Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Great Golden Digger Wasp

I am pleased to have completed another bug painting. The great golden digger wasp was a new visitor to my yard this year. It is quite big and beautiful, and fully deserves its two adjectives. The eye, which I believe is more or less accurate, has a kind of disney-character look about it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eddie Park

In South Pasadena, where the paint-out continues, there is a very small park with a big house in the corner of it. In 1934, the house was bequeathed to the city by Ellen Mary Eddie. It's a pretty impressive house, with its two story columns and wide oak door, but it is modestly used by AA and Mommy & Me groups. The park, which you might drive past and not recognize as such, has places to cook, sit and climb. It's too small for athletic fields, and like its neighborhood, it's very quiet. Thank you Ellen Mary, for this lovely gift.

I painted at Eddie Park yesterday. I would say I took a lesson from the portrait exercise, and worked harder to perceive color. I included a squirrel, which you might not have noticed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Am I blue? Orange? Violet?

This didn't go as I'd planned. The mouth is very wrong, mostly I think because I couldn't decide how to hold my mouth and I kept moving it. I'll shut up about how I don't like my face, because I think in fact I'm nicer looking than the painting. There's a hint of me in this, just as there's a hint of a painting that's not so bad. I give myself credit for being courageously loose here. I obviously could use a lot more practice on my portrait painting. But I'm also looking forward to retreating into my comfort zone. Calypso Moon Artist Movement Challenge, take two.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Colorful Me

I don't really like the way I look, and I don't mean in this picture, which isn't the same. I feel some guilt about not liking my face because I have a perfectly decent face with useful parts - eyes to see, a nose to smell and support my glasses, a mouth to eat and speak and kiss. I guess I just always kind of wanted to be beautiful, and except for fleeting moments and deceptive photographs, I'm really not. So I haven't done many self-portraits. I haven't painted many portraits period, because a little practice didn't get me anywhere near portraits that I liked. They lacked the mysterious spark of life that I appreciate in a good portrait. I should paint portraits though; we should all paint portraits. What could possibly hold more interest for us than ourselves and other humans?

This was done for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement Challenge, which again pushed me outside the normal boundaries of my painting. I set up a wall mirror in the breakfast nook, and made a large pencil sketch on drawing paper. My plan had been to transfer it to watercolor paper and paint it there. But I captured some good value information in the sketch, and decided to work right on the drawing paper. I also decided spur of the moment to use pastels. I never use pastels, but I have an old box that belonged to somebody else, and lately I've spoken with a number of very passionate pastel artists. So why not? I think in some ways, working with pastels was good for me for this challenge. Since I couldn't mix the colors, there was no temptation to tone them down or neutralize them. I used bright red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. I added a little black (eyes, glasses and shirt only), and a little reddish brown just in the hair. I love the colors, and I think vivid colors may be part of the secret to alive-looking portraits. I think the top half of the portrait is a pretty good likeness. The nose isn't long enough and the jawline isn't square enough. I like the worried forehead creases.

One problem, however, that I overlooked, is that I need to paint the challenge piece. So, back to the drawing board.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Right next to the library, there's this wonderful tree. It casts deep shade, and has laid its generous roots above the ground. Little children make circles around the tree, jumping from root to root. Older people, but not too old, may find a comfortable seat on the roots to read a newly borrowed book, or to drink coffee from the shop across Diamond.

This tree is also the meeting place for the annual California Art Club/South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce paint out. This was my third South Pasadena paint out, but the first time I painted the moreton bay fig. Like a room in my house, this painting is a little cluttered. There are spots I like very much, and spots the irritate the heck out of me. Most of my paintings are like that. This is a 12x18 watercolor.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

One Percent

You may or may not have noticed how extremely circumscribed this blog is. It explores my drawing and painting, past and present, and my photography, pretty much limited to my yard. That's it. My family and friends hover around in anonymity, and I do not express views on politics or religion. It's not that I'm a slave to rules, not even my own. But I do well with boundaries.

I'm busting out tonight. I don't have any paintings to post, and I have over 700 photographic images from my recent trip. I needed to upload them anyhow, and sort, and further cull. Here's a few of the pictures I especially like.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Eddie's Market

I sat under a tree in Grant Park in Pasadena, and looked across the street and painted Eddie's Market. I looked forward to a sandwich from Eddie's, but they are closed on Saturday and Sunday. I peeked in the window, and the inside appears to have changed a bit over the years. I hope they still have Samuel Smith Pale Ale in the cooler. I should mention that Eddie's Market isn't as crooked as I have depicted.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Another Side of the World

Dragonfly at Songnisan National Park, Korea

View from Westin Chosun, Room 1123, Seoul, Korea

The truth is I haven't traveled much in recent years. I hadn't been off the continent for over 30 years. I never visited Asia before. I should have. It's easy to understand that the world is big and it's not all the same. But there is real value in experiencing the difference: in not being able to make myself understood, in accepting help with simple things, in being a minority, in not understanding conversations all around me, in not being able to read packaged goods. The food is different. Fashion is different. Manners are different. The smells are different. The mountains are shaped different. The bugs are different. Buildings are different. Baseball is different. The Teaching of Buddha is in the same hotel drawer as The Bible. There are shrines and palaces many hundreds of years old, and whole cities less than ten years old. My understanding, perspective and empathy are all expanded. I think it's true that I can find beauty and wonder right in my own backyard, but I can clearly learn much more when I venture out. I'm very happy that I visited Korea.