My Amazing Friends, Chapter Five

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Three Rivers | No Comments

Back when I had a list of 80 people waiting to get into my drawing lessons (dang, what happened??), I met Nikki Crain. She eventually became one of my drawing students, and we became friends. Not only does she draw very well, she is a master weaver.

We have done many shows over many years together. (I used the word “many” too many times and it has ceased to look right to me. Isn’t that a weird phenomenon?)


 We like to be neighbors on the stage at the Perfect Gift Boutique, where we often help one another set up, talk to customers, and pass time between customers.

We enjoy the Senior League Bazaar each year at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. Nikki weaves and educates customers about weaving, the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, how to wear a shawl or a scarf, fibers, soy candles, and just stays cheerful and helpful. That in itself is uh-MAY-zing.


One time I handed one of my plates to Nikki and she made some wonderful placemats to match.

 The mini version of the placemats,  called “mug rugs”,  are coasters that don’t stick to the condensation on your cold glass and then drop off in your lap and startle you. They are beautiful and useful, a winning combination.

Nikki and I spent a morning together so that she could learn more about blogging. It was fun, of course, and now you can follow her beautiful work on her blog, Handweaving by Nikki.


Nikki usually opens her Three Rivers studio on First Saturdays. You can see her looms, her fibers, her work and her amazing self!

Still Goofing Off Instead of Working

Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 in Sources of inspiration, Three Rivers | No Comments

How does a California artist goof off and get away with calling it “business”? It’s all business. Everything is a source of inspiration. Everything is inspirational when one lives in a beautiful place.

Sorry to rub it in. Forgive me?

Thanks. Glad I got that cleared up between us.

A California artist gathers her two closest friends in the entire world, who immediately love each other. They invent a game of dropping a pebble off a bridge over the Kaweah River to see who can land a hole-in-one in the rocks below. The California Artist takes photos and wonders how anyone can be so blessed to have such Ah-sum and Uh-MAY-zing friends.

It becomes a business trip when your walk takes you to the lavender garden of an amazing friend where you view your painted saltillo tiles and help place them while your friends get a preview of a breathtaking yard.

Definitely a business trip. No miles to write off. But, my hard-working conscience is eased by the fact of visiting my tiles and helping to place them.

On Sunday, I really did take a day off. I got to meet Gizmo and Gonzo, a taggenberg (maybe that is what the goat girl said) and a nubian.

After meeting these little guys, I finally understand why we call nasty bike tire-popping thorns “goatheads”. They are shaped like the heads of goats. Duh.

Isn’t Three Rivers the most interesting place to live?

Goofing Off Instead of Working

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in Going Places, Sources of inspiration | 4 Comments

How does a California Artist goof off? Lots of ways!

She has a friend visit for several days and they go walking together. (If you take food, it’s a “hike”. If you don’t, it’s a “walk”.)

She visits the Big Trees (Sequoia National Park) with her friend who moved far away and wondered if she’d ever get to see them again.

They climb Moro Rock. These chicas have been friends since age 17. They have probably climbed Moro Rock together in the past, but they can no longer remember.

They walk (no lunch) out on the High Sierra Trail because the view is definitely a source of inspiration. Hey! That was a business trip!

My Amazing Friends, Chapter Four

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in commissions, Three Rivers | No Comments

Tomorrow is the Three Rivers Hidden Gardens Tour. I think you can still get tickets here.

My favorite spot on the tour is my amazing friend Barbara’s lavender garden. (Your favorite might be Anjelica Huston’s place, which I’ve only seen from the road or in Architectural Digest a few years ago.)


Barbara and I have been having great fun putting together some stepping stone/plant identifiers. Her daughter painted a couple of saltillo tiles with lavender for her a few years ago. Barbara loved them, and decided she wanted more. Her daughter now lives far far away, so she commissioned me to do these tiles.


I think it may fall into the category of Odd Jobs.

But, this post is about my amazing friends, and Barbara is truly amazing her knowledge of plants, her ability to work tirelessly in her gardens, and her appreciation for beauty.

When people talk about lavender, they sometimes mention English, French and Spanish. If they are like me, they most likely don’t realize there are many many version under each of those categories.

This is Spanish. The flower tips look like butterflies.


French lavender has leaves that are sort of toothy and serrated. I didn’t paint anything that detailed on the tiles.


I painted 24 tiles with different names, and another 11 with pictures and no names. They are all for sale for a price not determined at the time of this writing, and a percentage of the sales benefits the Three Rivers Union School Foundation. (Sorry, we don’t ship tiles!)



Wildflowers at a California State Park

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Going Places, Sources of inspiration | 6 Comments

There was a great variety of flowers at Montana de Oro.

The poppies came in three colors. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen a yellow poppy before!

This two-tone was so pretty. I thought these only came from greenhouses where people mess around with seeds and test tubes and who-knows-what-all.

This one looks normal to me.

I was going to ignore these little orange flowers but they made me think of my friend Shannon, whose favorite color is orange.

The Indian Paintbrush grow everywhere, all elevations, including Mineral King and above. These were the brightest I’ve ever seen.

Sometimes Morning Glory is called “bindweed”. I don’t know if it is native or if it is an invasive pest. I do know that farmers hate it, but it is pretty. I prefer the blue kind.

These were oranger (is that a word?) in real life. They are shaped like a monkey flower.

