Mary-Linns Bridal Shop Pasadena – Urban Oil Painting Wedding Dress shopping art

‘When you find ‘The One'”
11 x 14 oil painting on canvas
Wedding gown shoppers at Mary Linn’s Bridal Shop in Pasadena, California

For a long time, I’ve wanted to paint a charming bridal shop in Pasadena named Mary Linns. I’m guessing that it has been there a very long time and no doubt contributed to the joy of thousands and thousands of brides. This young couple was window shopping. I can only imagine what was going through both their minds. I think this has a nice narrative quality to it. It happense to be Pasadena, but it could really be anywhere that young lovers plan their future.

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Wedding Painting – Canadian wedding oil painting in Canmore by Karen Winters

Canadian Wedding
18 x 24 oil on canvas
A custom commissioned painting

See a selection of my other wedding paintings here

This was perhaps one of the most complex wedding paintings I’ve done. Rather than painting live on location as I usually do, I was approached by a charming bride who asked if I could paint a wedding that had happened a year ago. They had a few dozen photographs to work from. There were a few challenges that we identified, but none that I thought were insurmountable, so I happily accepted the assignment.

1) The wedding took place in Canada under gray skies that looked as though they threatened rain. The pictures of the wedding party had a distinctly somber overcast look. But the couple commissioning the painting wanted to see the Canadian Rockies in their sunlit glory which meant painting the piece with an imagined color palette, rather than from the literal reference photos.

2) There were a variety of candid snapshots of people at the event, but they were all shot from different angles – sometimes just from the knees up – and relatively close up, not from a distance as they’d appear in a landscape.

3. The couple wished for an idealized view of the wedding without the distraction of chairs used during the ceremony so I had to create a virtual scene, in perspective, as it might have been, distributing the a representative sample of attendees through a 3d space and including some special features like picnic tables used for the party, a table featuring a time capsule, and so on.

One of the other problems I needed to solve was how to focus attention on the wedding party without making them large, in the foreground, and having to paint tight facial likenesses (which the couple did not want.) I used a slash of light through the middle ground to illuminate the bridal couple, while keeping other wedding-goers more in shadow.

I designed the painting in Photoshop and got the bride’s approval through all the design steps. Then came the fun part – painting it. I shipped the painting to the family last week and received a lovely and enthusiastic note of approval from them upon seeing it in person for the first time.

A wedding painting (even many years after the event) is a unique piece of art certain to become a treasured family heirloom, passed down through generations. And it makes a great wedding gift for “the couple that already has everything.” For more information on how to commission a painting or have me as a live event painter at your wedding
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A Garden Wedding – Live Event Painting

Garden Wedding
9 x 12 oil

Not too long ago I was at a botanical garden for an art show and a wedding was about to take place. It seemed like a beautiful romantic scene to paint, so we asked the wedding party if they would allow me to paint discreetly from the side. They graciously said yes and this was the result. The framed painting was delivered today to family members who are giving it as a gift. (You’ll notice I’m not mentioning the name of the garden or the family. Shhh, it’s a surprise.)

Usually when I do a plein air painting I try to portray an exact moment as it is – a shadow pattern at a specific time, a certain quality of light. Wedding paintings are somewhat different in that they are idealized renditions of an entire event. In this painting, by the time the bride and groom arrived after taking their pictures, there was little light left on plaza. Some of the guests said they were sorry that the wildflowers in the background were not blooming as they had been a month before. I told them – in my painting they’ll be blooming. Milford Zornes, the watercolorist, once said “paint it the way it could be.” When it comes to event painting, that is very good advice.

Wedding paintings make treasured heirloom gifts. To ask about live painting at a wedding (or a studio painting from a wedding photo),
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La Canada Landscape Oil Painting – Memorial Day Concert – California impressionist genre painting

Memorial Day Concert, 2010
(La Canada Flintridge, featuring Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries)
8 x 10
plein air oil painting

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Ah, the beginning of summer, and the summer Music in the Park series in my hometown, La Canada Flintridge. I enjoyed painting this scene while visiting with picnickers and others who were out savoring the warm day. The first act, Misplaced Priorities, energized the audience and set the stage for the second act, Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries. Both 50s-60s rock bands were enthusiastically received. In front of the gazebo/bandshell, dancers of all ages found their groove.
When I was growing up, I couldn’t imagine having fun dancing to the same music my grandparents liked. But old time rock and roll was appreciated that day by 70-somethings and 5 year olds alike.

It was good to see so many friends and neighbors out relaxing. Thanks to the LCF Chamber of Commerce for making Fiesta Days a wonderful event once again.

And speaking of La Canada outdoor events … I’ll be painting this coming weekend June 12-13 at Descanso Gardens in the Rose Garden … along with other Descanso artists. We’ll have other botanical and nature paintings on display for sale, too – including landscapes. Hope to see you there.

Victorian Lady – Figurative Oil Painting

Victorian Lady
9 x 12

Along with my landscape painting, I’m getting interested in figurative work, and occasionally make time to paint from a live model as I did this last weekend at Randy Higbee’s studio in Costa Mesa. The assembled painters had the opportunity to paint this lovely woman, Toni, wearing one of her many period costumes. This one is reminiscent of a Victorian or Gibson Girl era. Rather than paint her in a contemporary style I chose to interpret her using a style more appropriate to that historical period. Painting out of my comfort zone is a lot of fun. It shakes things up and forces us to think differently about what we are doing.

