Earthbound Artist

The Making of 'Bring a Paddle'

27 June, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

Bring a Paddle (12 x 12", shown above) was inspired by my travels to countless northern lakes over the years, including Georgian Bay, the Thousand Islands, and the Temagami region. My husband and I have a canoe and kayaks and enjoy exploring peaceful lakes on these watercraft.

Where we live in Ontario, we see gorgeous fall colours in our abundant forests, including the splendid reds of our sugar maples. I decided on a fall-themed painting, featuring the rich dark blue of our autumn lakes, contrasted with lush foliage colours punctuated by iconic white pines.

I used numerous reference photos of northern lakes, islands, and canoes to compose this imaginary scene. Shown below are some of the photos, a concept sketch for the island, and the initial pencil drawing on watercolour paper.

Reference photos for Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

This is the canoe reference photo I selected (below), taken by my friend Averill and used with her permission. I changed the green canoe to red to coordinate with the red maple trees in the painting.

Photo of canoes by Averill Ambrose 

After completing the painting, I was particularly pleased with the water ripples and reflections, as they are difficult to achieve, especially when combining multiple references and working on wet paper.

Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

Fortunately I had the foresight to take photos of each stage of this challenging painting as I worked. From these work-in-progress photos, I assembled a short time lapse video, so you can see the flow of this piece to its completion.

Click on the image below to view the 100-second story:

 

I posted in-progress photos of this painting on Facebook and had an offer to purchase before the painting was finished. The Montreal buyer said "I keep missing opportunities to get the ones I love. The last one left before I could... Bring a Paddle already has my heart even if not done yet... As soon as I saw it I knew I couldn't live without [it]... I see great things all the time [on Facebook] but yours speak to me."

I love to hear comments such as this. My goal is to make the world a happier place... one painting at a time. I think I scored a big hit with this one.

For more details about this painting, click here.

If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Northern Lakes in Springtime

04 June, 2019 3 comments Leave a comment

Northern Lake near Sudbury Ontario. Photo by Karen Richardson 

If you have been following my posts and new paintings this year, you will have heard of my new Northern Lakes series, which focuses on rock-filled shorelines studded with sculpted pine trees, and calm blue water.

Pictured above is Daoust Lake, which is beside a private campground south of Sudbury, Ontario. Places like this restore my energy and connect me with my roots. I grew up in a rural village near Algonquin Park in northeastern Ontario and my high school campus overlooked the Ottawa River. The scenery of the Canadian shield has become the epicenter of my artistic inspiration for the past year.

Lake Superior at Gros Cap. Photo by Karen Richardson

With this theme in mind, it should come as no surprise that my first major RV camping trip this spring was a 4,000-km journey across the north shore of Lake Superior (shown above, at Gros Cap) to Lake of the Woods and back. This post includes some of my best scenery shots from our trip.

Chippewa Falls. Photo by Karen Richardson

As we made our way along the Trans-Canada highway, I took the photo above of Chippewa Falls. Spring runoff had water roaring through here to Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior. Water levels were higher than normal in most places we visited, due to wet spring weather this year.

Lake of the Woods. Photo by Karen Richardson

My husband and I often visit Lake of the Woods because his sister lives there. Shown above is one of the beautiful views from her home. Although this scene is in northwestern Ontario near the Manitoba border, the landscape reminds me of the Kawarthas (in central Ontario where we live now) and the upper Ottawa Valley (where I grew up).

Nipigon viewing tower. Photo by Karen Richardson

On our return journey, we stopped to explore the town of Nipigon, which has a new campground at the marina and a new 5-stories-tall viewing platform near the Trans-Canada highway. The photo above shows my husband John taking in the panoramic views from the top of the platform. Shown below is the view of Nipigon Bay near the mouth of the Nipigon River, which is Lake Superior's largest tributary.

Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior. Photo by Karen Richardson

The view in the opposite direction shows the beautiful new bridge over the Nipigon River (below). This is the one place in Canada where there is only one highway connecting eastern and western Canada.

Nipigon River bridge. Photo by Karen Richardson

Once again, we stopped at Marathon so I could take more photographs at Pebble Beach. This is a magical place that can look very different from day to day, depending on the weather. The water is perfectly clear, even on windy days, and the rocks are smooth and colourful. The photo below shows some grapefruit-sized underwater stones on a calm weather day.

