Malibu Creek State Park Landscape Painting – California art by Karen Winters

“Malibu Creek Afternoon Hike”
12 x 16 oil on canvas

This painting will be exhibited at the Allied Artists show at Headwaters Corner, Malibu on Sunday, March 29 – unless someone wants to purchase it before then!

More California landscapes here.

After I painted at Solstice Canyon last week, we took a hike at one of our favorite and restful state parks, Malibu Creek. This is the view after you leave the parking lot and head west into the park. I think it’s especially beautiful in the spring, when the wildflowers are starting to bloom.

I had a lot of fun using the palette knife in painting this one. Most of the time I paint with brushes. Occasionally, I’ll do a painting with only knife. On very rare occasions I’ll use both – each for what it does best. This was one of those times.

Here’s a detail of just a part of the cliff. I think it makes a nice abstract all on its own. Click to enlarge.

Solstice Canyon Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting

solstice canyon malibu oil painting
Solstice Canyon, Malibu (on the bridge up the trail)
9 x 12
oil on canvas

Click image to see a larger, higher quality picture

Saturday I had the pleasure of going with a group of painting friends to Solstice Canyon, a park in Malibu in the Santa Monica Mountains. When we woke up in the morning (early) it was very dark outside and I came to realize that it wasn’t just our daylight saving time change – the sky was heavily overcast. I debated going or not going, because I generally prefer to paint spring scenes under beautiful clear skies. But I decided to go paint anyway, thinking that maybe it would be a 2-panel day. One before the burnoff and one later.

As it turned out, the overcast skies never really cleared, but there was something about the silvery look and cool blue light that really appealed to me. And it’s a look that I might not have gotten on a typical sunny Malibu day.

In the earliest spring, only a few of the trees had put on their new foliage so a great deal of light came through to illuminate the ground. I can imagine that with a full summer canopy only patches of warm, brilliant light would appear. This is what I love about plein air painting. Even when you have painted a scene before, it’s never the same twice. The weather is different, or the time of day, or the season, and each of those factors interact to create different looks and moods.

Here’s a work in progress shot

California Sycamore Springtime Landscape Painting

Sycamore Spring
11 x 14
oil on canvas

For a few brief weeks in the spring, sycamore trees rapidly put out new growth and are quickly covered with a veil of palest green. This beautiful transformation doesn’t last long, and the leaves quickly turn deep green and expand to the size of a hand.

If you’ve noticed that I’m painting the Santa Monica mountains a lot lately, it’s because spring in this wildflower covered area is truly glorious, and … I’m getting ready for a spring show with the Allied Artists of the Santa Monica mountains and seashore. The date is March 29, a Sunday, from 11 to 4 at Headwaters Corner, which is the intersection of Old Mulholland Drive and Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you’re in So Cal, come say hello.

Thousand Oaks Conejo Valley Sunset Oil Painting – Karen Winters

Sunset Splendor
Thousand Oaks at Satwiwa Park
9 x 12 oil on linen panel painting

Last weekend we enjoyed a beautiful sunset out in Thousand Oaks, in the Santa Monica Mountains near the Satwiwa Village Cultural Center and Boney Mountain. Slight rainfall has made the landscape green with a down of annual rye grass, but the wildflowers have not yet emerged. The sycamores (not seen here) are already pushing out small green leaves. The color was just stunning in the Conejo Valley as twilight came.

Today my dear husband and I are celebrating 35 years of marriage. What a wonderful adventure it has been, and will continue to be. He is my best friend and love, outstanding father to our two grown kids, supporter of all my wild dreams and ambitions, and romantic sharer of sunsets (like this one.)

Ladyface Mountain Agoura Painting by California Impressionist Karen Winters

“Lovely Ladyface”
5 x 7 inch oil on canvas on board.

Write me for more information about this special little painting in the plein air style.

I’m working on some larger paintings at the moment, so here is one from my archives that I haven’t posted before. It’s a spring view of Lady Face (or Ladyface) Mountain near Agoura and Thousand Oaks, California. Dressed in fresh spring garb, the mountain is a beautiful part of the Santa Monica Mountain range.

Although this painting is sold, I’m happy to paint something like it again as a commission. 

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See more of my paintings on <a href=””>my website</a>.

Matilija Poppies – California Impressionist Botanical Flower Oil Painting

Matilija Poppies Trio
11 x 14 oil on canvas

These papery white beauties were growing near the Serra Center in Malibu one blustery summer day. The exciting thing about painting white flowers is enjoying all the colors they pick up from their environment.

This painting blurs the line between abstraction and realism and I hope that it is successful in that effort. I was impressed by something I read recently by Marilyn Simandle (watercolorist and oil painter.) In her book “Contagious Enthusiasm” she says ““If a painting has too much detail it is as if someone is dominating a conversation and if a painting is too abstract it is like someone speaking in a foreign language.” I thought that was such an interesting metaphor for finding the “sweet spot” between realism and abstraction. The thought inspired me as I worked on this painting.

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.

Oak in the Meadow – Santa Monica Mountains – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Oak in the Meadow 12 x 16 inch oil on canvas

Late afternoon light streams across a meadow dotted with oak trees. The glow reminded me of a long ago time in a peaceful place.
In real life, the place is the Santa Monica Mountains – a meadow not far from Malibu Creek State Park. The distant mountain range takes on a violet cast as the sun descends. Soon, even the wildflowers will be covered with deep shadows. Don’t you just want to sit under that tree and listen to the calls of the red-winged blackbirds?

May at Malibu Creek – Karen Winters Daily Painting – Art

“May at Malibu Creek”
11 x 14 pastel on board

This week has been another week of preparation for a show – this Sunday, June 1 at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. So I haven’t had a lot of extra time for painting but I will try to make up for it, soon.

This is another favorite scene of mine from Malibu Creek State Park. The long lazy trail winds back through the spring grasses, which are beginning to turn golden here and there. Wildflowers decorate the hillsides with swaths of color, and the afternoon glow kisses the chapparal-covered mountainsides.

I was reading a website recently that was extolling the beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains. This area is so close to urban Los Angeles, yet it might as well be out in the wilderness. There is so much natural texture and beauty here – a painter’s delight.

The other day I was sitting in the car in the parking lot while my husband ran into OSH for a few hardware bits. Rather than wrap myself up in an art magazine, I just gazed for a long time at the Verdugo Hills and the clouds drifting above it. I challenged myself to see as many colors and values as I could. Art is not only made with brush or pastel in hand. Sometimes it gestates by just our attentive seeing.

Malibu Creek Afternoon by Karen Winters – oil painting – Santa Monica Mountains

“Malibu Creek Afternoon” 16 x 20 oil on canvas

See more of my Malibu paintings here

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of visiting Malibu Creek State Park, deep in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains. While our children were growing up we made many visits to ponds and hiking trails throughout the range, but we never visited this beautiful place. Sycamores line the banks of the creek (they’re all green now) but I’m planning return visits in the summer and fall to see how the landscape changes. This point of view is from the bridge by the visitor’s center, if you know the area. The scene depicted is about 3:30 in the afternoon.

Last week I enjoyed taking a watercolor workshop from Dale Laitinen, which was excellent. I learned a lot not only about different watercolor techniques but about abstract design and composition. I’ll be posting some of those in the next few days. Right now I’m trying to compile a list of paintings to enter in various shows, and to prep for a number of sales.

More later