Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cogs 'n Wheels

About an hours drive from my house is what appears on the surface to be an old western town. But in reality it is a recreated set of buildings designed to be used as movie sets in in the late '40s. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and a cast of others used this location for a myriad of movies and TV shows. Named after the musical group, "Sons of the Pioneers", Pioneer Town even has it's own zip code and post office. There's a bowling alley, several saloons, a church and assorted other stores and private residences. I spotted this old rusted printing press and loved the combination of all the colors of rust and the geometrical shapes.

"Cogs 'n Wheels" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shoe Tree

It's the holiday weekend and I decided to do a little driving to check out the landscape in this part of California. I've seen a lot of the state but there are parts of the desert I still haven't been to. I know, gas prices are high but this is business for me. An artist needs to search out new subject matter and get inspired. In a wide spot of the road called Amboy, 48 miles north of Twentynine Palms, is a gas station, and what used to be a motel. But a humorous spot is the "Shoe Tree". I don't know how it got started or why people keep throwing shoes up in the tree tops but they do. And most of them look new. There were even slippers in the tree. Further down the road was the "Jockey Short Tree" but I couldn't find a safe place to pull over to take a picture. Maybe next time.

"Shoe Tree" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Early Condominiums

Canyon de Chelly is a favorite spot of mine and its unique history adds to the charm. This is Antelope House, so named after the nearby petroglyphs on the canyon walls depicting antelopes. This was home to the ancient Anazasi. No one knows exactly why or when they left but what remains offers us a small window into their lives. These ruins are a marvelous wonder of architecture considering what building materials were available at the time.

"Antelope House" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

See the Bug?

How many times have you taken a picture only to realize there's something else in the frame you hadn't counted on? I think we've all done it, sometimes with funny results e.g., a light pole coming out the top of your head. But this time I wanted to capture the green bug on the green bud but knew he wouldn't show unless I found something in the background that would do the job for me. Luckily, there were some red oriental poppies behind the roses and voir la (there you see). So appropriate since this is bug was in France.

"See the Bug?" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Too Old to Eat

I love artichokes and enjoy them whenever I can. I spotted this "Over the Hill" version at the L.A. County Arboretum and loved the contrast of the red and green.

"Too Old to Eat" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pink Bubbles

If you're ever in Barcelona you have to spend time walking Las Ramblas. It's the Spanish counterpart of the Champs Elysees in Paris. A wonderful place to stroll, you'll find newsstands, flower and bird vendors, outdoor restaurants and mimes. Lots of mimes. Throw some coins in their tip bucket and they'll come to life. It's great entertainment day or night.

"Pink Bubbles' © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008


I spotted this shot in Victoria, B.C. several years ago and at first I wasn't sure what I was looking at. Once I realized what it was I thought it was pretty cool.

"Reflections" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer Firecrackers

It was humid today, something we normally we don't get here in the desert but it's monsoon season. We don't get much rain, just lots of muggy weather. Outside my front door grow these shocking orange flowers. The bush isn't much but when they're in bloom, these firecracker flowers sure say "It's hot outside".

"Firecracker Flowers" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pink Peony

Peonies are flowers that don't grow in the desert, and as a result, I have not had any exposure to them. But this year while in France, I was enthralled to see them growing in gardens throughout the Southwestern region of the country. And what a glorious image they present. Soft and delicate like a ballerina, they danced in the gentle breezes. They're on my list to paint. But like most artists, too many subjects, not enough time. I'll let you know as soon as I finish one.

"Pink Peony" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Golden State

California has been called the Golden State since gold was first discovered in the foothills of the Sierras. But our state flower, the California Poppy, known in botanical circles as Eschscholzia californica, is a visual reminder to us each spring that our state truly is golden. The California Poppy Preserve, northwest of Lancaster in Southern California, is a sight to behold when the poppies are in bloom. The hills look like someone has spilled buckets of orange paint over them. The poppies are so massed it resembles an orange carpet. Occasionally, there are a few other flowers who dare to join the party, but for the most part, the hills are alive with splashes of orange. Late March, early April is the best time to visit. But a call to the California Wildflower Hotline (818) 768-3533, will update you on the blooming hot spots. It's updated every Thursday, March through May.

