Read Anything Good Lately?

Posted by on Jan 31, 2014 in Reading | No Comments

Reading used to be my favorite thing to do. Now it is just one of many things I love to do. In the olden days, reading was something I did after a trip to the library. In the now days, I still use the library. In addition, I buy books to read on my computer, buy books to listen to on the computer, buy books from Amazon, borrow books from friends, and read books from my own shelves.

Salt & Light, or Reading Rabbit, oil on board, 11×14″

Here is a list of recently read, read a month ago, or currently reading:

1. Room

by Emma Donahue. Wow, this is written from the viewpoint of a 5 year old boy, raised in a single room by his mother who was kidnapped at age 19. She did an incredible job of raising her child. Sounds dreadful, creepy, scary, but they escape. The 2nd half of the book is about adjusting to life outside of the room. Wonderful novel – great story, great characters, very well written.

2. Jesus Calling

A friend told me about this little book by Sarah Young. It is one of those devotionals with an entry for 365 days. I thought it would be like all the rest. It is not. It is fantastic. Look her up and read how she wrote this! Right after I started reading this, it seems as if everyone I meet or talk to is also reading it. Tremendous insight into the character of God.

4. At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy

This is an audio book (probably a paper one too) by Dan Erickson, a multi-talented guy who I sort of know via the marvelous world wide web. He is a professor, musician, writer, single dad, and survivor of growing up in a cult. His first book was about the cult and how it affected him – A Train Called Forgiveness. This is sort of a sequel, but this one is fiction. It sort of twisted my head a bit. I’d think, “You did WHAT?” and then remember it is a novel. Very good story! Here – you can visit Dan’s site and learn more and even buy it yourself.

There is more, but you’d probably rather be reading books than this blog!

HEY, California Artist, don’t you read art books?

No. I read artists’ websites and art marketing websites. Even those leave me confused with conflicting approaches to media and marketing, which creates tremendous self-doubt. Too much information, too many opinions. It causes me to act like a gray squirrel in the middle of the road: go, stop, turn, go, turn, stop, go, turn. . . See why I have to read to escape??

Thoughtful Thursdays – A Juiced Up Life

Now that the drawings for The Cabins of Wilsonia  are finished, I’m thinking about oil painting again.

I’d like to make a 2015 calendar of paintings, and need to decide if I have any that can be used or if I need to do 13 new paintings. Thirteen? A year has 12 months, a calendar has 12 months PLUS a cover.

I’m studying some paintings I didn’t use in the 2013 calendar very intensely. Why hasn’t this or that painting sold? Is it the old “right person hasn’t come along” or is the painting just not good enough to grab those who have come along??

When I wonder about things like this of a philosophical and esoteric nature, I talk to my friend D about it. She and I have decided that we live in a time when we are all used to things being instant and awesome, or as I think of it, “juiced up”. Here are some examples:


A. regular photo – nice.

B. juiced up photos, like the ones in the link I gave you yesterday.  We are impressed when the light and color are enhanced, or juiced up.


A.  friend playing a song on a guitar – nice.

B. juiced up, hearing it in stereo on our ear buds with all the accompaniment


A. old movie – entertaining in a dorky sort of way.

B. juiced up – big flat HD screens with stereo sound and special effects and surgically enhanced actors

What does this have to do with painting?

I can paint what I know or see, mixing the colors that match nature and reality. Nice.

Or, I can juice it up – exaggerate the colors, enhance them and show people a scene the way they remember it, because it was a juiced up memory.

Here is a non-juiced up photo:

Nice. Of course it is nice; it is Mineral King!

Here is a juiced up painting:

The colors are brighter, I added a peak, I subtracted a tree. The tree was good, but it didn’t fit the shape of this rolling trunk with a slightly warped lid.

I decided to paint this same scene on canvas. If it turns out well, I’ll put it in the 2015 calendar.

It is very wet and the color doesn’t look juiced up yet. When it is finished and completely dry, I’ll rephoto or scan it so you can see what I mean about juiced up.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, but I don’t dare turn on the comments and be hit by a tidal wave of spam. Sigh. You can use the Contact the Artist tab above or email me if we are already correspondents.

Whatcha Doing, California Artist?

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in Thoughts | No Comments

Working on the book, posting about the book, thinking about the book, working on it some more, that’s what.

What book, you ask? The Cabins of Wilsonia, progress being documented here.

How about if I make you a nice list, since you were good enough to come to my blog to see what I’m working on:

  1. The comments are disabled on this post because of 300-600 spam comments per day. 
  2. You can contact me via the Contact the Artist tab at the top of the page or by email if you have my eddress.
  3. “Eddress” is the best made up word ever – why am I the only one to use it??
  4. I found the most beautiful photographs in the world, even more beautiful than the stillblog I shared with you a few weeks ago. It is called 500px, with stunningly gorgeous photos by Elena Unspellable (not really – but she is Russian and her name is a long one). Thank you, Ann, for sending me the link to this fabulous breathtaking site.

Because I don’t have any new artwork or any significant message for you, contemplate this:

A man and his truck. A man and his old truck. An old man. . . never mind. 310,000 miles on this rig.

