Posted by on Jan 30, 2009 in Murals | One Comment

Remember overhead projectors? That is the device we hope to use to project the image on the wall. I spent 4-1/2 hours tracing the model painting of the mural onto a roll of tissue paper (the kind called “flimsy” by architects). Today I found back-up bulbs for the projector, bought a couple of boxes of magic markers, and had my tracing converted to a series of 10 transparencies. outline.jpgThe projection takes place after dark with lots of people manning Magic Markers. The process ensures that the mural will match the model painting that has been approved. The model painting is called a “maquette”, which actually means a 3 dimensional model, but we don’t have an adequate word for a 2 dimensional model. The Mural Team requires an accurate to-scale painting before giving the go-ahead to an artist, and the artist is supposed to follow that maquette to a tee!   On my previous murals, I simply drew a small to-scale sketch and then marked off the centers of the painting surface and began drawing with my paintbrush. I thought 80″ x 80″ was huge, and then the Seatrain (20′ x 8′) was stunning, and then I began the one on 6 4’x8′ panels and could hardly grasp the grandeur of it all. (Silly girl, Trix are for kids!) That one on panels was difficult because the design process hadn’t been fully solved before attempting the panels. The Mural Team of Exeter has much experience (2 dozen or so murals since 1996) and knows that the design process has to be completed and adhered to in order to have any sort of control over their outdoor gallery. I fully agree with this because I was the President of the Mural Team when we put these rules into place!! 😎

The Wall

Posted by on Jan 29, 2009 in Murals | 3 Comments

Look at this!!! Holy Guacamole!  img_0626.jpg img_0627.jpg

Giant Project Revealed

Posted by on Jan 28, 2009 in commissions, Mineral King, Murals | 14 Comments
  • What? the next mural in Exeter
  • Where? the 100 north block of E street, on the west side, facing south . Yes, that is correct – it overlooks the parking lot of the Exeter Sun.
  • When? We are hoping to project the image on the wall on the evenings of Thursday and Friday, February 5 and 6
  • Biggest what: (no surprise here) – Mineral King, of course! 😎
  • Size: The wall is 105′ x 15″; the mural will be 103′ x 12′
  • Who? me! I get to paint it after planning for months and months and months. . .

 panel-1.jpgpanel-2.jpgpanel-3.jpg  Print this out, cut out the pictures, tape them together in this order, imagine the longest sepia part scooted to the left, and there is the next mural!!   

Learning to draw

Posted by on Jan 26, 2009 in Lessons | No Comments

A lady has a dear friend who oil paints. As a lovely gesture of friendship, she paid for a month of drawing lessons for her friend, whom we shall call Nancy. Nancy told me she was very nervous, and I could see that she was. I did my best to reassure her that everyone starts out knowing nothing, which is why they take lessons! She didn’t want to sit by anyone else who might see her struggle, so we got her settled at a different table. I gave her the beginning exercises, sat with her as much as possible without completely ignoring my other students, and told her to take her time working as there are no deadlines, tests, or grades. She wanted to work at home, so I gave her some tasks to take home.  I told her not to worry if she didn’t get to it, because there is no homework either! Nancy inched along on during Lesson #2, bravely sitting alone at her own table, but I could sense that she wanted me to be there reassuring her the entire time. The other 3 students would have felt (rightly so) ripped off if I gave all my time to one student, so I balanced and juggled as best as I could. (This is always a bit of a challenge; that is why I keep my classes to just 4 people whenever possible.) Last week was lesson #3 for Nancy, and she called the day before saying she wasn’t coming back.

Everyone learns at a different rate, but no one has ever learned to draw well in 2 lessons. In fact, the only people who haven’t learned to draw from me are the ones who quit too soon! ‘Bye Nancy, and good luck! I’m sorry I couldn’t help you. . .


This is a drawing by a student who was so eager to learn that back when there was a very very long waiting list to get in, she bought a book called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards and she worked through it. By the time she got to me, all she needed was a little technique help and a place to sit for an hour each week. Isn’t this wonderful??                😎


Posted by on Jan 23, 2009 in Sources of inspiration | No Comments

footbridge.jpg On last Monday when we got back to the truck, I pulled out my real camera and got a photo of this odd little footbridge. It is simply a thick wooden beam with a handrail over a rather deep ravine that has a shockingly large culvert pipe for such a remote place and small stream. Got me to thinking about bridges as subject matter. An aside: this bridge is a little too weird-looking to draw or paint because it would look like artist error to depict such a narrow walking part; some things make sense strictly because they are photos but don’t translate into art because of the strangeness! Anyway, a drawing student (Hi Bob!) told me awhile back that he wanted to draw a bridge. I realized that there are 3 beautiful bridges in Tulare County, and the rest are merely functional. (Can anyone out there name the three? First person to do so can have one of my reproduction prints of one of them!!)  There are probably numerous footbridges that are quite picturesque, but many of them are on private property or in remote places. Why do we like to look at bridges so much? Any thoughts? I am sure it has to do with all the symbolism of bridging gaps, being bridges over troubled water, and all those cliches, but any other ideas? Do you collect bridge pictures? Do you notice bridges? Why are they so interesting? (or is it just me. . . often that is the case. . . sigh.) 

