Want to Know What is Happening to the Book Project?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in drawing, Wilsonia | No Comments

What book?

pencil drawing of Wilsonia cabin

So glad you asked! It is The Cabins of Wilsonia.

I’ve proofed the book in every way that I can think of. Until every possible proofing method has been exhausted, I don’t want to send it off to the printer. Besides, it takes money before they will print, so. . .

. . .I will be pre-selling it and selling the original drawings in Wilsonia on July 5, gathering the dollars needed to pay the printer and binder and shipper.

To learn more about the proofing configurations, calisthenics and craziness, you are invited to visit my Cabins of Wilsonia site today. (It will open in a new window so you won’t lose your place here.) You are invited to visit that site any day. Did you know that?

Hanging Around the Cabin in Mineral King

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Mineral King, Thoughts | No Comments

I was lucky, smart or blessed enough to marry into a cabin in Mineral King, the most beautiful and peaceful place in Sequoia National Park.

One would think this would mean spending every possible hour out on a trail.

One would be wrong.

Sometimes cabin time means catching up on things that just fall through the cracks at home. Sometimes these things are just not all that urgent at home, or maybe it is just too hot to do them at home.

Cracking walnuts is much more enjoyable in Mineral King.

Splitting wood is certainly more necessary in Mineral King!

Refinishing chairs? Definitely more enjoyable in Mineral King!

Knitting is enjoyable anywhere.

Knitting is especially enjoyable when it is this yarn – the colors and texture are magical.

Sometimes we hang out and help neighbors. Mostly it is Trail Guy, because they need the kind of help that only he knows how to provide. However, I can trot back to the cabin for a tool or make a phone call.

Sometimes we don’t see some neighbors because they are hanging out at their cabins, working on their own projects. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with cracking walnuts, I might have come over and taken a “before” shot of these steps. They did a beautiful job of cleaning them out and resetting the rocks.

If this was your view, maybe you’d be content just hanging out too.

Next Friday, I’ll share photos from a walk in Mineral King.

Spring in Three Rivers is a Beautiful Memory

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in commissions, Oil Paintings, Three Rivers | No Comments

Is that a funny title for a post during the hot time of year? I love spring. It isn’t hot. This painting in progress reminds me of the beautiful season.

oil painting commission of spring in Three Rivers

I’m juicing up (exaggerating) the colors a bit and it is fun. I love dabbing on little specks of different shades of pink. These redbud are so fabulous up the North Fork of the Kaweah River in Three Rivers. I’m so glad that my customer chose this subject for her commissioned oil painting.

Spring in Three Rivers Oil Painting Commission

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in commissions, Oil Paintings, Three Rivers | No Comments

Spring in Three Rivers just might be an appropriate title, although there is little evidence of any river, much less three of them in this picture. But, we are in a canyon that follows the North Fork of the Kaweah, and the presence of sycamore trees indicates a source of water near by. (Can you tell which trees are becoming sycamores?)

oil painting of a road in spring in progress

Spring in Three Rivers, 24×18″ oil painting commission

Getting that fence the right size and in the right place really was difficult. I kept painting out the rails and repainting them, all in a very rough and messy fashion. Oil painting can stay rough and messy for a long time, with each successive layer  showing signs of improvement. Of course, in art “improvement” can mean different things to different viewers. Many painters in recent history have a huge following and reputation while making a ton of money with paintings that I’d call rough and messy!

Meanwhile, I choose to refine my own work with each successive layer. When the background of the photo just seemed too rough and messy for me to sort out and then enlarge, I just detailed the closer parts. Normally I work back to front, top to bottom, left to right and dark to light. For this painting, I just do what I am able to do, when I am able to do it.

With those messy types of sections where the detail in the photo isn’t helpful, I paint what I can see and hope it trains me to fake (i.e. make up) the parts that I can’t.

spring in Three Rivers oil painting in progress

Spring in Three Rivers now has a few redbud blooms

I think the fence placement is almost correct, but with all that painting in and painting out and painting over, it is too wet to continue.

