Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas House

My parents moved to San Marino when I was three.  Then, as now, some civic-minded volunteers in San Marino dressed its large bus stop up for the holidays.  We live now in an era of excesses, and this doesn't seem like too big a deal.  There's all kinds of crazy decorations everywhere.  But back in the sixties, this was a big deal.  My dad must have shot a couple of rolls of black and white film to capture this bit of Christmas finery.

Although this is clearly in the style of a church, the temporary structure is known as the Little Christmas House.  It may be San Marino's effort to separate church and state, but it isn't a more non-sectarian holiday house.  Santa Claus used to show up there one day a year, and talk to kids about whether they'd been good and what they wished for.  Maybe he still does, but I don't know.  He gave out Christmas themed Little Golden Books like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Biggest Most Beautiful Christmas Tree.  I met Santa there.  I got my book.  I also sang carols there with Brownie Troop 97 and our dads.  I have a picture.  My dad isn't in it, because he took it.

It was a odd place to paint, sitting out in the middle of Huntington Drive, looking a bit like a hobo and worrying about runaway cars.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back Home

This was just last Saturday, plein air painting in my own backyard.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Log del Capitano

Hah!  I found the journal.  Here are substantial excerpts.  I'm not too worried about exposing too much of myself.  Sort of like the money belt I took traveling, I am never without my filter

So, I took the D bus over the Arno.  I went to Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, other gardens, walked outrageous amounts in gardens, climbed stairs, saw views, saw little museum collections of stuff and beautiful interiors.  Have not seen San Lorenzo and Chapelle Medicee.  I do not know where I get my bus to Poppi.
I'm not speaking much, but some of it is Italian.  Apparently Italian people like wagons and hatchbacks as much as I do.  They drive on cobblestones and probably don't whine about potholes.  For a while I was flattered that lots of people asked me for directions in lots of languages, but I think its just that I am a woman by myself and as such unthreatening.  Most of the women I've seen by themselves are walking dogs, and they are certainly not tourists.  Really not alone either, and possibly not unthreatening.  It's easy to smile at people walking dogs, just like at home.

Churches or cathedrals that are hundreds of years old smell just like churches I've attended.  What is that smell?  Marble, stained glass, candles, people, holiness?  It would be difficult to forget God with the church bells around here.  I'm not experiencing Florence night life.  If you pick up gravel here, you might be picking up bits of Etruscan, Roman, or at least Medieval antiquities.

I did mail postcards.  I changed dollars and felt cheated.  I think the ATM is better.  I can't take the bus to Poppi.  It isn't running because of the bicycle race.  The train doesn't go directly.  A taxi will cost 120 euros. It has been many years since I spent this long out of the presence of people who love me.  I am awkward and sad.    

Monday, December 9, 2013

Where did November go?

I've been losing the strangest things lately - like the Christmas lights and the little travel journal sketchbook thingy I brought to Italy.  The latter I was going to use as the basis of this post.  As I sought to explain "lonely and awkward" to the uninitiated, my very raw and unedited scribbles of my awkward and lonely thoughts illustrated with some crappy little pen drawings would help.  But it isn't to be.  I replaced the Christmas lights tonight.  Buying new ones may just bring the old ones out of hiding.

The painting here is my last Saturday painting before I left the country.  It may be the pinnacle of my former quirky style of painting.  I can't quite shake the stuff I learned in the workshop.  I wouldn't want to unlearn it, but it would be nice to use it at will, or at will paint something more like this instead.  I kind of trust it will sort itself out as long as I keep on painting some way or other.    

This is in Sierra Madre Canyon.  It turned out not to be my best day, but it could have been much worse.  I'll say no more about it.  

Monday, October 14, 2013


So I took a trip to Italy.  I had worried about taking a vacation by myself, or with anybody else for that matter, since my husband was absolutely the best traveling companion.  So I got the idea of finding a painting workshop.  I had never been to one, but I knew a little about them.  I thought I'd probably like other people who painted and find them easier to talk to than just the normal run of strangers.  .

