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?