Eaton Canyon painting – California landscape oil painting by Karen Winters

“The Canyon Calls”
(Eaton Canyon, Pasadena/Altadena area)
9 x 12 inches oil painting on canvas

See more Pasadena area paintings here

Nourished by the waters gushing out of the San Gabriel Mountains, Eaton Canyon explodes into delirious bloom – the wild mustard in shades of yellow and purple duking it out with penstemon and purple nightshade. With each bend of the trail – through the nature center area or up in the wilder parts, new vistas are revealed. Watch out for rattlesnakes and poison oak, though. This is wild country – and only partly tamed by trailbuilders.

Carpinteria Bluffs Painting – Central California landscape by Karen Winters – KWinters

Carpinteria Bluffs Sunset
Oil Painting 8 x 10

See more of my California Central Coast paintings here

The end of the day at Carpinteria bluffs provides an opportunity to work out with the secondary colors – orange, violet and green. The Santa Ynez mountains glow in the fading light.

Ecologically, this is described as a coastal sage environment. Typically you will find black sage, white sage, California buckwheat (the reddish brown plant, in fall) as well as toyon and brittlebrush.

The Spanish colonists named the area Carpinteria because this was a place where Native American Chumash people once built their sea-going canoes (using tar which oozes naturally from the sea bed.) Carpinteria is spanish for “carpenter shop.”

California Landscape Painting – Arroyo Meadow – Impressionist Sunset

“Arroyo Meadow”
9 x 12
California impressionist oil painting on canvas panel

The San Gabriel Mountains constantly change their colors through the late afternoon and early evening. Starting out as browns and greens, they become blue violet as shadows fall, and eventually reflect the warm colors of sunset.

This scene captures a moment in that transition, from the vantage point of Hahamongna Park (formerly Oak Grove Park) in the upper Arroyo Seco between La Canada Flintridge and Altadena/Pasadena.

Wildflowers billow and catch the warm light of the late afternoon sun.

Yesterday I received some more good news about one of the many shows I’ve been entering. One of my plein air paintings, “Days End at Fallbrook” was accepted into the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) 6th annual “Best of Plein Air” show. The exhibit will be at the Esther Wells Collection in Laguna Beach from July 17-25.

“Days End in Fallbrook”
11 x 14
oil on canvas

Peters Canyon Meadow – California Landscape Oil Painting – Orange County impressionist painting

Peters Canyon Meadow
14 x 18 oil on canvas
commissioned work

This painting was based upon a plein air study which I did earlier this spring
posted on my blog awhile ago.

When I scaled it up for my client, I added more detail and refined certain shapes that were only roughly suggested in the plein air work. What works in 9 x 12 doesn’t necessarily work in 14 x 18 (or larger) sizes.

I’m looking forward to painting the scene in a larger size, and perhaps a more panoramic horizontal format, too. Now, the park grass has turned a soft yellow gold color – the scene looks very different. I’m thinking about going back for some new plein air studies.

This Saturday and Sunday, please join me for more plein air painting at Descanso Gardens. If you are a member of Descanso, the LA Arboretum in Arcadia, South Bay Botanical Gardens, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, or one of many other American Horticultural Association affiliated gardens, your admission is free. We have enjoyed our Descanso membership for many many years … as well as gardens as far away as Santa Barbara and Phoenix. These reciprocating memberships are a great benefit of supporting our horticultural institutions.

California Poppies – Pasadena’s Arlington Garden Landscape Oil Painting

In a Poppy Garden
8 x 6″ plein air painting
oil on panel


Late yesterday afternoon, after painting at Descanso, we went for a walk in Pasadena and I took a pre-sunset hour or so to paint this small study of a beautiful Mediterranean garden in Pasadena on Arlington St, just off Orange Grove.

Along with poppies we saw blooming ceanothus, apricot mallows, climbing roses, penstemons, irises, bulbines and many other drought-tolerant Mediterranean and California plants. All inspiring as we convert one of our yards into a drought tolerant garden. While we were there we had the chance to meet Betty and Charles McKenney, the founders of this wonderful city refuge, and to learn about some of the plants and the history of the project. I’ve been a visitor to the garden many times in the past three years, but getting to meet the folks behind it was a special treat. The garden is continuing work in progress and it’s delightful to see its evolution.

Windblown Cypress Tree – California beach seascape oil painting

“Windblown Cypress Tree”
(Southern California seacoast)
11 x 14 oil on canvas

If you’re interested in this painting, please write.

