Rosarium sycamore – Daily Painting

Watercolor on paper. 11″ x 6.25″

Tired but happy, I’m back from two back-to-back days of watercolor demonstrations in Orange County – one sponsored by Watercolor West, the other sponsored by the National Watercolor Society. The styles of the instructors (Chris Van Winkle and Cathy Quiel) were quite different but they both offered such inspiration and so much to absorb. And the two society shows were fantastic as well. If you’re in So. Cal and like watercolor, I urge you to see the shows at the Brea Civic Center and the Muckenthaler Cultural Center.

Because I was in student mode both days, I didn’t get out to do a new painting, so I offer one painted about ten days ago, one afternoon at Descanso Gardens. It was about 3:30 in the Rosarium, and the light was starting to filter through an old sycamore, creating that stained glass look that yellowing leaves get.

If you haven’t heard my good news yet, I am beaming with joy over something that happened yesterday. I entered my first juried show and was so very pleased to find out that not only did I get in but won 2nd prize. The painting that won was Descanso Arbor, painted about a month ago, with a winding path leading to a distant light spot.

So I’d like to say thank you, to everyone who reads here and so very many of you who have written me privately, for all the encouragement and support you’ve given as I’ve undertaken this year-long painting project. This is a better outcome than I had hoped for; I would have been thrilled just getting in the show.


  1. Jana Bouc
    October 29, 2006

    Hi Karen,
    Congratulations on your success with your painting in the show! All your practice and explorations are definitely paying off. This piece for example shows such mastery. I love the way you’ve left white in some areas–it’s so effective. And you really captured the look of transparency in the leaves, with the darker leaves shining through. Your values are also excellent (and I don’t mean family values!). I really appreciate the rich darks in the background. Getting those darks really makes the lights shine. Do you feel like it takes courage when you’re putting down such darks or does it feel natural and intuitive now? Did you exaggerate the darks or just paint what you saw? How great to have such an abundance of great watercolor in your life this weekend!

  2. wagonized
    October 29, 2006

    Congratulations, Karen, on winning 2nd place with Descanso Arbor! I love this one as well — and am always fascinated by what you opt to leave out, which creates such unique lighting in your paintings.

  3. casey
    October 30, 2006

    Hi Karen,
    Congratulations on your good news. This is a beautiful blog and I really admire your
    proficiency with watercolors. Your paintings are beautfiul and vibrant and I’m sure you more than deserved your prize.

  4. Ann Fortenberry
    October 30, 2006

    Oh, what a wonderful weekend, Karen! Congrats on getting into the show– of course, it doesn’t surprise any of US that you did –congrats on the prize, and congrats on this backlight :)
    How big a painting was this, and how big a flat brush? Every day I learn something here– I don’t know from flat brushes! Is it that quick brushing with it that helps that feeling of light flooding through the leaves and that gives that stained-glass look? Of course those darks help, too, I realize.

  5. Karen
    October 30, 2006

    Thanks, everyone

    Jana, it is starting to feel natural, especially using more vivid color and tossing in exaggerated darks. I am learning to paint what the painting needs rather than what is visually in front of me. In some ways that’s easier because I’m not bound by replicating what I see, but in another way it’s harder because if I change one part, it affects everything else, and I no longer have ‘reality’ to use as a guide. The overriding message of this weekend, and both workshop/demos is to be inventive and apply design principles to the painting. Both painters painted FAST, completing several large paintings within the 5 hour class time.

    Annie, this painting is 11″ wide by 6.25″ deep (I’ll put that under the picture, too) The advantage of the flat brush is that it encourages me to suggest the leaf mass rather than trying to paint each one. I’d say that painting the leafy canopy took no more than 2 min, maybe less.

  6. lindsay
    October 30, 2006

    Karen!! Congrats! I’m so happy for you. May this be the beginning of many great painting events!!!

  7. Jennafer
    October 30, 2006

    Congratulations on your prize! How fantastic! So well deserved – you’ve had such discipline with painting, learning and growing in your art. Good for you!

  8. rhonda hurwitz
    October 30, 2006

    this is lovely…and congrats on the award.

  9. Katherine
    October 30, 2006

    Karen – how wonderful for you. I remember getting into my first juried show I was over the moon – but you’ve gone and won a prize – how much better can you get. Ok well first prize – but you’ve got to leave something to aim at for next time! ;)

  10. Toni
    October 30, 2006

    Congratulations Karen!! You deserve it. You worked hard this past year.

  11. Wendee
    October 31, 2006

    How wonderful!! We’re all beaming with and for you! :)

  12. Avery Econome
    October 31, 2006

    Hello, Karen,
    Thanks to a google alert I just found your site & the lovely painting from Descanso Gardens’ Rosarium. Very nice. Congratulations
    on the recognition received for still another painting from Descanso.
    Avery Econome
    public relations manager
    Descanso Gardens

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