Thursday, November 22, 2012

In a Canyon

In early November, I painted at Mary's Market in Sierra Madre Canyon.  This a view looking over the bridge and up the road.  It's a really lovely area.  Sort of a little local Topanga Canyon, or maybe more like Brigadoon.  I've known and know a few people who live up there, and several more over the years who wanted to.

I like the painting, even though it's kind of cluttered and confused.  And there's plants in a planter box that look sort of like a giant red-eyed lizard.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Career in Art

This is a shirt.  I thought about photographing it or cropping it, so that it wouldn't look like a shirt, but it is after all a shirt.  I am not an artist.  I may draw and paint, and use the tools of an artist, and sometimes even make art.  I don't think that makes me an artist.  In the same way that I am not a singer, a plumber, a driver, a stripper, a writer or a dog walker.  I'm not employed as an artist; I don't spend most of my waking hours in art, and history will likely not remember me as an artist (or at all probably.)

I used to be an artist for a little while.  I was just finishing high school.  My sister was a student at Pasadena City College. She made a friend whose parents owned a women's apparel company.  They did a lot of screen printed tee shirts.  I'm not sure how it came up because I wasn't there, but my sister met the art directer at the company.  My sister is not given to understatement, so she told him I was an artist.  I think she meant that I drew well and liked to take art classes.  I think she even showed him stuff I had drawn.  The art director agreed to meet me.  He didn't interview me; he could barely speak English.  He gave me a picture of a chrysanthemum and told me to draw it.  So I did.  I think I spent a couple of hours on it, and when it was done, the art director said it was nice.  It wasn't a test, it turned out; it was my first day of work.

This was before the advent of personal computers.  The art director (hereafter "my boss") would go to the downtown L.A. library and borrow pictures he thought would make good shirt designs.  There was a fashion designer too who was hired soon after me.  She'd draw shirts with little indications of where the art would get printed and some idea of the subject.  I'd render drawings in pencil, and then finish them with ink or paint or whatever my boss decided would look best.  The art for the shirt above was airbrush over pencil.  I did the pencil; the boss did the airbrushing.

Meanwhile I enrolled in college.  When I explored possible fields of study, I decided not to be an art major.  I thought, based on my experience, that it would be no problem at all to get a job doing art while I pursued liberal arts for the love of learning.  The art department at my job grew by a couple of people.  And when it was time for the department to get smaller again, they cut the part-time untrained college student.  I had the job for less than two years.  I think when I got a passport, it said I was an artist.  I looked around for another job doing art, but people wanted to see a portfolio.  I had some drawings and some shirts.  My next job was preparing fast food.    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Debs' View of Southwest

Remiss here as in nearly all things, I've gotten behind on posting my Saturday paintings.  This was painted October 26, I think.  I painted this view of the Southwest Museum from Ernest Debs Park.  It was a warm and lovely day.  I forgot to bring paper to paint on, but it happens that Debs Park wonderfully supplies child-grade art paper for the use of visitors.  The paper isn't nearly as nice as what I usually use, but I can thank it for the looseness and simplicity of this painting.

Ernest Debs Park, as I've said before, is a great place to visit.  It's especially great for kids.  Kids of all ages can experience low-tech authentic encounters with nature and true adventures.  They can hike and climb and paint.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Route 152 Oak

When you drive from Southern California to Santa Cruz, one way is to take I-5, which moves like the wind (if the wind were the I-5); it will take you through the agricultural middle of the state.  Then you can make your way to the coast on Route 152, which is quite scenic.  If I'm the passenger, I always try to snap pictures of the scenery flying past.  Or if I have a passenger, I delegate.  This is there.  I painted it a couple of weeks ago, from a photo that I think my son took some months or possibly a year or so ago.  The photographs are all intended to be painting subjects.  I love those old oak trees and the rolling golden hills.  The painting isn't too far off.   When I painted the clouds (actually, I painted the sky around and through them) I thought I'd messed them up completely.  Since they were the first thing I painted, I almost scrapped the project.  But I like the clouds now - they have that cloud-like randomness and improbability that I never could have achieved intentionally.