White Lilies

“White Lilies” – 5 x 7 oil on canvasboard

These are two of the blossoms in the beautiful bouquet my children sent me in celebration of some of my recent good news. I’m slowly catching up and getting back to ”normal.” This week I hope to get back in the routine of painting every day while getting some things framed for upcoming shows and taking care of other business details. Today I made time for two back-to-back art events. First, i saw watercolorist Frank Webb demonstrate at the National Watercolor Society annual demo series, which was terrific. I’ve long been an admirer of his work and enjoyed seeing him create in person. Then, I raced back to Pasadena to catch the very end of the California Art Club artist’s sale at Casita Del Arroyo. Most of the people were already packing up but I did get to see a little bit of what they were offering – very inspiring.

Sheltering Sycamore

“Sheltering Sycamore” 8 x 10 oil

This is the last of my Descanso demonstration paintings, which I finished yesterday afternoon. It is a local painting of a clump of sycamore trees only a mile or so from our house at the edge of the Angeles National Forest. I have painted this cluster before – and they are beautiful in every season. Some autumns, the sycamores turn a range of colors from red orange to green gold to yellow. In other years the leaves simply turn a dusty brown and fade. I suppose that it depends upon what the weather is doing – or perhaps it’s a matter of drought and what kind of summer it was.

I will be at the gallery most of the day today, Thursday, and tomorrow a new group of painters will arrive. Then, it will be time to turn my attention back to some larger paintings and framing some of the juried works for upcoming shows.

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.

Vineyard Oak

Vineyard Oak – 9 x 12 original oil painting

We are winding down at the gallery – only three days to go before we pack up and go home on Thursday night. It’s been a good run – an interesting and educational experience in many ways. This painting was started today at the Carriage House and finished at home. As much as I enjoy painting in public I still need some quiet time alone to bring a piece to completion. My guess is that this stately oak will remain growing for some time and will not end up as a barrel. In fact, I believe these evergreen live oaks are protected species.

The inspiration for this painting was a road leading out of Paso Robles, off the 101 freeway. This is central coast wine country where the climate is just right to produce a wide range of varietal wines.

Blue skies – plein air study

“Blue Skies” – 9 x 12 oil on board

On Friday I arrived in the afternoon at the gallery and didn’t have time to do a whole small painting. So instead I decided to take my easel outside and do some more studies of clouds – this time in oil instead of watercolor. I think a lot can be learned just observing the forms of nature and the effect of light upon them. Needless to say the clouds did not hold still for this study, so I would simply look for a cloud that had a similar form and coloration as I painted this cluster of thunderheads and scattered puffy clouds. Are these cumulonimbus (any weather experts out there?) They look like cumulus on the top but they were definitely laden with rain and dark gray on the underside in places. There were smaler wispy clouds floating among them.

Actually, the colors are a lot more subtle than this photo shows. The painting is soaking wet so I can’t put it on the scanner. There are delicate blues and grays throughout the puffy areas, but jpeg compression just doesn’t reveal it.

Drifters in the Stream – and still celebrating!

“Drifters in the Stream” – 12 x 16 – oil on canvas
Accepted into California Art Club’s biannual show, opens Nov. 3

We were celebrating yesterday because I just found out that my oil painting “Drifters in the stream” was accepted into the California Art Club’s biannual show at the Pasadena Women’s City Club at the Blinn House in Pasadena. The show, themed “Rivers and Harbors: Sources and Confluences” will open Saturday November 3 with the artists reception from 5-7 pm. So if you’re in So. Cal and would like to come see a lot of new art, including my painting and a painting by my friend and co-exhibitor at Descanso Gardens, Laura Wambsgans, please join us.

My painting (above) was inspired by a small koi-filled stream at Descanso Gardens where fall leaves were swirling in an eddy. I was captivated by the abstract patterns that were made by the leaves, the reflections of the oak trees above and the moving water. I did a Moleskine sketch on site and have been intrigued with the image ever since.

So, after I got the notice in the mail, we went out for some antipasti at a local Italian restaurant, and my dear husband snapped this shot of notoriously camera-shy me. There’s a little glass of champagne in my right hand in commemoration of this very happy week.

Also, tomorrow (Saturday) is my artists reception for Brand 36, works on paper, at the Brand Library Gallery in Glendale: 4-7 pm, so if you see me there, stop and say hi! I’ll be the one with the big silly grin on my face!

My Chinatown – in 39th annual Watercolor West

“Chinatown, My Chinatown” – 16″ x 12.5″ (before framing) – watercolor on paper

I came home from Descanso Gardens yesterday to a very special surprise. My painting “Chinatown, my Chinatown,” has been selected for the 39th annual Watercolor West show which will open December 6 at the Riverside Art Museum.

Watercolor West is a national transparent watercolor society, which means that the painting must be done with pure transparent watercolor – no opaque white paint, gouache, acrylic, collage, ink or other materials can be used. In past years there have been about 1000 entries, from which 100 paintings are chosen. I don’t know the facts for this year, yet, but that’s been the trend. With the acceptance of this painting into the show, I will become a Juried member of the society.

I painted this a few months ago using reference photos that I took in LA’s Chinatown. I used exaggerated color for the purpose of increasing the mood of fun and excitement. Complementary colors (red against green, orange next to blue) create energetic contrasts.

The sky was the first thing painted, with the painting upside down so the paint wouldn’t run into the building area. After that, the various elements of the buildings were “carved” out, reserving the whites.

The banner in the upper right hand corner was invented to confine that corner to keep the eye from going off the paper. The hanging streamers direct the eye back into the composition. Strong diagonals, as created by the lanterns and tops of building add to the feeling of energy.

The center of interest, of course, is the two small figures of mother and child walking through the scene. These figures were invented to link the foreground, middleground and background. Notice how the mother’s head intersects the background building and how her cast shadow touches the major shadow cast across the foreground. In fact, just about everything in the picture is linked through the overall value pattern

Rhythmic elements include the repetition of the lanterns from foreground to background, as well as the striping on the underside of the eaves and suggestion of rooftiles. It’s easy to get carried away with decorative elements, which usually come in the final stages of painting. The tassels on the banner in the upper right echo the windows in different parts of the picture.

I think that it’s worth mentioning that even though I rarely do architectural subjects, I intentionally avoided using any straightedges or other aids in painting this so as not to get caught up into a stiff, controlled feeling. In my opinion, the unevenness of the buildings suggests their age and adds to the liveliness of the subject.

I have mentioned frequently on this blog how fond I am of California scene painting of the 1930s through 1950s. This painting is my homage to the great painters of that era, to whom we are most indebted.

High Desert Trails – Karen Winters Daily Painting

SOLD “High Desert Trails” 8 x 10 oil on board (road from Palm Springs to Idyllwild)

This painting was started over the weekend at Descanso Gardens as a demonstration painting for people who took a few moments to visit our gallery. I finished it on Sunday night at home and now it’s ready to post.

As I explained to our guests, this painting started with a photo that I took along the road from Palm Springs to Idyllwild in an area known as Pine Crest which looked as though it was soon to be graded and developed. When I’m painting at the gallery I usually bring a photo reference to work from – often something I’m been thinking about for some time. I don’t think that I’ll have time or space to bring this painting back to the gallery, but it’s available.