Earthbound Artist

Book Wins International Awards

19 May, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment



I'm delighted to let you know, my painting instruction book Watercolour Toolbox won a bronze medal in the 'How-To' category at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in New York City this spring.

This international competition attracted over 5,500 entries, from all 50 U.S. states, 9 Canadian provinces and 32 other countries.

Watercolour Toolbox also was a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards that were announced in May, and was awarded a Five Star Review from the Reader's Favorite Book Awards earlier this spring.

It's lovely to have my book recognized by industry experts, but it is the appreciation my readers and painting students express that really warms my heart.

Where to buy Watercolour Toolbox

Record Turnout at Farewell Studio Tour

05 May, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment


Due to our upcoming move from the Port Perry area, this spring was my final chance to host a site on the Lake Scugog Studio Tour.

I was delighted to welcome 450 visitors to my place on the first weekend in May. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with everyone and had record sales. Several keen patrons purchased art and books from my web site before the tour even started.

The photo above shows visitors' shoes in my foyer on the tour weekend. There was even more footwear piled outside on the porch. We were busy!

Thanks to all of you who went home as happy new owners of my paintings, prints, books and art cards. My artwork will be much happier in your home than in a moving van. (And I have much less to pack now!)

Here's a sampling of the paintings I sold during the Studio Tour:



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Grad Photos from my April Watercolour Workshops

14 April, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

The first half of April was busy with more workshops learning how to paint realistic stones. The workshops were one or two days in duration, all at my Port Perry studio. Check out these smiles:


Sand Pebbles 1-2-3


Underwater Stones (class #2):


Underwater Stones (class #3):

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Grad Photos from my March Painting Workshops

31 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Here are the smiling faces from my March Watercolour Workshops. Everyone worked hard, had some laughs and learned a lot.

Sand Pebbles 1-2-3:


Evening Light:


Underwater Stones:

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Karen Richardson Artwork Featured on Artsy Shark

19 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

I had some great news today - I am thrilled to be the feature artist on, which is an American web-based company that teaches professional artists how to promote their work.

I started following Artsy Shark's blog about a year ago, when I was investigating ways to market my art instruction book Watercolour Toolbox, and found their blog posts to be full of great advice on all aspects of art marketing.

I applied last fall to be featured, but did not know until today when my work would be showcased.

The article captures my story in a nutshell - how traveling with my camera inspires my artwork and my art classes - and is illustrated with ten of my paintings of rocks and flowers.

Here is the link to the photo article.

Do the World a Favour - Sell Your Art

25 February, 2014 1 comment Leave a comment

I read this excellent post on Artsy Shark today and wanted to share it with you. It's about why artists should continue to share their creations with the world by finding buyers for their art. I especially like the closing statement:

"As you have already experienced and know in your heart, your collectors are forever thankful each time they lay eyes on your art and the life-enriching spirit that is seamlessly wound into your art and bonded with their hearts.

My best advice after 50 years of sales: Love yourself, your talent, your art and your client’s long-term needs. Help them, guide them, and encourage them to become owners, today; not for the money – but because it is the right thing to do."

Click here to read the full article.

Watercolour Toolbox Wins 5-Star Review

22 February, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

This week I entered my painting instruction book 'Watercolour Toolbox: Essentials for Painting Success' in several international book contests. Judging will take place later in the year and I will keep you posted if I win any medals!

One of the contests, hosted by Readers' Favorite, also provides written reviews for each entry, and I was pleased to learn today that my book was awarded a 5-star review (that would be 5 out of 5).

Here is what the reviewer wrote:

"Watercolour Toolbox: Essentials for Painting Success by Karen Richardson is a useful guide to all painters and those who are learning to paint. The book guides you step-by-step with useful strategies and demonstrations. It speaks about problems that painters face while painting and, apart from being helpful to novices, the book is also helpful to experienced painters. The book guides you in a sequential manner and speaks about everything that a painter would love to know to improve their techniques and skills. The book covers extensively the right usage of colors, brushes, and good textures for paintings.

The book has eight demonstrations by the author which is really educational and useful. It gives useful tips to improve your techniques and widen your perspective on how to handle the complexities of art. The examples will tell you how to avoid or fix the challenges presented while using watercolors. The tips to keep in mind before you start with the painting are very helpful. It helps you in planning your picture and how to go about it methodically. The book also tells readers about the classic design guidelines and traditional painting methods which will help them improve their craft.

I will recommend this book to all artists and beginners. The most common painting challenges faced by painters and the simple solutions offered by the author will help you enjoy painting. This 65-page tutorial is very helpful when it comes to improving your style."

For information on where to buy my book, click here.

Snowmobile Safari in Bruce Peninsula

19 February, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Most years, in mid February, we embark on a multi-day couples' snowmobile trip to celebrate our Valentine's day wedding anniversary. In the past, our trips have taken us to Labrador, Quebec City, the Gaspe region, and several parts of northern Ontario.

This year, my husband John organized a six-day excursion to discover the winter wonders of the Bruce Peninsula, which lies between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, in central Ontario. Four couples took part, trailering their sleds for as much as eight hours, to congregate on a Monday at our 'base camp' at the Days Inn in Owen Sound. The Inn graciously allowed us to park our trucks and trailers in their parking lot until we left the following Saturday. We like to tour on week days as the trails are less busy.

