Tuesday, August 14, 2018

On Time

This is the only painting I have of Union Station in Los Angeles which was not previously posted.  Which tells me, among other things, that I should schedule painting at Union Station soon.  It's a pretty good place to paint in all weather, because you can be inside, outside under shelter, or in one of two or more courtyard gardens.  Like rail travel 20 or 30 years ago, Union Station practically went out of business.  Then came a boom in light rail and commuter train construction and travel.  So Union Station too has made a big comeback.  It is a busy bustling place now, as a train station should be.  And in addition to an infusion of humanity, a whole bunch of money has been pumped into Union Station's revival.  It has always been beautiful, but now it is restored to its original shiny glory.  The downside (because isn't there always one?) is that you now require an actual train ticket to sit in one of the leather upholstered art deco seats in the waiting area.  Those seats used to be free for the taking.  There is a piano inside the station, which is available for the use of all.  I have heard some really wonderful musicians there; it's worth pausing to listen. I think this is only painting I've made of the clock tower, although it is always in view while I wait outside for my train or bus.

Sunday, August 5, 2018


This is a picture of San Marino's Old Mill - El Molino Viejo in Spanish.  I've painted this old mill several times before and since.  Some of my efforts were posted here.  I think I've previously said most everything I have to say about the Old Mill, except this.  When I was a kid I visited someplace far from home, and there was an old mill there.  Which I found quite surprising.  I thought we had the only one.  But in reality, they are all over the county.  Flour is something that an awful lot of people use, but it takes a lot of power to mill it.  There are real economies of scale to employing a source of power greater than elbow grease - such as water or large animals - and to making a bunch of flour at a time.  I'm guessing that since there was kind of a public interest in mills anyhow, it was easy to transition them to museums and interpretive sights when the means of production advanced technologically.

If our civilization hangs around for another hundred years, I wonder what enterprises we will celebrate with museums and interpretive sights.  I believe video stores have already vanished.  Maybe there will be convenience store museums, demonstrating the old methods of cold beverage delivery.

In order to catch up my blogging to my painting, which matters not at all, I'm aggregating a few images of the same subject.  I think it makes more sense then combining unrelated images that happened to be painted around the same time.   Although it will be harder to keep track of.  The last picture is the most recent one, but a different view.  The picture with the chuppah set up for a wedding is the oldest; it was taken before the vines were taken off the building.  I thought the Old Mill might look much less interesting without vines, but it doesn't look too bad and it's easier to paint in the bargain.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Not Counting

I'm a little obsessive compulsive.  I know better than to talk lightly of mental illness. I can handle a reasonable amount of mess, clutter and dirt, but sometimes I just need things to be straight.  Pictures must hang level and yoga mats must align.  I count.  When I'm waiting for someone, I count cars or people that pass.  I count to fall asleep sometimes.  I count while I water my plants.  I've intentionally lost count of somethings, like how many lovers I had.  How much I ate.

I've been going out and painting for a few years now.  Since early 2010.  Almost every week.  So?  More than 400 paint outs?  A lot of painters.  A lot of places.  Not too many miles.  Less than 10,000 hours.  No regrets.  Some paintings.

Monday, May 14, 2018


I'm still posting paintings that I painted a year ago, because I slowed way down on posting to the blog, and meanwhile I've picked up my painting pace.  The reality is that I may never catch up, even if (as I have,) I skip some of the paintings. I thought the next painting up was a different painting of the Colorado Bridge.  I've painted said bridge two or more times since I painted the image shown here.  Catch up?  Who am I fooling?  There is no obligation here, and not even much of a method.  Since I had whole other ideas about what I was going to say about the other view of the bridge, I have nothing planned to say.  

In that vacuum, I'll offer my most important life observations.  Here.  The most important decision you make is choosing who you listen to.  It's a noisy world with 7.6 million opinions.  The people you listen to will guide your values, your beliefs, your tastes, your actions and your experience. Your parents, your news sources, your friends, your teachers, your spiritual leaders - those people.  Your choice.  The other observation is that things pass.  Some of the most precious and rare things and people and moments you encounter in your life may seem quite ordinary.  And they may seem like they will always be around and always be the same.  It's okay that things change and pass.  That's just the way of time.  What I would suggest as a hedge against time is only to live deeply and completely in the present.  Capture those moments in all their vividness with all your senses.  That's what I know.  

