Trail Guy Leads A Hike

Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Mineral King | 14 Comments

Retired Road Guy loves to hike. He is particularly fond of loops, which ALWAYS include some off-trail stuff. The man really really knows Mineral King, and he knows how to choose the best hike for the right people at the optimal time of year.

Dude’s just gifted like that. He is an introvert, but put him on a Mineral King trail and you might mistake him for a friendly trail guide.

I did not go on this hike, but was privileged to borrow the best photos.

Five members of The Sawtooth Six were there, with 4 cameras. These are our cabin neighbors from some fraternity, I Phelta Thi or something. They have come up once a year for about 28 years now. In the early years, Trail Guy and I would leave Mineral King that weekend. Now we love it when they are in “town”. Guess we all grew up a little.

white chief peak photo by the Sawtooth Six

view from White Chief photograph by the Sawtooth Six

If you head up the ridge to the left (east?) out of White Chief, pause and look back. You’ll need to anyway if you want to breathe.

Four of the Sawtooth Six plus Trail Guy photo by Ted Wenta

These guys love to document their doings. Trail Guy is in the middle; Ted is taking the photo.

Foxtail pines photograph

Jon and Scott don’t get to see foxtail pines unless they come to Mineral King and their frat brothers drag them up a trail. (JUST KIDDING, guys!  I know you got there under your own steam!)

Kurt and the foxtail pine, photo by Sawtooth Six

Kurt usually takes a nice long trail run before heading out on a hike. You’d hate him if he wasn’t such a genuinely nice guy.

foxtail pines photo by Sawtooth Six

And Ted finally handed the camera to someone else. These guys come from far away places that do not have foxtail pines. (When I visit Ted’s state, I get overly excited about tulips and take multiple photos, so I understand.)

Man on trail in Mineral King photo by Sawtooth Six

Hi Jon. Do you fully comprehend your awesomeness? You fly a desk all day, 5 days a week, and then BOOM! You hit some altitude and suddenly slam out 8 hard miles on (and off) a trail!

photo of Timber Gap by Sawtooth Six

Fabulously clear day in Mineral King, looking down from the Farewell/Franklin Trail. That is Timber Gap in the distance.


4 guys hiking down the Farewell/Franklin Trail photo by Sawtooth Six

Look at these city guys gamely following Trail Guy home. Pretty remarkable when you know that he used to ditch them on purpose.

has-been baker holding a pie

Aha! Craig made them keep walking because he knew Mrs.Trail Guy would be waiting with a lumpy looking apple pie. She was a baker when she first met the Sawtooth Six. She did not bring them pies back then because:  A. They weren’t her pies; B. She would go down the hill when they came up the hill. Notice Kurt has removed his shoes. This is because even his feet get tired.


First Saturday, Three Rivers, September First

Posted by on Aug 30, 2012 in Events | One Comment

First Saturday Three Rivers has been happening for 3 years now. On the first Saturday of the month, merchants and artists in Three Rivers do something special. They have sales, open houses, new products, refreshments, or anything out of their normal procedures for the day.

9 oil paintings of fruit by Jana Botkin

These 9 fruits are each 6×6″, oil on wrapped canvas, $40 each, and available at Colors, An Art Gallery

It gives you a reason to come up the hill. I’ve heard it is fun. There is something about most of the first Saturdays that just won’t fit into my life, usually involving Mineral King. Occasionally I do open my studio or join the folks at Colors, but not in September. I’m sorry. I hope you visit Three Rivers anyway and have a bang-up great time.

On September 1 (Happy B’day, S & MKW & RT!) Colors will have 2 new paintings from me. Not really new, but old paintings that I retouched because I paint better now (an admission of growth rather than a statement of false humility about the past or braggadocio about the present). They are the paintings of Sequoia trees, hanging above the oranges:

oil paintings drying on the wall by Jana Botkin

The 2 8×10 paintings of Sequoia trees (AKA Redwood trees, like my high school) will be available on September 1 at Colors, $90 each, unless someone buys them before then. Might that be you?

If you are interested, you will enjoy seeing them in person much more than in this crummy little photo.


