Last fall, I created this watercolour painting from a photo taken in Nova Scotia during our 2017 Maritime trip.
I love the apparent simplicity of this composition, with three smooth pebbles sitting in a cleft of weathered driftwood. But the image implies a more complex meaning to me; one of shelter, security, togetherness, and family.
When the painting was completed, I posted a picture of it on Facebook, to ask my online friends for suggestions for a title. The image got a strong response, with about 50 title ideas coming forward. The one I selected was 'Fitting In', but I made note of all the suggestions, to use on future paintings I am creating in a series about cracks and crevices. An artist friend also suggested I add a living creature to the driftwood cleft, peeking over the stones. Hmmm... food for thought.
Then I entered 'Fitting In' in the This Is Home painting competition, sponsored by Artwork Archive. My artwork took first place with over 800 votes on Facebook, winning the Voter's Choice award of US$300. A few weeks later, two of my paintings, including 'Fitting In', were accepted into the PineRidge Arts Council 18th Annual Juried Art Exhibition (shown above). This competition had 190 pieces submitted by 103 artists, with only 65 paintings being accepted into the show by the juror.
During this time, I recognized that this image would be an excellent subject for a watercolour class, allowing me to teach several key aspects, such as choosing a focal point, contrasting light and dark, depicting smooth and rough textures, and mixing subdued colours, to name a few.
So this spring, I taught this subject twice in classes held in my Lindsay studio, and my instincts were correct; my students LOVED painting this scene and learning all I could impart along the way. They used actual stones from my rock collection as reference, to make their creations unique.
Here are photos of my students with their finished pieces:
Several of the students made comments after class:
"I learn so much when I take workshops with you. You have such a fantastic knowledge base. You explain the why as well as the how! Painting in your studio, surrounded by your incredible paintings, is such an inspiration. And you are a joy as a teacher! Thanks a million for an incredible time!" ~Diane S.
"We had such a wonderful time. I learned SO much about handling watercolour and how to achieve different textures. The "ah ha" moment for me was learning how to mix all those subtle colours from just three primaries. Karen is an awesome teacher who is able to convey so much of her knowledge and experience to her students." ~Jan Z.
"Thank you so much for the whole experience. It was such an inspiring and educational two days. I know that is due to your organization, presentation and overall thoughtfulness of your students. I did not really believe I could leave that workshop with a piece of art that resembled what Jan had shown me after she attended the 'Pebbles' workshop. What an amazing feeling that was... Thank you again for sharing your expertise and delighting in the pleasure that your 'gift' brings others." ~Roz G.
I made a new demonstration painting during each session, to show the students various painting techniques, and I decided to add a living creature to each one, to make paintings that were different from my first version. Here are the three paintings shown as a series:
In considering appropriate titles, I first came up with 'Fitting In', 'Sitting In', and 'Flitting In' for the series. Then I thought, since possibly these three paintings will end up in the hands of separate collectors, the humour might be lost. I decided a more appropriate title for the version with the squirrel would be 'Curiosity', and for the version with the butterfly, 'A Moment's Rest'. I would love to hear your thoughts on titles.
These three paintings, part of a group of almost 40 pieces, will be on display at my Spring Open Studio (weekend of April 28 and 29, 1 to 5 pm) in Lindsay. I hope you can meet the trio in person. One can't help but smile when seeing them.
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