Two koi

Two Koi – 8″ x 8″ watercolor on Stonehenge paper

Two little Descanso koi, looking for some fish chow. Look out for the racoons!
At Mulberry Pond at Descanso Gardens, they have created some ledges and shelves out of rock for the koi to hide under. I heard from one of the volunteers that the racoons will actually wade in the water to fish. But apparently they won’t swim into deep areas. Racoons, herons and egrets are a problem for pond owners who treasure their living jewels. To the predators it’s just an easy meal.

California Home 1 – Daily Painting

California Home 1 – 15″ x 11″ watercolor on paper

Can you tell I’m in the middle of a very experimental try-anything phase? Well, I am. I absolutely love the California school paintings of the 30s through 50s, as I’ve mentioned here before, so today I thought I’d try something in that style.

Last year, on a trip to Capistrano, I took this picture of a bougainvillea vine climbing over a wall onto what seemed to be a carport or something undefined. I liked the vine but I wanted it to be part of a larger scene – not just a big pink sprawling mass. I might still paint it again in oil or pastel, but that’s another story.

So, today, while letting the Alverno villa color study percolate in the back of my head, I took out my sketchbook and explored some other ways the vine could be part of an imaginary scene. I invented a cottage for the vine to crawl on, and made the fence lower so it could be seen.

This was one of several value sketches I did, mapping out different shapes that I thought might work.

I scanned that drawing and brought it into Photoshop CS, where I experimented with different colors in different layers. To make the fuchsia-red flowers pop I looked for a complement for the cottage roof – a blue-green. I picked analogous colors for the other trees and shrubs in the scene.

When I got it roughly sketched on the paper, I discovered that I had too much room to the right with nothing going on, so I drew in an old clothesline and tucked it behind a hedge because I didn’t want the fence to run full wide right off the page. And … I liked the allusion to an time before labor-saving devices, and the sun and breeze that it implies. I suspect that there are a couple of little kids playing with a floppy-eared dog in that back yard. Don’t you think? That shrubby background became a place to insert a couple of squabbling birds – geese or ducks, your guess.

So there’s the evolution of a California dream from a long-gone era and I hope you found the journey to its completion interesting. I’ll be putting this in my ebay store, tomorrow probably.

Magenta Gold Iris

Magenta Gold Iris – 6.25″ x 9″ watercolor

Another of my iris clan. I’ll have to check the tag to see what the real name of this one is.

Flintridge Cottage

“Flintridge Cottage” – watercolor – 5.3″ x 7″

Every year our town has a spring garden tour of some of the nicest homes. I often take a camera along to get ideas for landscaping. And occasionally these gardens end up in my paintings, too. This ivy covered cottage is on the route of one of our daily walks. With manicured box hedges, rose bushes and perennial flowers, it looks like something out of a fairy tale.

Palos Verdes Ride –

Palos Verdes Ride – 13.75 x 9″ – watercolor on paper

$100 Purchase from the artist

A few weeks ago, when we went down to Wayfarer’s Chapel for our anniversary, we drove through the Palos Verdes peninsula and I took a few pictures from the car along the way. One of them featured some large eucalyptuses, which I can never pass up the chance to paint. Unfortunately, this area is “no parking” due to extreme landslide danger, so I was not able to get out and sketch. But that’s why I always carry a camera with me. When I got home and took a look at my picture, I saw that there were some riders emerging from the grove. I hadn’t noticed them at all during the drive-by.

If you live in the area , I think we just approaching Portugeuse Bend, coming up from San Pedro. (Googlemap link below.)

Here’s a link to the Google map of the place.

His Eye is on the Sparrow

“His Eye is on the Sparrow” 8in x 8in – watercolor on 140# Fabriano paper

This painting was partly inspired by the song so loved by gospel singer Ethel Waters, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

Although the watercolor painting is sold I since painted the same scene as an oil painting, 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas.

Interested in this painting?
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See more of my paintings on my website

Magnolia Glow – Daily Painting

Magnolia Glow – 7 x 11″ watercolor. SOLD.

Although this painting is sold see more of my floral and botanical paintings here

Every year I wait for the magnolias to come into bloom at Descanso. The tulips burst open at the same time, which seems fitting. The downy buds thrust up, covered with a soft casing that seems like velvet or suede. Eventually it begins to show color. This is usually about the time that a rainstorm threatens to spoil the blooms. But, with luck, the tight buds will make it through the showers, to open fully on a warm day. From this tight urn-shaped form they will expand gracefully, the petals laying back in ecstasy. The colors are more subtle in the shade, but I like them best in early morning or very late afternoon, when a slanting ray causes the white of the petals to glow with a hot inner fire.

In this case, the flower was painted first, in general terms. Then the background was added to gauge the contrast. Finally, I went back and added the final color accents to the bloom. I rather like the trapped negative space between the stem and the leaf – it reminds me of certain art nouveau motifs.

Full Blown – Daily Painting

“Full Blown” 7″ x 11″ – watercolor on 140# paper

It’s not too late for the camellia show at Descanso Gardens, if you’ve been putting it off. There are still plenty of big blossoms in every range of white red and pink, and the azaleas at their feet are dazzling as well. And the tulips are up!

I was a painting fool this weekend. The more I painted the more I wanted to paint. I had some red paint left over from the tomatoes, and rather than see it go to waste I looked around through my recent flower files and found this camellia blossom, caught in the brilliant late afternoon sunlight. I can still imagine it hanging on the tree, moving slightly in the breeze.

I think I could paint something different from Descanso Gardens every day and not ever get bored. Do you have a place you feel that way about? Whether it’s a park or a garden or a part of the city that you call your artistic “home?”

Purple Iris – Daily Painting

Purple iris 4″ x 6″ – watercolor on 140# paper with colored pencil accent


Spring is almost here, and although the irises in my yard haven’t bloomed so far, I rummaged around in my files of photos I took last year and found this one to work from. I admit to being an iris fancier as well as a mum grower, and I like to collect different varieties. Descanso gardens has an annual spring plant sale and that’s often a good place to get irises which have been divided out of their huge iris garden.

Golden Mountain – Daily Painting

Golden Mountain 6.5″ x 3.75″

eBay Auction begins 8 AM, Los Angeles time

In the spring, California’s mountains glow with warm light as waves of wild mustard blanket them. This watercolor sketch, from memory and imagination, recalls the days between seasons when winters’ snow gives way to the hazy yellow of spring.

The watermark is not in the original artwork.

How it might look framed: