Sunday, May 29, 2011

Walk in the Arroyo

Arroyo means river bed. So just as a river might run through town, and people might stroll along it, so does a river bed. In Pasadena, South Pasadena, and Northeast Los Angeles, it's called The Arroyo. And we walk In it. It's a popular spot for dogs, horses and runners. It's a nice walk close to nature.

Matilija poppies grow there. I think they were planted as part of a restoration effort. They bloom right around May 28, for I'm not sure how long. The flowers are huge and wonderful. They make you stop and look and say wow.

I wanted to paint the flowers, but I also wanted to paint a landscape. I did both. My current painting mantras (do other people have painting mantras?) are "don't waste the paper" and "you can't oversimplify."

Sunday, May 22, 2011



Duck feather

Visit Lisa's Chaos for Macro Monday. And have a good week.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Almansor Park

I painted in Almansor Park today. It was warmer than predicted, but still nice. The people were plentiful and pleasant, and the birds were quite wonderful. I recognized some of the ducks and geese from my last visit. The painting went quickly. I'm sort of pleased. It's a little bland but I did take on water. I should have included geese and golfers. Just beyond the little gazebo (or what have you) a wedding happened while I painted.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Parking at the Castle Green

Last time I painted the Castle Green Apartments, I got a parking ticket. This time I ensured that parking enforcement would not go unnoticed. That's my car. A slightly wonky version (my painting, that is) of a 1992 Honda Accord Wagon.

I could tell you about the jazz benefit that was going on in the park, or about the young paramedic who interviewed me on the meaning of life for his college project. I could tell you about the meaning of life. But I sense you want some history.

In the late 19th Century, Pasadena was hugely popular with tourists from other parts of the country, who came for the mild winter weather. Railroads and hotels were built to accommodate them. One or more of the huge fine old hotels fell victim to fires in those days of gaslights. The Webster House was the first fireproof building in Pasadena. It was purchased from Mr. Webster by civil war Colonel George Gill Green, whose family fortune came from patent medicines. Green expanded the hotel, and built the luxurious annex that that became known as the Castle Green. Colonel Green marketed two elixirs, "Green's August Flower" and "Dr. Boschee's German Syrup." The German Syrup definitely contained an opiate, and August Flower probably did also. August Flower was touted for its benefits in curing dyspepsia. Possibly it was responsible for the untimely death of the woman in white who haunts the Castle Green. Or perhaps I just made that up.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It's Monday again already.

This bug showed up on my spent sunflower. It looks like it's wearing pants. I like the leaf shapes and the shadows in the photograph. I submitted it for Macro Monday. I also submitted it to What's That Bug, because I'm not sure what it is.

Monday, May 9, 2011


There are a few things in my garden that I planted, but almost all the plants were here when I arrived. Yet I couldn't love it any better if it had sprouted from my dreams or by my hard work. As much as the sights, I cherish the scents of my garden. Honeysuckles, simple and sweet, that smell like my childhood just as the school year was ending. Night-blooming jasmine - secret, beautiful, intoxicating. Like falling in love.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A River

Here's an abstract painting I painted. In part. Burdened with a mind that best grasps the concrete, I've never known how to approach creating an abstract painting. I like abstract paintings pretty well, although they aren't my very favorites. I've seen some I absolutely loved, but it would be difficult for me to figure out exactly why I love them. I attempted to convince Sam Kitamura to demonstrate his process, but he was bent on making me paint. So we switched off. He laid in some bold lines. I played with water and tentatively dabbed in some color. He painted some more. Then I painted some, adding some final touches with Sam's advice. He told me to sign it. This isn't exactly my signature; it's closer to how I sign checks than paintings. I learned a couple of things. An abstract has structure; well of course it does. It's a thing; it's concrete; it's part of the world. Possibly a wholly new creation. Color changes everything, especially the color it sits next to. I still wouldn't know where to begin.

Before the abstract, I painted the Los Angeles River. The painting is inadvertently abstract, and not very good. The L.A. River is one of a strange city's quirkiest features. It's mostly cement lined, extremely trash filled, and almost always a laughable trickle. But periodically it swells up to thirty feet and rushes to the ocean, taking a life or two on the way. There's an ambitious plan underway to restore the river to a more natural state. Boulders have been added, trees grow, and the water birds are abundant and varied. Last weekend as I painted, a volunteer workforce of hundreds pulled junk out of the river. With the care and persistence of people like those, it will be a real river again some day. Fish and all. My father used to catch crawdads in the Los Angeles River.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Born Limes

Fraught with possibility. A spritz on fish. A twist in seltzer. Guacamole, key lime pie. Margaritas. For Macro Monday.