A Taste of Pine & Crane, Los Angeles

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pine and Crane Los Angeles

LA was a mercurial teenager on our most recent trip. The wedding we attended was absolutely lovely, but we spent hours on the freeway getting from home to Santa Monica (expected), then hours again just getting from Santa Monica to Long Beach (not expected).

Biking in Long Beach from our hotel (the Westin) to the shopping strip in Belmont Heights seemed like a fun jaunt, but the day started off oddly chilly and drizzly, and carrying the bikes down to the beach was a slog. Then there was an incident with a less-than-accurate eyebrow shaper at a nail salon, and a display of after-dark public road rage that seemed truly out of place for a seaside community.

But again, the wedding was delightful, and I did love riding my bike along the Pacific with nothing to worry about other than sand and sea (and a dozen groups of people sporting matching walkathon T-shirts).

On the last day we chose to meander back north via Los Feliz and Silver Lake, two LA neighborhoods we hadn't explored yet. Things were looking up! We stopped to get dessert at House of Pies and wandered through Skylight Books.

The friendly proprietor at Mission Workshop put us on to his fave casual Taiwanese-Chinese eatery just up the road, Pine & Crane.

It was fast, simple and delicious. And I finally got a sketch in! Just what we needed before we got on the road home.


Workshop Recap: Strait Color with Randall Sexton

Monday, June 20, 2016

Was excited to take Randy Sexton's workshop "Strait Color," hosted by Arts Benicia, last month. I've been a big fan of his work, plus it was an excuse to explore a new part of the Bay Area.

Randy began the class with a demo of a building in Benicia.

He asked us to concentrate on simplifying shapes into just two values, to start. Painting outdoors, he noted, is like a shorthand language -- it's important to step back and see what works from a distance.

After his demo, we chose locations around the Benicia waterfront to set up and paint. I decided to try a challenging scene of boats and cranes, with Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oils. This was my first time using them for plein air painting. My Strada easel held up well, though the gusty winds meant I had to clamp or secure everything very carefully.

My verdict? I think I could have brightened my colors a bit. I'm happy with the blending on the clouds, which incidentally chased the sun all afternoon and made it difficult to figure out light and shadow.

Benicia, CA - work in progress

The next day, we visited Randy's studio in Crockett, a few miles away. We painted an urban scene this time, and then gathered for a critique and another demo. It was a hot day, so I found that my paints were getting thick as the hours wore on. (Still figuring out how to handle these water-mixable oils!)

I'm fairly happy with the result, especially the composition. The only part I couldn't do on location was the lettering on the sign; I ended up doing that with an oil-based pencil later when I touched up the painting in the studio.

Downtown Crockett, CA: work in progress

Oddly I find oils/acrylics difficult to paint with outdoors -- they are much more forgiving than watercolors, but it means I have to think backward. With watercolor I think about which parts of the page I need to leave blank, but with oils the darks generally go on first.

I'll just have to keep on practicing with both!