Productive and Pathetic in Wilsonia, Part Two

Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 in Going Places, Wilsonia | 2 Comments

While in Wilsonia, the private cabin community in Kings Canyon National Park, I visited the General Grant Tree. It is about a mile from Wilsonia in a spectacular grove of giant sequoias (sequoia gigantea not to be confused with California redwoods called sequoia sempervirens). 

Of course, what grove of Big Trees wouldn’t be considered spectacular?

the base of the General Grant Tree

I think this is the General Grant Tree. I took so many photos that I got confused.

I discovered something surprising. The General has been stripped of his title, except on the few remaining old signs and maps. He is now called the “Grant Tree”. Hmmmm, mighty peculiar (but probably not pathetic.)

As The Cabins of Wilsonia takes shape, new ideas keep coming. Because Wilsonia is in Kings Canyon National Park (ugh – do you mind if I just type KCNP?), it seems important to learn more about the immediate area.

So, I went exploring and found the Manzanita and Azalea Trails. There is a well-marked trail system that goes up to Park Ridge Lookout in KCNP, connects to Crystal Springs Campground and also surrounds Wilsonia, in a large and general way.

azalea trail in KCNP

The Azalea Trail in KCNP does not lead through the big trees, but it does go through some azaleas, which are probably fabulous earlier in the summer.

In addition to these extracurricular activities, I worked on The Cabins of Wilsonia, talked to many cabin folks, and had an immensely productive week.

What about the pathetic part, you ask? Ummm, I got homesick and went home a day early.


Productive and Pathetic in Wilsonia

Posted by on Aug 28, 2012 in Thoughts, Wilsonia | 4 Comments

I spent a very productive week at a cabin in Wilsonia, a private community within Kings Canyon National Park. The idea was to talk to lots of people, to learn and write down their stories, impressions, memories and thoughts on cabin life there. I was fairly certain that I had all the photos I needed and that the design of the book, The Cabins of Wilsonia, was almost cast in stone.

a cabin in wilsonia

Not the cabin where I stayed, but a very visually appealing cabin in Wilsonia that I keep photographing over and over and over. . .

But. . .

. . . While there, I finally had the opportunity to work uninterrupted on the book. (When I’m in my own studio, there is so much painting to do that the non-urgent business of the book collects dust. I want to work on the book, I really really like working on the book, I wish I could just work on the book every day! Okay, I think you believe me now.)

Redesign: Each day I walked through Wilsonia with my camera and continued to photograph things for a second and third time. OF COURSE I kept finding new things to photograph.This meant I needed to re-evalutate which were the best choices for each street, and continually redesign each section.

Rebalance: I began to realize that there was an imbalance. How many pages have I allotted to each street? (called “Lanes” in Wilsonian) How many cabins are there on each Lane? Had I given the most populated streets the greatest number of pages? This took quite awhile to discern and then to redesign.

Quote Gathering: In addition to the photography and redesign, there were many conversations with people, which was the point of the visit. It is interesting that folks assume I am compiling the history of Wilsonia. Their first response to knowing that I’d like to include quotes from the cabin community is to give me a list of previous owners of their cabins!

This is most likely due to my own inept interviewing and inadequate explanations. I’m an artist, not O’Reilly. (It probably isn’t a good idea to bark at them, “This is a no-spin zone!”) I’m now realizing that gathering quotes will take a long time, lots of conversations, lots of getting to know people gradually. When Jane Coughran and I did The Cabins of Mineral King in 1998, we simply sent forms in the mail requesting stories, and magically, they got filled out and returned. Doesn’t work that way any more.

Eating an elephant: It is time to face the fact that this book is going to take at least 2 more years to get to publication.

That’s not the pathetic part. I’ll tell you that part tomorrow.

More tomorrow about my work week in Wilsonia. . . 



Mineral King Paintings and 3 Reasons Why They Are Selling Well

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012 in Mineral King, the business of art | 2 Comments

Mineral King is the second most popular subject that I paint. Oranges are first, pomegranates are third. Thanks for asking – does me good to know you care.


