Earthbound Artist

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. 

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.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to learn more about the life of a professional artist, travel tales, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

The Making of 'Superior Gems'

12 September, 2018 2 comments Leave a comment

 Superior Gems, watercolour by Karen Richardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

For more information about this painting, click here.

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

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.

Why I Share my Art with the World

27 August, 2018 2 comments Leave a comment

Hardwood Floor, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Recently, a thought-provoking question came from one of my Facebook friends, who asked if I find it hard to part with my paintings when they sell, since I put so much of myself into creating them. This question made me think of several favourite pieces that I no longer own.

The truth is, when a really successful piece sells quickly, I do feel a bit of a pang inside, because I still have a powerful emotional connection with the finished artwork. 

The images in this post reveal paintings that still own a piece of my heart, even though they have long ago been acquired by collectors.

Pictured above is Hardwood Floor, painted in 2002. I enjoyed it for three years before it found its new owner, but I still miss it. The colours just sing to me and I like the idea of finding beauty in imperfect or ordinary things.

Sweet Slumber, watercolour by Karen Richardson

The painting above is Sweet Slumber (1990) which graces a home in Calgary, Alberta. I love the contrast of complementary colours, orange and blue, in this piece, as well as the diagonal and vertical lines that guide the viewer's eye around the composition.

Autumn Welcome, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Above is Autumn Welcome (1995), inspired by a beautiful historic home in Port Perry and a twig chair made for me by a friend. I love the seasonal elements that celebrate autumn and the contrast of the red-orange brick with the dark green of the porch and roof. Fittingly, this painting was acquired by the home owners. 

Noteworthy, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Shown above is Noteworthy (2006) and below is Sun, Sand and Sea (2006). Both were inspired by trips to the Maritimes and sold the same year they were created. I adore the balanced composition and fresh colour palette of Noteworthy, and the contrasting textures and subdued colours in Sun, Sand and Sea.

Sun, Sand and Sea, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I have had lots of practice saying good-bye to paintings, with over 600 of them sold to collectors since 1986, and I am still young enough to think I have 'unlimited' opportunity to paint more great pieces.

Below is Desert Compadres (2009), inspired by our trip to the American Southwest. This Collared Lizard ran right up to me as I was standing in the Painted Desert taking photos. This normally elusive creature posed on the colourful gravel at my feet for about 30 seconds and I got several clear close-up shots to use as painting references. I couldn't believe my good luck. I added the cactus to the scene in my painting, which sold before it was finished.

Desert Compadres, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I take photos of every completed painting and keep an archive to refer back to, so I can continue to enjoy my sold pieces. Below is Simply Amaizing (2009). The step-by-step process of painting this remarkable larger-than-life piece is detailed in my book Watercolour Toolbox. I love the light and shadow in this painting, as well as the range of colour. Every sunlit corn kernel has a highlight and a shadow containing reflected light.

Simply Amaizing, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Essentially though, I paint in order to share my reverence for peaceful and beautiful places, usually in the natural world, with folk who feel the same. Below is Magnolia Serenade (2012) which sold the following year. I am drawn to the dreamlike quality and soft colours of this painting. The background was challenging but turned out beautifully.

Magnolia Serenade, watercolour by Karen Richardson

I experience a thrill when one of my 'kids' goes to its forever home, where it will enrich other people's lives for decades to come. February Flow (2016), shown below, sold just two months after I finished it, which is wonderful, but I do miss this awesome painting. I love the contrasts within it - light/dark, fluid/frozen, and powerful/delicate.

February Flow, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Last year, I painted a set of three watercolours of pebble stacks, each named after a different cocktail. I only got to enjoy them for three months before they went to their forever home in Washington state. Shown below is one of them, Martini on the Rocks (2017).

Martini on the Rocks, watercolour by Karen Richardson

My art business motto is "Making the world a happier place... One painting at a time." So I am committed to sharing my paintings with a wide audience, but sometimes that does tug on my heart strings.

Cheers everyone. And feel free to share!

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