Friday, March 24, 2006

Living dangerously

Quick: think of the color of coffee with a good amount of cream ... (the sugar won't affect the color all that much)
Then, imagine the color of water after I've cleaned my brush in it through several paintings...

Ooooh, indistinguishable, huh?

Yeah. This is why I really shouldn't paint while I eat.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gouache paintings, part 2

Click to go the the flickr set!

I'm tired, but here you go. Some of these are a little more literal than I was intending, but it's all good.What fun.

Arty material note:
The Scotch brand blue painters masking tape is a bit aggressive on the moleskine sketchbook (thicker) paper, and I ended up tearing the pages a bit, removing the tape. The tape's been on for about 4 or 5 days ... I need to go dig up my artists' tape.. and give that a shot.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Commute

So, you all know what it looks like.

But this is what it feels like.

Wendee's humming, "Hmmm~mm~mm."

This post should be titled: "Don't try this at home". Yes, I was stopped at the light.

Quick note:
Apparently the subscription notification service isn't working. Don't you hate that?! I'm going to try and find something more reliable... I'll let you guys know...

Monday, March 20, 2006

At least it's no-cal!

I wish this were sitting in front of me. Right now. In person.
If you haven't wandered around flickr (and have a few mindless ... hours ... to spend), you should go. I'm sure there's something for everyone.

Me, today I ran across a pool called "Too Pretty to Eat". Some of the contributors are professional photographers. But I think the more dangerous ones ... are the people in chef school.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Sometimes, when they warn you of clouds, storms, gusty winds, choppy surf ... you need to just go anyway.

I got to drive along PCH, going north during the day, yesterday. Normally I make the drive at dusk or later. I had the option of taking the 405, but, gee ...
It was a little cloudy, but still sunnier than I think most of us expected. Stopped at a light, I noticed that the BMW behind me was going top-down, going convertible while waiting at the light. You’ve gotta love those automatic converting convertibles. Were those designed specifically with Southern California and PCH in mind? Boy, you have to wonder. A half-mile later, I see an Audi, going the opposite direction, stopped at the light, doing the automatic convertible thing, too. I suddenly have car-envy: “Gee, I’d like a convertible...”

We all meander up the coast. I have the option to turn up on Sunset. I look further north and think, “Nah”. Should I turn up on Topanga? Malibu Canyon? Nah. There are still open stretches of the coast to see and enjoy. Who knows, maybe the view over the hill, on the way to Kanan will be worth this lazy weekend drive.

And it is.

So, when I get back to town, I hit the art store to stock up on the tubes of paint that I’m missing. It’s like going shopping to the market when you haven’t eaten; you stare at the freezer section, in a dazed zone. Mmmmmm; it all looks so good. Michael’s didn’t have all the colors on my list, so I had to venture out this morning for the remaining colors. Had to. Mmmmmm.

So, last night, I played a little bit. I’ve decided to start with gouche and just get back into doing gradations, seeing what strokes will work for me. When I last worked with gouache, we were learning to do pretty tight renderings of products. It was painful. The most fun I had was when a substitute instructor (sorry Richard) came in, who had us do these really messy, free, applications of paint to use as backgrounds. I wouldn’t say that you slap the paint around; it’s more of a flip-flap-flip-flap, back and forth, moving your hand slowly from spot to spot on your board. You sort of blend the colors quickly, and the little strokes leave a nice, interesting texture. That was fun. So, I’m back to playing with that, then looking at the work to see what I’m learning, bit by bit, and then deciding what to experiment with next.

I like this one the best.

These are just little (6x6”) experiments with straight color from the tube, line work, layering. Yeah, a lot of overworked paint. In my mind, I hear more than one teacher from my past warning us ... “Don’t overwork gouache!” But, these were fun, and instructional. No thinking, very little planning, and not necessarily anything I'm expecting to eventually frame (but you never know). I’m wondering if acrylics would work better, but gouache is matte, and I think it’ll take pencil better - - I’ll probably use these as foundations for illustrations or collages or something. I expect these pieces here will evolve a bit over time. I also see how I would approach acrylics and watercolors differently, so this gives me inspiration for those media as well.

Click here to go to the flickr site with all the scans.

I also picked up iridescent/pearlescent medium (you mix some of it in with normal acrylic paint to create metallic, shiny effects. Sounds like great hair product, too, huh?). I’m curious to see what this does, compared to, say, the gold-toned paint that I have.

I’m planning to work next on mixing custom colors (as opposed to straight from the tube) before applying them and also to play more mindfully with the actual blending of different colors on my boards, to better control how the colors blend into one another. I also have an idea of what kinds of pieces I’d like to create; a collection, actually, themed around the ocean, of course, but with a purposeful story. You’ll have to stay tuned ...

