I went to the cactus garden at Balboa Park expecting to paint cactus. Instead, I was taken by a school group learning about public gardens.
I watched them awhile and liked the way the students leaned forward as they listened to their teacher. From time to time I could hear the students asking questions or laughing gently. The group seemed unusually tight-knit, and I wanted to capture this feeling in my painting. I made some small changes to the garden to strengthen the message of unity by extending the boughs of the trees over their heads and making the hillside seem steeper than it really was. I placed the group right in the middle, so their cohesiveness was echoed by the support of the hill and the protection of the trees.