California Golden Hills – Oak Landscape Plein Air Oil Painting

California Golden Hills
11 x 14
Plein air oil painting

Interested in this painting? Please write

This painting is currently on exhibition in the San Clemente Art Association Gallery, in San Clemente, CA.

Much of the week in San Clemente we experienced “June gloom” – that cool gray marine layer that covers the seacoast until early afternoon. Although paintings in the gloom do have a certain mystery to them, I was looking for a more colorful subject, and so we traveled inland along the Ortega Highway to find this vista at Caspers Park. But really, it could be anywhere in the state – the golden hills studded with oaks is so typical of our scenery.

Just for fun, I included a photo of me, mid-painting, on location. You can see my preliminary sketch on the easel, above the canvas. If I have the time I always try to do a sketch because it helps me to organize my thoughts and not to “get lost” as I strive to capture the scene on canvas. Here are the steps I usually take:
1) select an appealing scene
2) do a value sketch
3) draw the “bones” of the scene on canvas
4) put in the darks
5) put in the lights
6) refinement

If the light is rapidly changing, though, all bets are off, and sometimes you just have to paint whatever is most ephemeral. In this case, I knew that the cloud shadows might go away, so I painted them first, saving the golden grasses for last.

More paintout paintings to come …

Above San Clemente Coastal Plein Air Seascape Skyline Painting

“Above San Clemente”
8 x 10 oil
The view from Salvador Drive, high above San Clemente, about 5:30 in the evening

This painting is on exhibit at the San Clemente Art Association Gallery, until July 31.
If you are not in the area but are interested in purchasing, please write me and I will contact the gallery.

This was one of the paintings I did for the plein air paintout – at the end of a very long day painting in other locations. It portrays the silvery bay in late afternoon light from the vantage point of Salvador Drive, up Presidio, east of the city. The sun was just out of the frame, and I was trying to keep it under the brim of my hat – not easy! My husband took this picture of the painting on the easel at the end, just as the sky was starting to turn warmish. I thought it looked kind of neat backlit by the sun.

More of my work from the paint out will be posted all this week, so please check back.

Painting a kildeer from life in Dana Point California – oil painting study

Kildeer on ground nest – plein air painting
“6 x 8″ oil on canvas board

The paintout continues in San Clemente. Today, I had a rare opportunity, very unexpected, to do an oil painting of a bird from life. We were walking along a bluff in Dana Point and suddenly saw a kildeer guarding its nest – only a few feet from where we were walking. The brave little bird stood its ground even though we were very close. I found a place to sit down about 6 feet away and my husband brought me a small 6 x 8 inch canvas panel and a palette and my plein air bag. I didn’t want to take the risk of standing up at an easel and scaring it – and besides, I was closer to it on the ground. For more than an hour the bird sat motionless except to occasionally turn its head. Eventually it stood up and called to its mate for a break. It is a kildeer behavior to take turns incubating the eggs. I have never had the privilege of painting a wild animal (not caged) from life before and hope that sometime it will happen again. Although the eggs were completely under the bird, I took the liberty of showing one partly exposed. They are speckled black and gray and blend in perfectly with the rocky sandy ground where they are laid in a shallow depression.

I won’t be entering this painting in the San Clemente competition although I will have it for sale in my booth. I doubt that anyone would believe it was “plein air” – imagine a bird sitting still for an hour. And yet, it happened!

Fallbrook Ranch Afternoon

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch”
10 x 12 oil
plein air painting of a ranch in Fallbrook, California

Late afternoon light casts long shadows across the pasture of this peaceful ranch in Fallbrook, California. When I was there painting, the peepers had already started their songs in the nearby irrigation canals. Spring grasses have turned to summer gold, perfect for grazing.

This weekend, June 27-28, I’ll be at the San Clemente Art Association Annual Show and Sale on the lawn by the community center. Dozens and dozens of plein air painters will be there, so I hope you can stop by if you live in that vicinity.

