Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pasadena Foothills

I grew up in Pasadena and lived about 3 minutes from the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. This past winter I was visiting my parents and decided to go take reference pictures at Eaton Canyon. While driving there I took pics along the way. The street that runs along the base of the mountains to Eaton Canyon is called New York Drive....a big 4 lane divided street. I decided to paint a scene along that stretch of road but leaving out all of modern civilization and paint what I feel it would have looked like before the turn of the century. I did however paint in a trail to represent where the future New York Drive would exist.....I love doing paintings like this and this is my second one with a sort of time travel feel.

Here is the road as it appears today and my reference photo to work from....

Here are some of the items to be left out of the scene which include the house on the hill, phone poles, fencing, the street, car and palm trees which were not native to California back then....

Basically, I left out all man made objects and inserted the trail to represent the future road...I figure if the road is there now then back then it was a route of travel and must have started as a trail...maybe it did maybe it didn't but since this isn't science class I'm going to go with "it did". Part of this painting is imagination, my view of how I percieve the past at this location. That grass on the right handside going into this small canyon was not there back in the 1800's. Pasadena and much of the rest of southern California was arid. Water for lawns and gardens and drinking water to support the millions of people who live there now came from up north via the California Aquaduct. The valleys below the mountains were strewn with boulders washed down from the canyons from heavy rains. I imagine the landscape in the valleys was laden with runoff ditches from the flood waters of rain and snow melt from heavy winter snows up in the San Gabriels. Pepper trees and palms were brought in by the spanish missionaries. If you look at the works by the early California Impressionsists starting around the turn of the century you can see painted records of what the land looked like around the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys...nothing like it looks today.

Anyway, here is my version of the scene...

Here are some details...why? because they look cool and you can see my mistakes up close! hahahaha.


nathalie said...

Man! I appreciate this! - thanks for the insight into your thinking on this. It's really inspiring and helpful to be able to see the photos, to read your intentions and thinking, and then see the finished painting. Awesome. Gotta run to class - (portrait class of course) - but I subscribed & I'll be back later to read every word in your blog - I promise I won't post a comment on everyone though ;)
Thanks again,
the "wanna be"

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Nathalie,
Very cool! I'm glad you read through it and maybe helps some. I like seeing a scene and wondering what it would have looked like years ago before we've usually ruined it with our presense. That led me to just painting how I would imagine that scene would look using tons of artist license of course. No need to be super accurate either...we all have different imaginations and two artists doing the same scene would have two different views. The difference is what would make it interesting.