Pasadena Adjacent

Life Lived on the Edge of Pasadena

Watercolor #38 in 35 Years: My Childhood Home



Barbara, our glorious leader and location scout was out of town the Saturday before last. So I was on my own to find something to paint. Since I spend more time at my childhood home then I care to, I thought I might as well paint it. Those in the ‘know’ might remember that it’s that space to the right of the brick chimney that the man in the Porche SUV managed to drive through uninvited. 8 months later, Mom now suffers with PTSD. Thanks asshole.

My father bought this house without my mother having ever seen it. A dilapidated wreck on a busy blvd, with a high end address. I still remember mom walking through the rooms crying. But my engineer father saw it’s potential and with a talent for landscape design, and a sensitivity for balancing squares and circles, he laid out the concrete walkway and the swerving architectural bones. He also went out to a tree farm and selected two crated olive trees (one that JUST died) and that beautiful Japanese Black Pine. It’s shaped like an oversized Bonsi Tree. Having noticed it was stressed, I’ve been babying it with a soaker hose. It’s in my painting. So is mom’s cat Bubba – and all those power poles the parrots like to hang out on.

[WARNING ART TALK] Grabbing my mother’s half walker/half chair apparatus, (those who’ve taken care of the elderly are familiar with this geriatric hybrid) I loaded it up with my supplies, wheeled it out front, locked the brakes and used it as a seat. That shadow on the lawn is missing from my piece. Why? because it wasn’t there when I painted the house in the late afternoon. I went back the next day and took another photo when the house was drenched in afternoon light. I suppose I could put the shadow in, but I don’t think it would make sense if you can’t see the tree casting it.

Watercolor #37 in 35 Years: Beckman Auditorium Caltech



The folks at Catlech may refer to this building as a “wedding Cake” but Edward Durrel Stone, it’s architect, saw it as part of the 1960’s ‘New Formalism.’ A contemporary interpretation of a circular Roman temple using modern materials. Sadly, because of the drought, all four disk fountains that encircle the auditorium, are out of operation. I imagine that at night, properly lit, they added greatly to the architecture’s overall drama. The building celebrated it’s 50th anniversary last year.

[WARNING SHOP TALK]  It’s really really hard to draw – and that’s all I’m going to say. This time instead of me telling you what works and what doesn’t, I’ll let you do that.

Watercolor #36 in 35 Years: Pueblo de Los Angeles



Last Saturday we plein air painters met up at Union Station. Well, the others met up at the station. I was too busy loosing money to METRO in an effort to purchase and fortify a TAP card. 10 Bucks! I also managed to write down the incorrect deadline on the South Pasadena Utility Box competition. Which is a shame because I had an idea waiting in the wings that I felt excited about. It’s just been that kind of year. Crappy. Did I mention I had a tire blow up while driving mom to the insurance office in Hacienda Heights? Happened on the overpass between the 210 and the 605 south. Mom refuses to get on a freeway in my truck, so we took her Honda. Seems mom’s insurance company decided to drop her after 50 years of loyalty, so we were on our way to meet up with her new insurer; an outfit called “Two Guys From Italy” (not really – Lloyds of London; at double and a half). If someone tells you there’s no such thing as accidents, they’re bullshitting you.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] Despite the beauty of Union Station, finding a location to sit and paint it’s architecture is difficult. The front of the station was in shadow, so I decided to cross the street and look for opportunity there. The best shade spots were taken up by the homeless – and who can blame them. I eventually found this little plaza area on the east side of Olvera street. The building to the right is an original adobe with an old grape vine. I like this painting very much. Especially it’s austerity and muted palatte. It’s well composed. If I were to fault it, I’d be critical of the sky and maybe the palm fronds. I love the palm trunk though. And the tile mural. It’s just very simple.

BTW – on leaving, I looked through a window out into the station court yard and saw my fellows. Good thing too. Barbara helped me buy a return pass home.


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