Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sky About To Rain

Even if you've just driven through Pasadena, you've probably seen this - St. Andrew Church. St. Andrew's is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, although the current beautiful building with the tower wasn't built until 1927. The interior of St. Andrew's is wonderful. You should visit, maybe take a tour, or at very least visit their website and look at the pictures.

I was painting from a vantage point at Memorial Park. Memorial Park suffered devastating losses of trees in the recent winds. It's possible that a couple of weeks ago I could have stood in the same spot and giant oaks and camphor trees would have been in my sights. The sky was pretty today, but kind of emo. Then it started to rain and I hightailed it to my car, not because I mind the rain, but it plays hell with watercolors. I painted for another ten minutes at home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Here's a recent indoor painting. Generous friends shared their haul of delicious fuyu persimmons. I think because I'd painted persimmons in class last year, they called to me, not only to eat them, but to paint them too. I got the color much more saturated than my typical slightly faded looking watercolors. I recalled other lessons of oil painting as well: attention to values, contrasts, sparing but bold brushstrokes. They look a little like they're teetering on an abyss. I think the eating was a greater success than the painting. I ate at least one persimmon almost daily for more than a month I think. I shared a few. But the truth is few people like persimmons as much as I. I'm glad I didn't waste any, but I'm sad that they're all gone. I considered purchasing some at the market, but they're priced at bit beyond my fruit budget. Please think of me if you ever have more persimmons than you can use.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Can This Be Winter?

When I said it was a beautiful day at Arlington Garden, this is what I'm talking about. It's nowhere near spring, and yet a hundred different things are blooming. Fruit of the prickly pear cactus.

These seed pods are on one of Yoko Ono's wishing trees. I don't have any idea what became of the wishes, but the trees live on at Arlington Garden. I remember a time when I thought Yoko Ono was not a real artist, but was an opportunistic selfish woman who broke up the Beatles and took John for herself. With more mature eyes, I can see how perfect Yoko was for John; how they exemplified the very best of love, nurturing what was truest and most beautiful in one another. That's a good wish.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Arlington Garden

Beautiful day today. I'm glad I was out painting rather than shopping. At Arlington Garden, the citrus trees were heavy, and any windstorm damage had been lovingly cleared away. Exotic flowers were blooming and lizards were basking. Dogs and people were getting some exercise.

Once there was a enormous house here at Arlington and Orange Grove. The mansion wasn't torn down until 1961, by which time I was four and living in the area. How on earth did I miss it?

I also meant to note that instead of photographing my paintings laying flat in bright shade as I usually do, this was photographed upright in sunlight. The color washed out a bit, but is much more true, and you see the texture of the paper as well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

After Wind

Possibly you heard that California experienced some unusually strong winds which took down thousands of trees and knocked power out in many locations. The trees at my home all survived, with just minor injuries. Power was only out for about seven hours when I was most interested in sleeping anyway. But my old computer? Fried when the power went out. Surge protector notwithstanding. That is why there have been no blog updates. My advice to you? Replace your surge protector every so often.

I went out last Saturday to paint, but it was still pretty windy, and I became convinced that a tree would fall on me. Or at minimum, that my easel and paper would blow away. This painting is one I had been wanting to paint for a while. One morning I found a dead moth floating in the dog's water. It was really very beautiful. But when I took a photograph, it looked awful. Sort of like a dead moth in the dog's water. It needed artistic interpretation. Which I have attempted.

Thank you for being here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

After Rain

Nothing sparkles quite like a freshly washed garden.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Looking Back

I didn't schedule a painting outing today, and I apologize to anybody who was disappointed. It is a very long weekend to go without painting, I know. Yesterday, I eschewed Black Friday in favor of Sleep In Friday, and then I just got swept up in the inertia. Mid-way through Saturday morning, I was itching to paint. I headed out to my front yard, thinking I would make a quick painting there. I live on a pretty nice-looking street with overhanging trees, some fall foliage and a mountain view. It was a beautiful morning. But I simply could not abide the music being played by the guys working on the sewer line at my neighbor's house. I thought about requesting that they shut their music off, but I'm not quite ready to embrace my inner curmudgeon. So I went back inside and waited about four hours. By the time the music was gone, the light in front was also. So I turned to the back. This is the view from the right of my back stoop, with several liberties taken.