"Lupines & Poppies" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Desert Gold

Sunflowers evoke many emotions but the best one always brings a smile to my face. I'll never forget the first time I saw fields of sunflowers, all facing in the same direction. I was in Italy on my way to my first international workshop. I was so excited. I'd always wanted to see Italy and here I was, living it. But what surprised me was the direction the flower heads were facing. I had always believed, like many others, that they followed the sun. Not so. They face east. To greet the morning sun. So if you plant any seeds and you want to see the flowers, make sure you plan accordingly. This particular sunflower is the "Common Sunflower" that you see growing alongside country roads. Unlike the big headed seed sunflowers, these will face every direction.

"Desert Gold" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shopping, Agadir Style

I love to travel. It's exciting to see new sights and experience new cultures. Last year I had a chance to visit Morocco and sample the exotic happenings in that country. My itinerary was supposed to include Casablanca and Tangier, but due to some unrest we had to settle for Agadir on the Atlantic coast. Morocco is an arid country (not unlike the area where I live) so I saw many similarities. But the Souks (markets) in this area are a delight to the senses. Souk souk (yes, you say it twice for the bigger markets) is like a supermarket in our country, but they aren't in a nice, fancy, air conditioned building. Most are partially open air not unlike our flea markets. And be prepared to bargain. It must be a national pastime. I took this shot at the old fort overlooking the port. It was hard not to buy something, so, I bought and even got a bracelet and key chain thrown in on the deal.

"Agadir Jewels" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New York, New York

Last summer I was in New York for a few days after a cruise. I've never spent any time in the "Big Apple" and was looking forward to visiting museums and seeing my daughter Karen and her family, whom I hadn't seen since she moved back East. Of course, my biggest thrill was seeing my grandson Hunter, who was only 9 months old when they moved. He was almost 5 years old last summer and quite a big boy. We had fun seeing the huge M&M store and going to the zoo in Central Park. At night I had this great view out my window of the Empire State Building. I'm glad I spent some time in the city but I sure love living in the wide open spaces of the Southern California desert.

"Empire at Night" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008


Last year I was able to visit the island of Bermuda for the first time. It was a teaching cruise for me so on shore days I get to play "tourist". We only had a one day stop and just our luck it was a Sunday. Everything closes on Sunday in Bermuda. So we decided to take the shuttle boat to Hamilton, the capitol, and enjoy walking around seeing the side streets since shopping was not an option. We had a map but decided to just wander and see what we could find. I love the clean, white roofed, pastel colored houses that dot the island. But this marine store was definitely not pastel. And the red car was the punctuation mark in the photo.

"Little Red Car" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oh, to be in Venice

I was going through some old photos and came across this shot of Venice. Venice is my favorite city in the world. The sights, the sounds, the history, the art, the food, aaah..... Venice. I plan on going back again, but for now, I will look at my photos and take a mental trip across the Atlantic to enjoy the wonders of this spectacular city. It's an artist's delight. Everywhere you turn there is a painting, just waiting. So many choices and so little time.

"A Venetian Canal" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008


The plants and flowers in The Getty garden are in full bloom now. The dahlias are awesome, Angels trumpets become fragrant as the sun starts to set, roses, butterfly vine and variegated leaf canna lilies were eye candy to all. But these coleus caught my eye as the sun kissed their leaves just before sunset.

"Coleus" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Bernini at The Getty

I just returned from teaching a class at The Getty this evening and came back awestruck. Their current exhibit of Bernini portraiture sculpture is a must see knockout. The exhibit focuses on the portrait busts he did in addition to a number of his drawings. This drawing is of the Borghese cardinal who commissioned Bernini to do "Apollo and Dauphne" which really got his career started (almost 400 years ago). Bernini was a master with marble. He made each piece come alive.

"Borghese Cardinal" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cool Water

It was warm and humid today and I needed something to cool me down. These mushroom fountains are in the children's garden at The Huntington Library in San Marino. It's fun to watch children play in them. Oh, to be young again!

"Cool Water" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Turquoise Temple

Watching the Korean gymnasts in the Olympics reminded me of this beautiful Korean temple I saw while visiting the Van Dussen Gardens in Vancouver, B.C. last year. Butchart Gardens gets most of the publicity and rightly so, however, the Van Dussen is a hidden treasure. I'm sure the locals are very familiar with it but as a tourist, it was a delight to learn about. If you have the time, try to maneuver the giant hedge maze they have.

"Turquoise Temple" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Horses in the Canyon

Canyon de Chelly is a favorite spot of mine. Home of the ancient Anasazi and Navajo, this spectacular location is an artist's delight. Everywhere you turn there's a painting. Now part of the National Park System, Canyon de Chelly is co-managed with the U.S. Park Service and the Navajo Nation. I've taken artists into the canyon for week long painting trips and each time I go I am awed by it's beauty. We pack in on horseback and on our ride out came upon this group of wild horses.

