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


Although this painting is sold, find more Sierra Nevada paintings here

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 Light – Mt. Whitney Portal -Lone Pine, Sierra Nevada landscape oil painting

“Sierra Light”
Mt. Whitney Portal, Lone Pine
20 x 24 ” oil painting
Oil on linen

More Sierra Nevada paintings here

This is a painting from last fall’s trip to the Sierra. I did some studies on site to capture the light conditions on that day where a storm was moving in … and this was painted in studio from those references. Because the clouds were moving rapidly, occasionally there would be a break where a shaft of light would hit the high desert below. I found that “spotlight” very intriguing.

Lone Pine Plein Air Study – Sierra Landscape painting

Lone Pine (study)
6 x 8 oil on linen panel

More Sierra Nevada paintings here

I had hoped for a sunny day when we visited Lone Pine on one of our many Sierra trips last fall. But that time a storm was on its way in, wrapping the majestic peaks in shades of gray. But I was there and I wasn’t about to be discouraged. The muted tones actually added some interesting color that I wouldn’t have had any other way, and provided a soft contrast to the vivid yellow rabbitbrush which blooms that time of year.

I’m working on Sierra studio paintings based on this and other fall studies, and they’ll be posted over the next month or so.

By far the most annoying part of that day’s paint out was the swarm of flies that appeared as soon as I set up. I’m guessing there must have been free range cattle out there at some time – or where did they come from?

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

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


More Sierra Nevada paintings here

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 Nevada Oil Painting – Sierra Blush – Bishop California Sunrise Oil Painting

Sierra Blush, (Autumn morning near Bishop, California)
12 x 24 inches
Oil on Canvas

(Commission – sold)

This is my latest Sierra Nevada painting, painted on commission for a lovely young woman who lives in Ohio and whose brother is a guide in the Sierra. It has been so much of a pleasure to get to know her through the painting process, knowing that the painting will be a part of her family for many years to come.

The location is near Bishop, California, in late October, after the first light snow of the season.We got up very early to observe this scene (like 5:30 am) and it was worth it. The alpenglow light on the snow was heavenly. I could hardly wait to paint it. I know that I will be painting scenes like this again, most likely in a larger size. I think the panorama format really works for this type of a landscape.

Although this painting is sold, if you’d be interested in owning a painting of the Sierra Nevada,
please write

Sierra Storm – Sierra Nevada Oil Painting – California Landscape Painter Karen Winters

Sierra Storm
12 x 16 inches
Oil on linen panel

More Sierra Nevada paintings here

In the fall, storms begin to gather over the Sierra, offering dramatic lighting effects. This storm was breezing up and brought two days of downpour in its wake. We outran it and came back to paint another day. The sage and rabbit brush looked wonderful rimlit by the sun.

For more sierra paintings, click here

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High Desert California Landscape Painting – Owens Valley Grazing

“High Desert Grazing”
5 x 7 inch
oil miniature

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This small oil painting is a memory of our recent trip up into the eastern Sierra. Looking westward one sees the mighty Sierra Nevada range. Looking eastward (this view) is the Owens Valley, a high desert area where cattle and sheep grazing is common. I love the serene look of these wide open spaces, especially when storm clouds billow in the late afternoon light. This will be a study for a larger painting yet to come.

I hope that everyone had a great holiday with family and friends. We certainly did – it was wonderful seeing our children for such an extended period of time – always a treat to look forward to. We played games, feasted, toasted and enjoyed time together. One of my favorite gifts was to my husband and me from our kids – a getaway to a snowy place where we can take pictures, paint and enjoy the beauty of winter. We’re thinking maybe a return to Yosemite or perhaps the Sequoia area. Any good suggestions for accessible California places with cozy cabins and snowy scenes? We don’t ski anymore so that’s not a priority.

