Sunday, February 28, 2010


Censorship is a very interesting topic, and not really what this is about. Except I have cropped a naked woman out of this drawing, because as I read the terms, I have to include a warning of adult content if the blog includes any depictions of human nudity. I don't actually think the piece suffers much from the absence of the naked woman; it is simpler and more direct. This is clearly from my flower child period.

Friday, February 26, 2010

To be a fly on the wall

My parents kept our old refrigerator for the longest time. It was not very tall but it was deep and the outside was very rounded. It had a big strong springy door handle that could have taken your finger off. It had scratches and dings, and really could have used a new coat of paint. We put those big stick-on hippie flowers on it, and that prettied it up a bit, but then the flowers started to fade and peel. So I wanted to paint a giant fly on the front of it. This was my sketch. I believe my parents vetoed that. I then proposed a duck or a cow, but never got around to painting either before the refrigerator finally moved out.

I think this would be even better if it had shadows so it looked like it was standing on the refrigerator. There's really nothing stopping me now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

En plein ruelle

Last weekend I attended Jose De Juan's first workshop. It had been a very long time since I painted in oils, and I never painted in oils on location. Jose is a talented painter, and he has a large store of painting wisdom, collected from others and assembled from his own experience. I learned some stuff, and I'm reasonably happy with what I painted. It was pretty wonderful standing out there in the gloom and drizzle, surrounded by freight cars and graffiti writers, struggling to catch light and colors and make a painting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why must I always be so slow

Something I have observed about snails. They have a small roaming area. They are exceeding local. It is possible to have a garden that is overrun with snails, and only a block away there are none at all. It is apparently difficult for snails to relocate, particularly if it involves crossing streets. Snails are slow and deliberate, and I find it interesting to watch them. A little frustrating, I'm sure, as it must be for someone who is waiting on me.

Tomatoes and their pests

I painted this when I was starting to be serious about painting with watercolors, and not just using them because they were around and they were quick. I had a book I purchased at the Art Institute in Chicago about painting with watercolors. I think I had live tomatoes, but looking at leaves, I have my doubts. Then I painted the worm. Of all the world's creatures, they are among my favorites. They delighted me through my childhood, when I didn't care for tomatoes. I haven't actually seen one since; I know they are out there, because I hear people complain, but for all my recent organically grown tomato crops, I've seen not a single worm. I'll keep trying. If I am unsuccessful in luring the moths, at least I'll have lovely fresh tomatoes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oenothera speciosa

This is a new painting of evening primroses. And a bee. I'm not sure this is exactly how I'm going to crop it - there's more of the painting on both sides, but not too much happening there. The rock in the corner isn't part of the painting.

I'm thinking about entering this in a botanical art show, and while it surely qualifies by it's subject matter, I'm not sure it qualifies on technical grounds. For one thing, it's blown up several times larger than life. The bee is about the size of a small mouse. The foliage may lack sufficient detail. Botanical art is essentially scientific illustration. I think you're supposed to be able to use it to build an evening primrose plant if you don't already have one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


When I was new to parenting, I was struck by overwhelming sadness for mother birds who could not catch their babies when they fell nor pick them up after. But even people can only do that for a few years. Nobody wants her offspring to be an egg that she sits on forever. Kids gotta fly. Success and joy to my firstborn.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Paisley Elephant

I know. It's not actually paisley. This is something else from the storage stock. I did this a long time ago on really cheap paper, which has only gotten worse over time, as cheap paper will. But now it's preserved in the cyberspace, possibly forever. A lot of my older drawings and paintings have a kind of flower child sensibility. This just barely hints at it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blog Fodder

I've mentioned once or twice the idea of getting old artwork out of my storage space to post here. Circumstances took me to Arroyo Parkway Self Storage today, and I came home with two portfolios overstuffed with drawings and paintings, and in this instance mixed media, dating as early as high school, and as late as my last move. I call it blog fodder, because seriously what else could I ever do with it? Having held on to it this long?

This piece features objects I copied from an auto parts manual. And rendered in the colors they ought to be. Color coded car repairs would be easier, would they not?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Postcards from Southern California

These guys are from the Huntington Gardens at the Huntington Library in San Marino. I would definitely go there if I were a tourist. If I were a tourist in Pasadena, I would also visit the Norton Simon Museum, but I'd limit my viewing to the modern art gallery. Then I'd go outside into the bright daylight and stroll across the Colorado Bridge for a taste of history, engineering, and some real fine views. I might or might not visit the Gamble House, drive past big houses on Oakland, Grand and Orange Grove, or walk around CalTech. I would take the Echo Mountain hike to extend the history, engineering and view themes, and get some exercise. I would eat at Burger Continental, because it's a little unusual, and just screams local flavor. I'd send postcards from the Huntington Gardens.

Drawing the family (but not everybody)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Painting and Dog

I think no one should set up a still life on a box with a tablecloth over it, because it creates confusion by messing with the fundamental flatness of a table surface. I like the philodendron leaves, especially the blue notes. In fact I like all the colors. I didn't do right by the little brown jug though, or that odd little blob of a lime, or that mysterious fruit setting behind mount tablecloth.