I am especially pleased to discover that I am a compulsive painter. I am also pleased not to have a picture of a cold plucked bird at the top of the blog any longer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grateful Fed

24 pound turkey. 28 pound pumpkin. 15 beloved people. Riches and blessings beyond measure. 3 glasses of wine. Many dishes - full, empty, washed and dried. Memories and leftovers.

Ahh Thanksgiving -- Festival of butter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Life Continues

Seen on a leaf of the pumpkin vine: a pair of gulf fritillaries, ensuring another generation.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I notice that I paint a lot of churches. I believe I like to paint churches because they are architecturally appealing. People put a lot of care into building churches, and church buildings often become the focal point of a community. Many churches have big lawns where I can hang out and paint without bothering anybody as long as it isn't Sunday or a wedding day. Today was a wedding day at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and I painted anyway. My painting and I are even in the wedding video.

Westminster Presbyterian Church was built in 1927 on North Lake Avenue by the architecture firm of Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury. They were among Pasadena's finest architects in a golden age of building. I once attended a wedding at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Hollywood has filmed several.

Sometimes organized religion makes me uncomfortable. Even with the very best intentions, religious organizations tend to foster divisions between people. As you know, divisions between people and their beliefs often go badly. I like religious organizations best when they leave their enclaves and go out to make the world a better place. There's lot's of room for improvement in the world. There is hunger, sadness, ignorance, illness, waste, dishonesty and greed. Which is not to say it isn't a wonderful world. It is. A world of infinite marvels and beauty. But it could be better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Color and Texture

A fall leaf
A spectacular cabbage, and

A remarkable pattern seen on the dead part of an oak tree

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eye on the Sparrow

Sparrows have to be the riffraff of the bird word. They are pugnacious and prolific. They are alien and loud. They hop instead of walking.

Backyard birders with their bluebird nesting boxes? You couldn't find a nicer bunch of people. And yet when it comes to sparrows, they speak of pest control, of destroying broods, and of pellet guns. Thank God somebody's looking out for the sparrows.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bug Collection

I've always liked bugs. I never ever pinned a bug to board. A few times I've kept them alive in jars, but mostly now I just like to watch them go about their business in the garden.

This is the larva of a gulf fritillary feeding on the passion vine on my back fence.

A monarch, a prince of a caterpillar, munching milkweed along with a little milkweed aphid.

A large milkweed bug; they feed on the seeds of the milkweed.

A beautiful praying mantis girl on a double delight rose. Color untouched.

One of the heirloom roses. You can imagine how big the flower is to support two huge green bugs who are able to ignore one another.
It's Macro Monday here and at Lisa's Chaos.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Morning

Sometimes it feels like work going out to paint on Saturday mornings. I don't get to sleep late very often. I don't get to hang out in my pajamas and eat indulgent breakfasts. Once I'm out though, especially if I like how the painting is going, there's little I'd rather do.

Today I painted from the Oaklawn Bridge - the landmark Green and Green 1906 concrete bridge - looking down at Mound Avenue. I chose this view because it was an unusual view point, and I liked the atmosphere of hazy bright morning light. Although there are some obvious problems with the painting, some of it is quite good I think, and I'm happy with the overall effect. I recommend the Oaklawn Bridge as a great place to paint, walk and explore.

Here's an old photo of the newly constructed Oaklawn Bridge.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Playing with Food

In recent years, I've become quite fond of food crafts. They are cute and edible, and sitting around making them is an enjoyable activity especially fun to do with others. No glue, no glitter, and no permanent clutter left behind. There is simply no down side.

