In Los Angeles you can look almost anywhere and see rows of palm trees in the distance, lining a street. This group just happens to be adjacent to my house, which comes in handy for painting. The sunset was spectacular a few nights ago – presenting a veritable rainbow of hues from blue violet through pink, yellow and orange. If there ever was a subject that said “California” – this is it.
San Gabriel Mountains
8 x 10 inches oil on plein air panel
California is colorful all year long, not only in the springtime. Summer and fall wildflowers include buckwheat and other chapparal natives. It’s an earth-tone palette, full of greens, russets, umbers and golds. The buckwheat, when it dries, is a good match for burnt sienna.
I never tire of painting the tapestry of plant life that covers our rolling hills and mountains. The California Native Plant Society is a good resource for learning about our drought tolerant beauties.
Here’s how the painting might look in a dark frame that picks up the colors in the painting, with warm touches of coppery-gold.
I haven’t talked about framing too often here, but it’s true that the frame can have a big impact on how a painting looks. Compare how the same painting, on the same colored background appears in a gold carved frame. The dark frame creates a more rustic look, which might be appropriate for a home with western accents. The gold frame creates a lighter, more elegant appearance. Which do you think works best? Do you like seeing one of my paintings with framing suggestions, as opposed to just seeing the painting by itself?
Mt. Boney (from Satwiwa Park viewpoint, Conejo Valley)
16 x 20
Oil on canvas
My latest painting, finished just in time for the Artwalk in Thousand Oaks next weekend in the Conejo Valley.
Mt. Boney is part of the Santa Monica Mountain range, and is an imposing formation with sheer faces. I think it looks especially nice in afternoon light when the late sun reflects off the faceted planes of the rocks.
“Big Sur, Bixby Bridge”
16 x 20 oil on canvas
SOLD – painted on commission
This painting was commissioned as a surprise wedding gift for a very lovely bride to give to her bridegroom to commemorate the exact place where he proposed to her. She and I worked closely together to identify the exact spot where he popped the question. Then, after the painting was finished, approved and drying, the unexpected happened. The bridegroom, who also knew of my work, contacted me separately looking to buy a painting of the same location to give to the bride. Suddenly I had an O’Henry “Gift of the Magi”-type situation on my hands! I couldn’t tell him I wouldn’t sell him this painting he saw on my site– he’d think that odd. And if I told him it was sold, but he might buy somewhere else, so immediate was his need. Honesty and open communication always being the best policy, I contacted the bride and let her know about his urgent inquiry and she handled the situation gracefully with her betrothed. So he knew that there was a painting by me in their future but would have to wait to see what it was.
The painting was shipped last week and they opened their gift to each other last night â€”with champagne, strawberries and candlelight, I hope. Today there are two very happy nearlyweds, with a painting created with love, just for them, so they can always remember that very special day. And everyone lived happily ever after.
“When California Hills Turn Gold”
9 x 12 oil painting on plein air panel
See more of my paintings on my website
The winter season has almost departed and the bright fresh green of springtime is starting to leave some of our hills. Soon they will all be shades of brown and tan, creamy white with wild grasses with hints of violet and sienna. This transition is as predictable as the fall return of Santa Ana winds and the carpet of poppies that covers the foothills of the western Sierra.
California Landscape Spring Pastel Painting – Quiet Spring Reflections – Western Sierra Foothills – by Karen Winters
Quiet Spring Reflections
9 x 12 pastel on sanded paper
Western Sierra Foothills, near Visalia
I enjoy pastel painting although I don’t do it as often nowadays as oil. But I’m getting back into it. For this subject, I thought the soft spring foliage lent itself to the soft buttery texture of the pastel on sanded paper. I toned the paper first with a warm under painting, then let it dry, then painted into it directly with hard, then soft pastels, finally accented with pastel sticks.
Pastel has advantages over oil: there is less opportunity to make mud when working in layers alla prima. But there is the disadvantage of not being able to use transparent layers in the same way one can with watercolor and oil.
Surprisingly, I use many of the same techniques that I do in oil. Instead of doing drybrush, I drag the side of the pastel horizontally over a layer. Negative painting is much the same as with oil. Edges can be lost and found in much the same way. Getting the color right is the most difficult part. Virtually any color can be mixed with a warm and cool of each primary, plus black and white, in oil. In pastel you need to have a kaleidoscope of sticks unless you mix and blend some on the paper.
Whichever medium I choose, it’s still California impressionism and I think it still looks like something painted by me.
San Luis Obispo Plein Air Landscape Painting – When Sunrise Fills the Sky – SLO Art by Karen Winters
SOLD to a collector from Nipomo …
“When Sunrise Fills the Sky”
11 x 14 oil on linen plein air panel
Near Nipomo, San Luis Obispo County
Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting
I thought that I had photographed all the paintings I did last year at the CAC paint out, but I recently came across this one and thought I’d wait until spring to post it. It was painted near the Dana Adobe near Nipomo, as were the other two done that day at the California Art Club paint out.
In the early morning the sun broke through the moody fog with the promise of a beautiful day.
My paintings have been recently featured in an article “Top 15 oil painting blogs” on this site. Thanks to the site owner, Andrea.
Gaviota Springtime – California Art Club Gold Medal Show – California Landscape Oil Painting by Karen Winters
11 x 14 oil on plein air panel
Central Coast California
Saturday is the opening night for the Centennial of the California Art club’s Gold Medal Show. I’m very happy to have my painting, “Gaviota Springtime,” included in this historic exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The early members of the California Art Club include such legendary painters as William Wendt, Edgar Payne, Benjamin Brown, Franz Bishoff and many other early California impressionists. The CAC commitment to fine representational painting continues now into its second century, and I am honored to be a part of that tradition.
The Gold Medal show will be on display until April 24, and the museum is closed Monday and Tuesday, weekdays.
SOLD “Golden Moments – Back Bay Sunset”
6 x 6 inches
Oil on linen plein air panel
At the end of the day, the sun glistens on the water in Newport’s Back Bay. This miniature painting captures the feeling of the radiant light, shining on the wetlands.
“In The Vineyard Hills”
9 x 12 oil on wood panel
original oil painting
California’s rich Central Coast wine country was the inspiration for this tranquil scene.
Late afternoon light, and a fog bank drifted in from the sea brings moisture to the thirsty vines. Oaks and eucalyptus trees punctuate the hills with their stately beauty.