A Drink And Inspiration To Go

I saw this on the bulletin board at Starbucks as I was walking out the door with drink in hand. I had seen another one a while back. It seems like the purest way to make and show art. Sketching on what’s available, then posting it anonymously for the world to enjoy.


I tried a couple of my own, although I did them at home, and they’re not anonymous.  But my creative thought process is on hiatus, so it’s all I could do.  It was fun using a pen on the napkin.  I was forced to make quick delicate lines or it would bleed.



Since I am living in the historic stair capitol of the world, and the weather report said it would be cooler today, I drove out beyond downtown LA to climb some stairs.  It started out lovely.  I have a guide book that I follow, and it said Judy Garland lived in the castle house below with her mother and sister in 1933.


The weather was getting warmer, but there were intermittent shady spots, and more fun things to see.



Below is a very creative Little Free Library someone made in the shape of a cat.  The little free libraries encourage people to take or leave a book.  They are scattered around the city, and in other states as well.  You can see my reflection in the glass.


The author of the guide book has never been the best at writing clear and concise directions. Today, as we descended one group of stairs, the directions read, “The staircase ahead continues down to Riverside Place.  Ignore that, and instead turn left onto the unpaved Silver Lake Court, and walk approximately 90 yards. There, just before India Street comes in on your right, bear left and walk through the grass up the slope.”  A photo below.


The weather was now very hot, and neither India Street nor a grassy slope appeared.  We found our way back to civilization, but needed to resort to GPS to get back to our car.  The routes of these walks have you start at a specific point, and ultimately make a circle so you wind up back at your starting point.  I’m glad we had parked in some shade.

I bought this group of rolling pins at my neighbor’s yard sale.  I’m thinking of making some sort of giant wind chime (although being wood they will not chime), but the size might look like a nice sculptural element in my yard.  I’ll need to paint them with some sort of weather resistant stain so they’ll stay intact.


And this last photo of some trees at a park near my house as I was walking one evening.


I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the outdoors with good summer weather (or winter if you’re in New Zealand).







You’ve Got Mail

I love mail art.  One of my favorites is the one Pablo Picasso sent to his friend Jean Cocteau.


I don’t have any vintage postcards, but I wanted to try some mail art, so I gathered some postcards I’ve collected from museums and started playing.  This first one is my submission to SUNDAY SKETCHES.  It’s a very simple water color with a little stitching.


What got me started was something a friend and I are working on to sell at a craft/collectible fair in the fall.  We are making tiny journals (about 3 inches by 4 inches).  I had so much stuff out on my table, that besides the journals, I got some ideas for mail art.  Here is one of the journal covers.


And a few more pieces of mail art.


The last two don’t have an address, so it’s more like art on a post card.



The following photos are not anything extraordinary, but I took them when I was walking the other evening around 7:00. The AIR was extraordinary.  Although I live about five miles from the ocean, there was an ocean breeze blowing, and the sun was casting long shadows.  The light on the side of the street where the sun was still shining, was so beautiful as well.  I’m always aware of the kind of light created at different times of the year.  In fall, there’s a yellow glow as the sun is setting.  As I walked, the light and air were so typical of the end of a summer’s day, being so near the ocean.




It is impossible not to be aware of the very sad direction life is moving in, here and everywhere.  It is also impossible to find words, but impossible to ignore.  I found these.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein





Summer Days

There’s a contest over at Blue Chair Diary Blog. The following is my entry.


We’ve been having warm weather here, but not too hot.  Perfect for eating outside under an umbrella, and lovely cool evenings for walking.


I delivered my entry to LA Municipal Art Gallery yesterday.  They offer adult and children’s art classes.  I’ve always loved this sculpture that students made years ago.


I love tiny things, and recently I found these envelopes at a Japanese store where everything is $1.50. They are one and a half inches by two and a half inches.  The cat and hedgehog ones are slightly larger and have tiny tiny writing paper to go with them.


It’s hard not to come out with arm loads of stuff you don’t need. This little owl pitcher is about two and a half inches tall.


Another stair walk today in one of the coolest areas of LA, Silverlake. Very funky, creative vibe.  This house had an elevator from the street to a bridge to get to the house hidden up on the hill. That’s me in the corner taking a picture. But this is my son’s photo. It gave a better sense of the location.






So many difficult and tragic situations happening in the U.S. this week.  I hope the coming week brings some joy to all.






