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!

Pacific Palisades Hillside – Will Rogers State Park by Karen Winters, California Impressionist

“California Summer Hillside – at Pacific Palisades, Will Rogers State Park”
Plein air painting 11 x 14 oil on stretched canvas.

Yesterday I enjoyed the company of the Allied Artists of the Santa Monica Mountains for a paint out at Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades.
I saw many faces I knew from the California Art Club, Artists of the Canyon, and other paint-out groups, and we all had a wonderful day enjoying the mild good weather and range of painting subjects.

It was a little breezy and I struggled getting my umbrella to shade my work but finally gave up and positioned my medium sized Yarka easel so that the sun wouldn’t strike it directly. Note to self: bring a sandbag next time for the umbrella and stand. It had been left in the other car.

Because I positioned myself at a trailhead I had the pleasure of talking with many hikers on that beautiful Saturday morning, including some who were quite knowledgeable about impressionism and the growing popularity of plein air painting. It really is undergoing a revival!

After the paintout we enjoyed a potluck lunch and shared stories about galleries, shows, teachers, art products and more. I always have a good time getting together with artists – for all our solitary pursuits we can also be gregarious.