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 …


  1. Ashley Strickland
    June 30, 2009

    This looks awesomely fun.I wish I had the time and resources to do on site painting.I have drawn from my head so long that’s where I live most the time.That’s not always good either.

  2. Jan
    July 1, 2009

    Good Morning Karen, Thank you for sharing your setup and how you try to do a value study before you paint. Such a lovely painting!

  3. nancy tasker
    July 1, 2009

    I really enjoyed my first visit to your blog. Your paintings are lovely – they really capture the California feeling! nancy

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