Show And Tell

I made several attempts at sketching, but it just wasn’t working. I finally put the pencil down, took a clean piece of paper, and started brushing on water color without drawing first. One attempt below. Flowers on a window sill.  For Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary Blog.


Another small sketch I made from a photo in a cooking magazine.  I have a difficult time with faces, so this was fun.


A little show and tell.  (Something we got to do in elementary school. We’d bring something from home to hold up in front of the class, and tell a story about it.)  I was visiting my mom yesterday, and saw this piece I had made for her some time back.  She was a real recycler of wrapping paper way before it was popular.  She had paper going back to birthday parties from the 1960’s. I cut the paper into squares and sewed it together.  Then I bought some fabric that looked similar, and made a border . The photo is not great, because it was taken through glass.


Speaking of 1960’s, I still have these plastic beads and paper mache pin.  Definitely an era of bright color.


While at my mom’s I also took a photo of this amazing quilt we got at a yard sale for 20 dollars! It’s completely hand sewn, and goes to the floor on three sides of a queen size bed. The fabric looks like it’s from the 1950’s and is in excellent condition.


One more thing from my mom’s. Someone put up lights around this palm tree one Christmas, and just left them up.  They are lit up every night.  It seemed almost appropriate, because we could hear a few loud booms from fire works, even though July 4th is not until tomorrow.  People sometimes shoot off a few before and after the 4th, although it is illegal in most areas.  The loud sounds are so difficult for pets, and the dogs at the shelter.


Enjoy today, and happy fourth (of July).




Loving LA

Below is a small watercolor from a photo I took in Spain.  Still working on patience when using watercolor.  It’s difficult to wait for layers and sections to dry before proceeding.  My entry to Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary blog.


Another week, another museum and stair walk.

This week I visited The Japanese American Museum.  They had a beautiful exhibit of photographs taken by Japanese Americans in the 1920’s and ’30’s. The glare on the glass made it impossible to take good pictures.  This one, below, was the only one that came out clear.


A smaller exhibit at the same museum was an advanced display of origami.  Two examples.



Today’s stair walk was in the hills of an area called Echo Park.  The streets themselves have to be some of the steepest in southern California.


Some artwork up high…


and below in the sidewalk.


Each house in these older areas is unique. No two are the same, unlike the many tracts of houses in the LA suburbs.




I think graffiti must be worldwide.  I saw some even in tiny Spanish towns.  It is spread all throughout LA. from downtown to suburbia.  A creative and courteous sign requesting people to refrain.


Happy weekend to all.



Mid Week Miscellany

I’ve been on the LA city streets and freeways a lot this week, so I did a map sketch of the general area for Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary Blog.


Next, some mid week miscellany.

Peaches from my sister’s tree.  A+ in the sweet and juicy category.


Kitty in the sun.


Neighborhood Mums. (maybe a giant variety)?


I visited a friend this week who lives in the The Topanga Canyon area. This is a view in one direction from her front patio. In the other direction there are huge trees, but my photo was blurred. Topanga is one of the canyons leading to the ocean and filled with California native plants and trees.  Lots happening there in the 1960’s.


Today I drove through LA to Hollywood to see a juried exhibit of local artists. A lot of strange stuff.  Here are a few that I thought were interesting. The first, was made to honor the strong spirit of the Chinese artist, Al Weiwei. The Chinese government took away his passport for 600 days, and as protest and art performance he put fresh flowers in the basket of his bike in front of his studio each day.  The piece below, consists of 3000 porcelain flowers, many hanging from the ceiling.


One wall was covered with paper that had been folded in an origami style, spray painted, then unfolded. This was just a small section. It resembled a kaleidoscope.


A house size structure made of plastic ribbon.


And finally, an upside down book, hanging from the ceiling with thread attached, and titled, “Book of Rain.” (shadow behind). I did not write down the author’s name, and there was no explanation for the odd title, but after perusing the internet, I’m wondering if perhaps it was taken from The Grateful Dead song, a “Box of Rain.” The song had been written by one of the musicians for his dying father.


There was a children’s art exhibit going on in another building.  I loved this cat.


Enjoy your week. I hope you find fun things to do and the weather is pleasant.  We are expecting a heat wave for the next couple days after a week of overcast skies.






Walking Up Stairs

A colored pencil drawing for Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary Blog. It is from a photo my friend took while we were walking the Camino. I considered water color, but I can play more with pencils. I’m still working on my water color techniques, and it’s kind of hit or miss. I haven’t found a creative direction since I returned home, so I pull out my sketchbook when the mood strikes.


