California Wine Country Vineyard Oil Painting – by California impressionist Karen Winters

“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.

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California Central Coast Plein Air Oil Painting – Farm near Nipomo

“Farm Near Nipomo”
8 x 10 oil painting
Central Coast, California, San Luis Obispo County

to a collector in Buffalo, NY

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This is the 2nd of three plein air paintings I did last spring in Nipomo, near the Dana Adobe. If you look at my previous painting posted a few days ago, you’ll see some trees and buildings in the distance. This is a “closeup” of one of those clusters of habitation. Because I wasn’t inclined to move my whole setup, I simply changed my point of view to “zoom in” so to speak, and continued with a new field study.

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

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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.

Sierra Landscape Oil Painting – Bishop Windbreak, Owens Valley by Karen Winters

“Bishop Windbreak, Owens Valley”
California Sierra Landscape Oil Painting
16 x 20 oil on canvas

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The first time that I painted this stand of trees, I thought they were aspens. The leaves were similar in shape, but the trunks are not the characteristic aspen white. The trunks looked more like cottonwoods – but the silhouette of the shape was more poplar like, and didn’t have the rounded tops.

A little net searching led me to discover that the the tree is actually a Lombardy poplar – and it is a variation of the black cottonwood. The whole botanical name is Populus nigra sp. Italia. So it’s both a black cottonwood and a poplar – and I think now my curiosity is satisfied. Whatever they are, these stately trees form excellent windbreaks along pastures near Bishop.

Twin Lakes Bridgeport Sierra Oil Painting – Autumn Cottonwoods

“Twin Lakes, Bridgeport, California – Autumn Cottonwoods”
12 x 16 Sierra oil painting
oil on canvas

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These backlit cottonwoods at Twin Lakes in the Sierra Nevada were a perfect frame for the cool blue scene beyond. Although we didn’t take the time to fish (too many things to paint!), there were a lot of fishermen out in boats and fishing from the shore. An absolutely beautiful spot, and popular, I’m sure, with many looking for rainbow and brown trout. We checked out the little village at Twin Lakes Resort and will no doubt be back for a longer stay.

This has been an exciting few weeks with openings of several small works shows, at the Segil Gallery in Monrovia and the Silvana Gallery in Glendale, California. Our local sycamores are now turning color and it’s time for me to get out and paint some studies while waiting for layers to dry on my commissioned paintings.

High Sierra landscape miniature oil painting – This Side of Paradise – by Karen Winters

“This Side of Paradise”
Bishop, California
Eastern Sierra oil painting
6 x 8″ miniature
Oil on linen panel

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This little study features an area along highway 395 near the Sherwin grade, as the road climbs out of Bishop and leads up to June Lake and Mammoth Lakes.
In October the aspens are starting their transition from green to gold, and the first dusting of snow can be seen on the high peaks. The grazing meadows have turned golden and fairly glow in the afternoon sun.

This painting is for sale. It was photographed under bright incandescent light, indoors. It may look warmer or cooler on your monitor.

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Sunset Walk – Los Osos Central Coast California Oil Painting by Karen Winters KWinters

Sunset Walk
Los Osos, Central California
Oil Painting
9″ x 12″
oil on canvas on hardboard

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

When we were in the Central Coast area of California last spring, this scene suddenly caught my eye as we were driving back from Montana de Oro. The towering eucalyptus trees (a favorite of mine) framed a long walkway into the sunset. Although it’s a simple composition, it puts me back in that place with the dusty road, the sweet smell of gum trees, the haze in the air and the sun lowering and glowing through it all.

Last Sunday, we had the rare opportunity to watch a demonstration by noted painter Mian Situ for the California Art Club. It’s one of the many things that I really appreciate about being a member – there are so many occasions to learn something new and to be inspired by the “greats.” In addition to doing a masterful portrait in a very short period of time, Mian’s endearing personality and generous sharing of information made the occasion all the more special.

Carpinteria Bluffs Painting – Central California landscape by Karen Winters – KWinters

Carpinteria Bluffs Sunset
Oil Painting 8 x 10

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The end of the day at Carpinteria bluffs provides an opportunity to work out with the secondary colors – orange, violet and green. The Santa Ynez mountains glow in the fading light.

Ecologically, this is described as a coastal sage environment. Typically you will find black sage, white sage, California buckwheat (the reddish brown plant, in fall) as well as toyon and brittlebrush.

The Spanish colonists named the area Carpinteria because this was a place where Native American Chumash people once built their sea-going canoes (using tar which oozes naturally from the sea bed.) Carpinteria is spanish for “carpenter shop.”

Yosemite Half Dome Oil Painting – California Sierra Landscape – Karen Winters KWinters

Half Dome, Yosemite
Oil painting on canvas
8 x 10 inches


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In the summer, Half Dome, the iconic representation of Yosemite (it’s even their park logo) rises about a meadow filled with marshy grasses and strewn with wildflowers. When we were there in mid summer, I noticed something moving not far from me in the meadow. Suddenly, a large mule deer stood up. He had four prongs on each antler so I guess that would make him an 8-point buck. After looking around and seeing us, he casually walked a few yards, then settled down again. I got a decent photo of him. Maybe I’ll paint that some day.

Sierra Breezes Oil Painting – California Sierra Landscape by Karen Winters KWinters

Sierra Breezes
11 x 14 oil on canvas
Sierra oil painting


More Sierra Nevada paintings here

For the last few years, fall means visits to the Sierra and, at its feet, the Owens Valley. Not only do I love it for its serenity but also the exhilarating complementary color palette. This time of year everything is orange/gold and blue. Leaves tumble with every breeze that passes through. Sometimes a storm barrels through and turns a brilliantly colored tree into a sleeping skeleton in one night. My attempt in this painting was to capture a more gentle mood near Bishop – a lightly breezy day before the soon-to-arrive storms.

In a little less than 2 weeks, I’ll be taking some of my new work to the last Montrose Art Walk of the year. This will be my last outdoor show this season.