May 4, 2019

Walking Man3
South Pasadena Gold Line Metro Station with public art “Astride-Aside”, 4/27/2019 (ink and colored pencil on Bristol Board)

You may have noticed that there are two connected sketches here, one on top of the other. For last week’s post I promised to record the fifth and final stop of our band of sketchers contribution to Sketchcrawl 63 on April 20th. (Even though I don’t think it actually counts for the actual Sketchcrawl.) And here is way more than I had originally planned. After participating in that very fun event I was so taken with the idea of speedily sketching everything you see in a given time on a given day that I started imagining how I could make such an endeavor a little more special the next time I was so inclined to chronicle places One CA Girl might go. So, I started thinking of how to present the day’s work in a slightly special way. Maybe I could start with the paper I use. I chose a couple different kinds, each 9 by 12 inches, and I folded and cut each sheet into the different rectangular sections you see here. I planned to take these ready made sketching windows with me to sketch at the South Pasadena Gold Line Metro station on the 27th. I was intrigued to see if having such ready made sketching windows would inspire different views for my work. Maybe something would be suited for a small rectangle? Or maybe a long narrow space would inspire a different idea for a sketch? And of course the rectangles I saw in my imagination could be in either portrait or landscape positions, it all depended on what looked best to me on the spot. And sure enough, when I sat down on the bench next to “The Walking Man” (it’s actually called Astride-Aside) I knew I wanted the long narrow rectangle (in landscape position) for the pen and ink view you see at the bottom. I thought that shape captured all of the hustle bustle of a busy train station with this sort of large bronze man barging through the station and across the street. I was now set to draw many more views from the South Pasadena Gold Line station, all I had to do was fold the paper into the rectangular shape I wanted. This particular station is a pretty lively place—with lots of trains coming and going, assorted bike riders and cars passing through the nearby intersection. A nearby parked car had a car alarm that went off every time a northbound train stopped at the station. But everyone kept moving around and no one came to silence his or her car. Just another busy Sunday noontime in South Pasadena.

A bit of nitty gritty arty information about the paper I used…if you’re interested…

As I said, I prepared and cut up two different kinds so paper. This is Bristol board, a good paper for ink and colored pencil as it has a smooth finish. In my experience it is not generally good for a wet medium. (It’s made by Strathmore and it says on the tablet cover that it’s “ideal” for airbrush experimentation—who knew?) I also similarly folded and cut 9 by 12 inch cold press watercolor paper. I had brought my watercolor and Inktense pencils in case I wanted to get the paper wet later. (It’s made by Canson and the outside tablet cover says it has a “durable” surface—sounds like a great kind of paper for an urban sketcher.) Once I decided on the long narrow view of Astride-Aside, I used a couple clips to hold the Bristol board in the horizontal position on the sturdy cardboard backing of a drawing pad I had also brought along. 

Walking Man2
“Astride-Aside” public art (2003), South Pasadena

I thought you might like to see what the bronze statue actually looked like from a different angle. The whole statue is made up of bands of bronze that look like they have been stretched and woven together over a larger than life form of a walking person and then welded in place. It kind of made me think of making a paper mache shape with a balloon form underneath. If you have never done this kind paper mache it’s kind of a mess, so do it outside.  First you blow up a balloon. Then you cover it with strips of paper that have been dragged through a wet and gluey mixture (flour and water). Then, once the paper strips have dried and hardened into place, you pop the balloon with a pin. And you should then have a great orb shape that is hollow to make into a huge Easter egg, a mask, or anything else you think could go on your head. (Of course, for the Astride-Aside man, I am guess there were no balloons used with hot strips of welded together pieces of bronze.) But I still kind of like the idea of the artist first making a model with balloons and paper mache…This has probably gone far enough, right?

Walking man1
Views from bench beside the public art at South Pasadena Metro Gold Line station, 4/27/2019 (ink, colored pencil and graphite on Bristol Board)

Here are the other vignettes I did from the same bench. The top one is of a clocktower with lovely greenery below. I think this view fascinated me because the clock was working, but the time was way off. I was trying to think of some clever reason for this clock. Was it meant to art rather than a time piece? I mean, there is some kind of irony in having a clock with the wrong time at a train station, yes?

The bottom pencil sketch, just to the right of the strange clock tower, had a nice plaque that told all about what you and I are looking at with this sketch. And here is what the plaque says of this South Pasadena Landmark: “Watering Trough” —Erected in 1906 by Woman’s Improvement Association as a rest stop for horses and men as they traveled between Los Angeles and Pasadena. Restored by Woman’s Club of South Pasadena Jrs. 1968.” (Oh, and I wrote all this information right on my handy dandy Sketching Card, another great use for this little piece of art.)

I think this little vignette is pretty cool. You can’t see it, but under the roof behind the pile of rocks is an area where a large stone trough was constructed. It’s filled in with concrete now, but it doesn’t take much imagination to imagine a horse drinking from that water-filled trough as the rider sat nearby in the shade. There’s a huge and beautiful oak nearby that I’m sure added to the comfort of this tiny oasis. (Note from me: I wonder who was in charge of filling the trough? Someone from the the Woman’s Improvement Association? Also, do you wonder like I do, why the group was called a Woman’s Improvement Association? And there appeared to be a similar club of  Junior “Woman’s” in 1968. Just wondering…

So, when I was all done, I had three quick sketches that I had completed while sitting on a bench in South Pasadena. I turned the art over in my hands and realized I might have something special here. Not only did I sketch things, but I added notes. Between today’s stories and the art, I think I really did what Enrique Casarosa suggested on his Sketchcrawl website—to draw or record what’s around you in a few hours, a day or whatever time frame you have to spare. Maybe this could work as a kind of card you send to someone. When completely folded it’s 4.5 by 6 inches and should fit nicely in an envelope. I send a lot of my sketches/watercolors to my son this way. And as long as I take a picture of the art I made, I don’t really need to keep it all. You could send it to someone with a note like…Greetings from South Pasadena…Thinking of you…Wish you were here…Look what I did today…If kids had to make such a little card at school every now and then, describing what he or she did at school on a given day, then parents wouldn’t have to anticipate a non-answer to the question, “What did you do at school today?” Almost anything’s better than having your kid say, “Nothing.” Right? 

Happy Birthday Michael, 5/4 at 10:42PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s