Descanso Sunset Path – California Plein Air Painting

Descanso Sunset Path
8 x 10
oil on canvas on birch panel
Plein air painting

This evening there was strong color in the sky because of some brush fires in the area. When that happens it means spectacular sunsets. I enjoyed painting in the warm glow, while listening to the rehearsal of the Pasadena Pops, which will be playing tomorrow night.

If you are familiar with Descanso, this is the path where tulips are usually planted in the spring. It goes by the little train station, which is just to the right. Because the light was going fast this is a little looser than some of my garden paintings. I like the effect.

California Oak Plein Air Landscape – Descanso Gardens Oak Pathway

Descanso Oak Pathway
9 x 12
oil on hardboard panel

Oh, I am trying hard to catch up and post paintings that I’ve been working on. I know it’s been a little spotty lately but more are coming. I have been working on a lot of commissions and getting ready for some upcoming shows. Add that to travel all over California and a new passion for daily walking and I’ve been a very busy lady. Yesterday, in fact, I spent a lot of time at Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes. When the weather is hot, we flee to the coast for art and recreation.

This was painted a week ago at Descanso Gardens in the very late afternoon as the sun was setting and back-lighting the oak trees. Although the light and shadows changed by the minute, I blocked in the lights and shadows at one moment in time and then continued with it.

I’ll be at the Montrose art show again September 5 (exact spot to be determined) but I will post it here when I know. I’ll be bringing new work, including plein air work from my recent Central/Northern California trip.

California Oak Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting – Descanso Oak Trio

Descanso Oak Trio
8 x 10

Another warm twilight evening, another chance to paint some Descanso Oaks. I picked a different view this week and did a little rearranging of the shrubberies to create a path where there was none.

You can see the work in progress below. As should be evident from the photo, which my husband took for me, the leftmost trunk is very straight in reality and I painted it that way. When I got home and put the panel in a frame, I didn’t like the effect at all … it was a like an arrow shooting right out of the frame. So I repainted the trunk to give it some bends and curves and had to use my imagination to think through how the light would wrap around the bends. I also lifted the San Gabriel Mountain range to make it peek through the distant foliage, and created a variety of patterns in the foreground which was just shredded wood bark in full shade, very drab. So even though the colors of the actual scene were rather subdued there was salsa music playing and I painted an emotional response to the scene, not a literal rendering.

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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.

La Canada Angeles Crest Landscape Oil Painting – Karen Winters

“Snow on the Crest”
16 x 20 oil on canvas

This is a view into the Crescenta Canada Valley from a high road in Flintridge, near the Sacred Heart Academy. The 210 freeway can be seen on the left as it passes the upper Arroyo Seco. The mountains are the San Gabriel range. Last winter, a snowstorm left a dusting of snow on the Angeles Crest Forest. It only lasted a few days but I had the opportunity to take some early morning pictures of this rare occurrence. By the next day, most of the snow had vanished.

Now that the temperatures have reached the high 90s locally, I thought it was a good time to think about something cool.

Chapparal Trail

Chapparal Trail
(Dunsmore Canyon, La Crescenta)
9 x 12 oil

We’re having some unseasonably hot weather right now. Today it was in the high 80s and tomorrow it’s likely to be 90. Last year, when I was doing the Sierra Madre Art Fair, it was 100 both days. Because I am showing so many paintings at Gale’s (which hung this morning) I opted not to do the SM Fair just this year. It seemed like I’d be burning the candle at both ends to have 30 paintings for Gale and another 20 for a fair booth. Now, seeing the weather (again) I’m glad I opted to pass. Next year I might do it again, though. Now I’m home in my studio, staying cool, and working on some other projects.

Karen Winters California Impressionism New Works Show at Gale’s Restaurant, Pasadena

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve been preparing for this event for some time.
So, if you’re in the LA area and would like to see my work in person, I invite you to come to my show of California impressionist fine art.

Place: Gale’s Restaurant
Address: 452 S. FairOaks in Pasadena, California
Dates: Sat. May 16 – Friday, July 10
Reception: Sunday afternoon, May 31, 4-6 pm.


