Timber Gap, Mineral King

Posted by on Jun 29, 2012 in Mineral King, Sources of inspiration | 2 Comments

Remember I said that Fridays are for Mineral King? If you don’t care about this place in the Southern Sierra, in Sequoia National Park, you can skip Fridays on my blog. If you only care about Mineral King and don’t give a rodent’s hiney about my art, you can skip Monday through Thursday on my blog. Okay, now everyone knows what is what, so let’s get to Timber Gap. (And welcome to my blog, you 2 hearty hikers from NY – hope you made your plane!)

It looks like this from the Mineral King valley:

A “gap” is a low spot in a ridge of mountains, a place that is the most sensible for crossing over. Sometimes it is called a “pass”.

To get there, you must endure a very steep 1/2 mile of trail with steps (“trail checks”) sized for giraffey people. It is hot, dusty, difficult. Suck it up, no whining, put one foot in front of the other, remember to breathe (if you can), and just get it over with.

There are fine views of the valley if you can focus through your huffy-puffiness:

The trail flattens out and then you are faced with a choice.

You may recall the last time I was on this trail was back in January.

There is more climbing through the groups of trees below and to the right of  Timber Gap. This is where a tram used to run, bringing ore down to the stamp mill from the mines on Empire. Here is the remains of the tram tender’s cabin near the top of that second group of trees.

Shortly after breaking out of the trees, you cross a very small stream. If you look up, you can see where the mines were. They are still there, but didn’t produce so are simply interesting historical sites if you feel like scrambling up to see them. I didn’t.

Then you are on a wide open slope that can have great flowers. Probably won’t be great this year. In fact, this year is looking a bit weird. There was a swatch of wild blue flax that usually doesn’t appear until August!

After you’ve finished skipping and singing “The Hills Are Alive”, there is more climbing to do. The top of Timber Gap is about 9600′ (or is it 9700′ or 9800′?) and you must earn it. Here is the view over to the other side.

All the landmarks I might recognize from living in Three Rivers are too far to the left to see. Just saying, in case you were curious like I am about where Moro Rock and Alta Peak are!

Mineral King is a source of much inspiration to me. That is why Fridays are devoted to the subject on a blog that is supposed to be about a California artist.

Are Competitions Worth It?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2012 in Events, the business of art | 2 Comments

Some artists enter competitions on a regular basis. If you read their resumes, you see the awards they have won. If you are a gallery owner, this might matter to you.


If you are Joe Bag-of-Doughnuts (or Bag-of-Bagels or Box-of-Oranges or Sack-of-Tacos – don’t mean to discriminate here) who says, “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like”, then a list like that probably doesn’t mean much.

Jane Box-of-Oranges and Joe Six-pack tend to be my best customers. These are regular people living here in Quaintsville, Tulare County, who just like art they can relate to. The galleries around here are usually non-profit, and not patronized by folks who are aware of or impressed by art competitions.

As a business owner whose product is art, I have to carefully consider the costs of these types of events. If there is a competition that fits my style of work and the $$ aren’t upside down (entry fees, shipping, driving compared to winning and selling), it seems like a reasonable risk to take. The Celebrate Agriculture With The Arts annual show/competition/sale in Madera has been good to me in the past.

It is both juried (“Shall we let this painting in?”) and judged (“Give that one a First Place!”). The arrangement is not by medium but by subject matter. They have categories that I find fabulous for creative entries. It has been 4 years since I last entered, and maybe some day I’ll tell you about the last time. Meanwhile, you can see 4 paintings in progress for Celebrate Agriculture With The Arts, or as I, Jana Box-of-Oranges call it, “the ag art show”.

Do art competitions influence you to buy art from the winners?

Across The Fruited Plain

Posted by on Jun 27, 2012 in the business of art | 4 Comments

Is the Central Valley of California technically “the fruited plain”? Not exactly sure. It has been called “the land of fruit and nuts”. Take that anyway you would like. As the California artist daughter of a farmer, I take it in a literal sense.


The business of art requires thought and planning. If a place with a changing clientele sells a particular subject on a consistent basis, it is common sense to paint more of the same.

Here is a peek into the painting workshop. It’s kinda fruity in there.

The smalls are for Colors in Three Rivers. I’ll tell you about the larger painting of the persimmon tomorrow.

Do you think it is weird to paint the same stuff over and over again?

Out Of The Office

Posted by on Jun 26, 2012 in the business of art | 2 Comments

So to speak. . . the blogging office, that is. Today I have a guest post over at Chris LoCurto’s blog. He works for Dave Ramsey, and his blog is a great source of information on leadership, business, stuff like that. The commenting community is full of business leaders, sharp folks who have so much to say in the comments.

