Monday, January 28, 2013

La Casita del Arroyo

This was my second plein air painting day at La Casita del Arroyo in Pasadena.  I posted my first painting in August in my post titled "La Casita".  The beautiful building was designed by Myron Hunt and built in 1933.  Boulders and stones from the arroyo below were used as well as wood from the 1932 Olympic Velodrome which was in the Rose Bowl, just to the north.  

It seems this small building gets more beautiful with every visit.  There is a fantastic view of the famous Colorado Street Bridge from La Casita but I just didn't feel up to trying the bridge.  It has lots of arches and shadows and I'll have to give it a try sometime.  I decided on another view of the distinctive structure.  There was a city meeting going on inside so the parking lot was full of cars which kind of blocked some views.  I think I changed my position at least four times.  To me the large chimney really gives the building its distinctive style.  It's always a challenge to try to capture the characteristics of the place.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oaklawn Bridge

Last Saturday's plein air paint-out was at Oaklawn Bridge in South Pasadena.  This is a beautiful and interesting bridge.  It was designed in 1906 by architects Charles and Henry Greene, their only bridge project.  The bridge was built to link the housing development on Oaklawn Avenue with the main street.  It spanned the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe rail line and the Cycleway.  Today the rail line is for the light rail Gold Line.  One of my photos below was shot from on top of the pedestrian bridge of a Gold Line train.  There was a great view from the bridge but I couldn't find any shade for painting.  An umbrella someday.   

The graceful concrete bridge was a difficult subject for me to find good view to paint.  Unfortunately, there is a busy parking lot, a large building, and South Pasadena's Rose Parade float headquarters located right at the bridge.  Volunteers were at work dismantling the parade float and I considered painting them.  I finally found a view I liked and I think the piece went well.  As always, it was a fun morning painting with friends.     

Monday, January 21, 2013

Angels Flight

It was fun to paint in downtown Los Angeles on a recent Saturday with the plein air group.  The subject was Angels Flight.  Such a nostalgic landmark for myself and the city.  

Angels Flight is "The Shortest Railway in the World", 298 feet.  It was built in 1901 to take people the two blocks up and down the steep hill between Hill St. and Olive.  For four years I drove to art school through the Third Street Tunnel, under the hill, which was next to the incline railway.  I found a postcard of how it looked then (below).  On one our first dates, my husband and I rode it one evening.  Still a special memory.  Then in 1969 Angels Flight was dismantled for "urban renewal".  It was rebuilt and returned in 2010 for all of us to enjoy.  Our small group just had to take a round trip.  There are two orange and black cars named Olivet and Sinai.  We had an exciting and short ride in Sinai.  I've added a photo from the station at the top of the hill.   

There was a nice place for plein air painters to sit across the street from Angels Flight.  I tried a small gouache again (5x7") since I thought it might be a busy morning.  The colorful orange and black station elements might also turn out better with gouache.  Angels Flight is an essential Los Angeles experience.  


Beginning 2013!

It's been a really nice start to 2013!  Last week I was happy to share the interview Maggie Latham did with me.  What a nice surprise that was and I was so happy to be a part of Maggie's blog series.  

Last week I also entered some watercolors in a local show.  A first for me!  The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association started off the year with a show of works painted around the city of San Gabriel.  I had three plein air pieces to enter, and thought I should join the group and give the show a try.  A city councilwoman judged the artwork.  I just found out today that one of my pieces won Third Place.  A big surprise and honor.  It was interesting to see that the four awards all went to watercolors.  

Below are my three plein air pieces of San Gabriel locations.  The first, painted at the old Mission, is my Third Place winner.  The City Hall piece did well in the juror's eliminations.   The Mission Playhouse piece also got lovely comments.  Great beginning to 2013!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Virtual Paintout - Slovakia!

The first thing for today's post is to thank Maggie Latham for her interview request.  I was surprised and honored that she thought of me!  Certainly a first for me!  Maggie is doing a series of Artist to Artist interviews as part of her 31 Days of Colour series on her blog, Maggie Latham Studios.  It's an exciting and valuable artist's blog covering a variety of topics we love.  My interview was for her Day 17.

