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Month: April 2011



On Sunday Sam and I drove to the Malibu Pier to use the whale watching tour tickets we’d bought months ago, and had to reschedule in March when our first date was rained out.

Here we are on the Pier waiting to get on the boat:

Here is Sam on the boat moving away from the Pier:

Unfortunately the end of April is when the whale migration is almost over, so we were informed that we may not even see any whales (of course, we wondered whether this meant we’d be receiving our money back…).  However, within a few minutes we spotted a “footprint” and followed a mother and her calf.  We followed them for a few miles (it was a 2 hour tour).  After the first half hour we noticed there were dolphins that had spotted the family as well, and were accompanying them on their journey.  At one point one dolphin came within twenty feet of the boat, surfaced and swam back to the whales.  That was as close as we’d get to anything.  The whales were always at least 100 yards or more away and we’d often lose them for awhile before they would pop up again far ahead.

the most we ever saw of the whales were their backs as they would come up to blow out some air.  For some perspective on just how big they are and what we COULDN’T see – see the photo below I stole from google images:

see that little notch on it’s back where the tail starts to curve?  That’s the notch you’ll see in the photos below.  So, all we ever saw was maybe 10-20% of the length of the back of the whale.

The first photo shows what my “real” photos look like and the rest are cropped.  I don’t have a zoom lens on my camera – so the situation was not ideal.  I quickly learned that I had to put the setting on continuous speed shooting or I was going to miss the whales due to shutter lag (when they pop up they’re only there for a split second).  Unfortunately with the speedy shutter setting (there is a slower one, but the interval was too large to capture the whales) the focus and image correction aren’t so hot. I actually used up the entire 8GB card, taking about 500 photos and had to look back through and delete while we were still out there to make space for “if” we got closer later on.

So you can see in the above image the little black line “near” the shore (that the arrow points to) – and I’ve enlarged it so you can see what it is.  In the nonenlarged version you can’t see the dolphin leading the whale at all.  Even though I lacked a zoom lens, because my new camera has the larger Sony”alpha” DSLR sensor I was able to just crop down in photoshop from the full size 14MP photos (I was shooting in RAW mode) to get some decent shots of what we could (kinda) see with the naked eye:

After getting back we wanted to go somewhere and have a “snack” and warm up before hiking. It was 50+ degrees on the pier – but the wind on the water was blowing pretty hard – so wind chill probably took the “felt” temperature down another 10 or 20 degrees.  We decided to walk across the street and go to the King’s Fish (or something) restaurant across the street as it looked more “snack”-ish than the “Beachcomber” restaurant on the Pier.  As we walked along the PCH sidewalk to the restaurant we saw a few of our boat-mates walking toward us… they had had that same idea – but, unfortunately, the restaurant was closed.  So – we had “snacks” at Jack in the Box.   The reason we had “snacks” is because our next destination was solstice canyon and we’d be walking a few miles before eating again.

At the canyon we stopped at the waterfall, which, since it rained the night before was actually more like a real waterfall than the other times I’ve seen it.

Since it WAS easter, we decided to go to “church” before heading up the hill.


Art Walk April

Art Walk April

As usual Sam and I went to the downtown Art Walk on Thursday night.  We’ve gotten into a pattern of skipping the galleries that routinely have bad art.  We did stop in at the lobby for a downtown apartment complex that tries to sell itself as “artist residences” and boasts an “art show” in the lobby.  The art is always dreadful, but Sam wanted her picture taken in the oversize chair at the giant table in the middle of the room:

We headed down to the “citizen art park and lounge” and were confused as there didn’t seem to be many vendors.  The gallery upstairs had better art than normal (although most of it still not “up to spec”) and a few live demos.  Usually there are demos of painting, but on this day there was one of sculpting as well:

We walked up the stairs to the street level and discovered a smorgasbord of free drinks.  A fermented juice vendor called Cascal was handing out free drinks on the sidewalk:

The Cascal drinks were okay – but we agreed they would be infinitely better chilled (as is stated on their web site too).  Back inside the “art lounge” O.N.E. was giving out free samples of their new flavors.  We picked up their Guava and Passionfruit, but will try them this weekend as the Cascal (photo above) was enough liquid to consume for one art walk.