We might be looking for a 2001-2004 Toyota Tundra, 5-speed manual transmission, 4WD, extra cab, less than 150,000 miles. But keep in mind, there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS TRUCK AND HE IS KEEPING IT. (I’m shouting it because I’ve been told this numerous times.)

Oh, and not silver. Not black or white either. But we really don’t have any strong opinions on this. . .

Meanwhile, I have a book to prepare for the printer!


Three Rivers Studio Tour

Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in Events, Three Rivers | No Comments

Do you know what “biennial” means? Nope? Maybe?

It means every two years, or every other year, or this year but not next and then the one after.

2014 is the year for the biennial Three Rivers Artists Studio Tour.

March 21, 22, 23, 2014

Click here to get the information about tickets. It is a little complicated, depending on how many days you want to attend or how soon you buy the tickets or how young you are.

I hope you can come!

I hope it rains and that there is green around my studio when you come.

This blog has been receiving upwards of 600 spam comments per day, so I am not accepting comments at this time. (You can comment, but I won’t be able to find it among the zillions of junky ads so it will be deleted along with the jillions of junky ads.)  If you want to tell me something, you may use the contact tab, or if you have my eddress, you may email me. 

A California Artist Interviews Herself

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in the business of art, Thoughts | No Comments

It’s been awhile since the California artist has had a conversation with herself. I’m sure you have some of the same questions that she does. How about if the interviewer is in black, and the California artist replies in her favorite color, which is teal.

Hey California Artist, what are you doing now that your drawings for The Cabins of Wilsonia  are completed?

Great question! (Remember, all big shot interviewees say that when being interviewed. I’m not a big shot, but I might be some day so I have to practice). I’m working on the written parts of the book. If you read my other blog,, you’d know this.

Sorry. I’m busy.

Everyone is busy. Welcome to America. What else do you want to know?

Doing anything else interesting?

I’m glad you asked! (All big shot interviewees say this too.) Trail Guy and I are painting our outbuildings.

Oh? What color?

I love that question because I am a color junkie. You know the color of dark chocolate dipped in black coffee, all shiny and beautifully brown?

Who does that??

Me. I do that. Doesn’t everyone?

Hmmm, no, never met anyone else who dipped dark chocolate in black coffee.

You should try it some time. It is magically delicious.

California artist, you are weird. This interview is over.

HEY! I have more to say!!

Tell the blog readers some other time. Besides, you said teal is your favorite color, and then sometimes you say blue is your favorite color. You are too confusing to talk to.

But aren’t I lots of fun and that makes up for the confusion?

Nope, not talking to you anymore.

Okay, I’ll just tell the blog readers without your help:

The biennial Three Rivers Studio Tour will be this year in March, and my buildings will be looking so good that you might think you are at the wrong address. I might not have anything to sell because I am spending my time scraping and painting, (and writing! I’m working on The Cabins of Wilsonia, really, I am! but by golly, the murals sure show up brilliantly now! More on the studio tour tomorrow.

Commissioned Oil Paintings With Far Away Customers

Commissions are an important component of earning a living with art. Some artists love them, some do them while figuratively holding their noses, and some artists flat out refuse. I fall somewhere between the first 2 types of artists, because it depends on both the idea and the customer.

While I worked with Lisa on her commissioned oil painting of the Lake House last fall, I did some thinking about commissions. It is so tricky to work long distance, using photos, email and an occasional phone call. Words mean things, and relying on words to explain an unseen thing is tricky.

Three Rivers commissioned oil painting

There are several elements at work in this type of art-making endeavor:

The Ideas: Those who know what they want, and those who are not sure, and those who keep editing.

The Customers: Those who can communicate and those who cannot.

Hmmm, that makes 3 x 2 = 6 possible commission customers

1. Knows what she wants and can explain it – The easiest!

2. Not sure what she wants but can explain as she figures it out. . . keep talking, because eventually we will arrive. (Hi Lisa! We did it!!)

3. Keeps editing and can explain each new idea – keep talking, but my prices are really too low for this type of continual editing and changing. Construction companies call these “Change Orders” which means they charge each time a customer orders a change.

4. Knows and cannot communicate – yikes.

5. Isn’t sure and cannot communicate – Sorry, Toots, I am unable to be of any assistance here.

6. Doesn’t have an idea and cannot communicate – Fuhgeddaboutit.

It all comes down to communication.

The painting above was painted for a customer in the #1 category, except that she isn’t far away. She wants another just like it. That will be fun, and I will add the personal challenge of just like it only better.

P.S. I see it is time to update my commissioned oil painting page because I have put commissioned paintings on the sold page instead of where they belong! Where are My People? I need People for this stuff!

Red Things in Three Rivers, Part 2

Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in Sources of inspiration, Three Rivers | One Comment

In spite of the fact that red is not that common of a color in nature, it seems that red things are prevalent in Three Rivers. Here are a few more red things that Trail Guy and I spotted on our Christmas Day walk. (And in case you are feeling sorry for us, we did go to The Matriarch’s house that afternoon and have a wonderful time with the family. Thank you for your concern.)

