Earthbound Artist

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] 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

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. 

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 Hunter's Moon

04 February, 2019 3 comments Leave a comment

Hunter's Moon, watercolour by Karen Richardson

A few weeks ago some of us got to see the Wolf Moon - Super Moon - Blood Moon in the heavens. This cosmic event reminded me of my most recent moon painting, 'Hunter's Moon', shown above.

In the normal course of my artistic practice, once I paint a specific scene, my creative curiosity is satisfied and I happily carry on to a new inspiration for the next painting. Some people refer to this in terms of  "been there, done that" but I think more in terms of a 'bucket list' of painting ideas that I check off one by one.

But, every now and then, a certain painting I have completed continues to haunt my creative mind. It is as if the scene or subject isn't done with me yet, and I feel the need to recreate the scene, perhaps in a different size or format.

With watercolour, it is impossible to exactly duplicate a previous painting, because of the serendipitous nature of the medium. I think of painting with watercolour as a dance, with water as my dance partner, and I don't always get to lead. This means a second version of a scene will always turn out differently than the first version.

Moonlight Sonata, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The painting shown above, 'Moonlight Sonata' was a little 8 x 5" watercolour I completed in 2005 and sold the following year. I always loved the stark simplicity and symbolism of the scene, which was one I invented using a daytime photograph as reference.

I decided to use the same concept and composition in a new, larger painting. I found a stunning pine tree reference in my photo archives and created the second version of this scene in a 24 x 18" format.

Because I worked from multiple references and in a large format, I really stretched my design, drawing, and painting skills for this project. I had to evaluate after each layer of paint and decide what needed to be done next to make the scene look more real and to get the rich colour effects I was after.

I called the new painting 'Hunter's Moon', which falls in October and is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. During these full moons, sunset and moon rise are close together, which creates a magical twilight effect.

Fortunately I had the foresight to take photos of each stage of this challenging painting as I worked on 'Hunter's Moon'. From these work-in-progress photos, I assembled a 90-second time lapse video, so you can see the flow of this piece to its completion. Click on the picture below to view the video.


When I viewed the completed painting, I had a compelling urge to visit this imaginary place, to sit under this tree, breathe in the crisp night air, and admire the beautiful moon. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure this scene is done with me yet. Maybe more moon paintings will cross my creative path...

For more information about this painting, click here.

Do moon paintings evoke memories 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 of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

New Works and the Stories Behind Them

21 January, 2019 5 comments Leave a comment

Canada Rocks #1, watercolour by Karen Richardson

By the time I finished teaching my fall watercolour workshops at the end of November, I had many partially-completed demonstration paintings. My studio was full of 'unfinished business', and I find this visual clutter makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So, in December I got cracking and completed the six paintings shown here. (Click on the pictures for more details about each painting.)

The first three artworks shown here were used to demonstrate painting smooth stones in my Pebbles 1-2-3 single-day workshops. The painting above, 'Canada Rocks #1' includes a collection of reddish pebbles with a red maple leaf resting on a weathered board and represents a rustic version of the Canadian flag. I had such fun painting this one that I came up with a few ideas for other versions of the flag. I'll be working on those this winter.

Superior Lady, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The second pebble painting, 'Superior Lady' (shown above), was inspired by the beautiful beach stones of Lake Superior.  Click here to read about my recent Lake Superior trips and the other paintings they have inspired.

In this painting, I included an American Painted Lady. This is a very common butterfly whose habitat ranges from the sub-arctic to Mexico, east of the Rockies. I deliberately kept the stone colours cool and muted, so the golden tones of this elegant butterfly would shine. 

Superior Monarch, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The remaining pebble painting, 'Superior Monarch' (shown above), also uses Lake Superior beach stones for inspiration, and includes a Monarch butterfly. I had a buyer for this piece before it was even finished, a gentleman who gave it to his wife for Christmas because she was from Sault Ste. Marie (a city on Lake Superior) and was raising Monarchs last summer. I hear she really liked the painting and I am glad it found a home with such an appropriate collector.

Arrived, watercolour by Karen Richardson

'Arrived' (shown above), was the demonstration painting from a three-day advanced workshop. One of my long-time students donated her shell collection so we could use actual objects to paint from (rather than photos). The detail in this piece is incredible, with hundreds of grains of sand, beach glass, stones, and intricate shells. I definitely needed my reading glasses to finish this one!

By the Sugar Shack, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I taught a two-day workshop with this pile of maple leaves on a forest floor as the subject. I called this painting 'By the Sugar Shack' and emphasized the colour contrasts between the newly-fallen red leaf and the older faded leaves. As in all of my paintings, I mixed every colour I needed by combining the three primary colours (red, blue, and yellow). Adding all the blemishes to make the leaves look real took a lot of time, but I liked the result when I was done.

Superior Strength, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Of these six recent works, the painting shown above, 'Superior Strength', is the one to which I feel the strongest connection. It began as my demonstration piece for an advanced watercolour class at Meta4 Gallery in Port Perry. The students and I worked on our paintings for six weeks at class, with homework in between, and still had several days of work at the end to complete the scene. There is an incredible amount of detail in the trees of the far shore, the cracked and lichen-spotted rocks of the foreground, and the reflective-yet-transparent water in the puddles on the rocks. It was very gratifying to see this master work purchased by one of my collectors, a long-time friend, as a Christmas gift for her parents.

