Earthbound Artist

Seeing Caribou and Moose in Newfoundland

04 November, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Caribou at Port au Choix Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

This past spring and summer, my husband and I spent 3 months and drove 15,000 km with our truck and trailer, exploring the island of Newfoundland. I took over 2,000 photos of the beautifully rugged scenery and abundant wildlife, distilled to almost 300 paint-able references.

During our journey, we were thrilled to see the sometimes-elusive wildlife for which this province is famous: whales, moose, caribou, and puffins.
 
In a previous post I shared our whale tales. Today I am presenting our sightings of the four-legged variety.

We spotted caribou herds on two occasions. The first sighting, shown above and below, was at the Port au Choix National Historic Site on the northwest coast.

Caribou at Port au Choix Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

This small caribou herd is a familiar sight to residents of Port au Choix, roving regularly between the lighthouse on the National Historic Site, through streets and back yards, as far as the Foodland grocery store on the other side of town.

Caribou at Port au Choix Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

The Port au Choix herd has a mix of bucks and does, with two babies. The youngest one is still white and is pictured standing in the photo below.

Caribou at Port au Choix Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

The caribou is depicted on Canada's 25-cent coin (shown below).

Photo of Canadian quarter with caribou

Our second sighting of caribou was on Hwy 480, which connects Stephenville to the remote port of Burgeo on the south coast of Newfoundland.

Caribou seen north of Burgeo Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

The native species of caribou in Newfoundland is named woodland caribou, and numbers about 32,000 animals.

Caribou seen north of Burgeo Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Woodland caribou are a sub-species of reindeer. (Yes, the ones that pull Santa's sleigh.) 

Caribou seen north of Burgeo Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

I was thrilled to film a few of these magnificent mammals, including one on the highway in front of our truck and trailer. Check out the short video below which shows both sightings described in this article.

Our sightings of moose were more distant ones, for which we actually are thankful. With an island-wide population estimated at 125,000 to 150,000 animals (the highest density of moose in North America), and an average of 700 to 800 moose/vehicle collisions each year, we were OK to see these large animals from afar.

Cow moose crossing the road near Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson 

When we left our campground in Kings Point, (which overlooked a saltwater bay full of visiting icebergs and whales), there was an 8 km stretch of gravel road on the way to the trans Canada highway, due to construction. We crawled along at 20 km/h with our 4-way flashers on, to avoid damaging our trailer on the bumpy gravel. Our slow pace allowed for two excellent moose sightings. We spotted a bull beside a pond (shown below) and only a minute later, a cow crossed the highway in front of us (shown above). We were able to stop and get pictures even though the animals were fairly far away.

Bull moose in Newfoundland, photo by Karen Richardson

Their long legs make moose ideally suited to forest living, stepping over logs, negotiating thick brush, and moving through deep snow. Their hooves spread widely, supporting the animal's weight in bogs.

The most interesting moose sighting was at the L'Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before our guided tour of the 1000-year-old Viking settlement remains, we spotted this cow moose with twin babies (below).

Cow moose with twins at LAnse Aux Meadows Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

A few days later, we journeyed onward to Roddickton, which apparently is the moose capital of the world (see photo below). There was a very interesting moose interpretive centre there. 

We learned that two breeding pairs of moose were introduced to Newfoundland in 1904 to add variety to the local diet. It is believed the current population is descended entirely from these 4 animals.

Sign in Roddickton Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

But the most fascinating fact we learned about moose is that they are truly at home in water. In fact, they can snap their nostrils shut and dive down 5 metres to feed at the bottom of a pond! Who knew?!

If you have unusual animal sighting stories or other 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 travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

September New Works and Their Stories

11 October, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

New watercolour paintings by Karen Richardson

After a glorious summer spent touring the island of Newfoundland, it feels great to be back in my beautiful studio making lots of art. I really needed the break from all the hats I wear at home, in my volunteer work, and in my art business. Now I feel rejuvenated and excited to paint again.

