Arcadia – Fantasy Island House

“Queen Anne Cottage” 15″ x 11″ (quarter sheet) – SOLD

Today my art pal Wendee and I went to the LA Arboretum in Arcadia for some plein air sketching and painting. We found a shady relatively cool spot in the tropical lagoon area, made famous by the 70s anthology series “Fantasy Island”

(Alright, let’s just say it and get it out of our systems, shall we? “Da Plane, Da Plane.”)

I took some digipix of the work in progress this time. After doing a quick value sketch, I drew some light outlines on the paper of where I wanted the main features to go. In this picture I’ve already started putting in the trunk of the palm, which I knew would be the featured item. I’m using burnt sienna and a mauve to get that warm/cool feeling where the trunk turns from light to shade.

Next , I’m moving around the page with a big round brush, putting in some of the background colors, and making up quite a few also. I’ve done a lot of work on the palm, not only because it was fun but because the light was changing and I wanted to get it to some degree of completion so I could evaluate the values of other things in the picture.

At this point it was probably an hour and a half after I began, give or take a bit, and the morning sun had become overhead noontime sun. It was time to call it a day on location. I took the painting home to check the photo I had taken at the beginning of the day, and to decide where the reflections would go. Most of the hard work is done at this point – what remains are putting in the darkest darks, details and calligraphic brushstrokes.


  1. Jenny
    May 8, 2007

    Beautiful, and your work-in-progress paintings are truly appreciated!

  2. Kate (Cathy) Johnson
    May 8, 2007

    Oh, what FUN. It’s gorgeous, and wow, masterful.

    I LOVE that you started with that dark trunk first! I can’t remember the name of the artist I first saw do that, back in the 70s, but I LOVE how it breaks the “watercolor rules” and works. You really pulled it off.

  3. Hashi
    May 8, 2007

    Whoah. This is GORGEOUS!

  4. Karen
    May 8, 2007

    Thanks everyone … Kate, yes I was just reading that the other day, too. I can’t remember who it was either, but I thought it would be fun to try that advice and see if it worked. What I needed was a subject that had really strong values but a good amount of detail to try it with. A big dark bush just wouldn’t be the same . If I come across that article again, I’ll make a note of it.

    I think the first marks I made after the trunk was the bg foliage just to the left of the trunk, sparing the white sun-struck side.

  5. Pamela
    May 8, 2007

    I want to win the lotto so I can quit working and come paint with you.

    colors were wonderful

  6. laserone
    May 8, 2007

    OH yes, I used to watch that show religiously! Hahaha. This is really great! I love how you show the progress. Really wonderful. :)

  7. Dave
    May 9, 2007

    This is lovely, and I really enjoyed seeing the work in progress. It’s a good idea to start with something dark; I’ll have to try that!

  8. Toni
    May 9, 2007

    Loving the colors in this one Karen. They harmonize so well together.
    Wonderful light and shade.

  9. Shirley
    May 9, 2007

    Wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing the work in progress – would also love to see your quick value sketch. Oh, I have sooo much to learn.

  10. Jo Castillo
    May 9, 2007

    This is just super. Thanks for the demo.

  11. Anna
    May 9, 2007

    Thanks for describing! This painting looks positively magical, bursting with light! Congrats to a job well done! You are really developing your style in leaps and bounds these days!

  12. Felicity
    May 9, 2007

    Lovely! I love the colours you use and the way you’ve done the palm fronds, they could so easily get overworked with too much attention to detail. Thanks again for all the info Karen, I can’t tell you how helpful it is but watercolours are loosing their terror for me!

  13. Creekhiker
    May 9, 2007

    Karen, I love it! The tree is just fabulous. Really nice detail on the fronds and the house. Holly

  14. r.e.wolf
    May 9, 2007

    Love this one!! My eye was – for some reason – immediately drawn to the reflections on the left side… they add so much depth!

  15. Rita Mcgregor
    May 9, 2007

    I love your work and am so glad that you have given some examples of how you proceed and develop your paintings. That is such a gift to share with us!!
    Always, Rita

  16. Gladys
    May 9, 2007

    I haven’t visited in a while (actually i took a blogging hiatus…lol) but I can’t say anything else than …lovely as always.

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