California Plein Air Painting – Blue Heron Lake

Blue Heron Lake
9 x 12 oil on linen panel

This is another of the plein air paintings I did a month or so ago on our trip up through Central California. A small lake, with trees leaning down to touch the water. Yes, it was cold out there. Snow on the mountains and the wind whipped down and chilled us to the bone. One of the many other challenges of plein air painting is reflections in water. Every time the wind moves, the ripple pattern on the water changes, and that changes what is reflected and what is not. Still water reflects. Ruffled disturbed water does not. But changing wind currents puts the reflections in different places, see? At some point you just have to settle with one thing. Although this is named Blue Heron Lake, I didn’t see any that day. Maybe I’ll paint one in sometime. I have plenty of reference photos of herons in other locations, including at Descanso Gardens.


  1. Ann
    May 19, 2009

    Lovely spot. Your painting captures it perfectly!

  2. JJ
    May 19, 2009

    Your work is quite beautiful!

  3. Alex Tan
    May 19, 2009

    This is perfect! The reflection captured on the waters, the sky and the clouds, the shadows of the trees… marvelous!

  4. Margaret Caton
    May 20, 2009

    A lovely painting – I can see from the photograph that you have really captured the ‘feel’ of the scene.

  5. Anna T.
    May 21, 2009

    Beautiful painting- I like the mountains in the background.

  6. Marian Fortunati
    May 22, 2009

    Very nice, Karen, — as always. I think it’s great how you’ve got the painting and the reference of you painting the painting!!

  7. lyn
    May 29, 2009

    Awsome! your painted water looks “waterier” than the water!

  8. Maria
    June 5, 2009

    I first time visit in this post. Good painting.

  9. lindsay
    June 12, 2009

    Karen, I’ve finally started painting plein air in oils and I love them…well love and hate. This is a beautiful plein air and the reflections is lovely!

    You really have a lovely way of capturing your part of the world.

    Don’t look for my oil quiet yet!!! Not ready for prime time quiet yet!!

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