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In the 90s, I joined a small group of artists at a nature center on Mt. Washington near downtown Los Angeles. There was a little farmhouse with a kitchen and a small barn that had been donated to the city. The artists were a fascinating group. One had done artwork for NASA and, during the time I know him, flew to Amsterdam to see the Vermeer exhibit. He did gem-like miniature portraits in oil and had organized the group. He also arranged for the space. Another was a prominent just-retired television producer with an outrageous sense of humor and a free-wheeling drawing style. A third was a glamorous Russian painter with an exquisite home in The Hills. Other members came and went. One of these was an artist who drew Pasadena nightclub patrons in bistre on vellum. We met periodically, and I don’t remember exactly how often. I think it was every other week. We each posed for a three hour session. If we could convince friends or relatives to take our turn, that was fine, too. In this picture, you see the couch we sat on. The stuffed owl belonged to the nature center.
I call this group of drawings my Elyria Park Series. Most of them are pastels on Canson Mi Tientes paper. I liked the rough, textured side in mid-tones. You can see others on Zazzle. I have some on Red Bubble, too.
I have fallen in love with a new kind of art material. (This happens to me often.) It is called Yupo. It isn’t really paper. It’s actually a kind of thin white plastic. I love it for watercolor abstracts. I can wet it completely or selectively, and then let one or two colors run where they will. I let it dry, use a wet sponge to wipe off the passages I don’t like, and then add more. It is a very spontaneous and joyous way to work.
In a way, it is like writing a first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You can let the material take you wherever it wants to go, and then, later, go back and rework the parts that don’t fit.
The link leads to a vibrant piece I did in almost pure chartreuse. I sold a copy of its digital image on Shutterstock today. My dad, a California Scene Painter and amazing watercolor craftsman, would roll over in his grave. He hated that color as much as I loved its outlandish French name. If you want to see more of this series, they are all on Shutterstock. Some of the originals are available on Absolute Arts.
Yesterday, while taking a break from my writing, I uploaded some pictures I took this fall. This one was shot on a spectacular October day. Alden and I drove across what locals call “the Stinkin’ Desert” to Delta, where we ate breakfast in our favorite truck-stop style cafe. I like my poached eggs really hard. I know that’s weird, folks, but they got it just right. This was an auspicious beginning.
The sun was shining and it was quite warm in the valley, so we were afraid the recent mountain snow had all melted away. There was, as it turned out, no cause for fear. As you can see, the snow up near the Grand Mesa Visitor Center was absolutely gorgeous.
Now, of course, the autumn leaves you see on the aspens in the background are long gone. Down here in Grand Junction, the skies are leaden. It is perfect weather for processing and reflection. That’s the way the creative process, works, after all, at least for me. I take in new experiences like a glutton, swallowing them whole while they are available, and then, in times like this, after the fall colors and before the stunning silences of winter, I make them my own.
It’s still sunny here in Grand Junction, but the weatherman says snow is on the way for our valley. Here’s a photo I took of a mailbox in front of one of the houses in our neighborhood. Looks Christmasy, doesn’t it?
I also sold a postcard of my Yellow to Purple abstract acrylic on canvas. I have always admired the quiet prints of Josef Albers. This painting, part of a series of works that move from complement to complement, pays homage to Albers, but takes a different direction. I like to lay my acrylic on thick and loose.