Good Morning, La Canada Flintridge

“Good Morning, La Canada”
9″ x 12″ oil on canvas on board

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In our small town, the streets aren’t usually this deserted in the morning, but during the holidays and early weekend mornings there’s definitely less traffic. I decided to leave out the random cars for the sake of reducing clutter.

La Canada Flintridge is a “bedroom” community of Los Angeles. Just 20 minutes or so from downtown, Foothill Blvd. is our main street. This is a view of the corner of Foothill and Oakwood, quite near the Vons market on the left, and La Canada Presbyterian Church on the right (that’s the spire that’s visible.)

After all the paintings I’ve done of Pasadena, the Arroyo Seco, Eaton Canyon, Hahamongna Park, Glendale, Descanso Gardens and other local sites, it’s really about time I got around to painting more of LC itself.

The last time I painted a vertical cityscape it was El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, near the Pasadena Playhouse. This one. So maybe it’s about time for another one.

Camellia Blossom – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Camellia Blossom – 11 x 14 oil on canvas

Camellias bloom in Los Angeles anytime from November to spring, depending upon the species. These are the first in a botanical series which I’m starting work on. There was a certain learning curve as I worked to render the delicacy of the petals. I’m used to painting camellias in watercolor, but it’s quite different in oil. To do the finish on this I was using sable brushes as small as size 0.

There is nothing like trying something new, whether it’s an entirely different subject, different style, different medium or different species to force yourself to GROW. Each painting is like a puzzle to be solved and only you can solve it.

Closeup of big blossom – click to enlarge

Fortune Cookie – Karen Winters Daily Painting

“Fortune Cookie” – 5 x 7 – acrylic

This painting was done in response to a creative challenge to “draw or paint something wrapped in plastic.” Since we had Chinese food the other night, I still had this fortune cookie sitting around, so I decided to paint that. The problem is, I can’t read the fortune inside without opening the plastic and I think I might like to paint it again. So, it will sit on my desk enigmatically with the life-changing fortune and lucky lottery numbers safely sealed inside. I have a feeling that if and when I do finally tear it open it will say something like “this fortune is past its sell-by date and has expired.”

I was thinking a little bit about how I’d approach the painting of transparent plastic and I finally settled in with the realization that it’s no different than painting anything else … it all comes down to color, value, shape and edge. Simple concepts when you get right to it.

Keeping to my art resolutions, tonight I started a figure drawing class with a new teacher and what was the first thing he said about modeling the head? “You have to pay attention to value, shape and edge …(we were working in charcoal so color wasn’t a factor.) So there you go – three teachers out of three and they all concur … value, color, shape, edge – that’s how you render any object – no matter what the medium. So the next time you want to paint a lake or a cloud or a parsnip – you know the answer.

In the Garden

“In the Garden” 9 x 12 – oil on canvasboard

I tried posting this using Qumana, the blogging application that lets you compose a blog posting in a dedicated application (not a browser.) Although I like the ability to add formatting easily, I don’t see a way to preview my post, which I could do in Safari. Nuts.


Update: Well, sigh. That was a bust. I reopened the file in Safari and removed the garbage that Qumana added, while NOT allowing me to insert the link to my image from my server. It was a good idea, but didn’t work, unfortunately.

The painting was fun to do. I was in the mood for creating a pattern of botanical textures, rather than anything too literal. I can treat the garden as a patchwork quilt of designs and colors, seamed together with light

The Stories They’d Tell – Daily Painting

“The Stories They’d Tell” – 5 1/8″ x 7″ – oil on canvas mounted on masonite.

Among the homeliest objects in our home are this old pair of scissors and a wooden “Clarks” spool. Both are probably from the 40s or 50s, judging from the look of them. Occasionally we’ll go to estate sales in our area, and inevitably there is a sewing basket with old scissors, spools and papers of pins. I like to think about their years of service and all the jobs they’ve done – a hem raised or lowered to suit the fashion of the time … a collar taken off and reversed to save buying a new shirt during the Great Depression … a Halloween costume made. Perhaps this thread and scissors patched up a hole in Santa’s jacket before it was packed away for another year.

What stories would your scissors tell, years from now?

Lil white mushroom

This is my entry for the Botanical Art month long “fungus” challenge. I’m sorry to say that here in desert dry Southern California we have a hard time keeping mushrooms fresh in our fridges let alone finding any growing wild … so this painting is from a photo I took of one harvested in January or so, after a very long rainy season. I’m sorry I don’t know the name of it, but I drew it in this position hoping that maybe someone can identify it. It had a few little brown “flaps” along the white cap.

This is watercolor with a very small bit of colored pencil and gouache for the white mycelium “root” (I think it’s mycelium, not sure.) This was painted with just two colors – van dyke brown and ultramarine blue. It’s 7.5″ x 11″

Here’s your 15 minutes …

Happy birthday yesterday. Were you still alive, you would have been 78. And you probably would have a blog and be demonstrating your latest works on YouTube. I’m sorry you didn’t live to see the internet; you would have loved it. No, you would have helped shape it, or at least shake it up a little.

