February 8, 2020

1Lunar New Year 2020
Lunar New Year Celebration at The Huntington, Pasadena, 2/2/2020 (Sketched with Fude fountain pen and Inktense pencils on Mix Media paper)
2Lunar New Year 2020
Lunar New Year at The Huntington, Pasadena, 2/2/2020 (Sketched with Fude fountain pen and Inktense pencils on Mix Media paper)

I don’t think I have a lot to say with words this week. I will try to let the art speak for itself. I calculated the number of words I used to describe my art, my family and my California for January 2020. I came up with about 5500 words for the 4 entries, or for the month, I guess. So, if I think that this week’s thoughts and offerings could be shared almost entirely in 5 pieces of art—three from last weekend (very first of Feb) 2020 and two from late January 2017—I think that might just do. I am counting on the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Therefore, 5 pictures should be worth 5000 words—kind of in the same ballpark as actual words from the whole of last month. (Yikes! I am already getting wordy.)

Here we go!

Last Saturday and Sunday, The Huntington hosted Lunar New Celebration. On that Sunday a gang of sketchers met to sketch. There were events on the various grassy areas, outside pavilions and inside several buildings on the property. When I got there I didn’t really have a plan. I mean, that place is huge compared to my lovely Descanso Gardens. So many open grassy areas, as well as thoughtful little intimate views. But I found a nice bench on the east lawn (in the shade) overlooking all of these young martial arts youngsters (in red shirts) warming up for their performance. It was a lovely cool morning and I noted at least 3 red-tailed hawks flying high in the sky overhead. (I think I remember that you can see hawk pairs in the skies in Paso Robles the first of March. It was a pleasant reminder of life in CA and that somehow it continues, even with all the crazy things that go on around here.) 

Anyway, as I sketched I realized that this was actually a good plan because once they started the performance, there would be many people standing between me and the action I came to see and record. I was grateful for this bit of serendipity and sketched like mad. Sure enough, as I was finishing the first one, the people started to show up and block my view. But I wasn’t quite ready to leave, so I decided to turn my attention to another grassy area just to the right of this scene and my bench in the shade. As you can see, there was no one is this overflow spot I think was meant for people to mill around. That actually kind of worked well for me because I still wanted to feature another aspect of The Huntington—an old stodgy building. (You may have noticed that another such building was in the first sketch.) The Huntington, like lots of other buildings in Pasadena, are rather old looking and large. It made me smile to see the bright yellow and red ethnic umbrellas and tables with table cloths right out in front of God and everybody. 

Japanese Garden at the Huntington
Beside the old bell, entering the Japanese Garden, Huntington Botanical Garden, February 2, 2020 (graphite on Mix Media paper)

We had been warned not eat any snacks we might have smuggled in our bags of art stuff, and I needed to eat a little something. I was done with this spot. So, I headed through the Rose Garden and on to an edge of the Japanese Garden. I found a secluded spot beside a huge bell that had been cast in 1776 for a Kongobuji Temple in Japan. I’m not really sure what it was doing here, but I enjoyed sketching it anyway. And I ate my sneak snack while there. Once I had finished the bell, and stuffed the food evidence back down in my bag I turned my attention to this lovely little spot. There were about a dozen of these charmingly carved, probably cast, 18 inch or so pieces that had been placed in the ground under a couple trees—complete with a squirrel that I rendered a couple times as he moved through the leaf duff. I couldn’t find out anything about them, why they were placed there and/or who was on each piece. I thought they looked a little like headstones, but of course that didn’t make any sense—just my Western eyes looking at something I knew nothing about. But I was trying to just enjoy the beauty of each little carving in this peaceful place and somehow it all made sense. 

1Chinese New Year 2017
Entrance to Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, January 28, 2017 (watercolors and colored pencil on watercolor paper)
2Chinese New Year 2017
Looking towards the snow covered San Gabriel Mountains from His Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, January 28, 2017 (watercolor and colored pencil on watercolor paper)

So, here’s another serendipitous moment. As it was just Chinese New Year I knew that I wanted to post the above story and art as soon as possible. And as I thought about what I wanted to share I remembered another time I had painted/sketched a SoCal Chinese New Celebration. And I went looking for these. I have often written about my digging through piles of my art, much like a squirrel digging through layers of leaf duff. But I remembered I had done the above watercolors in a 6 by 12 inch watercolor paper. And I have only one of those pads. Woo hoo! Found them in a snap! 

Anyway, I did these two for Chinese New Year 2017, the year of the rooster. I wondered why I hadn’t posted them at the time. I looked back to past posts and realized that I couldn’t have as I didn’t start One CA Girl until March 25, 2017. That’s my mother’s birthday. I’m always happy to have even random memory moments of my mother. And yes, it will soon be three years (and 4 birthdays) that I have been sharing my art and words.

I realize I originally thought I didn’t have much to say this week and meant to let the art do the talking, rather than the words. (Way past 1000 words for today, but thankfully no where near 5000.) And I forgot to mention, the garlic for my pickle has come up…just those last few words…I promise.

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