Raising the bar for beauty, I am including a picture of my dog. This is the best picture I've taken of him.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ghost of sketchbooks past

I was rooting around in the garage today, trying to find oil paints and oil painting supplies. I did find some canvases, but other than that it was a bust on oil painting stuff. It's somewhere. I did find a couple of very lightly used sketchbooks from several years back, which was great fun for me; it's like brand new sketchbooks and drawing memories all bound up together. So here's a couple of finds. I'll save some more for later.

The photographs from the prior post are, again, all from my garden. I think my picture-taking is getting better. And the garden is filling in nicely as well. I had a margarita last night, and I've learned it's better if I don't drink and write. I'll let you figure out which earlier post I did after drinking.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hearts and flowers

Matilija Poppies

Until about five years ago, I had never seen matilija poppies. Or at least I had never noticed them, which is inconceivable. I was walking in the Lower Arroyo in Pasadena, when I saw on the opposite side of the wash some of the biggest whitest most wonderful flowers growing on a huge tall bush. I crossed the wash at the bridge and examined them closely, awash with wonder. I went home and looked up "giant bush poppies." The ones in this picture are even larger than the live ones.

Happy Valentines Day to you. May you be awash in wonder.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Can you see this?

I use Firefox as my browser, because somebody (my son probably) suggested it to me, and it has always worked well. Meanwhile, on the same computer, the other member of my household uses Internet Explorer. My employer also uses Internet Explorer, and I don't feel at liberty to download Firefox there. During my lunch hour at work I looked at this blog, and where pictures belonged, there were big empty white boxes with little red x's. Not all of the pictures but about 25 percent. I looked at a couple of other Blogger blogs, and they too were missing some pictures. I then looked at Blogger help, which referred me to a forum, where I learned other people - not many others, but a dozen or more - in other places were having the same problem at the same time. Well now I'm home, and I can see all the pictures, on both browsers. I hope you can too. I hope if you saw the empty boxes before, you'll come back and look again.

I'm thinking if you can't see pictures, this is a good one not to see. It was during a foray into oil paints some years back. I can't remember when. The painting may not be completely without appeal, but I think still lifes (still lives?) at best have kind of struggle to pack a punch, unless they are by Matisse or Cezanne. I think oil paint is bold and luminous, and it's a great sensation the way a paintbrush slides and glides through it. I'm looking forward to using it again soon. I think this canvas has ripples because it wasn't stored with particular care.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Couple of Days Away

Optimally, I suppose I'd wait a couple of days to post this. This isn't the painting that I worked on last night, that I'm only an hour or so from finishing, that I want to enter in a show. This is something I did tonight because I was thinking about valentines. I like valentines a lot. Not crazy about the holiday, but I think the cards are (or at least can be) quite wonderful. I'm mad for heart shapes. I don't know why. I doodle them constantly. I could be on the phone with the IRS, and I'd doodle heart shapes. Someone could get the wrong idea.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Making wishes

I'm growing these in the front. I wish I had photographs of the goldfinches, who now have become backyard regulars. I'll be upgrading the birdseed for I wish them to stay. I wish my last couple of drawings were nice enough to post. I wish my painting were finished. I wish you goodnight or good day. I wish to go paint.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Here are some California poppies painted under the tutelage of Donna Barnes-Roberts. I'm sort of a California geek. Poppies and quail make my heart swell with pride. I love that our state fish is the same color as our state flower. Our natural features are spectacular. I think we have a wonderful flag, although I always think its a little sad and ironic that we honor an animal that we largely (or totally?) eliminated from our state. Less than 100 years ago there were grizzly bears in the San Gabriel mountains. However, if you can believe Snopes, it was supposed to be a pear on the flag, but somebody misheard.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pasadena Freeway

I'm not sure I ever finished this painting, but I'm pretty sure I gave up on it since it's been over five years since I've touched it. I could do the palms trees MUCH better now. It has the car perspective problem.

I like the subject of the painting. It's kind of iconic. I've been making this drive several days a week for over twenty years. And from ages three to - I don't know - maybe eleven - I took this ride once or twice a weekend. We held our breath through all the tunnels, or at least we faked it. That was then. One of the cars is my former '62 Impala; one is trying to be my husband's former '82 RX7.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

After the rain

The rain, or maybe the sheer bulk, caused the stem of this rose to break, so I picked it and brought it inside. Then I found something to place next to it to give you a sense of the scale. In case the sugar shaker doesn't help you visualize, the bloom must be 6 or 7 inches across.

But the rose was far from the most remarkable thing in my yard.
I found this growing in front.

This totally wicked looking mushroom. I poked the stem to make sure it wasn't just somebody goofing on me. Then I washed my the crap out my hands, alerted my spouse and grabbed the camera. It is about 4 inches high, and, adding to the strangeness, there were flies buzzing around it. We went a little nuts and built a small protective enclosure for it. My internet mushroom research suggests that it is a stinkhorn or phallus hadriani.


