Peters Canyon Plein Air Painting – Orange County Landscape oil painting

Peters Canyon
9 x 12 oil on linen panel
Plein air painting

Last week I had the pleasure of painting at Peters Canyon, in Orange County, near the home of some of our friends. The broad meadow was blooming with yellow flowers – perhaps mustard, but I’m not sure. I’m told that it was even more vivid a few weeks earlier, but it was still pretty bright. The trees in the background included evergreen eucalyptuses, favorites of mine, and some deciduous ones, perhaps willows, that had not yet gotten their spring foliage. I’m guessing that there is a stream in there where the trees follow a low point. I liked that little spot of pinkish gray in the otherwise yellow green scene

Below you can see a little of the work in progress.

Descanso Gardens Tulips Plein Air Oil Painting by Karen Winters

The tulips are up at Descanso, and blooming merrily. When I was painting there a few days ago, I heard that although they planted tens of thousands, that raccoons dug up some of the bulbs, so the display is not as robust as they had hoped. The good news is there was no sign of deer grazing, so they must have shooed them out of the gardens or the blooms would be nipped off.

This is a good time to see the spring bulb show if you’ve never been to the gardens. In addition to the tulip display there are also foxgloves, azaleas, clivia, lilacs (both California native – ceanothus – and the traditional syringas) and some camellias still blooming. The wildflower meadow on the south side of the garden is beautiful now, too, as is the Japanese garden.

No wonder Descanso Gardens are becoming such a popular wedding location – it really is magical and romantic looking in the spring.

Sierra Nevada Oil Painting – Sierra Blush – Bishop California Sunrise Oil Painting

Sierra Blush, (Autumn morning near Bishop, California)
12 x 24 inches
Oil on Canvas

(Commission – sold)

This is my latest Sierra Nevada painting, painted on commission for a lovely young woman who lives in Ohio and whose brother is a guide in the Sierra. It has been so much of a pleasure to get to know her through the painting process, knowing that the painting will be a part of her family for many years to come.

The location is near Bishop, California, in late October, after the first light snow of the season.We got up very early to observe this scene (like 5:30 am) and it was worth it. The alpenglow light on the snow was heavenly. I could hardly wait to paint it. I know that I will be painting scenes like this again, most likely in a larger size. I think the panorama format really works for this type of a landscape.

Although this painting is sold, if you’d be interested in owning a painting of the Sierra Nevada,
please write

Sushi California Roll Still Life Oil Painting – Karen Winters

California Roll Sushi
6″ x 6″ Still life

Wait a minute, it’s a still life, not a landscape or seascape. It’s rather abstracted with some wild violet colors in that rice-outside part. The planes of the food are distorted in unusual ways. Who hacked Karen’s blog?

Let’s just say it was fun to paint outside of the bento box. Being experimental can be a very liberating experience. Maybe not as daring as eating fugu, (which I haven’t tried, thanks) but a little unexpected. I’m thinking that this might be a good way to rationalize my sushi addiction. Pass the hamachi sashimi, please.

If you have a question ….

please write

Leo Carrillo Beach Oil Painting – Pelican Rock – Malibu seascape art

Cormorant Rock, Malibu,
Leo Carrillo State Park Beach

5 x 7 oil painting

At Leo Carrillo Beach, I came across a rock that had a flock of cormorants roosting briefly before their next fishing mission. Their silhouettes against the fading sun intrigued me, and I thought they made a nice composition. A wedding was underway just the other side of a big rock structure, a beautiful sunset setting. I thought at first they were pelicans, but I was mistakden.

This limited palette painting was fun to do. The rocks take on different colors depending upon the lighting conditions and time of day, which presents a lot of creative possibilities.

California’s Brown Pelicans have been in the news recently as sick and dying birds have been found a distance from usual home. Their feathers are often discolored with some unknown substance. Whether is the result of red tide (algae bloom) or some other pollutant is unknown. A similar die-off happened around February of 2009. One supposition is that weather and oceanographic influences may disrupt the pelicans usual feeding patterns, causing them to starve and weaken. El Nino conditions may be a contributory factor. These birds were on home turf and looked well-feathered and plump. I love to watch them flying just over the waves, single file.

