Vineyard Sunset

Vineyard Sunset 14 x 18 – oil on canvas

This painting will be going into a show beginning on September 15 – my first group show at Descanso Gardens.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know how much I love Descanso – in every season. It’s one of my very favorite places to paint. So being invited to participate in a group exhibition and sale there is something that makes me very happy. I will be exhibiting both watercolor and oil paintings in the Carriage House and will post more details here as the date approaches.

Now, about this painting. This was done from a photo reference, but the shot was quite different. For one thing, the sun was in a different position, the sky was blue and it was earlier in the day. The whole sunset look (and the color palette associated with it) came about at the underpainting stage.

What I learned from this: sometimes it’s wise not to begin a painting with fixed notions. Have a plan, yes, but be open to change if an idea strikes you that you like better than your plan. Then, be prepared to improvise. As soon as I made one major change from my photo reference, I put the photo aside and referred to it no more. At that point, every decision had to be made about the color of the imaginary scene, not the real one. What color would the hills be that time of day? How would light coming at a low angle look different than sunlight coming from above? How could I make the road more interesting than simple flat gravel? How would I add rocks and ruts with the right colors to make them look as though they belonged in the scene? What would clouds look like if I added them? All these thoughts began swirling in my head as I departed from reality.

Tomorrow I deliver my large somewhat surreal watercolor “My Offering – My Confession” to Brand Library for the hanging of the juried 36th annual Works on Paper show opening in early October. Times are hectic, but in a good creative way. I’m grateful for all these opportunities and really couldn’t ask for more.


  1. vivien
    August 24, 2007

    It worked well too :)

    I often do the same thing with studio paintings – a certain light or time of day or season starts suggesting itself in the rough underpainting and I go with it :)

  2. Ujwala
    August 24, 2007

    Love the colours in this one. It looks beautiful!

  3. Linda T
    August 24, 2007

    Congratulations on being part of that upcoming show! This vineyard painting has wonderful colors. I love the distant hill and the colors in the tree in mid ground.

  4. Cathy (Kate) Johnson
    August 24, 2007

    Absolutely stunning. What a great way of explaining departing from what you see, too–I did a demo at the last art crawl that is pretty much like the photo reference, and I’ve been “seeing” something different ever since. I believe I’ll give it a shot (in my copious spare time…siiiigh!) It’s just too white bread as it is, though…you’ve inspired me!

  5. Brenda Yarborough
    August 24, 2007

    Oh, Karen, this is fabulous news! Yes, please do post more on dates and I will get over there to see your wonderful work in person!! I lean toward Huntington rather than Descanso and really need to break out once in a while : )

  6. Susan
    August 24, 2007

    Karen all these wonderfully rewarding and exciting things couldn’t be happening to a more deserving hardworking artist. Thanks for allowing us to follow along on the wave of your thrilling career.

  7. wendy
    August 24, 2007

    There is usually an optimism in your paintings that ought to make them saleable so good luck with the next shows. Putting aside the photograph is a good diea so you are not tied down to the photo’s shapes and colours. Let the piicture form it’s own identity, separate from the photo. Okay?

  8. ronell
    August 25, 2007

    A beautiful painting Karen!
    Good luck on both your show and exhibition and enjoy the “creative hectic times”, they are wonderfully stimulating.

  9. Nancy
    August 25, 2007

    Karen, I am thrilled for you to be showing your masterpieces at Descanso! So well deserved! Your daily brushstrokes have resulted in this high honor! Bravo!

  10. Jana Bouc
    August 26, 2007

    Wow Karen, This looks like a masters painting you would see in a museum. Congratulations on all your recent achievements and recognition. Amazing what a “little” hard work plus lots of talent can do. (the “little” was meant to be ironic…I know how incredibly hard you’ve worked to get where you are!).

  11. elio
    August 28, 2007

    Nice colors in the sky!


  12. Linda
    August 29, 2007

    Beautiful painting — and congratulations on being in a show that I know MUST be very dear to your heart! You’ve been a great example of consistant dedication to improvement — this is a wonderful achievement!

  13. Sherie
    September 11, 2007

    Congratulations on the show! And this is such a gorgeous painting. I always appreciate when you post your thought processes and how you do it.

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