I don’t really fit in because I am a regional artist from Quaintsville, not a business leader. I like hanging out with smart people from other parts of the country who are learning, sharing their wisdom and  involved in growing their businesses. Besides, they are nice to me. 😎

We have a ton of fun on Chris’s blog, and it is a great honor to be able to post there. Head on over and see what I have to say. Mostly, see what the commenters have to say – they are the brilliant ones!

oil painting of marmot

I sort of feel like a marmot –  making noise, slightly irritating, but maybe kind of cute in a dorky way. However, rest assured that I do not chew on radiator hoses or brake lines.

One More Place You Can See and Buy My Art

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Mineral King, the business of art | 2 Comments

That is a shamelessly self-promotional title! However, it is also promoting the Silver City Resort, so perhaps “self-promotional” is a bit of an exaggeration.

(happy birthday, Deanne!)

Silver City Store

A few weeks ago I posted a list of places that carry my work. Immediately afterward, I took paintings to the Silver City Resort for the summer. (6 years ago right after printing 1000 business cards, I launched my website, so this is normal behavior for me.)

The Silver City Store is located 4 miles below Mineral King. It has a little restaurant and rental cabins. It also has been a good place to meet a future spouse for a great number of its employees. (worked for me)

Currently, they are carrying a number of little regional oil paintings that aren’t very expensive and will fit into travelers’ suitcases. Here are 4 new ones, all oil on wrapped canvas, 4×4″, available at the Silver City Resort. They are animals commonly seen in Mineral King. I’ve photographed these animals zillions of times and only came up with a small handful of paintable photos. Here are some of the best:

oil painting of buck

Mule Deer Buck

oil painting of black bear

Black Bear – sold

(They are all called this, whether they are brown, blonde, black or cinnamon colored.)

oil painting of marmot

Yellow Bellied Marmot – sold

(These are the dudes that chew on radiator hoses, belts, brake lines, etc.)

oil painting of squirrel

Golden Mantle Squirrel – sold

These little guys have a stripe (barely visible on his back) but are distinguishable from a chipmunk because the stripe isn’t on their heads.

If you would like to buy one of these the buck, he is $30, and maybe I can retrieve him before he sells. Alternatively, I can paint you another one, even of a different size.  

Now THAT was shameless self-promotion!

Which is your favorite?

Fridays are about Mineral King

Posted by on Jun 22, 2012 in Mineral King | 4 Comments

By Mineral King standards, Soda Springs is a short hike. In fact, we call it a “walk”. It is all a matter of one’s perspective. I think it is 3 miles round trip and is mostly level.

If you are used to towering peaks, majestic canyons, blowing erupting fountains, roaring waterfalls and the like, this is no big deal.

If you just want to take a nice walk in the mountains and end up by a weird little orange hole of water, then Soda Springs is your walk.

Almost all walks require crossing the bridge. If you are familiar with this view, you might be wondering why there are no dead branches in the upper left corner of the photo. Wonder on. . .

After crossing Crystal Creek, the trail splits.  You take the right fork, unless you are going somewhere else like Farewell Gap or Franklin Lake.

After another 1/4 or 1/2 mile, you see this view and know you are almost there. Those are aspen trees below the conifers (which means cone shaped trees that produce cones)

Told you Soda Springs is an orange hole of water! It bubbles up from the ground, and has a slight carbonation. Some folks like to mix it with various powdered flavored drink mixes. I think it taste like fizzy metal, so I carry my own normal water to drink.

The flow pattern of Soda Springs changes from year to year. I don’t know why. Some things just are, like orange holes of water that draw us back, year after year.

Definitely a Summer of Animals

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in the business of art, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

This is definitely shaping up to be a summer of animals in Three Rivers and in Mineral King.

I’ve been asked more than once why I don’t paint animals. The answer is that I don’t have good photos from which to paint. It is unethical and illegal to paint from other people’s photos without their permission, so I don’t use National Geographic or calendars or even google images.  My own photos of animals rarely turn out well, and not in enough abundance to produce more than an occasional painting. And my understanding of animals (other than my cats) is limited.

Just as authors are exhorted to write what they know, artists should also paint what they know. Why? Because if you don’t know your subject, someone else will, and they will know that you don’t know it. The business of art means knowing things like this.

Authenticity is a driving force for me, and painting unfamiliar subjects make me twitch with stress about being exposed as a poser.