Pebble Beach at Maration on Lake Superior. Photo by Karen Richardson

Our two-week spring trip was over all too soon. Some day I will visit Lake Superior in the fall, when the landscape is adorned in autumn splendour (and no black flies!).

Do you have favourite spots to recommend on Lake Superior? If you have suggestions or comments to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of Summer Retreat

04 June, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Summer Retreat by Karen Richardson 

In my artistic practice, usually each painting I make is inspired by a different photograph. But every now and then I photograph a scene that captivates my imagination so strongly that I want to develop more than one painted interpretation.

Such was the case with a chance photo I took in the Georgian Bay region on one of our many excursions there. The photo showed a tiny cabin perched on a rocky island, with some gorgeous pine trees nestled around it.

I decided to use the photo for demonstration purposes in two watercolour classes I taught in 2016, where I showed students how to invent an imaginary scene using the two reference photos shown below.

Refuge' (16 x 12") and 'Island in the Storm' (11 x 14"), shown below, were my two demonstration paintings.

Refuge by Karen Richardson  Island in the Storm by Karen Richardson

The image of a wee abode perched on a rocky isle continued to haunt my imagination, even after the paintings were completed and found their forever homes. I wondered what the island would look like under clear blue skies and in a large format. 'Summer Retreat' was the result.

Fortunately I had the foresight to take photos of each stage of this challenging painting as I worked. From these work-in-progress photos, I assembled a short time lapse video, so you can see the flow of this piece to its completion.

Click on the image below to view the 2-minute story:

For more information about this painting, click here.

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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The Making of 'Summer Memories'

24 May, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Summer Memories by Karen Richardson

Summer Memories (watercolour 18 x 24", shown above) is part of a series of paintings focusing on reflections in calm northern lakes. I love the clarity of light in this scene, where a swimming raft floats in the perfect calm of a new day, lily pads rest serenely on the surface, and the clear water reveals ancient stones near the shore. Looking at this peaceful place, the viewer remembers lakeside memories just like this.

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 1 (above)

This painting began with a graded wash of blue paint, darker at top and bottom, to represent the clear blue sky and its reflection in the foreground water. When that was dry I drew a pencil outline of all objects in the scene, using several photos as reference.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 2 (above)

I masked off the waterlily leaves and some thin lines on the water near the horizon with masking fluid. When dry, I added several more layers of blue to the top and bottom of the scene, making sure to keep the horizon area white. This gives the effect of glowing light.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 3 (above)

The next day, after the blue paint layers were fully dry, I added shadows around and within the underwater stones.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 4 (above)

Once the stones were fully dry, I removed the masking fluid from the waterlily leaves and painted them.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 5 (above)

I began to paint the grisaille layer on the far shore and reflections. This gray paint locks in the shadow details of the pencil drawing while I can still see it clearly. There will be more colour layers added later.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 6 (above)

Once the grisaille layer was fully dry, I started blocking in several different green sections on the far shore and reflections. This variety of colour will make the trees look more natural.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour in progress by Karen Richardson

Step 7 (above)

After adding a third layer of colour to the far shore and reflections, I painted the raft and its reflection, which took several layers to achieve the depth of colour needed for the shadowed parts. Then I removed the thin horizonal lines of masking fluid near the far shore and painted them pale blue. This simulates the effect of a slight breeze in the distance.

 

Summer Memories, watercolour by Karen Richardson 

Once the paint was fully dry, I mounted the watercolour paper to an archival wood panel, then varnished to provide protection from UV fading, then mounted the panel in a black wood floater frame to complete 'Summer Memories', watercolour 18 x 24".

For more details about this painting, click here.

If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

April New Works and Their Stories

10 May, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Paintings by Karen Richardson

It is remarkable how many memories can be captured in a simple lake scene. I grew up in the Canadian Shield region of Ontario, just east of Algonquin Park, so landscapes filled with clear water, sturdy rocks and wind-sculpted pine trees are ingrained in my soul.

April was another productive month in my studio, as I continued to create exciting new work in my northern lakes series. I love painting the effect of calm water and the stillness it imparts to the viewer. Many people tell me these paintings remind them of their childhood too.

