Chinatown, Los Angeles oil painting – California Art Club Plein Air Paint Out

Chinatown Afternoon
11 x 14
plein air painting
oil on canvas panel

Good times just don’t get any better than this. The California Art Club, which is celebrating its centennial this year, invited all members to a big paintout in Los Angeles’ historic Chinatown. Although rain had been threatened, morning brought fair skies and the promise of a picture perfect day. We arrived around 10 am to a very well-organized reception, complete with coffee and pastries – and then we were free to roam the streets of Chinatown looking for the best angles.

CAC members were there at the gracious invitation of the Chinatown Business Improvement District and we were impressed by their hospitality, including the delicious artists’ reception which refreshed us at the end of the day.

To paint, I found an angle just off the main plaza on Broadway, looking toward two of the most colorful buildings. As I explained to people who passed by and stopped to chat with me as I painted, I’m more of a tree and mountain sort of gal (as you blog readers know) – but there’s something about the ornate facades of these beautiful historic buildings that just steal an artist’s heart. In the late afternoon the warm sun makes everything radiant. At that hour, once again, it’s the Chinatown I remember visiting as a child, throwing coins into the fountain to make a wish, buying candied ginger and imported seashells from faraway shores.

The smell of the sea, joss sticks, firecrackers, oolong tea, fried shrimp … the sounds of music emanating from every shop, the babble of conversation in Spanish, Chinese, English and the tinkle of wind chimes … the cool breeze riffling the hanging lanterns and flags … a visit to Chinatown is a sensual delight not to be missed. If you’re an Angeleno and you haven’t been there lately – it’s time to discover it again.

And speaking of things to discover … if you’re an artist living in California, come join us in the CAC and become a part of a grand artistic tradition.