Arroyo Seco morning – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Arroyo Seco Morning – 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas on board

As I am still recovering from my cold, I decided I didn’t want to risk a setback painting in oil with mineral spirits so I painted this small study in acrylic. No smell, no muss, no fuss. I can hardly wait to give it a coat of varnish and see the colors glow.

Although I will never lose my passion for watercolor and oil, I have to say that acrylic is growing on me – especially when it’s cold outside and I can’t have my studio window open for ventilation. Colors mix the same and there is so much in common with both oil and watercolor that it feels quite comfortable to me. Plus, acrylic allows you to do things that are just impossible in either oil or watercolor. Because it dries almost immediately you can layer and glaze as the spirit moves you – no waiting a day to come back and do that. And if you glaze a light wash on a dry layer and don’t like the effect – wipe it off (You sure can’t do that in watercolor.) Paint thick or paint thin – use washes or heavy brushwork. It’s really an amazing medium. Scumble, use a palette knife, get painterly – acrylic lets you do it.

This is a scene in Hahamongna Park, which is the upper arroyo seco and lies between Pasadena and my town, La Canada Flintridge. Right now the willows have turned yellow and tomorrow during the rainstorm the arroyo will be full of rushing water coursing out of the San Gabriel Mountains. One of these days (when I’m feeling better) I want to go down there when it’s raining or right after and see the power of nature. Don’t worry, I won’t do anything stupid like trying to go out in a wild river – I’m happy to watch it from high up on the riverbank.


  1. Jo Castillo
    January 4, 2008

    This is a great one. Nice distance and the cool colors don’t feel ‘cold’. We used to go out after a rain in our small hometown in NM and watch the creeks run. Highlight of the day! Too bad I didn’t paint then. Ah well.

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