 I hadn't really figured on traveling quite so far.  I thought I'd find something maybe in Taos or Provincetown or the Sierras.  But then without looking very hard, I learned about a workshop in Tuscany with instruction by a painter I admire, Michael Reardon.

Encouraged by friends and family members, I traveled far from home and painted.  I also spent a few days in Florence by myself seeing sights.  A lot of it was just wonderful.  Some of it was awkward and lonely.  Plenty of time and space for personal reflection.  New ways of painting.

I think I could like being Italian.  They drive small hatchback cars, and drink delicious coffee with great efficiency.  Their meals are long, and some of the food is quite heavenly.  The wines are affordable and very drinkable.  People are cheerful and competent and good-looking.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On Broadway

I painted this picture in my painting class, but I did it without too much help, just the extra set of eyes noticing that the angle of the windows was inaccurate, and the light in the distance was colored the same as the closer light.  The source was a photograph I took standing out on Broadway waiting for the Last Remaining Seats showing of All About Eve at the Los Angeles Theater.  I think when I edited my photograph of the painting to adjust for the the indoor lighting I may have lightened it up too much.  It's dusk.  The sky is a deeper blue.  The sun is still shining on the tops of the buildings, but night has fallen at street level.

The Last Remaining Seats is a program of the Los Angeles Conservancy, where older classic movies are shown on big screens in the historic movie houses in Los Angeles.  I think my husband and I got onto this in its early years, almost accidentally, because my son, rather inexplicably, fell in love with Laurel and Hardy.  Parents are willing to go out of their way to witness their small boy laughing with reckless abandon.  Broadway in Los Angeles was lined with theaters at one time and some of them still remain, some restored and some repurposed.   Just a few years ago, Broadway was mainly a shopping district filled with new immigrants and cheap electronics.  Trendy hipster restaurants are popping up now.

I'm an older person now.  I don't even wait around for people to ask me what it was like when I was young.  I tell them.  I didn't like history when I was a kid.  The first time I was interested in history, my grandparents were already dead.  And I thought about how the world must have looked to them, as World War I began or as cars took to the roads.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I'm behind again.  And not just on posting paintings.  There's the laundry and the trash and the bills.  There's my paying job.  Even calling friends and family.  This is a view from Elysian Park, the side of it I hadn't seen before, looking over the LA River toward the Broadway (I think) bridge, and further to County General Hospital.  This brilliant painting location was suggested by another painter who was inspired by a painting by Emil Kosa.

There's a lot to think about as you look out over Los Angeles, down the crooked road, over the strangled river, and the train tracks where people come and go, and the hospital where life sometimes begins and ends.  There's time for doubt and envy, but it's best to let them go.  It is pretty wonderful to be alive and standing and playing with colors.  Remind me of that.

It's Thursday night, and the trash gets collected here on Friday morning.  I send an e-mail to the painting crew, and tell them where we'll be on Saturday.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Pictures

On August 11, I finally took the oil paints for an outing.   A film crew arrived at St. Luke's Hospital before us though, and thwarted my parking plans.  Filming is fairly common at St. Luke's.  They weren't actually filming as far as I could tell; there was just a security guard keeping an eye some lighting equipment and chasing off painters..

I was able to park across the street and stand in a shady spot and paint this view on a small canvas panel.  I was impatient to start painting, so I didn't do any planning that took the foreground into account, and I think it shows.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Echo Park

Rather obviously, this is a view of Echo Park looking toward downtown Los Angeles.  The lake was drained for a couple of  years, and has only recently completed restoration and refilling.   People are loving the park, and it was impossible to do any kind of faithful rendering of it that didn't have at least a few people. By chance, we crossed paths with the Barnsdall Park plein air painting class.  