This means I get to use a new color! It is some sort of magenta, and I’ve veered from my primary colors only palette because I know from experience that I cannot get to the color of those redbud blooms from those primaries.

Another Oil Painting Commission

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in commissions, Oil Paintings | No Comments

If you’ve known me for awhile, you may have heard me say that it is all my friends and relatives who buy my work because they feel sorry for me.

Another friend used to tell me this: “If your friends and family won’t do business with you, who will?”

A long time friend asked me to paint something for her home. She lost her husband about 2 years ago, and now she is slowly changing things to fit her tastes rather than their joint tastes.

She borrowed a book of my photos called “Spring in Three Rivers” (sometimes I just amaze myself with cleverness), and found a photo that rang her bell.

I took paintings to her house so we could determine the most appropriate size and orientation (that means vertical or horizontal).

She decided, and I began:

Now that just gets you all excited, doesn’t it?

How about this view? Painting upside down usually means I have the photo also turned upside down, but I reversed it so you could see what the goal is.

I think this is going to be beautiful! “Spring in Three Rivers” might even become the title, because of that cleverness I mentioned earlier.

Trail Guy in Mineral King

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Mineral King | No Comments

About half of today’s Mineral King photos are by Trail Guy, AKA Michael Botkin AKA The Husband of The Artist (who has been too busy painting a mural in Exeter to take time off to go to Mineral King as often as they’d prefer.)

stellar jay and mt. quail

A stellar jay and 2 mountain quail

black bear

Stay back there and Do Not Come Near The Cabin.

Mineral King

Farewell Gap, the Crowley Cabin, and the headwaters of the East Fork of the Kaweah River.

mineral king

In White Chief Canyon or Bowl, depending on who is doing the describing.

timber gap mineral king

Climbing out of White Chief, looking out over the top of Timber Gap

white chief mineral king

The trail leading into White Chief – Vandever is the peak on the left, with Bearskin visible (that patch of snow).


Deer. Whoopee. They eat my geraniums at home.

toyota tacoma

WHAT IS THIS??? New to us, a 2003 Toyota Tacoma with matching “truck cap” (used to be called “camper shells”). But where is the Botmobile?

Right behind the Sequoia mural, resting from a drive down the Mineral King Road. 314,000 miles, Trail Guy bought this 1986 rig brand new, a year before we got married. (Good thing, because if we were married, I would have told him to buy a used one.) He doesn’t dive into things too quickly. He doesn’t dispose of things too hastily either. Makes me feel quite secure, actually.

Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Chapter 8

Posted by on Jun 19, 2014 in Murals | No Comments

Look at this photo and guess what it means:

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

Give up?

It means I am finished with the Rocky Hill Antiques mural!!!

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

This is how it looked when I began. There was much less traffic – because it was Saturday, or because there was a sign on Spruce that said “Road closed at Ave. 276”? Who cares? It was much nicer. AND, there were many more people stopping by the store and saying hi while I painted. That is so nice after working in silence and solitude for many days in my studio.

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

This is the finished product. It contains a hidden image, known only to me and to Trail Guy. The first person who spots it gets a prize. Not a huge prize, so don’t get overly excited. And I’m sorry to my friends and blog readers who live far away, because it would be quite extraordinary if you were able to figure it out from this photo. So, come visit, already!

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

I also refreshed the ENTRANCE sign so it matches the mural. AND you may have noticed that the PARKING sign is gone. It was fun to mix the right yellow to cover that faded thing up. More pictures, fewer words. Sounds like building improvement to me!

Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Chapter 7

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in General | No Comments

When I got to Rocky Hill Antiques, I was so pleased to see the truck in its new position. Keith is a guy I can count on to do what he says he will do – that is an outstanding character quality.

Rocky Hill Antiques Mural in progress

Because he is so quick to help, I wanted to be able to complete everything that uses the truck on this day and the next one. He isn’t clamoring for the truck back, but I feel a little (self-imposed) pressure to get ‘er dun. This is because of the commute (SOOO annoying – all those slowpokes until the passing lanes), the heat (not too bad on Friday at all!), the NOISE, the rough wall surface, and perhaps the general wussiness of this California artist.