Back to the animals. The next door neighbors called on Sunday to ask Trail Guy (AKA Retired Road Guy) to dispatch a Snake. It was their first Snake in 9 years. Most of the Snakes come to our address. (Snake spelled with a capital S is explained here.) I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that Trail Guy is a neighborhood hero.

And, on Monday I witnessed this in my front yard.

This is the patriarch of a flock with 12 little turkeys. Yes, I counted!

Sometimes I gobble at them. I think the last time I did that was on a walk, and I didn’t see the AT&T guy up ahead. He might have asked for a transfer to another area shortly afterward. Lost that walking partner too.

What wild animals do you have in your daily life? This rural California artist likes to hear how normal, non-gobbling folks live. 

Whatcha Working on Now, California Artist?

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in commissions | No Comments

So glad you asked that question! Here is a peek into the current status of Put My Parents In The Painting. (I’m twitching slightly from the effort and the stress, but it’s nothing a few rows of knitting can’t cure.)

Mother’s face barely shows on the photo. I tried to see some particulars under a magnifying glass. Even tried painting under that same magnifier. All I can tell you is “don’t try this at home!”

Father’s face has no detail at all in the photo. I’m beginning to steel myself for painting them both out after Mr. Put-My-Parents-In-The-Painting sees it and his face falls to the floor in dismay. (more knitting as stress reliever ahead)

In other news, I have another odd job.

This is how I define those unusual painting or drawing requests that pop up from time to time, simply because I am an established artist who answers her phone and email and shows up and does the work on time. You can see some of those jobs here, here, here, here, here, here and here too.

The customer/collector/client (How would you like me to refer to you??) sent me an email with an image of a Scandinavian snow god.

He recently bought a cabin and wanted this image used on a round wooden sign to put by the front door. We discussed some changes (he is remarkably easy to work with and work for!) and this is the result (minus his name and cabin # because I like to protect people’s privacy):

You would not believe the logistics in painting on a round wooden sign! I could hardly believe the weird things I had to figure out.

But, I like me a good challenge. (Read that sort of wording in several blogs by Southern artists, and it tickled my word-fancy-button.) If I didn’t, I’d be turning down a lot of work. Commissions really add spice to the life of this California artist.


Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Reading | 2 Comments

This California artist has been soaking up non-fiction books, learning about local history, the resilience of a kidnap victim and an ancient prophecy that relates to America today. Phew. No wonder the Reading Rabbit looks as if he is in a state of exhaustion. No fluffy beach-reading is happening around here!

  1. Bill and I: Building William Shatner’s Belle Reve Ranch by Dalan Smith is a blend of autobiography and biography. It is an honest look into crossing the chasm between regular folks and celebrities. The book also gives a glimpse into the struggles of earning a living in a rural setting. Shatner isn’t the main character of the book; Smith is, as he tells his story of building a horse ranch for an absentee owner. He has nothing but good to say about “Bill” and lets the reader draw his own conclusions about the success of the partnership. I loved the book, but may have been biased by my familiarity with the setting and many of the people within the story. It is one of the few celebrity biographies I’ve ever finished, much less enjoyed! Buy it here.
  2. A Stolen Life: a memoir by Jaycee Dugard was a very moving story of a woman who was kidnapped and enslaved from age 11 to age 29. It is graphic and gross in places – I had to skip parts of it. What a survivor! Got it from the library, recommend it, wouldn’t want to reread it. Too painful.
  3. The Harbinger: the ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future by Jonathan Cahn is written simply, the relaying of a conversation between two people to a third person. It is an explanation that ties 9/11 to a prophecy in the Bible, Isaiah 9:10. It is shocking, because although it is written as a novel, every event, location and speech is actual.

Summer of Animals?

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in commissions, Mineral King, Three Rivers | One Comment

This summer is shaping up to be full of wild animals for this California artist.

First, we were hiking in Mineral King and saw this:

While on that hike I thought of doing these oil paintings:

They are each 4×4″, and from left to right are a mule deer buck, golden mantle squirrel, yellow-bellied marmot, and a black bear. (They are called that even when they are brown or cinnamon or blond.)

After that, I painted this bear for the Sierra Lodge in Three Rivers:

After which, they asked me to refresh this bear:

So that he would look like this:

With all that wildlife around, particularly the ferocious bear, you might be a bit concerned about unfriendly encounters or a bit of danger. There was one small incident that ended up looking like this:

I love teal. It looks particularly striking with brown.

P.S. The bear on the flag of this California artist’s state is a grizzly, not a black bear. I’m happy to report we don’t have them in California any more. This is not an environmentally correct view, but I am more concerned with personal safety than being correct. This might make me a pig. See? animal summer!