Yellow Ribbon -Plein Air Homecoming Oil Painting – San Clemente

“Until You Come Home”
9 x 12
oil on panel

This was the painting that I did for the QuickDraw phase of the San Clemente Art Association annual paintout. A quick draw is a timed competition – from the stamping of panels to the final horn, we had exactly 3 hours to get to a location, paint a painting, get back and frame the painting and turn it in. It may sound like a lot of time but when you take off travel time and setting up an easel and packing up, the time really flies.

The weather has been very gray in San Clemente (think: June gloom) and it hadn’t burned off by 12:30, the start time. With this in mind, I looked for something to paint the day before that would have a spot of color. When I saw this yellow ribbon hung on the balcony of an apartment building, I made it my choice. San Clemente borders Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base, so I’m guessing that someone who lives in that apartment has a loved one in the service, and the yellow ribbon represents waiting for their safe return from overseas. The apartment is on the corner of Santa Barbara and Del Mar, if anyone knows who lives there. The painting is currently hanging in the San Clemente Art Gallery in the Community Center. If no one takes it home before Friday, it will be in my booth for the Saturday-Sunday show.

I am continuing to paint in San Clemente and Orange and San Diego counties for the rest of the event. I’ve got three additional paintings finished, and more to come by the end of the week.

Mammoth Lakes Study – California landscape oil painting

Mammoth Lakes Study
5″ x 7″
oil on canvas panel

Interested in this painting? Please write

Just a quick study of Mammoth Lakes, California, from a trip we took long ago. I’d like to get up that way this summer and paint on location. I did some watercolor plein air paintings many years ago – including one sitting on a rock in the snow. Cold, but fun!

Windblown Cypress Tree – California beach seascape oil painting

“Windblown Cypress Tree”
(Southern California seacoast)
11 x 14 oil on canvas

If you’re interested in this painting, please write.

From the moment I saw this California cypress tree I knew I had to do an oil painting of it. Most of my tree experience comes from the big four: eucalyptus, oaks, sycamores and palms. Cypresses only seem to grow natively near the ocean and they are almost always sculptural in form and are icons of California art. The iceplant growing at its roots, in the sandy dunes, provided an interesting textural contrast.

Westward Waves – Southern California Art – Marine Seascape Oil Painting by Karen Winters

“Westward Waves”
16 x 20 oil on canvas

Interested in this painting? Please write

This painting was done in anticipation of the San Clemente paintout and sale, which will start a week from Saturday and continue through the following Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28.

This will be my first year participating and I’m really looking forward to it. I have painted before in the San Diego County area, most recently for a week in Fallbrook, and I think the country is beautiful. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be doing ocean scenes or some of the lovely inland areas, but I know it will be a great experience either way.

The small Laguna Tide Pool study sold last week at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens show, and this larger painting, based upon that study, was already under way.

A Walk in the Surf – Romantic Seascape California Marine Oil Painting

A Walk in the Surf
8″ x 6″
oil on canvas

SOLD to a collector from Santa Cruz

A romantic stroll on the beach, the water rolling up gently on the shore. If you live near a coast I’ll bet you have a memory or two, don’t you?

I’m thinking seaward these days, getting geared up for the San Clemente paint out the week of June 20 – 28, culminating with a two day show and sale. The plein air painting should be great – I’m really looking forward to it.

Rancho Santa Ana Garden Path – California Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting

Garden Path
(Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden)
11 x 14
oil on canvas

We had a great weekend at the Art in the Garden sale at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, in spite of the ever-present threat of rain. In spite of the light turnout, some of my paintings found new homes and I had a chance to set up my easel and paint a nearby path in the beautiful California native plant gardens.

This scene features a blooming California buckeye (in the background, a spreading pine, several clumps of sages and a variety of oak trees. Most of the day was gray, but occasionally the sun would break through.

Now I have a break until the San Clemente paintout and sale, ending on June 27-28 (details to come.) If you live in the coastal OC, I hope you can come.