Arroyo Trail – California Impressionist Oil Painting by Karen Winters

Arroyo Trail
11 x 14 oil

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The Arroyo Seco continues to be one of my favorite subjects for landscapes. In the distance are the San Rafael Hills, part of the communities of La Canada Flintridge and Pasadena.

San Gabriel Summer – California Impressionist plein air style Oil painting

San Gabriel Summer
5 x 7 oil on panel

This quick impression of Hahmongna park captures the feeling of the San Gabriel mountains when summer thunderheads bring rain to the high desert. The weather has been hot and humid, and the thunderheads are the evidence. The heat is keeping people away from Descanso Gardens, much to our disappointment. But the weather is supposed to improve, and the weekend will be in the mid 80s … a big drop from the close to 100 degrees we’ve been experiencing.

California Eucalyptus – Impressionist Oil Painting by Karen Winters – to be shown at Descanso Gardens

Big Eucalyptus
18 x 24 in. oil on canvas
SOLD to a collector in Pasadena

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Well, tomorrow is the big day … the hanging and opening of our Descanso Gardens group show … and this is one of the big paintings I’m taking. It’s a portrait of one of my favorite California trees, the eucalyptus. The moment I saw this beauty I was compelled to paint it in all its backlit glory.

The show runs from August 22 to September 18 and the gallery is open from 10 to 3:30 but might close some days at 3. On the days I’m gallery-sitting I will probably bring something with me to paint as I did last year.

Our reception will be August 31, Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, from 1-4.

If you live in Southern California, I hope you’ll have a chance to drop by. I won’t be there every day, so send me a note if you’re planning a visit so I don’t miss you.

Malibu surf – California impressionist seascape oil painting by Karen Winters

Malibu Surf
12 x 16 oil on canvas

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I confess. I love to paint seascapes. No, I won’t forsake the rolling golden hillsides of California’s precious central coast … nor the eucalyptus groves of Southern California, or the many treasures of the sierra nevada range. But there’s just something about the power and beauty of the surf that never ceases to inspire me. I have enjoyed going to Malibu from when I was a child – and at night some of my fondest dreams are still of being at the ocean. My father sunburned so easily that we could rarely go to the beach (this was long before SPF 50 sun block). So waves like these always fill me with nostalgia. Maybe I had a prior life as a beach bum. Or, more likely, a sand crab.

Anyway, I digress. If you’d like to see the result of a year of painting this beautiful state, including a bounty of seascapes and sunsets, I hope you’ll come to our show at Descanso Gardens from this weekend through September 18. We hang the show on Friday morning, so that’s the official first day, but my guess is that things will be a little more relaxed over the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed that this marvelous weather continues.

Desert Dawn – Palm Springs California Impressionist Oil Painting

Desert Dawn – Palm Springs – California Impressionist Oil Painting
11 x 14 oil on canvas
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Painting the desert as seen in morning light is definitely a challenge. The air is remarkably crisp and clear, probably clearer and with less particulate material than just about anywhere I’ve seen. So that’s a distinctive look that says “desert.” But this is in contrast to one of the principles of landscape painting that tells us that distant objects should be softer, grayer, bluer and with less distinct detail. I could have painted this painting that way .. “pushing back” the mountains with desaturation and adding more blue. But this time I chose to keep them darker, almost close enough to touch. This alluvial area comes out of the San Jacinto Mountains. I believe it’s an area along the Randall Henderson Trail, but I’m not certain. I really need to take better notes about my locations.

This painting was done using only three colors, black and white: ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light and alizarin crimson. I feel that the limited palette can help to create greater color harmony. It was an experiment and I like the results. Some very wise teachers advocate using a full palette with perhaps two dozen colors, many premixed, so that you can quickly select the right color when time is short. There is definitely an advantage to working that way, speed being a major concern. But other good painters say that you can get more color harmony if you limit your colors and just mix like crazy. I know one demo painter that only uses about seven colors on his palette on location. Another teacher, John Cosby, challenges his students to paint with just five. So there are a lot of different things to explore and learn from.