I KNOW these are not natives! The nasturtiums from someone’s garden got away. Maybe it happened from the farmhouse at Montana de Oro that is now a visitor center.

Statice out on the bluffs? Really? This grows very well on the Central Coast of California, but is it a native?? Or, is it like the nasturtium? So many questions. . .

California Artist on California Beach

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Going Places, Sources of inspiration | 2 Comments

If you ever go to Morro Bay and look across the bay, you can see a strip of land. It is called a “spit”, and it provides a very long strip of beach for walking. Or, if you like to ride a bike on the beach, it is a good place for that.

It was a foggy day, but the other Morro Rock (not to be confused with the Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park visible from my yard) was visible through the fog. I love long walks on the beach. I might have gone 8 miles, maybe 9, maybe 10. Since I’m not training for anything, I didn’t keep track. I wore shoes going and came back barefoot. My plantar fasciitis cooperated – it was there, but not too bad. The sand felt wonderful!

These guys posed well for me.

Tomorrow I will show you the wildflowers we saw at Montana de Oro.

A California Artist Goes to The Beach

I love the beach. I love the mountains. When I lived in Sandy Eggo, I missed the mountains. Now that I live in Three Rivers, I miss the beach. There’s no hope for it except to stay here in the middle.

Meanwhile, here are a few inspiring photos. Some day when I am finished with The Cabins of Wilsonia,  I will paint again. These photos won’t be wasted, and thus, going to the beach is always a business trip. (Had to mention that on Tax Day. When art is a business, that nasty topic is always lurking.)

Trail Guy at the beach.

This is the Bluffs Trail at Montana de Oro, a great California State Park. (What has become of all the money squirreled away by that outfit??)

Uh, Trail Guy, you wanna step back, please??

This was a finger of turbulent water.

Here is a tower. The sun came out briefly.

These cliffs were gorgeous and interesting, and we didn’t mean to walk so far that day but we just kept going. Should have brought lunch with us instead of leaving it in the car. . . What is the difference between a walk and a hike? I think a hike is when you bring food and water along.

The water was all sorts of shades of teal, my favorite color. My current favorite combination of colors is brown with teal. I LOVED this walk. (with apologies to Craig B. for not telling him we were in his neighborhood)

My Amazing Friends, Chapter Three

Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in Three Rivers | No Comments

Hmmmm, this is a continuation on my amazing friend, Barbara. Should it be chapter two or chapter three?

Who cares? You’ve got to see her gardens on the Three Rivers Hidden Gardens Tour. Here are a few photos from 2 years ago to whet your appetite.

IMG_6862 IMG_6863 IMG_6916

My Amazing Friends, Chapter Two

Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 in General, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

This will be a long post. I hope you will savor it, instead of filing it in the category of TLDR*.

The series, My Amazing Friends, began this week with Bob. Let’s continue with Barbara, also of Three Rivers, a gardener extraordinaire.

oil painting by Jana Botkin

Barbara grows many plants, knows them all and is best known for her lavender. She is so passionate about her gardens (not just a yard, not just a garden, but GARDENS, plural!) that she works under floodlights at night in order to keep them in order.

wisteria oil painting by jana botkin

Two years ago her lovely grounds were featured in the very first Hidden Gardens Tour of Three Rivers, to benefit the Three Rivers Union School, which is always in peril of closing or being absorbed into the Woodlake School District.


I had the honor and privilege of seeing the place on the official pre-tour, a return visit or two with my camera, and being present with my easel and paints during the official tour.

This year Barbara’s garden will be on the tour again. Tickets are still available, and you will get to see 4 places, including Angelica Huston’s place. Barbara’s will be the best on the tour, in my completely unbiased (harharhar) opinion!

Okay, getting too long, to be continued tomorrow. . .

*Too Long Didn’t Read

My Amazing Friends, Chapter One

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Three Rivers | No Comments

The word “amazing” is overused these days. It is often pronounced “uh-MAY-zing” and has taken the place formerly occupied by “awesome”, pronounced “AHHH-sum”. My uh-MAY-zing and Oh-so-wise Dad was bothered by the description inflation of “awesome”. He said that very little was truly awesome, short of God or his (God’s, not Dad’s) handiwork. I’ve grown up with the word “amazing” usually reserved for God’s grace. . . heard the song?

Nonetheless, I have some friends who amaze me with their creativity and generosity and abilities. Today we begin learning of those friends.

First, there is Bob. He lives in Three Rivers and is a superb craftsman, a unique Tulare County artist (or would that be “artisan”?).

Look what Bob has made:

Fantastically beautiful and functional, oversized and modified Adirondack chairs from salvaged redwood. These chairs have arms large enough for a cat, some knitting, a plate of food, a skinny friend’s hiney to perch, or the Wall St. Journal in its entirety. When I sit in one of his original designs, my feet stick out in front of me, and I want to shout, “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!”

Bob modified his design to fit smaller humans, such as myself. I am not small, but medium. Bob is not medium, so sometimes I have to remind him that things which fit him swallow up medium people such as his sweet wife or me.

Look what else Bob made for me:



This is a GIANT easel on wheels that lock. I’m reluctant to get paint on it. When it is all set up with a canvas (AFTER I finish the year of drawing The Cabins of Wilsonia) then I will take the plunge and begin using this AHHHH-sum and uh-MAY-zing piece of equipment.

To view Bob’s work, go here: Kelbro Stoneworks

Tomorrow I will post at The Cabins of Wilsonia.