Sunset Soiree – California Impressionist Plein Air Genre Painting

“Sunset Soiree” SOLD
9 x 12 oil on canvas
Plein air painting

A few nights ago I had the pleasure of doing a plein air sunset painting while listening to the sweet sounds of The Crown City Brass Quintet. Wine, music, art, lovely people, gardens. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

And now, a few words about painting at sunset when much of the color has gone. What do you do? You invent it and you paint the color the way it might have been. Or, in the words of the late artist Milford Zornes “paint it the way you want it to be.” And so I did.

By the time I arrived at the event, around 6:30, the sun had settled behind the majestic pines and oaks. But what remained were hints of warm color that I exaggerated to create a mood. Painting in settings like this is a special treat for me because, unlike in a restaurant, cafe or on the beach, the people remain seated for the duration, so one’s painting isn’t ruined by the sudden rearrangement of of the models! This culture loving group gave me a rare opportunity to paint a genre scene in a leisurely hour and a half.

Still Life with Red Vase – Karen Winters

5 x 7 oil
Still Life with Red Vase

A small study of a vase with a sprig of abelia from a bush blooming outside our door. Painted from life.

I’m off to a nocture paintout this evening, which should be an interesting challenge. I’ve scouted the location and know what to expect, generally, but lighting is always a surprise.

This past week I’ve been trying to spend some time catching up and decluttering my studio. It’s easy to let things get out of control when painting on deadline and doing the multitude of other things that an art business involves. In the act of sorting, filing and calendar updating I gain a greater feeling of control and relaxation and in a small way, I almost look forward to that time. Order … tranquility … letting the mind settle quietly.

Gotta run … more later.

El Molino Afternoon – First Place – Pasadena Artwalk painting contest 2008

El Molino Afternoon SOLD
11 x 14 oil on board
First Place, 2008 Pasadena Artwalk “Life in the Theater District” competition

Remember a few months back when I said I was in a painting frenzy, getting ready for all sorts of shows and competitions? You might have even seen this painting here on my blog at that time. Well, this is one of the shows that I was painting for, and last night the news was announced that this urban cityscape was given First Place by the judging committee, along with a VERY nice cash prize and certificate. (Thank you, judging committee, and thank you Playhouse District Merchants’ Association for your generosity.)

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that cityscapes aren’t a frequent subject of mine – I lean more toward seascapes and sycamores. But I also enjoy a good challenge and this contest gave me the opportunity to experiment in an architectural vein.

The Pasadena Artwalk is an annual show, now in its third year, which will take place on October 11 in the Pasadena Playhouse Theater District on El Molino Street. This painting presents a point of view looking toward Colorado Blvd (yes, where the floats go by on New Years’ Day).

If you’re in the LA area two weeks from now, please come say hello. I’ll have new paintings and prints on display including this one.

Celebrating – Third Prize – Bowers Museum Invitational Art Show 2008

So this was the result of last weekend’s art show at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. This was the first invitational museum show I’ve participated in, and I was thrilled to learn that I received one of the top prizes for “Sunset Magic.” Now, I’m hoping that it will find a good home soon. The next time I’ll be showing it will be at the Pasadena Artwalk on October 11, across from the Pasadena Playhouse on El Molino Avenue between Colorado Blvd. and Green Street. Full details are on my website events page.

Selling one of my Tuscany-inspired paintings to a delightful new bride who is decorating her home (Hi Sandra!) was the frosting on the weekend cake.

Now, I’ve got to catch up on my correspondence and head back to the easel! Look for more work here very soon. Like tomorrow, probably.


Malibu California Impressionist Seascape oil painting – El Matador Beach

El Matador View
11 x 14

This is a painting that I worked on while gallery sitting, enjoying the company of passers-by. With the heat we experienced this past month, there were many days that I would have preferred to have been on that shoreline. Soon enough, I’ll be there.

Today I’m getting ready for a two day invitational fine art show at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Saturday and Sunday September 20-21. I’ll be near the entrance to the museum in a grassy area. Today my task is to figure out which paintings I’ll be bringing and making name tags for them, updating my portfolio etc. By Monday I’ll be able to catch my breath and get back to painting for a little while.

Matilija Poppies – California Impressionist Botanical Flower Oil Painting

Matilija Poppies Trio
11 x 14 oil on canvas

These papery white beauties were growing near the Serra Center in Malibu one blustery summer day. The exciting thing about painting white flowers is enjoying all the colors they pick up from their environment.

This painting blurs the line between abstraction and realism and I hope that it is successful in that effort. I was impressed by something I read recently by Marilyn Simandle (watercolorist and oil painter.) In her book “Contagious Enthusiasm” she says ““If a painting has too much detail it is as if someone is dominating a conversation and if a painting is too abstract it is like someone speaking in a foreign language.” I thought that was such an interesting metaphor for finding the “sweet spot” between realism and abstraction. The thought inspired me as I worked on this painting.

Arroyo Seco Colorado Street Bridge – Pasadena – California Impressionist Painting by Karen Winters

11 x 14 oil on canvas

“Arroyo Afternoon”
Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena, late afternoon in early fall


See more Pasadena paintings here

There are few places that I enjoy returning to again and again as much as Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco where the majestic Colorado Street Bridge is framed by oaks, sycamores and those ever present eucalyptuses. In this painting my objective was to capture the warm glow of the earth and grees in contrast to the cool light bouncing off the landmark bridge.

I have a story connected to the bridge, also. Many years ago, we were producing a segment on Nightmares for a national TV newsmagazine show. We wanted to simulate a fear of falling and so lowered a small film camera (film rolling) off the bridge. The special effect truly created a feeling of vertigo. No brick or mortar was harmed in the making of that film

California Sunset Landscape Impressionist Painting – Karen Winters

California Sunset
5 x 7 inch oil on panel

In the wide open heartland of California’s Central Valley, the skies are big and the land is rich and bountiful. This plein aire style impressionistic landscape painting captures the glory of the waning day. I can’t pinpoint the exact location, but the surrounding names are picturesque, Buttonwillow, Lost Hill, Tranquility.

Just for fun, here’s a closeup of one part of the painting, showing the brushstrokes and delicate color:

Pasadena Federal Court of Appeals Painting – Karen Winters

Pasadena Court of Appeals – former Vista Del Arroyo Hotel
11 x 14 acrylic

This stately building has become the federal court of appeals in Pasadena, California, but it was formerly the Vista Del Arroyo Hotel. I’ve painted it once before in my sketchbook, but this was an opportunity to portray it from a different angle and at a different time of day. In the distance the San Gabriel Mountains catch the late afternoon light. The foreground sycamores are starting to turn color, an early sign of fall.

San Juan Capistrano Fountain – California Impressionist Mission Oil Painting by Karen Winters

Capistrano Fountain
11 x 14 oil

The mission San Juan Capistrano was the cheerful inspiration for this classic California impressionist painting. I have included the sago palms, several fan palms and blooming jacarandas to complete the setting of summery splendor. Water lilies bloom in the landmark fountain, topped with a sculptural urn. Water irises wait their turn to bloom at the foot of the pedestal.