Summer Retreat by Karen Richardson

Shown above is 'Summer Retreat' watercolour on panel (no glass) 24 x 18". This was inspired by several earlier paintings I created of stormy skies over an island cabin. Here are those earlier paintings:

Refuge by Karen Richardson  Island in the Storm by Karen Richardson

'Refuge' (16 x 12") and 'Island in the Storm' (11 x 14"), shown above, were created in 2016 as demonstration paintings at watercolour workshops, where I showed students how to invent an imaginary scene using two reference photos. Here are my reference photos below.

The image of a wee abode perched on a rocky isle continued to haunt my imagination, even after the 2016 paintings were completed and found their forever homes. I wondered what it would look like under clear blue skies and in a large format. 'Summer Retreat' was the result. For more information about this painting, click here.

 

 Summer Memories by Karen Richardson

'Summer Memories', watercolour on panel (no glass) 18 x 24" shown above, was inspired by a scene I painted in February, called 'Welcome to the Lake' (18 x 24", shown below with reference photo to the right).

Welcome to the Lake by Karen Richardson   Photo of Big Cedar Lake by Karen Richardson

I was enthralled with this earlier painting because it is the view from the cottage my husband's family used to own on Big Cedar Lake near Apsley. We have many wonderful memories of this lovely spot, and when 'Welcome to the Lake' sold in March (to a family who also had a raft like this one at their cottage), I felt compelled to create another version of the scene. I moved the raft and added some lily pads to make a new composition and I love the result.

For more details about Summer Memories, click here.

I have several other excellent reference photos from our times on Big Cedar Lake and plan to make more paintings of iconic summer memories.

 

Come Fly With Me by Karen Richardson

Shown above is 'Come Fly With Me', watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 16", which was inspired by a weathered piece of driftwood on the beach at Neys Provincial Park near Marathon, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Superior. We camped there last summer and I took a bunch of awesome reference photos. Here is the one that inspired this painting, along with a gull photo by Iris Vallejo (used with permission).

Photo of Beach at Neys Prov Park by Karen Richardson   Seagull reference photo credit: Iris Vallejo (Pixabay)

For more information about Come Fly With Me, click here.

 

Wild Blue Yonder by Karen Richardson

'Wild Blue Yonder' watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 6", shown above, was inspired by this photo below of a winter scene that I took back in the 1980's during a snowmobile trip.

Winter Pines photo by Karen Richardson

This photo also inspired this winter watercolour scene below, 'Enchantment' 5 x 14" which I painted and sold in 2006.

Enchantment by Karen Richardson

I find this grouping of pine trees very appealing so I decided to make a vertical summer lake scene, place the trees on a rocky island, and invent their reflections. Here is the concept sketch I made of the imaginary island prior to starting the painting:

Sketch for Wild Blue Yonder painting by Karen Richardson

I added the underwater stones in the foreground of the painting to balance the composition and give an indication of a rock-based region like the Canadian Shield. 

The literal meaning of Wild Blue Yonder is 'a location far away that is appealingly unknown and mysterious'. What a perfect title for this imaginary scene.

To see more details about 'Wild Blue Yonder', click here.

 

Dive Right In by Karen Richardson

The last painting I created in April is shown above. 'Dive Right In' watercolour on panel (no glass) 8 x 8" shows the view from my sister-in-law's dock on Lake of the Woods near Kenora, Ontario. It is perfect in its simplicity and will bring back wondrous memories for many people, of sweet summer days spent on peaceful northern lakes.

For more information about 'Dive Right In', click here.

Does any of these paintings bring to life a childhood memory for you? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

March New Works and Their Stories

21 April, 2019 2 comments Leave a comment

Misty Memories, watercolour by Karen Richardson

March was another productive month in my studio, as I continued to create new work in my northern lakes series. I am preparing for my Spring Open Studio (which is on the last weekend in April every year) and I need to replenish my commercial galleries for the upcoming tourist season.

Shown above is Misty Memories, watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 16", a scene inspired by the raft at my husband's family's cottage in the Kawartha Lakes region. Over the years, I photographed this raft in many atmospheric conditions - calm, wind, sunshine, storm, sunrise, evening, fog, and so on. This scene evokes the memory of a tranquil morning moment, looking out at the quiet lake cloaked in mist, anticipating another special day at the cottage. A gentle breeze has started to ripple the water, beginning to reveal a glimpse of pine trees on the far side of the bay. Click here for more details about Misty Memories.

