Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hey July

I have intentions of writing more.  I wanted to do a post called The Provenance of Plants, but I don't really have a picture that goes.  But I'll get to it I think, so please don't snitch the title.   I have a short story brewing in my head - really not so much a short story as kind of a memoir with touches of magical realism.  I have made some progress on my habits.  I've been off freecell and sweets for weeks now.

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

Many Days

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


Nine or ten months ago, I painted at Singer Park.  It was an exceedingly lovely day, if I remember.  There was something nice about the people there, and not just the people I was painting with.  There were little kids there, I think, whose mother had just had a baby in the nearby hospital.  I put a person in my painting, and I think it's probably my best painted person  The proportions are nice, and there appears to be some walking momentum.  This is a fairly big painting, and after I painted it, I painted another.  

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

Stepping Stones

For awhile I was painting on this oblong rough-textured watercolor paper.  I bought it, I remember, at a big sale, when all the more typical paper selections had sold out.  The paper ended up working so nicely that I used it all up and have been looking for more.

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.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Building Momentum

This is a view painted from one of the courtyards at Union Station.  Union Station is one of my favorite buildings in Los Angeles, and I believe I'm not alone in that.  It shows up in movies and television shows very regularly.  Union Station images used to show up on album covers when album covers were a thing.  With a longing more theoretical than real, I used to want to be an artist of album covers.  That desire has been replaced by a desire to paint pictures for bottles and cartons of microbrewed beers.


Friday, January 23, 2015


This was painted on the walkway between the Arroyo Seco and Arroyo Seco Stables that goes under the York Bridge and comes out by this old truck.  I sat on the ground to paint, and even now I can recall the sensation of feeling really dirty.  There was a vinyl table cloth between me and the dirt, but it was some seriously dirty looking dirt.  I will spare you the detailed description.  But there were other painters close by, some nice looking horses keeping an eye on me, and a rooster that crowed every so often.  That truck isn't going anywhere.  Ever so slowly it's crumbling back into the earth.    

Friday, January 9, 2015

Home Staying

I'm going to break from my normal pattern here, and I don't mean my pattern of going weeks without feeding the blog, but rather my pattern of taking things in order.

I've been doing this Saturday paint-out thing for going on five years, since March 6, 2009, if you want to keep track.  This is how it started.  My youngest son was going off college, and I thought I ought to dedicate myself to making good use of my expanding spare time.  I was already drawing and painting, but I decided to put more time into it.  I signed up for a watercolor painting class and joined some art clubs.  I  found out about people going out and painting on location every Thursday, and I badly wanted to join them, but I couldn't shake off my Monday through Friday full-time employment.  So I said to the board of one of the art clubs, I think there should be paint-outs on Saturday mornings.  And the board said, make it so.  I got a little help early on, but soon it fell to all me.  It was going to be a club activity, but the club's insurance carrier could not condone club members being led out into the wilds to paint, so it became its own thing.  Unaffiliated and unsanctioned.  Just a bunch of people getting together and painting.  Sometimes, though, it wasn't a bunch.  Sometimes there were just a couple of painters.  Sometimes only me.  Frankly, I like it better when there are other painters around.  It's more fun and it's also safer.  But I don't mind painting alone.  So I stuck with it.  I habituated it.  I paint on Saturday mornings.  I am constantly on the lookout for places to paint.  I send emails to people who want to get emails about Saturday painting.  

I've had companion painters come and go over the years.   I understand that there are hundreds of other things to do on Saturdays.  Yard sales, cartoons, diner breakfasts, daylight lovemaking, gardening, and hiking, to name a few.   I send emails to seventy people.  Some have never actually come to paint.  I'm glad all seventy don't come, because that is much too big a group to paint with.  I think about 5 to 10 people is optimal, and that is just about how many people come these days.  My painter friends make me happy, and I think I've done a good thing giving them a nudge to come out and paint on Saturdays.  I treasure their friendship and their company and their artistic wisdom and their art.  So once a year I invite them to my house and give them some food to show my gratitude.  Then they hang around and paint pictures of my house.  Maybe someday art historians will wonder why so many artists chose to paint a modest one-story 1917 bungalow with Christmas colored trim and unkempt landscaping.  Like this:
For some more work by some of these painters, see

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


This is the faculty club/private club on the campus of the California Institute of Technology.  It was painted on a crazy hot summer day from a place in the parking lot with a nice shady wall on which to sit.  I had almost forgotten that I did some photographic cropping of the image, and eliminated approximately the bottom one-third of the painting which actually had a vertical orientation.  The bottom consisted of shadows, which probably should have added some pleasing visual weight to the bottom of the painting, but I mucked up the painting of them.  It is one of my better cropping jobs.

I'm still not sure about the palm trees.  But I think the painting has kind of vintagey exotic look to it, and it isn't even too tortured by its drawing errors.  I've been inside the Athenaeum a couple of times - once on a luncheon date with a graduate student, and once for a class reunion.  Twentieth, perhaps.  The Ath, it's called locally by insiders.

For a lot of money, I could become a supporter of Caltech and apply for membership at the Athenaeum.  Then maybe I could sip tea or eat prime rib and possibly cast flirtatious looks at very smart old guys.  Something to think about as I formulate my retirement plan and need some balance for my painting.    

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflections of Lotus

Sometime around June or July, I went to Echo Park and painted lotuses.  The Echo Park Lake is home to LA's best and most famous lotuses.  When there is a lotus festival, it is there.  I'm a little disappointed in the painting, probably because I've spent years thinking about painting lotuses.  The delicate pink tips of the petals are nice though.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Painting I Like

Mirroring the human life cycle, my day started all fresh and full of promise and had pretty much fallen apart by the end.  I'm hoping to salvage a little light by posting a painting I like.  August 30, 2014, Grant Park in Pasadena, looking across Cordova at some mid-century apartment buildings not quite obscuring the mountain view.

It's late, but I need to stay up and constantly monitor what will probably be the last load of laundry I can eek out of my failed washing machine.  I need a new washer.  I'm overwhelmed by the selection.  There must be  hundreds of different washers on the market.  Probably any of them would be fine.  They all seem too expensive and too complex.  Seriously, I don't think my clothes and linens could possibly detect more than three different temperatures or spin speeds.  Just more little sensors that will undoubtedly fail long before the motor wants to quit.  My dying washer only lasted ten years.  The repairman and sales people tell me that's not bad.  It seems to me that things like washing machines used to last much longer.  Or is it just that ten years used to seem long?   You, lovely people, can help me.  If you or anybody you know has purchased a washer lately and feels okay about it, please let me know what washer it is.

I don't keep a journal, and I don't see a counselor.  I don't talk to my friends enough.  So sometimes I want to vent here in blog world.  I think that's all right as long as I don't get too personal.  I kind of want to rant about my health and my job and my love life.  But I think the washing machine is a better idea.