Arboretum Fountain – California plein air landscape oil painting

“First there is a fountain, then there is no fountain, then there is”
11 x 14
oil on canvas panel

Click image above to enlarge

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Last weekend I did a plein air painting at the Los Angeles Arboretum, which was a nice change of pace. I have a reciprocal membership with my Descanso membership, so I’m looking forward to doing this some more this fall.

This is a view of the San Gabriels that I haven’t painted before. I was enjoying blocking in the fountains, but after awhile they were turned off, so I had to do the rest from memory. If you remember a certain 70s Donovan song, the title of the painting will make perfect sense.

Some other curve balls thrown by Mother Nature. When I started blocking in the painting there was not a cloud in the sky. An hour and a half later, the sky looked like this. By the time the sun had lowered and the interesting shadows started, the clouds were all gone. So this is sort of a compressed-time view of the scene, as plein air paintings often are. You just have to adapt to the changes in a sort of Zen way – acceptance of the moment without stress. Here’s me, below, wildly gesticulating with brushes, no doubt. I hope I didn’t get any paint on that nice lady watching.


  1. Marian Fortunati
    October 5, 2009

    Ahhhh the challenges of plein air!!

    But you always manage to do so well at it, Karen!!

  2. nancy t
    October 6, 2009

    What a beautiful painting! Very well done with lovely colors. nancy

  3. Dan Kent
    October 6, 2009

    A really beautiful piece. It’s fun to see the photo below because I can see that you really captured the scene. I like the slightly purplish tinge in the water.

  4. Aurileide Alves
    October 6, 2009

    And then I loved it. Willing to have my free time to spend it wisely as you did. Great!

  5. Phyllis
    October 6, 2009

    It’s fascinating to see how your painter’s eye translates a scene. You captured light in a way that breathes life into everything you’ve composed. Wonderful atmospheric piece.

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