December Dawn, Bishop Sierra winter oil painting

“December Dawn, Bishop, Eastern Sierra”
15 x 30 inches, oil painting on canvas

The inspiration for this new painting came one frosty morning on December 27, 2016, on our way home from a Christmas vacation with our family. My husband and I promised each other that as long as the sky was clear, we’d get up before dawn to see the alpenglow on the Sierra range. We were not disappointed. It was about 19F outside, but we were bundled up, and it was worth the effort. Ducks and coots were skimming over the water where it was not icy. We learned today that some eastern Sierra areas, namely Mammoth Lakes, received 18-19 feet of snow, to the joy of skiers. I’m glad that the mountains were not totally snow-covered when we were there. I like the way the sun turned the granite pink in contrast to the white of the snow.

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For the Glory of the Skies – Sierra California impressionist landscape

For The Glory of the Skies

20 x 24 inches
Oil on canvas

This new painting was inspired by the old hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth,” a song of Thanksgiving I learned as a child. I recalled the second line … “for the glory of the skies” … the moment I saw this scene in California’s Owens Valley, in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada, near the June Lake loop. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed an apt time to share it for the first time. If you are in Southern California, you are welcome to see the painting in person in my home studio.

Mt. Tom Springtime – Bishop, California landscape oil painting – Eastern Sierra

Mt. Tom Springtime – Bishop, California
9 x 12 landscape oil painting on plein air panel

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This was the first time I’ve been up in the Sierra to paint this season. I always look forward to seeing the first wildflowers blooming as the snow recedes.
I painted this along one of Bishop’s many agricultural canals. I set up under a cottonwood tree for a little shade, but as the wind picked up, I decided to move. There were too many broken branches on the ground for me to feel safe.

Bishop poplars – California eastern sierra Mt. Tom autumn oil painting

“Bishop Poplars, 2014”
14 x 18 oil on canvas

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We try to visit the eastern Sierra every fall/winter … sometimes several times if we can. One of the highlights is seeing the cottonwoods and poplars turning gold in the area near Swall Meadow/ Round Valley, just to the north and west of Bishop. In this painting, the iconic triangular Mt. Tom can be seen in the distance.

“Grazing at Bishop,” Owens Valley Sierra painting


“Grazing at Bishop”
9 x 12 inches
California landscape Oil Painting

A horse grazes in a small pasture in Bishop, California, in the Owens Valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. The sunlight burns through the clouds surrounding the distant Sierra mountains.

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Lone Pine Afternoon – Mt. Whitney Sierra Landscape Oil Painting by Karen Winters



“Lone Pine Afternoon”
(Lone Pine Mountain, Mt. Whitney Portal, Eastern Sierra)
14 x 18 inches oil painting on canvas

As fall approaches, my thoughts turn to the color of the eastern Sierra, one of my favorite places to paint. I’m hoping I’ll get away for more Sierra painting this year, but show commitments might prevent that. We’ll have to play it by ear.

Mt. Whitney Portal Lone Pine painting – Eastern Sierra Nevada Landscape oil painting by Karen Winters

“The Way to Mt. Whitney”
(Lone Pine, Eastern Sierra, Mt. Whitney Portal)
18 x 24 inches
Oil painting on canvas

SOLD

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These days I’ve been completing some of my Sierra paintings that I’ve been working on for awhile. During the holidays things got so busy that I didn’t have the time to bring them to finish.

Interesting facts about Mt. Whitney and the Lone Pine area:

Mt. Whitney (slightly right of center in the painting) is the highest mountain the lowest 48 states, and is the most-climbed peak in the Sierra and one of the most climbed mountains in the US. It is composed of granite and is a “jointed” formation. Looking at Whitney from its east face, a formation known as “The Needles” is directly to the left.

There is little rainfall most of the year, so the eastern slopes reflect that climate. Below there are alpine forests, but at the higher reaches greenery is scarce, dominated by gray granite.

Sierra Landscape Oil Painting – Bishop Windbreak, Owens Valley by Karen Winters

“Bishop Windbreak, Owens Valley”
California Sierra Landscape Oil Painting
16 x 20 oil on canvas

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The first time that I painted this stand of trees, I thought they were aspens. The leaves were similar in shape, but the trunks are not the characteristic aspen white. The trunks looked more like cottonwoods – but the silhouette of the shape was more poplar like, and didn’t have the rounded tops.

A little net searching led me to discover that the the tree is actually a Lombardy poplar – and it is a variation of the black cottonwood. The whole botanical name is Populus nigra sp. Italia. So it’s both a black cottonwood and a poplar – and I think now my curiosity is satisfied. Whatever they are, these stately trees form excellent windbreaks along pastures near Bishop.

Bishop Sierra Painting – First Snow – California landscape art by Karen Winters

“First Snow at Bishop”
9 x 12
Sierra Nevada oil painting – Bishop, California

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The first snow of the year falls on Mt. Tom and Basin Mountain, west of Bishop, California. The cold crisp morning was unforgettable as the storm clouds lifted to reveal a white mantle over the peaks. Alpenglow …. ahhhh. The wildflowers of the Owens Valley seemed to shiver in the predawn chill – and so did I!

My main outdoor show season is now over as I make plans to do winter plein air painting throughout the state – and to burrow into the studio to do some large paintings based upon previous plein air studies. These are good times, feeling creative and energetic.

I’m finishing up several commissions right now, but will have time to start on new ones as soon as these are complete.

Sierra Breezes Oil Painting – California Sierra Landscape by Karen Winters KWinters

Sierra Breezes
11 x 14 oil on canvas
Sierra oil painting

SOLD

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For the last few years, fall means visits to the Sierra and, at its feet, the Owens Valley. Not only do I love it for its serenity but also the exhilarating complementary color palette. This time of year everything is orange/gold and blue. Leaves tumble with every breeze that passes through. Sometimes a storm barrels through and turns a brilliantly colored tree into a sleeping skeleton in one night. My attempt in this painting was to capture a more gentle mood near Bishop – a lightly breezy day before the soon-to-arrive storms.

In a little less than 2 weeks, I’ll be taking some of my new work to the last Montrose Art Walk of the year. This will be my last outdoor show this season.