Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Backstop Firefly

In the center of my town, there's a railway stop where there used to be a train station.  There's a history museum in an old building that used to be an iron works.  There is an old stone structure that used to be a place to water horses.  The weekly farmers market is here.  Painters love this place, and in a way I have to confess I'm not sure why here as opposed to a literally infinite number of other possible places. But it seems to work.

It rained Friday night, brought about in part by the power of my thoughts, or so it seemed.  So Saturday morning was one of those sparkling bright high contrasty mornings.  If not for being unseasonable chilly, it was perfect for painting.  Smells of garlic, and coffee, and toast, in turns, wafted over from nearby restaurants.  Before I began to paint, I got approached and then interviewed by a couple of filmmakers for One Day in Los Angeles.  I hope that if I end up in the final cut I don't look or sound too ridiculous.  

I picked this scene to paint for a combination of visuals.  I liked the bright color of the restaurant, although I rendered it more pumpkin and less saffron.  I liked that the sky wasn't visible through the trees, but only reflected on the windows and the street.  I liked the back of the stop sign, and how you know it's a stop sign without the annoying red color and stentorian message.  Although it's in the middle and foreground, it isn't overly significant.

The saffron colored restaurant is called Firefly.  I like the restaurant.  I kind of remember when it opened and I think the owner/chef was the father of a classmate of a friend's daughter.  It's been probably a couple of years since I've been there now, but I've had some good meals.  The food is prepared with thought and care. I did a New Year's eve tasting there once, and once had a birthday dessert splurge.  One time I went for a walk, and ended up having dinner there.  It's all outdoor patio seating, and one time a waitress noticed a big spider on my husband and calmly plucked it off and returned it to nature.  She was my best waitress ever.    

Monday, April 21, 2014

Eventually You Reach Water

The cool thing about this painting is that it looks like we're at the beach, gazing out toward the water on a sunny day, but the fact is there's no water there.  It's all just sky, viewed from a Mount Washington hillside at a perfect bird's eye angle, toward southeast.  In truth, it's all just paint.   I managed to get a lot of paint on it.  I may have even come close to covering the texture of the canvas panel.  A friend of mine who knows I paint gave me a huge stretched canvas panel.  I think it's about 3 by 4 feet - at least twice as big as the biggest painting I've painted.  I can't imagine even covering it.  I might need a roller.  And what would I want to paint that big?  I might go non-representational.  I know from looking at other big paintings that I don't like too much red.  It won't be soon.  That just isn't my pace.

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Stones

I'm not sure this is even recognizable.  Then again I'm not sure that recognizable is an important thing in a painting.  But anyway, it's El Alisal, the home of Charles Lummis.  Last time I painted there and posted, I kvelled about Lummis the man.  The house is really wonderful too.  It is constructed of Arroyo river rock, and built by the hands of Charles Lummis and his friends.

I love river rock buildings.  Another painter was telling me that around 100 years ago, property in  these Southern California foothill communities was advertised as including its own  building materials.  He also said that several stone homes in the Verdugo Hills had recently been damaged or lost.  There is a small sign outside the Lummis Home I never noticed before; it indicated you might be unsafe in or near the house, because it's unreinforced masonry, and in case of an earthquake it could all come crashing down.  We had an earthquake pretty recently.  Maybe that's when they put up the sign, or maybe that's why I noticed it.

You tend to take for granted that stones stay put, particularly the large heavy ones.  But they don't.  Their edges are smooth because they rolled, knocked about in the river against other stones.  In the times when I lived alone, I lived on North Chester in Pasadena.  I lived close to the railroad right-of-way, where train tracks used to be.  The tracks were already gone when I lived there.  I wanted a garden so bad, but it was a cheap little triplex unit, with a fenced in patio in the back, and tiny little planted area in the front.  I made a stone border for the front - carrying stones one or two at a time by hand from the right-of-way back to my unit.  I didn't have much luck planting any plants there, except some sunflowers on the other side of the driveway.  I took good care of the plants that preceded me.  The stone border looked nice.  It's probably still there.  The house I live in now came with a stone border.  I added a few more stones from elsewhere in the yard, two I took from the Santa Fe dam, and two more I took from a neighboring yard, when the house was run down and on the market.   I can't tell which ones anymore.  They all look like they belong.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Free Range

This idea came to me a little at a time.  I like the idea, and I like once again painting something from my imagination - with use of references.  Jackalopes are creatures that are probably not mythical so much as they are the creations of bored taxidermists.  They are jackrabbits with pronghorn antelope horns.  If postcards tell the truth, they grow as large as broncos.  I thought it would be fun to paint a jackalope.  The butte followed just because I needed a background, but its a beaut.  My favorite part of all was a real afterthought - the southwest pottery fashioned eggs.  I may be doing my own Easter eggs like these.  It took me a long time to post this because I wanted to write more.  But nothing is coming to mind now.