I don't have a lot of really useful knowledge about Echo Park.  I'm not even sure where or if there's an echo.  I don't have any really interesting personal Echo Park stories either.  I ate a machaca burrito there around dusk one time.  The best Echo Park story is the recent one that everyone seems to have read or heard.  A man with a fondness for plants stole tubers from the famous lotus plants and nurtured and raised them.  A few years after that the park's lotuses pretty much died out, probably because of stuff that drained into the lake.  Then the city drained the lake and cleaned it and fixed it, including adding a water filtration system.  But there were no lotuses.  The old ones had been planted in the 1920s.  But the day was saved by the lotus thief.  He didn't exactly give the lotuses back, but he sold them at price of his asking.  There's a awful lot of them, and they are very beautiful.  They are outside the painting, to the left.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


As you may know, in the midst of all my water-coloring, I've been learning oil painting.  At it's most basic, it's pretty much the same thing.  Two dimensions, brushes, and a limited range of colors and values to express some visual idea.  My class is on Wednesday night, but we're on a brief hiatus while Tim Tien the instructor goes out on the summer plein air circuit.  Since this is Wednesday, I should probably be practicing, but at least I'm thinking about it.  

 So, here's some paintings from class.  I think they're not too bad, but then again I know I thought that before I got even this good.  I think in a bind I could possibly sell these to pay for more classes.  I've learned to draw a little more conscientiously, grouping objects together into big shapes, and comparing size, shape and angle.
 I'm working on the mechanics of mixing color and applying paint, but also on practicing seeing.  I drive home from work now observing where the sky is darker than objects in front of it, and where it's lighter.

I like oil paint.  It has a lovely consistency that changes a little with the weather. Oil paintings look substantial and solid.                                  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy Trees

The title Happy Trees is partly an homage to Bob Ross, whom I think you kind of have to love even if you don't like his paintings because he just had this great enthusiasm, like gee whiz life is good because I get to paint.

Furthermore, I think these really are happy trees.  I painted at Cresenta Valley Park, at the suggestion of another painter.  It was my first visit there, and I was very impressed.  It was easy to get there and easy to park.  The mountains are very close and the views are beautiful.  There's a dog park, and while I'm pretty dog park -phobic, it is a clean and happy dog park.  There's a lovely shaded walking/running trail.  Best of all are the trees.  There is a veritable forest of large lush healthy oak trees.  Over the course of my life I've seen countless beautiful oak trees sacrificed to development, utilities, and over-watering.    

In case you don't know, improper watering is about the worst way to treat a tree.  Sprinklers that spray the trunk of a tree cause the bark to stay wet in summer, which leads to rot, which can kill the tree outright, or weaken it so it's susceptible to pests and disease.  These California oak trees don't take well to much water in the ground either.  Lawns and trees don't always coexist well.  So let the grass go brown and keep the trees happy.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Los Angeles was named in Spanish when still it was part of Mexico.  There is some lingering controversy about whether this is Angelino Heights or Angeleno Heights.  Early documentation refers to Angeleno Heights, but current signs mark it as Angelino Heights.  It all depends how much you want to Anglicize it.  I'm not choosing.  I called it Angelino Heights in the previous post.    

I  find this painting slightly unnerving.  It teeters on the edge between realistic and what?  cartoony?  primative?  I start to experience depth and then get caught short by flatness.  Anyway, the slope is pretty authentic.  As you might imagine, a place with Heights in the name is hilly.  I'm going to keep forcing myself to paint cars until I get them right.  Then perhaps I'll move on to people if it's not too late.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Industrial Alhambra

Alhambra is not a city that seems too interested in preserving its past.  Sorry, Alhambra, but it's true.  A city that was once known as the City of Homes, it has replaced thousands of single family dwellings and duplexes with large condominium developments.  Alhambra's historical society is housed in a small 1980s building.  An all-American Main Street that once boasted department stores, a Woolworths, a deli, an ice cream parlor, and the like is now lined with car dealers.  And the car dealers bemoan the fact that they have no freeway to bring them customers who aren't local.  In the Emery Park area of Alhambra, which I just learned was was originally part of the San Gabriel Vineyard and the town of Dolgeville (who knew?!!), there are remnants of industry.  There is a foundry, some furniture factories, and an aluminum factory.  Or there was.  This stuff is all getting sold and torn down and developed.  So my painter friends and I hightailed it over there on a couple of Saturdays to mark a moment in time.  I chose these quieter themes, an alley and Rod's furniture, over the huge and marvelous heavy equipment.  We hear it's all going to be a mall or a business park before long.
There is still one ice cream parlor on Main Street.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two From Caltech