Here are photos of a scruffy mockingbird and a prickly heart.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Lotus Flowers

Lotus flowers have been important symbols to many cultures.  They show up in Egyptian art and depictions of Buddha and Hindu gods.  The thing that is special about lotus flowers is the way they grow in the muckiest of mud.  They rise anew from the mud and water in the morning and open their petals.  Their seeds, which are edible, have been known to germinate after 2000 years.

This painting is of the lotus flowers in Echo Park and of the sky reflected in the water.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


This painting is a part of the Oaklawn Bridge in South Pasadena.  The Oaklawn bridge is designated a National Historic Landmark.  It stands in some great company, with such bridges as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, several Bridges of Madison County, and the Natural Bridge in Virginia.  The Oaklawn Bridge leads in and out of an elegant planned neighborhood of the early 1900s.  The bridge spans train tracks and a tiny waterway.  It is presently used only by pedestrians.  The bridge, along with other Oaklawn features, was designed by Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene.  It is Greene & Green's only bridge and their only concrete structure.  It was among the first reinforced concrete bridges built in the United States, and the very first in the West.  So here is a drawing of the bridge, presumably by the Greenes.
It does and doesn't look like this today.  There is a lot of stuff in front and around it, including trees, power poles, buildings, and cars.  The residents of Oaklawn resisted the placement of a marker, and the designation as a significant site on old route 66.  You kind of can't blame them. Tourists and sightseers are only really welcome when they are spending money.  A newer resident is looking at the upside of Oaklawn's monument status, and attempting to replace a large oak tree that presumably once gave Oaklawn its name.

I cannot help thinking of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed on March 15, and killed six people.  My heart goes out to those who were injured and those who lost loved ones.  Life is so fragile and precious.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


One of the things I like best about the world is that there are many little worlds within the world.  There are worlds that are very familiar to me, and many more I don't even know.  The worlds I dwell in include painters, dog-owners, and people who blog.  We have our own language, tools, ways of meeting, and things other people just wouldn't get.  I once was a band parent and a folk-dancer.  There are wine-drinkers, golfers, bingo-players, sailors, motorcyclists, swap meet people, runners, bookclubs and birdwatchers.  Families are little worlds, as are religious communities, schools and neighborhoods.  There are millions of online communities surrounding games and other interests or shared experience.  There are groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers that come together to support their members.  

When you do things alone, you can challenge yourself and set goals, but you can't compete with yourself, and, even if you could, you could still cheat with impunity.  You can affirm yourself and encourage yourself, but when you need encouragement and affirmation the very most, you will find it the hardest to deliver.  So in the online art world, there are challenges.  The challenges foster community and competition.  There are a few different challenges I've participated in and shared here.  One is the Every Day in May challenge, where we receive 31 drawing subject prompts, one for each day, and each day we prepare and post a sketch.  These are some of my favorites from 2016.

I am aware of challenges for writers and fitness buffs and beer drinkers.  I've no doubt that every stripe of community has (or could have) challenges to encourage greater levels of experience or accomplishment.  I checked, because I was curious, and found all sorts of challenges.  Typically, challenges last for a set duration of time, often 30 days.  I found this collection of 30 challenges  and this collection of 100 challenges.  The latter also references a book with 500 challenges.  I think if you wanted to do them all, you would have to overlap significantly, or you just wouldn't have time.  I think I could use a good challenge.  Anybody out there want to make a challenge?  I'll  take it, but you have to try it too.  