I painted two more postcards. I realized that in a modest-sized house, I have sixteen different chairs, and a total of twenty two chairs, since they are not all different. That does not include the chairs on the front porch, the backyard, the garage and the basement, which are many more. There is good diversity among chairs - infinite variations on a simple and good idea. Does a picture of a single empty chair suggest something?

On another topic, for which very regrettably I have no picture, it was a great day for birds in the yard. Other than the typical visitors: sparrows, jays, crows, mourning doves, hummingbirds, and
house finches, I saw a gold finch and six band tailed pigeons.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Something Different, A Picture by Frederick Richardson

Sometimes when I think about what art is for, I think about this. I had a book when I was a little kid (actually I have it still) called Old Old Tales Retold. It was written and illustrated by Frederick Richardson. It probably belonged to one of my parents before me, because it was really old, and published right about when they were born. Because I was a little kid, or maybe because I thought I might be an artist, I scribbled a little bit on some of the pictures and on the end papers. I feel bad about that now, but at the time it seemed like the thing to do. I remember the feathers on the birds, not depicted here, reminding me of the flesh, those juicy little cells, of a grapefruit. Best of all was the house of the Three Bears. When I was about eight or so, and my mom loved to hunt for antiques at Billheimers in the Mission antique district in South Pasadena, I saw sturdy oak craftsman furniture. I had no idea it was Stickley or Limbert; I recognized it as the Three Bears' furniture. When I had my own apartment, and it needed a rug, I went to a rug store, and there I found the rug of the Three Bears; it was a dhurrie rug, which may or may not have actually had bears on it. I think my point is that there are pictures which embed themselves in your consciousness and non-verbally illustrate your life. Just as there are tunes from as far back as you can remember, and you dance to those tunes as you make your way through life.

I have no art of my own tonight because I listened to music instead, and the drawing I attempted in the dark is pretty crumby looking.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Random Pictures

Part of the problem is it's getting tougher to come up with pictures, and as I see it the pictures are the whole point of this blog. Although you could stick around for my writing. I have to unframe and photograph paintings, I have go through the storage space, and most of all, I have to paint more. Which I have no objection to at all, except the time it takes. While we're all waiting for that to happen, here's one more postcard I painted for the Strathmore/San Gabriel Fine Arts Association send-postcards-to-servicemembers project, and three pages from sketchbooks: my shoes about a week ago, a young relation at Mt. Palomar about three years ago, and a leaf from near Julian on Mother's Day weekend two years ago. I also thought about spreading these pictures out over two or three days, but why make things easy?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Painting Postcards

I painted these tonight, in part because I didn't have something else to post here. But it's all for the good. I'm pretty happy with them, and I'm having some wine from the open bottle to celebrate.

Apparently, some of my loved ones have been recruiting blog readers for me. That, in response to my expressions of discouragement (another kind of whine). I started the blog because I had tried a stodgy art website, and I wasn't all that happy with it. The blogger format shows the pictures better, and gives me a chance to postulate and ponder too. I kept a diary through my teens and twenties, and maybe I miss that sometimes.

I didn't think I was looking for attention. I wear dark colored clothes, and generally avoid recognition of any sort. I don't have a Facebook account. And yet I find myself caring whether or not people look at the blog. I find myself coveting comments, and while I haven't yet resorted to bribes or blackmail to get them, you may consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Last October, I went to the Art Learning & Products Expo. I bought some paintbrushes and a little bit of other stuff, because they have pretty good buys. I also took a couple of classes - one from David Becker and one from Joseph Stoddard. Honestly, you can't learn much in three hours, but you can learn something, and get to paint. So here are the paintings I did. Somewhere in the world there are probably other paintings that look a lot like these.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cat in the Shade of the Lime Tree

I took a short cut, and photographed this painting under glass. Clearly it didn't work very well, but I'm going with it anyway. It's kind of a big deal to un-frame the painting and then put it back -- the nuisance kind of big deal. The wise person remembers to photograph the watercolor before it is framed.

A Day of Sketching

I may have missed an opportunity to paint, but I had a nice time sitting out and drawing.

I've been meaning to speak to you about commenting on What I See. I can understand not being a follower - it just sounds so, you know, lemming-like. Although I can tell you that my known followers are nothing remotely like lemmings. It also can be technically challenging to subscribe. I've found that myself. But seriously, if you're here, you should go ahead and comment. You may even do so anonymously. It can only add to the fun.

Finally, please look at the next posting. There was an important development, so I had to post twice today.


The eggs on the screen hatched, and very small caterpillars came out. I think they are eating their eggs shells first, but what then? How will they find food? How will they know which direction to go? I consider assisting them, but I have no idea what they eat. I also have no idea what they will grow into. I'm not sure I'd want to improve the chances of every garden pest or stinging insect. But I'm happy to let them be, and keep an eye on them.