Puppy Love III

<--- that's Jack.
He's a little bit jealous about all this talk of 'puppy' love.
He's got nothin' to worry about, and he's a lot cuddlier than the oven mitt and Gromit.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ocean painting

So, the SketchCrawl was pretty inspiring, no? There are more links to sketches that I’ve added, if you want to check back to the original post.

I came home and really, really wanted to paint.

I’ve been spending a lot of time driving along the coast (Pacific Coast Highway, for you people from faraway places) these days on the way to work. Right. I basically ‘have’ to drive through a National Park and then along the coast, on my way to work. Yeah, I know, life’s rough.

Anyway, I get to see the ocean every morning and I’m grateful for that.

--->Click the images to see the scanned paintings.<---

The ocean has great moods that mirror the day and the sky. With the storms, it’s been cold and grey; the foam lapping up on the beach looking, amazingly, like snow. Sometimes the water and waves seem very feminine – bright, clear, light aqua. There’s a quality of how the sunlight shines through the tops of the waves that gives it a lightness; how the flourishes of spray in the wind are like a woman tossing her hair. I love all the names of the shades of blue that have to do with the sky and water: sapphire, aqua, turquoise, azure … and even the occasional steely cold grey. On those perfect days, though, warm and sunny, without a cloud in the sky, the ocean is endlessly blue, and the words that come to mind are: strong, assured, deep and handsome.


I’ve been trying to take mental notes of it all, but really, every day is beautiful. I’ve been thinking of doing a series of ocean paintings; it’s been percolating in my mind. I’m sort of thinking of doing something a bit like the gouache gradations, but perhaps a lot less saturated and intense. Talking to Robin, I was reminded of how the nice and matte gouache is, so I’m feeling tempted to go back and give it another go. I’ve discovered that my gouache paint tubes from school are dried up, so I’ll be headed out, amazingly, to buy fresh new tubes. In the meantime, I’m playing with acrylic, both really watered down and very thick and opaque as well. I like this acrylic stuff and how well it works with collages. I haven’t tried adding pencil or ink over acrylic, but I suspect that the watercolor pencils and types of pens I’m using … might work better over gouache. Watercolors; mmm, we’ll see. Did I ever post the magnolia painting? Can’t remember. Someone let me know.

('media'? 'medium'? Can't decide)

These paintings – they’re little (about 4x6) - and are even before the playing stage, just getting what’s inside, out, sort of like warm-up exercises ... an excuse to smoodge around some acrylic.

Anyway, I’m going to see if I have some extra illustration board, cut it into smaller pieces, mask off some squares … and play a bit with the different media.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March Sketch Crawl

“You mean you go outside with a bunch of people. And draw?”
“Uh, yeah.”

It sort of looks like this.

More SketchCrawling, this time at Union Station and Olvera Street. I’ve never been to this part of downtown, so it’s a really good excuse to see it. We worry about the threat of rain and thunderstorms that, happily, never materialize.

Union Station provides great architectural details, but we take advantage of a bright spell when we first get there to sit outside and draw in the courtyard.

I know, you want to click to see it bigger. Go to my flickr site to see them all; the link is at the end.

After a bit, we amble over to Olvera Street and enjoy the people, the bright flowers outside, the open-air market. Some of us get distracted from sketching for a little bit.

Easily distracted by shiny things. This scale makes it look like a pin that you wear, huh? It's a wall-hanging thing, about 12 inches wide...

People stop by and look at us, “Oh, they’re drawing!”. Kids come over and peer over our shoulders, look up at what we’re drawing, then back to our sketchbooks, nodding.
“You do this for class?”
“No, for fun.”
“For fun? Ohhhh”, and they smile when they walk away.

It might not be raining, but it is cold, and lunch is a good break to warm up a bit. Afterwards, everyone sits back and talks. We pass around our sketchbooks. Wow. Everyone has their own style, and it’s so great to share. You see sparks of new inspiration in everyone’s eyes after seeing all these different approaches and techniques. I see the Crawlers at the other end of the table pulling out their travel watercolor sets; Show and Tell.

Our bellies full, we head back out. Some leave for home, for work; a few of us stay to draw more. We meet up with the group of students that we’d noticed there earlier in the morning, and we learn that they’re there for a class. And hey, turns out Robin and I are alumni; same school, same major as them. The students ask, Do we have jobs? In our field? And we still have time to sketch? For fun? Yes, yes, yes, and most definitely, yes. The guys leave to return to campus, heartened. It’s a big city, but a small world, huh?

We draw for a bit more,

get some coffee, catch up with each other’s lives. That’s the best part of SketchCrawl.

So these are just a few of the photos and sketches.
Click here to go to my flickr site to see the rest, bigger images and more photos, with comments.

Posts from some of the rest of the gang:
Adriane’s 1, and 2
Karen’s Olvera Street, Union Station courtyard, and People.