I live fairly close to Caltech.  By several reckonings, none of them having to do with football, it is the finest university in the United States.  I visit occasionally to paint, and more frequently for musical performances.  I used to folkdance weekly.  I've heard wonderful speakers there, including Stephen Jay Gould and Ralph Nader.  Nader spoke about how, lacking in public funds, universities tend to become bound to corporate interests.  Gould spoke about evolution and the marvels of life.

Friday, July 12, 2013


I don't know how long, but I'm sure it has been quite a while since I showed pictures of my yard.  But no worries.  The yard has not gone to wreck and ruin.  My method of gardening is mainly benign neglect.  I have some professional gardening done by some truly lovely people who hate power tools and plush lawns and square bushes as much as I do.  They may think I'm a little nuts about the bugs and birds, but at very least they act like they understand me.  I spend a little time myself puttering around the yard, trimming and pulling.  But mainly, I just water a little and neglect.  Since I love wilderness even more than gardens, it seems the best way to go.  Not to mention, it's kind of effortless.  Plants just show up in the yard, carried by birds or the breeze.  Sometimes they turn into wonderful things.  In this way, I've acquired a fig tree, two oaks, several sunflowers, tomatoes, night-blooming jasmine, and all manner of grasses.  And just recently, this.
A couple of  people and I made a bet on what we thought it was.  I said a melon.  They said, respectively, a sycamore tree and a passion vine.  I'm fairly certain they are wrong and  I'm right, but I'm interested in other ideas.  There may be a prize for the correct answer - possibly some of the bounty of the plant, whenever and whatever that may be.
Here's another nice thing that happens in my yard.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

South West

This is my painting from last week of the Southwestern Academy in San Marino.  When I was a child, it was a military academy.  I actually knew two boys who were sent there because they were unruly.  Military school was one of my father's favorite threats.  The Academy used to have a cannon in front that Caltech students used to delight in painting and/or stealing.  Finally the cannon was gifted to Caltech, probably around the same time the school stopped being a military school.  The school still has a Washington Hall and a Lincoln Hall and a replica of the log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born.  This is Lincoln Hall, as you can almost read, while experiencing something similar to my own nearsightedness.  I kind of botched the drawing, but it doesn't bother me too much.  It's good I don't build bridges.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Post Office Post

If I can't manage daily posting, or even weekly, I want to get something in here before a whole month passes.  Because I haven't decided to give up on this altogether.  In fact, I imagine I might make it a regular thing again some time.  I haven't given up or even really slowed down on painting.  I continue to go out and paint every Saturday morning and to try to learn oil painting most Wednesday nights.  I just remembered, I still haven't cleaned my palette and brush.  The thing I don't like about oil painting.

So this is the South Pasadena Post Office, my local post office.  I painted it May 18.  I had noticed not too long before that many post office buildings in many places look pretty much exactly like this one.  I didn't paint the iconic front view with "post office" emblazoned on its face, but you know what I'm talking about.  The South Pasadena Post Office was renowned for many years because of the wonderful homegrown roses at each window delivered daily by thoughtful gardener and post office customer, Miriam Spaulding.  I remember those roses.

I thought of another thing to add to the list of things I don't like.  I don't like the use of the word, "unacceptable."  It has become increasingly popular among parents, bosses and elected officials.  I don't like it because it has so little meaning.  The word seems to carry a stern judgment, but really doesn't tell you anything.  To whom is it unacceptable?  And why?  Why not say instead to your child, employee or other foreign power,that their behavior is unkind, annoying, dangerous, not up to your standard of quality, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, or whatever.  If you're going to make a judgment, then be committal about it.  I might have told my children a few times that something was "not all right with me," but I was just dropping a Maggie Roche quote.

