Monday, May 2, 2011

March Field Air Museum

This spot seems to have gotten bigger since I last went (which was around 97 or so). It's all about planes here. The coolest part is that they are not all roped off and you can roam around them to get all sorts of cool angles and details. They even have benches scattered around. There is also an indoor building with other cool things to sketch.

They've got just about any kind of flying vehicle you could want. Helicopters, giant troop planes etc. 

It's right off the 215 in Riverside CA. Here's their website:
Map here: You can spend all day here. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

This isn't a Southern California sketch spot, but it's too good to pass up. I stumbled onto this place on a work trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. This was put together by Frederik Meijer of the Meijer retail chain. Here's the Wikipedia link:
I thought this place was going to be small, it's huge! We walked around for at least two hours and you need a whole day. The Da Vinci Horse at the top of this post is amazing. Here's the story on it:
Here's the sculptor:
They have everything from monumental sculpture to the small Degas at left.
They also have a children's garden. An amphitheater that has concerts in the summer and an indoor sculpture collection and indoor garden area.
Grand Rapids as a whole was awesome. Great clean downtown area (another great sketch spot), good restaurants and in the summer it's beautiful. Great plein air spot. I brought my whole oil set up but didn't get a chance to paint. Bummer.
 But the sculpture garden is worth the trip alone. I've never seen anything like it. The park itself is big and open, and when I was there, not crowded. Even if you don't sketch it's like Disneyland for art lovers. I think it might be closed in the winter because of the snow but I'm not sure. Go. Now.
 Here's a few more shots:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Los Angeles County Natural History Museum

This place is a sketchers dream. Dinosaur bones, eagles, elephants, insects and on and on. The museum is in Exposition Park so you have to look at it as a whole. You also have the Air and Space museum and the California Science Center.
They now have a A12 Blackbird out front. Along with the planes already out in front of the air museum.

You need a whole day here. I lost a few hours sketching in one of the bird exhibits alone. There is a lot to sketch here, including The Colosseum. There is also a 747 near the Space Museum.
There is a huge rose garden in the center of the complex of buildings.

Lots of dino/animal bones to draw also. If you're studying anatomy this is a great place. As a matter of fact you can start researching just about any project here.
Here's a few sketches:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bolsa Chica Wetlands

This is a cool spot across Pacific Coast Highway from Bolsa Chica State Beach. It has it's own free parking lot which is hard to find by the beach.
The draw here are all the different birds and big marshy environment. Here's the directions, hours, etc...
Here's a trail map:
Bring your oils or other paint gear, this is a great spot for painting, photography and just about anything.
Here's some bird info:

Lots of restaurants in the area. Seal Beach and Huntington Beach are minutes away.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Front Street Norwalk, CA

This spot falls under “if you happen to be in the area” category. It’s not really worth a long trip but it’s a cool spot to sketch. Front Street used to be a sort of “main street” back when Norwalk was a farming/dairy community.
Now it’s a nearly deserted street in the middle of an urban area, but still has a lot of that old main street feel. Albeit a little run down.

I grew up in this area and I rediscovered it when I was staying down there recently. Only weird part was that as soon as I broke out my little watercolor kit the cops came and bothered me for a few minutes. You’ve got to remember that in this area sitting on a deserted street fiddling with something they can’t see looks pretty suspicious. Here's a map:

The only other things in the immediate area are the Hargitt House, a cool Victorian house built in 1891. Only Problem with this is that it's only open the first and third Saturday of every month from 1 to 4 pm. Map:

Also the awesome Norwalk Square sign. I didn't realize how cool this thing was until I moved away and saw a photo of it on the web. Weird how you don't see things right in front of you. I assume it's been there since the shopping center was opened in 1957. It's sketchable from the square itself or from the bus stop benches that surround the shopping center. Not much to the center itself, just ugly stucco buildings.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lake Arrowhead, California

This is a plein air painter’s dream spot. Where to start? Well coming up Highway 18 or the 330 on your way here gives you some incredible views of the floor below. You can pull off in any of the turnouts. You can also pull into the little parks that you'll see along the 18. But you need a "Forest Adventure Pass". You can get it at all the ranger stations and a lot of the businesses up here sell them. On some days you get a view from above the clouds.

The lake itself is pretty hard to access since it’s private but you can sketch it from the coffee shop and various other spots in the Lake Arrowhead Village:
The coffee shop has really great views of the lake and you can sketch all you want and have hot apple cider or coffee. It’s a good spot to bring a little watercolor kit. But I usually go there to sketch the people. The image at the top of this post and the one above were all done at the coffee shop. There is also a little kids park right by McKenzie's Waterski School (all in the village). You can set up by the flagpole and get some good views of the lake. Some pictures of the village:
and here's some live web cab views of the area including the village:

The Village itself is also fun to sketch.

But the real attraction up here is all the great places for plein air painting. Pretty much anywhere. If you want a day trip to paint a lake, Lake Gregory in Crestline is perfect. You can get right on the shore here and in the winter it’s really cool to paint it with snow. Plus it’s a lot lower than Lake Arrowhead so a shorter drive. But any of the areas up here are prone to snow in the winter, so sometimes chains are required. Caltrans lists conditions here:


Saturday, October 18, 2008

First Post

So I was thinking about going sketching the other night while staying down in LA. I couldn't think of where to go. Sort of like when you go to rent a video and even though you have a million you want to see, you go blank once you get there. Hence, this field guide.
This blog also serves my obsession with location sketching and my interest in documenting some of these places.

Some spots will be well known and others will be little places I’ve found over the years that are fun and provide cool and unique things to draw.

Chinatown, Downtown Los Angeles- This is a great spot for sketching and just hanging out. Tons of architecture to draw and lots of people hanging out. I usually go down to the Old Chinatown Plaza. It's at 930 North Broadway. And now Chung King Road across the street has galleries. This has created a good gallery scene and you can go and draw then hit an opening if you plan ahead. Here's the Wiki entry Used to be deserted. But walk around and you'll find all sorts of great little alleys, shops etc.
Also Olvera Street and Philippes are nearby so you can get kick ass taquitos ( ) or awesome beef dip sandwiches ( ). And of course you’re in downtown LA. So lot’s of cool sketch spots everywhere. So plan to make a day of it.
Take something to add color to your sketches since there is lots of it here. If you head down Alameda north a little bit there are some good spots to set up your oils and get some good views of downtown LA without a lot of people bothering you.

Here’s a map:;_ylc=X3oDMTExNmIycG51BF9TAzI3MTYxNDkEc2VjA2ZwLWJ1dHRvbgRzbGsDbGluaw--#mvt=m&lat=34.064631&lon=-118.237093&zoom=16&q1=930%20North%20Broadway%20los%20angeles%20ca