The Making of 'Superior Gems'

12 September, 2018 2 comments Leave a comment

 Superior Gems, watercolour by Karen Richardson

All my life, I have felt the magnetic pull of stone, from mountains to boulders to pebbles to grains of sand. Perhaps it was my childhood spent near Algonquin Park, surrounded by the terrain of the Canadian Shield, that makes me instinctively drawn to rock-filled wilderness scenery.

Many people I meet at art shows or in my art classes are as captivated by beach pebbles as I. We often talk about our shared fascination with smooth stones, especially those displaying unusual colours or interesting patterns.

During a classroom chat, one of my painting students suggested I would enjoy a visit to Pebble Beach in the town of Marathon on Lake Superior's northern shore.

A few months later, travels took my husband and I by that location, and we made a point to check out this beach. Am I ever glad we did! Shown below is the view looking eastward from the entrance path.

Photo of Pebble Beach (view eastwards) at Marathon, Ontario by Karen Richardson

Marathon's Pebble Beach is composed of smooth round stones the size of citrus fruits - from limes to grapefruits. The colours are rich and varied, especially when the stones are wet, and many have interesting stripes or other markings. One wonders how stones from many different rocky origins ended up in one place. I was glad I had my hiking boots on, as walking on these piles of shifting 'bowling balls' with camera in hand was a tricky prospect. Shown below is the westward view along Pebble Beach.

Photo of Pebble Beach (view westwards) at Marathon, Ontario by Karen Richardson

I visited there shortly after a rain shower - what I call a 'soft' day. I loved the combination of vividly coloured stones and misty background.

Recently I completed my first painting of this beach (shown at the top of this post) and am totally thrilled with it. I chose a low point of view for the composition to give the stones more prominence, and I selected the title because these stones are as breathtaking as jewels to me.

I photographed each step of my painting process and created a one-minute time lapse video, to show you the flow of this painting's creation. Click on the picture below to view the video and get an idea of how I work.


I am looking forward to doing more paintings of this remarkable beach. If you are a 'rockaholic' like me, you will understand my compulsion.

For more information about this painting, click here.

Do you have favourite spots on Lake Superior I should visit? If you have suggestions or 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. Namaji October 20, 2018

    Wonderful feeling for the rocky beach!
    Appreciate your creative spirit.

  2. maxine ball September 28, 2018

    Love your painting I have that same love for these jewels . We visited Gandmothers Bay on lake Superior and the rocks we the same. Love seeing your work.