This winter, 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. 

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 'Beach Rocks Bigtime' and our Trip to Newfoundland that Inspired It

06 January, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Karen Richardson in Newfoundland

In the summer of 2007, my husband and I (pictured above) toured the island of Newfoundland for two months with our travel trailer, slowly exploring this large province from the western ferry terminal at Port aux Basques to the eastern ferry terminal on the Avalon Peninsula. Pictured in this post are some of the many paintings inspired by our summer in Newfoundland.

Where Ice Meets Rock, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The highlights of our trip were many; the hospitable, fun-loving, hard-working people of Newfoundland, their incredible musical talents, world-famous Gros Morne National Park and Western Brook Pond were the top attractions for us.

Bonavista Fog, watercolour by Karen Richardson

We greatly enjoyed the historic Viking settlement re-enactment at l'Anse aux Meadows, numerous iceburg-sightings, a vast array of beautiful wildflowers, and learning the history of the cod fishery at Twillingate.

A Great Place to Bee, watercolour by Karen Richardson     Shipwreck Beach, watercolour by Karen Richardson     St. John's Welcome, watercolour by Karen Richardson     Western Brook Pond Waterfall, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The Skerwink cliff trail and historic architecture at Trinity, magnificent sea views at Bonavista, berry picking on the Avalon, and the vibrant culture of St. John's all were wonderful experiences.

Carved by the Atlantic, watercolour by Karen Richardson     Down Home Welcome, watercolour by Karen Richardson     Seaside Sunset, watercolour by Karen Richardson 

We spent 18 days hiking in Gros Morne National Park, which is on the mountainous west coast of the island. A few photos I took of the colourful stone beaches there have inspired dozens of pebble paintings since our visit.

Beach Treasures, watercolour by Karen Richardson      Shipwreck Point, watercolour by Karen Richardson     Saltwater and Stone, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Recently, I made this 90-second video of the creation of a large Newfoundland pebble painting, to show the layering process I frequently use to create the look of realistic stones. This is of interest to students of watercolour and allows non-artistic folk to get an idea of the planning that goes into my paintings. Click on the image below to view the video.

For more information about 'Beach Rocks Bigtime' (which currently is on display at Meta4 Gallery), click here.

Over many decades, we have toured every province and territory of Canada. Although each place was lovely and interesting to see, the island of Newfoundland remains in my top three favourite Canadian destinations (the others being Yukon Territory and Lake Superior). We look forward to another leisurely journey on The Rock one day soon.

Do you have a favourite spot in Newfoundland I should visit? Or a remarkable Newfoundland memory you would like to share? If you have suggestions or comments, please click on the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

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


My Superior Inspiration

28 December, 2018 3 comments Leave a comment

Lake Superior, photo by Karen Richardson

The north shore of Lake Superior has become my favourite painting subject. In the last two years, I have been fortunate to visit this scenic region of Ontario six different times, in all four seasons, on photography excursions. The resulting photos, hundreds of them, continue to provide a wealth of painting inspiration.

Here are the Lake-Superior-themed watercolours I have created so far. With two-thirds of the collection already sold, I know that I am not the only person captivated by the beauty and majesty of this region. Click on the images to see more details (including step-by-step creation videos in some cases):

Holding On, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Holding On, 18 x 24" (sold)


Superior Gems, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Superior Gems, 12 x 12" (sold)


Superior Strength, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Superior Strength, 12 x 24" (sold)


Listen to the Lake, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Listen to the Lake, 16 x 12" (sold)


Come to Rest, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Come to Rest, 9 x 12" $400.


Where Giants Meet, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Where Giants Meet, 12 x 16" (sold)


A Foot in Cold Water, watercolour by Karen Richardson

A Foot in Cold Water, 18 x 24" $1750.


Superior Monarch, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Superior Monarch, 12 x 12" (sold)


Crystal Clear, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Crystal Clear, 12 x 16" $770.


Time to Head South, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Time to Head South, 16 x 20" (sold)


Clarity, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Clarity, 28 x 11" (sold)


Superior Road Trip, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Superior Road Trip, 11 x 14" $620.


Moongazer, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Moongazer, 16 x 12" (sold)


Autumn on Lake Superior, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Autumn on Lake Superior, 12 x 10" (sold)

I made this 2-minute video showing highlights of our visits to Lake Superior in 2018. I grew up on the Canadian Shield, so the topography reminds me of my childhood. If you have not seen the north shore in person, these images will give you an idea of why I find the scenery of Lake Superior profoundly inspiring:

I have so many beautiful photos put aside in my 'must paint' file, that I hardly know where to start. I look forward to sharing more of my Lake Superior paintings with you as I create them. I can see 2019 will be another 'superior' year for me. I hope it is a good one for you too!

Do you have favourite spots on Lake Superior? 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. 

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.