Finishing up

Posted by on Jan 22, 2009 in commissions, drawing | One Comment

Remember the 3 giant collages, a commission that the customers let me put on hold so I could work on the Giant Project?? All three are now ready for customer approval! Once they have passed muster, I will spray fix them to prevent smearing and then add color. Here is #3 for you to enjoy.  The challenge on this one is getting the blurry blobs of the photos to translate into blurry blobs that look like people in the drawings! One little mis-stroke, a microscopic fleck of graphite catches on a thread of paper and oops, there’s Frankenstein. A wee dab of the eraser and oops, there’s Mr. Clean! If people this small even resemble people, I consider it a great accomplishment.  If the customer recognizes the blurry blobs as her people, I am over the top with the thrill of it all!cp_3.jpg 

a day off

Posted by on Jan 20, 2009 in General | No Comments

2-pine-clearing.jpgYesterday Michael and I went exploring. This is the best photo I got before the batteries died. We followed a creek along an old road, then left the road to get over to this clearing with 2 pine trees.  There were several dead apple trees, a scattered stack of fence posts, evidence of piped water, several different old roads or driveways, and many rock walls to shore up sloped edges. Couldn’t find evidence of buildings, and decided these were campers who stayed a long time. “What do you want to do today?” “How about build a road?” “Nah, we did that yesterday. How about a fence today?” Seriously, it was a curious place because it didn’t appear as if trees had been felled to make the clearing. Anyway, I love to explore, and there is a great deal of sites and sights I have yet to discover here in Tulare County!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . .

Posted by on Jan 19, 2009 in commissions | 4 Comments

Since the Giant Project took over my life, many projects have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for their turns to come again.   Since Phase I is completed and will be turned in on Tuesday, there is a little window of time to tackle some of these incomplete pieces.  For almost a year I have been puzzling out how to paint an oak tree. This is not just any oak, but a perfect oak. It is to be used on the business card of a man who trims trees for a living, and it has to be just right. He told me where to find his favorite oak tree, so I photographed it last winter minus leaves and again in the spring with leaves. It is very gnarly, very tangled, and very hard to paint.  I have painted it in many sessions, each one separated by months of thinking time. The leaves really had me baffled, and I got a bit of a boost at the Peppertree Show when seeing a beautifully painted oak tree there. The tree painting now looks like this:oak.jpgIt isn’t finished until Tree Man looks at it. I want to know if it has enough branches, if the branches look believable, if it has enough foliage, and if the overall shape is apropos for a tree trimmer’s business card!   

Giant Project update

Posted by on Jan 16, 2009 in General | No Comments

whoa.jpg Last Sunday afternoon, Michael and I took a walk. To get to our destination, we passed through this gate. Really! It got me thinking. .  . most things do that to me. The Giant Project- step 1 is almost finished! There are wet spots that need to dry so I can correct some little things before turning it in for approval. It needs approval by Party A, then it needs approval by Party B. The second approval is scheduled for January 27. After that, I am allowed to reveal to you the content of this monumental project.   And that’s all I’m gonna say about that – in other words, WHOA! 


Posted by on Jan 10, 2009 in General | 5 Comments

sneaky-look-at-gp.jpg This little gem is a sneak peak at the Giant Project, known hereon as GP. Why am I teasing you with this? Because I have had a victory and want to share it!  I have been fighting my paint and brushes, trying like crazy to get them to do what I want. I struggle along, wondering if I will ever learn to paint properly, wondering why I can’t get anything to do what I request, wondering why no matter how many hours spent it still looks like a dog’s breakfast.   On Sunday a.m. a bottle of linseed oil appeared on my front porch with a note from my 6th grade teacher. (He signed it “Tom S.” and I thought it was from someone I know here in town because I always think of my 6th grade teacher’s first name as “Mr.”, not “Tom”, for goodness sake!)  Like the good girl that I try to be, I wrote him a thank you note and wondered if I would ever have a use for linseed oil in painting because my earlier attempts at using it have been crap less than satisfactory. It left random shiny spots on the painting which I tried to ignore, and then a well meaning friend said, “I like this painting but it has shiny spots on it”.  Then I learned about some special recipe from the teacher at the junior college where I soldiered through half a semester of a painting class 2 years ago. (I sort of knew he and I weren’t a good teacher-student match when he said to me “The trouble is, you don’t know how to draw!” Okay, thanks for that helpful tidbit Mister, but I am about to have an opening of a solo show of my drawings so your opinion of my abilities is crap less than satisfactory.) Anyway, this special recipe also made random shiny spots and was weird to use, sort of sticky and it made the color too weak, and I could see no point to using it. Maybe if I had stayed the entire semester I would have learned how to solve this problem, but it seemed that staying home to paint was a better use of my time than driving 80 minutes round trip for each class that was mostly just easel time with bad light and bad rap “music”.  Meanwhile back at the ranch, I bravely went out to the easel, determined to master this problem of misbehaving paint and WHAM! into my brain came the idea of linseed oil from Mr. S. (the good teacher who taught me how to draw but denies it saying I already knew. . . go figure! I knew how to draw in 6th grade but somehow forgot through my career of drawing?) Knowing things on the easel couldn’t possibly get any worse, I tried the linseed oil mixed with the paint and it was MAGICAL! It was fabulous! All I can say is THANK YOU GOD for sending Mr. S by with that linseed oil, even before I knew it was needed so desperately!  The upper right corner of the little gem is a sample of how it all looked before the magical linseed. . . I’m sure you can see it is less than satisfactory.