Fallbrook Hillside – California Pastel Landscape Painting

Fallbrook Hillside
8 x 10 pastel painting

Now that spring has come, we’re making a concerted effort to get out and explore new areas in our general vicinity, within a 2- 3 hr (or so) drive. One of our recent forays took us to Fallbrook, which is in North San Diego County. This hillside attracted me, with its stately eucalyptus trees and colorful wildflowers.

This pastel was painted on a ground that I prepared. The irregular texture (see enlargement) can often add movement and drama to the finished work.

Yellow rose pastel painting

Yellow Rose with Leaf Shadows
5 x 7 inches
pastel on board

On the occasions that I paint in pastel, I mostly do landscapes. But I thought it would be an interesting experience to do a study of a rose using that medium. In retrospect, it might have been a little easier if I had worked larger, but I was mostly just having a good time, experimenting and keeping a loose feeling while enjoying the patterns and complementary colors. I used both hard and soft pastels in this, working my way from the Rembrandts and Holbeins to the Senneliers and Unisons.

The rose is an old rose in the Descanso Gardens Rosarium.

The Sunday show in Malibu was a really fun event. Not only did one of my landscapes (a pastel) go home with a new collector, but I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new people who expressed interest in seeing more of my work, something very nice to look forward to.

California Desert Landscape Oil Painting – Anza Borrego Yucca

Yucca at Anza Borrego
(San Diego County)
9 x 12 oil on canvas

A visit to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park inspired this painting of yucca and desert wildflowers. When the rainfall is sufficient and in the right quantity and at the right time, the color is breathtaking, even though short-lived.

Tomorrow is the spring group show and sale of Allied Artists of the Santa Monica Mountains and Seashore, and I’ll be showing about 15 paintings including many that have not been exhibited before. The show starts at 11 and goes through 5 pm at Headwaters Corners, at the intersection of Topanga and Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica Mtns. If you get a chance come on out. I’m going to be finishing up my framing and packing for the rest of today. Come on out if you’re in the area. Art, beautiful weather, friendly artists and refreshments.

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Drifters in the Stream – California botanical oil painting – Descanso Gardens


Today I got the good news that this painting, of fall leaves at Descanso Gardens, has been juried into the Pasadena Society of Artists spring show. Previously it was juried into the California Art Club’s “Rivers and Harbors” show at the Pasadena Women’s City Club. I hope it finds a good home on this outing. It’s more abstract than most of my work and painting it was a bit like doing a big jigsaw puzzle.

The PSA show will run from April 29 to May 16 at the VIVA Gallery on Moorpark in Sherman Oaks.

Arroyo Seco Trail – Pasadena California Landscape Oil Painting

Arroyo Seco Trail
16 x 20 inches
Oil on Canvas
SOLD to a collector from Pasadena

See more Pasadena area paintings are here

This painting of the Arroyo Seco, featuring the Colorado Street Bridge, will be available starting May 17 at Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena, where I will be having a solo show from mid May until early July. I will likely be using it on my postcard, so I need to hold it for the show.

Spring and fall are my favorite seasons in California, and I’d have a hard time deciding which I prefer. Fall is great for the foliage in the Sierras, but spring is wonderful for wildflowers and just the feeling of lush abundance.

I’m not sure about the name of the plant that has purple flowers. I’m guessing that it’s a ceanothus but I can’t be sure. If there’s a botanist in the house and you happen to take a walk down by the bridge, maybe you could ID it and let me know. (It’s not a garden lilac because they’re not in bloom yet and it didn’t have a lilac scent.) Maybe a native lilac species?

Once a month the California Art Club comes to the arroyo to paint. I’m usually busy on those days but this month I think I’ll try to join in the paint out with my CAC friends. It’s just the most beautiful time of the year, I think.

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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.

Cabo San Lucas – Lands End Mexican Seascape Painting

Cabo San Lucas – Land’s End
24 x 30 inches
oil on canvas
Painted on commission – SOLD

A 16 x 20 version of this painting is still available here.

