Sunday, April 27, 2008

Open Stock

Retail Therapy Click to see this photo's flickr page

It was a rough day and I still had to teach class late at night, then finish packing, then get up to be at the airport by 4am the next morning. Make that: It was a rough day, and at 4pm, it was just getting started.

I decided to see if Blicks had put out the new shades of Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, and yes, they did! I bought all the colors that I'd been wanting to enhance my basic set of 12. I left with about 25 more, each carefully chosen, but it was certainly a fraction of the cost of buying the mongo set of 72, which they didn't have anyway.

I decided to bring the new pencils on the trip, to test out the colors in my sketchbook while I was away, winding down from days at a design conference. The days have been filled with lots of great thoughts and presentations and lots of designers; lots and lots of kindred spirits. It's 2am of day two, and it's been so full that I haven't been able to sift properly through my photos, check up on blogs (which I do so obsessively), keep up with the professional group blog to post events going on early next week, do magazine research, do writing homework. Even though the conference ends tomorrow, we have plenty planned for the day and the day afterwards.

Everyone is happy, energized, reconnected and I know that all our mini notebooks are filled with scribbles of notes of ideas and inspiration. It'll be interesting to see how this shared inspiration will manifest itself down the line. It is strangely satisfying to say that, no, I haven't even had time to test the new pencils.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I hear it's been toasty in LA, but we've had two really great sunny days in Portland. Did I just jinx it for the rest of the stay? Ehh, it'll just make the great expresso taste even better with a hint of drizzle, I suppose. Be back soon. xox, -w

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Maloof Discovery Gardens

The Wonderful Maloof Gardens Click to see this photo's flickr page

While reading one of Sunset magazine's blogs, Fresh Dirt, I discovered that a wonderful garden was nearby. How 'nearby'? You know, like 10 miles nearby. "Cool", I thought, making a mental note that I'd have to visit it soon.

After doing more research, I discovered that the garden is designed around the Maloof Historic Residence museum. "Who's that?" I thought. Imagine my glee when I discovered that Sam Maloof is a master woodworker, a veritable national treasure, who handcrafts furniture, designed and built (?) the historic Maloof residence and the new one, as well.

When I saw photos of his work, I blinked in disbelief. Did I mention that beyond gardens, that I'm a sucker for garden details, landscape architecture, and Arts and Crafts anything? OMG. And you're telling me this is all 10 miles away from home? Could life get any better? Really, people.

So after a long week full of taxes, design details and professional events, I finally went to the gardens today.

The Maloof Discovery Garden is designed to be water-wise, low-maintenance, AND is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. I turned the corner of the walkway entering into the garden, and stood there, stunned, with my jaw gaping. There are lots of the California native and Mediterranean plants that I love, fantastically in bloom, right now. There's an Arts and Crafts feel to the entire property, of course, with lots of joyful sculptures inhabiting the garden, lots of textures both natural and crafted to please the senses (you know I can't resist petting things like this).

Didn't have time to do a tour of the historic residence today, but, gee, I'm certainly not going to wait long.

The garden and residence are open Saturday and Thursday afternoons (as the Maloofs, after all, still live and work there ...). The foundation welcomes plein air artists to work in the garden every 2nd Thursday and Saturday, 12 Noon-4:00 pm (and a few extra dates). Hello? "Plein air painting in the garden"? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? We should go!

Click here to see the whole Flickr set from today's meanderings. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Arlington Gardens, Pasadena

Arlington Gardens, from the sidewalk

Ginny, who organizes the painting group, discovered Arlington Gardens in Pasadena, with fields of poppies! (Poppies!!) Last week (or maybe the week before? It's become a blur), my buddy Karen and I checked it out. Karen adds, "Oh, and there are lots of garden details...". Did I mention that, besides the gardens and flowers, that I'm a pushover for landscape architecture and garden details? My eyes bugged out. What a find!

I've compiled this from various articles:

The once vacant lot at Arlington Drive and Pasadena Avenue has been transformed into a California Friendly™ Mediterranean demonstration garden. Owned by the state of California and leased by the city of Pasadena, the 2½-acre property has been planted with more than 800 plants and trees including palm trees, an orange grove, olive allée, lavender garden, California poppies, pepper trees and more.

The garden is arranged into two main horticultural and stylistic areas-- Native California and Mediterranean. There is a formal Garden Room in each respective area; the Olive Allée in the Mediterranean section (western half) and the yet to be constructed Crafstman Commons in the California section (eastern half). Other important features include: Tuscan steps, an amphitheatre, an orange grove, a meadow, an arroyo, a vernal pool, desert areas and a raised-bed herb garden.

Thanks to numerous private donations from local residents, businesses and partial funding from the City of Pasadena and Pasadena Water and Power, we have added many new trees, shrubs, perennials and annual wildflowers to the original roster. In addition, we have received generous donations from local businesses and individuals which have added comfort and beauty to our garden with seating and ornamentation. Although it is still a work in progress, the Arlington Garden is already a place where nature and people rub elbows in many gratifying ways. (Karen and I also met a number of very sweet puppies that were being walked by their respective people)

The garden is maintained and supported by the non-profit group Arlington Garden in Pasadena with generous help from local residents, Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, the Parks and Natural Resources Division of the Pasadena Public Works Department and Pasadena Water and Power.

