California Golden Hills – Oak Landscape Plein Air Oil Painting

California Golden Hills
11 x 14
Plein air oil painting

Interested in this painting? Please write

This painting is currently on exhibition in the San Clemente Art Association Gallery, in San Clemente, CA.

Much of the week in San Clemente we experienced “June gloom” – that cool gray marine layer that covers the seacoast until early afternoon. Although paintings in the gloom do have a certain mystery to them, I was looking for a more colorful subject, and so we traveled inland along the Ortega Highway to find this vista at Caspers Park. But really, it could be anywhere in the state – the golden hills studded with oaks is so typical of our scenery.

Just for fun, I included a photo of me, mid-painting, on location. You can see my preliminary sketch on the easel, above the canvas. If I have the time I always try to do a sketch because it helps me to organize my thoughts and not to “get lost” as I strive to capture the scene on canvas. Here are the steps I usually take:
1) select an appealing scene
2) do a value sketch
3) draw the “bones” of the scene on canvas
4) put in the darks
5) put in the lights
6) refinement

If the light is rapidly changing, though, all bets are off, and sometimes you just have to paint whatever is most ephemeral. In this case, I knew that the cloud shadows might go away, so I painted them first, saving the golden grasses for last.

More paintout paintings to come …

Above San Clemente Coastal Plein Air Seascape Skyline Painting

“Above San Clemente”
8 x 10 oil
The view from Salvador Drive, high above San Clemente, about 5:30 in the evening

This painting is on exhibit at the San Clemente Art Association Gallery, until July 31.
If you are not in the area but are interested in purchasing, please write me and I will contact the gallery.

This was one of the paintings I did for the plein air paintout – at the end of a very long day painting in other locations. It portrays the silvery bay in late afternoon light from the vantage point of Salvador Drive, up Presidio, east of the city. The sun was just out of the frame, and I was trying to keep it under the brim of my hat – not easy! My husband took this picture of the painting on the easel at the end, just as the sky was starting to turn warmish. I thought it looked kind of neat backlit by the sun.

More of my work from the paint out will be posted all this week, so please check back.

Painting a kildeer from life in Dana Point California – oil painting study

Kildeer on ground nest – plein air painting
“6 x 8” oil on canvas board

The paintout continues in San Clemente. Today, I had a rare opportunity, very unexpected, to do an oil painting of a bird from life. We were walking along a bluff in Dana Point and suddenly saw a kildeer guarding its nest – only a few feet from where we were walking. The brave little bird stood its ground even though we were very close. I found a place to sit down about 6 feet away and my husband brought me a small 6 x 8 inch canvas panel and a palette and my plein air bag. I didn’t want to take the risk of standing up at an easel and scaring it – and besides, I was closer to it on the ground. For more than an hour the bird sat motionless except to occasionally turn its head. Eventually it stood up and called to its mate for a break. It is a kildeer behavior to take turns incubating the eggs. I have never had the privilege of painting a wild animal (not caged) from life before and hope that sometime it will happen again. Although the eggs were completely under the bird, I took the liberty of showing one partly exposed. They are speckled black and gray and blend in perfectly with the rocky sandy ground where they are laid in a shallow depression.

I won’t be entering this painting in the San Clemente competition although I will have it for sale in my booth. I doubt that anyone would believe it was “plein air” – imagine a bird sitting still for an hour. And yet, it happened!

Yellow Ribbon -Plein Air Homecoming Oil Painting – San Clemente

“Until You Come Home”
9 x 12
oil on panel

This was the painting that I did for the QuickDraw phase of the San Clemente Art Association annual paintout. A quick draw is a timed competition – from the stamping of panels to the final horn, we had exactly 3 hours to get to a location, paint a painting, get back and frame the painting and turn it in. It may sound like a lot of time but when you take off travel time and setting up an easel and packing up, the time really flies.

The weather has been very gray in San Clemente (think: June gloom) and it hadn’t burned off by 12:30, the start time. With this in mind, I looked for something to paint the day before that would have a spot of color. When I saw this yellow ribbon hung on the balcony of an apartment building, I made it my choice. San Clemente borders Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base, so I’m guessing that someone who lives in that apartment has a loved one in the service, and the yellow ribbon represents waiting for their safe return from overseas. The apartment is on the corner of Santa Barbara and Del Mar, if anyone knows who lives there. The painting is currently hanging in the San Clemente Art Gallery in the Community Center. If no one takes it home before Friday, it will be in my booth for the Saturday-Sunday show.

I am continuing to paint in San Clemente and Orange and San Diego counties for the rest of the event. I’ve got three additional paintings finished, and more to come by the end of the week.

