Saturday, July 31, 2010

Southwest Museum

There are two points that comprise a viewpoint: where you stand, and where you're looking. I was looking at the Southwest Museum (as you are now), but I want to tell you about where I stood. The Audubon Center at Debs Park is my new favorite place. It is located in an unspoiled patch of the Arroyo Seco, so a painter can experience and paint the landscapes that were so familiar to painters of the last century, including Wendt,the Wachtels,and Redmond. I saw cottontails. The Audubon Center itself is an entirely green and sustainable structure. It gathers all its own power. Cabinetry is made of compressed sunflower hulls. Parking is ample and free, with preference given to energy-efficient vehicles. You can buy Adventure Passes there for future trips to the mountains. There is perhaps the best play area ever for young children - no gimmicky stuff, just mud, leaves, sticks, fabulous trees, a cave, a fort, picnic benches, play tables, bridges, and endless imagination fodder. If you want to take a little hike (of which there are a number), you can borrow (not rent) strollers, kid-carrying backpacks, day packs, binoculars, nature guides, AND (get ready) watercolors and paper. I brought my own paints and paper. I'm pretty happy with the painting. I've always liked this building, and I did an okay job of capturing the light, colors and values. The sun was warm and the paint dried quickly.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Power and Light

This is my painting of the view from the Pasadena Glenarm power plant, from the fountain looking toward Raymond Hill.
Our computer problems seem to be resolved, not without intervention, but without a new computer. In an exciting bit of news, my painting of the goose was selected for Watercolor West.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Outside the Box

At this point it's all the computer's fault. Although I suppose I may have unwittingly caused the computer problems. I'm not using the home computer at the moment. I'm tired of wrestling with it. Without warning, I can't access any number of sites, or functions within sites; I've lost my ability (intermittently) to edit photos and to post to the blog. Some of my best comments are lost in the ether. When things do work, it takes at least three tries. I'm sure the trouble isn't forever. There will be computer service or a different computer, or something.

If you were wondering, that's what's going on. The painting above is a tiny fragment of my painting last Saturday at Monrovia Canyon; I did intend to crop off some of it, but not the full ninety-five percent. I'm including it anyway. It seems to fit with the theme.

This other picture was a collaborative effort of Alice Lee, Georgia DeBeers, Karen Kiefer, and me, conducted (music analogy) by Roderick Smith. The theme was mission, which explains, in part, some of the overtly religious imagery. It's huge by the way, like around 4x8 feet. It was an interesting and instructive experience. Artists should reach. I'll be back soon, I hope, with plenty of pictures.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Freedom makes me think of summers of youth. Released from school, we abandoned our books and our shoes. Our clothes were light and water was our element. We played outside before breakfast and after dinner. We ate ripe juicy peaches from the tree. You have to resent it a little, being grown up. But children have another perspective. Several years ago, my son observed that grown-up people waste what they have. What do you mean? I asked. He said, you have money and cars; you could do anything. So this is a reminder. Responsibility and domesticity are choices. As long as a heart beats in me and I have the means to pick up and go, I am free. Possibility beckons. Mad adventure waits.

Although I have to admit this looks a little unfinished, it was my plan all along to simplify. An exercise of artistic freedom. This painting was done for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement challenge.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roman snail

I didn't know they were called Roman snails either - those large lung-breathing, hermaphroditic, edible snails. That's too much information, isn't it? I don't have these in my yard, although there were plenty of them where I used to live just a mile away. I photographed this snail and many more at a gas station in Ventura after the rain. I wasn't sure snails were bugs. I deferred to one of my favorite web references: what's that bug? I think bug, just bug, isn't really a very specific scientific term. Apparently it can refer to insects, spiders, mollusks, flu viruses, and computer problems. Small annoyances.

I've always kind of liked snails. They can play hell with a garden, but they don't move suddenly or have any sharp edges. Their shells are rather beautiful and interesting to paint

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chinatown, Los Angeles

After taking two weeks off from Saturday plein air painting, I felt nervous about going back. It was a wonderful experience to stand quietly and paint in the plaza and absorb the atmosphere of the place, which changes very markedly from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The plaza starts out full of men, speaking Chinese or reading the paper, drinking coffee or tea. Many of them silently watched me paint. By noon they have gone home or indoors to play mah jong; you can hear the tiles. The L.A. Conservancy walking tour is there. There are lots of tourists and locals with their children; the children have those little paper-wrapped popping things. A man is playing an erhu. A group of girls is consulting a fortune teller.

I used watercolors, for a change and to avoid cleaning brushes. It's the first watercolor I have done on an easel. I spent a long sketching this wonderful building before I painted it. You might imagine that I pushed the colors, but if you've seen the building, you will know that my version is rather muted.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Slow to Post

I was going to blame the computer for my failure to update the blog, but I realized I haven't finished any new paintings anyhow. So this evening, instead of buying frames at the Aaron Brothers 1 cent sale, or hearing free Armenian music at Leavitt Pavilion, I will paint. But first this. A not-great, but my-best-so-far picture of a spider web. Martian-looking ivy flower buds. A passion-fruit with all its seeds neatly removed and eaten.

Then, a Beautiful Blogger award, which was generously given by Angela and Margaret, two of my newest artist blogger friends. I am really pleased and honored to get the award. Yet, as somebody who has never passed along a chain letter, I'm insecure about passing on the award. Yet, if I appreciate the award, might not someone else? Yet, while I comment on some of my favorite blogs, I'm more of a silent stalker on others, and wish to keep it that way. In the spirit of compromise, or perhaps as a cheat, I've decided to do this. I'll tell you ten true facts about myself. Then I'll call your attention to the list of blogs I follow on my profile page. There aren't all that many of them, and they cover a rather wide range of, well, everything. I urge you to look at them. If a blog is there, I consider it a Beautiful Blog. If you find your own blog there, and you don't already have an award, you deserve one, and I hereby give it to you.

1. My favorite color is green, although I prefer some things in blue or yellow.
2. I don't carry an umbrella in the rain.
3. Two of my favorite foods are sushi and brownies with walnuts.
4. I have only ever had (and still have) one cell phone.
5. I wish everybody would stop drinking bottled water except in places where the water is genuinely unsafe.
6. I'd like to open a pub someday with live Irish music.
7. I've never had a pedicure.
8. I like to find heart-shaped rocks.
9. I'm very wobbly on a bicycle.
10.I don't care for mid-century furniture and disco music.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pinacate beetle

If you camp or hike or just hang around outdoors, especially in the dessert, you've probably seen these. You might know them as stinkbugs, but really many different bugs are known as stink bugs, so it's good to be specific. Pinacate comes from an Aztec word. I usually see them walking in the road. Since they can't fly and aren't all that fast, it's nice to help them to a safe place out of the path of cars or hikers.

Some of you suggested or surmised that my series of paintings could be bugs. And you are correct. I'll be painting bugs for a while. This is the third one in the series. The second, a more complicated subject, is still in progress. I enjoyed painting the ground as well as the bug. I've noticed with the bug paintings that when you make the bugs large, the background needs significantly more detail.

The computer problems persist by the way.