Eaton Canyon Stream – California landscape painting


“Eaton Canyon Stream”
9 x 12 oil painting

In the years when we have heavy rain, the stream coming out of Eaton Canyon is full and fast-flowing. Other years, not so much. At the headwaters there are several waterfalls, some of which are quite risky to get to.

This view of the stream is looking south, from the east side of the canyon.

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In the canyon California landscape oil painting – Eaton Canyon

“In the Canyon”
Eaton Canyon miniature 5 x 7 oil painting
Eaton Canyon is near Pasadena, California

This miniature original oil painting captures the mid day light at Eaton Canyon, a watershed area near Pasadena. Rough and wild, our occasional rainstorms rush down the canyon creating a seasonal stream. We could use a lot more water this year!

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©2014 Karen Winters Fine Art

California landscape – Eaton Canyon with San Gabriels oil painting


Eaton Canyon with San Gabriels
6 x 8 inches
oil on canvas

This little study is from September, when the summer grasses were showing a wide range of colors. Water runs through this area and is collected into a settling basin which recharges a local aquifer. Nature’s soft pastels seem to harmonize under the late summer sun.

Canyon Vision – California landscape chapparal painting – Eaton Canyon art

Canyon Vision, Eaton Canyon, California
8 x 10 oil on plein air panel

As summer draws to an end, the grasses and trees of Eaton Canyon take on a dreamy, dusty glow that looks especially beautiful toward sunset. We have been trying to take at least one walk a day, sometimes two, morning and night. Eaton Canyon in Altadena is one of our favorite places to hike, and one of my favorite local painting spots.

Interested in this painting?
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Eaton Canyon Hike – California impressionist oil painting by Karen Winters

“Eaton Canyon Hike”
Eaton Canyon, Altadena – San Gabriel Mountains
9 x 12 oil painting on linen plein air panel

This painting is now sold, but I have more at

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In fall, when the sycamores turn, Eaton Canyon reveals its dusky side. We’ve recently had some beautiful cloud formations – it’s an early harbinger of fall. Soon the chaparral will put on its own fall finery. This trailhead starts near the parking lot, skirts the west side of the canyon and continues northward for several miles.

California impressionist landscape oil painting – Blustery Day Sycamore Tree by karen Winters

“Blustery Day”
11 x 14 oil painting on canvas

A sycamore caught in the act of changing colors is ruffled by a passing breeze near Eaton Canyon, in Altadena, CA

California impressionist oil painting Chapparal Bloom by Karen Winters

“Chapparal Bloom”
San Gabriel Mountains
8 x 10 inches oil on plein air panel

California is colorful all year long, not only in the springtime. Summer and fall wildflowers include buckwheat and other chapparal natives. It’s an earth-tone palette, full of greens, russets, umbers and golds. The buckwheat, when it dries, is a good match for burnt sienna.

I never tire of painting the tapestry of plant life that covers our rolling hills and mountains. The California Native Plant Society is a good resource for learning about our drought tolerant beauties.

Here’s how the painting might look in a dark frame that picks up the colors in the painting, with warm touches of coppery-gold.

I haven’t talked about framing too often here, but it’s true that the frame can have a big impact on how a painting looks. Compare how the same painting, on the same colored background appears in a gold carved frame. The dark frame creates a more rustic look, which might be appropriate for a home with western accents. The gold frame creates a lighter, more elegant appearance. Which do you think works best? Do you like seeing one of my paintings with framing suggestions, as opposed to just seeing the painting by itself?

Way of the Oak – California Impressionist Landscape Oil Painting of Oak Tree on Trail – by Karen Winters

“The Way of the Oak”
12 x 16 oil on canvas

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This graceful old oak arches over a trail on Eaton Canyon, beckoning the hiker to walk under the arch and continue their journey. Scenes like this are typical of trails all over California, though. From the Arroyo Seco of Pasadena, the Cerro Gordo campgrounds of California’s Central Coast, the equestrian trails of La Canada, where I live, and the trails of Irvine Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Agoura, and more. I’ve seen so many places like this that it is truly iconic of California, especially in the springtime when the grasses are still fresh and only beginning to turn to gold.

Eaton Canyon painting – California landscape oil painting by Karen Winters

“The Canyon Calls”
(Eaton Canyon, Pasadena/Altadena area)
9 x 12 inches oil painting on canvas

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Nourished by the waters gushing out of the San Gabriel Mountains, Eaton Canyon explodes into delirious bloom – the wild mustard in shades of yellow and purple duking it out with penstemon and purple nightshade. With each bend of the trail – through the nature center area or up in the wilder parts, new vistas are revealed. Watch out for rattlesnakes and poison oak, though. This is wild country – and only partly tamed by trailbuilders.

California Landscape Spring Oil Painting – Eaton Canyon Pasadena

“Gentle Springtime”
11 x 14 oil painting on hardboard panel
Eaton Canyon, near Pasadena, California

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I started this plein air painting a few years ago and got distracted with other things and didn’t finish it up. Now that it’s almost springtime again, it seemed like a good time to revisit it and complete it. Since then, I’ve bought an artworks essentials EasyL which is much easier to transport, and doesn’t require a separate easelmate to hold things, like this Yarka did. I like the fact that I can raise the tripod with the Easy L so I’m not looking down at the painting. I’m tall and I always ended up with a backache at the end of the day from slightly bending over at the waist. A good friend of mine said that the Yarka is great for carrying pastels outdoors, however, so I might set it up with that. Almost every plein air painter I know has a collection of easels that they try, in search of the perfect one. The biggest advantage of this old Russian Yarka is that it’s light and sets up in about 1 minute. The down side is its height and lack of adaptability to carry wet panels of all sizes.