I should probably start lists of things I do like.  Watercolor cleanup, local history, roses, The Roches, my opinions.  See you again soon.    

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bungalow Heaven

This post was formerly titled "My Opinion" but nobody was reading it. 

Since I'm in a snit, I think I'll make a list of things I don't like.  This painting is not among them.  I like this painting a lot, at least for now.  I did it in about a half an hour at McDonald Park in Bungalow Heaven last Saturday.  I won't mention illness, death, loneliness, intolerance, cruelty, and other really sad and dark things I dislike.  I'll stick to the lighter and more subjective side of negative.

I don't like the excessive misuse of reflexive pronouns.  I don't mean the pleasant colloquial Irish usage, but when people ignorantly opt for "myself" because they can't decide between "me" and "I."

I don't like hand soap and lotion that smells like fruit or vanilla.  Clean hands and skin should not smell like something sticky that you'd like to eat.

I don't like sexy stiletto heels, or really any shoes that even approach that.  I can't wear them because they are excruciating to my toes and metatarsus.  Also my ankles are a little weak and my balance a little poor.  And I'd rather no one else wore them either, because they make my shoes looks clunky in comparison.  They can't possibly be comfortable for anybody.   Look at men. Men know how to treat their feet.

I don't like foam-filled padded bras.  I don't really care if anybody else wears them, but I hate that they are so ubiquitous that it's hard to find a bra that isn't foam-filled and padded.  In the general scheme of attractiveness, I think real nipples are better than fake cleavage.  And I think your bra should not stand on its own.

I don't like those coffee makers that make one cup of custom beverage at a time from a single use plastic container of something.  They seem to create an appalling amount of waste.  And frankly I don't see how the resulting beverage is any better than instant coffee.  Where is the fresh roasting and grinding that goes into a real cup of coffee?  If you like other flavors, get yourself some Torani syrup.

I don't like noisy gardening equipment.  Sounds that come from gardens should be sounds of birds and bees, water drops, rustling leaves, falling fruit.  I'd like it if people could just keep their noise in their own yards, but the noise has no regard for my fence.

I don't like phone solicitations and sales calls.  Who does?  You would have to be awfully darned lonely.  Is there even really a "don't call" list?  If you wanted solar panels or a security system (for instance), wouldn't you search them out rather than just wait around for the phone to ring.

I don't like Las Vegas.  Everything there is extravagantly artificial.  Even the outside air is tinged with false climate and humidity and light.  Games are okay, but they are seriously stacked again you, and you have to drop a huge amount of money just to play.  Except slot machines, which are just completely awful, except for vintage ones which they don't use.  The shows, which are the only thing I might like, are ridiculously overpriced because nobody in Las Vegas thinks about money in the normal way.  People are either happily throwing it away, or randomly winning it.  I liked the swimming pools there when I was a little kid, but I don't have much interest anymore in sharing swimming space with the children of people who like Las Vegas.

I don't like televisions in elevators, buses, and gas stations.  I don't like televisions in bars, except possibly sports bars, and for the most part I don't like sports bars.  I don't like the television in the lobby of the building where I work, and I especially don't like that it shows FOX News all the time.

I don't like FOX News.

I don't like LA Live.  It's sort of like Las Vegas.  Just too much artificial everything.  There are some actual trees, but they are completely covered with lights.  I love Los Angeles, and I hate the fact that people will visit Los Angeles and think that LA Live is what Los Angeles is.

I don't like lime flavored potato chips.

I don't like being called ma'am, although I will forgive it from somebody who doesn't know my name and needs to tell me I dropped my keys.

I don't like reality television (except Mythbusters and Antique Roadshow, and Top Chef a little).  I don't like that it has made huge celebrities out of the Kardashians and people on American Idol.  While I know that there are beautiful brilliant people living in the world who will die as unrecognized as Nick Drake and John Kennedy Toole.