This week I varnished and framed the three paintings shown above. I did a bit of work on them in our trailer, on the few rainy days we had during our East coast adventure, and completed the finishing touches at home in September.

Misty Mystery, watercolour by Karen Richardson 

Misty Mystery, watercolour on board (no glass), 8 x 8" is shown above. I added lots of intricate lines and details to the trees and rocks with my black pigment pen. This is the same pen I used to write my signature on the paintings. While the misty scene is largely from my imagination, the shapes of the trees are borrowed from this photo I took on Lake Muskoka last fall (below).

Photo of Lake Muskoka by Karen Richardson

Click here for more information on Misty Mystery.

I so enjoyed making this little painting that I decided to reverse the drawing, shorten the main tree, and create a second piece with a rectangular format. 'Mysteries in the Mist', watercolour on board (no glass) 6 x 12" was the result (shown below).

Mysteries in the Mist, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Click here for more information about Mysteries in the Mist.

The third painting I completed last month was the view of Pebble Beach at the town of Marathon, on Lake Superior's beautiful north shore. This 20 x 16" watercolour on board (no glass) is titled 'Superior Jewels' (shown below).

Superior Jewels, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I visited Pebble Beach shortly after a rain shower - what I call a 'soft' day. I loved the combination of vividly coloured stones and misty background. 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 started working on this complex piece in April, and had it on display as a work in progress during my Spring Open Studio event (shown below on my drafting table).

Works in progress by Karen Richardson April 2019

I painted more beach stones in June while in Newfoundland, but by the time I was back working in my studio this fall, almost three months had gone by since my previous work on this painting.

During this elapsed time, I had lost interest in finishing this scene, and wanted to work on some new ideas for paintings. However, because I had put so many hours into this piece already, and because smooth stones are my favourite subject to paint, I made myself press on to the finish.

As I added the final patterns and shadings to the foreground stones, I soon revived my excitement for this dramatic beach scene. I am glad and relieved that this major work is done and am captivated by the result. It is everything I hoped it would be, and more.

For more information on Superior Jewels, 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 if you wish to see more painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

 

A Whale of a Tale in Newfoundland

13 September, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Baby Beluga photo by Karen Richardson

As my husband and I explored the island of Newfoundland earlier this summer, we were thrilled to see the wildlife for which this province is famous: whales, moose, caribou, and puffins.
 
Today I am sharing our 'Whale Tales'. Sometimes their visits were brief and far-off, but on a few occasions I was close enough to take a video.

The photo above shows a baby Beluga whale surfacing at North West Brook, near Clarenville on the Bonavista Peninsula. The reason we were there to see it was because of a couple of tips from the locals.

We were camped at a golf course that also had a small RV park, way out in the boonies near Hatchet Cove, which is on the north shore of the Southwest Arm of Random Sound (a long skinny fjord off of Trinity Bay). A lady at the Clarenville tourist info centre recommended we take a drive along the south shore of Southwest Arm on highway 204, because there was a very pretty fishing port out at the mouth of the fjord.

Southport Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

We took her advice the next day and thoroughly enjoyed the drive on a very hilly, windy, bumpy road out to Southport, pictured above and below.

Southport Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

On our way back, we drove into all the little hamlets and villages along the route. Some of them only had a handful of houses. One place with the charming name of Little Heart's Ease had a pull-off with a picnic table, on a high cliff overlooking Southwest Arm. The view was so stunning I had to stop for a photo. I'm pretty sure the spot was private property because there was a little house on the back lot and the friendly owner came out to chat with us.

She had lived in Ontario for a while but came back as a senior to live with her sister in Little Heart's Ease. While we were chatting, a neighbour woman called over "Did you see the whale?". We looked down at the bay again and, sure enough, in the distance we could see a whale surfacing (see its black back in the photo below). 

Little Heart's Ease Newfoundland by Karen Richardson

The first lady let us know about a baby Beluga whale that had been visiting the marina at North West Brook for the last several weeks. She gave us directions to the marina and we eventually figured out how to access it and stomped our feet on the docks to call the whale. Amazingly, it surfaced near us within a minute and was about the size of a dolphin.

