Taking the ride from Los Angeles airport to Hollywood I was amazed to be passing between fields of nodding donkeys.

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I had no idea that LA is built upon an oil field.  I took no photographs, still less drew in the field.   I was left with a fleeting impression, a mind image only, of rising levels separated by scrub, on each step a scatter of structures rhythmically dipping and craning up against the distant heights and the waning sun.  Gradually, I have been piecing together this landscape and the engineering I had seen, through google maps, wikipedia and flickrhivemind.  These fast sketches are my reconstructed memories.

Downtown Los Angeles from Bronson Canyon Park

I spent four days in Hollywood, in sight of the famous sign on a hill, learning the latest science about melanoma.

I had part of a day to spare.  I walked east.  The transient glitz and commercial bustle of Hollywood Boulevard rapidly becomes run down before changing to well-to-do neighbourhoods on the ascent above the city.  I ate a fat perfectly ripe avocado sandwich at the Trails Cafe, among mothers closing deals on their laptops as their toddlers played.

There was birdsong all around but I had chosen to walk light so no scope or binoculars, nor watercolours, only charcoal and a pocket sized sketchbook.  Rounding a bend on a high path with the Griffin Park Observatory above me, I suddenly glimpsed the city laid out below between a gap in the hills.   The city glowed, framed by the the silhouetted hills.  The white walls of the observatory gleamed against a darkening sky.

I did this painting tonight, back in the UK, from my charcoal sketch on site and from photos on my phone.

This was my first attempt at painting this scene.

I still think that I need to return to this painting and try again.  In brief … there is too much paint on the paper.   I want to pare this image down to the essentials.

Marsh Lane

I was cycling to the nature reserve where I observe and paint.  This time I stopped on the fifteenth century packhorse bridge and looked across at the newer arches carrying the railway across the River Blythe.  This quick sketch was done in charcoal.

This second sketch was, i think, done another day.  It is a view of the same bridge but from the other side.  I was in a hide in the reserve.  This was in pen and constitutes notes for a painting not yet executed.

I have just found another sketch in my folders.  View from the same hide I think but in the evening light.

Award ceremony

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Seven interesting things about myself:

1. I have been continuously alive for at least 3 billion years.

2. It is a fact both mundane and remarkable that after unimaginably many generations, my death will finally extinguish that particular long line of chance survival events.

3. I count dinosaurs as my kin though not among my ancestors

4. I am cheerful that prehistoric chance resulted in it being us who eats them in family sized buckets.  It might so easily have been otherwise

5. Although long exiled, our family litany celebrates our shared ethnic identity as sarcopterygian fish

6. Genome for genome I am less than 1% human.  Most of me is made of bacteria.  For all my pretensions as an intellectual and artist, I am basically a walking compost heap.

7. Perhaps through a shared sense of identity, I make very good compost from the kitchen waste.  However, it mostly goes unused because I am an inept gardener.

I am honoured to have been named for this award by another blogger who enjoys my posts http://theforesterartist.com/2012/11/01/tell-me-about-yourself-award/.  Thank you.  Tim seems to have an ideal life, working out of doors in big landscapes and also undertaking interesting and delicate drawings such as this one http://theforesterartist.com/2012/10/16/the-mystery-of-the-sunfish/.

I have to nominate seven bloggers.  Now this is  a benign exercise that makes me acknowledge some people whose blogs I follow.  Still, these awards are in their nature memes.  So I just want to say – please do accept the award whether or not you follow the rules, write seven things about yourself or nominate anyone else.  For me, this post simply says that I like your blog.  I have picked seven that I follow, all focussing on their own art work. there could have been many others.