Farewell Gap oil painting by Jana Botkin

Farewell Gap, 6×6″, oil on wrapped canvas, $50, available at the Silver City Resort

alpenglow on vandever oil painting by jana Botkin

Sunset on Vandever, 6×6″ oil on wrapped canvas, $50, available at the Silver City Resort (should have titled it “Alpenglow”)

oil painting of Sawtooth Peak by Jana Botkin

Sawtooth #8, 6×6 oil on wrapped canvas, $50, available at the Silver City Resort

oil painting of the Oak Grove Bridge by Jana Botkin

Oak Grove Bridge VIII, 6×6″, oil on wrapped canvas, $50, available at the Silver City Resort (This is my favorite bridge, but you already knew that.)

Many of the artists I know have taken to creating small paintings in this crummy economy. Since Tulare County’s economy is usually crummy anyway, I was already doing that. It is very seldom that I am on the cutting edge of anything, so this has just been a real thrill, I tell you, a real thrill.

Stop yawning.

I’ve been really working hard on these little jewels this summer, because the Silver City Resort is doing a great job of selling them. They’re selling well for 3 reasons (just my opinion):

1. $50 is dirt cheap for an original oil painting (especially if you are from a big city)

2. People on vacation in the area would like a real souvenir of their trip that isn’t an unnecessary plastic item stamped with Mineral King.

3. (Ahem). They are sort of good. Not as tight with the detail as many of my other paintings, but whaddya expect for $50, hmmmm?

Just try to be polite, ‘kay? And might want to duck, in case there is a lightning strike for excessive braggadocio.


P.S. These might have sold – I haven’t checked since delivering them to Silver City a few weeks ago. BUT, do not lose heart – I can repaint anything for you. Just ask!


White Chief, Part Two

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 in Mineral King, Sources of inspiration | 5 Comments

One way you can tell that you are middle-aged is when hiking downhill is more painful than hiking uphill. (Can I get an “Amen”?)

Last week I left you wondering how we were going to leave White Chief if not by the same trail we used to get there. Trail Guy loves loops – I might start calling him “Loopy” – no, bad idea. I call him Trail Guy, but about 40% of the time he is Off-Trail Guy.

He pointed up to a ridge above and to the west of lower White Chief canyon and said if we climbed it, we’d drop down into Eagle Meadow. That is in the area of the Mosquito and Eagle Lakes junction. He said he knew it wasn’t hard, because he had explored there last year.

Sure, Off-Trail Guy.

Trail Guy and friend leaving White Chief Canyon

That is Timber Gap in the middle distance. We are higher than it, because we are looking over the top of it to the Middle Fork drainage of the Kaweah River. I got a little bit behind Trail Guy and PC because of a serious distraction.


Explorer's Gentian photo by Jana Botkin

Explorer’s Gentian are my favorite flower! That color just slays me. The one on the left is a little odd – normally they have 5 petals. They appear in August and like to bloom and grow in damp places.


ridge between White Chief and Eagle Lake photo by Jana Botkin

Not hard at all. Just go up. Pick a clean route. Keep your goal in mind. Don’t step on a wasp nest. Watch out for rocks that are rocky. Just sashay up that little ridge!

looking down from the ridge photo by Jana Botkin

Whoa. We have to go down really really far now. Into those trees, and we will catch the trail down from Eagle and Mosquito Lakes, right? Eagle Lake is off the photo to the left, behind the trees. Trail Guy, are you SURE this will work?? I’m not in favor of getting bluffed up.

Eagle Creek photo by Jana Botkin

Here is Eagle Creek, flowing through Eagle Meadow. It is really hard to get lost in Mineral King. The danger is in getting bluffed up. This wasn’t a bad route, and we hit Eagle Meadow just like Trail Guy planned.

Eagle Creek, just above the sinkhole photo by Jana Botkin

Here is Eagle Creek, just before it disappears into the sinkhole.

photo by Jana Botkin of Eagle sinkhole

This never photographs well. Eagle Creek flows into a deep hole. You can see the bottom of the hole – the water just disappears! (Don’t you hate it when someone says “this is a bad photo”? Then why are you showing it?? Because it’s all I have!)

