Malibu Monuments – Malibu Creek State Park oil painting by Karen Winters

Malibu Monuments
20 x 24 inches
oil on canvas

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See more of my Malibu paintings here

Malibu Creek State Park as seen from a high overlook – on one of the highways leading into the area. In the early springtime, the grasses are just starting to green up. These peaks are well known landmarks in the area.

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.

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.

Dreamy Drifting at Malibu Creek – new painting art by Karen Winters

“Dreamy Drifting at Malibu Creek” – 11 x 14 – pastel on board

Today I had the pleasure of taking a workshop with master pastellist Bruce Trentham, and this was the result. I had missed a demo by him several months ago, so this was a good opportunity to see him at work.

It was surprisingly similar to working in oil – much more than watercolor. The pigment is formed into sticks rather than being applied with a brush, but the manner of working – from dark to light and using opaque layers in a series of refinements and corrections – felt very familiar.

I think that I will be exploring pastel more – not to the exclusion of oil and watercolor, of course – but as a way to treat a subject quickly and in a painterly way.

When it comes right down to it, most of painting is about composition, value, shape, color and so forth. Whether one uses a brush or a pastel stick is not the main thing – and the principles of painting are the same for all color media that I’ve experienced so far.

For this painting I used a variety of different brands of pastel – from hard square ones to extremely soft and buttery ones. Pastel pencils helped with ome of the fine line work of the branches.

And yes, a pastel work is generally called a painting, not a drawing!

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

Malibu Landscape Oil Painting – Creekside in Malibu

Creekside in Malibu
(Malibu Creek State Park)
11 x 14
oil on linen panel

Malibu Creek, in the Santa Monica Mountains, is swelling with winter rains, and the water is nourishing the surrounding lands. This painting celebrates the return of spring in one of our most beautiful local areas, Malibu Creek State Park.

This is an area that I love to visit and paint over and over again. The creek has many different moods depending upon the season and the weather. To see more of my malibu creek paintings, visit this link.

We’ve had a few days of sunshine here, but the rain is headed back again tomorrow. I don’t mind it too much because I know it means a fantastic springtime full of wildflowers. But I do thrive on the beautiful clear skies the way the weather was yesterday. Studio work is fun but plein air painting is the best.

This weekend I’m looking forward to welcoming some visitors to my studio who are interested in seeing some prints of my work. I think it’s time to put aside the brushes for a moment and rediscover the vacuum cleaner.

Malibu Meadow Plein Air California Landscape Oil Painting

Malibu Meadow
8 x 10 oil on canvas on hardboard
(Click image to enlarge)

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More of my malibu creek paintings at this link

I painted this in the spring, when the meadows of the Santa Monica Mtns were still green, but never got around to finishing it up. Now that the summer/fall show season is starting to wind down, I have time to revisit some of my field studies and bring them to completion, like this one. This is a meadow near one of the grassland trail entrances to Malibu Creek State Park

Mark your calendars for the annual Pasadena Art Walk, Saturday, October 10.

Way of the Oak – California Impressionist Landscape Oil Painting of Oak Tree on Trail – by Karen Winters

“The Way of the Oak”
12 x 16 oil on canvas

See more Pasadena area paintings here

This graceful old oak arches over a trail on Eaton Canyon, beckoning the hiker to walk under the arch and continue their journey. Scenes like this are typical of trails all over California, though. From the Arroyo Seco of Pasadena, the Cerro Gordo campgrounds of California’s Central Coast, the equestrian trails of La Canada, where I live, and the trails of Irvine Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Agoura, and more. I’ve seen so many places like this that it is truly iconic of California, especially in the springtime when the grasses are still fresh and only beginning to turn to gold.

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?

Winging Home – Karen Winters Daily Painting

“Winging Home” 16 x 20 oil on canvas (Zuma Beach – Malibu)

Today was a wonderful day in so many ways. The reception took place as planned and I had the opportunity to visit for awhile with friends old and new. My college roommate, Bobbi, came with her husband and mom and we have vowed to set aside some time to catch up on all our lives. Some of our clients came to join in the fun as did new friends like Holly the creekhiker who I’ve been enjoying through her blog. Our son Michael came up to spend the day with us and that was great, too. Labelle Kel is in Chicago at Northwestern, but she was with us in spirit. We had a very good turnout and I think that everyone had a good time, too. I know I sure did.

I didn’t paint today since we were busy meeting and greeting everyone, so tonight I pulled out a reference photo of Zuma Beach generously offered by my good friend Wendee who is designer and teacher at Art Center. I am indeed blessed to have so many talented and creative friends. My roommate Bobbi, mentioned above, is an outstanding writer and PR consultant; Holly is a marvelously talented glassworker and TV producer, and our friend Jeannie Poole, who also visited today, is a wonderful musician who has composed and conducted symphonies.

And I am eagerly looking forward to Wednesday when a group of my paint out friends will be having their weekly paint out at Descanso and making the trek up the hill to visit our little gallery.

Now, about this painting.

I confess that the last time I painted a seascape in oil I was about 14-15 years old and in high school. I took oil painting lessons for a few summers and occasionally painted on Saturdays until the academic schedule got too tough, and then I gave it up. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had rigorous training back then, rather than casual hobby type lessons. The road not taken, sigh. College came, and marriage and work and a family and so many good things. And there have been many summers between then and now. But I have rediscovered my bliss and intend to follow it all the rest of my days. Who is “winging home?” I am. Back to what did and always will bring me joy – painting.

Are you following your bliss? (as Joseph Campbell would have said.) If not, what are you waiting for?