As usual Jarritos was also there trying to interest non-Hispanic folks in their particular brand.  However, given the patronage of O.N.E. in the “whole foods” community (educated 20-45 year olds) I think Jarritos probably didn’t win any new fans.  In marketing we recognize this as a loser promotion, when you end up giving your product out cheaper (or, in this case, for free) to people to end up being current users.  O.N.E. on the other hand was launching a new product line for people like me who know their main product (plain coconut water – which Sam loves) but would describe it as “meh.”  The idea of putting juice in the coconut water sounds good to me… we’ll see how it tastes this weekend.  We didn’t even bother to pick up a free Jarritos.

We saw that the reason the “art park” was understocked was because they moved a lot of the vendors across the street in the middle of another food truck lot (I can’t stress how huge this food truck business is getting at the Art Walk, there are hundreds of trucks at this point).

Last month I had ordered some custom pieces from Branch of Life and at first I was dismayed that we couldn’t find him at the Art Park.  It turns out he was set up in the lot across the street with the food trucks all the way at the other end (close to Spring).  This would come in handy later when we’d have to drive over and pick up the pieces.  Below I’m going to post some of the great arrangements he had on display:

Below are photos I took when I got home of the commission pieces he did for me.  In December 2009 I picked up some bone fragments in Malibu at Point Dume when I hiked around the face of the cliff to see the sea lions. They are probably sea lion bones, but I couldn’t say for sure.  I kept them for a long time not knowing what to do with them – so I thought they’d be good in some succulent arrangements.  See below for the results (I like it).

In the same parking lot Sam picked up a “sushi burrito” from a food truck.  We walked to the next food truck lot, where I knew the kabob place I liked from two months ago would be.  However, there was already a line at the kabob truck, so I walked directly opposite from that truck and found Ragin Cajun.

The chef, Stephen Domingue,  (who was apparently on a Food Network show at some point) was handing out samples of the Gumbo and Bisque.  Both were good, but the Bisque was great (despite having corn – which I don’t like in soup for some reason).  I decided to get the Gumbo with Jambalaya on top.  Unfortunately, it was really dry compared to the sample.  Obviously that is because it had the dry rice Jambalaya on top.  It tasted good, but I immediately wished I’d gotten the bisque instead.  Stephen recommended putting “my garlic sauce” on it, so I did.  Sam tasted it and said it tasted like Tapatio with garlic powder and vinegar mixed in.  She was right – but I still liked it.

Next to these food trucks was a “soul” band that frequently pops up on the art walk.  The art walk had the usual cast of characters, lots of performers and bands on the streets.  I didn’t take pictures of all of them as I felt it would just become too tedious.

In a nearby art gallery there was some boring art (photos of men in suits with cameras for heads glued to canvas with “eccentric” words on the canvas such as “I’m miserable so I buy brand names”) accompanied by an interesting orchestra called The Orchestra Unleashed.

Next, we stopped at the Spring Arts Tower, which traditionally has terrible art upstairs in the regular gallery but every few months has a great BlueCanvas art show at ground level.  I was particularly excited about this Blue Canvas show as J.A.W. Cooper was going to be in attendance.  Was looking forward to talking to her about her technique and thanking her for the cards she sent me last year.  However, we were there for nearly 45 minutes and never found her.  I didn’t take photos of her work there because she did a great job on her own blog talking about the show and her art that was in it.  Instead I’ll repost one my favorite pieces by her, also one of the first I ever saw (at the Soap Factory a few years ago):

There were too many good artists exhibiting to list them all.  There were some great concept artists showcasing prints of their work (sponsored by Epson).  As lame as it sounds, I have to say that the Epson prints actually did look really good for a (I’m assuming) consumer level printer.

