Thursday, November 25, 2010


My car was stopped at the rail crossing at California just west of Arroyo Parkway where there is a car wash. I think these people are waiting for their cars to be washed. The man sits. The woman has picked up a few things she needed at Trader Joe's. I like the way the light hit the woman. I like her efficiency and her cool boots. I like how you can barely see the child, and yet you know she is an adorable little girl, sprite-like in her own boots. Although you can see the man's face (not too well painted), he is less interesting because he is just sitting and the light isn't shining on him.

I painted this for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement challenge,Painting History,and I'm glad I did. Happy Thanksgiving, painters and pilgrims.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What it isn't

I went out yesterday for my weekly dose of painting. It was raining. I was going to paint from the shelter of the band shell at Memorial Park, but there were people there already who needed the shelter a lot more than I did.

I wound up not painting. I did walk around and take photographs, which is almost always my first step. That was a far as I got. I don't regard myself as an art photographer. But I liked some of shots I got yesterday, not as prospective paintings, but as interesting images as they are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Milkweed Bug

This is an interesting study in bug identification. I used to think these were harlequin bugs. Because I knew there was such a thing, and I thought these looked somehow very harlequin-like. But then I learned that harlequin bugs were something else. So I went to some lengths to identify these based on their appearance. I tentatively determined they were box elder bugs. But they aren't. They're closely related, but I don't have box elder, and these guys live in and on the milkweed. I could have just googled "red black bug milkweed." Or not even googled "milkweed bug." My son just called them f*** bugs, because of their very pronounced reproductive drive. This happens to be the same sort of bug that's on the cover of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

La Laguna

If I had done a better job of painting this, if I had not belabored the dappled shadows, you still might have trouble figuring out what this is. It is just possibly the best playground ever. Art in concrete by Benjamin Dominguez, circa 1965. There are several play structures, in the form of sea creatures, sea monsters, a lighthouse and sinking ship all adrift in a vast sea of sand and imagination. You can climb on everything, and there are many slides. I didn't slide but I did climb to the highest point. If you need to find this (of course you do,) it is located in Vincent Lugo Park in San Gabriel, California. I'm not crazy about my painting, but I have no regrets about my time spent in the presence of sunlight and happy children.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pomegranate and More

My fourth class with Timothy Tien, placing me at mid-term. This was an easier still life, since Tim didn't bring the blue bottle that was going to be the challenge. The pomegranate was challenging enough. It has an odd but interesting shape and difficult coloring - bright here and muted there. It has to compete for attention with a couple of bright yellow lemons.

I learned again the importance of backgrounds to still life paintings. The color of the background should bring the objects forward; the background will define their edges. It should compliment, but not distract. It shouldn't be too big an unbroken shape, but it shouldn't be choppy. This background is remarkably similar to the background used in school portraits.

And I got to paint a little brown jug.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

I painted at St. Luke's Hospital in Pasadena. St. Luke's has been vacant for years now, but remains a wonderful building with the protections of landmark status. Happy squirrels inhabit the grounds. This is not the iconic view of the hospital, just a wall and a shadow and two kinds of palm trees.

I love to paint of course, but some Saturdays I go reluctantly, because I am feeling lazy or else because I have something else pressing to do. Yesterday I hosted a party, so I was torn about painting in the morning. I compromised with myself and only painted for an hour and a half. It was a lovely hour and a half. I have painted outdoors in many different conditions, but yesterday was the first time I was nearly overwhelmed by falling leaves - little yellow elm leaves on my palette and in my water.

I like this painting. When I like a painting, I don't put in in the back of the car. It rides up front with me. Sometimes I like a picture one day, but not the day after. I still like this one, and the party was very nice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Painting Lessons

This is the painting from my third class with Timothy Tien. We skipped last week. He sets up still lives that are fraught with problems such as many similar hues, bright backgrounds, shadows on dark surfaces, and objects that barely show. I need to find the story - the main and supporting actors, the composition, the pattern of dark and light. My big mistake this time was laying in the background first, and then trying to adjust the watermelon color. Better to start with the watermelon, which should be the most vividly colored. So I redid it. Tim liked my persimmon, I understand because it reads true without being literal. It took a while. The whole time I was smelling watermelon.

I don't know why canvas boards photograph so badly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bailey Canyon Park

Bailey Canyon Park is a lovely small nature park in Sierra Madre. You can leave your car there and head into the mountains. It may be tacky to mention, but it might be of interest, that the restroom is spectacularly well-maintained.

It rained over night. It was still drizzly and gray when I set out from home on Saturday, and I had thoughts of sitting in my car and sketching. But when I arrived at Bailey Canyon, it sparkled in the morning sun and birds were everywhere. It's a rather simple painting, but the friendly and courteous dog-walkers said they liked it very much.