 

 Mystical Morning, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Pictured above is Mystical Morning, watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 16". This is the fourth and largest version I painted of this scene, which depicts a red canoe pulled up onto the rocky shore, nestled under two glorious white pines on the point. Wisps of mist rise from the lake to reveal the forest on the far shore. A new voyage of exploration is about to begin. Click here for more details about Mystical Morning.

 

Drifter's Dream, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The painting above is titled Drifter's Dream, watercolour (no glass) 12 x 12". I deliberately left the bottom half of this composition without wildlife, boats, canoes, rafts, or any other evidence of human presence. I want viewers to experience the restorative peace of this quiet lake and let their imaginations decide what is hidden beneath the enveloping fog. Click here for more details about Drifter's Dream.

 

Last Cast, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is Last Cast, watercolour on panel (no glass) 8 x 8". I created this simple scene as I was experimenting with different colour combinations for lake mist. I thought this rose/violet/gray combination was lovely and the scene is very calming. Click here for more details about Last Cast.

 

Sun, Sand and Sea, watercolour by Karen Richardson

 

Back in 2006 I painted Sun, Sand and Sea, watercolour 5 x 14" shown above, and it sold later that year. I always thought this charming scene would look great as a larger painting.


This winter, I finally made time to create the new version, titled You Can't Catch Me, watercolour on panel (no glass) 12 x 24", shown below. I used more dramatic colour contrasts in the new work. Click here for more details about this piece. 

You Can't Catch Me, watercolour by Karen Richardson

You Can't Catch Me sold before I finished it. A collector of my work saw the painting in progress in my studio and loved the scene because it reminded her of a beach in England where she visited with friends regularly.

After she took the completed painting home, she emailed me to say “It’s hung! And am I ever pleased. It’s hung at such a height, I feel as though I could walk right into it. It will take me back to England every time I see it, which is all day, every day.”

And that is how I make the world a happier place... One painting at a time.

Which painting is your favourite? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of 'A Foot in Cold Water'

08 April, 2019 2 comments Leave a comment

Many of my paintings are inspired by my travels to wild regions of North America, but this one came about thanks to a shoe store, the Toronto Cottage Life Show and a collector of my work who loves Lake Superior.

A Foot in Cold Water, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The story began in 2010 at the Cottage Life show in Toronto, where I rented a booth to show my paintings. There, I met this fellow who had a family cottage (or 'camp' as they call recreational seasonal properties up north) on Lake Superior. He bought one of my Featherstone giclee prints because it reminded him of heron feathers on his camp's pebble shoreline on Batchawana Bay, north of Sault Ste. Marie.

Fast forward to 2017, when I mentioned in my monthly email update that I had started a new series of paintings based on my Lake Superior trips. After seeing that, the collector from the Cottage Life Show emailed me these two photos he took during a Zodiac trip from his camp to North Sandy Island, in case I could use them for inspiration.

Photo by Anthony Gentile     Photo by Anthony Gentile

I thought both were excellent shots but the one with the shoe and underwater stones really ignited my imagination, and I already had my own reference photos of pebbles under clear water. I noted the idea in my 'to paint' file.

About 9 months later while holidaying with friends in Kingston, I chanced upon a sidewalk sale table of colourful running shoes. They immediately reminded me of the underwater shoe painting I wanted to make. I took a photo of the display table of shoes and now had all the references I needed to design a painting.

Photo of running shoes by Karen Richardson

I started working on the 18 x 24" painting shortly after that, beginning with a very complex line drawing, and then completely finishing the painting, section by section.

For a large, intricate painting, this sequencing strategy avoids what can feel like weeks of drudgery when the whole painting is going through its unattractive, formative stage (I call this the 'teenage phase'). Finishing small sections creates excitement for me because I can glimpse the finished effect sooner and feel like I am making progress toward a positive outcome. The excitement is what motivates me to put in the hours necessary to finish the painting.

Beginning 'A Foot in Cold Water' by Karen Richardson

I interrupted the painting process many times to take photos of each stage, so I could make a time lapse video story of the painting's creation and title. I hope you enjoy this 2-minute video and that it helps you appreciate the thought and work involved in creating this intricate painting in watercolour. Click on the image below to view the video.

A Foot in Cold Water is one of my master works and every time I look at it I am taken to a happy place in my memories, filled with the excitement of discovery, exploring the stone-filled shallows of the North Shore. Sheer Paradise.

For more information about this painting, click here.

