Painting California poppies -
Emilie Lee, “Antelope Valley Superbloom,” 2019, oil on linen panel, 9 x 12 in.

Painting the California poppies > Emilie Lee tells us about her visit to the Antelope Valley and Figueroa Mountain to paint the beautiful fields of poppies, known as the “superbloom” for good reason.

Plein air artist Emilie Lee
Painting at Antelope Valley, I was careful to stand on the road and not step on any poppies!

“I moved to California two years ago, and I’ve been having the time of my life exploring and painting around the Golden State,” Lee says. “I love going on road trips in search of inspiration, and it’s been great for my growth as a painter to gain experience with a variety of subject matter, from redwood forest interiors, to crashing waves in Big Sur, to the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra.

“This was my first time witnessing the famous spring ‘superbloom’ of California poppies that occurs after an exceptionally wet winter like we had last year. The first painting is from Figueroa Mountain in the Santa Ynez Valley, where I hiked for over an hour to reach the most dense section of poppies, which also had a nice view across the valley. The second painting required a lot less sweat. At Antelope Valley I found a quiet dirt road on the edge of the superbloom where I could paint from the tailgate of my car.”

Painting outdoors in California
My dog Honeycrisp goes with me on most of my painting excursions
Painting on Figueroa Mountain
Painting on Figueroa Mountain
Emilie Lee, “Figueroa Mountain Superbloom,” 2019, oil on linen panel, 8 x 10 in.
Emilie Lee, “Figueroa Mountain Superbloom,” 2019, oil on linen panel, 8 x 10 in.

Did you get to experience the superbloom as so many have? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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  1. I too went to the Superbloom and did a watercolor and India ink rendering on Mineral paper. A lifetime would not be long enough to paint all the beauty of that place in bloom! (But hold on to your hat…the afternoon winds were fierce!)

  2. We had a great time painting the super bloom in Lake Elsinore, California. Many artist came to paint. Near the end of the bloom it became so crowded the roads were closed off. People were stopping on the side of the freeway because the view was so amazing. A great show, “California Pops”, is currently running at Hillside Fine Art in Claremont, California.

    • Very cool that you got to paint at Lake Elsinore! I heard about the crowds and was afraid to attempt the drive so I went looking elsewhere. I’m looking forward to next year, let’s hope we have another great superbloom!

  3. Several of us, from our plein air group in Riverside, CA, had that as our location for the month during the bloom period, so we could go together on one of three days, to the are near Lake Elsinore. I did one plein air piece, starting early and by midday a few of us who had gone together, finished before it got really crowded. I did a 7″ x 10″ pen and ink drawing, finishing it with watercolors. A lovely lady, who passed me a couple of times, asked if it was for sale and she bought it right there. I did one more watercolor painting and two oil painting soon after in the studio. I was trying my new watercolor fan palette, with its own water/brush pen. The views were so unbelievable, that I had not noticed how close cars had parked to me, without running over me. Kind people. So many came to talk and check out how I was progressing.


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