Pear tree with fruit – oil painting by Karen Winters

Pear Tree at the Old Mill
12 x 9 oil painting on linen

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El Molino Viejo, in San Marino, California is an old adobe building where historically there was a grist mill. Growing around the far side of the building is a wonderful pear tree which continues to bear fruit in season. I’m guessing it’s a dwarf variety, and probably does not date back to the age of the building. But I think it adds a bit of old California charm to the location, along with the pomegranate trees. It suggests the kinds of trees that were abundant in California missions.

Huntington Gardens Tea Room and Rose Garden – San Marino

Huntington Gardens
Tea Room and Rose Garden
Oil Painting

11 x 14 inches – oil on canvas

This is a plein air painting that I did a few years ago, and somehow it escaped being photographed and posted to my blog. A recent conversation prompted me to revisit it and I discovered that it was missing from my site.

Not too long ago we renewed our Huntington membership and I’m looking forward to visiting again when the camellias are in bloom. On a trip a few weeks ago, they had a California landscape exhibit which I enjoyed, along with other permanent collection work in the Paul and Heather Sturt Haaga gallery. If you live in Southern California and you’re not a member of the Huntington, what are you waiting for?

Lacy Park San Marino Plein Air California Oil Painting – Fourth of July 2009

Lacy Park on the Fourth of July 2009
9 x 12 plein air painting

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Remember that old “Chicago” song … “Saturday, in the park, I think it was the fourth of July.”
Well, this time it really was! My husband and I have gone to Lacy Park in San Marino through the years, but it’s never livelier than on the fourth when everyone turns out for picnicking and fireworks.

There was so much color and excitement everywhere I hardly knew where to begin. Finally I settled on this familiar view of the palms surrounding the big lawn. By the time we left there was hardly a patch of green grass to be seen.

For those people who stopped by to take a peek at my work in progress, here’s the finished version, soon to be signed and framed.

Langham Huntington Hotel Wedding reception – plein air painting – Karen Winters

Courtyard Wedding Reception, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 at the Huntington Langham Hotel
Original plein air painting, 9 x 12 oil on linen on board

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of painting at the Huntington Langham Hotel in San Marino as a participant in an “artist in residence” program. I was the participant sponsored by the Segil Fine Art gallery in Monrovia. Because a wedding reception was planned for the early evening, I passed the afternoon painting indoors and brought a photo reference to work from. As night fell, wedding guests filtered in from the ceremony which was held in the garden. Although my painting time was up, I couldn’t leave, transfixed by the beautiful party. Within a short period of time it became very difficult to see the guests, so I used a little imagination to fill in the spaces and to make up for my myopia.

I don’t know the happy couple but perhaps some day they will google their wedding date and the name of the Huntington Hotel and find this memory of a very special occasion, and I hope it will bring them a smile. I think I heard someone say that the bride grew up in Shanghai, but that was only a snippet of a conversation overheard in passing.

And yes, I would love to do this again. So if you’re planning a wedding and want a plein air painter to create a unique fine art memory of your event – in a garden, a meadow, a beach or any special place, please feel free to ask.

Huntington Hotel Palms – Pasadena – Karen Winters Daily Painting

“Huntington Hotel Palms” – 9 x 12 oil on canvas

Paintout report:

It was a picture perfect day in Southern California, although it didn’t start out that way. We had been getting a little early taste of “June Gloom” which meant that a low marine layer hovered over much of the southland until it burned off around 12:30. I had anticipated this happening, so I didn’t start to paint the sky until afternoon – I spent my time blocking in the trees, lawn and palms, knowing that I could change the color to represent the warm light when the sun came out. A purple jacaranda tree had started blooming, and some bird of paradise plants provided welcome contrast to all the green.

We arrived around 10:30 and I found my chosen spot on the Terrace balcony – right outside the tea room. I had a panoramic view of the great lawn and this clump of palms attracted my attention. The paintout was organized by the Laura Segil Gallery as a kickoff to the Huntington Artist in Residence program. One of the most enjoyable parts of the day was taking time to chat with all the passersby who were strolling after Mothers’ Day brunch or perhaps were guests of the hotel. The hotel is the former Ritz Carlton, but is now part of the Langham Hotel chain.