When Cost Plus ran out of Halloween candy body parts sushi trays, what else were we to do? We made our own. Experience making Peepshi was helpful. You will need fairly disgusting gummy candies in awful shapes, rice crispies treats and fruit roll-ups (or fruit leather if you wish to infuse them with nutritional value). You will need knives and scissors, and appropriate caution. You may copy the pictures or work from your own slightly twisted imagination.

These little acorns may be even more endearing, and they were certainly eaten up more quickly. The are made of unwrapped Hershey's Kisses, mini Nilla Wafers, and butterscotch chips, stuck together with peanut butter. They fairly ooze seasonal charm. You may want to use them to adorn the tops of your pumpkin spice cupcakes or a plate of leaf-shaped cookies. Or you could just eat them and take a nap.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Higher Mountains

This painting dates back all the way to last Saturday, but my computer was out of commission and I had no way to bring it to you. This is Loma Alta Park, a Los Angeles County Park in Altadena. Loma Alta means high hill, and it's named, I believe, for it's elevation. There are spectacular views from the park of both the mountains and the Los Angeles basin. There are shaded picnic areas, great trees, horseshoes and an outdoor theater. In my late childhood, I left home for a day and walked to Loma Alta Park. It's always a good place end up.

Here's some of my favorite photographs from the visit. Especially the crow. Crows are great. So are maple leaves. Can you think of a better leaf?

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Pumpkin Patch

Ask me about my pumpkins. Here's a baby picture.

Where pumpkins come from. My favorite.

And these should give you a sense of the scale.

Me and my pumpkins.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nature Park

I painted today at the South Pasadena Woodland and Wildlife Park, which is commonly known as the Nature Park, even by it's primary caregivers. It was pretty hot this morning, and I almost can't imagine what fall feels like. Other than evenings and the crunch of an apple. The painting is nothing to brag about. Anything that is lovely in the painting was probably lovelier in the world. I did turn the fall color up a notch, in a bit of wishful thinking.

Here is fairly satisfactory photograph of a spiderweb. The web was huge and well lit. I didn't see the spider. I did see some wildlife at the nature park, including a heron, mallard ducks, several lizards and some butterflies. But I'm not much good at photographing moving things.

The jimson weed was about my speed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy McDonald Park

Weekends are wonderful and all too short. Every weekend, I need to catch up on gardening, laundry, grocery shopping, and myriad other tasks and errands. I want to spend time with my favorite people (not limited to the ones I am lucky enough to live or work with). I can choose but one or two venues from the smorgasbord of community cultural events. This Saturday was the Global Day of Action with Occupy Los Angeles. It was also Artwalk Pasadena, Taste of South Lake, Pasadena Heritage Craftsman Weekend, the Fork in the Road Forking Party, and a hundred other things I missed. I did paint in the morning at McDonald Park in Pasadena, and later I attended the Urban Rancho Sustainable Garden Party at the Lummis Home in Highland Park.

McDonald Park is in the middle of Pasadena's Bungalow Heaven. Bungalow Heaven is Pasadena's first Landmark District, and is on the National Register of Historical Places. It is a decidedly 99 percent neighborhood of small early 20th Century single family homes. The park fits well in the neighborhood. It has a playground, a single basketball court, a handball court, a softball field, really nice bathrooms, trees and picnic tables. In all truth, it's not really heaven, but it is quite nice. There seems to be a powerful neighborhood watch sentiment. I detected suspicious eyes on me -- me, middle-aged super harmless painter lady. Oh well.

I got to wondering who McDonald of McDonald Park was. My first line of investigation was the park sign, and then the city's website. No first name, just McDonald, like Old McDonald, but I didn't think that was it. I learned that the very first McDonalds restaurant was in Pasadena, but I didn't think that was it either. Here's what I finally came up with. And it's only a guess. In the 1880s, John McDonald established a real estate and insurance business in the center of Pasadena. He later was one of the founders of the first trust and loan of Pasadena. He became City Treasurer. In the 1920s he urged the approval of bonds for the civic center and for the water district. John McDonald was the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade in 1928.

