Malibu Pine – California landscape plein air oil painting

Malibu Pine
12 x 9 oil on canvas panel
Plein air oil painting

I’ve been so busy this past month with a flurry of shows and then two consecutive weeks painting and stomping around the Eastern Sierra, that I haven’t been posting as regularly as usual. That will change now that things sort of settle back to “normal.” (Whatever that is.)

Of course, I grab every opportunity to paint that I can, and sometimes those opportunities come at unusual times. This pine tree was painted during the Malibu Allied Artists show a week ago. I set my easel up by my display area and looked around for something paintable. Although the day was mostly gray, the sun came out a few times and illuminated a hillside behind this tree. There wasn’t much of a vista, so we’ll just call it a tree portrait. I was told by a man who does landscaping that it is an Aleppo Pine. Upon doing a little research about it I came upon a wikipedia article that claims that an Aleppo pine was the inspiration for one of Cezanne’s paintings. Their sculptural forms are certainly appealing.

Because the sky was an interesting combination of warm and cool lavender that day, I opted to borrow an impressionist technique of using complements of the same value in the sky area. Enlarge the image by clicking and you’ll see what I mean. When I’ve visited the Irvine Museum, I’ve seen this approach used to great effect by a number of the California impressionists. I like how it added a bit of a glow to the atmosphere.

I’ll be posting more new work soon. If you’ve been thinking of a commissioned painting for a holiday gift, now’s a good time to get in touch. I currently have three works in the queue, but there is plenty of time to create a portrait, house portrait, landscape or seascape for that special someone.

Some ideas for commissioned paintings … the place where he proposed and you got engaged … a still life representative of your spouse’s favorite hobby (fly fishing lures, a softball and glove, cut flowers for arranging) … a house portrait of your first home … a portrait of a beloved pet, from the present or past … your honeymoon spot … the place you and your spouse first met … a favorite camping or hiking spot … a favorite flower …

The ideas are just endless if you think about special moments, places, people and things.


  1. Marian Fortunati
    October 25, 2009

    Karen this is lovely. And YES… you always amaze me at how busy you are. Hard to believe you actually have time to “sit sitll” and paint!!

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