Friday, April 1, 2016

Work and Play

I'm lukewarm about this painting, but I tried something new.  I went to Pasadena's Central Park, where I've managed to produce a run of pretty nice paintings of the Castle Green, and I painted something different.  I can't even tell you for certain what it is, other than a view through the park and across the street to the west.  There's a little slice of playground, and some little painted children.  Previously mostly commercial and industrial, this part of Pasadena has become increasingly residential, and the park, once frequented by transient older folks, now seems to host an enormous playgroup of school-aged small children.  These are the slightly neurotic children of well-educated over-protective parents.  Sorry kids, but it's true.  I imagine the kids will be all right in the end.  No matter how much and for how long your parents protect you, eventually life is going to wallop some experience and character into you.  To clarify: I use wallop in a really figurative way, because I would be the last person to suggest we should return to a time when spanking was the norm.

I've railed before on this very blog I think about the trend toward safe and bland playground equipment.  There I go again sounding like I want children to get hurt.  It isn't that at all, but adventure, fear, risk . . . those are beautiful things.  Kind of almost worth flying through the air and landing hard with a mouth full of sand.  This playground equipment seems pretty safe.  No hard edges or hot metal, or free-fall from ten feet up, but still honestly it looked fun.  These little kids had their own challenges, trying to grow up under watchful eyes.

As it happens, I used to work across the street from this park, also to the west, but slightly further south, to the left and out of the picture.  I was only a few years wiser about the world than the children of the playground.  I used to walk across the street to the park for my lunch hour.  I probably even occupied the swings sometimes - those treacherous swings of a bygone era.  There were pigeons eating things they shouldn't and old tired men drinking from paper bags.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lost or Stolen

When my hard drive gave out, I didn't lose any irreplaceable pictures.  I learned my lesson about that years ago.  I did lose one partly written story.  I'll briefly summarize it here, not actually the story, but what it was about. It was about collecting rocks for my garden.  I don't like the idea of purchasing rocks, not even precious ones, but particularly not the ones I stumble over - the ones placed by forces of nature long before I stumbled along.  I have purchased rocks anyway, but my car and I really can't carry more than a very few at a time.  Mostly I find rocks and carry them home.  Surprisingly, when you look for something like rocks (or used disposable lighters, combs, hair ties, or flatware,) it appears without explanation in your path.  There are good sized rocks sitting in city streets.  There are rocks in the wild and rocks in gardens.  I try, for the most part, not to take other people's landscape rocks.  Nevertheless, I lift rocks sometimes right from someone else's garden.  I half expect someone to emerge from a house, and shout stop thief!  That's my rock!  I have my rationalizations, but that's all they are.  And I have some rocks.  Not nearly as many as I need, and I still think I may have created a small depression in the surface of the earth.  Things and animals roll down hill toward my home.

The stone structure depicted here was a watering trough, built in 1906 and 1907 and much later designated South Pasadena historic landmark number 7.  It was a place for tired and thirsty horses and travelers to rest and hydrate on their way from Los Angeles to Pasadena.  Before people built lovely structures out of rocks, there were many more rocks just sitting around on the ground.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

In Season

I'm pretty pleased with myself that I managed to get a photo in here with the new species of computer.  It only took an hour or so, and I may or may not be able to do it again.  I mean eventually I'm sure I'll be able to do it again.  

By most accounts, the Christmas season has passed.  The are still some lights up and some very dry trees at the curb.  Maybe you haven't started your diet yet - there are still those Super Bowl parties and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates to consume before you worry about how you look in your swim suit.  I painted this just after New Years.  Lots of painters came out to paint.  

It was cold and overcast when I started painting.  This is the Sierra Madre Congretational Church, or part of it.  They also have the white be-steepled church across the street that I've painted before.  I've always liked this building, but since we paint in the morning, it's always backlit and dark.  It wasn't so backlit on that gloomy January morning, and lack of light and shadows made the colors brighter.  And then I guess the sun crept overhead while I still had time to light up the stairs.  

With the fall foliage and the after Christmas wreaths, there's some blending of seasons.  When I'm outdoors, I notice a lot of that.  Leaves fall off and expose the buds of spring blossoms.  And each new spring blossom contains its fruit, its seeds and its inevitable end.  And its beginning.   Those dry fir trees at the curb, they've seen some things too.  Been witness to quiet cold starlit nights, birds and rain, decorations, gifts and holiday celebrations.  The trees aren't going to come back to life, but they will get to be mulch, and in the meantime the dogs like to sniff them.