As we found ourselves nearing rush hour traffic at the end of our 3,000 mile journey (added mileage in New Jersey thanks to my reliance on Google Maps) the sun was setting and the light was disappearing on the hills that I am always in awe of. Being from the East coast, I have noticed that like many other places we passed along the way, grass doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as it is on the this side of the country. This is based on a very small cross section, and only having spent small chunks of time in LA, so my science is a little incomplete, but driving along, the major green—or blue if you will—reaches for the heavens more so than lies at your feet. Of course I walked—yes, walked—through neighborhoods with beautiful green lawns while I was staying in the Toluca Lake area, but looking out as we entered greater Los Angeles you could see where the serenity of the desert meets the California forests in all their fantasy. Observing the blend of climates and cultures represented in the landscaping of the landscape before me, I was excited for my stay, however short it would be.—Dominick
Last week I spent a few days in Burbank, or Studio City, or Toluca Lake—I really don’t know where I was. This was my forth visit to greater Los Angeles—3 of which were under 4 days, one of which might have been under 4 hours—and each time I find myself rushing around trying to get ready to leave that I never get a chance to enjoy the surroundings. Though this trip was equally short, I did take a moment to make some thumbnails and record some of what makes it so special. The rolling hills, and all the little houses—at least from my vantage point, they were probably huge—that dotted the mountains seemed so far off in the distance, and so removed from life a little lower down in the valley, that I kept waiting for the picture perfect landscape to fall over and reveal the Hollywood magic that created the background. But each day the sun rose and set and nothing exposed the horizon as anything but some fortunate owners backyards. Next time I would love to see what the view is from up in the hills. I’m sure it’s great.—Dominick
Couldn’t resist putting up another wonderfully cultural Kika drawing/watercolor!
I recently went to draw at the Plaza Hotel in NYC. Very beautiful area with rich history, beautiful structures and some of the best people watching. I saw a ridiculously long line for the “Sex and the City” Tour Bus. Very funny. Maybe I’ll post the drawing of that another day. This time, I’ll share a drawing I made of a few tourists resting by the fountain. I know it’s easy to get jaded about tourists in Manhattan. The way they walk so slow and look up all the time. Really, that used to make me NUTS during those years I had to walk through Times Square twice a day for my commute to work! I always had to remind myself that they are alright. They love this great city enough to make the trek. And that’s all that matters. This ones for them. -Despina
©Greg Betza 2015
Every time I visit LA I realize how much the West Coast lifestyle permeated the culture in TV in and movies during my youth. Seems like an obvious conclusion to come to, but the things that jump out when you spend even a little bit of time there are those things that set California apart from the rest of the country. First, this is it—there is nothing West of here. In New York you have Boston and all of New England to the East. For that matter London seems more closely tied to NY then LA to NY on some days. Even driving into California from NY (which I have now done 3 times), you start seeing Los Angeles signs states away. Time zones away. That is the final destination. As you approach the city names drop off. This trip I saw a sign that 300 miles prior had four cites on it and half a day later was blank on the top half—as if there was no where else to go. Second, every dreamer from every nation, landed here to tell their story. Across the country, for centuries, various ethnic groups built around each other because there was space. Ethnic-American micro-cultures were born from the availability of land. Little Italy’s lived next to Chinatown’s all across the US. And while LA has no shortage of divisions, you get the sense that all these various people ended up here at the same finish line and looked at each other and just settled. Sharing backgrounds, ideas, whatever. From the architecture to the landscaping to the language (yes, they speak a different dialect in LA, easy to pick up, but not heard elsewhere), you can’t put one finger on the origin. As I walked to get coffee one night, and I was told the Brady Bunch House was down the street we just crossed, I once again realized that what was so familiar and yet so unique was born from this beautiful town. I realized, like so many other pop culture moments, the mashing of all these various backgrounds in one place, then sending the results back out to the world, is what made it feel so familiar for families everywhere. I miss it already.—Dominick
When visiting Amsterdam for the first time last August with my husband Neil, I thought that looking for windmills would be asking too much. And yet, there is was! The fact that it was pouring rain at the time did not deter my excitement at making this drawing of what, to me, is a quintessential Dutch icon!
posted by Veronica
A drawing of Kika at the Dalvero Academy! Always amazing to draw! A beautiful bouquet of colorful flowers to draw. Also added a little bit of thread.
Also called the Jefferson Library, the building itself was indescribably beautiful. The Americans wanted to show that they are just as cultured and educated as any european city. Boy did they prove it with this building. One of the men behind it all… Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd president of the United States. I drew a bust of him quickly as I had to catch up with my crew. We toured DC like tazmanian devils. Can’t wait to go back. ~Despina
Last weekend I had the incredible opportunity to draw at the studio with Veronica and Margaret during a Dalvero workshop. It had been 2 years since the demand of “mommy duties” to two tiny tots came in-between me and the figure. To connect with my source in the way I was trained, in the way I know how was such a gift. New Years couldn’t have started off better! – Michele