Last Sunday, September 1, a couple of sketching groups (that included me) met at a lighthouse in Rancho Palos Verdes at 1:00 in the afternoon. I don’t really remember visiting this lighthouse before, but to get there I drove past the Port of Los Angeles and under a big sign that read “San Pedro.” Now, I have definitely been to San Pedro, but none of my surroundings looked familiar. It was kind of warm that day in all inland SoCal cities and I was hoping that the coast would be cooler. I even got a little excited at the prospect of temperate temperatures because as you can see it was completely overcast that day. In fact, for the first watercolor, you couldn’t actually see the horizon, the ocean seemed to just blend into sky. Very cool…
Unfortunately, it was overcast and extremely muggy. In fact, I worked up quite a sweat walking around to set up for this first sketch. You couldn’t get very close to the lighthouse itself because it was closed that day and you couldn’t get an upclose look as it was completely enclosed with a rusty chain-link fence. I was pretty disappointed that I was indeed walking away from the lighthouse to get a better view. Anyway, I walked along the trail going north, hoping to at least find others who had come to the point to paint. I walked up to the interpretation center and found a few painters. It seemed that most people had already felt the defeatist feeling induced by the heat and had fanned out to find places to start painting before succumbing to the humidity and leaving early. I did the same and soon found a picnic table to share with 3 other painters. It became a testament to our level of “grit” as to how long we could persist with this one. And here’s what I came up with. I loved that one of the women that perched on the table with me said it looked “fresh.” I thought that an interesting comment as I was feeling anything but fresh. Just a bit ago I said that you couldn’t see a discernible line between the sky and the water. But there was such a lack of color and things of interest I just needed more elements to include here, and I added that horizon line anyway. If you are an artist you know that you have to do that from time to time—add things that aren’t there.
Finally, the picnic table perchers (that included me) couldn’t stand it any longer and we all moved to a spot on the grass in the shade. Since I was the last to join them, I was the last to escape to the shade. It was time for me to cool off and have a snack. (One of the sketchers said she was sad I had moved as she was adding me to her painting of the picnic table in the sun. Sorry!) I was so disappointed and hot, I considered leaving after eating. But it was quite cool on the grass under the trees and I decided to stick it out. Besides, I saw quite a few sketchers walk past us and I did not want to be the first to leave. I had more grit than that! So, I moved closer to the trail, carefully remaining in the shade and found this view. It was perfect! There were even a couple large rocks that came in handy—one I used as a foot rest and the other to balance my brushes and tray of Inktense pencils. I was further drawn to this view because it had a nice patch of vertical weeds in the foreground. Crazy, but I really like that kind of element in my work. I can’t explain it. That got me thinking about all the art with similar vertical strokes of plants and sticks in the foreground areas that I have posted at One CA Girl. So, I went back to my archives and counted them. (I did this last week, counting all the west Highway 46 paintings/sketches I have posted here.) Not sure why I am “going there,” but if you are not interested in the following list, no worries. Skip it!
September 1, 2019—Point Vicente Lighthouse, with foreground vertical shrubbery
August 17, 2019—Fence in front Victorian house at Heritage Square Museum
March 31, 2019—Dark weedy rows of weeds in front of Peachy Canyon winery oaks
March 23, 2019—Row of red tulips at the Descanso Gardens
February 23, 2019—Succulents in the back garden of the Getty Center
September 29, 2018—Sunny sunflowers in foreground of Heart Mountain (no vineyards)
September 15, 2018—Norton Simon back garden pond with vertical greenery at the water’s edge
September 1, 2018—slender trunks of grape plants at Bonnie Doon Vineyard
July 14, 2018—Vertical stems of plants at El Molino Viejo (Old Mill, San Marino)
March 17, 2018—Grasses in front of sycamore trees at Descanso Gardens
March 3, 2018—Mass of vertical weeds at the foreground of a couple oak trees on Highway 46
February 3, 2018—Descanso Gardens camellias
December 30, 2017—Descanso Gardens with sycamores and grasses
October 14, 2017—Moon coming up through the trees and shrubbery at the Norton Simon
September 9, 2017—Field of Safflower, east side of Highway 46.
Wrap it up, please…
So, by now it’s 3:30 and it’s time to gather and share. I noticed it had gotten pretty busy around 3, with people setting up tables and countless brides maids and groomsmen. (Yes, a wedding or reception was about to take place.) But somehow 30 sketchers didn’t seem to notice all this activity and we set up our work on a stone wall/seating area right in the middle of things. (Yes, there were about 30 of us.)
Anyway, we did our thing, displaying our work and then cruising past to look. (One guy had a rather brooding violet sky next to his lighthouse and it looked as though he had gotten closer to the lighthouse than the rest of us. I wondered if he had actually been there at a different time and had slipped that one in just to see if anyone noticed. Well, I noticed!) Then, as is our custom, we take turns introducing ourselves and saying a little about ourselves etc. (It’s always interesting to see who traveled the farthest. And of course there is always mention of who had traffic…it WAS Labor Day weekend.) Sometime during our introductions I thought I heard someone behind us say, “We need to ask them to leave.” But in my muggy stupor I thought maybe that someone was referring to a family with some obnoxious kids I had seen running around on the grass nearby. But it was only when we were good and ready that we actually moved to a nearby amphitheater to take a group picture. I think by then some of us realized we were in the way as a young man escorted us past a temporary fence they had set up to keep non-wedding guests out.
So, now we were on the outside looking in. And once the photo was done I all but ran to get in my car and head home. My grittiness was waning and I had done what I had set out to do. As I drove away I wondered how a bride in muggy weather was going to hold up. I imagined various bits of clothing, hair, make up and flowers wilting. But, if she could hang onto to her gritty self and not drink too much she would be alright. Of course the sun was going down and maybe that would cool things off. But we’ve had quite a problem with mosquitoes all summer and they are pretty active at twilight. I think you get the gritty picture, and how important it is to hang onto your gritty self, right?