California Landscape Paintings, including Plein Air, by Elin Thomas, WAOW
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Updated 11/3/2020

California Scenes, Catalina Island, Northern California, Wineries, Beaches and Palm Trees

Southern California Area including Temecula's Wineries
Northern California Area
California Landmarks
Cityscapes and Urban Scenes
The Beaches and Catalina Island
The Deserts (Opens a New Page)
The Mountains and Snow (Opens a New Page)
The Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve near Murrieta (opens a new page)

Southern California Area, including Temecula's Wineries

Lake Matthews View, 9 x 12 acrylic.

To share the joy of the Season, here's an original acrylic painting full of holiday lights done on location at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside a few weeks ago. I've been with the Plein Air Artists of Riverside who have been painting on location to capture the merriment and holiday lighting displays for which the Inn is famous.

When the moon was full this month, I set up with Sparky (yes, he came along and played "announce dog" to anyone who came close) in a planter bed diagonally across the street from the arches and buildings of the Inn. They decorate the palm trunks with huge snowflake lights, too. This is a 16 x 12 acrylic, done with those open acrylics, and I'm quite pleased with it for having captured not only the lights and the holiday feel of the building, but also the natural world of the night sky and full moon. The open acrylics allowed a longer working time, yet the Color System make the choices for this piece easy, even though I was working with a flash light in my hand! When I go out again on Dec. 29th, I'll have some nice LED lights that will shine both on my painting and palette.

If you've ever been to the Mission Inn (opens in a new window) it is quite a famous landmark for its architecture and holiday lights. I'm pleased with this painting of it, and hope you enjoy it as a sharing of the holiday spirit with us! It doesn't have a show schedule, so it is
available, $300 to add to your collection.
"Along the Road to Tenaja" I'm pulling work out of the racks and making selections for the show up in Tenaja, for the Cowboy Jubilee. It's fun to look once again at some of my earlier pieces, and this one needed a "bit of a jolt". Used for the invitation for one of the summer art shows at the Visitor's Center, This 24 x 30 acrylic was painted on location and shows Rancho California Road heading toward Tenaja. I was in the Sylvan Meadows parking area.
I tweaked it a bit, brightening up the foreground and unifying the sky into more closely related values. My goal was to have the feeling of passing cloud shadows throughout.
Getting ready for a show when I haven't done an outdoor venue in a while is interesting--I have to find and put together my "kit bag" of tools, and think about the whole presentation with groups of art. Sigh. US $600 Contact Elin or

"Sam and Beverly Maloof's Home" On location Saturday I did this 12 x 9 acrylic of the front entrance of the wonderful Craftsman style home of this American icon of woodworking. (You can find out more at )
The gardens are all drought tolerant and beautifully laid out with some of the trees actually having been moved from the old location to this newer property next to the San Gorgonio mountains. I wanted to paint some more, but as it was getting later, and I forgot my spray bottle to keep the paints moist, so I had to pack up.  $325


Every once in a while I get a hankering to do a series of seasonal images of one scene. Thus today's painting, a 5 x 7 acrylic of a farm landscape near where I used to live, closer to Hemet. This is another of those places that is quickly disappearing, as the area is desirable to developers because it is flat, and lends itself to cookie-cutter tract homes. It remains there so far, yet I expect to find it missing in any month in the future. Now we will see it go through four seasons in the next four days--and here is autumn for your pleasure. I love the blue/orange play of color. The summer flushness is gone, and the field lays fallow for the coming winter (tomorrow's painting!) Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.

Brrrrr!!! Yesterday's fall weather has changed with this decent snowfall over those fields and with the trees now completely bare. What a change from yesterday's autumn colors, yet the scheme is still blue and orange--just really subtle oranges! I think I'm going to enjoy spring when it comes through tomorrow! Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.

"Spring has sprung, the grass has rizz, I wonder where dem flowers is?"...That's a silly ditty taught to me by my mother. Well, here are some spring flowers along the path, and a field of mustard with its characteristic lemon yellow flowers. We see the same barn off in the distance, and the purple mountains creating another complementary color scheme. Darn it! Guess I can't get too far away from those schemes since nature wants us to see it. Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.

"Summer Field" The final image of the four paintings depicting the seasons. The first one (Autumn, February 7) came from the source photograph, the other three are completely out of my imagination. The Color System makes it really easy to choose colors that work, and even change the season, because you have room to play since many of the problems are solved for choosing the color. I really enjoyed doing these four paintings, however now I need to produce some more serious work for galleries and the designer. Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.

