Peonies Plein Air

Plein Air Peonies – 11″ x 15″ (quarter sheet) Arches 140# watercolor paper

Well, the show was a success in every way and I have lived to tell the tale. Kudos to Lori and her family for not only organizing the event but offering their home as our gallery and creating an atmosphere of conviviality and creativity. We all arrived an hour before the studio tour began to set up our easels and help with last minute details … but everything was in perfect order so there was little we needed to do. Tour guests began arriving promptly at 1 and continued throughout the afternoon with only a few lulls and many surges. The organizing committee asked if artists might have some sort of demo set up at their studios, and several of were happy to oblige, setting up our easels around a beautiful still life arrangement artfully presented by painter Carolyn Jean. I haven’t done very many floral still lives but I loved the challenge of these peonies – which we cannot grow in Southern California. These buxom blooms came from Whole Foods market, and I understand from my artpal Nan that Trader Joes is carrying them as well.

The light changed quite radically during the hour or so that I was painting these, but I tried to keep the memory of the glow even while they slipped into the shade of the umbrella and grapefruit tree. I invoked the muse that speaks to Charles Reid to please give me a hand with the looseness – that is to say, to please stay my hand if I should try to get too fussy. Because I paint landscapes more than arranged flowers, this experience has given me the incentive to do more painting out on my back patio this summer.

All in all, we had a good day. I sold this painting of the garden at Casita Del Arroyo

to a lovely collector, and Robin, Ginny, Carolyn, Louisa and others in our group had sales as well. It was an auspicious beginning. But the best part was being in the company of good painting friends, family and art lovers on a perfect late spring day. Assuming the stars all align correctly, I can hardly wait until we do it next year.


  1. Casey
    June 4, 2007

    Beautiful work, Karen. I especially love the peonies. The colors you’ve chosen just sing, and your watercolor technique is perfect for the subject.

  2. Toni
    June 4, 2007

    Karen beautiful, loose, and fresh painting. Sounds like a wonderful successful event.

  3. Anastasia
    June 4, 2007

    love the peonies – gorgeous colour!!

  4. Claudia
    June 4, 2007

    Karen, congratulations on this!! It’s simply w o n d e r f u l , especially the colours you choose.

  5. Kate (Cathy) Johnson
    June 4, 2007

    You are really getting the idea of light DOWN! Lovely…and congrats on the sale!

  6. margaret hunt
    June 4, 2007

    the peonies are just yummy…i thought the same thing …that you have to work vertically to get all those fun drips he gets….you did a great job…congrats on the sale…that one is just wonderful…love the lush colors!

  7. Nancy Coler
    June 4, 2007

    Karen, the light and shadow on your peonies are what I saw first on flickr! Of course I noticed the peonies too, and thought you’d been to Trader Joes! :)
    I love the painting you sold, and may have bought it myself if some other lucky soul had not beat me to it. It captures the beauty and peace of a walk
    through the woods or a garden path, and the serenity one finds there. Brilliant work!

  8. teric
    June 4, 2007

    These peonies are just beautiful Karen!!

  9. Carol C
    June 4, 2007

    Karen, your work is wonderful! I particularly like the peonies–the colors! —Carol C.

  10. wendy
    June 5, 2007

    That is lovely, super colours and it looks so fresh.
    How do you feel about people walking about near you and watching you paint? I know they would not be critical, just interested but does it put you off?

  11. Linda T
    June 5, 2007

    Wow, Karen, the peonies are awesome!!

  12. carole
    June 5, 2007

    I’m glad the show went well. I like the painting that you sold. I also like this peony painting – really loose and colourful. It is a real treat to see artists at work – what a nice idea.

  13. Creekhiker
    June 5, 2007

    Karen, I love the tonal values you got in the peonies. The lemons at the bottom add a nice touch. So glad you made a sale!

  14. Ronell
    June 6, 2007

    Congratualtions on your is one of your paintings that I loved.
    I love these peonies as well, such vibrant color and spontaneity, it looks like you’e had fun wth this one.

  15. Linda
    June 6, 2007

    I never know peonies didn’t grow in California. I guess that’s about the only thing — otherwise you guys are blessed with way more than your fair share of flora!
    :-) I’m so glad the show was such a wonderful success! Best of all, it sounds like FUN!

  16. juj
    June 9, 2007

    Beautiful peonies and the lemons are the perfect touch.

  17. Jana Bouc
    June 17, 2007

    This is one of my all time favorites of yours and I like it MUCH better than Reid’s work. Spectacular!

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