"Horses in the Canyon" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008


While visiting my artist friend, John Farnsworth, and his wife last month, I looked up from working on my computer and at that moment, spotted the light hitting these pillows on his sofa at mid-day. This is one of those magical moments, right place, right time. I couldn't grab my camera fast enough. Light is fleeting and photographers know you live for the moment when it all falls together. That's why it's so important to keep your camera close and ready. Batteries charged and ready to go.

"Pillows" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Antigua, Guatemala

It's been several years since I've been to Antigua, but I remember how warm and colorful the people were. Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is a historically beautiful city. It sits close to several napping volcanoes and has been hit with earthquakes several times. Some of the city sits in ruins, such as the old cathedral, but the city is alive and jumping with natives and tourists alike.

"Arco de Santa Catalina" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lotus Land

Today I attended a meeting of my fellow botanical artists at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino near Pasadena. After the meeting, I took advantage and the time to slip into the new Chinese Garden that was just opened earlier this year. They've done a spectacular job with the pagodas, ornamental plantings, koi pond and beautiful tea house. These Lotus plants are enjoying their new location and blooming profusely. Many people mistake them for waterlilies but they differ in that they raise their leaves and flowers out of the water. Their seed pods when dried are often used in decorative dried floral arrangements.

"Lotus Land" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Balloons at Sunrise

One of the pleasures of living in the desert is watching hot air balloons rise in the early morning light. As development takes over, there will be fewer take off and landing spots and I will miss watching these colorful orbs rise in the the desert morn.

"Balloons at Sunrise" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

French Graffiti

I spotted this graffiti in Paris near Montmarte, the area famous for artists. It certainly beats the work of taggers we see in this country.
"French Graffiti" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Artistic Humor

This one's for you John.

I have a dear artist friend who enjoys life and has a wonderful sense of humor. We poke fun at each other and understand that being able to laugh is healthy to one's psyche. He paints using only three colors.... Naphthol Red, Phthalo Blue and Cadmium Yellow. And when I saw this cartoon in the paper the other day I couldn't resist sharing it. I use a moderate palette of colors and we've joked for years that we should teach a workshop together and title it "Anything You Can do I Can do Better, in Three Colors". We won't quite be doing that, but next year we will be teaching a workshop together in France. Please join us and we guarantee you'll have a great time. Check it out at

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pride of America

For the past two years I have spent part of the summer cruising the waters of Alaska, teaching painting and drawing to passengers on cruise ships. It's a great way to cool off from the summer heat and I never tire of it's beauty. The air is so clear and the glaciers, mountains and wildlife are stunning. A must see for all. It's wonderful to see the Bald Eagle, our national bird, flying free amongst the tall trees and over the waters of the Inside Passage. This eagle isn't so lucky. He's in a rehab center in Ketchikan and is not able to be released into the wild due to an injury. I will never understand why anyone feels the need to shoot these American beauties.
"Pride of America" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer Storm

Living in the desert has it's joys and a summer thunderstorm is one of them. Our skies are normally void of clouds but this time of year we get the "monsoons" that come up from the south and show off their big thunderheads. The best part is the lightening. Today we were lucky enough to get some rain and a few displays of lightening. But I was at the other end of the valley that La Quinta calls home and missed all the fun. I could see the action in the distance and by the time I got home all that was left was wet streets. The weather is spotty here and it can be sunny at one end of the valley and rainy at the other.
"Summer Storm" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Foggy Day

I am very fortunate to be able to teach at the fabulous Getty Center Museum in Los Angeles. It's a long drive to get there as I live in the desert a little over two hours away, but the experience is worth it. I have been asked by the Getty to teach their "Sketching in the Garden" program for the summer. It's a free program offered to the public on the first and third Friday evenings in July and August. We start at six o'clock at the top of the beautiful sunken garden designed by artist Robert Irwin. After a short demonstration and lecture of techniques we venture down into the garden to sketch whatever speaks to us at the moment. The class also covers journaling and writing skills and the shared sketches and thoughts are the highlight of the critique. But as the last two classes were ending at dusk, the coastal fog, so common this time of year in Southern California, came creeping in to create this beautiful image. The Getty is an architectural wonder but the blanket of fog added a new dimension.
"A Foggy Day" © Kathy Dunham 2008