Sunday, December 30, 2012

Eddie House

This is a Saturday paint-out painting that I painted several weeks ago, and then didn't post because I thought it didn't look good.  However, there were those who liked it on facebook, so who am I to judge?  The Eddie House, I've mentioned previously, was a South Pasadena home that was bequeathed to the city on the death of its owner.  It's a pretty generous gift, but I'm sure cities aren't crazy about being given houses with any restrictions about use and maintenance   I love houses myself, but I admit that they are mighty needy.  

It was a pretty gloomy cold morning I recall.  One of the first of the season.  Leaves were falling.  I was taken by the light shining through the house, which, while imposing, is not deep.  I think I tried to play up that spot of bright light by darkening up everything around it, but the shadows got too dark.  Or maybe not so much too dark as they are utterly devoid of color. I like the back-lighting on the sycamore tree.  I like the boldness and the simplicity.  I do not like the shadows on the pavement, or the column, which ought to be mostly in shadow, but shows up like a blind man's cane.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Butterfly Ranch

In a few short years, my milkweed (which I bought in a three inch pot at a Huntington Library plant sale) has spread throughout my garden, as, being a weed, it is wont to do.  If you plant milkweed, monarch butterflies will come.  The population has increased each year, so the striped caterpillars covered the plants for weeks in the fall.  The plants are close to defoliated now, but where you can find leaves, buds and seedpods, there are still caterpillars.  I stopped counting the chrysalises when I got to 50.  And the monarchs aren't my only butterflies.  I have lots of passion vine, which is the host plant for the gulf fritillary.  The other butterflies I see include skippers, blues, giant swallowtails, tiger swallowtails, sulphers and painted ladies.  I've had rare sightings of mourning cloaks and red admirals and something kind of small that I can't identify.  I have plans to plants anise, coneflower, lantana, and cabbage.  I will be covered in butterflies.  Happy new year, blog readers.  May you too be covered in butterflies or whatever your heart desires.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where the Heart

I don't only believe in chance.  I believe in God.  However, I'm pretty fuzzy on the definition of God.  I believe that prayer has enormous power.  I invoke angels when I hear a siren.  I promise St. Anthony money for the poor when I'm looking for lost things.  I celebrate Christmas (and many holidays) with a wide-open heart.  Faith has waxed and waned through my life, and I think I'm comfortable with that.  As I've mentioned before, religion makes me a little uneasy.  There is a lot that's good about forming community based in a common understanding of the universe and of moral values.  But obviously (to me) religion is a man-made construct. The truth about our universe, our creation and our immortal souls is the same for all of us, whatever we may believe.

It's clear to me that death is part of the bargain for all of us.  This life is precious because it is fleeting.  I do find myself completely uncertain about whether any part of our consciousness goes on.  I'd like proof if possible.  But I wonder if it matters.  People who have died may or may not exist in the future, but they most certainly exist in the past, and the past exists in the present.  To exist in someone's heart is to exist.  Existence in dreams and imagination is existence.  Matter and energy continue.  For now, I'll just treasure the days of this life.  Someday, if I keep my wits, I'll know what's next.

The painting is a depiction of my kitchen.  I love to paint out in nature, but I think painting the landscapes of my interior could be nearly as nice.  And I could do it in my pajamas.          

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Power and Chance

As I've been blogging less, I do believe I've been thinking more.  I've had some big thoughts.

One big thought is about the incredible unlikeliness of our very existence.  I'm not a numbers person, so it's more a concept than a precise calculation.  It is wildly rare in the known universe to find a planet so conducive to life as our Earth.  Even Earth hasn't always been so habitable.  And where other planets might foster life forms,  it's a very small chance that the life would even slightly resemble ours.  It so happens that there are billions of humans on Earth.  We are extremely complex fragile beings, with whom a million things could go wrong.  Forces from inside and outside of us threaten our survival daily.  You have enough experience to know how rare it is for two people to meet and be fond of and attracted to one another. Even if their stars align and they make love, what are the chances they are fertile?  What are the myriad obstacles to conception?  And to one out millions of sperm cells being the one?  And every generation before us was more or less equally a long shot.  It's no wonder people like to gamble.  Every one of us has won something so much bigger and better than the lottery.

I painted the Pasadena power plant.  There isn't a lot of industrial subject matter around where I live, and I think I'm drawn to it, if only for variety.  Inexplicably, there is some unusual and very pretty landscaping around the power plant, and not just around the parts you can see, but on this little dead-end cul-de-sac, where almost nobody has much business.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hollenbeck Park

This was painted last Saturday in Hollenbeck Park.  It was my first visit to Hollenbeck Park, but the park was highly recommended by two other painters, and I trust painters' instincts.  Possibly not about everything, but definitely about the visual value of locations.  It is an excellent park.  It has great old structures; it's fabulously hilly, and it has this long narrow pond that attracts tons of water birds.  There were many dogs at the park last week too, in part because there was a dog vaccine event.  

Hollenbeck Park is named for John Edward Hollenbeck.  Hollenbeck made his fortune in Nicaragua in a prior century, and speculated in land in East Los Angeles.  He was briefly a City Council member.  Other important things in East Los Angeles are also named for Hollenbeck:  a division of the Los Angeles Police Department, a middle school, and very good burrito.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

By Southwest

It's the last few minutes of Friday, and with any luck I'll have a new painting tomorrow, so it's time I post last Saturday's.  This is the view from the other side of the Southwest Museum, which you may recall I recently painted from Ernest Debs Park. Blogger Pasadena Adjacent suggested I do it again on better paper.  Also, I remembered that after being closed altogether for a while, the Southwest Museum is now a little bit open again.  It is open only on Saturdays from 10 to 4.  The garden is open, and the empty tunnel and a very small exhibit in the main hall.  But you've got to go.  It's free, and your very presence will help send the message that this neighborhood needs a museum, and the Southwest collection belongs in the place where Charles Lummis had the foresight to start collecting Native American art 100 years ago when it was still relatively ubiquitous.

The rather prominent flag is lit incorrectly, but it's kind of cool, and it's kind of an inside joke I'm going to let you in on.  When I was painting the previous painting, a hiker came by and looked at it for a minute, and said, "you forgot the flag."  I said, no, I left it off intentionally.  It was a design choice; I didn't want it to be the tallest thing and the only red white and blue thing in the painting.  But the hiker gave me this look that said he understood that I hate America.  So, just to prove I don't . . . but you know me better than that anyway.

The Southwest Museum was the first museum I visited with my older son.  As soon as he was old enough to eat solid food and sit up straight in a stroller, we needed to take him to a museum.  But where to start?  Someplace not too big and exhausting.  Someplace fun to ride in a stroller.  Someplace with cool tangible stuff, but not a lot of noisy shiny gimmicky stuff to lure kids in and fail to teach them to look with their eyes and engage their minds without their hands.  See?  My son was just a baby, and I was already well on my way to being a grumpy old woman.

I'll leave you with this.  It's the motto of Southwest Museum.  I'm telling you, you just don't find museums with mottos everyday.  Tomorrow is the flower of its yesterdays.