From the moment I saw this California cypress tree I knew I had to do an oil painting of it. Most of my tree experience comes from the big four: eucalyptus, oaks, sycamores and palms. Cypresses only seem to grow natively near the ocean and they are almost always sculptural in form and are icons of California art. The iceplant growing at its roots, in the sandy dunes, provided an interesting textural contrast.

Rancho Santa Ana Garden Path – California Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting

Garden Path
(Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden)
11 x 14
oil on canvas

We had a great weekend at the Art in the Garden sale at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, in spite of the ever-present threat of rain. In spite of the light turnout, some of my paintings found new homes and I had a chance to set up my easel and paint a nearby path in the beautiful California native plant gardens.

This scene features a blooming California buckeye (in the background, a spreading pine, several clumps of sages and a variety of oak trees. Most of the day was gray, but occasionally the sun would break through.

Now I have a break until the San Clemente paintout and sale, ending on June 27-28 (details to come.) If you live in the coastal OC, I hope you can come.

California Plein Air Landscape – Fallbrook Fan Palms

Fallbrook Fan Palms
12 x 12″
oil on canvas panel

I have been so busy this past week that I just woke up and realized that I haven’t posted in awhile, and I’ve had a hard time getting painting time in.

The show is going well at Gale’s and I had a wonderful turnout for my reception. Many thanks to everyone who stopped by to see my work and say hello. So many friends, family and collectors – it was a day to remember. Special thanks to our children who drove down from Palo Alto for the weekend. We celebrated every moment, and enjoyed seeing UP on Saturday night. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss it.

Monday morning we took my entire show down at Gale’s to make room for her annual Taste of Art show – this year benefitting Pasadena’s Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing for families visiting sick children. I donated a painting of the Casita Del Arroyo Garden, and was delighted to discover that the same couple bought it who bought one of my bridges last year. It was a great party – delectable appetizers and drinks, and good cheer all around for a good cause. Tuesday morning we rehung my show, which will continue now through July 10.

Now I’m framing 25 additional paintings to take to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens this Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, in Claremont for the Art in the Garden show and sale. This is the third annual juried event and I’m happy to be participating for the 2nd time. The gardens are at 1500 N. College Drive if you live in the inland empire and would like to come say hello. I’ll have original oils and watercolors, framed and unframed, as well as prints and cards.

Because things have been so busy, I am posting a plein air painting that I did in late April, but I haven’t had time to get it photographed. Three or four stately fan palms bordered a path through an open grassy ara. The late afternoon light wrapped everything in a warm glow.

Pretty soon I’ll be back in the groove of everyday painting again. I miss it, but I have to take care of business, too.

Pasadena bridge landscape oil painting – Arroyo Springtime

Arroyo Springtime
Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge painting
16 x 20 oil on canvas

This painting has been sold but I have others. Please write.

See more Pasadena paintings here

This painting, of Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge in the setting of the Arroyo Seco, is one of my favorite renditions of the area so far. Because it is so close to my home, I can visit frequently and observe the changing foliage through the seasons. In the springtime the wide meadow leading down to the river is covered with wild mustard. The mustard is an invasive imported species, not a native, so it tends to crowd out the indigenous plants. But it does lend a beautiful color to these open areas when the light strikes it just so.

Every time we go down there we see something different and interesting. One time it was ranger on horseback patrolling to make sure that dogs were on-leash. Another time it was a group of people with a flock of (leashed) goats. Never a dull moment in the arroyo!

My show at Gale’s has been going very well. So far three paintings have been sold, and I’ve replaced them with new ones. You can see some of the sold paintings in the left hand column at

This weekend we’re going to the reception of the On Location in Malibu show, presented by the California Art Club. I’m sure it will be a wonderful event as all of their shows are. Art, Malibu, hanging out with painters … what could be better?

Chapparal Trail

Chapparal Trail
(Dunsmore Canyon, La Crescenta)
9 x 12 oil

We’re having some unseasonably hot weather right now. Today it was in the high 80s and tomorrow it’s likely to be 90. Last year, when I was doing the Sierra Madre Art Fair, it was 100 both days. Because I am showing so many paintings at Gale’s (which hung this morning) I opted not to do the SM Fair just this year. It seemed like I’d be burning the candle at both ends to have 30 paintings for Gale and another 20 for a fair booth. Now, seeing the weather (again) I’m glad I opted to pass. Next year I might do it again, though. Now I’m home in my studio, staying cool, and working on some other projects.