Pasadena Adjacent

Life Lived on the Edge of Pasadena

Watercolor #31 in 35 Years: Mount Wilson Observatory

This is kind of how it works. I like to have a few extras in the hole. Meaning I’m working on two watercolors since having painted this one. Like the last two watercolors, this was not part of my Saturday pleine air gathering. The Southwest Museum and the Sparkletts building was, and I still need to go back and paint them. Btw – according to Sparkletts security spokesperson, we are allowed to photograph, but not paint the building (even from across the street). What would Huell Howser say?

[WARNING SHOP TALK] Mr V and I headed to Mount Wilson to escape the heat and (he) do some drawing (me) painting. Hoping to capture the 100″ Hooker telescope, I settled on this view of the 60″ telescope. Mainly because I was able to find a rock to sit on. And it’s a decent balanced composition, though the perspective is wonky. Part of raising the bar is knowing what to edit, and what to save. It’s a hard balance to achieve because you want to be fluid – expressionistic – and yet be anatomically correct.

The Ponderosa Pines are a nod to my latest watercolor hero – Chiura Obata. The fallen logs and bench got overworked. Not a surprise since they were the first thing I painted. I seem to always screw up that first element. What I especially like is the silver trunk background trees with the eucalyptus green foliage. And at the end of the day, I don’t mind the telescope. It’s kind of sweet. Like a giant mushroom.

Watercolor #30 in 35 Years: Altadena Cemetery



The plan was to head up to Zorthian’s Ranch to catch the last few hours of Pasadena’s open studio event. Several artist were participating at the ranch and Allen Z had given me permission to come on up and do a little plein air painting. So I made the drive only to be turned around at the gate. Seems they had cut the studio event short to host a wedding. I tried to charm my way past the velvet rope. Lets just say the aging coquette act doesn’t work on all males – maybe most. So on the way home, dejected, I found myself passing the Altadena Cemetery, final resting place for  the Sam Crow gang.

‘Radiant Meadow’ it’s on the curb. I wish my ancestors were buried here. Mr V’s are, but not mine. Unfortunately my ancestors suffer from a protestant bent. One that has them laid to rest under unassuming markers; flush with the fescue and hovering over the 605. Guess we won’t be hooking up when Kingdom comes.

[WARNING SHOP TALK] It may be time to start looking into a new camera. My G4 was once ‘top of the line’ but like all things digital, even the lowliest of point and shoot cameras are out performing my loyal companion. I just couldn’t get the color right on the photo. Emphasize the red, you loose the blue and so on. The richness has been lost.

#30 – I did some of my usual compression work allowing for the markers and tombstones you see on the right. What I most liked about this site is the variety of trees. Old cemeteries hold a wealth of estate trees and this particular view provided a spectacular tree line. The Jacaranda on the left got a little muddy, but the Sycamore in front of the cyprus are stand outs. The 50 shades of gray required to give interest to those ‘above ground tributes to death’ got a little tedious. The green shade for the grass works, the mountain and sky are iffy. Those last minute lines I added to the asphalt road was the stroke I needed to pull the painting together.

Watercolor #29 in 35 Years: South Pasadena Miniature Golf Course



Back in the 1960’s my father suffered a heart attack. Part of his recovery was to unload pent up steam – daily. He discovered golf. 35 years later he would die in a motorized golf cart; while it was still running. Somewhere in West Covina. But while he was young, he discovered the driving range in South Pasadena. And we became regulars. Dad would shoot a bucket, mom would drink Bloody Marys and we kids played miniature golf. After spotting some riders on the trail behind the mini golf course, I came to discover the Arroyo Seco Stables – “Happiest Place on Earth.”

And why there’s a horse in the painting. She’s mine. Or at least she was. Nee Sha Sha. And I used to tie her to that bridal post – if it’s still there.

Back then, if you recovered six golf balls that had passed over the fenced range, you could turn them in for a free game of miniature golf. Plus the cafe made the best french fries. Those skinny kinds and lots of them – which is important when your a kid scrounging together 55 cents. Later I would take a blind date here. I never saw him again. Then I took Mr V here. I see way too much of him. Then I moved here, returned here and discovered strong cheap drinks here; plus no soundtrack to scream over. So I brought you here.

WARNING SHOP TALK: After getting permission from the bartender I slipped off onto the course and chose a spot that allowed me to get both the church and barn into the composition. Barbara told me in the beginning of this journey that natural ‘greens’ are difficult to achieve, but golf green doesn’t require a natural hue. I ran into some perspective issues with the bench, but pulled off a save by putting in a wood grain. Actually I’m rather proud of the drawing element – done on site. The last part of the painting had the beginnings of the horse drawn in. I could have thrown the palm out. The circular thing it grows out of would have been fine without it, but I was intrigued by the idea of cutting off the palm head. And then I did something that is soooo hard for me. I left it alone, walked away, gave it some breathing space.

Here’s looking at you kid.


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