Earthbound Artist

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!

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 'Holding On'

18 July, 2018 1 comment Leave a comment

Holding On, watercolour by Karen Richardson

My camping trips to Lake Superior last summer and this spring continue to inspire new paintings. This region of Ontario has become one of my top Canadian travel destinations, and every time I visit there the landscape absolutely captivates me.

For my latest painting in the Lake Superior series, I decided to invent a scene using diverse photographic references. The genesis of the idea was a photo I took years ago in Algonquin Park, of pine tree roots grasping what appeared to be solid rock. I saved this photo for decades, and knew it would make a great painting concept one day.

Lake Superior viewed from Rossport, Ontario, photo by Karen Richardson

For the background, I used the actual view of islands in Lake Superior at Rossport, Ontario (shown above). For the foreground I used a photo of a hardwood tree trunk and roots that I captured on the Bruce Peninsula a few years ago. The rocks I made up, loosely inspired by my photos taken on the Lake Superior waterfront trail at Rossport.

Fortunately I had the foresight to take photos of each stage of this challenging painting as I worked on it. From these work-in-progress photos, I assembled an 80-second time lapse video, so viewers could see the flow of this piece to its completion. Click on the picture below to view the video.

Since I did not have one reference photo of the total scene, I really stretched my design, drawing, and painting skills for this project. I had to evaluate after each step and decide what needed to be done next to make the scene look more real. And I had to make sure the lighting and mood of the background and foreground remained consistent.

When I viewed the completed painting, I had a compelling urge to visit this imaginary place, to sit in the shade of this tree, feel the breeze on my face, smell the clean air, and admire the magnificent view. Can you feel it too?

For more information about this painting, click here.

What does 'Holding On' say 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 if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Meet My Spring Grads

21 June, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

This spring, during watercolour workshops at my Lindsay studio, I had the pleasure of painting with 25 students.

Half of them were in my Pebbles 1-2-3 one-day workshops. Here are the graduation photos from those beginner level sessions. Notice all the smiles! In the first photo, you can see my demonstration painting in the foreground.

Pebbles 123 Beginner Watercolour Class by Karen Richardson

Pebbles 123 Beginner Watercolour Class by Karen Richardson

Pebbles 123 Beginner Watercolour Class by Karen Richardson

Another popular subject was Weathered Wood and Stones, a 2-day workshop that ran twice. I included some 'action' shots below.

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Isn't it remarkable how different each painting is, even though we used the same reference photo? We used actual stones for individual inspiration. The photos below are from the second version of the class.

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by Karen Richardson

Weathered Wood and Stones watercolour class by 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 me and my students with our paintings well underway.

Sea Shells on Sand advanced watercolour class with Karen Richardson

Pictured below is a finished painting by one of my students:

Student work from Sea Shells on Sand workshop with Karen Richardson 

And here is my finished demonstration painting Seaside Treasures, including a few detail shots:

Seaside Treasures, watercolour by Karen Richardson

Seaside Treasures (detail), watercolour by Karen Richardson

Seaside Treasures (detail), watercolour by Karen Richardson

Click here for more details about Seaside Treasures.

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

My Fall 2018 Workshops (1-day, 2-day, or 3-day) will run within the mid October to end of November time frame and will feature some of the same popular subjects that I taught in the spring. Click here to see the workshop schedule.

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.

The Making of 'Crystal Clear'

04 June, 2018 1 comment Leave a comment

Photo of Lake Superior by Karen Richardson

Last summer, I was thrilled to spend some time camping along the north shore of Lake Superior, not far from the rocky point shown above (you can read about my trip at Exploring Lake Superior - At Last).

I came home with an extensive collection of reference photos to inspire new paintings. The combination of a world-class variety of colourful rocks and stones and extremely clear water makes for awesome painting subjects. I have completed several excellent pieces, and described some of my painting processes in these articles The Superior Paintings Begin and The Making of 'Listen to the Lake'.

The scene above is in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park (Rossport) and was the subject of a three day advanced workshop I taught in my Lindsay studio. Shown below are the steps involved in capturing this scene in a watercolour painting. There is also a short video of part of the early painting process.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

After drawing the scene in pencil on 300 lb cold press watercolour paper (above), I used masking fluid to mask out the twigs and leaves of the shrubbery and the three small rocks sticking out of the water. This temporary protective coating preserved the white paper for a later painting stage. Then I painted a layer of warm gray in the reflection of the far point.

I mixed blue and gray washes (below), using test strips of watercolour paper to verify the colours were accurate to my reference photo. All the colours in this painting were mixed from primary colours blue, red, and yellow.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

After I wet the paper where the highlight would be off the end of the point (below), I started painting with the blue mixture for the upper portion of the lake water, gradually blending in the gray mixture as I worked into the lower portion of the lake water.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

One of my students took a video of me painting just this section above, while I explained what I was doing, and why. Anyone interested in the details of this process will want to click on the image below to view the 10-minute video.

In the photo below, I have painted the gray shadow layer on the large rock outcroppings. I like to paint my shadows first, while I can see my pencil lines clearly.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

Shown below, after the shadow layer dried, I re-wet the rocks with clear water, added quick strokes of tan and gray, then sprinkled salt on top. Each grain of salt absorbed a bit of paint, leaving a pale splotch in the colour. When fully dry, the salt was brushed off. I also painted the first layer of the distant shore hills and penciled in the outlines of the underwater stones.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

In the photo below, I masked out the shapes of lichens in the foreground rock, and deepened the gray shadows with more paint. In the background rock, I used dry brush 'scumbling' to suggest rock colours and textures. The shadow layer was added to the distant shoreline.

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

In the photo below, I have removed the masking from the foreground rock, revealing the lichen shapes. Using negative painting techniques, I painted outside of each underwater rock shape. When fully dry, I removed the masking from the shrubbery and stones, revealing the white paper. 

Crystal Clear, watercolour in progress, by Karen Richardson

The final step was to paint the leaves, twigs, and three stones above the water level. The mounted and framed painting, Crystal Clear, is shown below. For more details about this finished work, click here

Crystal Clear, watercolour on panel by Karen Richardson

What does this scene say 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 if you wish to see more of her painting stories, travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.