High Desert Breeze –

“High Desert Breeze” – 8 x 10 oil on panel

On the road between Palm Springs and Idyllwild (highway 74) there’s a turnoff which leads to a beautiful high desert road where sagebrush, pine and cactus freely mingle. It is perhaps a transitional zone in the local ecology – no longer the hot barren desert but not yet the pine forest of the high mountains. I found the plant life and pastel colors – suggestive of heat – enjoyable to work with.

Throughout the area I saw small stakes with colored strips of plastic, which gave me the idea that the area was in the process of being developed. I think it’s important to document some of these wild spots before they are gone. If the California impressionists hadn’t painted the San Gabriel Valley in the early parts of the 20th century we’d never know that in the springtime fields of poppies and lupine sprawled across the area that is now is covered with houses and fast food places.

This is one of the jobs of an artist: not just to be a recording camera but to interpret what he or she sees in such a way as to preserve the sense of place and time which will never be the same again.

For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time, having visited me at Descanso, here’s how the painting turned out.


  1. Jana Bouc
    October 10, 2007

    It was great seeing this painting since I was working on a similar scene in my plein air workshop this weekend. Now I see how I might have handled some of the areas that were giving me trouble. Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

  2. Casey
    October 10, 2007

    This is so beautiful – It’s tragic that it will soon be developed. Your painting does a wonderful job of capturing the beauty – and, yes, that unique California light.

  3. Jo Castillo
    October 10, 2007

    Hi Karen, I have been lookin’ and readin’, but no time to comment. This is great and your new work is coming along so nicely. Congratulations on your entries into the shows. Your hard work is showing, now. Good job on your documentation efforts as well. You inspire me to go paint.


  4. Brenda
    October 11, 2007

    I always enjoy peeking in at what you have painted, but today I had the extra treat of being inspired by what you wrote! I’m at a low point creatively and your paragraph about one of the jobs of an artist is to interpret and preserve a place and time really boosted me up!! Thanks!!!

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