I saw this berry at the Presbyterian Church. It was brilliant. I have no idea what it is, and have never noticed it before.

It grows on a shrub, in clusters.

My neighbor has a bright red screen door. We had a red back door at our previous home and I thought it was wonderful. I think the color means “welcome”.

All the fire hydrants in our neighborhood are new and brilliant red. The color freaks out my little camera when I use the telephoto lens. See the glow? The camera was freaked.

The cedar waxwings and robins haven’t finished devouring our pyracantha berries yet. They get a little drunk on them. The deer like them too, but can’t reach the high ones.

What is this?? Our very own red canoe!! It’s a little faded, so I named him “Rusty”. Yes, I know boats are feminine: shall we call her “Rustie”? “Rusti”?

P.S. On the red berries, Donna said this: Your mystery fruit is from a “strawberry bush.” The fruits are edible, although not anything to rave about.” 

Melissa said this: “I believe the berries in the first picture are ‘Arbutus Unedo’.  At least it’s what it looks like to me!!  If it is, the fruit is edible, though considered bland and mealy: the name ‘unedo’  is explained by Pliny the elder as being derived from Unum edo  ‘I eat one’ which is an apt response to the flavor!!” 

Thank you, friends who know stuff!

Red Things in Three Rivers

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Sources of inspiration, Three Rivers | No Comments

On Christmas Day Trail Guy and I went for a walk in Three Rivers. Because it was Christmas Day, I noticed red things. Here are my photos, along with a few thoughts about this vibrant primary color. Color is a strong source of inspiration to me; fascination is probably a more accurate word. No, call it what it is – obsession!  (I am a color junkie.)

Red isn’t a color that appears often or in great volume in nature.  These pyracantha berries were part of an arrangement that gets changed regularly on the Dinely bridge which crosses the middle fork of the Kaweah River.

Red is the favorite color of many important people in my life – Ashley, Sylvia, Robin, Melinda, Marilyn, and those are just the ones who quickly came to mind so I’m sure there are more.

I like red, but it doesn’t play a very large role in my life. When I knit something red, I usually end of giving it away (usually to someone on the list of names in the previous paragraph.)

To be continued. . .

A Dry Winter in Mineral King

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Mineral King, Photography | 2 Comments

Trail Guy went to Mineral King. I worked. He is retired. I am completing a book of drawings. It’s cool – we understand that this is a consequence of our vast age difference. (Calm down, I’m just exaggerating!)

I might be a good influence on him. On the other hand, I might not be.

The fact that he is enjoying photography is the good influence.

He requests the camera regularly.

A radio commercial says this: “Never wear a fanny pack. No really. Don’t ever wear a fanny pack.”

Dude gets weird sometimes. I take full responsibility. (Remember my knitting photos??)

He has always noticed beauty, but now he records it.

He is noticing good light more, actually seeking it out.

Recognize Sawtooth?

Do you pray? How about asking God to send rain and snow? We need it.

P.S. If you see Trail Guy today, wish him a Happy Birthday!

Learning to Oil Paint

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Lessons | 3 Comments

Remember in the olden days when I was an oil painter? This was before 2013, the year I drew 180 pencil drawings of Wilsonia cabins.

A number of my drawing students have been pressuring me to teach oil painting. We know one another fairly well so they understand how I teach, and I understand how each one of them learns. Besides, I believe strongly that a person needs to be able to draw before painting. You can read about it here.

There were four students in the first session, and they painted oranges. That is the first thing I  painted when I started learning. They painted from photos, because the light changes way too fast to paint from real life. It is especially tricky when one is mixing from the primaries, which is the way I paint. (Some day I will post about that for you.) With four people painting, I spent the entire time going from easel to easel, with a short lunch break. Every time I finished helping one person, the next person was stuck. It was exciting!

The following week there were eight students! Three were returnees, one had been to my studio for a private lesson and the other four were brand new to oil painting. The new ones were wondering how they’d do, the returnees wanted to finish their oranges, and one ambitious painter wanted to also paint a lemon.

The results of the two days painting sessions were FABULOUS!

Yes, I know. “Drawing with a paintbrush” and a watercolor brush at that! So? She was getting the job done and easing into it with the tools and style that she was comfortable with.

This is a former tole painter who has been learning to draw with me. We were very pleased with her results! (She likes to “draw” with short handled brushes too.)

At last year’s oil painting workshop, this participant painted a pomegranate. Now she has almost an orange to go with it.

This fabulous orange was painted by an advanced drawing student. If she decides to not pursue a career in medicine, she can always become an artist.

Last year a pomegranate, this year an orange AND A LEMON TOO?? In another year, I’ll be taking painting lessons from this woman!

Pretty good, eh? And this is her first oil painting in her entire life!

Sometimes when we are drawing, we turn both the photos and the piece of work upside down. It works for painting too, unless you are painting from real life. This gives our eyes the chance to override our preconceived notions of how a thing is supposed to look. It gives the right side of the brain precedence over the left side. It helps us fix the parts that aren’t correct. It is hard at first, but it is a great way to get better accuracy.

Not finished, but when it is, it will be stunning.

Orange, pomegranate and lemon oil painters, I am proud of you!