"Up the Valley" I finally pried Betty Billups away from her mural commission and said, "We need to go paint!" She listened, and we headed out with the pack goat loaded with our gear. Up the mountain behind my studio we went, and had a wonderful afternoon of painting--just enough time for her to regroup and we both painted while Vincent van Goat lay in the shade of one of the many rocks strewn around the landscape. After about an hour, we headed back another way, through the riparian habitat below the house--keeping Vincent away from the poison oak! 6x8 US $270 Contact Elin or
This 16 x 20 oil came off my brushes today and is called "Passages #3"; there is just a great load of symbolism in it for me. I travel the road in the lower portion never quite soaring though life, but with beautiful sights to see along the way. The fence represents the limits we place on ourselves, preventing us from doing more, sharing more, enjoying more. Notice how flimsy it is? It truly is a flimsy reason for not getting out there "off the beaten path". I am headed for the gate at the end of my life, and I know I will slip through that little gap when my time comes, and go into the area I can't see right now. That's where we all will be some day, and the misty blues of that distant place ought not to scare nor keep us from our journey. For me, I know I will meet my mom and dad, and as I age, many more friends and family will be there. US $320 Contact Elin or

"Sunshine and the Field" Back in 2000 I was on location south of Fallbrook, California, and painted this field scene. Today I paint it with the Color System knowledge and made the landscape sing. 12 x 16 oil on board.

"Streamside" The light bouncing from autumn foliage comes through on the water below, and rocks of many shapes and sixes line the stream. From an image I took many years ago, on a stream somewhere. Original oil, 24 x 12 inches, US $575

"The Fields Near Perris" Something simple today, a vista that I saw while we were driving up to see my mom, in skilled nursing at the assisted living facility at Air Force Village. This is the light of evening, and like this woman of 98 years, rich in the color of a full life of living, yet gentle and tender to the eyes, and most importantly, as it should be. 5 x 7 acrylic on board-backed canvas. $100

"Revision of Lake Evening" Today in the studio I worked over several canvases, and the one that provides the most learning for students is this one. If you'll compare the one on February 3rd, you'll see the original plein air study. Original oil, 5 x 7 inches, available for $100.

"California Ridge" Today I took a break from working in the studio to make a new hiking trail on the mountain behind our place. It was about 3 p.m. and entailed the following steps: I took the machete out and sharpened it on the grinder. I led Vincent van Goat out of the pen and put his pack saddle and red pack bags on, loaded with water and my sweatshirt, and off we went. The mare (who thinks Vincent is her foal) went crazy neighing and running back and forth most of the time we were up on the mountain, creating quite a dust storm as she galloped back and forth in the corral. Using the machete, I cut about three-tenths of a mile of new trail through the brush until the sun was gone and it started to turn cold. Trail cutting is both hard work and euphoric, and I do enjoy it. A new hiking area is opened up, I can let the terrain guide the location and direction of the trail, and working in the company of a friendly white goat is very much in touch with nature. 

Of course, since I was looking at those rocks up behind the studio, I needed to switch gears when I returned and paint some! So here's today's painting, a 12 x 12 oil, of rocks and possible trail locations, so very characteristic of California hillsides. One ought to paint the things that are close to your heart, and I was very close to the brush and rocks as the trail opened up due to my effort. $250

"Casino, Catalina Island" Today's painting is of the famous Opera House at Avalon on Catalina Island, shown in morning light. The harbor is calm, the light brilliant, and another beautiful day begins on Santa Catalina Island. 
"Early Light" I picked up this oval canvas that has been sitting around for what seems like forever, and painted this early morning light on clouds , not thinking practically. Photographing this puppy for the web site and for this email has been a real "pickle." Here it is for your pleasure, camera shenanigans notwithstanding. Original Oil, 5 x 7 inches, $100.
"Redwood Avenue, Fairmont Park, Riverside" On location again, this time in the city of Riverside with the Plein Air Artists of Riverside (PAAR) group. About eight of us showed up to paint the water and the vistas. My muse was with me, but not about to have me paint water today. I did two small ones, this a 5 x 7, of the afternoon light coming through the trees to the blooming jacaranda trees. That's my car on the far right--the one that used to belong to my folks. It's a silver Ford Taurus, but not easily identified with my brushwork. US $100 Contact Elin or

"Backlit Reflections" On location at the same location as January's Lake's Edge. The eucalyptus trees in the afternoon breezes reflected in the blue-green water of Lake Skinner. Original oil on linen, 12x16 inches, $420

"Lake's Edge" On the edge of a local reservoir, on an almost overcast day, I'm back painting reflections in water, and enjoying ever minute of it. Original oil, 12 x 26 inches. Available for $225

"Impending Change" Today's painting was done on location as I was getting new tires on my truck. I walked into a nearby field and saw this 80+ year old eucalyptus tree with a hawk's nest in it, and since it is sitting on soon-to-be-developed land, its days are numbered. The distant hills of Sun City are in the background. Original oil, 9 x 12 inches, $200.

