California plein air oil painting – Days End in Fallbrook


Days End in Fallbrook
California landscape plein air painting
11 x 14 oil on canvas

At the end of the first day of Libby Tolley’s workshop, which was held in the classroom, I was excited to get outside and find a location to paint. All day the temperatures soared into the high 90s, maybe even 100 degrees, and we were all relieved to paint and practice indoors. As evening came, it had cooled off enough to be tolerable. But on top of that there was a brush fire nearby which filled the air with smoke and gave the sky a warmer than usual color. The color combination was irresistible.

What attracted me to this scene was the beautiful eucalyptus, and the layers of color and foliage disappearing in the smoke back to the distant mountain range. On any given day, the scene may have looked entirely different. A little earlier in the year and the foreground grasses would have been green. On a fire-free day the atmosphere would not have provided the interesting sky effects of warm and cool, intermixed. In the morning, everything would have been lit from the opposite direction. This is one of the things I love about plein air painting – the practice of capturing a very specific moment in time that may never occur again.

While I was there, next to a curb on a culdesac where no houses were built, a man who lived nearby hailed me with a wave and I told him what I was doing. He and his sons came over to watch me paint for awhile, and then I packed my things up. It turns out he’s in the agricultural business and knew a number of places to paint where there are reflective pools of water. Like I’ve said before, I think I could be in the middle of the wilderness and still draw a crowd. It always happens and because I’m a social person, I don’t mind sharing my love of painting.


  1. Leslie Saeta
    May 3, 2009

    Lovely painting. You really captured the beauty well. So, how was the Montrose Artwalk? Just curious!

  2. Jo Castillo
    May 3, 2009

    Hi Karen, I love painting out and like it when people come up and comment. Sometimes I think that I love talking as much as painting. Ha. Maybe because we spend so much time painting alone. This is a great scene you captured. Warm and inviting colors and technique.

  3. Alex Tan
    May 3, 2009

    Another great piece that fills my mind with imagination. I’d like to think that I have a dog, and I’m bringing him/her out to play in a field like that ^^ awesome!

  4. Timaree
    May 4, 2009

    I like this one best of all your Fallbrook paintings. Maybe because wherever I’ve gone there houses or other buildings have been part of the landscape. I like the golden grass in the foreground too as that is sooo typical of southern California. This one has the look of home to me.

    The guy works in agriculture huh? Most of the people who live on my sister’s street work in agriculture or for plant nurseries including my sister!

  5. Ralph Serpe
    May 4, 2009

    Hi Karen,

    What a beautiful painting! Perfect balance of colors. Lovely compsition! Keep up the great work.

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