Central California Sierra Foothills Oil Painting “The Hay Barn” by Karen Winters

“The Hay Barn”
6 x 6 inches
Central California Sierra Foothills (western side)
Original Oil painting on plein air panel


More Sierra Nevada paintings here

While attending a California Art Club paint out in the Sierra foothills a few years ago, I came upon this scene of an old hay barn framed by eucalyptus with wildflower hills in the background. I thought the setting was a perfect representation of some of my favorite California things. Eucalyptus, of course … wildflowers in the hills … and rural agriculture. This small study will be a starting point for a larger painting on the same theme.

Fields of Peace – Los Osos Valley Road, San Luis Obispo County California Landscape Painting by Karen Winters

Fields of Peace Oil Painting, Los Osos Valley Road, San Luis Obispo County, California Central Coast, California impressionist landscape art by Karen Winters

“Fields of Peace”
11 x 14 inches oil painting on canvas
Central Coast California, near Los Osos
(San Luis Obispo County)

In late spring, the ranch land near San Luis Obispo starts to turn from green to a dusky brown. Here and there the dried remains of earlier grasses take on hues of violet and umber. Coastal scrub plants provide a stark contrast with their fresh green foliage. Eucalyptus, of course, stay green year round – the ever-constant providers of shade and windbreaks. As the marine layer moves in from the sea to the west, the clouds catch the light of the lowering sun and turn shades of peach and apricot.

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

Garden at the Ranch – San Luis Obispo – California Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting by Karen Winters

“Garden at the Ranch”
11 x 14 oil on linen panel
San Luis Obispo Central California Coast area

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I’m still catching up on posting a year’s worth of plein air paintings that didn’t get photographed when they were created. This one is from last May, 2010 at a California Art Club paint out at a friend’s ranch in the San Luis Obispo area. Although it was a gray day, the poppies and other California natives really shone through. In fact, maybe the grayness accented their colors. Our friend has a wonderful native plant garden that would rival any garden planted with cultivated non-natives. It’s drought tolerant and seems perfectly adapted to the environment – because it is!

An almost finished work in progress photo is below – thanks to my hubby for taking it. Yep, there’s that hat again.

California Wine Country Vineyard Oil Painting – by California impressionist Karen Winters

“In The Vineyard Hills”
9 x 12 oil on wood panel
original oil painting

California’s rich Central Coast wine country was the inspiration for this tranquil scene.

Late afternoon light, and a fog bank drifted in from the sea brings moisture to the thirsty vines. Oaks and eucalyptus trees punctuate the hills with their stately beauty.

See more of my vineyard paintings here
See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

California Central Coast Plein Air Oil Painting – Farm near Nipomo

“Farm Near Nipomo”
8 x 10 oil painting
Central Coast, California, San Luis Obispo County

to a collector in Buffalo, NY

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

This is the 2nd of three plein air paintings I did last spring in Nipomo, near the Dana Adobe. If you look at my previous painting posted a few days ago, you’ll see some trees and buildings in the distance. This is a “closeup” of one of those clusters of habitation. Because I wasn’t inclined to move my whole setup, I simply changed my point of view to “zoom in” so to speak, and continued with a new field study.

California Landscape Plein Air Painting San Luis Obispo County – Nipomo


Golden Hillside
(near Nipomo San Luis Obispo County)
9 x 12 plein air oil painting on linen panel

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

This is a plein air painting that I did last springtime with the California Art Club in San Luis Obispo. We were at a historical location, the Dana Adobe, in Nipomo, and the weather was perfect. I got three paintings done that day. The next day a rainstorm moved in from the north. The fields of mustard liked it, but it wasn’t hospitable to painters. The day after this was painted we went to Moonstone Beach in Cambria (see earlier posts for those paintings.)

Cambria Ranch – California Central Coast Plein Air Oil Painting by Karen Winters

“Cambria Ranch”
12 x 16″ oil painting
Oil on linen panel

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

Eucalyptuses, how I love them, with their multicolored patchy bark like a coat of many colors. When I saw this stately old tree I knew I wanted to take some time with it, to appreciate the many grays along its flanks. The transparent underlayers of burnt sienna and red peek through here and there, just as underlayers of color are visible as outer bark layers peel off. I think that I will never tire of painting these majestic trees that seem to glow when side lit. We have a lot of them around LA but they are at their best when given a setting like a spring field, bathed in light. I want to paint another really large one, soon. My to-do-list grows daily …

Some of my other favorite eucs:

Sierra Landscape Oil Painting – Bishop Windbreak, Owens Valley by Karen Winters

“Bishop Windbreak, Owens Valley”
California Sierra Landscape Oil Painting
16 x 20 oil on canvas

More Sierra Nevada paintings here

The first time that I painted this stand of trees, I thought they were aspens. The leaves were similar in shape, but the trunks are not the characteristic aspen white. The trunks looked more like cottonwoods – but the silhouette of the shape was more poplar like, and didn’t have the rounded tops.

A little net searching led me to discover that the the tree is actually a Lombardy poplar – and it is a variation of the black cottonwood. The whole botanical name is Populus nigra sp. Italia. So it’s both a black cottonwood and a poplar – and I think now my curiosity is satisfied. Whatever they are, these stately trees form excellent windbreaks along pastures near Bishop.

Cambria Sunset Oil Painting – Central Coast California landscape painting by Karen Winters

Cambria Sunset
9 x 12
oil on linen panel

See more of my Cambria paintings here

One of my newest paintings, “Cambria Sunset,” has been selected for inclusion into the Segil gallery Holiday Small Works show.

The painting features a rural scene along Santa Rosa Creek Road in Cambria (near San Simeon) and includes one of the dramatic eucalyptus trees so typical of that region.

The festive reception for the artists will be December 4, from 5-7 pm. The Segil gallery is at 110 West Lime Avenue
Old Town Monrovia CA 91016
(626) 358-5563

Bishop Peak Oil Painting, San Luis Obispo, Central Coast California Art

“Farm at Bishop Peak”
San Luis Obispo, Central Coast
oil painting
14 x 18 inches

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

When I was painting in San Luis Obispo County earlier this spring with the California Art Club, I was especially attracted to the numerous large peaks that rise from the city of San Luis Obispo out to the sea, the last of which is Morro Rock. Bishop Peak (sometimes called Bishop’s Peak) is one of the Nine Sisters. Technically they are “volcanic plugs,” and the volcanoes that rose above them are long gone. Bishop Peak is the tallest of the formations, and it was noted in the diary of John Muir who wrote:

“The trail brings the traveler suddenly in sight of
Bishop Peak … The town is fairly encircled with beautiful hills…
the one just named being most conspicuous.”

The soft afternoon light and atmospheric mist from the sea made this a picture of rural tranquility that held great appeal for me.