Sunday, February 27, 2011

Painting Indoors

It's tough for me to follow that last painting, which I like much better than I usually like my paintings. But I need to move along, hopefully with a higher bar for myself. This was a quick still life painted at the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association open studio paint-in. The composition is awful - three things of similar size plunked down across the page in tic tac toe order. I had hoped that dramatic shadows would tie them together, but it didn't happen. I believe a vertical orientation would have been better. I should have honed in on my subject. I do like the light and shadow on that one pear - the contrast of the hard edge and soft edge. Sweet, huh?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Afternoon Light

When I drive a couple of miles north to get to the freeway, there's a view I love. It's a fairly unobstructed view of the mountains with the lithe limbs of a eucalyptus silhouetted in front. When the sun is low in the afternoon, the sky turns rosy and casts a glow on the scene.

There's also a supermarket there, a bank, a parking lot, and very tall street lights, not to mention the distant jumble of unrelated foliage and structures I can't make out. There isn't really a place to stand and paint either. It's a busy intersection, with only narrow strips of sidewalk. I drove up there one afternoon and parked in the corner of the lot and took several pictures from each corner of the the intersection. Eventually I came back to the photographs. I made a drawing of only the parts I liked. I worried it was too simple, and I almost added more. I edited the tree a bit. I tested the colors.

I like this painting very much. It captures the few simple elements that make me love that view as I drive quickly past. I'm going to submit it for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement landscape challenge. It's a 12 x 16 inch watercolor.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gulf Fritillary

Here is a gulf fritillary in the pear tree. I took the reference photograph early in the morning and caught the butterfly sleeping. They don't stay still long when they're awake. It was a few a months ago as you can see because the tree had leaves. These gulf fritillaries are ubiquitous in my garden. In the afternoon in season, there is always a crowd of them. I take them a little for granted in fact, and have nearly forgotten that they are exotic and beautiful, as is the passion vine that lured them to my home. They are medium-sized butterflies with proportionately long wings with silvery spots on the underside.

I'm fairly happy with this painting, especially the shadows in the folds of the wings which were tricky, and the branches which effortlessly sprung from my paint brush like magic.

Thanks to George Liang, who painted me painting, I have a new profile picture.

Monday, February 14, 2011


These pictures seemed to fit the day. That is, they are less inappropriate. Happy Valentine's Day. All kinds of love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sierra Madre

I hope this is just a stage that my painting is going through, and I'm on the brink of a breakthrough. For now, just another failed painting. I painted this at Bailey Canyon Park. I was pretty enthusiastic about my subject. I'm been wanting to paint our mountains - that particular regional variety of rugged mountains with scrubby growth and the most beautiful contours and colors and textures. I also liked the flowering and almost flowering foreground. I may have lacked commitment to the middle ground.

What do we do with our failed paintings? Do we try to save the paper by soaking it or painting on the back. Do we burn them so they'll never show up to embarrass us? Do we cut them into small pieces to use as bookmarks and gift cards? Do we give them away to people kind enough to tell us they aren't all that bad? Do we save them to measure our progress?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Here's a bit of a painting that is simple and spontaneous.

Here is a seriously over worked fragment of painting. Ugh, that mottled wad of tree stuff, and those dirty shadow smudges.

Together now. It's still an overworked messy thing. I do like the colors. Still, I wish I had something better to post. Only one way to fix that. This is a painting of Pasadena's Church of the Angels - a seriously beautiful place.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

People in Transit

I'm not proud of it, but I usually drive myself to work. Last week my car had some alarming symptoms, so I took it in for a look. The following two days, I took public transportation - a nice long uphill walk to Mission Station, a smooth ride on the Gold Line to Union Station, and a bumpy ride on the DASH. The train ride provided great opportunities for sketching people. I'm more than a little self-conscious about sketching people. Here I was able to do it in nearly perfect stealth, as they read their books, talked on their phones, listened to their music, slept, maybe sketched others. I should do this more often.