So I took a trip to Italy. I had worried about taking a vacation by myself, or with anybody else for that matter, since my husband was absolutely the best traveling companion. So I got the idea of finding a painting workshop. I had never been to one, but I knew a little about them. I thought I'd probably like other people who painted and find them easier to talk to than just the normal run of strangers. .
Encouraged by friends and family members, I traveled far from home and painted. I also spent a few days in Florence by myself seeing sights. A lot of it was just wonderful. Some of it was awkward and lonely. Plenty of time and space for personal reflection. New ways of painting.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The Last Remaining Seats is a program of the Los Angeles Conservancy, where older classic movies are shown on big screens in the historic movie houses in Los Angeles. I think my husband and I got onto this in its early years, almost accidentally, because my son, rather inexplicably, fell in love with Laurel and Hardy. Parents are willing to go out of their way to witness their small boy laughing with reckless abandon. Broadway in Los Angeles was lined with theaters at one time and some of them still remain, some restored and some repurposed. Just a few years ago, Broadway was mainly a shopping district filled with new immigrants and cheap electronics. Trendy hipster restaurants are popping up now.
I'm an older person now. I don't even wait around for people to ask me what it was like when I was young. I tell them. I didn't like history when I was a kid. The first time I was interested in history, my grandparents were already dead. And I thought about how the world must have looked to them, as World War I began or as cars took to the roads.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
There's a lot to think about as you look out over Los Angeles, down the crooked road, over the strangled river, and the train tracks where people come and go, and the hospital where life sometimes begins and ends. There's time for doubt and envy, but it's best to let them go. It is pretty wonderful to be alive and standing and playing with colors. Remind me of that.
It's Thursday night, and the trash gets collected here on Friday morning. I send an e-mail to the painting crew, and tell them where we'll be on Saturday.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
I was able to park across the street and stand in a shady spot and paint this view on a small canvas panel. I was impatient to start painting, so I didn't do any planning that took the foreground into account, and I think it shows.
Monday, August 12, 2013
I don't have a lot of really useful knowledge about Echo Park. I'm not even sure where or if there's an echo. I don't have any really interesting personal Echo Park stories either. I ate a machaca burrito there around dusk one time. The best Echo Park story is the recent one that everyone seems to have read or heard. A man with a fondness for plants stole tubers from the famous lotus plants and nurtured and raised them. A few years after that the park's lotuses pretty much died out, probably because of stuff that drained into the lake. Then the city drained the lake and cleaned it and fixed it, including adding a water filtration system. But there were no lotuses. The old ones had been planted in the 1920s. But the day was saved by the lotus thief. He didn't exactly give the lotuses back, but he sold them at price of his asking. There's a awful lot of them, and they are very beautiful. They are outside the painting, to the left.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
As you may know, in the midst of all my water-coloring, I've been learning oil painting. At it's most basic, it's pretty much the same thing. Two dimensions, brushes, and a limited range of colors and values to express some visual idea. My class is on Wednesday night, but we're on a brief hiatus while Tim Tien the instructor goes out on the summer plein air circuit. Since this is Wednesday, I should probably be practicing, but at least I'm thinking about it.
I like oil paint. It has a lovely consistency that changes a little with the weather. Oil paintings look substantial and solid.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Furthermore, I think these really are happy trees. I painted at Cresenta Valley Park, at the suggestion of another painter. It was my first visit there, and I was very impressed. It was easy to get there and easy to park. The mountains are very close and the views are beautiful. There's a dog park, and while I'm pretty dog park -phobic, it is a clean and happy dog park. There's a lovely shaded walking/running trail. Best of all are the trees. There is a veritable forest of large lush healthy oak trees. Over the course of my life I've seen countless beautiful oak trees sacrificed to development, utilities, and over-watering.
In case you don't know, improper watering is about the worst way to treat a tree. Sprinklers that spray the trunk of a tree cause the bark to stay wet in summer, which leads to rot, which can kill the tree outright, or weaken it so it's susceptible to pests and disease. These California oak trees don't take well to much water in the ground either. Lawns and trees don't always coexist well. So let the grass go brown and keep the trees happy.
Friday, July 26, 2013
I find this painting slightly unnerving. It teeters on the edge between realistic and what? cartoony? primative? I start to experience depth and then get caught short by flatness. Anyway, the slope is pretty authentic. As you might imagine, a place with Heights in the name is hilly. I'm going to keep forcing myself to paint cars until I get them right. Then perhaps I'll move on to people if it's not too late.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Alhambra is not a city that seems too interested in preserving its past. Sorry, Alhambra, but it's true. A city that was once known as the City of Homes, it has replaced thousands of single family dwellings and duplexes with large condominium developments. Alhambra's historical society is housed in a small 1980s building. An all-American Main Street that once boasted department stores, a Woolworths, a deli, an ice cream parlor, and the like is now lined with car dealers. And the car dealers bemoan the fact that they have no freeway to bring them customers who aren't local. In the Emery Park area of Alhambra, which I just learned was was originally part of the San Gabriel Vineyard and the town of Dolgeville (who knew?!!), there are remnants of industry. There is a foundry, some furniture factories, and an aluminum factory. Or there was. This stuff is all getting sold and torn down and developed. So my painter friends and I hightailed it over there on a couple of Saturdays to mark a moment in time. I chose these quieter themes, an alley and Rod's furniture, over the huge and marvelous heavy equipment. We hear it's all going to be a mall or a business park before long.