California impressionist wildflower painting by Karen Winters

california landscape oil painting pepper tree san gabriel mountains impressionist art

“Those Fields, Those Hills”
9 x 12 oil on hardboard plein air panel

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Springtime in Southern California brings the awakening of wildflowers to the hillsides. Some of the dried grasses of winter remain, but the cheery California sunflowers brighten the scene. This hillside was not strewn with wild mustard, as many are, but had a profusion of small beige and white flowers, plus helianthus californicus, the California sunflower.

The large tree is a pepper tree. The foliage of its soft branches seem to drift and sway in the wind, not unlike a weeping willow.

Tejon Ranch California Oak Landscape Plein Air Painting – Welcome Shade

“Welcome Shade”
9 x 12 oil on plein air linen panel
Painted at the Tejon Ranch, May 2012

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In the middle of a warm spring day, just about high noon, a mighty Tejon Ranch oak spreads its limbs to offer shade to all who visit. Cattle, mostly, but most likely some other critters, too. This majestic tree was silhouetted against the rolling hills and mountains of the ranch. Wherever you look, beauty surrounds you, making it a real treat for plein air painters – even during the part of the day when the light is less than dramatic. (That’s why we get up at dawn and stay painting until moonrise, when we can.

Below, a photo of my work in progress. There were occasional gusts of wind which threatened to topple my umbrella. A road hazard sawhorse came in handy. Sometimes you’ve just got to improvise.

Sunrise in the Oaks – Tejon Ranch California plein air Landscape impressionist oil painting by Karen Winters

“Sunrise in the Oaks”
11 x 14 oil on linen plein air panel
Tejon Ranch, May 2012

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REMINDER – Artists reception for my show at Gale’s Restaurant, Sunday, May 20 – 4-6 pm, 452 S. Fairoaks Ave., Pasadena

Good morning, Tejon. A small band of intrepid California Art Club plein air painters woke at 4 am to get to the ranch and queue up in our vehicles to be on site before the sun rose. I had found my perfect spot – on Sycamore Creek, looking eastward just as the sun peeked over the hills and made the leaves of the old oak dazzle with the backlight. I had to bundle up and dress in layers, knowing that before long I’d be peeling them off as the day turned warm. This, like all of the Tejon Ranch, is absolutely beautiful – a real treat for plein air painters. We appreciate the invitation and the privilege to be there.

Sailing Clouds at my Solo Show – Gale’s Restaurant

“Sailing Clouds”
18 x 24 oil on canvas
(Moonstone Beach, Cambria)

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This painting, “Sailing Clouds,” is one of about 30 currently on exhibit for sale at Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena, in my 2nd solo show at the venue.
The opening reception is this Sunday, May 20, from 4-6 pm. All are welcome to come see some new art, and enjoy a wonderful wine and cheese event. Gale’s Restaurant is at 452 S. Fairoaks Avenue, Pasadena.

“Sailing Clouds” is from Cambria, California, on the southern edge of Big Sur. It’s an area where I love to paint small studies as well as larger studio works derived from those studies. The image is especially calming, and is a visual retreat for a busy, hectic day. You can almost see the clouds move if you sit quietly.

There’s a quote from Wordsworth that was the inspiration for this title, taken from the poem, “Written in March.” The phrase is “small clouds are sailing.”
Those words stuck with me as I saw these massive ships of vapor and moisture making stately progress across the horizon. I have always enjoyed reading poetry, both western and eastern, and find them to be good sources of ideas for titles of painting. Perhaps it’s because creating visual art and creating poetry are closely aligned. In both cases, the writer or the poet is pointing to an emotion beyond the literal representation of the subject. Much is suggested and implied rather than stated directly. Some art teachers describe a painting’s brushwork as being “poetic.” Conversely, we may describe a poem as “painting a word picture.” William Blake was one of the rare individuals who both painted and wrote poetry. Maybe one day I’ll post some of my old haiku here.

Coming up next: another plein air painting from the Tejon Ranch paint out last week.

Sycamore Quartet – California landscape painting at the Tejon Ranch

Sycamore Quartet”
12 x 12 inches
Oil on linen plein air panel

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Between outdoor shows, travel, commissions and paint outs, I haven’t been taking the time to update my blog, but I’m going to try to get back on top of that. This was painted last week at the Tejon Ranch on a paint out with the Kern County chapter of the California Art Club.

This grove of sycamores was growing along side a stream bed. I set up my easel near by, taking care to keep a lookout for rattlesnakes. When an artist is concentrating and working in one area for a long time, a snake can quietly move in – even next to your easel, and you wouldn’t know it. The tall grasses are a perfect hiding spot. Fortunately, this was only a broken tree limb (below). But it sure gave me a start for a moment!

Tree limb looks like a snake

When you look at the picture below you might notice that there is no dazzling light. That’s because the ending photo was taken after the moment of light was long gone. When painting outdoors you often have to hold the image in your memory because the light is constantly shifting.

If you’re in the LA area, you are invited to attend the reception for my solo show at Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena, from 4-6 pm. Gale’s is at 452 S. Fairoaks Avenue, just south of Del Mar. More about the event tomorrow.