Today I had the pleasure of packing up this big painting for a new collector in the midwest. I was delighted to be able to paint it for the couple because 1) I love to paint seascapes and 2) it brings me special enjoyment to paint something that has a lot of meaning for the patron.

Lands End is a landmark geologic formation, and it appears that the arches have been carved out by consistent wave action over milennia. I’m guessing that those standing stones once were capped with arches as well, a very long time ago.

Probably the most exciting part of the painting process for me was the painting of the many different rock surfaces, which reflect the color of the environment as well as having their own “local color” which comes from the minerals in the rock as well as the effect of weathering.

Now I’m working on a new commission of the Sierras, while finishing up some rose garden paintings for the Descanso Rose paintout and sale April 18-19. Busy, busy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Solstice Canyon Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting

solstice canyon malibu oil painting
Solstice Canyon, Malibu (on the bridge up the trail)
9 x 12
oil on canvas

Click image to see a larger, higher quality picture

Saturday I had the pleasure of going with a group of painting friends to Solstice Canyon, a park in Malibu in the Santa Monica Mountains. When we woke up in the morning (early) it was very dark outside and I came to realize that it wasn’t just our daylight saving time change – the sky was heavily overcast. I debated going or not going, because I generally prefer to paint spring scenes under beautiful clear skies. But I decided to go paint anyway, thinking that maybe it would be a 2-panel day. One before the burnoff and one later.

As it turned out, the overcast skies never really cleared, but there was something about the silvery look and cool blue light that really appealed to me. And it’s a look that I might not have gotten on a typical sunny Malibu day.

In the earliest spring, only a few of the trees had put on their new foliage so a great deal of light came through to illuminate the ground. I can imagine that with a full summer canopy only patches of warm, brilliant light would appear. This is what I love about plein air painting. Even when you have painted a scene before, it’s never the same twice. The weather is different, or the time of day, or the season, and each of those factors interact to create different looks and moods.

Here’s a work in progress shot

California Sycamore Springtime Landscape Painting

Sycamore Spring
11 x 14
oil on canvas

For a few brief weeks in the spring, sycamore trees rapidly put out new growth and are quickly covered with a veil of palest green. This beautiful transformation doesn’t last long, and the leaves quickly turn deep green and expand to the size of a hand.

If you’ve noticed that I’m painting the Santa Monica mountains a lot lately, it’s because spring in this wildflower covered area is truly glorious, and … I’m getting ready for a spring show with the Allied Artists of the Santa Monica mountains and seashore. The date is March 29, a Sunday, from 11 to 4 at Headwaters Corner, which is the intersection of Old Mulholland Drive and Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you’re in So Cal, come say hello.

California Mountain Landscape – San Gabriels – Arroyo Seco Oil Painting

San Gabriel Vista
(from the Arroyo Seco)
14 x 18 oil on canvas

This painting is now SOLD, but I have more at karenwinters.com

This view of the San Gabriel Mountains is from a familiar viewpoint along a trail in the Hahamongna watershed area, formerly known as Oak Grove Park. These days it’s the home of a frisbee golf course, and I have to stay heads up when walking through the zone to get to a painting location. The golfers are pretty tolerant of us hikers and painters, and I try to stay out of their fairways. In the summer my husband and I call this area Snaky Acres and tread carefully among the high grass. Bobcats, mountain lions and other wildlife have been seen here, along with deer, rabbits and abundant bird life.

I started on this painting last fall, when the willlows were starting to turn yellow and the summer grasses were dusty and dun-colored. But the storm clouds rolling in promised the first rains that would germinate the mustard seeds for their spring surge. Now, the whole area is lush and green.

If you’re a walker who likes doing the loop from the Rose Bowl up through the upper Arroyo Seco, or are a Rose Bowl rider who frequently takes your horse for an outing, then I’ll bet you know this view well.