Blog #26 Water’s Edge

‘Water’s Edge’, South Baymouth Manitoulin Island 18″ x 23″

I was recently looking through some photos I had taken from a trip I took to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.  That northern Ontario Island is stunningly beautiful and a real treat to visit.  It’s nestled between two gorgeous freshwater lakes; Lake Huron and Georgian Bay .  

To get there you can drive north to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula where you will find the pretty harbour village of Tobermory which is a terrific destination in itself.  There are regularly scheduled ferry rides from this point leaving from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island on the giant ferry the ‘MS Chi-Cheemaun’ meaning ‘the big canoe’ in Ojibway.  It’s an enormous ferry able to take on all sizes of vehicles and walk on traffic.  The two hour long trip is such fun as you glide past rocky shorelines of the Niagara Escarpment and on in between the islands of the Fathom Five National Marine park. 

Once I arrived at South Baymouth my stay there was brief but fruitful.  The weather was perfect, warm and sunny and I was able to take many wonderful scenic photos to use as reference for paintings once I got back to my studio. 

With some initial planning you can get such wonderful bright crisp results when you are painting with watercolours.  I was excited to get started on recreating this Manitoulin Island scene with its lovely stand of trees and choppy lake beyond. I like to use 140lb cold pressed watercolour paper which I buy in a block which keeps the paper taught and flat.  I select a limited palette of watercolours using my favourite primary colours; permanent rose, aureolin yellow and cobalt blue. I mix my greens, purples and oranges from these colours.  This helps with the visual harmony of my painting.  I also did add some earth colours, a bit of burnt sienna and raw umber along with a touch of ultramarine blue to create some nice darks.  Sometimes you can’t get the vibrant green you might need mixing aureolin yellow with cobalt blue so I also used some windsor green blue shade mixed in. 

As you can see in the upper left of my series of photos I start with a minimal pencil sketch that I draw lightly on my watercolour paper. Then I surround the dimensions of my working area with masking tape.  Once the painting is completed it’s peeled away to reveal a lovely clean edge.  I use a masking tape that is sticky enough to hold fast and stop paint from seeping under but low tack enough to peel up without damaging the paper. I am careful when painting in the lake water and distant small island to be sure to work around the birch tree trunks so that they remain white and ready for the shading and bark texture later.   As long as you work on dry paper the paint will go exactly where you place it without bleeding.

The next photo shows the layers of greens that establish the canopy of lush summer leaves. You can see how the contrast of the white birch tree trunks are really popping now and well delineated. After dropping some blue into the sky I then add the shading to the tree trunks. Then the textures of the different barks are painted while also crafting the foreground elements. The final details really pull it all together, with delicate branches, wild flowers and tufts of grass adding interest. The end result of ‘Water’s Edge’ I feel, captures the beauty and peacefulness of that summer’s day in South Baymouth.

To see this finished watercolour painting ‘Water’s Edge’, South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island‘ close up and for more of my paintings please go to my original art watercolour and acrylic galleries on this website.