Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunny L.A.

7/22/14 Platinum Carbon and mixed green inks, watercolor,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper (Marina del Rey)
Visiting family in Los Angeles for a few days, we enjoyed a variety of highly sketchable sights, events and activities – the whimsical canals of Venice and the beach, a spectacular international taiko concert, Huntington Library’s spacious gardens, Castle Green in Old Pasadena, the architecturally amazing Walt Disney Concert Hall, scenic Marina del Rey and lots and lots of palm trees. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to make L.A. my home, I have to say that it is an urban sketcher’s nirvana: predictable and reliable warm sunshine every day. Every day! Nearly all year ‘round!

A few highlights from our sunny vacation: If you’ve never been to the real Venice, walking along the canals of L.A.’s Venice will give you a tiny hint. Instead of large hotels and merchant ships as in Italy, however, the west coast Venice is lined with incredibly expensive cottages. My beach sketch, done in about five minutes, is notable only in that it was painted with Pacific Ocean water in my waterbrush.

Huntington Library is not just a place to do research; it’s also an art museum, conservatory and vast collection of gardens. Although we were there all afternoon, we barely skimmed the surface. My favorite was the Chinese Garden, which was reminiscent of the Lan Su Chinese Garden we saw in Portland a couple of months ago.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is an architectural marvel of curved lines. Not a single right angle or flat plane can be seen anywhere, and the matte stainless steel finish gleams elegantly (not jarringly as you might expect) against the blue sky. I was instantly intimidated about sketching a building like that, but with only 10 minutes available before we were to start our tour of the interior, I didn’t have time to dawdle. I just focused on trying to capture all those crazy curves and the building’s scale.

7/19/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku ink, Sailor pen (Taiko drummers)
Attending a performance of Taiko Nation, several of the world’s leading taiko groups sharing one stage, was a highlight of the weekend. I forgot to bring my clip-on book light that I’ve used previously in dark performance halls, so I decided to wing it. Sketching in the near-darkness, I didn’t bother to put on my glasses or even look at the paper. I filled several sketchbook pages just keeping my pen moving to the magical rhythm of the drums.

We had a little time to kill before our flight home yesterday, so we took a leisurely walk along the water at Marina del Rey. One of my earliest and fondest memories as an outdoor urban sketcher is of the same marina two years ago (my first summer as an urban sketcher). Brunching at a marina restaurant, I had snuck away to sketch the many pelicans preening on the docks. We didn’t see any pelicans this time, but the sketch I made there yesterday turned out to be my favorite sketch of our trip. Boats, water, palm trees, a cool marine breeze, sunshine, blue sky: quintessential L.A. at its best.

Except for the watercolors that took a little longer, most of these sketches were done in about 10 minutes each. (See more photos in my Los Angeles Flickr album.)

7/18/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown, Diamine Grey, De Atramentis
Moss Green and Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa inks (Palm trees)
7/19/14 Platinum Carbon, mixed green and Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa inks,
Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils (Venice canal and bridge)
7/19/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown, Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun and DeAtramentis
Moss Green inks, Zig markers, Pacific Ocean water (Venice Beach)
7/20/14 Platinum Carbon, Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun and mixed green inks, watercolor (Huntington Library Chinese Garden)
7/20/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown and mixed green inks, Museum
water-soluble colored pencils (Huntington Library Japanese Garden)
7/20/14 Diamine Grey and Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa inks, Museum
water-soluble colored pencils (Castle Green in Old Pasadena)
7/21/14 Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun, Tsuyu-kusa and Diamine Chocolate Brown inks (Walt Disney Concert Hall)
7/22/14 Platinum Carbon, DeAtramentis Moss Green
and Diamine Grey inks, Museum water-soluble colored pencil
(Palms sketched from our hotel room.) 
7/22/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku ink,
Sailor pen, Museum water-soluble
colored pencil (Just killing time at LAX before
our flight home.)
Sketching in Venice.
Enjoying the sunshine at Marina del Rey.

Huntington Library conservatory


  1. Wow! You sketched just about everything in LA it seems. LOL I like the one of Marina del Rey. I was there once years ago. You captured it well. What an amazing looking concert hall! Looks like you had a lot of fun. It is always good to get a way for a while.

  2. Gee....your pen nibs must have gotten hot, given the rate you produced sketches. Good stuff!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...