Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Cottage – Central Coast California Watercolor painting by Karen Winters

Thanks to EBSQ for picking my painting, “Santa Barbara Cottage” for Art of the Day this past Saturday

This 11 x 15″ painting, when matted, will fit perfectly into a 16 x 20 frame.

Road Trip

“Napa Purple House – sketchbook entry – 4″ x 6” – watercolor and felt tip pen – orig. not for sale – print available

This weekend we made the trek to the SF Bay area to visit with our daughter before she heads back to business school in the fall. We had a great time brunching in the Marina district, visiting Mt. Tamalpais and hiking in the woods, dining on tapas, seeing some Shakespeare, more brunching in Napa and visiting a winery. I sketched and painted along the way, so here’s a quick page from my sketchbook, done at brunch on Sunday. Yes, this house really was painted bright purple with blue accents. It was across the street from a charming cafe, and I was fortunate to get a window seat to sketch this souvenir while chatting and munching.

Beside still waters

“Beside Still Waters” – 12″ x 16″ – oil on canvas

Inspired by the 23rd Psalm, this painting of a row of eucalyptuses and deciduous trees beside still waters was an experiment using a more colorist approach than I have attempted in the past. It’s a potential new direction for me. What do you think?

Pasadena City Hall

“A Bright New Day” – (Pasadena City Hall) 9 x 12 oil – SOLD

More Pasadena Paintings here

A week ago Sunday the members of the California Art Club assembled at Pasadena’s City Hall for a plein air paint out to celebrate the rejuvenation and retrofitting of this revered local landmark. I don’t usually paint architectural subjects, but I enjoy challenges and this one was a good one. Compounding the challenge was the changing light, which is always a factor in plein air work. During the hours that I worked on this – from 1 -5 pm or so, the facade became more radiant and glowing, which prompted opportunities to add impressionistic color.

A week later, after the painting was dry, we returned to the same venue for a show and sale. The City Hall painting went home with a collector, as did this painting of Eaton Canyon, completed on a paintout earlier the same week.


To see more Pasadena paintings that are still for sale, go to My Gallery Site.

Brand 36 Show – coming fall 2007

“My Offering – My Confession” – watercolor on paper 22 x 30

I got notification today that my painting (above) has been accepted into Brand 36, The Brand Library and Art Center’s national “Works on Paper” show. Some of you who are regular readers of this blog might recognize the painting as very similar to Ofrenda, which I painted on Yupo in November of 2006. That small painting served as a starting point for this larger work. There were 650 entries, so I’m very honored to have my work chosen for the exhibition beginning Saturday, October 6 and continuing through November 17.

I am very excited about this opportunity to show my work in a new (to me) venue. The theme of the show is “Secrets and Confessions” – that of which you do not speak. I didn’t have anything particularly juicy to confess in an artistic form – other than my unnatural addiction to buying art supplies, which is probably rather common among artists, and not at all salacious. Because the show encompasses the time of the year in which the Dia de Los Muertos falls – I was inspired by the idea of someone visiting the cemetery and to make a confession as an offering. Who is she confessing to? And what is she saying? I will leave that story to your own imagination.

It’s been a very exciting few days for me. Yesterday I enjoyed my first group exhibition and sale with the California Art Club and two of the five paintings I brought found homes with collectors. More about that event tomorrow … time for me to get back to painting …

Roses at Twilight

“Roses at Twilight” (Descanso Gardens) – 9 x 12 oil on canvasboard – SOLD

Last night we went back to Descanso Gardens to meet my artpal Wendee for a picnic and to do a little plein air painting at “golden hour.” I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems they’re making golden hour shorter and shorter these days. I painted for about 45 minutes – I got the block in finished (this was after about 15 minutes) and then went on to start to refine the image, but the light had changed so drastically that finishing it on site was impossible. Wendee will vouch for this, that when I threw in the towel because of the light change, I was ambivalent as to whether or not I could make anything of it at home. But this experience tells me not to give up on a painting just because it’s at an awkward stage (kind of like raising teenagers, so I’ve heard.) So I put it aside and took a fresh look at it this morning in the studio, and I’m content with the results.

Just for fun, I put it in a plein air frame (a scan) to see how it would look. I think it really helps set it off.

This weekend I’ll be showing my Pasadena paintings with the California Art Club at the Pasadena City Hall from 3 – 6 pm. If you’re in LA, please stop by and say hello.