Thursday, March 8, 2018


This is a less recognizable view of the Tournament of Roses House, or Wrigley Mansion, on Orange Grove in Pasadena.  The mansion was designed by architect G. Lawrence Stimson for his parents and built starting in 1906.  The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 brought about an unexpected shortage of building materials, and the construction wasn't complete until 1914 - the same year Wrigley's Doublemint Gum debuted.  William Wrigley Jr. and his wife Ada then bought the home in 1916, adding to their already significant collection of mansions.  The Rose Parade was already a thing, and the Wrigleys enjoyed a fine view of it.  The Wrigleys bought and razed the house next door on Orange Grove, and made room for the roses in the foreground of this painting.  In 1958, the Wrigley family gifted the mansion to the Tournament of Roses.  Rose Queens are crowned here.  Many months out of the year, there isn't too much going on at the Tournament House; during those months the roses are at their best.  There is an enormous front lawn, and I think if I had power or sway or organizational skills, I would found a bocce tournament at the Tournament House lawn.
This was painted slightly less than two years ago, so don't be tempted to draw any conclusions about current trends in my paintings.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Teachers hear so many things from children that it is difficult to surprise them.  But every so often a student says something so remarkably insightful or so incredibly stupid that a teacher’s face shows palpable amazement.  I put that look on a teacher’s face once with a statement that was not really clever or silly.  My seventh grade history teacher Mrs. Eddas (I think) had just finished a lesson.  There was some time left before class was over.  Mrs. Eddas asked the class what we should do next.  I don’t remember what our likely choices were.  There might have been some kind of history trivia we played.  Maybe quiet study time; maybe a quick film; maybe a preview of the next chapter.  I said, “let’s do nothing.”  Mrs. Eddas claimed she had never heard of a child wanting to do nothing.  Apparently children were constantly in states of motion, noise and need.  I probably didn’t mean literally nothing, which is basically impossible to do.  And while I recall Mrs. Eddas’s reaction, I don’t recall exactly my motivation.  Was it just my laziness?  Or was my mindfulness advanced far beyond my years?   Now that my time is all my own, I think I spend far too much time doing nearly nothing. 

I think nothing is one of those totally illusive things.  Where you think there is nothing, there is a vacuum, or space, or a back hole.  There is silence or inactivity.  There is a secret or something you forgot. 

There are all kinds of rules about composition, applying to photographs as well as drawings and paintings.  One must have a focal point.  The focal point can’t be dead-center, and it can’t be falling off the edge of the page.  There will also be visual elements of secondary interest.  There must be contrast, particularly in values, but also in shapes and edges.  The composition must lead your eyes back into the picture.  Artists, however, are rule-breakers.  Furthermore, there aren’t really art police.   There are only other artists and observers of art.  So you will see works of art that depict nothing identifiable, works of art that are as minimal as a single dot or line, and pure White Paintings.  Paintings of nothingness.

 A picture need not be a picture of something.  When I stare into space, and someone asks me what I’m looking at, I respond “nothing.”  Much as you might catch me thinking of nothing.  But of course there’s something in front of me and my eyes are open and the image on my retina sends signals to my brain.  I think this painting is a little of the nothingness I might look into.  Not to say I don’t think it’s beautiful; I do.  It follows rules of composition, I think; the focal point is an empty space.  Honestly I didn’t even remember where it was, although I do remember sitting on a slope beneath a tree.  I think it was Deukmajian Park, but it might be Devil’s Gate Dam.  The sky looks like any kind of weather could happen, and the grass could be tall or minute, the hill slope steep or tiny.  I think I know why I painted it, but there’s nothing that you would guess at.  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Russians

Early in the existence of this blog, I installed a free version of Site Meter, which enabled me to track some pretty specific information about visitors to the blog.  Then at some point I could no longer see or link to Site Meter.  I explored a little on the internet, and learned that there were concerns about the security of Site Meter, and i made no effort to recover it.  Recent internet research informs me that Site Meter now is no more.  

Blogger is the host of the blog.   Along with design and other nice assistance for a non-programmer like me, Blogger provides some statistics about page visits.  I’m able to find out approximately how many page visits the blog receives, and how visitors are referred - whether by another website or by a search, and what search terms brought visitors.  Back in the days when the internet was a smaller place, the blog was much higher on search results.  I am able to tell what proportion of blog visitors use what operating system.  I can tell where blog visitors are located, although not with very much specificity.  There is world map where countries housing blog visitors show up in green.  

There aren’t a lot of surprises.  The blog has a small audience, which includes me, mostly but not exclusively located in the United States.  But you know where else?  Russia.  I sometimes look at Russian blogs, but not significantly often. I draw some limited conclusions here, about just how busy and thorough someone in Russia is on the internet.  I am curious to see the statistical results for this post, and whether it brings about any change.  Here is the map showing all time page views, and the numbers.

Entry            Pageviews
United States         39720
Russia                    8907
China                     2571
France                   1322
Germany                1188
Ukraine                   767
United Kingdom      719
Poland                    523
South Korea           500
Brazil                      409

The chickens up at the top have nothing to do with Russians, at least as far as I know.  They belong to one of the painters I paint with and his wife.  Despite appearances, there were only two chickens.  Each chicken appears more than once.  I have thought that I would do better to sketch people with the same dispassionate observation I sketch chickens.  People seem more complicated to me.  But probably not to the chickens.