Pasadena Adjacent

Life Lived on the Edge of Pasadena

Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad: Watercolor #6



My #6 pleine air watercolor in 33 years.

Wondering about the odd post titles? They’re chapter titles to David Foster Wallace’ Infinite Jest. A novel of epic confusion and laughs. Never could have made it through if it weren’t for books on tape. The reader sounds a lot like DFW and is a pro with accents. It matters; each part is eight hours long and there are seven of them. It also helps to have spent a little time in a 12 step program. To understand what a crocodile or eskimo is, along with a plethora of program quotes whose true origins are never given proper credit. While I find music great for keeping rhythm during an uphill hike, books on tape are perfect for the studio. My eyes are free to work while my mind stays engaged with the narrative. Crown me.

~~awkward segue~~

Glad I had a little water color practice before Barbara scheduled our plein air gathering at the iconic South Pasadena Rialto theater. I dreaded it – icons intimidate. But trying to create a discipline around painting means that I drag my ass to where I don’t want to be at an hour I find objectionable. Sound like a 12 step meeting? Sort of. A desire to paint watercolors is all that is needed. And my sense of intimidation wasn’t underscored EVEN without depicting the Marquette side of the building. Here’s the thing, I like the work. I like the accordion perspective. That it looks like it could be the illustration for a children’s book. I like that it’s bright, quirky and cheerful. The left hand side is near perfect – the painting has soul. But the problem is, I keep thinking it’s not really me. Barbara mentioned something interesting, (besides passing on the recommendation to use yellow because people buy things that have yellow in them) that you lean towards those things your capable of doing; that you experience success at. But it may not be who you are?

~~awkward segue~~

What I’m thinking about.


In the Year of the Trial Sized Dove Bar: Watercolor #5



My #5 pleine air watercolor in 33 years; Untitled. The location Barbara chose for us last Saturday was 4702 Sycamore Grove Park.  A fine choice, a short drive and not a parking meter in site. One of the oldest parks in Los Angeles located on Figuroa street in Highland park. It started out as a red light district conveniently accessed by both the Pacific Electric Railroad and the Los Angeles Railway’s W Line. In 1905 it was cleaned up and declared a park. And for awhile the park even had a lake; rerouted water from the North Branch Stream and which has since been rerouted as an underground ditch.

Like many a park in my town, this one has it’s share of resident Winnebegos. Sycamore Grove Park alone sported three. I made a rather bold attempt to illustrate one of them (plus a taco truck) and who can blame me after my success at the Castle Green. I’ve also noticed that the many neighborhood mobile shelters all seem to be from around the same time period. I’m guessing late 70’s with their aluminum siding and earth shade stripes (a popular color palette back in the 70’s).

My grandmother once pointed out a child in her Iowa grade school class. A brown skinned boy among blondes who was a Winnebego Indian. Like my grandmother, he also went west. He became a priest and rose in the ranks of Los Angeles Catholicism.

~~awkward segue~~

So the sweet spot for a pleine air painting on a 90 degree day is to take advantage of the dense shade under a Ficus tree and focus on the South West Museum located directly across the street. A rather complicated composition that I liberally foreshortened and edited, eliminating much of the ugly apartment building on the left and bringing in the mid century hill hugging moderns on the right. Barbara, our fearless leader, pulled off a masterwork in the allotted time – not me, I ended up with homework.

Did I mention Bellis dropped by with Tina and Abby? She did. Much appreciated Bellis.


PGOAT Prettiest Girl of All Time: Watercolor #4



Like the title? “Infinite Jest” Chapter 99. Yes, gentle readers. You may ask yourself, is she trying to impress us with this announcement? Damn right – I need to have something to fall back on in case the watercolors don’t wow you. And by the increasingly marginal place by blog seems to occupy, I fear this may be the hideous and ruthless truth.

~~~awkward segue~~~

Woke up rather cold and late last Saturday morning. Dark skies, though longed for, kind of knocked me for a loop. It had rained hard the night before. I was kept up most the night by Mr V, my unpaid intern. Heavy rains had him scurrying up and down our hill to dispense of the water collecting on the ceiling of his makeshift tent/studio. A series of plastic tarps strung together with metal tubing. Humble materials traded from a previous Trash Tuesday; the abandoned windfall of a medical marajauna start up. The third run resulted in a mud slide; Mr V did the sliding. Mr V covered in mud looks a lot like Big Foot.

I called Barbara thinking we would be taking a pass under the threat of stormy skies but no – not these die hards. So I arrived a half hour late to moody weather and a homeless guy who decided to take up residence between me and Barbara. This plein air session (#4 watercolor in 33 years) took place at Pasadena’s Central Park. Which is on the south side of the Castle Green – which is the prettiest girl of all time until you have to paint her. And then she rewards you with a $46.50 parking ticket. Strumpet bitch. So I stuck around, me and the homeless guy, even after the others had left. And I like the results (mostly). To quote South West Traveler fan Pat Tillet  “The quirky little departures from reality and scale are what I really like about (your work).”

True dat. 


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