Peace Rose Painting – Botanical Art – Karen Winters

Peace Rose Painting
8 x 10 oil on canvas

Here’s another in my rose series – this time a close up in a more realistic style. I love impressionism, but I wanted to challenge myself to do a more realistic painting from life, and this was the result.

Now for the taggage

5. When I was growing up we moved so many times (I can remember at least 6 elementary school and class changes) that books became my most constant and dependable companions. National Geographics – some of them decades older than I was – were among the most interesting. Almost without realizing it, I learned countless names of animals, plants, seashells and wildflowers from the colorful plates that accompanied each edition. When a magazine would come that was filled with paintings from some great museum, I would look at it for hours. (Yes, I was a bit of a bookworm. Still am.)

My mother was a plant lover and from her I learned the names of all the roses she cultivated: Chrysler Imperial, Love, Cherish, Honor, Peace, Mister Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth, Sutter’s Gold. Each colorful name brought stories to mind. When I visit the Descanso Gardens Rosarium and look at the labels of the roses in bloom, it’s like seeing old friends … ever new, ever fresh, ever young.

Below: starting this painting on a toned canvas.

Yellow Rose Botanical Flower Painting

Yellow Rose
6″ x 6″
oil on canvas on board

See more of my floral and botanical paintings here

If it’s not too late, I’m going to head over to the nursery today to see if they still have a few bare root roses left to plant. I do love roses and grow them in my yard. My favorites are Climbing Peace, Just Joey and Sally Holmes. But no matter the variety, every rose delights me and offers creative possibilities. At the Descanso Rosarium, there’s an amazing collection of roses from around the world – from the oldest shrubs to the newest hybrids. You’ll find climbers, rugosas, floribundas and more, intermingled with irises and drought-tolerant perennials that provide additional texture and color. If you are in Southern California in the spring, you just have to see it (and smell it) to believe it.

Reminder: If you’re in LA, join us tomorrow fro 7 – 9 pm at Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse for a meet the artists event. See new artwork and chat with local painters, photographers and authors. Angeles Crest Highway at Foothill Blvd. in La Canada (CA 91011)

Descanso Rose Garden Pathway

Descanso Rose Garden Pathway
8 x 10 oil on canvas on board
Available for sale.

This painting has evolved through the years. It started as an oil sketch a few years ago, but I put it away, dissatisfied. Today, with a few miles under my brush, I took it out again and revisited the subject. I’ve noticed differences in how I paint certain subjects. I’m more aware of color in shadows, and I tend to paint masses of leaves and flowers rather than just individual blossoms. I’m more likely to change the scene from “what is” to “what could be.” And I am more inclined to simplify and not to put in every bench and bud if it doesn’t add to the composition. The painting is wet so I had to filter it a little bit to get rid of all the distracting specks from the indoor light. When it’s dry I’ll either scan it or take it outside on a non-rainy day and shoot it in light shade or indirect north light. Which is to say, it’s a bit crisper than this.

If you’re interested in this painting, please write. My email is at the top left of this blog.

White Roses Botanical Oil Painting – Sally Holmes

“Two Sally Holmes White Roses with Jasmine”
9 x 12 oil on canvas

Interested in this painting? I’d love to hear from you.

These Sally Holmes roses grow in my garden. They’re climbers and love to arch over the little arbor I have that leads to the back yard. Sally is technically a shrub rose, but it is a hybrid of “Ballerina” (a hybrid musk) and Ivory Fashion (a floribunda.) It grows like crazy and is a welcome addition to any garden.

I’ll be showing this painting and many others at the Sierra Madre Art Fair on Saturday and Sunday May 7-8, 2011 in Sierra Madre, California in memorial park. Please come!

California Plein Air Landscape – California Mission Garden at Descanso Gardens

California Mission Garden at Descanso Gardens
11 x 14
oil on canvas, plein air painting

Interested in this painting? Please write!

The good news: it was a picture perfect day in Southern California. Perfect, in fact, for April. The bad news: this is February 1, and no rain in sight. We desperately need rain, both for the snowpack on the Sierras and to nourish our local flora as well. But I tried to make the best of a bad situation by going out to paint at Descanso Gardens today in the Rosarium. The good news: it wasn’t too busy because everyone was home getting ready for SuperBowl parties. The bad news: there weren’t any roses to paint, either (duh) because they had all been pruned back in anticipation of a fabulous spring bloom. So we looked around to find something as sparkly and fetching as newly opened roses and I came upon the Mission Garden fountain, glistening in the afternoon sun.

I got set up around 1:30 and by 3:30 the light had changed so completely that I packed it in. In the meantime, I enjoyed painting and sharing my love of plein air painting with others.

I thought I was painting, but it turned out I was drawing … a crowd. Of course, I love talking to people about painting so I didn’t mind, and it was good practice for the demo I’ll be doing in May for a local art club. I expect they’ll want me to talk while painting and I don’t want to disappoint them!

For those of you who like to know what I’m using … I have a small 7.5 lb. Yarka easel which sets up very quickly. I should have had an umbrella but didn’t. I should have been wearing a black apron but wasn’t. I have an easel pal that sits on the easel and holds my palette in the middle, while the wings open up and hold OMS, brushes, spare paper towels and whatnot.

