Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pigeons in the Park

I'm pretty happy with my life-sized rendering of a pair of pigeons showing a little affection. I like pigeons a lot. You've probably heard this before. I like their plumpness, their iridescence, and their soft cooing sounds. I like that they hang around downtown and on windowsills. And how they are in my front yard but won't visit the back.

Remember Bert on Sesame Street? He was also a big fan of pigeons. As between Bert and Ernie, I'd prefer to think I was more like Ernie. Ernie is the creative one, the inventive and adventurous one. Ernie is a dreamer and he is warm and expressive. Most important, Ernie has the voice of Jim Henson, who is one of my all-time heroes. But I have to admit I'm more like Bert. Bert is quirky and uptight and maybe even a little whiny. But you know he's okay, because he likes pigeons and he's Ernie's best friend and he always joins in before the song is done.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

El Centro

I thought a little this morning about why we make pictures. At best, they are objects of beauty, which is enough. If we make photographs or representational art, we make pictures OF things. To be objects of beauty, but also to capture a moment, a place, a face, to make an object out of a vision.

I thought about this because when I go out to paint, I try to choose my subject based on how it looks rather than what it is. I may not be a super good painter, but I am a serious painter. I value all the good art advice I've received, and try to follow it. I don't see myself as a sentimental painter, even if I sometimes do make pictures of beloved companion animals.

My painting location this morning included a view of my old veterinarian's office. El Centro Small Animal Clinic, the office of Dr. Pio Rimando. Dr. Rimando was there when I moved to town. The household I joined already had a cat who was a patient of Dr. Rimando's, so I brought my cat to him as well. Dr. Rimando and his wife ran a small, happy, busy office. The prices were reasonable; dogs and cats got shots and stitches. There wasn't even a x-ray machine. There was something so extraordinarily beautiful in the quiet gentle matter-of-fact way Dr. Rimando handled the animals. Mrs. Rimando planted beautiful flowers outside the office. You'd always see them out walking dogs who were boarding and watering the flowers. Dr. Rimando got older, and sometimes the office was closed for weeks because he was ill. He started keeping much shorter hours. Eventually, reluctantly, he put the property up for sale. Now there's a notice of zoning change up in the window. Somebody wants to tear down the building and put up a two-story office or live-work building. Another one. It will be nice to remember when it looked like this.

I did put in some time before I painted it to see it as a picture - the diagonal and convergent lines and the blasts of red.

Across the street was a reminder to stop and smell the roses.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hermon Park

Hermon is very small neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles. One of its features is a park located on Via Marisol - once known as Hermon Avenue - but renamed after the daughter of a city councilman. Hermon Park has many tennis courts and an off-leash dog park. I chose to paint at Hermon Park because it contains two bridges and a view of one more. Yet, as you can see, I didn't paint a bridge at all. There was one bridge view I fancied, but it required that I stand in the sun and look upward, which wasn't nearly comfortable enough.

I found a shady spot close to my car, and painted sycamore trees. This view could be virtually any park in the greater Los Angeles area. All the parks have grass and sycamore trees. Sycamores are native to, and thrive in this area, although their leaves are green for a much shorter time than in cooler wetter parts of the country. Their trunks are their greatest charm though - the light colors with hints of pink and lavender, and jigsaw puzzle patterns in the bark; the graceful lyrical way the trunks turn and bend, as if the trees are dancing. I'm somewhat pleased with the painting.

A father with a tiny girl stopped to look. The dad in his British accent pointed out various things in and about the painting including the "bin". I'd call it a trash can. Got me thinking about how the English don't seem to call anything a can. Not a tin, not a bin, not a loo, and not that either. Seems to be nothing but an auxiliary verb across the pond.