Have you taken an amazing photo of Lake Superior that you would like to show Karen, perhaps to inspire a painting? (She loves rocks, water, waves, trees, skies, sunsets, islands, reflections...) If so, please email your photo to karen[at]karenrichardson.ca and include the location, and the story of what makes the photo special to you.

If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

February New Works and Their Stories

18 March, 2019 2 comments Leave a comment

Welcome to the Lake, watercolour by Karen Richardson

February was another good month for painting summer lakes scenes in my studio - the perfect antidote for winter winds and snow blowing outside my windows.

The first two paintings shown here are 18 x 24", which is the largest size I can make due to size limitations of the standard wooden art panels and 300 lb watercolour paper I prefer.

Above is pictured 'Welcome to the Lake', which is inspired by the view from my husband's family's cottage in the Kawarthas. I love the clarity of light in this scene and the flawless reflections. I remember that wonderful feeling of anticipation when arising in the morning, looking out at this peaceful lake and getting ready to enjoy another fun day at the cottage. I have wonderful memories of this place.

The diving raft, kept afloat by four empty 45-gallon drums, was one of several rafts built over the years by my husband-to-be, his brother, or his dad. The shoreline of the Richardson cottage property was sand with a few weeds, but I took the liberty of changing it to smooth stones in the painting, to make what I think is a more interesting composition.

For more details about 'Welcome to the Lake', click here.

Whispering Waters, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is the second 24 x 18" painting, 'Whispering Waters', which is part of a new series depicting islands in northern lakes. I am thrilled with the mist in the background, which nicely contrasts with the dark hues of the island and adds a sense of mystery to the scene. The complex reflections were very challenging but turned out even better than I had hoped.

Everything in this piece is taken from my imagination and general reference photos from my trips throughout northern Ontario, except for the green cedar-strip canoe. It was made by First Nations (Huron) in Wendake, Quebec for Simpsons-Sears. My husband bought it in their store in 1963 and we still own this fine craft.

For more details about 'Whispering Waters', click here.

Mystified, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown  above is 'Mystified', a larger (9 x 12") version of the two little square canoe-and-mist scenes that I painted and sold in January. I love the sense of mystery in this piece, and the little pop of red from the canoe is the perfect contrast to the green trees and gray background.

Three of the galleries representing my work, who saw this image when I posted it on Facebook, asked if they could have one for display. A popular scene! I plan to paint a fourth version in a 12 x 16" format. It is impossible to make the paintings identical to each other, due to the serendipitous nature of watercolour, so each painting will be unique.

For more details about 'Mystified', click here.

Island Spirits, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Continuing with the concept of misty canoe scenes, shown above is a new 12 x 12" work titled 'Island Spirits'. The scene is from my imagination, but based on many northern lakes I have visited and explored by kayak. Places like this revitalize me and renew my creative energy.

Watercolour is a natural when it comes to portraying fog or mist, but it takes precise timing, moisture control, and lots of practice to get it right. I think I have the hang of it now and am keen to do several more misty lake scenes. They are satisfying to do and it just feels so good to immerse myself in these calm and quiet locales.

For more details about 'Island Spirits', click here.

Spring Splendour, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Now comes something completely different. I finally finished this lively tulip piece, 'Spring Splendour', 12 x 9" shown above. This was a demonstration painting I did for a workshop several years ago. The original blue-green background had granulated and looked odd, but I loved the composition and colours of the flowers. Not sure how to proceed but unwilling to discard the painting, it languished in my unfinished works drawer for years. I recently decided I had nothing to lose and painted 4 coats of a very dark watercolour mixture I call 'Black Magic' over the background. I love the drama this creates.

For more details about 'Spring Splendour', click here.

Karen Richardson's paint palette

And as our winter turns to spring, I look forward to creating more new paintings and sharing with you the stories behind them. Shown above are the tools of my trade, all ready to go.

Which painting is your favourite? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Our Algoma Snowmobile Adventure

02 March, 2019 6 comments Leave a comment

Karen Richardson with friends

This year for our Valentine's anniversary, my husband and I and two other couples enjoyed a 4-day 800-km snowmobile tour through the Algoma region. This part of northern Ontario lies north of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. In the photo above, he and I are standing closest to the trail sign.

The 3 couples all towed snow machines from home and gathered in Espanola where we stayed overnight and parked our trucks and trailers for the duration of our snow adventure.

