Stair Walking in LA

I worked on a paper lithograph in my class yesterday. I used a photo copy of a picture my husband took when we went to Rome many years ago.

I put gum arabic on the copy, wiped it with a damp sponge, inked it, wiped with water again, inked again, then printed.

The photo copy started to disintegrate, so I wasn’t able to make another inked print, but I like the look of the photo copy after printing (below).

On my way home from class, I spotted this artist (below) painting a mural on a huge wall. I stopped to talk with her. She told me she had been commissioned by the people living in the house up above the wall. She had been working on and off for three weeks already.

I went on a stair walk a few days ago. They are historic stairs in the older parts of Los Angeles, in the areas where houses were built on hillsides. Before streets were made for cars to drive up the hills, the only way people could get to their homes was by walking up the old stairs. They had to carry everything up the stairs. The ones I hiked were used in the old movie with Laurel and Hardy called “The Music Box.” It was made in 1932. In the movie, Laurel and Hardy had to get a piano up the stairs. Although the stairs remain, there are now streets for cars as well.  For example, the stairs below had 133 steps. When I got to the top, there was a street, but another set of stairs leading up another hill.

It is so interesting to see these old neighborhoods.

On this street, you can see downtown LA in the background.

There are about 40 different places in Los Angeles where these stairs are located. They each have a different amount of steps. This particular set of stairs I walked a few days ago had a total of 705 steps.

There are a lot of interesting old houses to see.  This one had a mosaic angel.

This was in one of the sidewalks. I have no idea how old it might be.

Thank you for visiting. Enjoy your week.





Cloudy Day Adventure

Recently I went through all the small pieces of fabric I have, and selected some favorites.  I enjoy sewing by hand. I used the pieces to hand stitch a scene looking out of a window. Some of my favorite paintings by Matisse, Chagall, Dufy and others are window scenes, although they usually include part of a room interior. But I wanted to kept it simple. This window is about nine by twelve. The flowers and vase are from a vintage quilt.

Quite some time ago I hand stitched another window, although there isn’t any scenery, just what’s sitting on the window sill. This one is about sixteen by twenty. Perhaps I’ll make a series of hand stitched window scenes. It’s very relaxing.

This morning there were clouds in the sky that were supposed to last throughout the day.  A perfect day to go on a historical stair walk.  The older areas north of LA are built on hillsides.  Before the streets were put in, people had to carry their groceries, furniture etc. up old stairs that still exist. It is one of my favorite things to do. I get to see areas that I would miss just driving on the freeway. It’s always a little adventure.

After passing this school, we came to a rural area.  You can see the golden color of summer here, in these large open spaces. I’d like to go back in Spring when it will be in bloom.

One of the sections of stairs had 219 steps.

Lots to see on the way up.

Unusual houses and garden decorations.

Modern renovated houses.

Little gardens and decorative stairs.

This window had a curtain made out of beautifully cut paper.

A view from the top.

A couple nights ago I was walking near my house, and the air was so cool it reminded me of Fall weather. It’s not too far off, but we still need to see what September brings.  It is our warmest month.

Thank you always for visiting.  Enjoy your week.






Lemonade Days

While I wait for some creative ideas to spring forth, I thought I’d show a few mixed media pieces from the past. I had visited Giverny, the home of Monet many years ago, and included it in a map series I continue to work on. Besides his house, there were beautiful gardens and lily ponds.


I like to mix paper with fabric. The next photo is paper I painted, stitched, cut up, then mixed with pieces of fabric.


The last is part of a series of small quilts that I hand sewed, using pieces I cut from old thrift store clothing. I wanted a lot of texture, so I left the pockets on.


I was out in Santa Monica last week, and I drove past some murals that had been painted in 1983 when I was living there. They are so representative of the coastal beauty of that city.


There is an old merry-go-round on the Santa Monica Pier, and the next two show that the horses have come to life and are running along the ocean.



I also did another historic stair walk, this time in Pasadena (home of the New Year’s Rose Parade). A lot of steps (990), but some going down, as well as up.



As for warnings to dog owners, this wins for the most unique.


You can see, since the houses are built on hillsides, some are rising up, and others I’m looking down into as I walk past.


Being that it’s still summer weather here, (in the daytime), I’ve been experimenting with making different types of lemonade without adding sugar. The first try was almost too sour to drink. I’m getting closer, though, to something drinkable and tasty.  In the pitcher below, I added two lemons, one orange, four frozen strawberries and cold water.  The froth is from mixing it up in a gadget called a NutriBullit.  I liked the taste. It was primarily water with a hint of juice flavor.


Beautiful evenings, with a preview of Fall air, as I walked through the neighborhood the last few nights.