Alas, when you spoke the line that would probably be your most memorable [ “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”] you didn’t take population growth into consideration. The current fame index says we’ll only be famous for about 8 minutes. And although fame would be nice, I’ll gladly yield my time to anyone who comes up with a good, cheap, alternative energy source or a cure for stupidity.
Love him or hate him, he was a complex and fascinating guy – filmmaker, publisher, artist, actor and music producer, to name but a few of his identities. Find out more about Andy in his Wikipedia entry.”

And now, gentle reader, my question to you is … If you were to be famous for fifteen minutes (or only eight minutes) what would you like to be famous for?

Bless me father, for I have snacked

Presented for your consideration, a portrait of my all time favorite snack. Yes, I am a pretzel addict. I like chips but could pass them up. Candy? I have only a vague interest. I can even pass up chocolate. But I absolutely adore pretzels, a taste acquired, I’m sure, from my Pennsylvania Dutch forbears.

Here are a few interesting tidbits I’ve heard about pretzels. They were supposedly first made by a medieval monk who twisted the dough to resemble the arms crossed across the breast in prayer (that was a typical posture at the time, and you will occasionally see that gesture on old paintings.) These twisted dough snacks were given as a reward to good children who learned their prayers. The word origin variously is “pretiola” (little prayer) preziola (little present) or “brachiola” (little arm). Perhaps the word emerged from a synthesis of the three ideas. The three holes formed in the twist refers to the three parts of the Christian trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit.)

One legend says that a pretzel was used during marriage ceremonies, and was broken and consumed by bride and groom to symbolize their union.

My personal favorite is the Rold Gold brand, but they changed the formula 15 or so years ago and it’s never been quite the same. It’s still better than others to my taste, though.

This picture was painted in my Canson Montval wc journal with tube paints. Actual size of the pretzel itself is about 4.5 in. x 2.5″


I painted this epidendrum orchid in my back yard recently. The frilled, fringed flowers are commonly orange, yellow, red or cream colored and are borne on long spikes like this (I’ve only shown a part of it – the spike is probably 2 feet tall.) This painting was done in my 9 x 12 sketchbook as a study. I will likely do one on ‘real’ watercolor paper next. I added a little colored pencil for the accent parts.

This morning I’m off to paint at Descanso with my friend Robin and I’ve been looking forward to it all week.

Mandu is now living in the kitchen, on the floor, where she has a towel and all of her “things” close by. I see her moving from one to another, delicately touching them with her muzzle, to orient herself. We’re thinking that she may have some sense of light and darkness, but it is too soon to tell. At any rate, she does not appear distressed and is eating, drinking and washing her face as usual, although she’s not eating as much as usual and needs to be ‘reminded’ to eat, since she no longer gets the visual stimulus.

Blues in the Woods

Today we drove up into the Angeles Crest National Forest to hear some music at Newcomb’s Ranch Inn … the only restaurant/road house in the vast national forest. Specifically, we drove the 45 minutes or so from our home to hear bluesman Barry “Big B” Brenner. We met Barry several years ago when he played at a restaurant in our town, and since that time we’ve enjoyed his music at sites all over Los Angeles – from a barbecue joint in Monrovia to a cajun restaurant in Toluca Lake to an outdoor concert at a golf course. His rare appearances at Newcomb’s Ranch Inn are worth the drive. Barry has said on numerous occasions that his mission is to introduce people to traditional blues and the blues legends that are the foundation of so much treasured American music. With his 6 string, 12 string and National Resonator guitars, he serves up a rich mixture of delta slides, Piedmont rags and Texas stomps – including numerous original songs. My favorite songs in Barry’s repertoire include “Deep River Blues,” “San Francisco Bay Blues,” and “Step it up and Go,” – but everything he sings is excellent. If you like blues, visit his site at the link above and give a listen … And if you’re in LA, get on his mailing list to find out where he’s appearing.

Barry was taking a set break when we arrived, but when he returned to play, I pulled out my sketchbook and did a painting of some of the pines and chapparal that grow on a hill behind the inn. This time, I didn’t make any attempt at composition, I just painted it like it was … a brilliant cerulean sky with fair weather cumulus, constantly changing light, pine trees clinging to a bare granite cliff, thickets of manzanita and mesquite and clouds of blooming ceanothus. More paintings of spring in our local wilderness will be posted this week.

Blues, sunshine, fresh air, a new watermedia sketchbook recommended by Roz Stendahl, my waterbrush and paints … and my dear husband to take me there and enjoy it with me. I can’t imagine a better start to a 3-day weekend.

Edited to add: I thought you might be interested in seeing what the scene actually looked like. This was a snapshot I took of that hillside. You can barely see the corner of the roof of the building in the foreground. The trees were about 30 yards or so away.
What I found interesting was my perception (above) that I just painted it like it was. I see now that I must have been improvising quite a bit, but I wasn’t really aware that I was.