I may be taking this painting with me to the show at Descanso. Now I’m down to the wire deciding on the right mix of subject matter, size, color, medium and so forth. Although I’m restricted to bringing 20 paintings, if you’re coming to the show and would like to see something else that I’ve featured here or on my website, drop me a note and make sure I have it available for viewing in person.

This Golden Land – California Central Coast Impressionist Oil Painting by Karen Winters

“This Golden Land”
10″ x 20″ oil on canvas

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This painting represents my first experience in painting a panoramic scene, as opposed to rectangular canvases I normally use for studio paintings which are more in a 4:3 aspect ratio. You’d have to see it in person to see how it captures more of the feeling of “being there.” I think that’s because we are used to seeing panoramically more than through windows.

The location of this painting in in California’s Central Coast region near Paso Robles. It is wine country, but I’m guessing that this golden field was used as grazing pastureland. If I were a cow I’d think it was a little bit of heaven. The time of day was about 4 pm in mid summer when there was still plenty of light to illuminate the field, but not so much that the colors were all washed out. How I’d love to be back there at this moment, painting, and listening to the calls of the red winged blackbirds. I can imagine that there are probably a few head of cattle resting under that big oak in the windbreak. Can you?

One other note about the painting. Because it is wet there is a bit of glare in the sky that is brighter than the actual painting. It is light in that part of the sky, but not “burned out” white. When It’s drier I’ll reshoot it or scan it. Until then, I need to get it uploaded.

This Saturday, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be painting in the tearoom lobby at the Langham Huntington Hotel in San Marino as a weekend “artist in residence.” We are invited to bring a few paintings along for display and I’m hoping this will be dry enough by then to travel.

Huntington Beach Seascape Impressionist Oil Painting by Karen Winters

Peaceful Planet – 8 x 10 oil on canvas on board
Huntington Beach Sunset

The sea has always been a source of strength and serenity for me, and it remains one of my favorite subjects for photography and painting. The colors change with the moment, reflecting the beauty of our natural world.

Today I had the delightful experience of meeting a charming woman who is the newest collector of my work. I have not said it often on my blog, but I truly feel that the creative experience is most fulfilling when I have a chance to meet the person who will be giving my art a new home. So I have seen the place where she will be hanging Flint Canyon Trail, and I agree she has found the perfect setting for it.

And speaking of meeting other art lovers, I will be painting publicly in two places this weekend, August 9 and 10. So if you happen to be in the area(s), please come by and say hello.

Saturday afternoon, arranged by Segil Fine Art in Monrovia, I will be the “artist in residence” from 2-4 pm at the Langham Huntington Hotel in San Marino, California (near Pasadena.) This is the same beautiful hotel where I painted on Mothers’ Day this year. I will be in the lobby of the tearoom, most likely painting a still life which they have thoughfully set up. I will also bring some smaller works with me.

On Sunday from 9am to 1 pm, I will be painting at the new Americana mall in Glendale, on Brand Avenue. It is a group paintout and I don’t know where I’ll be positioned yet, but I’ll be there! If you have met me at Descanso Gardens or one of the other places where I attempt to talk and paint at the same time, you know i enjoy meeting people, so don’t be shy. It turns out the plein air paintings have become so “hot” that you can practically find a paintout somewhere every weekend day. Good thing we have a lot of beautiful locations here!

I am counting down the days until our Descanso show opens – only about 2 weeks to go and I’m painting like crazy, here.

Tender Sea – Carpenteria – California Impressionist Seascape Oil Painting – Karen Winters

The Tender Sea – Carpinteria at dusk
6″ x 8″ oil

The subtle colors after sunset were the inspiration for this seascape study of Carpinteria. The delicate hues invoke a quiet contemplative mood. No crashing surf here, just the waves delicately touching the shore. California’s ever-present eucalyptuses frame the shoreline. Even tossed by salty wilds, they prevail.