Painting the Gaviota Coast

By Nina Warner

As a long-time Santa Barbarian and outdoor painter, I’ve never found a lack of beautiful sites to paint. Since retiring from a 25 year tenure as an art professor at Santa Barbara City College, I’ve been able to devote much of my time to painting. I’ve shown my work extensively in many venues, and am currently represented by the Waterhouse Gallery. I feel so fortunate to be able to paint my “back yard” of Santa Barbara County, particularly during this long pandemic. I think there are few safer activities than standing alone, painting in a field, on a beach, or up a rocky trail.

Coast View from Coal Oil Point – Painting Image Courtesy of Nina Warner

The Gaviota Coast is truly one of the special jewels of California and offers so many incredible, scenic views. I have done several “paint-outs” with SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) and participated in the exhibitions at the Bacara that benefit the Gaviota Coastal Conservancy. One thing you learn quickly from plein-air painting is that we have to appreciate and protect our incredible environment. My friends and I have painted the coastal area from Coal Oil Point to Gaviota Beach and the experience of working plein-air is unique to each place – the light, conditions, sounds, terrain, etc. The challenge is to capture some of that experience in my painting.

Ocean View from Arroyo Hondo – Painting Image Courtesy of Nina Warner

The variety of visual information is stunning: from vast ocean views, cliff tops and canyons, rolling foothills and rocky outcrops to more intimate objects such as trees, animals, flowers, birds and human-made objects and relics. It’s a special experience, as one could see when all the SCAPE artists would bring their best efforts to the exhibition hall. I miss the event and look forward to when it can be safely presented again.

As I write this I realize that it is nearly a year ago exactly – March 13, 2020 – that the Bacara show was canceled due to Covid19 lock-down. For several years I have volunteered as the lead for the “hanging crew” – a group of dedicated and experienced artists who would help hang the entire show – and was preparing to head out and start working, when we got word that it was cancelled. Sigh. I know there are many beautiful paintings waiting for the next show.

Spring View from Farren Road – Painting Image Courtesy of Nina Warner

For more information please contact Nina Warner by email:

Payment for paintings are made directly to the artist, who will send 50% of your purchase price to SCAPE and they in turn will send 40% of your donation to Gaviota Coast Conservancy and keep 10% for SCAPE. You will then receive a letter from SCAPE for your tax-deductible donation.

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