California impressionist oil painting Chapparal Bloom by Karen Winters

“Chapparal Bloom”
San Gabriel Mountains
8 x 10 inches oil on plein air panel

California is colorful all year long, not only in the springtime. Summer and fall wildflowers include buckwheat and other chapparal natives. It’s an earth-tone palette, full of greens, russets, umbers and golds. The buckwheat, when it dries, is a good match for burnt sienna.

I never tire of painting the tapestry of plant life that covers our rolling hills and mountains. The California Native Plant Society is a good resource for learning about our drought tolerant beauties.

Here’s how the painting might look in a dark frame that picks up the colors in the painting, with warm touches of coppery-gold.

I haven’t talked about framing too often here, but it’s true that the frame can have a big impact on how a painting looks. Compare how the same painting, on the same colored background appears in a gold carved frame. The dark frame creates a more rustic look, which might be appropriate for a home with western accents. The gold frame creates a lighter, more elegant appearance. Which do you think works best? Do you like seeing one of my paintings with framing suggestions, as opposed to just seeing the painting by itself?


  1. Marian Fortunati
    August 1, 2011

    You so absolutely NAILED those buckwheat grasses / flowers. I love it.
    PS… I think I like the darker frame.

    Hope to see you someplace soon.

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