California Spring Landscape – Walk through the Oaks

A Walk through the Oaks
16 x 12 oil on canvas


This is where I’d like to be right about now, walking along a trail in an oaky meadow. The last 24 hours have been more than a little traumatic to our small town of La Canada Flintridge. If you’re in LA, no doubt you know that a big rig car transport truck came down the Angeles Crest Highway, ran through an intersection, impacting numerous cars and finally stopping in a bookstore on Foothill Blvd., the main street. Two people were killed, a man and his daughter, and 12 were injured, some critically. I have not heard the names of the injured.

The accident is under investigation and the driver, Marcos Costa, has been arrested for vehicular manslaughter. He did not live in the area. Why his brakes failed is not known, whether it was operator error or mechanical error. Nor is has it been revealed if he was DUI. One thing is known, however, and that is that it was an accident waiting to happen. A near miss happened in September and our city council has been unable to get Caltrans to make changes to its policies that ban trucks on the steep mountain road that leads into the city, and to put signage back up that tells drivers that there is a gravel filled runaway median. (Which as not been maintained by Caltrans.) Why the median notification signs were taken down is a good question.

Our city council has been hammering the local Caltrans district office for months since the September incident, only to be rebuffed, ignored, given lame excuses about how they need more time to make a study.

Last month a Girl Scout, Malia Milez, as part of her Gold Award project put together a comprehensive 46 slide powerpoint presentation about this problem and the urgency to fix it. Her presentation ended with a photo of the bookstore and adjacent nail salon – in the bullseye. This was presented at a city council meeting who lauded her for her work and one councilperson suggested that Caltrans should look at it.

What I want to know is, what options does a city council have if they are rebuffed by a bureaucrat, in this case, a Mr. Doug Failing of Caltrans? Other than shrugging their shoulders and saying “oh well” is there no way to file a complaint instead of accepting the typical “we’re studying it – stop bugging us” answer.

Other than the public safety issue, which is of foremost importance, I was also impacted by this terrible accident. A number of my paintings were hanging at Flintridge Books, on the wall hit by the truck. I am optimistic that some of them may be recoverable. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember me writing about the weekend art event in February where I was demoing in the store for two days. When I think how much time I’ve spent there, and that I could have been there on any given day, it just gives me chills. On the art show weekend there were 80 or more people there at times – right where the truck went through. Shiver.

Drifters in the Stream – California botanical oil painting – Descanso Gardens


Today I got the good news that this painting, of fall leaves at Descanso Gardens, has been juried into the Pasadena Society of Artists spring show. Previously it was juried into the California Art Club’s “Rivers and Harbors” show at the Pasadena Women’s City Club. I hope it finds a good home on this outing. It’s more abstract than most of my work and painting it was a bit like doing a big jigsaw puzzle.

The PSA show will run from April 29 to May 16 at the VIVA Gallery on Moorpark in Sherman Oaks.

California Mountain Landscape – San Gabriels – Arroyo Seco Oil Painting

San Gabriel Vista
(from the Arroyo Seco)
14 x 18 oil on canvas

This painting is now SOLD, but I have more at

This view of the San Gabriel Mountains is from a familiar viewpoint along a trail in the Hahamongna watershed area, formerly known as Oak Grove Park. These days it’s the home of a frisbee golf course, and I have to stay heads up when walking through the zone to get to a painting location. The golfers are pretty tolerant of us hikers and painters, and I try to stay out of their fairways. In the summer my husband and I call this area Snaky Acres and tread carefully among the high grass. Bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife have been seen here, along with deer, rabbits and abundant bird life.

I started on this painting last fall, when the willlows were starting to turn yellow and the summer grasses were dusty and dun-colored. But the storm clouds rolling in promised the first rains that would germinate the mustard seeds for their spring surge. Now, the whole area is lush and green.

If you’re a walker who likes doing the loop from the Rose Bowl up through the upper Arroyo Seco, or are a Rose Bowl rider who frequently takes your horse for an outing, then I’ll bet you know this view well.