I hadn’t researched the show before going, but the show is regularly done in partnership with OTIS, a great art school in Los Angeles that I wish I would have been smart enough to apply for (or even known about) when I was 17.  One of their instructors, and a constant on the LA Gallery scene, Nathan Ota was actually doing a painting on-site.  This was fascinating to me as I knew he worked in acrylic on canvas but I always wondered how he was able to make such tiny damned lines with acrylic.  Turns out I’ve been using the wrong brushes all along, its the shape of the brush that makes those lines possible – not the size.  Also turns out that I’ve approached keeping my paints moist the wrong way, he puts the paints on a moist sheet, whereas I’d been putting retarder on top of them.  I think I’ll try his method as it won’t dilute the pigment.  Here is a photo of Ota at work:

There was also the requisite DJcar, as the event was also cosponsored by Scion.

Upstairs, as usual, more bad art….

Out on the street was a country-fiddle band; something unusual for this scene.

We kept walking on spring all the way to The Temple of Visions.  The only piece that caught my eye at the temple this time was the following piece by Christopher Ulrich called Humility:

Next door at the Hive was my piece up high on the wall.  I’m not sure if I like how this turned out or not.  Ordinarily I would post the good scan/photo from the Hive web site, but for some reason my painting doesn’t appear on the web site for this show….

Some pieces I liked at the Hive were (click on the photo to visit their web site):


Here is Sam walking through:

And here is a Furry walking through:

Outside the Hive there were at least four different live painters (Pukac was actually doing a live painting in front of the Temple) and a Tarot reader.

Lastly, here is a tease of what I’m working on for the May show.  It’s a painting done from a crazy sketch I did last year…  Not sure how it is turning out, I don’t have much experience with “underwater” painting.


old paintings

old paintings

These were both done last fall at some point but I never photographed them.  Much easier to get a decent shot now with the NEX.  I probably won’t post them on the actual paintings section of the site because I plan to overhaul the whole thing in the next month or so.


Birthday week

Birthday week

On Saturday we were finally able to take K & S to the Getty.  It was unfortunately still very overcast, windy and cold.

On Monday I started to feel sick.  Sam had strep throat (or something) the preceding week and I thought I was coming down with the same thing.  My throat got worse every day until on Wednesday afternoon (my birthday) whatever it was decided to move up into my head proper.  I started sneezing and coughing and haven’t stopped since.

Thursday night Sam came over with my favorite dessert.

However, when we weren’t eating we attempted to wear masks so that she wouldn’t get sick.

But why wear masks if I originally caught it from her?  By Thursday my symptoms were drastically different than what she had experienced.  I’m now thinking I caught this from a guy at the doctor’s office last week.  I didn’t blog about it, but I went to the doctor’s office last week for a physical/check-up.  Thanks to that communist socialist bastard Obama my preventative care is now free (no co-pay).  So, I went for my first physical in five years.  I went to the closest doctor to my home.  I live in the valley so this wasn’t exactly primo care, I had to wait in a waiting room with a bunch of sick people for two and a half hours even though my appointment was supposed to be the first one.  I swear – the way I feel now is the way this poor guy sitting across from me looked… .I’m 95% certain I’m sick now because I had to breathe his air for two hours.  Why did it take so long?  Apparently the office computers were down (and stayed down for another two days) and they had to do all the insurance processing by hand.  I’m not sure why that had to be my problem (just see me and worry about invoicing me later!), but it was.  I also had routine blood drawn there and my arm bruised up for the first time I can ever remember (from a blood draw).


Because the universe likes to stay in balance I received several birthday cards this week and just this morning found out another one of my paintings had sold….maybe… (don’t worry – I’m not getting rich, I’ll make about $40 off this).  In addition, my aunt Alice has been sending birthday cards with lottery tickets for as long as I can remember (which is decades now) – and this time I finally won!  Not sure how I’ll get the money from the Ohio lottery, but I’m sure there is a way.