I don't like calling drinks martinis just because they are served in martini glasses.  A martini glass is a beautiful thing, but it doesn't make a candy-flavored cocktail into a martini any more than a tiara would make me queen.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I missed posting this previously, I think because I inadvertently stored it in a folder innocuously named new folder.  Although this painting has a few very severe drawing problems, I think there's some real strength to it.  This is a view from near the Arroyo Seco Stables looking up at the York Bridge.  I usually view the York  Bridge from the top or the other side.  

Some months ago my computer failed.  When it was restored, I got back most of my important files.  But my admirable FreeCell statistics were reset to zero.  So I know exactly how many games I've played since then. I used to share the computer and there was this pleasing element of doubt.  But now I'm certain the games are all mine.  Each game represents a few minutes out of my life.  If I add them all up, I'm getting into days.  For years, I've pondered the mystery of wasting time.  Not why I might waste time when I was supposed to be working or doing something dreadful.  But why I would fritter away my free time playing solitaire or watching reruns, when this same free time is an opportunity to do something I would love.  It recently came to me that the explanation is probably dopamine and comfort.  Apparently I crave that.    

I'm going to go walk my dog now.  He loves to walk.  It makes him so happy he practically jumps out of his skin.  He isn't able to play FreeCell, but he does chew on his paws a little compulsively sometimes.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This is a bit of Hahamongna Watershed Park - one of my favorite parts.  Hahamongna seems to me a slightly magical place that has been relatively untouched by time - but not without enormous effort and struggle.  In our modern world, entropy often leans toward progress.

If you leave the frisbee golf course, and walk out onto the big sand flats and south toward the damn, you'll likely walk through this spot.  A few eucalyptus trees left behind by who knows, past oaks and amid true natives.  It's like a gateway.  I lured my fellow painter out to this spot so I could paint in safety.

I was quite pleased with this painting when I did it, and I still like it, but it's starting to look a little busy to me.    Like I keep telling myself, simpler is better.  I'm mostly convinced of it.

I'm not mad for my last post.  But it's better I think than me writing to the editor of the L. A. Times.

Friday, April 19, 2013


This is a painting of a bit of Angelino Heights.  Although I did not find quite the right view of Bob's Market, which is one of my very favorite commercial buildings, it was still an entirely pleasing day of painting.  I was introduced to the Angelino Heights neighborhood in the 1980s, mostly because of its proximity to Matsu, a well-loved but now-gone Japanese restaurant.  The neighborhood is giant visual feast of residences from in and around the Victorian era.  Uncharacteristically, but not too badly, I included a person in the painting.  It isn't a fellow-painter or anybody else I know.   

I don't think about it very often, but I suppose this is my blog, and I'm free to write pretty much anything I want here.  There are probably bounds of good taste and decency, but I doubt that I will cross them.

I wanted to share some thoughts about education.  Disclosure: I'm not an education professional, although I did spend a year as a substitute for the Pasadena Unified School District. I went to school and my children went to school too.  So I have thoughts.  I'm puzzled that education and the work of teachers is such a big political issue.  In so many other fields - public health, criminal justice, air traffic control, nuclear regulation, to name a few - the politicians and citizens trust the trained professionals to understand the work and recommend the policies.  But it seems like everybody knows how teaching ought to be done.  Probably because, like me, they went to school.

Then there is this pervasive opinion that teacher's unions are the cause of  everything wrong with education - that teacher's unions want to protect the jobs of dangerously bad instructors.  Seriously?  How on earth is it in the best interests of the unions to protect the jobs of dangerously bad workers?  Doesn't that drag the stock of the other workers down?  And make their jobs much harder?  It's true that contracts give teachers a certain amount of job security, but isn't job security generally a good thing?  I wonder if the jobs of dangerously bad teachers aren't more likely to be protected by administrators who don't want to admit that they have dangerously bad teachers and deal with them.  Consider this: Boy Scout leaders don't have unions.