Meet My Fall Grads

26 November, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

This fall, during watercolour workshops at my Lindsay studio and at Meta4 Gallery in Port Perry, I had the pleasure of painting with about 50 students. I pack a lot of learning into each class, and enjoy working with students who are keen to absorb all the techniques and advice I share with them.

Here are the graduations photos from the 6-week beginner class held in Port Perry. We finished two small paintings in this Get Wet in Watercolour class. It is hard to believe these are beginner paintings, they turned out so well. But more importantly, we learned about good composition, perspective, how to mix all our colours from the primaries, how to achieve soft effects, detailed effects, and other important aspects of painting.

Northern Sunset class with Karen Richardson

Island Reflection class with Karen Richardson

I also taught an intermediate level 6-week class in Port Perry called Lake Superior Shore. Our paintings are well underway in this photo below.

Lake Superior Shore class with Karen Richardson

The following classes all were held in my Lindsay studio.

My Pebbles 1-2-3 one-day workshop ran three times. Here are the graduation photos from those beginner level sessions. Notice all the smiles and unique pebble paintings! Many students take advantage of the equipment rental I offer with this entry-level class, so they can see if they like watercolour painting before they invest in their own painting materials.

Pebbles 123 workshop with Karen Richardson

Pebbles 123 workshop with Karen Richardson

Pebbles 123 workshop with Karen Richardson

Another popular subject was Maple Leaves, a 2-day workshop that ran twice. I included an 'action' shot below followed by the graduation photo (which shows my demonstration painting in the foreground).

Maple Leaves workshop with Karen Richardson

Maple Leaves workshop with Karen Richardson

The photos below are from the second version of the class and show the paintings after day 1 (base layer done) and day 2 (colour layer done).

Maple Leaves workshop with Karen Richardson 

Maple Leaves workshop with Karen Richardson 

Another very popular subject was my 2-day Rocky Shore class, which ran twice and had so many on the wait list that I plan to teach this subject again next fall. Here are the graduation photos, with my demonstration paintings in the foreground.

Rocky Shore class with Karen Richardson

Rocky Shore class with Karen Richardson

I taught a three-day Sea Shells on Sand workshop for intermediate/advanced students, that produced amazing results. Rather than a reference photo, we used actual shells (donated by one of the students), as well as sea glass and bits of driftwood, to make unique creations. Pictured below are my students with paintings well underway.

Sea Shells and Sand class with Karen Richardson

Pictured below is one of my student's paintings that she finished after class:

Sea Shells and Sand class with Karen Richardson


Thank you to all my students, who made a watercolour journey with me this fall. Together, we learned a lot!

I will not be teaching spring classes due to a heavy work schedule in my studio. My Fall 2019 Workshops (1-day, 2-day, or 3-day) will run within the mid October to end of November time frame. If you are interested in a Pebbles 123 1-day class, or the Rocky Shore 2-day class, please contact me to be put on the wait list. Other subjects will be offered as well.

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

How I Sold This Painting to a Middle East Buyer

31 October, 2018 6 comments Leave a comment

Holding On by Karen Richardson

It all started with a Facebook post I made last week, about a painting that was accepted into a local juried art show.

'Holding On' (pictured above), a large watercolour in my Lake Superior Series, was one of 65 paintings selected from 181 entries in PineRidge Arts Council's Annual Juried Show. The accepted works are on display at the McLean Community Centre in Ajax from October 23 until November 24, 2018.

I posted this announcement on Facebook one evening last week, along with the photo. The next morning, I was delighted to receive this message: "Dear Karen, hope you are well! I love the painting Holding On and would like to buy it. 🙂 please do let me know if it is for sale, I could transfer the funds to you through the Internet. I am now working for UNICEF in Kabul Afghanistan! Hopefully I will be home for Christmas. All the best." The sender was a long-time friend and former co-worker from my years at Hubbell Canada.

I thanked her and sent her the price of $2000 and my email address, and a few hours later received the funds via bank transfer. I advised the arts council of the sale and sent them their commission cheque. 'Holding On' will remain on display in Ajax for the duration of the show and then I will store it until the buyer can pick it up.

After the sale, she commented: "As soon as I saw you post the painting it just spoke to me and I had to have it! It is serene, calming, beautiful, and for me represents success despite all the odds! :) I look forward to enjoying it for year's to come! It will definitely have a forever home! 💖"

To see the creation story of 'Holding On', including a time-lapse video, click here.

This sale marks the 20th country from which collectors have acquired my paintings, and is the first sale of my work to the Middle East.

Caught in the Rain by Karen Richardson

This year, several other paintings have found homes outside of Canada. 'Caught in the Rain' (shown above), went to a buyer from Boca Raton, Florida.

'Clarity' and 'Listen to the Lake' (shown below) were acquired by collectors from Boston, Massachusetts.

Clarity by Karen Richardson    Listen to the Lake by Karen Richardson

The acquisition of my paintings by like-minded people all over the world, through galleries, art shows, open studios, and social media, provides profound encouragement, and tangible support, for a sustainable, art-centred life. I send a heartfelt 'Thank You' to the many fine folk who have welcomed over 600 of my paintings into their homes and hearts over the past three decades.

Your comments are welcome. Please use the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

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