Fallbrook Country Road – Plein Air Study

Fallbrook Country Road
Plein air oil sketch
9 x 12 oil on canvas laid on board

Eucs, palms, oaks, sycamores. I’d have a hard time deciding upon my favorite California tree.

This time, eucs are featured. and it turned out to be one of my favorite on-location oil sketches from Libby Tolley’s workshop. It was late top-light, about 3 in the afternoon, before the sun made its final descent. The hillside was starting to go into shadow, but the warm light was still touching the tops of the brushy shrubs here and there. The eucs are getting the kiss of the sun on their heads but shortly afterward became more sidelit. What attracted me to this scene was the warm glow of light striking the grass at the base of the eucs. I thought that it gave an interesting way to show the trunks that are usually hidden in shadow.

This is a transitional season painting. There still remains some spring grass, especially in the irrigated pasture, but the non-irrigated fields are turning the gold so characteristic of California in the summer and fall. The warm light of the day creates cool shadows – and I like the way the gold of the grass complements the shadowed blue-violet. The suggestion of fence posts adds a bit tot he composition, but I didn’t want to paint them so stiffly and regularly that they became a barrier. Just enough to let you know it’s a fenced pasture, no more.

If you’re in LA, this Saturday I’ll be showing paintings at the Montrose Artwalk, May 2. I’ll be near the bowling alley.


  1. Jan
    April 28, 2009

    Oh, this is beautiful! Good lesson about the fence posts. I appreciate all your tips, Karen. So much to learn but that’s what makes it so interesting.

  2. Karen
    April 28, 2009

    Yup, I’ve read in more than one place that regular fence posts look rigid, like a barrier keeping people out of the painting, rather than casual and lyrical

  3. Susan
    April 29, 2009

    Karen this is lovely. Calming and refreshing.

  4. Alex Tan
    May 3, 2009

    This is just so beautiful. I love the way the you draw the darker parts of the tree :) I’d love to sit down and lay there all afternoon

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