The Painting That Took 5 Years to Finsih

11 July, 2024 0 comments Leave a comment

Starting Over, watercolour by Karen Richardson, shown in situ

I am happy to share that Starting Over, varnished watercolour on 12 x 9 inch panel, has found a new home. Thank you and congratulations to the collector and to Colborne Street Gallery by Tim + Chris in Fenelon Falls, ON. This painting has an interesting back story. It took five years to complete.

Why so long? It began its journey as a demonstration painting for my beginner watercolour workshops in the spring of 2018. Pictured below are students in class, with my painting in its early stage laying on the table in front of them.

I continued to work on this demonstration painting during several more pebble workshops. Once classes were done that year, I put the painting aside because I didn't like the colours. The leaf was dull and dark and didn't contrast with the pebbles enough.

Since watercolour is a transparent medium, any new layers of colour I might add would just increase the dullness and darkness. The pebbles had good shape and composition but the colours were all too similar.

The painting languished in a drawer in my studio for five years until I came across it one day. I thought I really should do something with this piece, or scrap it.

Then in the middle of the night, the solution came to me: coat the leaf in acrylic absorbent ground medium, which creates a white surface with properties similar to virgin watercolour paper, and begin again with fresh colour.

The next day, I started over on the leaf using warm autumn tones, added glazes of colour to make each pebble unique, and deepened the shadows in the crevices. The painting was much richer looking and the leaf stood out from the background.

Starting Over, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I titled the painting Starting Over, referring to the rebooting of its creation journey, and to the theme of rebirth implied by the fallen leaf beside the seed of new life.

This painting story is a lesson in patience and tenacity for us all. Sometimes we just need time to ponder our options and come up with a new way forward.

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