Last Saturday, two of my sketching groups joined forces and decided to sketch at the Descanso Garden. It was meant to be a kind of farewell to summer as fall starts today. And if you have read any of my many posts related to the Descanso Garden, you would know that I love going there. So, I was delighted to hang out with artistic friends at a favorite place. Although I did say to one of my new friends, as we were gathering at the entrance at 10, that it’s kind of funny that we join up at such events, as painting and sketching is actually such a solitary endeavor. The directive for this day was no different from any other group-sketching event. First, we say hello and basically wait for others to arrive—chomping at the bit to go in and start painting. Some couldn’t wait and had already been inside and begun sketching. I always get a little envious that someone had somehow gotten a head start. (Yeah, to a race that doesn’t exist.) Maybe I worry that someone will pick the exact spot I was going to choose, even though I have no idea where that will be at the moment. And of course they will do an amazing piece of art at my yet to be determined perfect spot—somehow stealing my thunder all because of my inferior timing and artwork. Even though such events do not have a beginning or middle, they do have an end. This is where we all finally gather again—this time in full force (with no one dawdling in the garden) to share what we did. For that day it was decided we would come back together at the entrance at 12:30. As usual we got a passerby to take a group picture of all of us holding up our artwork. This group was so large that the photo was a sea of heads with ugly hats and tablets of paper with what appear to be blobs of color and line. Of course I assume we are all smiling, but the hats leave a definite shaded spot to the upper half of our faces—hard to tell. Then it is time to either have lunch with someone you know or time to leave. I needed to start my laundry, so I left soon after the picture was taken.
Back to the Rose Garden
If you have been reading my blog you may remember that I had vowed not to go back to the rose garden, as I have been there so often and had a recent rather rude experience involving a chatty mother of a newborn and a dirty diaper. So, once we were cut loose I found myself circling around the outside of the rose garden, looking for a spot I had never considered before. To distract myself from looking for mom’s with strollers, I thought it would be fun to try to channel Beatrix Potter and come up with a wee patch of garden that some rascally rabbits might choose to run through. (Actually I have actually seen tiny rabbits running through the rose garden in the past.) And of course I found a spot I was sure no one in the group had already sketched and there wasn’t a new mom in sight. It was nestled in front of a tall wall of shady green foliage. From this place I could see two “Potter inspired” views—one with a quaint rooftop with trees and another with drifts of flowers surrounding a random arch made of weathered wood and a curved piece of metal. I chose the random arch.
So I rolled out my bubble wrap, set up my materials and started mixing my pots of watercolor. I never got a B. Potter feeling as I put in my washes and detail, but no matter I painted away with great joy and anticipation of the summer being over. (I did see some of my painter friends skulking around in the background, but none dared to come near…or maybe they just didn’t see me as they too were looking for that perfect spot.)
After I got home, I looked online and at some Beatrix Potter books I have to see if I had actually channeled any of her garden illustrations. Sadly, I had not. But the more I looked at this piece the more I started to wonder if I had actually channeled someone else. I began to wonder if the inspiration for my first day of fall art 2018 had come from me, that same one CA girl. So, I looked back at what I had painted and posted a year ago. Sure enough, there was another ode to the end of summer painted in the rose garden at the Descanso Garden around the same time. And here it is, with the first paragraph I had for that 2017 post.
From 9/9/2017, but posted on 9/16/17
“I finally got to the Descanso Garden last Sunday to do some long awaited sketching. The end of August and first part of September brought triple digit heat here in Southern California and it has been too uncomfortable to make the effort to sit outside—even for a quick sketch. In fact, that heat caused a substantial fire that I could see from my front porch on the top of some “all too close” mountains across the way. So, Sunday morning I packed my backpack with my paints and bubble wrap, found a favorite shady bench in the rose garden and did this watercolor in about 30 minutes. Sheer bliss!”
Back to 9/22/18
I don’t really have much else much to add here, other than the fact that I hadn’t yet discovered New Gamboge. That would be later in the fall. But I think last year’s fall art would have benefited from that magical SoCal color. Also, this view is to the north and features the lovely San Gabriel Mountains. Oh, and instead of including a random arch for this one, it was a random lamppost. For the 9/15/18 art in the rose garden I was facing west. In fact, I have placed the two pieces side by side on my easel by the door, as a kind of mural of the Descanso’s rose garden from fall to fall. I started to write about the seemingly random things I do to change up the art and artifacts in my house as a new season starts, but that’s for another time I think.