Stealth Painting, the LAPD and Me on Olvera Street

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Olvera Street –

I finished my plein air painting of Union Station and moved on to another location on Olvera Street, an historic site near downtown Los Angeles.

Stealth Painting – Seeing Without Looking

Olvera StreetI pitched my easel on the northern end where the shops and restaurants adjoin Cesar Chavez Avenue. Two ladies were sitting on the low wall surrounding a large tree. I first began to sketch the surrounding buildings. Then, going into stealth mode, I began to sketch them. I’ve learned over the years to not turn my head to face my unsuspecting models. Instead, I turn only my eyes toward them. This way, if they look my direction, I can quickly turn my eyes away before they catch me staring at them. This works most of the time. It seems that my personal stealth system cannot overcome a person’s personal advanced radar. As I was painting them, one of them became suspicious. Eventually they got up and walked my direction. However, they veered off to my left. I could tell they were trying to look over my shoulder to see what I was painting. Sometimes, people will come back for a closer look. They kept walking. I also think I caught the attention of a child being carried by his dad.

Los Angeles Police Department Officers

By now, two LAPD police officers had stopped about 5 meters directly in front of me. They were both on bicycles. I wished they would have been there earlier so I could have included them in the painting, but I was too far along to do anything about it. They didn’t seem to be paying too much attention to me, although I’m sure they were very aware of my presence. They were there for at least 10 minutes and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to move on. So, I saw a trash can near them and decided to dump my dirty water in it and see if I could engage them in a conversation. When I tossed the water, I said “Good afternoon.” One of them said, “Hi.” I returned to my painting.

I was nearing the completion of the painting, so I thought I would give it one more try. I called out, “Do you know Jim (not his real name)?” He was the security guard I had prayed with earlier that day.

One of the officers walked his bicycle over to and we began to talk. I asked him, as I had asked the security guard if he knew he was a servant of God. He said he was aware of it. I gave him a ‘Talent Search‘ tract. We talked for a few more minutes, then they both road away.

I passed out a few more tracts, finished the painting, then returned home.

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