Sunday, February 22, 2009

Santana Row

Our visit to Santana Row was well timed - between two patches of rainy weather. The day was glorious. If you get there early enough in the day (before 11 am) there are few people around to bother you, and there are plenty of benches and outdoor cafe seating where you can sit and unobtrusively draw your surroundings.
Santana Row is an upscale shopping area with lots of designer stores. Despite what people say about Santana Row being fake and snobbish, I actually like it. It's an attractive, elegant area to walk around and you can actually walk from shop to shop in the sunny outdoors. It has some unusual shops too, one of my favorites is MaiDo, a Japanese stationery store. Sadly parking has become an issue there, most lots seem to be for valet parking only now, so get there early.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Santa Clara Railroad Museum

We've actually had some rain and cold weather in CA - who'd have thought it! Rather than putting me off the plein air painting, I think it actually added another dimension. Having to paint grey skies instead of blue was a welcome change (apologies to you folks who'd give anything for warm sunny skies). At one point my painting buddy complained of rain, but strangely I didn't feel any. Some time later I realised that what she thought was rain was actually me flicking the water off my paintbrush - the wind blew it in her direction! It did rain later and you can probably see the effects in my painting of the signal tower. When our fingers got too cold to paint, we retreated to the car for lunch and hot tea.
The Santa Clara Railroad Museum has a few old buildings around the current Caltrans station.
The Signal tower (above) was built in 1926 and housed the machine that controlled the signals and switching.

The railway station gives good views of the surrounding hills and San Jose off in the distance. I found a good spot at the end of the car park next to the tracks for this view.