I easily grasp why teachers wouldn't want to be evaluated based on students test scores.  That would be like evaluating hair stylists on the basis of beauty pageant results.  To be sure, their work is relevant to the results, but nowhere near the biggest factor.  Yet I kind of like the idea of evaluating teachers somehow.  It seems like good teachers ought to be recognized, and struggling teachers ought to be helped and corrected.  Here's what I think.  I think there should be security cameras and monitors in all the classrooms.  Teachers might balk at first.  I would.  It would seem like an intrusion, but seriously, there aren't very many working people who spend 99 percent of their work day unsupervised.  Administrators could actually watch the teachers teach under all conditions; they could see if the class was engaged and under control.  The monitors would also lend some extra safety and security to schools.  Intruders and other dangerous situations could be detected immediately, and appropriate assistance could be dispatched to classrooms.

I also think there ought to be a lot more art education.  It has been shown that music and visual art education improves students' performance in all areas.  Are history and geometry more important  than than drawing and instrumental music?  What do you think?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Train Everyday

Although it isn't even in my top three wishes, I do wish I were blogging more.  The good news, or a tiny snippet of good news, is that at least I'm still painting.  So if and when I regain my blogging voice, I'll have some pictures.  

It isn't that I don't have anything to say.  I have far too much to say.  Without David as a sounding board for all the little things that popped into my head, my head has become a rather noisier place.  And I spend more time there inside my head, mulling over strange new sad feelings.  And wondering how, and whether, and to whom I might express them.  Mostly I think you're safe here.  I may cry now and then, but my giant filter is largely intact.  As if to prove that to myself, I just deleted a whole paragraph.

These are paintings done at Union Station in Los Angeles - two in the same morning.  I took a Los Angeles Conservancy evening tour of Union Station last summer, so I know a bit more about it.  I've taken long and short train rides to and from Union Station over the years.  It's a good place, coming and going.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Like Home

I painted at Alhambra Park yesterday.  This is the second painting in an incidental Palm Avenue series -- Moving Day and Trash Day.  The trash cans and the red curbs were factors in my choice to paint this scene, offering some immunity to big trucks parking and blocking my view.

I'm addressing two personal shortcomings I pointed out in the last post -- tardy blogging and bad car painting.  I've skipped ahead several paintings, and I'm giving you something fresh.  I'm pretty pleased with the SUV parked on the left-hand edge.  There's actually even more of it -- the entire rear wheels, but the photo of the painting wasn't well framed so I had to crop some.

I've said several times that I like houses, but I think probably what I really like is homes.  Houses that are lived in, and wear personal touches of quirky, exuberant and fragile lives.  Blue stairs, flags, potted plants and stuff.  I love interiors too - the infinite different ways people nest.  I thought about going on a house tour yesterday afternoon, but instead wound up visiting family members at their new home.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Memorial Park

This a view from Memorial Park in Pasadena, looking across Raymond at the former theater I know best as Perkins Palace and the Armory Center for the Arts.  I like the view because it's familiar without being obvious.  You know you've seen it, but you can't quite place it.  That seems like a good basis for a painting.

Like everyone else I know who actually looks at Facebook, I have a kind of love hate relationship with it.  Facebook finds your old friends you thought you had lost forever.  You can keep track of people and share people's lives without the risk or inconvenience of actually being with them.  It's also a pretty big time drain, if you check even rarely to see what's been going on in hundreds of lives.  But its hard not to check since you know it's there.  I like the like button.  I like to respond positively without having to explain why, or say something that doesn't add to the greater discourse.  I find myself reflexively looking for a like button in a whole number of circumstances.  Then I want my share of likes, my little bit of fame and positive attention, so I can't resist posting my paintings.  But then I feel like I've stolen the blog's thunder, and it takes me longer to show and tell the paintings here.  

