Oh Golden Hills – Karen Winters daily painting

Oh Golden Hills – 8 x 10 oil on canvas

California’s central coast area is full of beautiful areas like this – golden rolling hills decorated with passages of live oak trees that characteristically seek the gullies and crevices where water is most plentiful. This vignette is from a roadside on the way to Lompoc, California, an area known for fertile flower fields and rich agriculture.

This painting will be dry in a few days, and ready for shipping!

The blue dome of the sky arched over this tranquil scene, and the late afternoon shadows were tinged with violet. I didn’t see any cattle resting in the shade of those oaks, but they were likely there.

Fall at Huntington Gardens -Karen Winters daily painting

Fall at the Huntington – 9 x 12 oil on canvas on hardboard

In Southern California sometimes our seasons get all mixed up. Summer flowers are still blooming while deciduous trees have already lost their leaves. This tree stands outside a gallery at Huntington Gardens, and is in the process of losing its finery. Evergreens will keep the gardens looking lush and beautiful year round – from the tall conifers and deodars to cypresses and olives, like the little olive tree that stands guard on the other side of the doorway.

I’m still not feeling well, but it hasn’t put a damper on my desire to make art. I just have to do it indoors rather than painting en plein air for now.

University of Redlands Original Plein Air Oil Painting of Larsen Hall by Karen Winters – November 2007 Centennial

“Larsen Hall” – 9 x 12 oil on canvas on board
University of Redlands original plein air oil painting

Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are thankful for the blessings of home, family and freedom from want. I am decidedly NOT thankful for the nasty cold I came down with during the day, which has absolutely knocked me for a loop today. I’m hoping that by tomorrow I’ll start to recover somewhat.

I have been working on a winter painting which may be our Christmas card this year, so in the meantime here’s a painting from October’s plein air paintout at University of Redlands which I had not posted earlier. It was done at about 9:30 am at Larsen Hall on Saturday, October 20, just a day before the winds and fires came to So. California.

This isn’t the front of Larsen Hall, which may be a more popular angle, but I chose this one around the side because it provided a good view of the dome as well as the beautiful violet mountains, deodar trees and the blooming sago palm – all images which are iconic of the campus.

Harvest – Still Life Daily Painting – Karen Winters

“Harvest” 8 x 10 oil

Persimmons are still in season around here, so I decided to do another still life including one. This is a lot looser than most of the oil paintings I’ve been doing, and I enjoyed the opportunity to try something different. This was painted from life using reasonably thick paint and larger brushes than those I normally use. I had intended to push the abstract qualities even farther, but this was about as painterly as I could manage at the moment. Next time I do a still life maybe I can nudge it even a little more in that direction. Although it’s still a month or more away, I’m beginning to get a few notions about what I want to learn and explore in 2008. Opinions about this different approach?

Climbing Rose Oil Painting

“Climbing Rose” 5 x 7 oil on canvas on board

This is the second in what will be an ongoing series of rose portraits – at least as long as they keep blooming, which will probably be a few more weeks from the looks of things at Huntington Gardens and Descanso Gardens. I think it’s the warm weather that is encouraging this last flush to be so abundant. This climber was twirling itself around a trellis without a care in the world.

Here we are eagerly anticipating the return of our daughter from business school in Chicago. We’re clearing away the residue of months of back to back art shows and getting seriously organized until the next wave begins. Any day now I’ll have to give some attention to my garden which has been sorely neglected. Ironic, that. I spend more time painting flowers than pruning my own. If only there were a way to add an extra 10-12 hours a day I’d be just fine.

Arroyo Seco Pasadena Painting – Beneath the Bridge – Karen Winters

“Beneath the Bridge” – 5 x 7 oil on panel – Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco – under the 134 freeway bridge

Remember the story of the ducks in the arroyo that I told several months ago. This is where it happened – in a dammed up area under the bridge of the 134 freeway. This little pond is home to frogs, fish, ducks and many other kinds of waterfowl The painting represents how it looks at sunset.
I can hardly wait to get back there and do some plein air painting again. The cottonwoods must be yellow by now.