I painted this house on Mar Vista because I liked the light coming through the trees especially in the background. I didn't quite get it, but I think there's a few nice things happening in the painting. I cropped some of the left side because it was a bit eye-catching without being important. But that left the tree in the middle which isn't ideal. I think if weekends were longer, I'd be a better painter too.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Don't Know

I painted today at the Waverly School Organic Farm. I understand Waverly students walk from school to the farm, where they plant and tend vegetables, flowers and fruit. I also heard that they play outside in the sun and the shade, and climb trees and build forts and grow imaginations. Children were absent today from the farm because it's Saturday. But things were growing and awaiting their return.

There is a little pond there, which was reflecting an extra blue sky this morning. Huntington Hospital is right across the street. I struggled with the paints, and was annoyed with my painting. I'm still not crazy about it, but maybe it's not so bad.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Now and then

Found in my garden

A seven-legged male green lynx spider on the Tahitian Sunset rose

A pear blossom from several weeks ago. Poignant, because none of the pears set, and the whole tree is having a bit of a struggle now. It's tough out there, sometimes, for spiders, for trees, for all of us.

They're for Macro Monday, but I can't seem to add hyperlinks these days.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Miniature Golf

The Arroyo Seco Golf Course includes a par three eighteen hole course, a driving range, and a miniature golf course. It is the most wonderful use of small space tucked in between a freeway, roads and a wash; it is simple, unpretentious, reasonably priced and lovely. I don't actually golf, but I have tried the driving range. I am a seasoned veteran of the miniature golf course. This course was built over half a century ago; the castle is built of masonry; the windmill is built of wood. The course is rather challenging in places. Nine wonderful holes of wholesome, multi-generational, outdoor fun.

It was a little tricky to find a place to stand where I wouldn't be in the way or at risk from flying balls. I may try to paint the castle and the windmill from one of my photos. You might notice I painted a couple a people, which was kind of fun for a change. What I really want to do though is go back and play mini golf.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Macro Miscellany

A young conifer beetle on a passion fruit

A mushroom on the lawn of Eliot Middle School

Roses, Double Delight

Fly on rose. They pollinate flowers too and have some beautiful colors, yet they lack the cachet of butterflies.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Eliot Middle School

This morning I painted at Eliot Middle School. Because my children are grown, September doesn't hold the same back-to-school magic. But I had been longing to paint a school. Eliot is a pretty nice looking school on North Lake Avenue, close to some of my best friends and the Coffee Gallery which is also near to my heart. I like the painting pretty well. It looks just like Eliot, although it doesn't show the distinctive tower. It captures the slightly foggy morning atmosphere.

The school was dedicated in 1931, Charles W. Eliot Junior High School. Charles W. Eliot was the recently deceased former president of Harvard College. The stone plaque at the front of the school, reinforced with earthquake bolts, quotes Eliot, "Man glorifies God first by being useful, second by being happy. The supreme powers of the universe are not mechanical or material; they are hope and fear and love."

I had some personal history at Eliot. When I spent a year as a substitute teacher, physical education at Eliot was my most frequent assignment. I wore athletic shoes and handed out basketballs. It was nice to be outside. Classrooms can be pretty stifling, particularly for a young substitute teacher.

Whether you call it junior high school or middle school, those are some wickedly formative years. You have growth spurts and hormones. You start to learn about the world and keep secrets from your parents. Your wonderful friends and your anxiety form the center of your wildly spinning universe of hope and fear and love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Mission Gardens

An odd little statue of a missionary priest and a small convert. Even odder fragment of a statue behind with only feet. A bundle of purifying sage in front.

A hybiscus bloom

A poinsettia

Little angel statue, in need of some birdseed

A happy yellow flowering tree.
Have a good week. Enjoy additional macro images at