Pasadena Adjacent

Life Lived on the Edge of Pasadena

Weakly Pleasures


With teardowns, spec McMansions and towering housing complexes sweeping through our shared urbanity, these kind of views are now in short supply. Big lawns and mountain vistas just begging for a wee watercolorist such as myself to do them justice. But what Barbara Saw is a street full of Halloween decor perfect for a holiday plein air painting. So yeah, I’m game – and over my head. I was still going at it after everyone else had left.

So the juries out on 1715. It got away from me – just a little bit. To begin, I wish I’d have left the house lite and brite. And the slope of the lawn – should have taken the time to really think that out. Of course the lawn is the first thing I did, so it sort of set the stage. But I’m moving forward too; the Mount Wilson Towers, the leaning street palms, and the curb appeal. Don’t forget the curb appeal. Nice curb.

During our morning session, the fellow across the street kept finding reasons to be in his front yard. I figured he wanted to check out what we were doing. But unfortunately for him he waited till everyone was gone, except for me.  His mistake – Barbara whipped out a last minute masterpiece. He finally sauntered over to grab a peek. Looking around, he asked “what house has the red door?” me – “nobody, I made it up.” Now this is the point where we hope he’ll stroke my ego. Like “beautiful!! your a genius” but no. Instead, after an akward silence, he started telling me about his brilliant artist friend from Slowdrip Texas. Oh Yeah, never good when that happens.



My Big 12″ by 16″ Arches Water Color Papier Adventure


This is my second watercolor painting in 33 years. It’s the view from across the street of Saint Lukes hospital. It’s also the site of what should be my future medical center – if I can ever get a call through. “You are the fourth call waiting, you are the third call waiting” with loud classical music interspersed with helpful suggestions to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. This goes on for some time. Once you make it to first in line the scamps send you to a voice mail. And never call you back. I tried thrice.

Another thing you need to remember about plain air painting is that light changes. On this particular painting I had great shadow plans for the wall on the left; (the wall that looks more like a driveway) next to the hedge that doesn’t read as a hedge that sits atop a stone planter that looks more like a sidewalk. By the time I got around to it, the shadows were gone. This painting isn’t as lively as my previous painting but I think it’s a respectable stab at the medium. And after the first week, I was able to reaccess what I was missing: a decent purple. Thats what made that ornamental plumb tree possible.

Todays efforts will be somewhere near the ice cream house in Altadena. Of course I’m running late.

Re-Thinking What I’m Missing

Weird and wondrous things can happen when you create a blog; you can post weird and wondrous things AND make a friend. Someone who should have been your friend years ago. Same tribe, same school, same hang outs – (Expresso Bar/CalTech folk dances) and same former boyfriend. A Muir boy who co-owned a Pasadena used bookstore. Who, despite the voice of Michael Silverblatt and the looks of Roger Swain, spent five years in prison. I know!!! how did he ever survive? Anyhow, someone we both left in the dust, in part, due to his really weird and creepy best friend. A guy who lived in his parent’s basement in a mansion overlooking the Arroyo. Old money and eccentricity are OK but if you don’t possess talent or style, your fish stinks. In my case FBF (former boyfriend) brought Creepy Guy to a poetry reading we’d arranged at our gallery downtown. Lets just say Mr Creepy sputtered odd and inappropriate commentary throughout the event. Last I would see of FBF until I attended a Bukowski exhibit at the Huntington and discovered that FBF was quite the collector of Bukowski ephemera. But, as is my way, I digress.

So back to my new old friend. Her name is Barbara. It’s a good name. I’ve never met a Barbara I didn’t like. She has a blog called “What I See” and I like what she sees, how she writes about what she sees and how she makes what she sees. She’s a committed plein air watercolorist who heads a little group of like minded souls in weekly ‘paint on site’ three hour sessions.  I’ve been on the E-mail list for about 9 months and dying to join up;  but slow to jump. Instead I met Barbara and crew sans the art supplies, when they showed up to paint at Church of Angels near where I live. A month or so later I jumped. 



Plein air water color painting; the road less traveled (academically) AND less respected (at CalArts – until they can apply a theory based program to it). Remember my previous post? same thing with ceramics, so yeah, I’m rethinking what I’m missing.

So here’s the thing about water color. You’ve got to plan it out in order to keep your whites and lights super brite; it’s called blocking. And it doesn’t hurt to know how to use wet on wet either. If you don’t, you risk blur on blur.

Presenting my first watercolor in 33 years. This particular site is home to the Los Angeles River Center on Ave 26.

I would say there are about three things going for my 12″x16″ overly ambitious painting; btw – thats a lot of ground to cover in three hours. The upper left side with a quick impression of King Palms allowing the sky to show through; kinda works. Second, the planter to the right – not the plants themselves but the pot. I seemed to have swung that brush without temerity. Unfortunately I didn’t plan the wall ‘said’ planter sits on. Instead I dove into the palm trees behind it; which brings us to my third favorite thing – the palm trees behind it. Not the fronds but the trunks. They have the kind of technique you’d expect to find in a 40’s California watercolor. Not knowing how to address the middle ground, I chose to stick in a large parrot. E-mail me if your interested in buying it. Serious inquiries only.

Koo Koo Kachoo.


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