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


Blue Skies

I’m participating in “Sunday Sketches” through Alexandra MacVean’s blog, Blue Chair Diary Blog. Below is my small water color entry.


Three days ago I drove up to Ventura to visit my sister.  It is a beach town about an hour and a half up the coast from my house.  The sun was shining and the air was hot like a summer day, the sky a brilliant blue.  The cherry blossom trees were in full February bloom again this year.


This is a hill at the end of my sister’s street.  It is covered with rows of avocado trees, minus avocados.


We sat on a bench overlooking the Pacific while we ate our sandwiches.  It actually got too hot and we had to move to some shade.


But before we moved, we enjoyed the company of these two, who waited expectantly for us to share our lunch.


Working on (finished?) another mixed media piece using some very old vintage fabric.  Didn’t know exactly where I was going with this piece, so it kind of unfolded as I went.  The photo makes the line in the mountain appear huge, although that’s not the case in person.


Enjoy all that you can this week.

“We think about the universe as an intellectual playground, which it surely is, but the moment you learn something that touches an emotion rather than just something intellectual, I would call that a spiritual encounter with the universe.”                                 Neil deGrasse Tyson












Circles and Squares

First, a little nature.  The birdbath in my yard draws birds in summer and winter.  I love to watch them dunk their heads, then arch their necks when they come up, so the water runs down their back and through their feathers before shaking it off.


It’s kind of difficult to see because the ground is the same color as the birds, but there’s three coming in for a landing in this picture.  A lot of sparrows and finches.  Sometimes they’re lined up around the entire edge of the bath.  But when a larger bird comes, they scatter to the trees.


Next, my winter bulbs have bloomed.  I don’t know the name, but each small flower has a little green DOT on each tiny petal.  The dots look like they were painted on.


I have been working on a new mixed media piece.  Here is a sample of what I’m using.  Each piece (paper and fabric) will be in a SQUARE shape, and I’ll be hand stitching a lot of CIRCLES.


I have been very inspired by the creativity on some artist’s blogs I’ve been following.  So many mediums used so beautifully.  Acrylic, textiles, watercolor, hand stitching.  I feel like I’m spinning with ideas and options, trying to decide which direction to go in, because I like working with all of them.  Yesterday I just wanted to paint without having to think too much, and use a lot of color, so I went through some of my art books.  I came to “The Woman with the Hat” by Matisse, and decided to give it a try with acrylics.


It was a lot of fun.

I like piecing SQUARES together, like in a quilt, but not just with fabric. I enjoy using squares made with paper and creating patterns.  A few years ago my husband and I took a winter trip to Rome.  When I picked up the pictures after getting them developed, an extra copy of each was automatically included.  I didn’t need the extras, so I starting cutting, into squares.  Each square either had people, architecture, or something sculptural.  I put an individual backing under them, and put them in a “floating frame.”  To avoid the glare, I removed the top layer of glass for this photo, but when it’s hanging, you can see through the glass in all the areas where the table is showing.


CIRCLES, SQUARES, DOTS, LINES.   Choose your fave and create something.










Rainy Day Schedule

A little more Christmas and a lot more rain today.

Something I put up with my decorations is a small watercolor I painted right before Christmas many years ago.  It makes me think of that time in my life, like when you hear a particular song.


It rained REALLY hard today.  From drought to monsoon.


Christmas cookies I made while it poured outside.


One of the many Christmas vignettes I set up around my house.


I’m making my way back to my mixed media pieces.  (Lots of Christmas distractions).  A small segment from one of them.  Paint, paper, fabric and thread.


I’d like to make a habit of doing a daily sketch.  It would be so creatively helpful.  A first step below.



It is the final week of the Colbert Report on TV with Stephen Colbert.  I will miss one of the most uplifting and funny half hours of each day.

“Thankfully, dreams can change.  If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses.”

Stephen Colbert






Mixing it Up

I like paint, paper, canvas, fabric and sewing by hand.  And sometimes I like to mix them up together.  Here, I collected leaves from my yard to use as stamps and then added hand stitching.






The bright colors in a book titled “Living in Morrocco” by Lisl Dennis and Landt Dennis inspired me to make a stencil for a row of pitchers embellished with gold thread.




While browsing through the fabric at a local store, I was drawn to designs that resembled water color paintings.  I bought some and cut it into strips.  Then I got out my water colors, painted on paper, cut more strips, and sewed them all together.



Sometimes I don’t like a painting when I’m finished with it, so I cut it up and save the small sections that I like.  Recently I put some of those together in a collage.  It’s like using up your scraps of fabric for a quilt.




One of the most incredible mixed media art exhibits I’ve ever seen was the work of El Anatsui Gawu at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.  Pieces of recycled aluminum from the tops of beverage bottles were sewn together in a pattern using copper wire.  The finished work covered an entire wall (a huge wall) and hung draped like a massive piece of cloth.  It was jaw droppingly beautiful.



You can be creative using anything around you, whatever your environment provides.  Just play and have fun.


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