Betty and Charles McKenney, who live in the house adjacent to the lot (in the house Karen and I were both wishing we lived in, no doubt), tend the garden.

Read more at the landscape designer's website (scroll down), including how to donate or volunteer!

This poppy decided to go for a swim...
Lots of great garden details!

See the whole set of photos!

The garden is open from dawn to dusk, and Karen and I are both certain that it will continue to be a charming place to visit through all the seasons. See Karen's watercolor study; it's just lovely!

Missing my gnarly buddies

20080412_Mt Baldy Visitor Ctr
Click to see this photo's flickr page

As our school terms wind down, the weeks get more and more intense, and the focus of our weekends centers more and more around decompressing from it all.

So, up again to Mt Baldy. The winds were whipping around, and it might have been okay for J to tough out going up the trail, but knowing that I'd be sitting still, trying to draw, I opted to stick around by the Visitors Center. I'd drawn there one other time, and to be honest, I missed being up the trail, where all my gnarly buddies are. Because I had picnic tables to work on, though, I got to play with some pan paint that I carry around, along with the watercolor pencils, and that felt good.

Three hours later J returned and we had lunch at the Lodge across the street. Yum!

20080412_Mt Baldy Visitors Ctr

20080412_Mt Baldy Visitor Ctr

Sunday, April 06, 2008


When two violins are placed in a room
if a chord on one violin is struck the other violin will sound the note
if this is your definition of hope ... this is for you
the ones who know how powerful we are
who know we can sound the music in the people around us
simply by playing our own strings
for the ones who sing life into broken wings
open their chests and offer their breath as wind on a still day
~ andrea gibson

I occasionally visit Boho's blog and really enjoyed this quote that she posted last week. I'm passing it along to my buddies that are in need of that sweet, gentle spring air to fill their hearts with hope and peace, renewal and conviction. xox - w

Icehouse? Icebox?

You wish you could feel the gnarlyness..
20080405_gnarlytree2 Click to see this photo's flickr page

Yesterday we got out and went to Mt Baldy to get above the cloud-cover. So, I had the chance to sit and draw gnarly trees at Icehouse Canyon, not too far up the trail (hello, this is Me we're talking about). I keep thinking "Icebox" because after about an hour, the fog rolled up the mountain and into where I was sitting by the stream, and it got really cold. And who wants to be sitting still in the fog and the wind, trying to draw? Not me. My fingers get all stiff from the cold and then, well, where's the fun in that? Note to self - yes, bring the mittens no matter what the weather looks like. Okay, fine, yes, it's So Cal, and you (no names) can say I'm a wimp, but at least my wimpy drawing fingers won't be cold, and they'll stay nimble (wiggling my fingers) enough so that I can keep drawing.

When the HikingBear came back down to where I was, we headed for some Chinese food - good warm hot&sour soup. Yum.

And maybe this gnarliness, too

 liquid gnarliness?

Arty note: I'd gone through the assorted brands that I have managed to collect over the years ... to find additional colors to supplement the set of 12 Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils that I have. I think I've settled on at least this much - I like how the Inktense pencils feel going onto the paper while I sketch, and BOY, does that pigment just melt in such a lovely way when you add water. Woo! When I run into where I've used a different pencil with my watercolor brush, I can SO tell. I'll be trying to get the pigment to flow, unsuccessfully, going, "Eh! Eh! Eh!". I've been so good, trying to fight the lusty urge to cave in and get a new, expanded sets of 36 pencils (if 36 would be indulgent, 72 would be so unnecessarily decadent) that Derwent has now. But gee, life would just be so much more enjoyable with them. Oh wait, Blicks finally carries more of the new colors in open stock. Mmmmmm >:)

Zion National Park

20080330_zion_2 Click to see this photo's flickr page

Last weekend we went to Zion National Park in Utah. It seems like forever ago already.

Zion is a smaller park and I think this is its charm. There are lots of trails to go wander about, and when you need to get back together with the rest of your group, you don't have to worry so much about any prolonged trip to get to your meeting point, like you would for the larger parks. We got in three days' worth of long hikes. Well, yeah, I got two days in, and one more mellow day to ramble and sketch. There's plenty of that climbing uphill stuff, if you're inclined to do that, and a good deal of walking along the flat, as well. We discovered an unexpected grotto and saw mule deer and wild turkey up close and personal.

More from Zion National Park Click to see this photo's flickr page

On the way back, we swung by the Grand Canyon (now that's a detour) for sunset and the next morning's sunrise. Drove back to California and stopped for a break at a marina in Needles. And then the next day, we were back at work!

More photos and sketches of red rock, here.

Time flies

Two years ago I met the most delightful man. And look at us now!

Looking pretty perky for that early!
After sunrise at Grand Canyon Click to see this photo's flickr page

You'd think we could pose for more photos together, and eventually get one that's actually really nice. But we're havin' too much fun rambling about...