Below is a photo of our machine, which has a GPS navigation system, two gas tanks, and room for both of us plus 3 pieces of waterproof luggage. I ride on the very comfortable back seat which, along with my hand grips, helmet visor and vest, is heated electrically. Yes I'm spoiled.

Our snowmobile

Our first day on the trails we rode from Espanola to Blind River. The morning trails were icy but the afternoon brought a welcome snowfall. However, with a foot of fresh powder and reduced visibility due to strong winds, we occasionally lost sight of the groomed trail and bogged down in 3 or 4 feet of soft snow (shown below). You can see our friend is up to her thighs in snow and the back end of her machine is buried deeply.

Snowmobile buried in snow

We got to practice digging out our machines several times that week, whenever we mistakenly got off of the groomed trail. We developed a routine - clear snow away from underneath the front of the buried machine, then pull hard on the skis while another person presses the throttle. It takes at least 3 people about 10 to 20 minutes of hard work to retrieve a buried machine and get it back on the trail. You can see the process underway in the photo below. Many hands make light work...

Digging out a snowmobile stuck in snow

The second day we snowmobiled from Blind River to Bruce Mines. The fresh snow made for excellent riding conditions. One of the local old-timers we met at a restaurant mentioned that he had not seen this much snow in decades and that the previous winter there was not enough snow for snowmobiling. We were glad to hear we picked a good year to visit Algoma for some winter fun. Below is a photo of my husband and me on our snowmobile.

Karen Richardson with her husband on their snowmobile

Occasionally our group stopped on the trail to stretch our legs, bask in the winter wonderland scenery, and enjoy cups of hot chocolate from our thermoses. We  carried trail food for snacks (such as trail mix, chocolate bars, cheese, water) and equipment for emergencies (saws, tow ropes, first aid kit, space blankets, cell phones, tools, etc). Snowmobile trips are more like safaris than road trips. My husband and I are on the left in the photo below.

Karen Richardson and friends

On the third day we rode from Bruce Mines to Elliott Lake. I took the photo below from our machine, which was at the back of our group of 5 snowmobiles.

Going down the trail

We were stopped on the trail because we came upon a herd of deer (shown in a close up below). Fortunately they were curious about us and stayed still long enough for us to take several photos.

Deer on the snowmobile trail

Groomed snowmobile trails provide easy travel routes for lots of wildlife. We saw tracks of deer, moose, rabbit, fox, and wolf during our adventure.

The Algoma snowmobile trail system was mostly well-mapped and marked with trail directional signs and periodic billboard maps, as shown below. We also had printed trail maps and digital maps on our GPS. Sometimes we had to call on all our resources to determine our way when the route was unclear. That is just part of the adventure of multi-day snowmobile trips in unfamiliar territory. We got to exercise our problem-solving skills as well as our muscles.

Algoma trail map

The trail system had a series of tiny warm-up huts with outhouses like those shown below, which we found useful from time to time. Note the snow load on the roof.

Trail warm up hut

On the fourth day we journeyed from Elliott Lake back to Espanola, again with excellent snow conditions.

It took a while to clear the snow off of our trucks and trailers (shown below) before we could load our machines back into their trailers.

Snow on our trucks

We spent the night in Espanola and drove home the next day. Our snowmobile adventure was challenging and fun, and we very much enjoyed the camaraderie of our longtime friends. We feel lucky to live where we easily can access world-class snowmobile trails for winter getaways.

Karen Richardson's snowmobiling friends

One of the excellent side benefits of these extended trips is that I have access to gorgeous wilderness scenery, to take photos I can use for painting ideas. Shown below are a few of the paintings that resulted from years of snowmobile adventures. Click on the photos for more details about theses pieces.

Snow and Stone, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Snow and Stone, watercolour 16 x 12"

Winter on Lake Kashwakamak, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Winter on Lake Kashwakamak, watercolour 11 x 14"

February Flow, watercolour by Karen Richardson

February Flow, watercolour 18 x 24"

Cabin in the Snow, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Cabin in the Snow, watercolour 9 x 12"

Wild Wonders - Lynx, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Wild Wonders - Lynx, watercolour 22 x 15"

February Farm, watercolour by Karen Richardson

February Farm, watercolour 5 x 15"

What do you do to enjoy the outdoors in winter? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

January New Works and their Stories

17 February, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

New watercolours by Karen Richardson

Pictured above are the five new paintings I made last month. To my great delight, the three canoe scenes have found new homes already, thanks to my daily posts on Facebook and my 2000 wonderful friends and followers there.