Arroyo Seco Path – California watercolor sketch

Arroyo Seco Path
7″ x 5.5″ watercolor sketch

For more information about my work, please write

One of the most frequent questions I get about my paintings is whether they are all done plein air style (no) and, if not, what I use for reference. Although I do use photos to catch specific details of trees and structures, especially when painting architecture, one of my most valuable tools is my sketchbook. Because my roots are in watercolor, I usually do plein air sketches using that medium. This is a quick way to get color notes and the general layout of a landscape subject without having to fuss with too much detail.

General color areas are indicated with a quick wash. The colors of the shadows can be added when those are dry (and outdoors, watercolor dries fast!)

Using watercolor as a plein air medium has a long history among 19th century painters, and noteworthy is John Constable. His field work formed the basis for his later oil paintings. Eugene Delacroix followed the same practice.

Watercolor painting has the benefit of being quick and portable, and it is a good way to capture the mood with few strokes. Although I love plein air oil painting and do it as often as I can, it’s not always easy to set up an easel. But a watercolor sketchbook can be opened and put to use in a few minutes. A portable watercolor palette, a spray bottle, a collapsible water bucket and a few brushes, some paper towels and I’m good to go. And I can carry a kit in the car so it’s handy at any opportunity.

Good Morning, La Canada Flintridge

“Good Morning, La Canada”
9″ x 12″ oil on canvas on board

For more information about this painting, please write

In our small town, the streets aren’t usually this deserted in the morning, but during the holidays and early weekend mornings there’s definitely less traffic. I decided to leave out the random cars for the sake of reducing clutter.

La Canada Flintridge is a “bedroom” community of Los Angeles. Just 20 minutes or so from downtown, Foothill Blvd. is our main street. This is a view of the corner of Foothill and Oakwood, quite near the Vons market on the left, and La Canada Presbyterian Church on the right (that’s the spire that’s visible.)

After all the paintings I’ve done of Pasadena, the Arroyo Seco, Eaton Canyon, Hahamongna Park, Glendale, Descanso Gardens and other local sites, it’s really about time I got around to painting more of LC itself.

The last time I painted a vertical cityscape it was El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, near the Pasadena Playhouse. This one. So maybe it’s about time for another one.

California Oak Trail – Impressionist Landscape Oil Painting

Morning on the Trail – Hall Canyon Oaks
Oil on hardboard panel
11 x 14 inches

This is a painting that I began last year, put aside and then worked on again recently with a fresh outlook. I think that all painters have paintings like these. Either we were too busy at the time working on other paintings, or somehow lost interest along the way, or otherwise decided that the time was not right to bring it to finish.

It’s been hanging where I see it whenever I pass by. Enough repetitive glances and I start thinking … what if I tried this, or that? What if I corrected this challenging passage? What if I tried a different color here or there? Or added some different shaped branches?

The fact is, until the time that a painting is signed sold and on its way to a new home, any one may be a “work in progress” and as our experience and vision changes, so does the way we express ourselves. And just as the natural world changes and morphs with time and the seasons, so do we.

California Fall Landscape Oil Painting – Autumn Joy – Karen Winters

Autumn Joy
11 x 14 oil on canvas

(It was cloudy and rainy today so I couldn’t take the painting outdoors into natural light to photograph it, so there is some blurring that is not in the painting. I cant use a flash when the painting is wet, either. I’ll shoot it again when the weather is better. But it does look good in reality.)

In this typical California landscape, sycamore trees blaze with color on a local trail in Southern California. This scene is close to home in La Canada Flintridge, and I may be taking this painting next weekend to the Montrose Artwalk. If you’re a local person, look for me near the bowling alley on Honolulu Avenue in Montrose, zip code 91020.

If you’d like to purchase the painting before I take it to the artwalk, email me …

I came across a 1985 copy of Southwest Art the other day that had an article about artist Randall Lake, and some advice he had given to a student. Here are a few of the suggestions made:

“There are no short-cuts in this profession. For most of us, creativity has more to do with daily work than momentary inspiration. Don’t wait for the grand vision; work and re-work. When inspiration does come, your skills will be up to the task of using it effectively.”

“Painting is not a nine to five profession. It is a life’s work, whch demands that your schedule will vary.”

“Try many art forms and take risks. By that I mean go beyond what you are comfortable doing. If what you are doing doesn’t have the possiblity of failure, neither will it be brilliant. Exceptional accomplishment in any of the arts has always been the result of risk taking.”

“Always remain a student: learn through research, refinement and experimentation while remaining flexible. To paraphrase Henri Matisse: one should never become a prisoner of one’s style or reputation.”

Good words to live by as an artist!

San Gabriel View – California Impressionist Landscape

San Gabriel View
9 x 12 oil on linen

This painting is the first I’ve painted on linen, inspired by a workshop I took last weekend. The scene is of my own imagination/memory – a view of the San Gabriels in the northern part of the Arroyo Seco, AKA Hahamongna Park. I’ve painted there so many times that it feels like my own back yard.

Elizabeth Tolley, the instructor and gifted plein air painter, teaches a way of using transparent paints along with sheer opaques to get subtle layering effects. I tried out what I learned here, and I like the effect.

I told a friend of mine how much I loved working with the linen surface and she warned me that now that I’ve tried it I’ll be spoiled for painting on anything else. It’s pricey but oh so silky. Sigh …..