Altogether, a delightful way to spend the day. Since my two kids are out of town, we will defer Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days (and a passel of birthdays) until we are all together again sometime in June. But they did send me a beautiful big bouquet of roses which I adore.

Autumn Glow – Japanese Garden at Huntington Gardens – Daily Painting – Karen Winters

“Autumn Glow”
16 x 20 oil on canvas

The Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library, Gallery and Botanical Gardens – in all its autumn glory. This painting is now being shown at the Chevy Chase Country Club in a special show themed “The Artist Travels.” Some of our paintings are from far away lands and others just evoke the feeling of distant lands. If you’re in Los Angeles, come join us at our reception this Friday, May 9, from 4 to 6 pm.

And speaking of shows, please come say hello May 17-18 at the Sierra Madre Art in the Park event, the weekend after next. I’ll have a lot of new work to show, plus prints and cards as well.

Other local must-sees if you’re in LA.

Visit the John Salminen exhibit at the San Marino Gallery in Pasadena. John is a spectacular watercolorist and his show is a visual feast. Design is his forte, and although his watercolors are very detailed and realistic, somehow they are abstract at the same time. The San Marino Gallery is at 70 N. Raymond Ave.

See the Gold Medal Show of the California Art Club at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Hundreds of oustanding paintings will be on display daily for another week and a half or so.

Pink Magnolia painting – Huntington Gardens Art – Karen Winters

Pink Magnolia – Huntington Gardens
16 x 20 oil on canvas

This is another new painting I’m taking to the Huntington for Art Matters (see yesterday’s post for information on the event this coming weekend.

In the spring, the Huntington magnolias are a sight to behold. Their delicacy reminds me of the inside of pink conch shells. They are the very emblem of the new season. My objective in this painting was to focus on one unfolding blossom – a plant portrait, so to speak. By using different edge softness and manipulating color it was my goal to make the bloom look as though it was 3D, breaking through the picture plane, enticing the viewer to draw closer.

One of these days I’m going to have to get a small pink magnolia for our garden. We used to have a huge tree that bore white blossoms, but it died due to an oak fungus that must have been dormant in the soil.

So, magnolias are very dear to my heart. I hope this one will go to another magnolia lover.

Magnolia Flowers – Huntington Gardens Oil Painting by Karen Winters

“White Magnolias” 16 x 20 oil on canvas
SOLD at the Art Matters show

The moment I saw these beauties at the Huntington Gardens and Library, I just knew that I had to paint them. They were luminous in the morning light – exactly the kind of subject matter that excites me. This will be one of the paintings that I am bringing to the Art Matters show, which opens this Friday night, May 2 at the Huntington in San Marino. Friday night is a special ticketed event. The show will be open to the general public with gardens admission on Saturday and Sunday. This is also a lot “tighter” than many of the paintings I’ve been doing of late, but the subject matter seemed to require it. I have another botanical which will be there for the show and I’ll post it soon, along with some other paintings.

Last Saturday night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Gold Medal show of the California Art Club at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. What an exquisite treat to be around such beautiful works. I will be returning many many times in the next few weeks to savor the show while it is still hanging. A number of my painter friends have works in the show. Almost everyone who attended said it was the best one ever.

Foo Dog

While I work on some large paintings, here’s a small watercolor sketch of a lion dog, also known as a foo dog. It is one of two guardians of the new Chinese garden, opening very soon at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino. According to this article the one I drew is the female because she has a cub underneath her paw. The pair of foo dogs stand by the pathway that leads to the new feature of these beautiful gardens.

Live Oak and Aloes – Huntington Gardens Plein Air Painting

Oak and Aloes – 9 x 12 oil on canvas

In the desert garden area of Huntington Botanical Gardens there is a mature live oak tree surrounded by exotic desert and tropical plants, many of which have an origin in South Africa. Winter is the time for aloes to bloom – and their red flower stalks are holiday cheerful amidst the green of succulents and cacti. Nature puts on a fabulous show every day of the year.

An epiphyllum (orchid cactus) nestled between the trunk and the branches – but they will bloom much later in the year.

In Southern California we are finally in the middle of autumn. Liquidambar trees are turning, the gingkos are fully yellow, sycamores are a blend of green and gold and some trees are already bare. It takes us a long time to get around to the seasons, but we try to do a good job with it when we do.