Secrets of the Mist, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is the first canoe scene, Secrets of the Mist (8 x 8"). This little painting was inspired by a photo I took last fall on a lunch cruise of Lake Muskoka, organized by the Women's Probus Club of Lindsay, of which I am a member.

I had been hoping for fine weather for our cruise and when I heard the wet forecast I figured I wouldn't get any good scenery photos. How wrong I was. The rain provided a misty atmosphere and I ended up with dozens of paint-worthy reference photos. I added the red canoe to the painting to introduce a human presence and a pop of colour to the scene.

I posted an in-progress photo of this painting on Facebook on Jan. 23, and the finished version the next day. By Jan. 25 I had four offers to purchase - from collectors in Muskoka, Whitby, Brighton, and Oshawa. The Facebook post of the finished painting went on to garner almost 400 'likes' and 200 comments, which I think is the highest response to date for a single post of mine.

For more information about this painting click here. This artwork is going to a collector in Whitby.

Secrets in the Mist, watercolour by Karen Richardson
 

Not wanting to disappoint the other three collectors, I painted a second 8 x 8" version of this scene, Secrets in the Mist, shown above. Click here for more details. This one went to its forever home in Bracebridge.

I plan to paint more versions of this scene in other sizes and will offer them to the remaining interested parties on a 'right of first refusal' basis before showing the artworks to the general public.

 

The third canoe scene, Bring a Paddle (12 x 12", shown above) was inspired by numerous reference photos of northern lakes, islands, and canoes. I was particularly pleased with the way the water ripples and reflections turned out.

Shown below are the reference photos for the lake reflections and autumn foliage, a concept sketch for the island, and the initial layout drawn in pencil on watercolour paper.

Reference photos for Bring a Paddle by Karen Richardson

I posted in-progress photos of this painting on Facebook on Jan. 28 and 29, and had an offer to purchase before the painting was finished. The Montreal buyer said "I keep missing opportunities to get the ones I love. The last one left before I could... Bring a Paddle already has my heart even if not done yet... As soon as I saw it I knew I couldn't live without [it]... I see great things all the time but yours speak to me." Click here to see more details about this painting.

If you wish to see my paintings on Facebook as they are created, here is the link https://www.facebook.com/karen.richardson.studio.

Morning Has Broken, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is Morning Has Broken, watercolour 9 x 12". It was inspired by several of my photos which are shown below: two of an amazing morning sky I saw from my front porch, one of the sun reflected in a lake, and one of a white pine. The rocky ridge was inspired by many I have seen during my travels throughout northern Ontario. The photo below also shows the concept sketch for a tree on rocks, and the initial stage of the painting after the first layer of colour was applied to the background.

Reference photos for Morning Has Broken by Karen Richardson

The sky was quite difficult and its depth of colour eventually was achieved with many layers painted over several days. I really enjoyed painting the tree with its branches reaching outward, as if Mother Nature is embracing the dawn. You can see further details about this piece here.

 

The fifth painting from last month is Lady in Red, watercolour 14 x 11", shown above. One of my Facebook acquaintances, Gerry Kaiser, is a professional photographer from Windsor, Ontario. Last October he posted a glorious photo of a red and gold sunset he took at Point Pelee National Park (Lake Erie). Gerry kindly gave me permission to use the photo as reference for my watercolour painting.

This was an extremely challenging subject. I masked out the sun and its reflection and then painted the sky wet-in-wet with several layers to achieve the depth of colour. I painted the lake reflections on dry paper using hundreds of horizontal strokes of colour. There was a lot of experimentation involved in this piece but I was very happy with the result.

When I posted an in-progress photo on Facebook and asked for suggestions for a title, I received 80 responses. I chose Lady in Red and recorded the rest to use for future sunset paintings. (Lady in Red was the name I gave to my third motorcycle, a red Honda Pacific Coast.)

I wrote a description for the painting using some of the beautiful words suggested by my Facebook friends: "This painting presents the fiery crimson blaze of the setting sun making her final bow before the heavens fade to black. Her radiance is reflected on peaceful waters as shimmering ribbons of scarlet and gold. We all have fond memories of splendid days that ended with breathtaking displays like this one."

You can see more details about this painting here.

As our winter continues, I look forward to creating more new paintings and sharing with you the stories behind them.

Which painting is your favourite? 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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