My palm tree technique is coming along nicely, but always I struggle to express cars.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Singing Cowboy

If you're keeping track, you'll know I'm a few weeks behind on blogging my Saturday morning paintings.  I was going to say I didn't remember when I painted this, but I do.  It was the first weekend in February.  I know that because the first weekend of every month is free admission at the Autry Museum with a Bank of America card.  I sort of feel like I should apologize for having a Bank of America card.  I came to Bank of America late in life, having boycotted them for apartheid-era investments in South Africa.  I became disappointed with a long succession of other banks, and finally opened the B of A account for the convenience of transferring money to my son in college.  I haven't been really disappointed by Bank of America so far.  And the free museum admission is kind of a cool perk.  I also feel like I should apologize for visiting and even painting the Autry, since my Friends of the Southwest Museum are organizing a boycott of the Autry. But I didn't pay to get in.  But I did, come to think of it, buy a couple of thing in the gift shop.  I won't do it again for a while, but it is a super sweet gift shop.

It has even occurred to me to apologize for the painting, since I think it is disappointing in a number of technical ways.  I admit there is something I like about it anyway.  Must be the mountains.  There is a farmer's market here every Saturday, outside the museum, and pretty close to the LA Zoo.  I expected it to be a bigger market, but it's still pretty nice.  Delicious prepared food and lovely live music totally enhanced my painting experience.    

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vista Hermosa Park

This is Vista Hermosa Park in Los Angeles.  You should visit. There is plenty of space to park.  The park is very oasis-like.  Native trees and shrubs have drawn many birds to the park.  There are wonderful views, and many places to duck away and paint them. There is a surprisingly artful playground.  The vertically striped building is 333 S. Beaudry where I used to work years back.  .

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gold Line

I'm busy and tired and lazy.  At least to the extent that those things aren't mutually exclusive.  I would kind of like to write something about trains and how perfectly evocative they are.  But it's late, and you already know what you know about trains.  I painted this from a perch on top of the Oaklawn Bridge in South Pasadena.  These are the tracks of the Los Angeles Metro Gold Line light rail.  We're looking south, toward Los Angeles.  Amtrak tracks used to follow this same course.  Once many years ago I was in a student film walking along those tracks and under the Oaklawn Bridge.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Angels Flight

Last Saturday, I made a visit to Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles.  Angels Flight - this extremely short funicular railway provides a means of traveling (easier than walking) between Grand Central Market and Bunker Hill.  This is not the very oldest part of Los Angeles, but it's pretty old.  All the very oldest people you can find who still have memories remember visiting Grand Central Market and Angels Flight when they were tiny little kids.  And it hasn't changed all that much.  You can find nearly 100 year-old paintings of it.

After painting, some painters and I rode the railway to the top and down again.  You'll want to do this.  Be sure to request a round-trip ticket, because you'll get a cool souvenir paper ticket.  We then ate at Grand Central.    I usually eat the tortas there, but I heard the pupusas came highly recommended.  The food is very multi-cultural, in addition to being cheap and delicious.  I had a cheese pupusa and fried bananas.  I still had enough left from my ten dollars for shopping.  I got giant oranges, blueberries and a half-pound of mole (Mexican sauce.)  You have to go.  It is one of the best Los Angeles experiences.

I've read that there are plans to redo the market to make it more appealing to the new urban dwelling yupsters - to add sofas and wifi and what ever else they like.  I hope this turns out all right.  You should go soon.

I think the painting turned out lively and fun.  One of the interesting things about the view is that the blue at the top is not the sky.  It's a sea of glass covered high-rises reflecting the sky.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

House on Bilike Hill

I painted the Bilike Mansion in South Pasadena last Saturday.  The Bilike House was designed by John Parkinson and G. Edwin Bergstrom in 1906.  Parkinson and Bergstrom  are responsible for a very significant portion of the architectural icons of the City of Los Angeles.  The house was built for Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Bilike.  The house now shares grounds with the South Pasadena United Methodist Church.  It is used by Boy Scouts, Al-anon, and Kinesthetic Learner childcare.  I'm pretty certain I recall reading that Mr. and Mrs. Bilike died on the Lusitania.  Yet at this point I can find no mention of that in the wide deep sea of the internet.  Somewhere around my house I've misplaced my South Pasadena history book.

This is only a small view, and a canted one, of what is easily one of South Pasadena's most significant structures.  The house is surrounded by trees that have been growing for a long time, but you can still make out the views in every direction, and they are wonderful.