“Grazing at Bishop,” Owens Valley Sierra painting

“Grazing at Bishop”
9 x 12 inches
California landscape Oil Painting

A horse grazes in a small pasture in Bishop, California, in the Owens Valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. The sunlight burns through the clouds surrounding the distant Sierra mountains.

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At the Hacienda – Mission San Antonio de Padua Plein air painting by Karen Winters

“Meanwhile, at the Hacienda”
9 x 12 oil on linen panel
plein air painting – painted at Mission San Antonio de Padua
California Central Coast area

During the California Art Club paint out at the mission, I came upon this small guest house which intrigued me as a painting subject. In the late afternoon light, I could imagine it as an old California adobe, cool inside in spite of the surrounding heat. Some early model chickens miraculously appeared where a late model car had been.

Spring Pasture in the Western Sierra Foothills Oil Painting by California Landscape artist Karen Winters

“Spring Pasture in the Western Sierra”
8.75 x 4.75″ oil on linen on board

I had a leftover piece of linen from a plein air panel making project, so I decided to put it to use with this small horizontal study of a farm in the western Sierra foothills in California. Eucalyptus trees shelter the outbuildings.

Breath of Springtime – Central California Spring Wildflower Oil Painting by Karen Winters


Breath of Springtime
11 x 14 oil on plein air panel

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Eucalyptus and Goldfields flowers growing in fields in the Western foothills of the Sierra, southeast of Visalia. Spring brings intense color to the rolling hills that form the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Other flowers, like poppies and “popcorn” flowers join the party in a festival of spring color.

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Walker Basin Creek – Kern County, Southern Sierra California Oil Painting

Walker Basin Creek
12 x 16
oil on canvas

Last summer we spent several pleasant days with other California Art Club artists at the Rankin Ranch in the Southern Sierra in Kern County. This oil painting was inspired by that trip. The hills are used for grazing by the range cattle owned by the ranch. This small stream serves as a water source for part of the herd. The tree growing by the water didn’t seem to be a willow, but no doubt it was a water-loving species. I liked the way it made a spot of lush green among the dusky tones of the surrounding hills. The area is not far from Bodfish, Caliente and other Southern Sierra towns.

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Yosemite Valley Oil Painting – Wowona tunnel view by Karen Winters

Yosemite Valley
(Wowona Tunnel view)
12 x 16 California impressionist oil painting on canvas

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This painting is now sold, but I have others
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Iconic of California’s Sierra Range, the Yosemite valley is a treasure for all Californians. This painting depicts the valley in the summer, when Bridalveil falls is still putting out an immense volume from the previous year’s snowmelt.

El Capitan can be seen on the left. The Merced River (invisible) flows through the valley but is covered by the trees from this view. Half Dome is visible in the far distance, along with Cloud’s Rest. The large formations in the right foreground are the Cathedral Rocks.

Fall at Convict Lake Eastern Sierra California oil painting by Karen Winters

“Fall at Convict Lake”
12 x 16
oil on canvas

Convict Lake is one of the most accessible High Sierra lakes – and in the fall, when the aspens turn color, it’s especially captivating. Some day I’ll spend the whole day there, just watching the light play across the faces of the granite mountains, as the clouds slowly drift, disappear and reform. I’m not sure what kind of fish were biting that day, but there were a lot of fishermen enjoying the freshness of fall.

Blue Skies Ahead – Paradise Camp/Swall Meadow near Bishop California oil painting by Karen Winters

“Blue Skies Ahead”
16 x 20 oil painting
(near Swall Meadows, historic Paradise Camp, outside of Bishop, California)

This road, I believe, is Lower Rock Creek Road, also known as the old Sherwin Grade Road, which parallels today’s Highway 395. I painted this a few years ago, and revisited it recently, since my work has evolved considerably since then. I find it interesting that sometimes when people ask (and they always do) “how long did that take you to paint?” That sometimes the answer is “years.” It certainly is in this case.

This is not an uncommon practice among serious painters. Sometimes you just need some time and distance on a painting to resolve certain areas, or to see color and value differently. Upon revisiting this painting, the sky is very much the same, but the land areas are completely repainted. Many influences move through our lives – teachers, books we read, shows we go to, artists we admire, experiences we have in working things out ourselves. Every painting is the cumulation of experience to date.

California Golden Hills Landscape Plein Air Oil Painting by Karen Winters – Walker Basin Overlook –

“Walker Basin Overlook”
8 x 10 oil on plein air panel
Plein air painting in Kern County at the Rankin Ranch, September 2011

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This morning view, painted on location north of Caliente, California, is in the very southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada range. Although the mountains are small in this location, they will likely be much taller some day, as the plate boundaries move and continue to elevate the peaks. The rabbitbrush is in full bloom, a welcome sight every fall in this part of California. This was painted during a paint out with the California Art Club

Half Dome, Yosemite painting, from Glacier Point by Karen Winters

Half Dome, from Glacier Point, Yosemite
12 x 16″ original oil painting

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From the valley floor, Yosemite’s Half Dome is a lofty structure. But it is only from Glacier point, when you can look across the valley at it, that you see the true size of Yosemite’s massive landmark. This painting depicts the monumental formation in early summer, when there is still some snow evident on its flanks. Soon, the snows will come and shroud it in whiteness once again.