Day one we snowmobiled about 200 km up north to Tobermory (that was our longest day at 11 hours of riding); day two we made our way back south and west to Port Elgin; and day three we meandered eastward to return to Owen Sound. All three days were cold and clear for the most part. The trail was very smooth and fairly easy to navigate, taking us through rolling hills, hardwood bush, and lovely open farmland.


Day four, which was Valentine's day, we made a big circuit east towards Meaford under cloudy skies, then south and back to Owen Sound, passing through the scenic Beaver Valley. We stopped for a delicious gourmet lunch at Ted's Range Road Diner, directed there by a sign on the snowmobile trail reading "Ted's - hot food - cold beer". This was our third visit to Ted's (see my Owen Sound post from last spring) and we have never been disappointed. Don't let the humble Quonset hut disguise fool you!

After dinner that evening back at Days Inn, the group gathered in our suite to play a version of 'The Newlywed Game' for valueless prizes, and enjoyed Valentine's treats and conversation.

The next morning we all headed home, thankful for such a great week - 750 km of sledding in great company, beautiful scenery, and gorgeous, classic winter weather.

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What Makes Arists Tick?

24 January, 2014 1 comment Leave a comment

The artists of the 2014 Lake Scugog Spring Studio Tour are busy making innovative, creative new pieces for the May 3 and 4 event. Tour artist Jon van Bilsen produced this four minute video as a glimpse into the creative processes of seven tour artists (including me), discussing paintings, pottery, jewellery, photography and wood turning. Check it out:


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Making Watercolour Paint Behave

13 January, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Many of my beginner students have trouble making watercolour paint stay on the paper where they want it to. This is a central aspect of watercolour painting: moisture control.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the enjoyment I derive from engaging in a partnership with my watercolour materials—to control the paint application, to a certain extent, and have the materials provide the ‘serendipity factor’. Sometimes you want the paint to spread softly, with little direction from you. Other times you want the paint to stay exactly where you place it. Most of the time, you require a degree of control somewhere in between these extremes. Let me tell you how to achieve the level of control you need.

Wet-in-wet painting.

This term refers to applying a full brush-load of paint onto wet paper, and offers the least amount of artist control. I call it a high risk manoeuvre, with lots of chance for ‘happy accidents’ or ‘surprise disasters’. Much practice is needed, to learn what levels of moisture on paper, and brush, produce the results you intend.

The water on the paper delays the absorption of paint, so it has more chance to move and mingle with adjacent colours before sinking into the paper. This technique can produce marvellously luminous skies and sky reflections on calm water, as well as interesting base layers for tree foliage, grassy meadows, surfaces of buildings, or other relatively large areas of your painting. I use large synthetic or natural hair brushes for wet-in-wet painting.

The painting above, MAGNOLIA SERENADE, watercolour, 12 x 9”, was created with Winsor & Newton French Ultramarine, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and Aureolin paints, and has a wet-in-wet background. The petals and branches were done with two-brush technique (explained below). Final tiny details were added with a calligraphy pen, or the tip of a damp round brush.

Dry brush painting.

This commonly-used terminology actually refers to a damp to moderately wet brush-load of paint applied to dry paper.

The sizing used in watercolour paper manufacture reduces the absorbency of the paper, causing the paint to remain in place on dry paper. The result is very defined edges on painted areas.

Usually, I use this technique for adding the final details to a painting, such as stripes on stones, the texture of wood grain, or to subtly ‘dirty up’ any area of a painting that looks too pristine.

Two-brush technique.

I use this term to describe the way I apply paint when I want to control precisely where paint goes, to achieve a softer effect in a specific area.

With the exception of the wet-in-wet base washes that comprise the first layer, I create almost all of my paintings with two #12 round brushes in my hands. One brush is loaded with paint and the other with clean water. Typically, I apply paint to dry paper and then use the second brush to add water beside the painted area, wherever I want the paint to have a less distinct perimeter. If the particular area is large, I dampen it with water prior to applying paint. This allows the paint to float for a few seconds before sinking into the paper, giving me more time to moderate the edges with the clean water brush.

Students, trying the two-brush technique for the first time, often have trouble judging how much paint to lay down and how much water to add. If they put down too little paint it will start to dry before the water is added, so the paint does not move as intended. If they apply too much paint, or water, the mixture spreads beyond the intended area.

It takes considerable practice to learn what levels of moisture work best for a given section of a painting. It helps if the brushes have comparable moisture levels, so start with two identical brushes and load them with paint or water in a similar manner. I load as much liquid as the brush will allow, and then return some paint to the palette (or water to the rinse bucket), by wiping the brush against the rim until the brush point is sharp again.

Avoid using 100 per cent synthetic brushes for two-brush technique, as they release liquid too quickly. You will have more success with brushes containing some (or all) natural hair, as they release liquids more slowly and controllably.

Negative painting.

This term refers to creating the illusion of an object in your painting, by applying paint in the spaces (‘negative’ areas) around the object. I use two-brush technique to achieve this effect. Usually the defined edge of the paint lies against the perimeter of the object, and the soft (or ‘lost’) edge fades off into the background. I use this method in all my paintings and I would be ‘lost’ without it.

IRIS INDULGENCE, watercolour, 10 x 7” (above). Negative painting was used extensively here to paint around stems, leaves, and petals, and within background shrubbery. Winsor & Newton paints used: New Gamboge, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Blue Green Shade, Winsor Violet.

This excerpt from Watercolour Toolbox: Essentials for Painting Success is reprinted with permission of the publisher. For more details visit
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