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.