Malibu Surf Sunset Painting – California Seascape Oil Painting

Malibu Surf Sunset
6 x 8 oil

This little study of the surf at Malibu gives you some idea of the subtle range of colors that emerge on even a somewhat hazy day. The water can appear silvery and opalescent under the right conditions. And those conditions change from moment to moment. California impressionist and Laguna painter Frank Cuprien was especially adept at capturing those fleeting tones in his oil paintings. There’s a lot to be learned from studying the masters, first-hand. I’ve enjoyed seeing his works at both the Laguna Museum of Art as well as the Irvine Museum.

See more of my marine paintings here

For more information about this painting, please write.

California painting – Arroyo Seco Pasadena Landscape Oil Painting of Federal Courthouse

Snow on the San Gabriels
(Federal Courthouse with view of the Arroyo Seco)
12 x 16 oil on canvas

The winter storms, which may now be over, often leave rare snowcaps on our local mountains – for a few days. I took advantage of one of these unusual scenes last month. This is a view I have painted before, in the autumn when the sycamores are in full color – and will likely paint again through the years with different weather and seasonal looks.
More of my Pasadena area paintings are viewable at Pasadena Paintings

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Casita del Arroyo show yesterday – it was a great day! I’m now looking forward to spring painting in Central California and working on numerous commissioned projects.

Arroyo Seco Painting – Pasadena Bridge Panorama – Plein Air by Karen Winters

Arroyo Panorama
12 x 24 inches
oil on canvas

Interested in other Pasadena bridge paintings?
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See more of my paintings on my website

Last week I had the pleasure of painting this panorama of the Arroyo Seco from a vantage point high above the canyon. I wanted the late afternoon look, so I had to work fast. As it turned out, I left the painting of the sky and foreground for later, concentrating on the trees, grasses, mountains and architecture as the sun relentlessly continued its course. It’s an interesting time of year. Not all of the deciduous trees have leaves yet – but the grass is thick and abundant, and bright yellow green. In a few months the vivid green will turn straw brown and there will be a solid canopy of leafy trees below. Every season brings its own beauties to enjoy. I’m guessing that I could look at a plein air painting of an early California impressionist and pretty well guess the month it was painted if I knew the location.

My husband shot a little bit of video as I painted, which I’ve included here:

See more of my Arroyo Paintings at

Lundy Creek Cabin – Sierra Nevada California impressionist oil painting – Karen Winters

Lundy Creek Cabin
5 x 7 oil study

It was last fall when I started this small study of a cabin, closed for the winter, up Lundy Creek in the Eastern Sierra. But I put it aside for awhile as I thought about some changes I wanted to make with regard to the color temperature and how it affected the shadowed mountains and the brilliant fall leaves. As we arrived at the scene, the sun was close to the horizon and every moment brought color shifts and changing shadow patterns. This cabin, which seemed to be owned by the campground, was boarded up for the winter. The tin roof captured the cool light of the sky, which I liked a lot, seeing it contrasting with the golden colors of the trees. There are two pairs of complements working in this little study: red/green and yellow/violet. It was painted with red yellow and blue primaries and a little white – nice and simple.

When I returned to this study to rework it a bit, I made some decisions about where I wanted the light to fall, and I like it much better now.

This week, starting Wednesday, I will be painting in the Arroyo Seco for the Casita del Arroyo paint out and sale sponsored by the California Art Club and benefitting both the club and the Casita del Arroyo Foundation, with its beautiful display of drought tolerant plants. I may not be there all day, every day, so if you want to know where I’ll be painting, email me ( and I’ll let you know.

Sycamore Trail – California Plein Air Oil Painting – Landscape by Karen Winters

Sycamore Trail
9 x 12 oil

This plein air painting was actually painted last fall, as the leaves of the sycamores were starting to turn – but somehow it escaped my scanner until now. It’s one of the paintings I’ll be bringing to the Casita Del Arroyo show and sale – presented by the California Art Club on Sunday, March 14

Here’s a google map to the sale location

It looks like the rains are tapering off this week, and the weather is warming a bit, so I’m looking forward to even more plein air painting when I’m not working on commissions. The other day I saw a rainbow over our local San Gabriel mountains – what a sight, although it didn’t last very long.