Reflections of McCraney Lake

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heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Reflections of McCraney Lake | 4×4 ft acrylic on canvas | CAN $1850

This is one of my absolute favourite places to visit in Algonquin Park. After a 1km portage through the woods carrying a canoe through  27 mud puddles, the views and quiet and sounds are well worth the effort of visiting McCraney Lake. It is a shallow lake, so there are a lot of fallen trees bleached in the sun, carpets of lily pads, and squishy islands of grasses with hidden sundews and pitcher plants. I always take lots of photos while there, and it is so fun painting from them back in my studio to capture the feel of the place.

Day 1 : Watch Day 1’s painting session reel on Instagram here.

Starting off on a pure white canvas is a little stressful, as any rogue splashes of paint aren’t as easily worked into the final as when I completely fill the canvas. But I just took a deep breath and jumped in, and enjoyed allowing the paint to be loose and run off the canvas, encouraging it in some places and restrainging it in others.

heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 1 : detail
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 1 : palette at the start

I worked with just two colours… Liquitex Heavy Body pthalo blue and sap green. They work so well together, creating a range of colours. Watered down they ran and spread beautifully, giving the loose structure to the piece.

heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Reflections of McCraney Lake : Day 1
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 1 : palette end of day

Day 2 : Watch the time-lapse reel on Instagram here.

On the second day I focused on selectively tightening up the silhouettes of the trees. I introduced white & yellow ochre to create more shades of green.

heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 3 : detail
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 2 : palette at the start
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Reflections of McCraney Lake : Day 2
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 2 : palette at the end

Day 3 : Watch the time-lapse reel on Instagram here.

I started adding in brighter details in the branches of the trees, introducing pthalo purple to create warmer tones by mixing it with the ochre and white.

heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 3 : detail
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 3 : palette
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Reflections of McCraney Lake : Day 3
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 3 : palette at the end

Day 4 : finishing up

At this point I just went for it, adding the lily pads floating on top of the water, texture along the shore… again being careful to not add too much or cover the wonderful loose paint from the first layer. I’m really happy with the finished piece.

heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 3 : detail
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 3 : palette at the start
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 4 : detail
heather castles Algonquin Park acrylic painting McCraney lake
Day 4 : palette end of day

And that’s it… all done! It has been so overcast and terrible lighting for photographing this piece, but have done my best to capture it. It is now looking for it’s forever home… if you are interested drop me a line and we can chat about viewing it in person or via video chat.

Watch the final day of painting here :


I’ve set aside time over the next two months to paint more of the views in Algonquin Park. So check back, or follow me on Instagram @heather_castles_illustration to see my work as it is coming together.


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