pines' in only two weeks, as a surprise 50th anniversary gift for his wife, from photos he would email me, I agreed.

The fact that I have spent so much time at this place, meant that my memory and imagination could 'fill in the blanks' where needed, and construct a scene that really captured the feeling of this special piece of heaven.

Despite time pressures, during the design and execution of this artwork, I stopped and took photos of the work in progress at many intervals. From these photos, I put together a time lapse video of the whole project. This custom video is my anniversary gift to our friends.

Click on the image below to view the 4-minute story.


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  1. Mary Leblanc May 31, 2021

    Beautiful video of a very special place of memories shared by all.Beautifully painted piece Karen for your friends to be cherished for many years to come.

  2. Elfrida Jeppesen May 26, 2021

    What a good friend they have in you, Karen.It looks like a wonderful place; summer and winter.

  3. Karen Richardson May 26, 2021

    Thank you Sonja for sharing your memories of this special place. I loved reading about it. I remember the tornado. It brought down about 50 trees as I recall. Later those pines were milled into boards at the local mill. My husband and I were part of the work crew who stained all that knotty pine lumber and used it to clad the walls and ceiling of the great room at Screeching Pines. I made a plaque to commemorate the occasion and it hangs in the great room. Many pine trees were planted to replace the felled forest and today (25 years or so later) they have filled in beautifully.

  4. Jane May 26, 2021

    What a treat …watching this appear .
    Thanks for sharing it !

  5. Sonja Aldred May 26, 2021

    What a lovely painting you did of this unique place. I recognized it right away even before reading your description. Mike and friends purchased the lodge from my father who was a client and friend of Mike’s. My family cottaged there every summer for over 30 years. When Dad purchased it, it was a dance pavilion and had a number of small cottages on it. He made living quarters in the main lodge for us with three bedrooms, bathroom, and living room/dining room. We have many years of memories there also. With friends flying in on float planes, taking our seadoos from Dark Lake into Grace Lake to the marvellous beaches there, and even having a pony roaming on the property. Back then it was called “Whispering Pines”. When Mike first owed it a terrible tornado went through and wiped out a number of the very huge pine trees. A terrible disaster.
    Just thought you would like to know how many other people have truly enjoyed the property and now can also admire your amazing painting and wonderful gift. Thankyou.
    Sonja and Sandra (nee Enge)

  6. Debora Ward May 26, 2021

    It is so beautiful Karen, and so interesting to see it unfold. You are amazingly talented, really seeing Nature and the texture of your subjects !

  7. Jan Pettafor May 26, 2021

    a real labour of love for sure. What a beautiful spot. You really captured the feel of the place

  8. Lesa Robertson May 25, 2021

    Your friends must be so thrilled with your painting of their beautiful cottage. It’s absolutely wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Michael Fowler May 18, 2021

    Thank you Karen for the absolutely wonderful job you did on this creation. Joanne was so thrilled. It will hang proudly in our home so that we have a little piece of the cottage with us even when we can’t be here. Lots of wonderful memories with family and friends, including yourselves, to enjoy.