"Santa Ana Riverbed" This painting is specifically painted for the Norco Western Art Show and is one I'm quite happy with, as it has been "sitting in my head" for over two months. The riverbed of the Santa Ana River is laced with miles of trails, and is a world away from the dry arid area above it.  There are parks and staging areas for horse folks to ride all along this section.  Original acrylic, 15 x 30 inches $475. Contact Elin or
"Menifee Fog" An early morning in Southern California can result in this type of fog, as the moist sea air hits the interior valleys.  Near my studio was these old barn and outbuildings, captured in oil on a 12 x 16 canvas. The developers have taken them away since this was painted. I just love this painting.... US $225 Contact Elin or
"Wilson Creek Winery Evening" On location, Elin paints the evening shadows across the lawn at one of the Temecula wineries.  This lawn is the location for many weddings and special events, yet the light on this Friday evening shows a more peaceful view.  Original oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches US $ 275 Contact Elin or
"Passages, #2, California" When my father died, I painted several paintings featuring paths and passages, representative of our travel through life, and helping me to deal with my father's death.  This original painting is created with acrylic and hand-made papers.  24 x 36 inches 
Colorful Painting
Value Study, Gradations I'm working on some simple studies to show students value patterns that work, and are pleasing to the eye. This landscape of the flat farmland near the Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet is shown in morning light, with graduated values. Original oil on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, available for $350. Contact Elin or
"Across from Warm Springs Ranch" Just as the sun was going down, Elin and a friend painted the last evening light in California in the fall, on location. Who misses deciduous forests' fall foliage when color like this is around? Original acrylic on canvas/board 9 x 12 inches, US $400 Contact Elin or

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Northern California

Below Five Mile Bridge After the morning light, Betty and I headed for the creek. It was just beastly hot, over 104 degrees, so I set up my gear IN the water. Looking to the north, this is the bridge that spans the creek at the Five Mile marker in Bidwell park. Painting furiously fast, this one came off the easel (missed the water!) in just over two hours. Original oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches, $850 from the artist.
Near Point Reyes, Marin County, CA A large canvas, this 24 x 30 inch painting shows the clear morning light of the central California Coast, near the State Park at Point Reyes.  Original oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches, US $ 720  Purchase from the artist

Evening at La Laguna Scouting a new location for the workshop in Sebastopol, Elin painted this 12 x 16 canvas in the fast-fading light.  Well designed, she used it to explain one of the objectives in the workshop, the next day.  Original oil on canvas, US $250 Email to purchase from the artist

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California Landmarks

Evening at Hollister Peak Showing how Elin uses her color system to convey certain times of day, this lovely warm painting resulted from the demonstration video for depicting evening light. Featured in the DVD "Colorful Oil Painting 2". Original oil on board, 12 x 16 inches, US $550 from the artist.
Where to Now?  (LA County Fair) On the Midway in the fair, Elin painted the people and color of a fine morning at the Fair.  Original oil on canvas, US $ 650 Email 
Hemet Depot Breezes   Elin travels through the community of Hemet often on her way to the Idyllwild Art Gallery, where her landscapes and figurative work go into the hands of happy new collectors.  This painting shows the landmark Hemet Depot at the corner of State and Florida.  It is now a coffee house that serves the BEST frappe coffees anywhere!  Original Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches US $575 Purchase from the artist
Water Dance, Del Mar Race Track At the track before the races, the staff of Del Mar are seen watering down  the pathways where the horses will be, before the daily races.  In watching the activity, Elin saw the workers doing kind of a "dance" with the streams of water.  This, plus the beauty of the flower beds is now captured in oil paint.  Original oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches, in gold frame US $ 750 Email  or purchase with your credit card through
The Blue Orchid In the city of Orange, there is an old filling station with a unique swayed roof.  Now it is a flower shop, although on the list of historic places in Orange for its unique style.  Original oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches in gold frame US $ 950  Email  or purchase with your credit card through
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Cityscapes and Urban Scenes

"The Plaza, City of Orange" From the roof of her camper, Elin was able to paint this 24 x 30 inch canvas in the City of Orange's "Paint the Towne" competition. She created quite a stir as commuters coming home from work would drive around the circle of Orange and see her perched eight feet up with her easel and paints.  No accidents, however!  This painting went on to win the Award of Recognition in the juried show on Sunday, and was chosen to be the poster image for the following year's "Paint the Towne" Competition.  It was also selected by the Orange Chamber of Commerce to depict their city for one year. Original oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches. Price $2150   Purchase with your credit card or Contact Elin

California Beaches and Catalina Island

"North of Bodega Bay"  The season for travelling and doing demonstrations for art groups started this month with a drive down to Ramona to a first-time demo of this Bodega Bay area view.  Unlike her earlier demonstrations, this original painting remains in the collection of the artist and is available for sale.  Original oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches US $ 450  Purchase from the artist

"Wave Motion" I really like this painting, which I tweaked a bit today and added some palette knife passages. The strength of the diagonals vs. the vertical of the rocks is what makes this one sing for me. Plus the blue/orange colors. This was done on location north of Dana Point, below the cliff south of Laguna Beach. Original acryic on canvas, 8x16 inches, $320

Portuguese Beach, above Bodega Bay On location during a foggy day, Elin demonstrated the use of texture in design with this piece.  Later on she edited out much of that texture, prefering to have the softness of the fog reflected in the foreground.  Orignal Oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches, unframed. US $350 Purchase from Elin

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