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.