I made the 3-minute video below of the young whale feeding and swimming near us. (Please excuse the wind noise.)



While we were staying on the Avalon Peninsula, my husband heard on the radio that humpback whales were visiting St. Mary's Bay off of St. Vincent. We made a day trip down there and joined several other people on the beach watching the show from shore (see below).

Watching Humpback Whales at St. Vincent Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

According to the very informative plaque posted on this beach, each spring about 1500 humpback whales journey from the Caribbean to the shores of Newfoundland, to feed on the annual capelin spawn. In late June or early July, millions of tiny silver fish called capelin gather in the shallow waters close to shore. They come to mate and deposit their eggs in the sand.

During their stay at St. Vincent's, an adult Humpback whale consumes up to 2500 kg of capelin each day. The whales can be seen exploding to the surface with water and capelin pouring from their mouths.

We could see large flocks of seabirds feeding on capelin and about a dozen black and white whales jumping and spouting way out in the bay. Unfortunately they were too far out to photograph well.

We also saw Humpback whales and an iceberg in one spot, completely by coincidence, while staying at King's Point in north central Newfoundland. When we arrived at the campground overlooking the bay we discovered the iceberg. The lady working at the campground store told us to take a certain road to the other side of the bay to get a better view of the iceberg (shown below).

Iceberg at Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While I was photographing the iceberg I heard a whale blow and was thrilled to be able to photograph a mother and calf surfacing and blowing (below).

Mother and baby Humpback whales at Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

I compiled this 3-minute video showing icebergs and whales in the bay:

All of the whale sightings we experienced in Newfoundland were from shore. If you visit this beautiful province and want to see whales, I recommend you find a tour company that can take you by boat to get a closer view. 

The best whale watching day we have experienced was in September 2003 in the Bay of Fundy off of Grand Manan, New Brunswick. We went out on a 40 foot sail boat (their sign is pictured below). Afterwards I spoke to one of the other passengers who was a professional photographer who had done this cruise every summer for the last 14 years and he said this was the best whale sighting day he ever had experienced.

Whale Watching Grand Manan NB photo by Karen Richardson

We saw a basking shark that was longer than our boat (we knew this because the shark came alongside our boat) and later on we drifted beside a North Atlantic Right Whale and her calf for about 45 minutes (shown below). They were filter feeding at the surface. The captain used sail power to make sure we didn't get too close and disturb the whales with the noise of a motor. We felt privileged to have encountered these rare creatures, which are now listed as an endangered species.

Whales in Bay of Fundy photo by Karen Richardson

Having had such a rare and wonderful whale watching opportunity, we don't bother going on any more whale cruises. How could we beat that day?!

The other piece of advice I would offer other tourists is to take every opportunity to speak to the local people of Newfoundland. They are proud of their piece of paradise and are happy to let you know about icebergs, whales, and any other exciting things to see in their area.

Where was your favourite whale watching experience? If you have 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 travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Top 14 Vistas of Newfoundland

17 August, 2019 8 comments Leave a comment

Western Brook Pond Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

As my husband and I explored the island of Newfoundland earlier this spring and summer, often I felt compelled to use the 'panorama' function on my camera to record beautiful vistas. I found that standard 'landscape' format would not capture  the scope of many impressive views. This happened so often that I decided to present my best panoramic photos in this post to try to convey the vast beauty of ‘The Rock’.

The scene above is Western Brook Pond, the jewel of Gros Morne National Park on Newfoundland's west coast. The Long Range Mountains, the most northern section of the Appalachian Mountains, flank this freshwater fjord, which has 650 metre cliffs and is up to 165 metres deep. The Park covers 1805 square km and its natural beauty and unique geology earned Gros Morne UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987.

Below is Arches Provincial Park, just up the coast from Gros Morne. Three large holes have been eroded into the long rock formation by ocean waves. The beach, which stretches off in both directions, is composed of smooth round pebbles with fascinating markings. The people in this scene give a sense of scale to the rock formation.