Here you can see coastal clouds rising up in the distance.


It is unusually cool today for August 4th, and those of us who are staying home this Labor Day weekend are enjoying it immensely.

Have a good long weekend.



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).







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.






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.



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


Strolling and Exploring

Sketch for Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary Blog. My son had put a pepper in a green bowl on the kitchen counter, and when I walked in, the colors were so beautiful together.  The photo I took is at the end of the post.


It rained last Sunday night. When I set out on a walk the next morning, fluffy clouds were still wafting across the blue sky, covering and uncovering the sun. I came to a small park.


Most people were already at work or school. I became aware of the silence as I walked. My destination was a large park. It has a trail specifically for walking, and a few people were already out for a stroll when I arrived. The large green grassy areas that are usually filled with picnicing families, were empty. There was a cool breeze to top off the serenity, along with an official welcome to the park.


Too cute.  This little guy and his friends were greeting everyone as they walked by.

Next to the park is a mini railroad track with real steam engines that adults and children can ride.  Each person sits on an individual little engine. Here’s the track through a fence, since it wasn’t open at the time.


Thursday I drove to another older section of LA called Echo Park.  This street was so steep, I was too afraid to drive down.  My iphone photo doesn’t really show how steep, but the top of the street in the background is what it looked like from where I was standing.  Like going over a waterfall.


Echo Park is one of the areas that has some of the old historical stairs.  I found one so I stopped and walked up, and down. 198 steps.  I need to go back with my stair walk guidebook to find more.


Photo as promised.


“You can judge how advanced a civilization is by the way it treats its animals.”  Mahatma Gandhi

I read an article recently about the dog meat trade in China and South Korea.  I’m hoping to find ways to bring awareness in hopes of bringing change.  Check into it if you are inclined, I welcome your thoughts.

Have a compassionate week.




“Los Angeles Is 72 Suburbs In Search of A City”

After a lot of heat, it was cloudy enough to go on a stair walk today.  They are historic stairs built on LA hillsides, before there were streets in those neighborhoods. The one today was in an area called Silverlake.  Up and down we went along the edges of front and backyards of old cottages surrounded by green.  It’s a different world from the flat world of suburbia that most Angelenos live in.






This particular section of stairs had 183 steps.


I love climbing these stairs, looking out over the city, being surrounded by so much green, and enjoying the styles  of old cottages and homes.  Some of them were designed by famous architects during LA’s early days.  It’s also a good workout.

When I went to the Folk Art Museum a couple weeks ago, there was a second, less impressive exhibit than Binh Pho, but it had some interesting pieces.  All were made using only paper. This first one had the pages removed from a book, and then reinserted as strips.


Lino stamped paper made into lamps.


Almost continuously throughout the year, there are small-ish lemon yellow butterflies in my yard. They are a joy to watch.  There’s always a pair, or pairs.  One time I counted ten.  Their flight patterns are different than Swallow Tails and Monarchs.  The movements are like ballet dancers or those acrobatic airplanes that make circles like the hands on a clock.  They’ll sweep right past your face.  They appear happy to be alive.  I came across one of the cocoons.  It is only attached to this plant holder at the very tip, but neither rain nor wind can pry it loose.


Lastly, (wasn’t sure if that was a word, but I looked it up and it was), I have another fabric house I’m working on.


After my stair walk I was looking for a nice quote about Los Angeles.  I couldn’t find any.  People seemed to have a lot of negative things to say.  I liked the one I used for my title, by poet Dorothy Parker.  And I found an interesting one by the artist Ed Rusha:

“I’d read about LA and this fact stuck in my mind: That the city gained 1000 new people everyday. In 1956! A thousand people everyday! I felt: I want to be a part of that.”

That still seems to be the case.  Most Angelenos have moved here from somewhere else.  I rarely meet someone who was born in LA.  But the diversity keeps life interesting.






Wandering About

Another dousing of rain is expected tonight.  Hooray!  We’ll take all we can get.  But meanwhile, the skies were in cloudy mode today, a perfect time for a stair walk.  My friend and I headed to the Los Feliz area of LA.  Tall trees and bushes and green everywhere.


Some awesome discoveries.

Potted plants cascading from the second floor of a house to the garage below.


A landscape design that included MANY blue bottles.


The Hollywood sign.


Fall colored leaves in December in LA.


A textural mini landscape.


A crescent moon.


Pointed thatched roofs.


Santa’s reindeer in flight.


and of course stairs.


This last shot I took in my friend’s yard before we headed out.  I’ve always thought this ceramic deer in these stone steps was awesome even if it’s broken.


“All who wander are not lost.”

William Shakespeare


Happy Wandering…