Friday, April 1, 2016
I've railed before on this very blog I think about the trend toward safe and bland playground equipment. There I go again sounding like I want children to get hurt. It isn't that at all, but adventure, fear, risk . . . those are beautiful things. Kind of almost worth flying through the air and landing hard with a mouth full of sand. This playground equipment seems pretty safe. No hard edges or hot metal, or free-fall from ten feet up, but still honestly it looked fun. These little kids had their own challenges, trying to grow up under watchful eyes.
As it happens, I used to work across the street from this park, also to the west, but slightly further south, to the left and out of the picture. I was only a few years wiser about the world than the children of the playground. I used to walk across the street to the park for my lunch hour. I probably even occupied the swings sometimes - those treacherous swings of a bygone era. There were pigeons eating things they shouldn't and old tired men drinking from paper bags.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
The stone structure depicted here was a watering trough, built in 1906 and 1907 and much later designated South Pasadena historic landmark number 7. It was a place for tired and thirsty horses and travelers to rest and hydrate on their way from Los Angeles to Pasadena. Before people built lovely structures out of rocks, there were many more rocks just sitting around on the ground.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
I'm pretty pleased with myself that I managed to get a photo in here with the new species of computer. It only took an hour or so, and I may or may not be able to do it again. I mean eventually I'm sure I'll be able to do it again.
By most accounts, the Christmas season has passed. The are still some lights up and some very dry trees at the curb. Maybe you haven't started your diet yet - there are still those Super Bowl parties and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates to consume before you worry about how you look in your swim suit. I painted this just after New Years. Lots of painters came out to paint.
It was cold and overcast when I started painting. This is the Sierra Madre Congretational Church, or part of it. They also have the white be-steepled church across the street that I've painted before. I've always liked this building, but since we paint in the morning, it's always backlit and dark. It wasn't so backlit on that gloomy January morning, and lack of light and shadows made the colors brighter. And then I guess the sun crept overhead while I still had time to light up the stairs.
With the fall foliage and the after Christmas wreaths, there's some blending of seasons. When I'm outdoors, I notice a lot of that. Leaves fall off and expose the buds of spring blossoms. And each new spring blossom contains its fruit, its seeds and its inevitable end. And its beginning. Those dry fir trees at the curb, they've seen some things too. Been witness to quiet cold starlit nights, birds and rain, decorations, gifts and holiday celebrations. The trees aren't going to come back to life, but they will get to be mulch, and in the meantime the dogs like to sniff them.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
I painted the tree in the picture, perhaps a year ago. I hope this tree is still thriving and taking in the rain of the day. As I think most tree people can tell, it's a nice big California live oak. It grows in a curious little spot that is the tail end of the vestiges of a lost nature park. This spot has been borrowed from the utility that owns the power lines and transformed into a semi-private sanctuary. I'm going back to paint there next Saturday.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
I love this painting. A big part of that is probably that it made my friend and her sister truly happy, as well as a little comforted about giving up their childhood home. Another reason I love the painting is that it's chock full of my own memories. I'll come back to those. And then I just think it looks good. It isn't painted front on from a photograph. I walked around and picked my favorite angle. The light is pure Southern California. It's not a real showpiece house; it's pretty basic, but in a lot of ways that makes for a better painting. On request I enhanced the orange tree a little. The tree was struggling in the drought, had no oranges, and got removed not too long after. I like the moon, peaking out in in the hot daylight. And the memories.
Listening to record albums, especially The Beatles, over and over again until we knew them by heart. Making prank phone calls. Ditching my last undershirt there, not quite ready for a bra, but for damn sure was not going to wear an undershirt to junior high school. My first slumber party, pretending I was hypnotized. Walking to a nearby vacant lot with a tree to climb. Walking to the variety store and buying candy and gum and wax lips and mustaches. Puppies. Looking over the back wall at the cemetery. Teak Danish modern furniture that required coasters. Which is what I still think of when I hear Norwegian Wood.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
This is a painting made on the grounds of the the beautiful Church of the Angels on Avenue 64. That's the way the Avenues of East LA are named - not 64th Avenue and not Avenida 64. This hillside is very interesting, and I understand there are stairs to climb up it. I will definitely do that one day, but not in the heat of August.
I used to work with a woman who asked me for a ride home one day, or actually only part of the way home. She put me onto her shortcut from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena, and I've used her shortcut ever since. It's the 110 to Avenue 64 to the 210. I wouldn't swear it's the fastest way, but it's direct and also scenic and relaxing. That was how I came to notice this view and eventually paint it. You can decide for yourself, but I like the eucalyptus and cypress trees best.
Monday, June 15, 2015
I participated in an "Every Day in May" sketching challenge. I just counted up my pictures and I managed twenty days. Which is not too bad. There are a few more I might do yet, but more likely not. I was hoping it would become my new habit - daily sketching - and supplant some of my television, facebook, sudoku and freecell. Some guy in the 1950s posited it takes 21 days to form a habit. Current research suggests it's much longer. I could use some new habits. And maybe a beer.
Saturday, May 2, 2015
I still haven't learned who or what Singer Park is named for. I'd like to know. Singer must have been or done something special to have the park named thus, but if nobody knows what, then it's pretty meaningless. We might as well call it Park Near the Freeway, or Park With Nice Restrooms. I think I'll find out eventually. After years of wondering, I just finally found the house where Guy Rose was from. I'm going to see if there is something to paint there. In the meantime, here's the second painting.
Finally, I found a thirty day drawing challenge. Thirty days seemed like a modest enough commitment. So here's my day one drawing.
Friday, April 10, 2015
This was painted at the Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters. It is a beautiful peaceful little chip of Los Angeles, with gardens in which to quietly reflect. It is so peaceful that watercolor painting seems almost disruptive. But who cares?
There are bonsai trees with large weights on the branches. There are benches in the shade. There are stepping stones. Stepping stones are like life; at least they are more like life than stairs or pathways.
I was trying to think what might be the opposite of self-realization. I came up with self-befuddlement. I almost used that for the title of the post, but finally decided that might reveal too much about my feelings.
I hope people make their way back to my neglected blog. I could use somebody to talk to.