Arches Provincial Park Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

The view from King's Point RV Park in the Baie Verte Peninsula (below) shows charming fishing stages in the harbour as well as the visiting iceberg. Our visit happened to coincide with capelin spawning season, so humpback whales were feeding on schools of tiny fish in the bay while we were there. We could hear the whales blow and occasionally see them surface throughout the day and evening.

Iceberg at Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

We enjoyed hiking in the sunshine along the coastal trail at Sleepy Cove, near Twillingate on the north central coast of Newfoundland. In the scene below the bay on the right is part of Sea Breeze park, the site of a former copper mine, where you can camp for free and watch the sunset. I included the speedboat on the left to give life and scale to the vista.

Sleepy Cove Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While in the Twillingate area, we drove to Hillgrade to have dinner and enjoy musical entertainment at a seafood restaurant on the wharf. I took several photos of the gorgeous sunset that evening (shown below).

Sunset at Hillgrade Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Near Embree on the north central coast, a light rain shower was approaching in the distance and created a misty perspective in the islands shown below. The scene reminds me of a watercolour painting.

Islands near Embree Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

When we explored Dungeon Provincial Park at Bonavista on the north east coast, the sun broke through the clouds to illuminate the rocky peninsula pictured  below. The shadowed background enhanced the dramatic lighting in this scene. The terrain of Newfoundland is predominantly rock, sometimes with a thin layer of stony soil on top that can support only stunted trees and shrubs. But some fantastic wild berries grow in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dungeon Provincial Park Bonavista Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While most of the beaches we saw in Newfoundland were made of pebbles, gravel, or rock, there were some sandy shores. The one pictured below is Windmill Bight Beach in Lumsden on the northeast coast. Our weather was cool and windy so we didn't see any swimmers that day. 

Windmill Bight Beach at Lumsden Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Acting on a tip from the locals, we drove to see an outport on the Bonavista Peninsula near Clarenville. Southport, shown below, is a scenic hamlet and active fishing harbour in Trinity Bay. There were lots of paintable subjects there so I took many photos. The late afternoon light was lovely. We also saw beluga whales that day.

Southport near Clarinville Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

We spent a week exploring the Burin Peninsula on the south coast of Newfoundland. This is a beautiful region that has vast flat plains as well as hilly coastlines. The photo below shows one of the historic homes remaining in what once was a busy port when the fishing industry was booming.  

Burin Peninsula Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

On the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland's southeast coast, we found many impressive coastal scenes. The one shown below is Bay de Verde, right out at the northern tip of the Bay Roberts peninsula. 

Bay de Verde Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

On the west side of the same peninsula, near the town of Whiteway, I took this photo below of Shag Rock. I love the serenity of this simple scene; I think it would make a great painting.

Shag Rock at Whiteway Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson 

In photography, as in paintings, the way the light catches focal points in the landscape can make or break a scene. One day we were hiking the coastal trail at Cupids near Bay Roberts on the Avalon Peninsula and the sun shone through a gap in the clouds to illuminate this point on an island (below). This is the same kind of dramatic lighting I enjoy creating in my paintings. 

Cupids Cove Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While touring the backroads of the Avalon Peninsula south of St. John's, we drove over a hill and way off in the distance I saw a series of headlands in the ocean. We stopped and I took a quick photo through the windshield of our truck. Afterwards I cropped the photo to emphasize the contrast between the sharply focused foreground trees and the misty background (below).

Avalon view near St Johns Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Many people have asked me which parts of Newfoundland were highlights for me. If I were to plot the locations of these panoramic vistas on a map, you would see that they represent most of the island. That is one remarkable feature of Newfoundland: its beauty is everywhere.

If you have 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 travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Icebergs of Newfoundland

15 July, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Karen Richardson with iceberg at Freshwater NL

While touring Newfoundland this spring and summer, my husband and I were fortunate to see icebergs from shore in various regions of the province. We are pictured above with an iceberg in Conception Bay at Freshwater, near Bay Roberts on the Avalon Peninsula. 