Where my California landscapes might be right at home in a craftsman home or California bungalow, this one would probably fit in very well in one of those San Francisco “painted lady” Victorian parlors.

Garden Party Pasadena paint out – California impressionist landscape painting

The Garden Party
11 x 14 oil on canvas panel

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This season I’ve been enjoying doing more and more live event painting, like this recent party at a private home.
True, there’s a little pressure to get a painting mostly done within the time limit of an event, but I thrive on challenges and I enjoy socializing as I paint. And if there’s wine and cheese and fine music involved, what could be better!

I know that many of my readers have asked to see my palette set up. This photo gives a better look at a typical arrangement: French easel, easel mate with glass palette, medium cups, turp (OMS, really) brushes, lots of paper towels, paint scraper to clean glass palette, etc. I’ve blocked in the scene and am working on the background before the large crowd appeared. When I’m painting for myself, you’ll usually find me in T-shirt and jeans, but for a nice event I like to dress up a little (and try to keep my sleeves out of the paint piles.) Occupational hazard – I can’t shake hands with people who stop to visit, unless they want a nice offering of titanium white. So I do the back-handed knuckle-bump instead. So very hip, doncha know.

Descanso Gardens Train Station – Plein air California landscape oil painting

“All Aboard” – Descanso Gardens train station at sunset
9 x 12 oil on canvas panel
Plein air landscape oil painting


Late Thursday afternoons at Descanso Gardens always bring opportunities for things to paint. Yesterday I enjoyed the view of the little train station where the engine and engineer wait to take people on a magical trip through the camellia forest. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually take the train ride, camera in hand, and see the garden from a different (low angle) point of view. An alizarin crimson underpainting (done very rapidly) imparts a warm glow to the scene.

I thought I left my big roll of brushes at home and consequently painted most of this with a medium sized filbert. Some of the fine detail on the engine and engineer was done later when I had the appropriate tools. Last week’s Descanso painting has been purchased by a lovely new collector from So. Pasadena, but this one is still available.

Reminder: the photos I post are low resolution so that they load quickly for those on slow connections. If you are interested in purchasing a painting, please ask and I will send a higher quality image.

South Pasadena Plein Air Genre Oil Painting – Fourth of July Parade 2009

South Pasadena Fourth of July Parade
8 x 10 oil
Plein air painting

This one was a lot of fun to paint, because the crowd was so lively and colorful. Because I know some of you are thinking – how can you paint a moving parade while it’s happening. The simple answer is I paint the things that don’t move (trees, buildings, distant crowds and then roughly indicate the things that are moving and finish them later from refrence photos. In this case the tractor pulled float with balloons was the big moving thing in the scene, so I could only block in the outline as it passed. I needed a photo to get the detail on the tractor. I painted the cheerleaders from memory because they didn’t stay put for long either. If I got your uniforms wrong, sorry girls, but Go Tigers!

If anyone knows the name of the group riding on the float pulled by the tractor, and the name of the tractor driver, let me know and I’ll add their names to this blog post. I’m thinking Brownies or Girl Scouts but I couldn’t swear to it.

South Pasadena is the most wonderful slice of Americana you can imagine, and on the 4th of July you can feel like you’ve stepped backwards in time in the very best way. Parades, flags and bunting, families gathering, sack races in the park … I just love it.

Pasadena Pops – Picnic under the Oaks – Plein Air Landscape Genre Painting at Descanso Gardens

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Picnic Under the Oaks
Plein air landscape 9 x 12 oil painting
SOLD to collectors from Pasadena, CA

Upon returning home from our Northern California trip, I had the opportunity to paint Saturday night at the Pasadena Pops at Descanso Gardens. The big oaks were just glowing in the late afternoon sun so I decided to paint the festivities from this angle instead of looking toward the stage.

The orchestra, conducted by Maestra Rachel Worby, was divine, as usual. Some highlights for me were the Edith Piaf tribute, Offenbach’s Can-Can (complete with saucy dancers) and the concluding Gershwin number, An American in Paris. Yes, it was an evening in Paris theme. As a plein air impressionist I felt right at home.

This painting was challenging not only because I was quite tired from the weeklong painting adventure up north, but because of the heat and the rapid light changes. I got most of it blocked in during the show but needed to retreat to my studio to pull it together and add the finishing touches.

Lacy Park San Marino Plein Air California Oil Painting – Fourth of July 2009

Lacy Park on the Fourth of July 2009
9 x 12 plein air painting

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Remember that old “Chicago” song … “Saturday, in the park, I think it was the fourth of July.”
Well, this time it really was! My husband and I have gone to Lacy Park in San Marino through the years, but it’s never livelier than on the fourth when everyone turns out for picnicking and fireworks.

There was so much color and excitement everywhere I hardly knew where to begin. Finally I settled on this familiar view of the palms surrounding the big lawn. By the time we left there was hardly a patch of green grass to be seen.

For those people who stopped by to take a peek at my work in progress, here’s the finished version, soon to be signed and framed.