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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Into the Weeds

I painted today just off a tiny Alhambra street that has some pretty venerable art history. Champion Place was once home to the studios of artists Norman Rockwell, Clyde Forsythe, Frank Tenney Johnson, Eli Harvey, Tex Wheeler, Sam Hyde Harris, and Marjorie Reed. The eucalyptus tree lined arroyo has since been cemented in, and a batch of mid-century homes obscure the view. Nevertheless, it remains a place of abiding charms as well as a number of cats.

My painting got a bit cluttered and mired in details. But I think you can still see that it's a nice place. I was enticed away from painting by an invitation to tea, so I didn't quite finish on site. I completed the painting later at home, and since I had the paints out, I decided to try a second take on a postcard. And here you have it, almost completely without detail. Something in between would probably be best, something closer to the less fussy right side on the first painting.

I'm not sure how to bring this up. I worry sometimes that I'm a discourteous blogger. I think I behave myself pretty well on the blogs of others, but here I often neglect my guests. I don't thank you for your insightful or kind remarks. I don't even respond to your questions sometimes. I'm sorry. It doesn't mean I don't value you and treasure your comments. I don't really have an excuse. I will say my mother taught me to offer food and drinks, to take coats and write notes. But really I'm afraid she knew nothing of how to blog.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mission Anniversary

The San Gabriel Mission celebrated its 240th anniversary with a fiesta that included mass, a nine mile walk from Pueblo de Los Angeles, blessing of animals, a beauty pageant, a children's costume contest, Tongva storytellers, historical reenactments, traditional crafts, carnival rides, mariachi singers, folklorico dancers, and food. Sadly, I did not avail myself of all of it.

I set up to paint in the shade of a grapevine that is older than all the vineyards in the Napa Valley, and painted a sunny bit of mission wall. The wall holds the Stations of the Cross, and shades memorials to priests and brothers who have served at the mission church.

The history of California is so different from what I consider United States History. Californians spoke Spanish long before they spoke English. California was not part of Thirteen Colonies; it did not participate in the American Revolution or the Civil War. California's first European settlers were not Puritans seeking religious freedom; they were Catholic Missionaries. We had no part in the Boston Tea Party; we came in droves for a Gold Rush. History has to be a huge influence, that and the sunshine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Figeater Beetles

This summer, figeater beetles have descended on my yard. I don't even have a fig tree, but there's one next door. One morning I saw two of the beetles making sweet beetle love in my bougainvillea. Then a third beetle arrived.

The beetles are large, and they make a loud buzzing sound as they fly. They are a little alarming, but only harmful if you mind sharing your figs. The iridescence on their undersides is beautiful.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pasadena City Hall

I neither live nor work in Pasadena any longer, but I've done both, and I've never strayed too far afield. I painted the Pasadena City Hall last weekend, and here it is. My painting looks a little unfinished, but the paint dried fast in the extreme heat of the day. This city hall is a magnificent and monumental building, constructed over four years in the 1920s as the centerpiece of a 3 1/2 million dollar civic center. It is presently in the later stages of a massive renovation. The city hall has 235 rooms, which I find to be a staggering number. Most things with that many rooms are hotels or hospitals.