Sweet Pea Springtime
(Cottage garden, Pasadena, California)
14 x 11 inches
Oil painting on canvas
I’ve been thinking about painting this subject for several years, since my husband and I were out on a walk in Pasadena and we came upon a scene of a woman cutting sweet peas along the cottage garden path leading to her front door. The location is near S. El Molino Street, or S. Oak Knoll, near Cornell, but I neglected to write down the exact address. I told her I was a painter and asked her permission to take a picture and she pleasantly agreed. I changed the color of her dress from periwinkle blue to white because it contrasted better with the green of the sweet pea vines.
The picture was taken in March when everything was verdant green, and the flowers – snapdragons, pansies, poppies and more – were at peak bloom. I should try to walk the area again some time and see if I recognize the houses and the path.
Although I prefer to do plein air studies as preparation for studio paintings, there are some occasions when a composition just presents itself to you and there you are without an easel, and the light fading fast. This was one of those occasions when I was glad I had a camera with me.
14 x 18 oil on canvas
A few years ago, on our anniversary in March 2004, my husband and I were driving out to Malibu and came across a wonderful commercial nursery near Somis. It appeared that it was occasionally open to the public and, from what we could tell, was used for special events. We saw several lovely arbors and pergolas that seemed to be wedding bowers. As we were walking around the grounds, what caught my eye was an old derelict 53 Chevy pickup truck which a cat had made his home. He was proudly seated on some blankets or comforters and a pile of plastic bags and his lordly manner told us that he was the master of this domain. The lack of a door, windshield and windows didn’t bother him a bit. We didn’t disturb his rest and he gave us leave to take a few pictures and then, you know, suggested we move along. (I suppose the cat may have been a female, but I like the idea of calling him Tom.) The fact that there were blankets there led me to suspect that some kind human had done their part to give his bachelor pad a little creature comfort.
I wish now that I had written down the name of the nursery, but a little map research leads me to believe that it may be the Hartley Botanica and recent photos indicate it has grown even more beautiful through the years. There was a large aviary which held peacocks at the time we visited, and I don’t know if it is still there. I would like to think that “Tom” probably had a good time watching those birds every now and then. It’s been 7 years and I don’t know how old he was, but I hope he’s still prowling around.