Tour Boat
Mission Blooms — Watercolor by Lynne Fearman

Every Picture Tells a Story

The purpose of some pictures is so obvious that you immediately understand what the painter or photographer wanted you to experience when you saw it. With others, you may puzzle over them for a long time and even then not quite figure out what the artist was thinking.

However, the pictures you will see in this section of our site are generally self-explanatory, although you may discover they have layers of meaning that are not apparent at first glance.

Below, we share the stories behind four of our pictures.

Country Road
“Country Road”
Watercolor by Patricia York ©

“Life is good when the barn is where your best memories have been made.”
— Anonymous

Many of us are blessed with having grown up in the country and spending hours in a barn. However, those who were born and bred in the city also know about the simple pleasures—and hard work—of life on a farm. Our knowledge comes through books we’ve read, movies we’ve seen, and stories passed down by relatives who came from farms and small towns. Therefore, most of us can imagine what life would be like for people who lived on this farm, a watercolor painted by Patricia York, a friend of Villa Gardens.

In college, Patricia enjoyed art classes, especially watercolors, but when she moved to Las Vegas in 1979, her career began as a teacher of reading. However, she soon felt the pull of art and taught art in middle school for 35 years.

Several years ago, Carolyn Paulson, a dear friend of hers, who was raised on a farm near Kansas City, Missouri, asked if she would paint her a picture of her childhood home. She wanted to keep alive the memories of her parents and of her childhood.

To create the scene, Patricia used several photos of the farm that would allow Carolyn to revisit her childhood—simply by looking at the painting and imagining she was walking on the welltraveled road. Unfortunately, Carolyn died six months after she received the painting, but she had arranged for her sister to receive it so that it could evoke memories for her sister just as it had for her.

Fog Acadia National Park
“Fog in Acadia National Park”
Photograph by Art Fabian ©

“. . . as I lay there thinking of my vision, I could see it all again and feel the meaning with a part of me like a strange power glowing in my body; but when the part of me that talks would try to make words for the meaning, it would be like fog and get away from me.”
— Black Elk

All of us can relate to what Black Elk is saying. We have had experiences that feel particularly powerful and resonate deep within us, but when we try to share that experience with others, words elude our grasp—like fog obscuring the land before us. Perhaps that is because deep emotional and spiritual experiences cannot be explained with words. However, if we don’t fight the fog, but wait quietly for the meaning to be revealed in a way that can be expressed, we can once again connect with the feeling we had earlier and get closer to explaining our experience.

This photograph expresses that feeling. One is aware that the fog will lift at some time, but we’re not sure when.

The picture was taken by an excellent amateur photographer, Art Fabian, who visited Acadia National Park in Maine, just south of Bar Harbor with this wife Louise. They were fascinated by the ocean waves along Sand Beach. However, Art noticed another tourist not looking at the ocean. Since there was a light fog behind them, he turned to see what could be so interesting and discovered this scene of Beehive Lagoon. It’s has been one of his favorites ever since.

Same Merrill Trail Head
“Sam Merrill Trail Head”
Watercolor by Lynne Fearman ©

“Hiking is a bit like life: The journey only requires you to put one foot in front of the other . . . again and again and again. And if you allow yourself opportunity to be present throughout the entirety of the trek, you will witness beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit.”
— Unknown

Lynne Fearman is a talented artist in Pasadena who has won many blue ribbons in juried shows and painted both this picture and the one at the beginning of this article. Here, she invites us to imagine what it would be like to walk in the San Gabriel Mountains.

This major hiking trail was built by Charles Warner and the Forest Conservation Club of Pasadena during the 1930s and leads to the top of Echo Mountain and is not far from her home. There is an interesting story about the names of both the trail and the mountain.

A deluge in 1938 washed away most of the trails that accessed the area and the Mount Lowe Railway. Sam Merrill, an active volunteer of the Sierra Club, found it important to maintain public hiking access to the railway ruins and other portions of the treacherous foothill. During the 1940s he overhauled and maintained the trail. When he died in 1948, the Sierra Club named the trail after him.

The name Echo Mountain is derived from the repetitions you could hear when you shouted in Castle Canyon. Boy Scout projects were made to find the “sweet spot” where the largest number of repetitions could be heard. During the days of the Mount Lowe Railway “echophones” were set up to assist in voice projections near the best sweet spots.

Mountain Road New Zealand
“Mountain Road in New Zealand”
Digitized Oil Painting by Arlene Harder ©

“Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more.”
— Victoria Erickson

In 2006, when Arlene Harder, a resident of Villa Gardens, and her husband Bob took a road trip on New Zealand’s South Island, he was the designated driver. Although he seemed to do quite well driving on the “wrong” side of the road, and even enjoyed the experience, she didn’t want to try. That is, until they got onto this dirt road where she was sure she wouldn’t face oncoming traffic.

It was a very strange sensation—and she could understand why the rental agency had taped a large yellow “KEEP LEFT” arrow on the dashboard!

The “painting,” which hangs above her desk, includes her “signature.” That may give you the impression that this was an oil painting she made from a photo when she returned from the trip. You might even think it was a plein air painting done on the spot. The truth is that Arlene took a photo of this delightful scene and then used a free program called Fotosketcher that quickly and easily turns any photo into an oil painting, pencil sketch, watercolor, etc. She says it’s fun and makes up for her lack of talent as a real painter.