December 7, 2019

1stained glass house
So, where is that stained glass house at the Descanso Gardens? 11/26/2019 (watercolor on watercolor paper)

Sometimes, it is the journey I guess. And it seems that even pursuing art can be a journey of looking for something, or imagining something, that’s not there. For my November 16, 2019 post I wrote about going to the Descanso Gardens on the 10th because I had heard there was to be a stained glass house next to water for their Enchanted Forest of Lights event. I walked all around the garden, all around the duck pond, looking for that house. It was no where to be found. Of course you may be wondering how something as bright and festive as a stained glass house could be hiding somewhere. I began to wonder if I had imagined hearing about it. Anyway, I didn’t find it and decided I wasn’t going to the enchanted light show (showing contempt with lowercase letters and incorrect event title) this year as I had already seen everything there was to see, right? Maybe this watercolor captures the idea that something was missing…

By Sunday, November 17th the Enchanted Forest of Lights at the Descanso had opened. And I had forgotten that I was gravely disappointed with the missing stained glass house and went back there on Monday, 11/18. (Note the correct title and capitalization here.) I didn’t take any art materials with me, thinking that I would just walk around. And there it was—not in the larger duck pond, as I had imagined, but rather in the smaller pond by the waterfall. This was even better as the lovely deciduous trees around that pond were in striking shades of yellow and chartreuse. It’s a wonderful little spot with the added attraction of the sound of tumbling water. And if you’re lucky you might see a turtle or two paddling around in the water as well–only during the day of course. But today, and through January 5th, there is a stained glass house sitting on a platform in the middle of this smaller pond. I don’t know, maybe it’s the size of a small greenhouse (4 by 8 feet?). I knew I wanted to paint it and planned to go back the next day, Tuesday, as it was going to rain on Wednesday. I thought that if I waited till after the rain the lovely ephemeral leaves on the trees would be slick and slimy on the ground. I took a picture of it, messaged that image to friends and then went for my walk about. After about an hour I went back to be sure I had actually seen it. Actually, I knew it was there, but I wanted to see what it looked like with the sun in a different spot. I’m glad I did because by then the whole pond area was in shade. So, I made a mental note to get to the garden the next day as early as possible. I was really excited and packed my art materials the evening before, so I would be really ready…such a geek, right?

stained glass house
Enchanted Forest of Lights–stained glass house on a pond, Descanso Gardens, 11/26/2019 (watercolor, watercolor crayons and pen and ink, on watercolor paper)

So, my art journey continues and here it is. As I already said, I didn’t have my art materials with me on Monday, so both versions of the stained glass house were done that Tuesday morning. But the first photo was just the background/foreground of water colors. And I saved the best for last, first inking in the black lines that hold the various pieces of colored glass. It was lovely. But there is more to the story and my art journey. As I was thinking how I planned to ink in the house, another bit of my journey presented itself. While sitting on my sheet of bubble wrap on a large rock, trying to decide what size ink pens to use to first blacken in the lines of lead that hold the various pieces of glass, a very quiet small boy approached me. He was with his mom and grandma. He didn’t say a word, but it was clear he was very interested in what I was doing. I needed a distraction before diving in and engaged him in a bit of conversation, asking him if he liked to draw. He didn’t look at me to answer, but instead looked up at his mom and nodded. I asked him if he would like to draw with me, and he once again he looked up at his mom and smiled. So, I pulled out a couple sheets of drawing paper and let him use my tin of Inktense pencils. I don’t know how long we sat there together, he next to his mom and grandma on the bench under that beautiful deciduous tree with the yellow and chartreuse leaves, and me on my rock by the pond. But it was long enough for me to finish the stained glass house and enough time for him to finish his drawing. I showed him a sample of what happens to the Inktense pencils when you get them wet, but he seemed happy not to change anything he had created. It was quite a moment, and I told the mom and grandma that I thought them quite lovely to let this kindergarten-aged young man sit on a bench and draw. Of course I was sure to compliment the young man about his art and encouraged him to continue. I attempted to shake his hand, but he didn’t seem comfortable with that. He was OK with giving me a high 5. Then they continued on their journey through the garden. It was perfect! 

Thinking back, now, I am reminded that there were two artists on a journey that day. And we should always be on the lookout for the rare opportunities that our paths can cross. If you are an artist, I hope you look for such opportunities to share. And if you are not an artist, maybe you can think of a way to support art in the schools. It seems my young friend was from Texas and his mom told me that he had an art teacher in school. Such an individual is not very common in public schools here in CA. And we are the poorer for that. You never know where the next musician, playwright, painter or animator will come from… I don’t think we can live without the arts. I know I can’t live without them. What about you?

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