If you look carefully, you'll see some of the same scenes and people depicted in several different ways.. :)

Artsy/Technical notes: I did a lot of more tight, detailed sketching and computer drafting at work this week, so I wanted to work more loosely out on 'Crawl. I bought a Copic brand brush-tipped pen a bit ago (you thought I just bought things to stick on the 'fridge, toys for the kitchen, didn't you?) and had fun finally working with it.

That one thing

Here’s a thought for this morning:

That ‘one’ thing?

Live to my heart’s content.

xox to you all,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Magnetic personality

So, I was wandering through Swain’s, looking for a bag for when I go sketching on-location ("Sure. We believe you."). I was checking out, and something caught my attention.

This little guy glommed onto me. And, you know me, I can’t resist a face this cute:

Such soulful, earnest eyes. Sigh. And I fell immediately under the spell of his magnetic personality.

Like the silicone dog hotpad mitt before him, he managed to follow me home and set up camp in my kitchen.

(Apparently, he knows where all the good stuff happens.)
But, what a guy. He’s already in the kitchen when I wake up, doesn’t steal my ice cream, embraces my art...

... and, best of all, I get the feeling he's willing to stick around for a while. And he wears purple!

Yeah, he’s a keeper.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Have you checked out all the gadgets going on along the right margin? Check out the guestbook and email subscription service! Does this help? :)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A great race

[Walk walk] Boy it’s cold. It’s really cold.
Guess I coulda’ brought my mp3 player. It seemed pretty unsociable, though.
[Stand stand stand]
Okay, here we go.
What? False start?

[Stand stand]
Okay, here we go. Run over the timing chip mat, set my watch, we’re off!
[Run run] I guess this is the uphill part. Okay, that’s not so bad.
[Run run run] I’m tired. [Walk walk walk] Nah, not that tired. [Run run run]
[Run run run] Okaaaay, it’s been a while. Have we gone one mile yet? Oh, what’s that? One-mile marker? Oh good. Can I call it or what? Whew, there’s hope here.
[Run run run] Okay, this looks familiar; I can start to settle into my pace. Breeeeathe. Breeeeeathe. If we’re at Conifer, then it’s literally all downhill from here.
[Run run run] Water station! Faster! Pour faster!
[Run run run] Oh, cramps. Aiee. [Walk walk] No, not that sore. [Run run run]

Gee, it’s too bad they’re only having one water station. Oh, hey, look! The Starbucks crew put together their own water station! Woo hoo! Yeah for Starbucks! [drink drink]

[Run run run] My toes are getting numb, must be around two miles. .. Oh, wow. Did I call that or what? Amazing. Okay, two miles. I can do one more mile, no problem.
[Run run run] Hey, look at the time.I might be able to match the last race. How about that?
[Run run run] Dude, a hill up to the finish around the track? Ugh. [Walk walk] Nah, no walking. [Run run slow]
Okay! Onto the track – softer running surface! Woo hoo! How far around do we have to go? Okay! Hey, photographer! Yeah, here’s a smile and a wave for ya’.
[Run] Oh man, look at the time. I could actually match, maybe beat, my time from the last race.
[Run] Okay, last 20 – 30 yards. I can sprint for this.
[Sprint sprint sprint] Woooo!

[Stop] Take my timing chip, quick, before I lose my balance. Wuf.
[Walk walk] Water. Must have water. [Drink drink]
[Walk] Just think, if I had actually trained for this. Gee.
[Walk walk] Look at the food. Mmmm.
[Walk] Oh, hey, it’s free? Really? Excellent.
[Munch munch] Yeah, Dole’s the major sponsor, duh. Fresh oranges, bananas, fruit cups, bagels? For free? I’ll be back next year. [Munch munch munch]
[Walk walk] Hey, those guys have Coldstone ice cream.
[Brisk walk] Oooo, and it’s free, too? Hey, I just ran 3 miles, I can afford to have some ice cream.
“Chocolate, please”
[Walk walk] Mmmmm…

Last race chip time: 36:41.
I have a new 'personal best' time to beat.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Petersen Museum

An L.A. landmark, I know, but is it just me that feels sad and creepy everytime I see this?

Anyway. Last weekend I went to the Petersen Automotive Museum. A nice history of how automobiles, freeways and the city “grew up” together, cool exhibits on Rock’nRoll guitars and cars and of Steve McQueen’s cars. Look at this beauty:

Man, I had one of these (a coupe, not fastback) and had to let it go. Sigh.

In the kids space, they had great science displays and games (Pinecar Derby!!). And this! They had kids design cars, and prop makers from the entertainment industry (I’m guessing), made them. So this:

Became this:

How cool is that? ;)

You should go.


Dude, you're awesome; Thanks. It just must have taken me forever to get to that 10-hit minimum to where the thing actually activated. Okay, so people are actually reading! Excellent.

You see those little dots all by their lonesome? I know who you people are! ;)