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.

Rancho Camulos Orange Grove Heritage Valley oil painting

Rancho Camulos Orange Grove
14 x 18 inches
oil on canvas

More Heritage Valley Highway 126 paintings here

Interested in this painting?
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In the Santa Clara River Valley just northwest of Los Angeles (also known as Heritage Valley), there are numerous reminders that the old California of orange groves and agricultural fields is still very much with us. This scene was inspired by an orange grove growing near Rancho Camulos, along the highway 126 corridor.

I grew up in a house near orange groves, and I walked by them every morning on the way to the bus stop. There is something intoxicating about the scent of orange blossoms. I’m fortunate that our neighbor has numerous citrus trees in her back yard, and I still benefit from that wonderful smell whenever they are in bloom.

California Vineyard Painting – Morning at the Vineyard – Karen Winters

“Morning at the Vineyard
Plein Air Oil Painting
9 x 12 oil on linen panel”


See more of my vineyard paintings here

Last Saturday we spent an enjoyable but busy day at the Falkner Vineyard 2010 invitational paint out hosted by Segil Fine Art. The weather was fine, starting with a stunning pink clouded dawn (painting to follow in a few days), a hot air balloon launch, and the glory of vines turning golden.

I will be taking this painting – along with many others – to the Montrose Artwalk this Saturday, November 13 – corner of Ocean View and Honolulu. Look for me by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Pomegranate Study – Still Life by Karen Winters

Pomegranate Study
8 x 10 oil on linen panel (commission)

This pomegranate painting, a larger version of an earlier small study, was painted for a client who was looking for something bright and juicy for her dining room. I was happy to paint this larger one. Maybe one day I’ll paint it even larger still.

All of the rain clouds have left, now, revealing greening grasses and wondrous blue skies. The 10 day forecast doesn’t show precipitation, although our Sierra range could certainly use some more to fatten up the snow pack. I don’t mind rain, but I do like a few days of sunshine to break up the gray.

Maybe I’ll fit some plein air days in this weekend.

Poppy and Mandarin Still Life – California impressionist Karen Winters

Poppies and Mandarins
14 x 18 oil on canvas
Painted from life

The brilliant but delicate iceland poppies form a backdrop for the mandarin oranges. Or perhaps they were tangerines or clementines. I can never be sure about citrus.
There is some glare on this painting because it’s soaking wet, but I hope it conveys the general idea. I’ll shoot another picture in a week or so when it is dry.

It has been pouring rain here, which we dearly need. Tomorrow morning I hope that I wake to see snow on the Angeles Crest mountains. If so, it will be a good day to go out and paint a rare scene. These mountains are infrequently dusted, and sometimes subsequent rains wash it away if there’s not sufficient cold. Blue skies, white snow and a few scantily-clad sycamore trees still holding onto their leaves like fan-dancers protecting their modesty. Brrr.

My interview on Creative Liberty

Pomegranates and sunflowers
11 x 14 oil on canvas

I was interviewed yesterday on Creative Liberty, a wonderful blog about living creatively. Liz Massey, the blog owner and a creative coach asked me some good questions for her “In the Studio” series, and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk about my work flow, staying “unblocked” and keeping my creative fires lit. Click the “creative liberty” link to read it.

Sunday Sunshine – Karen Winters daily painting

Sunday Sunshine – 6″ x 6″ – watercolor with colored pencil accent
SOLD to a collector from Texas

Rather, this is the sunshine we WISH we had right about now. It’s been cold, wet and lightning is promised tonight. But I really can’t complain because this sort of weather is such a rare event and the gushing streams and wildflowers that follow will be glorious. In the meantime we’ll just snuggle up with an extra comforter and umbrella and wait until the sun breaks through.

This afternoon I painted this to remember the warmth of spring days yet to come. The lemon is from our tree and is presently full of new buds (if the rain doesn’t knock them off.)

Doing a painting like this is an entirely different experience from some of the bolder more expressive things I’ve posted recently. I’m not abandoning any style at the moment, I’m just exploring a range of techniques and looks. Painting something like this is a very quiet, meditative experience – using a smallish brush and taking quite a bit of time. Painting something like “Tumbling Down” for example, is an invigorating emotional experience, using a large brush and painting impulsively in a short period of time. They’re just … different experiences and sometimes one fits my mood more than another. You think maybe it has to do with caffeine? Hmmm … now there’s one to think about.

Edited to add: an art friend asked how I got the spotted effect in the lemon and how I did the edge of the lemon where the white of the paper is the bright spot.

The lemon was painted with multiple glazes of transparent watercolor – up to 5 layers, if I recall correctly. (Sometimes I forget when I’m in the flow of the moment.) The final glaze was a very pale orange and the uppermost spots were touched in with the tip of a small brush. The rougher spotty texture (toward the bottom of the lemon) comes from using a very light layer of colored pencil in the darks. The edge at the top of the lemon, where it meets the crystal, was just “painted around.” No masking was used.

Avocados – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Avocado & Leaves – 5 x 7 oil

Avocados from our overburdened tree – guacamole coming soon! This was painted from life this morning with actual sunshine streaming in my studio window!

I’m feeling better – finally – things are looking up.

Harvest – Still Life Daily Painting – Karen Winters

“Harvest” 8 x 10 oil

Persimmons are still in season around here, so I decided to do another still life including one. This is a lot looser than most of the oil paintings I’ve been doing, and I enjoyed the opportunity to try something different. This was painted from life using reasonably thick paint and larger brushes than those I normally use. I had intended to push the abstract qualities even farther, but this was about as painterly as I could manage at the moment. Next time I do a still life maybe I can nudge it even a little more in that direction. Although it’s still a month or more away, I’m beginning to get a few notions about what I want to learn and explore in 2008. Opinions about this different approach?

The Open Pomegranate – Karen Winters Daily Painting

The Open Pomegranate – 5 x 7 inches – oil on canvasboard

Yes, I know it is a little radical compared to yesterday’s more sedate persimmon and plumbago composition, but sometimes a girl’s just got to cut loose and do something different. I had purchased a few pomegranates to put in a still life arrangement and then I got the idea to break it open and see how I could convey the feeling of that juicy flesh and seeds scattering in all directions.

This was a great deal of fun to paint, as you can probably tell from the enthusiastic brush strokes. And I can’t really say what tomorrow will bring …