I'm late in posting the two pieces I painted for the December Virtual Paintout location which was Slovakia.  There is a country I probably will never be able to visit but I can see some of it with Google Street View!  The Virtual Paintout was created by Bill Guffey.  He chooses the city or country for the month's virtual paintout.  Artists use Google Street View to meet virtually and find a view to paint or draw.  The special Google cars that have taken the images have 9 directional cameras for 360° views.  I really enjoy "driving" around and "walking" around these cities to find a subject to paint, just as I do at home when I meet friends at a plein air location.   Bill posts all of the month's submissions on his blog and on Facebook.

In Slovakia I chose a city scene which looks "European" to me and painted it in transparent watercolor, 5x7".  I like to practice with gouache for the Virtual Paintout and found a country scene to try, also 5x7".

5"x 7" Watercolor

5" x 7" Gouache

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Arboretum

I hadn't visited the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden for many years until a recent paint-out there.  It was wonderful to visit again.  The garden is 127 acres so I was only able to check out a small part of it as I searched for something to catch my eye for my watercolor.  

One area has a lake and the ornate Victorian style Queen Anne Cottage built in 1886 for Lucky Baldwin.  Lucky Baldwin was a very colorful character and important businessman in Arcadia, California.  He's most famous for founding the Santa Anita racetrack which is across the street from the Arboretum.  I headed to the lake and cottage to look for subjects.  The time to start painting was getting short so I chose a view from across the lake of the cottage peeking over the foliage.  I'll be painting there again this week and will try to get to more of the grounds.  

The Arboretum is home to a flock of around 200 peafowl.  They are descendants of birds imported from India in the 1880s by Lucky Baldwin.  They can also be found in Arcadia neighborhoods around the Arboretum.  While our group had lunch at the cafe and chatted about the paintings a friendly peacock browsed.  I ran across one in the parking lot admiring himself in a car's reflection as you see in my photo below.  Such a beautiful and interesting location!   

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Thanks to the online class taught by Vinita Pappas, I tried some new techniques for last month's homework.  Vinita's demo was on using masking fluid for a wintery, snowy scene.  I know, masking fluid is usually something to try to stay away from, better to plan ahead for those whites.  I haven't used it for years, since my commercial art days.  It didn't come in handy for me much then either.  So I wasn't even sure my jar of it was still good.  Most of it had made itself into a big ball in the jar.  I tested the little bit left and it worked!  Vinita's reference was a beautiful and busy, wooded, snowy, very cold-looking creek in Oregon.  She used some masking fluid to define some snow and branches.  It was really fun to try something different.  I won't be seeing any scenes like this in Southern California.  This piece is 8x10".   

The December "challenge" in the class was to use only two complementary colors.  I chose a photo of mine of the coastline looking north from the Point Fermin Lighthouse park in San Pedro.  I used French Ultramarine Blue and Red Ochre which I thought might give me some good darks when mixed.  This piece is 5x7".   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Rose Pavilion

It was a cold and almost rainy morning at Descanso Gardens for a recent paint-out.  It was only a week after I painted the piece for my "Ginkgo!" post  but the day seemed very different to me.  The ginkgo trees weren't as yellow, the sun wasn't so warm, and upsetting headline news.  To me the threatening clouds and the mountains, which seem very close when you're at Descanso, really dominated the day so I wanted to try painting them.  Since there are so many old and tall trees there, a good view of the mountains is a little hard to find.  The dark clouds kept changing, adding and subtracting shadows from the mountains.  Sometimes the mountain tops were covered in a cloud.  And, it was the coldest weather in which I've tried to paint.  Since I only started plein air painting last March I wasn't out last winter!  Brrr!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January First!

January 1, 2013 and I'm excited to be posting on this blog!  Being lucky enough to join some plein air groups, I've met so many new friends in the past year.  It's been a wonderful experience to have these opportunities to paint in new places with supportive artists.  It always helps motivate to have someone else going out too!  

I'm posting a few vintage New Year bridge tallies from the 1920's.  The beautiful graphics on tallies of this era led me to searching for them a few years ago.  They are an off-shoot from greeting cards.  The two ladies were published by Gibson, an old card company now owned by American Greetings, and the baby is by Hallmark.  

Thank you all for visiting my blog.  All the best to you, as I'm sure 2013 will be full of new challenges.