CA18 Trip: Pasadena/LA Part 3

November 30, 2018 | 2 Comments

It was such a treat to have two full day sketchmeets with Urban Sketchers Los Angeles and on this second one, we spent the day in Venice and Santa Monica.

The terrible Californian wildfires had just started a day or two before and so there was some concern about air quality but thankfully we only had a short period during the day when it was really bad.

Phoebe once again picked me up from my hotel and drove me to the Venice Canal area. It was a calm and peaceful spot when we first arrived.

I spent a bit of time meeting the sketchers (including a group who came up for the day from San Diego!) and then I finally sat down to sketch.

Sometimes it’s hard to settle down for a sketch especially when I want to tackle a big scene. This was one such occasion so I decided to stick to grey – using my Sailor Fude with De Atramentis Urban Grey Document Ink and my Ecoline marker (again!) I was happy with how this sketch captured the feeling of the place.

I then got up and walked around a bit, saying hello to a number of sketchers and trying to decide on a subject matter for a second sketch. In the end, realising that I was running out of time, I focused on this rather quirky English style house. It felt a bit out of place, but hey, that’s in fact very LA.

When I got around to adding the sky (something I normally do last) I suddenly noticed how much the smoke had descended.

A great collection of sketches spread out in a row…

… and a lovely big group of urban sketchers.What a fantastic morning!

Here is a great video which Lydia from San Diego put together.

A big group of us then headed inside for lunch to get out of the smoke.

After lunch (2pm) the plan was to sketch at Santa Monica pier. We were unsure what the smoke conditions would be like but thankfully, although it looked bad, the air was clearer here as there was a nice breeze.

There was no real question regarding what subject matter I should attempt – the pier, the sun and the incredible light.

This photo makes the light appear more pink than it felt at the time.

So here is my sketch back home in normal light.

The happy bunch.

As I’ve said before, there is something special sketching into the afternoon and this day was a great example of it.

Lydia created another video for the afternoon

We watched the sun set into the smoke (not the horizon)

And then we walked down to the pier (restroom reasons!), refused to take a touristy photo at the end of Route 66, and finally had a longish drive home on the LA freeways.

Thanks Phoebe, Debbie and Shiho for organising such a great day!

Monday 12 November

After a lovely Lord’s Day (Sunday) spending time worshiping with a local reformed Presbyterian church, it was time to start my last day of the trip.

I spent the morning with Virginia Hein at the lovely Arboretum – one of the places which she has sketched a lot.

We walked around looking for a spot to sketch. This Queen Anne building was a little challenging for a sketching session where I knew there was going to be a lot of talking! (Really? how did I know that?)

So instead we parked ourselves outside the ‘humble’ coach house and proceeded to sketch while we talked. Virginia is such an amazing artist and educator that I would have liked a few days to hang out with her (not just a few hours).

But we had a lovely time and did manage a few sketches each. Here is the work we did – my sketchbook is on the top and Virginia’s is below.

And a close up of my coach house sketch…

…and my garden sketch.

The next thing on the schedule was to finally visit the fancy teahouse in Pasadena – Chado. So I met Phoebe there for lunch. It had been so lovely to hang out with her during the week and finishing with this lunch was perfect. I was too busy talking to even attempt sketching my teacup – shocking! I know.

To make up for my sketch-less lunch I went a little crazy for the next hour or so.

A quick sketch, standing up, of the Post Office. This sketch felt ‘old-Liz-style’ at the time and it certainly contains my old trademark architect’s lines.

A spare page was filled in (once I was back home) with a map of Pasadena, recording all the places I had been during my 1.5 week stay.

My final hour before heading to the airport was spent at… guess where?… Pasadena City Hall, of course! I was very happy to finally sketch the front of the building.

It was then a bit early to head to the airport (4ish rather than my scheduled time of 5.30pm) but as the traffic looked okay, I decided to go to the airport anyway.

I had discovered on the weekend, that Anna Bartlett (who I sketched with at Union Station the week before) was flying out of LAX at a similar time. We agreed to message each other when we were through security. Getting to the airport super early meant that I was thinking I would have some time to fill in before she would arrive. But as soon as I joined the check-in line, Anna walked up behind me, so I had a friend for the whole 4 or so hours until boarding. As a solo traveller this was a real treat, and we continued our Union Station conversation about supporting ourselves through art. Thanks Anna, for a great time.

On the plane, I did a quick sketch (using my trusty Ecoline again) before getting distracted by a conversation with a lovely couple sitting in my row. I never finished the sketch but that is all ok. Another good flight and before I knew it I was back home.

So in a funny way, my journey home was very social – just as the whole trip had been!

And so ends my articles documenting my grand adventures in California. Thanks for coming along!

Next up…

Is it time to finally share my Pasadena City Hall collection in full?



  • Joanne kalvaitis says:

    Your sketches are all wonderful, Liz, as usual, but the sketch with the sun in the smoke is spectacular. I love reading your blog about your travel sketching.

  • Lynne Mohr says:

    I’ve truly enjoyed your Pasadena posts. I lived there eons ago, I’m embarrassed to say in the ’60s (yes, I’m that old!), so nothing really looked familiar. Things do change, sometimes for the good and other times not. I was happy to see your Descanso post. I lived very nearby and used to visit it often.

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