Pasadena Adjacent

Life Lived on the Edge of Pasadena

Watercolor #26 in 33 Years: Arroyo Seco Pasadena


ArroyoSecoenlarge to appreciate 

This pleine air painting took place in the lower Arroyo. Just north of the La Loma Bridge and adjacent to the Arroyo Archery range. The location was chosen because of the Majtilla Poppies. But there was a hitch. While sunny days are wonderful for getting dramatic highlights and shadow, especially concerning architecture and cactus, they’re not so great when there isn’t any shade. In this case there was one lone oak next to a trash receptacle housing dog waste. And it wasn’t near the poppies; but we took it. Of course this limits your composition. Sherry turned her chair and faced the opposite direction while Barbara and I, seated on towels, stared straight ahead. The biting ants were an added attraction.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] despite the setbacks I was able to turn out a good painting. I’ve also come to discover the periphery of my eyesight is wider then my camera lens. Without the punch of those red posts accenting the archery trail, this might have been a mediocre painting.  My poppies look like fried eggs, which lends a certain naive charm. The beautiful blends of washes they’re emerging from is a personal best. And my sprawling Sycamores always look like they’re short of insane.

#26 and #25 look really sharp side by side.

Watercolor #25 in 33 Years: Descanso Gardens La Cañada Flintridge


Descanso_03enlarge to appreciate 

This en pleine air watercolor took place on a gray day within the Desanso Garden’s oak and camellia forrest. And because the light was muted, I got the idea of turning the event into a night scene. The light fixtures, although greatly exaggerated, remind me of Japanese Lanterns – which isn’t a stretch considering you walk through a Japanese garden to get to the oak forrest.

Japanese gardens were all the rage for the uber wealthy. When Executive Order 9066 was declared, Mr. Boddy, Rancho Del Descanso’s owner, reasonably compensated F.W. Yoshimura’s for all of his camellia stock. Mr. Yoshimura’s nursery survived the war and today is known as The San Gabriel Nursery. Ironic that years later, Walmart would try to use the order of ‘imminent domain’ to obtain the land under Mr. Yoshimura’s nursery. TRY —  but fail

Nothing ironic about L.A. Counties lack of vision after Mr Boddy sold them the gardens back in 1953. The County thought it would be a good idea to convert the land into a solid waste disposal facility. Yay! La Canada Ladies of the Guild stepped in to save the day. And with them they brought in renowned botanist and visionary Theodore Payne.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] I could pick and peck on minor imperfections but I won’t. I like this painting. It’s fresh, loud, spirited with a sprinkle of fairy dust. Plus I was able to take that attitude into watercolor #26.

#27 is a different matter. Juries still out.

Watercolor #24 in 33 Years: Pasadena Power Plant


IMG_2253smApril 18 2015

I mentioned earlier in my blog about a run of successes being followed by a few duds. This is the final dud in that series. Waterlogue wins. Although I remain on the fence as to the Garfield Park painting.

En pleine air #24 took place at that little industrial section bordering Raymond Hill in South Pasadena. It sits between railroad tracks and the Pasadena Freeway and south of Glenarm. After exploring my compositional options and discovering that most were without shade, I chose to lean up against a wall on a cardboard box I dug out of the garbage of the nearby Raymond Restaurant. And things went south from there. Which is too bad because I really like this area and had high hopes.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] This composition required a keen sense of perspective — which I wasn’t up to. It’s called a one point perspective. Happening in the basic set up, the foreground wall and R.R. tracks leading to one point — but all the other lines within the elements (building and industrial) aren’t really corresponding to that single point. I completely mishandled the sky and mountains compressing east to west and expanding north to south. The color – bleh. The industrial towers? I just couldn’t figure out how to edit them and have them make sense. I like the treatment for the fountain grass on the left, the deep green reflection on the building and the purple shadow cast by the right hand wall. I don’t hate it. It just fell short of my ambitions. And I learn from those experiences too.

The good news is that I’m back on a winning streak. #25 turns out to be my favorite of all – and #26 is a close contender. I’m excited to show you. Stay tuned.


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