Cobb Sunset Trail – New Gallery Site

“Cobb Sunset Trail” – 12 x 16 – oil on canvas

After a certain amount of procrastination, I’ve finally organized some of my favorite paintings (including this brand new one) into a gallery website separate from this blog. If you’d like to have a look, visit Karen Winters Fine Art or click the New Gallery Site icon in the right hand sidebar. I will be updating that site regularly, but I wanted to get something in place. If you find any links that don’t work, please let me know.

I’ve just joined two local art associations, the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association and The California Art Club and look forward to getting to know other artists and participating in paint outs and learning from the many fine artists who share their knowledge so generously. We are fortunate to have a lively and active arts community in the city, and I’m hoping to participate in every way that I can.

As a matter of fact, I’ve already taken part in two events at the SGFAA – I entered a watercolor painting for their July “Americana” show and was delighted to find that it won first prize. I’m sorry, I’ll have to wait until I visit the gallery to take a picture and post it. I framed it the night before it was due and neglected to scan it first. The other event, last Sunday was a wonderful demonstration by Joseph Stoddard, whose loose watercolors are a delight to behold. If you’re in the So. Cal. area, check out this group.

This Sunday I’m going to be taking part in a California Art Club paint out at Pasadena City Hall in honor of the refurbishment of their classic building, bringing it up to seismic standards and re-beautifying it as well. I’m really looking forward to the event and hoping that the day won’t be a scorcher.

Until then, I’ll be busily painting. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Eaton Canyon Morning

“Eaton Canyon Morning” 9 x 12 – oil on hardboard – SOLD

This morning was delightfully overcast and cool for an hour or so while I painted this in Eaton Canyon, in the northern part of Pasadena. The wash is bone dry and even the random grasses seemed to be struggling for whatever meager water they may find under the gravel and boulders.

I’m really looking forward to going back in the late afternoon to paint some of those shadows. I’ve painted the same area before in watercolor (below), but not in oil. Another day, another season, another medium – it’s a whole new experience. (And this time I didn’t see or hear anything scarier than a covey of quail!)

Painted this last September – “San Gabriel Sunset” – watercolor

Rosarium Sunset

“Rosarium Sunset” 8 x 10 oil on canvasboard

On the heels of yesterday’s plein air outing at the arroyo, we went to Descanso Gardens at sunset today for some more painting and photographing. Descanso is open Thursday nights for the months of July and August. I wait all year for this opportunity to see the beautiful gardens at “golden hour” – the loveliest time (other than dawn.)

This represents one of the paths lined with rose bushes. Roughing in the painting took about an hour, from 615 t0 715, and I added finishing touches (such as the sky) after I got home. At that time of day the light was changing so rapidly there was not much point in painting after an hour had elapsed. I finished it off at home, refinining edges, adjusting things. The above painting represents the colors as they really are under room light conditions. The photographs below are more bluish, representing shady daylight conditions.

I promised some people that the very next time I went out painting with my lightweight easel that I would take pictures of the shelf in closeup, so here they are. I made a cardboard mock-up to work out the dimensions, then gave it to my husband who cut it out of 1/4″ masonite. There are no supports underneath the shelf other than two little L brackets to reinforce the holes. It sits on the easel by a friction-fit.

Arroyo Dawn – Daily Painting

“Arroyo Dawn” – 8 x 10″ oil on canvasboard
SOLD to a collector from Pasadena

See more Pasadena paintings here

When my husband and I had our duck adventure a few days ago, we were so struck with the beauty of the upper pond under Pasadena’s majestic bridges that we decided we’d go back soon to see what the light was like in the morning. (Can you tell we are dyed-in-the-wool photographers and artists?) Knowing that the 4th of July wasn’t going to be a work day, we set our alarms for early and got up before the sun peeped over the San Gabriels (see yesterday’s post) so we could grab a cup of coffee and head down to the Arroyo Seco.

Now, even though I’ve been doing a lot of oil painting recently, most of it has been studio painting from my own photo references – I haven’t taken the time to schlep my gear out into the field. The main difference is that even though watercolor takes practically as much gear, you can just pop the finished painting into a bag and not worry about it. Oil takes a bit more planning. I’ve got to get one of those wet panel holders to carry them home. I attached this wet one to the side of the French easel but worried about it as I carried it back up the gully. I found this environment to be beautiful but very challenging as the light changed radically from moment to moment as it slipped into the deep ravine. I followed the advice of the best plein air painters I’ve been studying: block in your scene and then stick with it.

Here are a couple of pictures of my setup and a glimpse of the environment

And if you were wondering about the fate of the ducks, we saw that mom and her brood were up early, having breakfast as we arrived. The fifth duckling is on the other side of mom, obscured by her tail. They were grazing for bugs or whatever they eat at the edge of the steep spillway.