Monday, June 25, 2012

Everybody Paints At Buster's

I didn't set out to paint Buster's on Saturday.  I had it in my mind that I'd paint Griffins of Kinsale, my new pub.  I've missed having a pub something awful, so I thought it was best that I commit it to memory.  Against the unthinkable.  As it happened, I couldn't make much of the pub; there's a ginko tree right in front of it, and the morning sun doesn't light its face. 

The morning sun lights the awnings and umbrellas of Buster's.  Buster's is a wildly popular South Pasadena spot that serves coffee, ice cream, pastries and sandwiches.  For a working stiff like me, it's almost painful to drive past Buster's, because on any weekday, there are cool and happy people lolling about Buster's - sipping coffee, reading their books, hanging out with their dogs, chatting with their friends.  To make matters worse for my envious heart, there are frequently weekday plein air painters right in that area.   I like almost everything about Buster's.  It isn't open late at night, which is problematic, but there's a pub nearby for people like me. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Strange and Exciting

So I'm over the moon, because I just placed first in quick draw competition, where a bunch of painters come to the same place, and complete a painting in a limited time.  I competed with artists I respect a lot, who have a lot of talent and skill and are quite frankly much better painters than I.  The judges were yet another really wonderful artist and a mayor. 

Here's the story that makes the whole thing even more amazing.  There were a couple of San Gabriel High School student performing community service who were assigned to assist me.  There was a boy and a girl, and although they wore name tags and I'm good with names, I could not tell you what their names were.  Their function was to help me out by watching my stuff if I went to the restroom and getting me food and water and the like.  They may also have been monitoring me to be sure I complied with the rules of competition.  They were very kind and helpful, but there was a little bit of restless hovering going on.  I saw a lizard out of the corner of my eye, and I pointed it out to the kids.  At some point, about halfway into the painting, I told the kids to walk around and look at the other paintings, and come back and tell me if there were any that were worse than mine.  They came back a while later.  Well?  The boy responded, What do you want to hear?  I said, "tell me if there are any paintings that were worse than mine."  No, the boy said.  No, the girl confirmed.  They provided a brief explanation for their assessments.  So I said, "Well, honesty is good."  I went back to painting, possibly with a bit of fire lit under me.  Time passed.  Some people passed and noticed the lizard.  Some people passed and seemed to like the painting.  The painting improved some.  I decided I was done a long time before the time was up.  Before I left to go walk around, I told the students to look at the painting and see if it needed anything.  I came back.  The boy said it didn't need anything, but I could paint a lizard if I wanted.  So I did.  See it?        

Monday, June 18, 2012


Things change over time.  Sometimes things disappear altogether.  Sometimes only the names change.  I painted at what used to be known as Oak Grove Park in the town that used to be known as La Canada.  I love the name Hahamongna Watershed Park; it is both authentic and descriptive.  I walked south toward the dam, and chatted up a birdwatcher who mentioned a nest of Cooper's hawks and the dam keeper.  There's a dam keeper?  What a great job title - better than a catcher in the rye to my thinking.

I walked back to the busier part of the park to paint the view of the mountains which were shrouded in a light haze which put painting them in reach of my capabilities.  I stood in some harsh sunlight, but not in the path of the disc golfers.  Remind me to tell you sometime about my sunscreen, because it is the absolute best.

The best thing about my visit to Hahamongna (which rhymes with conga, not bologna) was the presence of wildlife.  It was late in the morning and hot and noisy.  Nonetheless, I saw a terrific big rabbit, and followed it down the road a ways.   Every one of my footsteps stirred a lizard.  There were lots of  little tiny frogs or toads which I remember we used to find in that vicinity when I was about eight or nine, but back then frogs and toads were all over the place and I hardly ever see them anymore.  Not far from where I painted, almost the whole time I painted, a great blue heron stood in the sand.  I suspect it might have been eating little frogs or toads, but that seemed good too.  I'll be back soon, and  I'm hoping things don't change.   


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Self-Realization and Dating Tips

I painted yesterday at the Self-Realization Fellowship Center.  I don't know what self-realization is, although I imagine it has to do with stripping away the superficial parts of who I am (or you are) - the ego, the pretense, the expectations, the insecurities, and such - to get to the true, unique and precious light inside me (or you).  Which sounds like a good idea.  I don't think I want to spend too much time meditating though, unless I can do it while I paint or eat or hang out with friends. 

This is a beautiful place.  I'm startled I live with ten miles of here, and once lived within probably three miles, and yet never knew this was here. The gardens are wonderful with a surprise around every corner.  I placed the orange under the tree to make it part of the picture.  A visitor stopped by to admire the painting in progress, picked up the orange and moved on.  Paramhansa Yogananda recommended orange juice for fasting. 

On another subject, which undoubtedly ties in somehow, I'm going to share some dating tips.  At this married stage of my life, I don't need dating tips, so it seems like a good idea to give them away.  Dating tips are best shared in writing, for reasons which are unclear to me.  1.  Don't appear needy, but appear to need a little bit of help.  Leave the tag hanging out the back of your shirt.  Someone will put it back for you.  Ask for help unscrewing lids and backing out of parking spaces.  2.  When you meet somebody and talk to them and you clearly like each other and exchange numbers, call, text or e-mail them the next day, and say I really liked meeting you & hope to see you again.  Either they will suggest  something more concrete, or you can a day or two later.  3.  First date should be something casual like lunch or coffee.  Pick a place that makes you shine - someplace where everybody knows you, or a location that you know interesting facts about, or a little-known, special (but not fancy) place.  4.  Listen to your date.  He or she will provide important clues into his or her interests and tastes.  When you are getting to know somebody, don't go to movies or noisy places or out with groups.  Go to places where you can walk around together - parks, museums, shopping districts.  The surroundings will provide conversation prompts.  5.  Early on, bring small gifts - trinkets you spent little or no money on - postcards, stolen flowers, used books.  6.  Everybody wants to hear "you are wonderful."  You need not limit this to your dates.  When you have nice thoughts about other people, you should let them know.    7.  Be yourself (your self-realized self).  You want to attract people who share your interests and tastes and like the way you look and the things you care about.  Let me know how it works out.    

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Half Fuller

I'm not wild about this one, but I'll tell you about it anyway.  I painted this at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.  I have some recollection that the first time I ever heard of Fuller Seminary was in an article entitled Fuller Land Grab in an alternative publication.  Fuller Seminary has swallowed a bit of the middle of Pasadena, apparently - closing a street or two and re-purposing lots of houses and apartments.  On the positive side, it appears to have swallowed it mostly whole.  These nice old houses are preserved and maintained.  The seminary seems to be a pretty good neighbor.  It's easy and comfortable for anyone to stroll through and around the lovely property.

I still don't know too much about Fuller Theological Seminary.  It was founded by another radio evangelist about a dozen years before Ambassador College.  It has outlasted Ambassador too.  I've known a few people who attended Fuller Seminary in various capacities, and I found them to be very thoughtful, intelligent, admirable people.  I think it might be pretty easy in this day and age for a Christian institute of higher learning to get swept up in ugly political arguments.  Fuller doesn't.

Expanding, growing, and building seems to be what colleges do.  In that way, they are like living organisms.