Windy Grove – Daily Painting

Windy Grove – 9 in x 12 in – Oil on canvasboard

In spite of yesterday’s strong winds we found some paintable bits of rural agricultural life very close to Los Angeles.

This painting depicts a stand of protective eucalyptuses bordering a citrus grove. Eucs are commonly planted as windbreaks, to protect delicate oranges or lemons from damaging storms. The mighty eucs were working extra hard on Sunday – groaning and swaying in high winds that drove brush fires in Moorpark, in the Simi Valley.

I’m enjoying painting bits of rural life that are still left in California, in the spirit of the scene painters of the thirties. And I’m really looking forward to painting more of these graceful gum trees.

Based on reading I’ve been doing (Kevin McPherson) and suggestions from Laura Wambsgans and others, I painted this with only three colors and white: ultramarine blue, cadmium red deep, cadmium yellow pale and titanium white.

Now … back to the easel …


  1. endment
    December 6, 2006

    this looks so much like my grandfather’s place in Walnut (near Pomona)
    I think I can feel the wind come off the picture :)

  2. Pamela
    December 6, 2006

    the colors are great… good choices

  3. Katherine
    December 7, 2006

    Karen – what really drew my eye with this one is that there is a much more defined sense of the different values within your design. I wonder if this was because you were working with a more limited palette? I know that when I did my workshop with Sally Strand (who is renowned for way with colour) she emphasised all the time to need to work on values all the way through a painting – very much a values first and colour second approach. I’m also wondering whether the switch from watercolours to oils is also having an impact on your rendering of values.

    Anyway – enough wondering from me – whatever it is – it’s working! Well done – great work

  4. Karen
    December 7, 2006

    Katherine, I think part of the reason is that I have been studying some of the works of Kevin McPherson very intensively lately, and he emphasizes working with what he calls the “light and shadow” families at the blocking-in stage, before moving on to defining color (temperature) differences within the values. I think it’s also easier to get a wider range of values in oils than it is in watercolor, because one is constantly working to get enough pigment on the paper to get rich, dark color in watercolor, knowing that most colors dry lighter. In oil, because everything is opaque, it’s much easier.

  5. tea
    December 7, 2006

    Amazing that you used only three colours! I like it :)


  6. lin
    December 7, 2006

    FANTASTIC, KAREN! The colors just sparkle!

  7. Linda T
    December 8, 2006

    Karen, this is wonderful. The sense of depth is terrific, and the shadows under the trees on the right really ring true. And the oil sketch of the sweet was awesome. It looks ready to eat.

  8. Loretta
    December 9, 2006

    Karen, this picture is stunning. I think it may be the best one you’ve ever posted.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>