California landscape eucalyptus painting – Beside Still Waters

“Beside Still Waters”
18 x 24 inch oil painting
On the road to Yosemite, through California’s Central Valley

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This scene has intrigued me from when I first saw it a few years ago, in the spring. California’s Central Valley was green with a plentitude of winter rain, and the distant Sierra foothills provided a beautiful cool contrast to the warm wildflower covered foreground. The pond, which seemed to be dammed up for cattle grazing, looked so inviting. If it wasn’t on fenced off private property, I would have liked to sit by it and dangle my feet in that cool fresh water. Eucalputus remain among my favorite trees to paint, although they are less plentiful the further you drive to the foothills. Oaks seem to dominate there. The day we were there, the clouds were drifting by constantly, creating beautiful shadows which I took full advantage of.

Under Sunny Skies – Salinas ranch oil painting

Under Sunny Skies
24 x 30 inch oil painting

The Salinas, California area is famous for agriculture, exported worldwide. This tranquil strawberry field seems to stretch on forever … under sunny skies. Painted on commission.

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Pasadena’s Pride – at the Pasadena ArtWalk Saturday

SOLD Pasadena’s Pride
(Colorado street bridge oil painting)
14 x 18 oil on canvas

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I’ll be exhibiting about 30 paintings Saturday, October 13 at the Pasadena Artwalk on El Molino Street from 11-5.
This one day annual event attracts large crowds from all over Southern California.
Look for me in booth 9, just a little north of the Pasadena Playhouse, near Zona Rosa coffee, on the west side of El Molino, between Colorado Blvd. and Green Street. There’s plenty of parking nearby.

I’m down to the wire on framing and packing … See you there!

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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Homeward Bound – Paso Robles area California impressionist oil painting

Homeward Bound
12 x 16″
California impressionist oil painting

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Although  this painting is sold, I’m always happy to paint something similar on commission.

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A quiet country road winds through the fields, pastures and vineyards of Paso Robles. What beautiful sights lie just around the bend?

When California Hills Turn Gold – California Impressionist Landscape Oil Painting by Karen Winters

“When California Hills Turn Gold”
9 x 12 oil painting on plein air panel

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The winter season has almost departed and the bright fresh green of springtime is starting to leave some of our hills. Soon they will all be shades of brown and tan, creamy white with wild grasses with hints of violet and sienna. This transition is as predictable as the fall return of Santa Ana winds and the carpet of poppies that covers the foothills of the western Sierra.

California Landscape Spring Pastel Painting – Quiet Spring Reflections – Western Sierra Foothills – by Karen Winters

Quiet Spring Reflections
9 x 12 pastel on sanded paper
Western Sierra Foothills, near Visalia

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I enjoy pastel painting although I don’t do it as often nowadays as oil. But I’m getting back into it. For this subject, I thought the soft spring foliage lent itself to the soft buttery texture of the pastel on sanded paper. I toned the paper first with a warm under painting, then let it dry, then painted into it directly with hard, then soft pastels, finally accented with pastel sticks.

Pastel has advantages over oil: there is less opportunity to make mud when working in layers alla prima. But there is the disadvantage of not being able to use transparent layers in the same way one can with watercolor and oil.

Surprisingly, I use many of the same techniques that I do in oil. Instead of doing drybrush, I drag the side of the pastel horizontally over a layer. Negative painting is much the same as with oil. Edges can be lost and found in much the same way. Getting the color right is the most difficult part. Virtually any color can be mixed with a warm and cool of each primary, plus black and white, in oil. In pastel you need to have a kaleidoscope of sticks unless you mix and blend some on the paper.

Whichever medium I choose, it’s still California impressionism and I think it still looks like something painted by me.

Peaceful Pasture – Equestrian Miniature California Landscape Painting

Peaceful Pasture
(Central California)
6 x 6 inches, oil painting on canvas

Last weekend we spent some time up in San Luis Obispo for the opening of the California Art Club’s “Gems of the Central Coast” show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. We had a great time seeing old friends and making some new ones, too. Once you get out of Los Angeles you really begin to appreciate the rural beauty of the state and the quiet moods of hills, pastures, marshes and mountains. Driving up the 101 we saw many ranches with scenes just like this.

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California poppy wildflower landscape oil painting – Golden Hills of Springtime – by Karen Winters

“Golden Hills of Springtime”
6 x 8 oil painting study
on linen panel

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The foothills of the Sierra, when the weather is right, are draped in magical hues of gold, green, violet, white and orange. Amazingly, all at once. This living tapestry extends throughout the range, creating an almost mystical impression. Upon closer examination we see that California poppies grow in drifts next to white “popcorn” flowers. Fiddleheads – small yellow flowers – cover entire meadows – not to be confused with the fiddlehead appearance of opening ferns. Blue lupine provides a welcome complement. In this study I was making some changes to the actual appearance of the landforms, and experimenting with color harmony. With one small exception (a bit of ultramarine blue in the sky) this was painted with three primaries and white.