Aspen Sierra Morning – California Eastern Sierra Oil Painting

Aspen Sierra Morning
(near Bishop, Owens Valley, Eastern Sierras
16 x 20 oil on canvas

Because many of my Sierra/aspen/Owens Valley paintings have gone away to new homes, I decided to finish up another that I began last year, inspired by our Eastern Sierra trip. This painting features a grove of aspens caught in the earliest morning light. And I mean *really* early, when the color is intense and warm. That’s the time when more sensible people are snug in their beds, or enjoying their first cups of coffee in the kitchen, but the plein air painters and photographers are stomping around in the brush, looking for the best compositions and getting tangled up in barbed wire. (Yes, that happened to me in November, and it wasn’t pretty.)

Truck crash update, for those who are interested.
At Flintridge bookstore, seven of my ten paintings have been found, in various states of damage. All framing has been destroyed. Some of the watercolors survived, others will require significant repair, and the other (one of my favorites) was torn down the middle. The only acrylic – painted on a hard panel, came through ok. It will only need a brush off to remove some plaster dust, and a few touch-ups. The other two oil paintings are still buried, no doubt. On the positive side, all of those who were hospitalized have been discharged to their homes, and there were no more deaths. Large trucks have been banned on Angeles Crest Highway, at least temporarily, until legislative action can ban them permanently.

We watched the city council meeting last night via cable TV and were glad to see a good discussion of the options to prevent future calamities. And the council was very thorough in thanking everyone who helped in the aftermath, including those who sent letters of support and ideas. At the council meeting I did not hear an acknowledgment of Girl Scout, Malia Mailes, whose 46 slide powerpoint project outlined the disaster waiting to happen before the crash, and she was not mentioned in the round of hearty back-slapping. Perhaps it’s the fact that her report was horrifically prescient and is/was a source of embarrassment to our council who were unable to use her research to get any action. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that teenagers are usually characterized as feeling “immortal” and behaving as though nothing bad could happen to them. Yet here you have a teen sounding a clarion call and the adults patiently waiting for the state to throw them crumbs.

The burning question, which a member of the public raised at the meeting, was, why did it take so long, with repeated runaway truck “near misses” and finally two deaths to get some action? Clearly, the carefully worded requests for action from our city manager, as politely “by the book” as they may have been, fell on deaf ears with the regional CalTrans director who recently told a reporter he wasn’t going to spend any money on our requests. If our city representatives tolerated a runaround on this issue, which ended in fatalities, how will they respond to future needs? Will they have learned a little assertiveness from the experience? Perhaps the PR firm that they hired to manage the media and interviews on the day of the event can give them some helpful suggestions.

Here’s a helpful suggestion: Malia Mailes for City Council in two years, when she’s 18. She sounds like a go-getter, someone who is passionate, energetic and wants to get things done. We can use more of that around here.

California Desert Landscape Oil Painting – Anza Borrego Yucca

Yucca at Anza Borrego
(San Diego County)
9 x 12 oil on canvas

A visit to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park inspired this painting of yucca and desert wildflowers. When the rainfall is sufficient and in the right quantity and at the right time, the color is breathtaking, even though short-lived.

Tomorrow is the spring group show and sale of Allied Artists of the Santa Monica Mountains and Seashore, and I’ll be showing about 15 paintings including many that have not been exhibited before. The show starts at 11 and goes through 5 pm at Headwaters Corners, at the intersection of Topanga and Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mtns. If you get a chance come on out. I’m going to be finishing up my framing and packing for the rest of today. Come on out if you’re in the area. Art, beautiful weather, friendly artists and refreshments.

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California Desert Landscape – Owens Valley Oil Painting

Owens Valley Morning
12 x 16 inches
oil on canvas

The eastern Sierra Nevada is a place of many different textures, moods and biomes, depending where you look. Just a short distance from some of the cottonwood groves I’ve painted is this desert like area with sagebrush and other desert wildflowers. Being an Angeleno, I have to confess that the Owens Valley was not a desert before Mulholland secured (grabbed) the water rights for Los Angeles. And it is true that the DWP is restoring water to the area, which is helping to bring back some of the native flora and fauna.

If you look carefully in the background of this painting, off to the right, you’ll see some brushy trees. That’s where the Owens River is flowing in this location. The range in the background is the White Mountians.