Pasadena Adjacent

Life Lived on the Edge of Pasadena

Watercolor #17 in 33 Years: San Gabriel Playhouse


MissionPlayHouse_01enlarge to appreciate 

The last two Saturdays mornings, when my watercolor crew meets up, I’ve had scheduling conflicts. A Shamanism workshop up in Dalton Canyon. The next week, a cat show in Arcadia; which wasn’t really mandatory but defiantly pleasurable.

My life is a pretty simple one when I’m not taking care of Ramona. Art, Cats, Shamanism, hiking, gardening, T.V. eating and an occasional book. Team Ramona doesn’t give a damn about those things. Last Saturday morning Ramona scheduled me to pick up a 500 pound electric recliner. Didn’t help to see photo after photo of my sister enjoying the weekend on a whale watching excursion then Rugby match in Las Fucking Vegas. So I threw down the ‘good girl role’ and let her have it — my mother, not my sister. Then I felt guilty; but not guilty enough to skip painting.

So Here it is. The San Gabriel Playhouse with a dollop of guilt.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] Arrived at the Playhouse an hour late. Mission Revival + Dread = Procrastination. Architecture is hard enough when it’s straight lines – but those curves and arches? yikes! Being a little rusty, most of the session was spent drawing and erasing till I could come up with something respectable. And still I had to eliminate whole sections of the structure. And sometimes I didn’t even know I had. One day I’ll learn how to create warm tones for concrete accompanied by blue shadows. But I had already laid down the orange tones on the concrete finials, so I kept with the script. Also I was looking at this work of John Singer Sergeant for inspiration. I’m reminded of the Jeramy Irons character ‘Charles” in Evelyn Waugh’s BBC production of Bridgehead Revisited. Charles (ever the conservative) rode the coat tails of Seargent (who rode the coat tails of the rich) as a landscape painter specializing in the manor houses of England.

How can I make that work for me?



Watercolor #16 in 33 years: Devil’s Gate Dam West

IMG_0129smOriginal Reference Photo

waterlogue_01Watercolor Ap ‘Waterlogue’ [Enlarge to Appreciate] 

Painted in WaterlogueThe Computer Version I Worked From

HaHa_West_01The End Result — Enlarge to Appreciate 

Recap on Watercolor #14 Devils Gate Dam East.

En Plein Aire #14. [SHOP TALK] adding to my misery is the discovery of an iPhone application that replicates watercolors from photo files. It’s amazing and equaling depressing. Makes me feel like an old horse being put out to pasture — and never saw the bullet coming. It’s what I’ve been trying to do, but don’t. Now I’m starting to think my ‘don’t’ is my saving grace. Like the painting above. All those don’ts – mistakes in perspective and placement, can add up to a pleasing composition. Especially when you make stuff up.

I sent the top image to a friend to run through her iPhone/Pad ap ‘Waterlogue.’ The second image shows the results of four different filters she ran the photo through. The upper left photo is the one I used as a guide. Whereas I saw the application as a threat, some of you saw that it could be used as a system to plot and block out shapes and colors. That became the basis of the experiment.

The drawing was done on site from the bench overlooking the dam on the west end. Once home, I was able to tighten up the drawing and start the process of laying down paint. Though I do tend to work from light to dark, creating a high contrast between the two is not something that comes naturally — as my watercolor instructor Mr Borders, pointed out to me 33 years ago.  Those deep rich colors can scare the bejesuzs out of me. Aside from squinting when onsite to understand contrasts, the digital image was of great help.  So what do you think?

Watercolor #15 in 33 Years: Los Angeles Zoo


Zoo_03enlarge to appreciate 

I was expecting plein air watercolor #15 to be Devil’s Gate Dam — from the western side of the bridge. But life is messy. Uninterrupted time is out of reach. Non interruption is how I process creativity. Lots of thought – occasional action. But since plans are in the making to spend this weekend with the shamans, Devil’s Gate Dam #2 may have to substitute for next Saturday’s session.

So this session was held at the Autry in Griffith Park. Only me and Barbara showed up (and she drove). The Autry was hosting an opening for ‘Western Painters.’ Highly skilled work but sadly anachronistic. What rocks is the extended show on beading. It’s onset, it’s influence, and as a practice that allowed for native wisdom (medicinal plants and beliefs) to be hidden from western eyes. Plus a small gallery show celebrating Jack Rabbit cabins out near Joshua Tree.

Barbara chose to paint the Autry sans the ding bats on the bell tower. A museum design so hideous Mr V refers to it as ‘Mission Impossible.’ She did a really good job on the redemption end. I painted the Zoo — mostly the sign (and in perspective). It’s an impressive sign featuring a California Condor. Did you know Los Angeles Zoo has played the largest role in rescuing the condor from the brink of extension? Something I was made aware of back when studying forestry at PCC. A precious few existed then. Maybe 17? Their return is something to be proud of.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] Where fools tread. Yes, first thing I chose to tackle was the signage with it’s one point perspective. Either you find the result quirky and charming or annoyingly inept. I parked myself on a curb at the far end of the parking lot, so as to keep a distance between myself and the onslaught of visitors. It also kept me from accurately seeing what I was painting — and once you set up, you can’t exactly leave to go in for close-ups. Didn’t help that I had left the chip out of my camera. So I interpreted what I couldn’t clearly see; like the entire entrance. The silverly softness of the palms as they make there way back in space is commendable. Palm trees and tiki lights lend a jungle air. And though the coyote is made up, it’s no stranger to the park’s trash cans. Plus it adds a touch of irony.


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