Monday, August 31, 2015

Virtual Paintout - Monterey Peninsula!

It's the end of the month and I've submitted my Virtual Paintout pieces to Bill Guffey.  For August 2015 the location was the beautiful Monterey Peninsula area of California.  I was surprised we were in the USA for two months in a row.  And it was another place I've visited in person which doesn't happen often.

A DVD by Andy Evansen that was made in Monterey and the location with a view of the pier was on my mind.  I think I found something near there and chose that view for one piece.  It's been many years since I visited the area, which included Carmel.  I remembered liking the Carmel Valley but didn't find a view in the short browsing time I had to spend.  I tried downtown Carmel which is very charming and found a pretty storefront.  I think maybe I should add a figure or two.  Where will we be in September?

5" x 7" Watercolor

5" x 7" Watercolor

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Wow, it was exciting to me to have an opportunity to paint with the group at the landmark Sparkletts Bottling Plant in Eagle Rock.  The exotic building is an eye-catcher, just a block off of the main street.  It was built in 1929 and looks like a middle eastern oasis...with a huge glittering, blue Sparkletts sign.

The morning we were there in June was overcast, our "June Gloom".  I hadn't visited the building before, although earlier in the week Huell Howser's visit was rerun on TV so I felt familiar with it.  The main entrance has a beautiful tile mosaic over the door but it's behind several layers of gates and fences.  I couldn't find a view I liked of the expansive front of the building from across the narrow street.  I went around to the east side which had the ambiance of the location and a palm tree added a nice "desert" touch.  Unfortunately I didn't leave much room on the sidewalk to add the father and son who walked by.  And I missed some tension when a Sparkletts employee came out to tell the group we were not allowed to paint the building.  She said photos were fine but not paintings.  Our leader expertly handled the situation and we finished our paintings.  That was a first!       

5" x 7" Gouache

Loved this yard and squirrel across the street.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Recently I was back at Oak Grove Park, also known as Hahamongna Watershed Park.  On my previous visit I painted this watercolor, Oak Grove Park.  That was a couple months ago.  The summer weather was getting pretty warm on this second visit so most of us chose a big oak tree to paint under.  Our view was across the flood basin behind Devil's Gate Dam.  I always like to include utility poles and I could see some on the basin's eastern edge along with some homes.  The San Gabriel Mountains are always a feature Pasadena plein air painters are looking to paint and they were a very hazy the morning we were there.  I think overhanging branches are risky to add but since we were surrounded by the tree I wanted to include them.  And we weren't forgetting this is the home of the world's first disc golf course since there was a "hole" right behind us.  No close calls with Frisbees this time!

8" x 10" Watercolor

Frisbee golf course hole!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Painting Challenge

Many of you probably subscribe to Gurney Journey, the daily blog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney.  It's for all types of artists, animators, illustrators, and plein air painters.  I think James Gurney is an amazing person and he shares so many art-related tips and insights on his blog.  In conjunction with the release of his gouache tutorial DVD, "Gouache in the Wild", he announced an online challenge.  Anyone could enter and paint a gas station, on location, using only black and white gouache.  Somehow I missed the announcement until the evening the entries were due!  I would have loved to try that...oh well.  Then a few days later he said many people had asked for another opportunity.  I wouldn't miss this one!

The next challenge was to paint an outdoor market, on location, using a limited palette of only three gouache colors (our choice) plus white.  We needed to include a photo of our set-up showing the painting underway and the view.  I was anxious to try this.  There is a lovely weekly farmer's market in South Pasadena, my opportunity to try a painting on a day that wasn't too hot yet for August in Southern California.  As the market was setting up, I found an unobtrusive spot under a tree and taped off the other colors in my gouache palette leaving Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Lemon Yellow, and white.  It took awhile to get used to just the three colors but I enjoyed the challenge.  A container of beautiful sunflowers said it all..."Let's Do This"!              

7" x 5" Gouache

I was sitting under that large pine tree.

Dragon fruit



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Second Visit!

The Friday paint-out group enjoyed Mission Nursery in San Marino so much that we wanted a second visit.  It was a few months ago when we were there and I painted Mission Nursery.  On this recent visit, I had some choices to always I guess!  Since I painted from across the street on the west side last time, I thought maybe I would try a piece from inside the nursery.  One artist mentioned this to a worker who did not look pleased so we decided against that.  The aisles are narrow.  There is a greenhouse inside too which would have been all right but I wasn't up for humidity and so much green.  OK, outside on the front sidewalk there was a small tree for some shade and I tried a gouache piece looking into the front of the nursery.  Another choice was whether to add my fellow painter, Harold.  Instead, our group member, Shinji quickly posed for me inside the nursery behind some flowers for sale so I could include a figure.  But whether or not to add the red metal fence in front of the business.  I decided against it but still a little unsure!

7" x 5" Gouache

The greenhouse...lots of green, and humid!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Boathouse Umbrellas

I was happy to return to Echo Park recently during lotus season.  Our wonderful Saturday paint-out group was there last month to see the lotuses blooming.  I think it's been three years now since the lake was drained and renovated with new lotus plants.  It was surprising to see how well the plants are doing.  Each year, the leaves and flowers are maturing and getting larger.  And on this visit I didn't see any of the dreaded apple snail eggs or snails as I did last year.  

Last year several paint-out groups visited the park.  It really is spectacular with its lake and downtown views.  On one of my visits I painted the 1932 boathouse in gouache, The Boathouse.  There is a small cafe in the boathouse and this year they added more outside tables with bright yellow umbrellas.  They caught my eye and I finally decided to try a gouache piece instead of transparent watercolor.  Hard choice this time!   

5" x 7" Gouache

The lotus flowers, boathouse across the lake.

Loud geese on the footbridge 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Park Pines

Last month one of the groups I paint with was back at Bailey Canyon Park in Sierra Madre.  I've painted there quite a few times now.  One attraction in the spring is a large clump of  Matilija poppies but they were long finished blooming in July.  My previous paint-out there was last December and I posted my gouache piece in Dog Walkers.  Looking at that painting, I noticed the tall pine tree I included.  In this recent watercolor below, I've also included a tall pine.  Unfortunately, thinking about these trees that I painted reminded me of quite a few dead pine trees we noticed last month at the park.  The drought we are having in California is taking a toll on the pines...sad to see.  The view I chose is from a corner of the park looking across the street to a bright and vigorous bougainvillea.  We're hoping for more rain!

10" x 8" Watercolor

Monday, August 3, 2015

San Pascual Stables

In June I was at San Pascual Stables in South Pasadena for my third paint-out there.  But this was the first time I've finished a painting!  Sadly, I have no links to previous posts of previous paintings.  On my first visit I put a horse in my watercolor and needed another half hour to get some details but sprinklers came on and the group left a little early.  I'm not inspired to finish the piece.  On my second visit, I started a gouache piece after taking too much time walking around.  The sun moved, cars got in the way of my view, time was running out...I didn't finish or even get a good start.  

I also walked around too long on this recent visit.  Just beyond the parking lot there is a nice trail that passes under some wonderful bridges so I walked up that way.  Maybe trying to avoid painting the main horse training ring.  I really do like the main ring with its striped awning over the viewer's bleachers and couldn't resist.  I tried a quick gouache piece which went well but there is no horse in it.  There were a couple jumping lessons going on with horses trotting by.  I can try adding a horse on a future visit...if they might stop and pose!      

5" x 7" Gouache