Here in Los Angeles, there are about 42 historic stair walks.  Most were built in the 1920’s and are in the older areas of LA.  They were originally the only way for people to get to the houses constructed on the hillsides.  There is a famous Laurel and Hardy movie that shows the two of them trying to get a piano up one set of stairs.  Each stair walk has a different amount of steps. When you reach the top of a group of stairs, you walk a short distance on the paved streets that exist today. Then you come to another group of stairs. You get to experience different kinds of neighborhoods with each stair “walk.” I went on one today.  It was about three miles, and had 664 steps total.  The longer sections had 163 steps in one, and 134 steps in another.


It’s a great way to see parts of LA that you would never get to see otherwise.  Here’s a couple sights I saw today.




A (blurry) peacock.



The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery has an open call for art once every couple years. This year they added the theme of “play.”  I submitted a mixed media piece that I made after my dad passed away a couple years ago.  His garage looked like the hardware department of a Sears store.  He played out there building shelves, sofas, bird houses, and pieces of furniture that fill his children’s homes.  After he passed, I went through many containers of nails, washers, and bolts, and found some tiny round metal objects.  They were so delicate compared to all the heavy tools and equipment.  I decided to make something with them.  The days I spent sewing them to canvas was play for me, the value of which I learned from my father. The submitted piece was accepted.  The La Municipal Gallery is one of my favorite places.  It’s on a hill in the middle of Hollywood, but when you are up on the top, you’d never know you were in Hollywood. A photo below.


And a photo of the piece.  I hand sewed the buttons as well as the metal rings to the canvas.


I’ll leave you with a rose from a walk in my neighborhood.  It’s the color that made me stop.  Of course my phone didn’t capture it exactly, but it looked like a “big stick” popsical.  If you don’t have them in your area, this rose is pretty close to the color.


Enjoy your weekend. If you’d like to see more photos of the historic stairs and surrounding neighborhoods, there’s a related catagory in the sidebar. Just click


Urban Salvage

Trying to get a flow going after walking every day on the Camino. Still walking several miles each day. Took a drive downtown today to see an exhibit of furniture. It was all made by a group called the LA Box Collective who use reclaimed materials and urban salvage. In this case it came from a 2011 storm in LA. The winds reached 100 mph and damaged nearly 5,500 trees just in Pasadena. All of the furniture had a pure but elegant quality. The top of this small table was so smooth, but contrasted well with the jagged edge left in its natural state.


I loved the odd shape of this large table, and the heavy but refined look.


And an indoor lounging chair.


The artistry was inspirational.

I have a blog friend who loves finding charming houses while exploring. I do too. The designs and ambiance stir the imagination about its history or remind me of places I’ve been or would like to go. So often I’d love to be able to knock on doors to see inside. The folk art museum I was at today is on a busy street called Wilshire Blvd. It’s not directly downtown, but in the downtown area. Lots going on there, like the ever growing Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It’s next to the La Brea Tar Pits. A place that once trapped prehistoric animals who got too close thinking it was water. The tar is still bubbling to this day. Anyway, there are new restaurants and large business structures, and down all the side streets are very old classic apartments and houses. Here are a couple of the apartments.




While I was in Spain I checked out all the styles of houses we passed in all the small towns we walked through.

This one was on our second or third day.


I haven’t picked up a pencil or brush since I returned from Spain. I’m posting a little sketch I made in my travel journal when I was there. We were staying in an old house from the 1700’s. It had been owned by generations of the same family since that time. We stayed in a couple old houses that had been restored, but this one was pretty much the way it had been in the 1700’s.


I am still processing my time on the Camino. As with any time you spend away from your routine, it seems further away as you resume your life back home. But I must say, I felt how Joseph Campbell once described life:

“It’s not the meaning of life we’re after, it’s the feeling of being fully alive.” I felt fully alive.



We took the train to Toledo today. Only a half hour from Madrid. The old part of the city was built on a hill and surrounded by a river. People are still living in apartments along the very narrow streets.

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The stained glass photo and the following picture are of the Toledo train station. Even the train station looks medieval.

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These last two photos show Madrid on a Sunday morning. Very empty. The only place open for business was Starbucks.

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The second one was a huge wall on the side of a building with plants growing out from it.

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The weather is warming up. We chose a good time to walk the camino. Thank you again for all the comments. I loved reading them.