Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Word Painting

This morning I drove up to the local foothills a couple of miles north of my house and went for a walk before the heat settled in. There is a place I frequent in Porter Ranch that boasts an immense vista of the San Fernando Valley in all it's dysfunctional glory. There is a pine tree filled slope that leads from the residential street to the apex of the hill where it levels out for a few yards and then the ground falls away suddenly for about 200 feet to a dusty horse trail below. I usually feel drawn to this grassy ledge on warm windy days. I love the sound of the Santa Ana's whistling through pine needles. I find it majestic and comforting. It makes me think of God. From this very place, out of the earshot of strangers, I have adored Him, questioned Him, raged at Him, and tearfully thanked Him for a million graces I don't deserve.
Sometimes the wind is so fierce, I can almost lean my entire (not insubstantial) weight into it and not fall over. For this reason, it's wise to keep a healthy distance from the precipice. A few times I have haltingly toed the scalloped ledge and leaned forward just enough to sense the danger in front of me thereby confirming (as if I ever really doubted) that a fall from here would mean certain death. Behold the extent of a middle-aged man's daring. I think that is a part of the appeal of this location for me.
From this spot I can see geometric swirls of red tile roofed homes and Italian Cypress trees poking up through the landscape like whiskers. Further out into the older center of the Valley, the streets form a more linear grid-like pattern as the ground level drops to it's lowest point somewhere in Van Nuys then beginning it's ascent once again southward toward Encino and Sherman Oaks and up into the verdant spring greens of the Santa Monica Mountain range. It occurs to me now that if the topography of this place where plotted on a graph, the altitudes would correspond almost exactly with the average incomes of the people living in those areas.
On a day like this, with the breeze blowing the sepia inversion layer out to sea, I can spot the top third of the tallest buildings in downtown Los Angeles 25 miles away and beyond that, the misty marine layer that hugs the coast until mid-day.
It's amazing what a few hundred feet of vertical altitude can do. From up here, there are no individuals, no evidence of the masses: of their pains, of their joys. Absent is the din of traffic or the buzz of commerce and scant evidence of a community long in decline...at first, I wanted to paint this, but pigment suspended in oil slapped on a canvas wouldn't do it justice. Some pictures need to be written to be seen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A painting for my dog


We went on a plein air painting outing at Griffith Park yesterday after lunch.....surrounded by all that natural beauty, I was inspired to paint this....I guess it's appropriate since the place almost burned down last year.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Buckin' Dan-O


This is a pastel painting done on chipboard that I was working on in between projects. It's inspired by a photo Ed took of Danbob Thompson at the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage here in L.A.
Dan is the owner of two Basset Hounds and he often regales me with stories about their madcap adventures.....