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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sketching the Rose Parade Floats

In 2001 a friend and I tested our luck to see if we could get into the largest Rose Parade Float building barn. Mind you this was 2001 and only a few months earlier was 9/11. The level of security was very high! We knew we would have a hard time getting access on the main floor but we came prepared with patience, smiles, good cheer, and a massive amount of pleading, flirting, and begging. Eventually we were given I.D. bracelets and a long verbal list of don’ts. Once we got inside the building I could feel the energy and excitement as the Rose Parade was only 2 days away. People were gluing flowers, seeds, and spices, cutting stems off strawflowers, sticking vial with water into the float frame to hold roses, moving scaffolding... People looked like little specks climbing all over the floats. The P.A system was constantly calling a “Float Chief” to an area. Judging was going on.
The energy in the building was magical! Immediately we tucked into any space we could find. If we were in the way they’d ask us to leave. It wasn’t easy!!! There is so much going…I had to constantly duck, lean, and dodge someone or something! Sometimes it is very hard to even see the float through the scaffolding and people working.
And I loved every minute!!!!
I have had many fun experiences over the last 9 years. I was interviewed and ended up on the 5:00 O’clock news, people beg me to sketch their float, and I’ve done the illustration design for my towns float (South Pasadena). It was used by the float builder and was published in the souvenir magazine that was sold in local stores and along the parade route.
I can’t wait till tomorrow when I sketch the floats, again!

Happy New Year and Happy Sketching!


  1. Brava Brenda and congratulations on your sketch being published AND you being on the news! Beautiful work!
    Happy New Year to you as well.


  2. This sounds like such a fun thing to do. I'm so glad you've shared about what you did in the past, and I'm really looking forward to see what you do with this year's parade. Fabulous idea!

  3. Fascinating Brenda. Thanks for this wonderful story. LOVE the art.

  4. How exciting and your illustrations of the floats are just magical!

    Happy New Year Brenda!

  5. "Pleading, flirting, begging"! Who could possibly have resisted you!? I love your float sketches here. I agree with IrelandBrady that they are just magical. Have fun sketching and a big Happy New Year to you and yours!!

  6. Your work is magical. You seem to capture the energy and charm of each moment with your colors and lines. I can't wait to see this year's collection. Have fun...I will be thinking of you as I watch. Happy New Year!
    Kellsey O'Hagan

  7. each piece are beautiful and with the picture next to each one makes them even more delightful to see what a fabulous job you did.

  8. Thanks for all the delightful remarks! It is fun to share my sketches and stories of my adventures with watercolor. Thanks for taking time to ad your comments.
    Happy New Year!

  9. What a wonderful post. I'm glad you get to do these fun and special things. The sketches are beautiful.

  10. Oh, I just love these, Barbara! So lively and colorful and capturing the spirit of it all. Just wonderful. Happy New Year and congrats!

  11. I am sitting her in Central Florida watching the WI/OR game now in the 3rd quarter. Being from WI originally I am naturally routing WI! In 3rd quarter we are struggling! It is amazing to flip to your blog and see the float sketches! WOW. Very fun! Thanks for sharing these beautiful and colorful sketches!