Ever since I agreed to do this mural, I’ve been ever so slightly worried about the lettering. I have about zero experience and knowledge of how to letter well, and when you throw in the bumpy bricks and mortar – ay-yi-yi-yi.

Rocky Hill Antiques Mural in progress

No worries! The wall surface gives me the excuse to have the letters be less than perfect.

It was really satisfying to mix up the right blue for the outline of the letters and the “pinstripe”. I love to mix colors!

Now all that is left is the base on which the statue rests, finishing the re-bluing at the bottom, the words at the bottom, and the lower parts of the little light blue stripe. Plus, I want to hide something in the mural. That is really fun. I put an old fashioned fireman’s hat in the mural on the fire station tank and a hiking boot in the Sequoia Outdoor Sports mural.

I wonder what belongs in this one. . . I think there are 2 more afternoon’s worth of painting, so I have a little bit of time to figure out what to paint and where to paint it.

Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Chapter 6

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Murals | No Comments

Many thoughts go through my head as I paint on this wall. Have a look:

1. Monrovia Nursery’s trucks are quiet for big rigs.

2. When 2 trucks pass going in opposite directions by the mural, it isn’t twice as loud as one. They sort of cancel each other’s noise out a little bit.

3. Some trucks use their Jake Brakes – WHY??? It is flat, flat, flat on this road – why use a compression brake at all?

4. Cars travel in packs.

5. People tailgate as if it will cause someone else to go faster and as if it isn’t the main cause of wrecks. I actually thought a car was being towed by a big rig for a moment. . . it was just tailgating to a crazy degree.

6. My long time friend Jim and other friend Keith-The-Generous-Man-With-A-Flatbed-Truck both stopped by. I really appreciated it. We shouted at one another a bit, smiled, waved, and moved on.

7. Maybe new earplugs would help.

8. The traffic diminishes after 6:30 p.m. until the very moment I want to pull out on the road. Then there are multiple wolf-packs of cars coming in both directions, but few big rigs at 7 p.m.

This is what I see from the back of the truck when my back is to the wall. You can see part of Rocky Hill. Hard to believe this country road gets the amount of traffic that it does.

This is looking south from the back of the truck. Those things on poles are wind machines. That is an orange grove of youngish trees. The sky is polluted. Welcome to California (Now, go home.)

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

Next, finish repainting the blue, paint a border, paint the wording, and finish the base. Can I do it in 2 days? I’m so ready to be finished with the rough wall and the NOISE.

I still love painting murals, seeing it come together, getting the big impact, mixing the colors, figuring out how to tackle things that are a little too hard for me. It is my opinion that Rocky Hill Antiques should do at least 2 more of these packing label murals. After all, their building says something about “the old packing shed”, which is exactly what it is. I wonder if they could all be from Rocky Hill Farming. Maybe they should all be blue!

Rocky Hill Antiques mural, Chapter 5

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Murals | No Comments

I was in Wilsonia for the morning and then had to blast down to Exeter to get to Rocky Hill Antiques because I knew there was a great help awaiting my arrival. (Little did I know I’d have a visitor, the wonderful Diane who has been following and commenting on my blog for years now – bless you, my Orange County friend! THANK YOU for making time to stop by!)

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

Check this out! It is the Perfect Height and location for working on the Indian Outlaw. I can back up to see how it looks from a distance without climbing off the ladder!

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

First, I mixed a better (more accurate) blue. It matches the label more closely, although I think the old navy color is beee-yooo-teee-ful. (Check out the color of the background of my website and this blog – obviously this color makes my heart sing.)

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

The first layer on the horse head is a little rough. The first layer on anything is a little rough.

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

Better! Tomorrow I’ll probably add a few more details or see other parts to improve. and the colors aren’t entirely accurate on the computer screen. Let’s back up for a fuller view:

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

You can see the 2 shades of blue. I’m saving the painting of that part for a day when it is too hot to mix and blend colors, or maybe when a friend stops by and asks to help (you never know. . .!)

Isn’t this truck THE BEST THING EVER??