Icebergs are edges of glaciers that have broken off and slipped into the ocean. About 90% of icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador come from the glaciers of western Greenland, with the rest coming from glaciers in Canada's Arctic. 

Below is another photo of the Conception Bay iceberg with a boat nearby. I figure the height of this berg to be perhaps 50 feet above sea level.

Iceberg at Freshwater NL photo by Karen Richardson

The close-up photo below shows more detail. Over 90% of an iceberg is under water. Often they run aground in shallow coastal waters and stay in the same spot for weeks or even months before melting and disintegrating.

Iceberg at Freshwater Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Below is a large iceberg we saw from Petty Harbour, near St. John's on the Avalon Peninsula. We also could see numerous chunks that had fallen off the main iceberg. Based on the size of nearby tour boats, I estimate the height of this berg to be at least 100 feet above the water line and 300 feet wide.

Iceberg at Petty Harbour NL photo by Karen Richardson

Iceberg Alley stretches from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of the island of Newfoundland. On a sunny spring day, 10,000-year-old glacial giants such as this one are visible from many points along the coast. They come in every shape and size, with colours from snow-white to deepest aquamarine. Late May to early June is the optimal viewing season, although we saw icebergs this year throughout July.

Pictured below is a smaller iceberg fragment seen in Trinity Bay from Heart's Delight on the Bay Roberts peninsula.

Iceberg at Hearts Delight NL photo by Karen Richardson

Several gulls were perched on the little floating island (shown below) which was about 6 feet in height above the waterline.

Iceberg and gulls at Hearts Delight NL photo by Karen Richardson

We were delighted to find an iceberg within sight of our trailer when we camped at King's Point on the Baie Verte peninsula in north central Newfoundland. Below is a photo taken from within our trailer showing the iceberg in the bay below the campground.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

Shown below is a close up of the same iceberg. One of the locals who was camped next to us had used his boat and fishing net to collect some small bits of ice that were floating in the bay. These are called 'Bergie Bits' and are prized for their pure taste and high density. He gave us some to keep in our freezer to use in our drinks. You can hear the 10,000 year old air fizz out of them in your glass! Newfoundland companies also use the water from melted icebergs to make bottled water, rum, gin, vodka, beer, and candy.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

We drove to the other side of the bay to get the photos below. The boat gives scale to the scene. I figure the larger iceberg on the right was about 40 feet high above sea level and the smaller one on the far left was about half that height.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

We heard that the original iceberg was much larger when it first arrived in the bay several weeks before. As the iceberg periodically 'calved' (had chunks break off), the centre of gravity changed, sometimes causing the iceberg to roll over. I heard this one had turned over 6 times during its time in the bay. Here is a close up photo below.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

During our stay in Newfoundland, I spoke to several tourists who had gone on iceberg viewing cruises. One person told me their tour operator said if they were close to the iceberg and heard a big cracking sound (meaning calving was imminent), passengers were to sit down in the boat immediately because the boat would have to speed away from the berg. Calving of a large segment causes a tidal wave that could endanger a small boat. If a large iceberg were to roll over with a boat nearby, the danger is even greater. And if the boat was too close, falling ice could crush it.

Even though we saw many fine specimens this year, our previous trip to Newfoundland in 2007 offered more numerous and close up views of icebergs. Apparently that was a stellar year for iceberg sightings, even on the west coast of Newfoundland. Shown below are photos I took in 2007 of icebergs in the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and Labrador.

Iceberg in the Gulf of St. Lawrence NL photo by Karen Richardson 

Iceberg in the Gulf of St. Lawrence NL photo by Karen Richardson

Newfoundland never ceases to amaze us. The coastal scenery is dramatic and beautiful every day, and is even more exciting when an iceberg comes for a visit (like 'icing on the cake' - pun intended).

I am grateful to NewfoundlandandLabrador.com for some of the interesting berg facts mentioned in this article.

Did you enjoy this iceberg tour? If you have 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 travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

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. 

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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. 

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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.