Newport Back Bay Sunset – California Landscape Painting

Newport Back Bay Sunset
5 x 7 inch
Oil on canvas panel

This small study was painted to make some design decisions about a larger painting of Newport’s Back Bay, where we visited last week. At sunset the colors of the sky are reflected in the marshy area. The trees probably weren’t this close together (the opening to the sea is larger) but I reserve the right to tinker with the composition whenever I choose.

The rain has mostly stopped here in LA, and that means that later this afternoon we should see some dramatic skies with the clouds breaking up and leaving. If it’s not too cold I might try to get ut and paint a bit.

OK, away from they keyboard and back to the easel for me! I’m working on a large (24 x 30) commission and I need to keep on-task.

Newport Beach Painting – Sunset Surf – California impressionist marine seascape

More of my Newport Beach Paintings

Sunset Surf (at Newport Beach, CA)
8 x 10 oil on linen on board

During those times of year when the landscape has shed its fall color, and before spring color appears, sunsets continue to charm the colorist in me.

Newport Beach is one of my favorite subjects for painting – from Balboa Island with its charming shops and village ambience, to the spectacular sunsets of the beach and back bay.

While visiting the Laguna Art Museum recently for the Wm. Wendt exhibit, I saw some paintings by Laguna painter Frank Cuprien and was captivated by the way he captured the luminesence of the surf when the day was drawing to a close. When I saw a Newport sunset with those same opal tones, I was tempted to give it a try.

Try this: This is a small painting, a study, just 8 x 10 inches. To see it as it is meant be seen, enlarge the picture then stand back from your monitor about 8-10 feet, if you have the room. It looks different, doesn’t it? Whenever I am painting up at the Descanso Gallery, people come up to see what I’m doing, standing about 3 feet from the painting. I think that I can read their minds sometime as they see the expressionistic brush strokes, which look coarse in close up. So I walk them back a short distance, as in a living room or dining room and then have them look again. They are almost always surprised at the difference.

This is one of the inherent problems with showing work online when your viewer is sitting right next to the monitor. So … give it a try, stand back and see the difference.

To see more of my seascapes, visit my seascape gallery page.

Laguna Beach Oil Painting – Laguna Romance – Daily Painting

Laguna Romance
8 x 10
oil on canvas on board

Several of my friends have been incorporating palette knife techniques into their work, or painting entirely with the knife. I thought it sounded like fun to experiment with, so I took one of my photos with a lot of clouds that I thought would lend itself to that expression, and this is the result. The location is Heisler park in Laguna Beach, a little north of the art museum. Clusters of fan and sago palms decorate the promenade and make interesting shapes against one of Laguna’s radiant sunsets. Everytime we visit we see lovers gazing at the sea. On one occasion a wedding was being held in a small gazebo along the walkway.

So this is my tribute to Valentine’s Day – a little romance along the seashore, as wild and tempestuous as love itself.

Click here to see links to more of my Laguna paintings

Laguna Beach Shores – Oil Painting Seascape by California Impressionist Karen Winters

Laguna Beach Shores
12 x 16 inches, oil painting on canvas

See all of my Laguna Beach paintings here

See more of my seascapes here

This painting is for sale. If you are interested in it please write: and use Laguna Beach Shores in the subject line. This is also on the seascape page of my website, see the link on the right under “Other Places on this Site”

For the past two summers we’ve enjoyed visiting Laguna not only to see the art festival but the sparkling beauty of the landscape, the golden shores and deep turquoise water. This new painting is a result of that inspiration.

What I especially like about this one: I like the contrast of the warm cliffs and sand against the complimentary cool blues and greens of the sea and landscaping of Heisler Park, which overlooks this serene scene.

Laguna Reflections – Crescent Cove – Karen Winters original oil painting

“Laguna Beach Reflections (at Crescent Cove)”
14 x 18 oil on canvas

If you would like to find out if this painting is still available for sale…..

please write

(I have more Laguna paintings, please see My seascapes page

For all of your folks who visited me over the weekend at Sierra Madre, here’s how the painting turned out that I was working on when you stopped by.
I had a great time painting there and the cool scene seemed to help me tolerate the stifling heat.

This scene was inspired by my visit to Laguna Beach a month or so ago. What attracted me the most were the reflections in the sand, revealed for just moments as each wave receded. I’ve considered adding a few sea birds to this, either a sandpiper on the shore or a few gulls. What do you think?

I can hardly wait to go back there and paint with those cool ocean breezes.

Dana Point Surf – Karen Winters seascape oil painting

16 x 20 oil on canvas
Here’s another recent painting of one of my favorite new scenic haunts – the harbor at Dana Point. This scene is just outside of the breakwater, not far from the Ocean Institute.

I’m tired but content today at the end of a long weekend. Tomorrow I begin work on a few new paintings for upcoming exhibits. But first, a good night’s sleep. Thanks to all the folks who stopped by to visit – it was a hotter ‘n you know what weekend with temps in the high 90s, but we managed to survive and have a great time.