Eagle/Mosquito/White Chief trail back to Mineral King photo by Jana Botkin

Now we are back on the familiar Eagle/Mosquito/White Chief trail. It’s about 1 mile back to Mineral King. Again, there’s Timber Gap in the distance, this time above us.

Honeymoon Cabin in Mineral King

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 in Mineral King | No Comments

The Honeymoon Cabin in Mineral King sits at the beginning of the Eagle/Mosquito/White Chief trailhead.


oil painting of Honeymoon Cabin in Mineral King by Jana Botkin

The Honeymoon Cabin in Mineral King, 6×6″, $50, available at the Silver City Resort

It was part of the resort, back in the days of a store and rental cabins in Mineral King. That era ended in 1969, when an avalanche took out the store. By then, Walt Disney owned the place, and what the snow left behind, Uncle Wally’s people  finished with fire.

This is the only remaining structure from the resort, and now it serves as a museum of Mineral King history. It is maintained by the Mineral King Preservation Society.

I paint it over and over and over. (I mean I paint canvases with its image, but I’m guessing you were tracking with me well enough to understand that.) This is #12, maybe. Since it is at the Silver City Resort and I am not, I can’t flip it over and check for you.

Orange You Glad You Live in California (or Sorry That You Don’t)?

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in commissions | 5 Comments

group of citrus oil paintings in progress

Morning sun in the summer dries oil paintings quickly.

Orange you glad you live in California? Or perhaps you aren’t so glad – the state is way over its head financially, we have both sales tax and state income tax, our gas is almost the most expensive in the country, and it is stinkin’ hot.

But we can grow oranges, and we can paint them. That’s what California artists do who get calls from realtors who sell lots of citrus orchards. Blessings on you, Oh Realtors of Good Taste.

In case you were wondering, my favorite color isn’t orange. Besides, it looks terrible on me. Not my color. Maybe that is why it is fun to paint.







Poppy Painting Explosion

Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in General | 9 Comments

Last week I had an explosion of California poppies in the painting studio. They landed on top of my stereo. (Yes, that is duct tape on the stereo – You can ask Retired Road Guy, but I doubt he’ll remember.)

2x2" oil paintings of poppies and one poinsettia

2×2″ oil paintings of California poppies, $16.50 each including a small wooden easel, and one poinsettia, because no matter what, Christmas comes each year on December 25. (Thank you, Paula, for the idea!)

Who knew that canvases came in 2×2″? They are so cute, and can be painted quickly. Of course I need my mega-strong magnifying glasses to see what I am painting, just in case anyone under 45 years of age looks at them.

How I Write a Blog Post

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in the business of art, Thoughts, Wilsonia | 4 Comments

Usually I begin a blog post with a relevant photo. There must be a reason it seems relevant, so I ponder why you might want to see it.

pencil drawing of Wilsonia cabin by jana Botkin

Attention to detail not only makes better blog posts, it makes for good pencil drawings. This is one of the cabins of Wilsonia from my upcoming book “The Cabins of Wilsonia”.

The thoughts begin flowing, and boy of boy, I LOVE to type because the words can keep up with my thoughts. I type fast, I make mistakes, but they are easily corrected. (Got fired from a typing job once – still smarts.)

After the thoughts are recorded, I reread them for flow and understanding. If anything makes me hesitate or wonder what I meant, or if it could mean two things, then it gets changed.

Next, I remove unnecessary words, such as beginning a sentence with “So”, which is a current speaking trend that I hope to avoid. (Has anyone else noticed this?) I also remove sentences after asking myself, “Does anyone care?” (if the answer is NO!)

Sometimes I think about SEO. That means Search Engine Optimization, which means using certain words in certain ways so that Mr. Google can find me (for certain).

Then I check for typographical and grammatical errors. Typos make me twitch. They jump out of other people’s blogs, out of menus, library books, the newspaper, signs, and anything with the written word. Websites with typos do not look trustworthy . . . nosirree, if that company can’t even make their website correct, then they won’t care about my order.

Finally, I do all the technical stuff like putting in key words and tags (geeky stuff), filling in the SEO all-in-one-pack (more geeky stuff)  checking categories, and finally, I schedule the post.

Now that you know my routine, you can join me in wondering “Does anyone care about this blog post?”