Today we had a great time at the Watercolor West meeting where we were treated to a slide presentation by the juror in which he explained what he chose for the show. We all dropped off our paintings yesterday and I had a chance to look at the work of the other painters. There’s some excellent work there!

Huntington Gardens San Marino – November Dawn – Karen Winters Daily Painting

November Dawn (Scott Gallery -Huntington Gardens) 12 x 16 oil on canvas

This studio painting depicting dawn in the Shakespeare Garden is based on plein sketches and photos I’ve taken at the Huntington. In fact, I’ve never been there at dawn, but I’ve taken some liberties with a noon photo (below) to imagine how it must look at the peak of fall bloom.

Changing the time of day and angle of the sun was a real exercise in thinking about color, shadows and so on because I had no reference to rely on. I remembered that white marble often glows pink in the morning, but there are touches of warm, too. To break up the wide expanse of the wall I invented shadows, but then I had to think about what color they would be. The same is true of the shadows of the side of the building – where would they cast shadows? The sky is different at dawn. Darker at the top than at the horizon (as usual) but it is warmer in the direction of the sun. So those colors needed to be softly blended to suggest the right atmosphere for that time of day.

I find this kind of exercise a lot of fun because it helps me to break out of painting that is just copying. This can be useful for plein air painting, too. For example, if you are a distance from your subject and you know there’s a shadow there but you can’t see it, you can use imagination and logic to decide what color to paint it.

Huntington Gardens Teahouse Plein Air – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Lions at the Gate – 8 x 10 oil on canvas on board

The truth in advertising part of this program compels me to confess that this was all painted from life at a paintout except for the sky – because I inadvertantly left the house without my tubes of paint – and there was insufficient cerulean and cobalt on my palette to do the deed without running out. So I used what skimpy blue I had to fill the area with the right color thinned with mineral spirits, but the thicker paint had to be applied after I got back home. There. I feel so much better.

Frankly, I might repaint that tree that has already shed its leaves, but I sort of liked the fact that it represented fall at the gardens. So I’ll have to think on that for awhile. The story of this painting is mainly about light – how it falls on the facade of the teahouse and the lion(s) that guard its entrance. The other lion is obscured by the front one so I left it out.

OK, and here’s some art news.

On Sunday I took the below painting to the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association meeting – which I’ve missed attending due to being at Descanso and other commitments, and I was thrilled to get first prize among the paintings displayed for competition, and to be chosen as artist of the month. The painting will go into the SGFAA gallery on Wednesday for a month and will compete in December for artist of the year.

And this painting got an award at the Verdugo Hills Art Association fall show. All in all, a good month!

Pasadena – Colorado Street Bridge – Arroyo Seco – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Colorado Street Bridge 5″ x 7″ oil on canvas panel

The Colorado Street bridge, which spans the Arroyo Seco was the inspiration for this small impressionist painting. I’ve done plein air paintings in the arroyo many times and it is always a joy to be there. The beautiful sculptural arches frame a wide variety of California flora and fauna. (Remember the duck family?) Cottonwoods are turning color now and the eucalyptuses are as green and graceful as always.

Many years ago we needed a film shot representing falling in a nightmare and we lowered a small camera off the bridge. The effect was dizzying! If the bridge police are reading this, I can assure you it was at least 20 years ago and no eucalyptus trees were harmed in the process. And you can bet that the camera was safely tethered off, too. So that bridge will always have a special meaning for me.

University of Redlands Plein Air Painting – Admin Bldg and Rose Garden

Redlands Roses – 9 x 12 oil on canvas panel – Available

Here’s another painting from the Redlands paintout in Riverside, part of the centennial celebration, a view of the Admin building featuring the sculpture “American Deposition” and the Chancellor’s Rose Garden. This was painted on October 20, between 1 and 2 o clock when the sun was quite high in the sky.