Monday, May 28, 2012

How it was

Regrettably, I did not get to paint out this past weekend, in spite of my plans.  But rather than continue to brood about that, now that I have nothing very serious to brood on, I've decided to post something other than my paintings.  These are photographs taken by my father.  Unfortunately, I can't identify any of the people or paintings depicted.  They are pretty obviously pictures of an art show, probably around 1968.  Notice anything about the paintings?

I don't enter a lot of art shows, but I get plenty of announcements.  Many, probably most of the shows, are open to works in various mediums, of various sizes, and of any subject matter, except nudes.  Which strikes me as nuts, because people who paint figures, way back since the beginning of recorded history, have painted nude figures.  Artists look at nudes not strictly because they are a salacious lot, but because that's how you learn about the human form.  Paintings of unadorned human figures are beautiful and expressive and timeless.

I've asked a few times, why no nudes?  The answer?  Children might view the art show.  So?  We're not talking about pornography.  What exactly would we protect children from?  If you took those children to the world's great museums, they would see paintings of figures.  

It is possible that art shows prohibit nudes because they don't want to distinguish between what is tasteful and beautiful and what is not.  But then again, they have to do that with works of all other subjects.  If it is really because of the children, that is just so wrong-headed.   I think everybody wants to protect children, but honestly, there are a million things more dangerous to them than two-dimensional depictions of breasts and buttocks. 

I think Blogger may also have a policy about hiding nudes from children.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It's nice to get away once in a while.  I visited my son in Santa Cruz and painted in his yard.  Mostly we didn't stay in the yard, but we got out and saw lots of wonderful things.   On Sunday, there was splintered sunlight.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

When It's Time to Shut Up

I've taken my title from tomorrow's sermon at Westminster Presbyterian Church. You'll recognize fan palms.  The shade trees are camphor trees.  

Asked how painting went today, I responded that it was a little bland. Nobody else came to paint, even though I'd picked this spot specifically for somebody who wanted to come back here. Left on my own, I'd probably have stalked matilija poppies in the Arroyo. It was pleasant out; nothing noteworthy happened while I was painting, and I think the painting is a bit bland as well. But not bad, just as a peaceful morning isn't bad. Drama and passion can be exhausting. We all need a break sometimes.

I thought I'd mention Mother's Day, and wish you a happy Mother's Day if you are a mother, and/or you observe the day. It's kind of a made-up holiday - it doesn't have any roots in religion or mythology or cosmology - it's just a nice sentimental gesture with cards and flowers. Mother's Day took on a bit more significance for me when I became a mother. And more significance again when my mother died. I miss my mother. She wasn't like my friends' mothers. She smoked and drank and swore; she was from New York; she was single and a career woman well into her thirties. She was also a convent-educated guilt-ridden Catholic. She was dazzlingly smart, but superstitious and very quick to worry. Never quite satisfied, rarely, I'm sorry, truly joyful. But she made me feel loved. She told me of how she held me when I was born and told me secrets. When I was desperately awkward and gawky, she promised I'd be beautiful. She pushed me. She made me honest and responsible. She gave me a home that always felt like home. The meals. The books. The art. The nerve to be different.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rows and Rows

Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena used to be known as Millionaire's Row, thanks to the mansions that lined it south of Colorado Boulevard. There are some mansions left, but a lot of the mansions were replaced with upscale apartments and condominiums, providing housing for many more well-heeled Pasadenans, and no doubt turning a handsome profit. One radio evangelist, Herbert Armstrong, bought up several of the mansions and opened a college - Ambassador College. He also opened up a pretty swell auditorium that hosted wonderful musical performances. Eventually, the fortunes of the Armstrong family took a turn for the worse, and finally the property was sold. It is now occupied by a private high school - Maranatha, a church, and only very recently quite a lot of construction activity. Some painters. A lacrosse tournament. I've just glossed over about a hundred interesting stories, because I decided to tell you about palm trees.

I like palm trees a lot. Even if I didn't like them, they would probably show up in most of the landscapes I paint, because that's how it looks around Pasadena and Los Angeles. Everywhere you look, rows of palm trees adorn the horizon. Movie location scouts have to look really hard around here to find places that look like New York or Nebraska because of the palm trees. The most common palm trees are washingtonia or fan palms. They put forth prodigious amounts of seeds which sprout everywhere like weeds; the leaves are shaped like fans. The next most common palm is the Canary Island palm. Canary Island palms tend to be a little shorter and stouter; their tops look like big pompoms. The palm tree in this painting is yet another kind of palm tree. It's either a king or queen palm - I'm not sure which - they are similar. The trunks of the king and queen palms are smoother; the greenery looks lush and feathery. You may wish to practice your palm tree identification skills by visiting Southern California, or by paging back through the blog.