Murals Begin With Conversations

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

This mural was painted as a thank you for my friend Cowboy Bert, who built a handrail for the steps up to my studio.

Last year we began discussing it, and I posted it on the blog in March. However, when my website broke, lots of photos disappeared, so you don’t get a link here to go back and see.

I first looked through Mrs. Cowboy Bert’s photos. We talked a lot. That’s what we do. This time it was about ideas.

Then I did a bit of photoshopping to get the idea ball rolling. Here are a couple of the things we tried:


Screen shot 2015-03-28 at 4.46.27 PM

(I’m not that good at Photoshop. Just be polite, okay?)

Then, we conversed some more. Mrs. Cowboy told me more about her vision, which developed with time and talk. It resulted in this sketch, which she whole-heartedly approved.

mural sketch

Good thing she knows that I can draw and paint, because otherwise, this might have been a bit too sketchy for her. (Ever wonder where the word “sketchy” came from? Now you know!)

That is Farewell Gap which is in Mineral King. Are you surprised??

Wilsonia Book Signing Saturday!

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Events, Wilsonia | No Comments

Do you remember that I made a book on the cabins of Wilsonia? It is called The Cabins of Wilsonia, because I am Mrs. Captain Obvious.

Cabin Fireplace

Cabin Fireplace, pencil on paper, matted and framed to 11×14″, $200

Available here (will open in new window)

Notice the expression “made” a book . It is a picture book, with 272 (give or take a few) pencil drawings of, yep, you guessed it, the cabins of Wilsonia. There is writing, but it is minimal. It sounds funny to say I drew a book. Sounds too much like drawing the short straw. . .

On Saturday, April 4, from 3 – 6 p.m. I will be at the Three Rivers Historical Museum with my dear friend Louise Jackson, who has written many books. We will have our books with us, along with our pens for signing. I will also bring the original drawings from the book, some framed, some not.

Any questions?

You can read about the making of this book on my other site The Cabins of Wilsonia.


Mrs. Captain Obvious


Monarch Trail Revisited

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | No Comments

There is a section of the Mineral King trail returning from Monarch Lakes that always catches my eye. It has some gnarly looking junipers, and I photograph it over and over.

I painted it once. Turned out pretty well, sold quickly.


Monarch Trail

Monarch Trail, oil on wrapped canvas, size forgotten, painted in 2008

Because I like the redo on the Oak Grove Bridge and am currently enjoying painting in a square format (“format”?? When did I stop saying “shape”??) shape, and because I think my painting has improved (one would hope so within a 7 year period), I decided to try it again.

Monarch Trail

Monarch Trail, oil on wrapped canvas, 10×10″, $150

New and improved? Or just more detailed? Taste is an individual matter, and currently I am drawn to brighter colors rather than trying to match reality like a Xerox painter. I’m also not trying as hard to copy things perfectly. Life is short – mix brighter colors, and don’t try so hard. Or try harder on the things that matter. But how do you know which ones matter?

Never mind. Enjoy the new square painting of the Monarch Trail.


Same County, Different Bridge

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in drawing | No Comments

In February, I told you of my drawing of the Clover Creek Bridge up in Sequoia National Park and a man who saw it and contacted me. (That post will open in another window if you click here.)

The man, named Todd,  had googled “pencil drawing of a cabin” and found my site. On my site (the old one) was a drawing of the Clover Creek Bridge.


Todd practiced drawing by copying my picture. It is the easiest way to learn how to draw and is what my 6th grade teacher had us do. (I credit him with teaching me how to draw.)

I thought he was doing a fine job because his proportions were correct. That is the most important thing when beginning a drawing. It is comparable to having your foundation level and your posts vertical if you are framing a building.

I also gave him a couple of tips about hard edges and soft edges. Real life doesn’t have black outlines separating things; it has edges. Hard edges are clean exact edges, where one item ends precisely and another begins. They draw the viewers eye and are very noticeable. Soft edges are slightly fuzzy transitions from one to another part of the same thing. They make things not stand out.

(I don’t see any black outlines – I just wanted to give him some tips because he was thoughtful enough to contact me.)

Todd gave me permission to post his work here:

todd's clvr crk


I hope he finishes the drawing and continues to draw.


Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Oil Paintings | 4 Comments

If you have read this blog or followed my art for any time, you may have figured out that I have a thing for the Oak Grove Bridge. The sign on the bridge reads “East Fork of the Kaweah” or “Kaweah River” or something, but Trail Guy told me it is the Oak Grove Bridge back in 1985, and so that’s what it will always be to me.

I have painted and drawn it many times.

In 2011 I did a large-for-me oil painting of it. 18×24″ is huge when one is accustomed to painting 6×6″ or 8×10″.

It started out rather disastrously, when an easel in front of it dropped down and ripped a hole in the canvas. Upon the brilliant suggestion of a blog reader, I turned the torn canvas into a tote bag, and began another painting.

The new painting turned out so well that I have been using it on my business cards.

oak grove bridge

But, it didn’t sell.

Why not? Too much money? Come on! Paintings of this size sell for thousands. My bridge painting is a bargain at $500.

I know. This is Tulare County.

So?? It is a good painting.

Time passed. I finally decided that after 4 years my abilities have improved. Growth is good. Admitting it is hard, because it feels as if I am telling those who have bought my earlier paintings that I ripped them off.

(Do you feel ripped off? Would you like me to retouch a painting you bought earlier??)

I decided to rescue it from the gallery where it sat unappreciated and bring it home to study it. My first thought was, “Wow, this looks good”.

Then I realized that I am blinded by love for the bridge, so somehow had to find a way to be objective.

I thought about it and found a few things to improve. Because my style of painting is to paint layer after layer, this wasn’t too difficult. I ended up repainting most of it, right over the top, sharpening edges, increasing contrast, exaggerating colors. This is the result:


Oak Grove Bridge, oil on wrapped canvas, 18×24″, $500


Maybe I don’t even want to sell this painting. I could auction it on the premise that anything is for sale if the price is right.

Do I hear $550?

Distracting Surroundings

Posted by on Mar 20, 2015 in Three Rivers | One Comment

If you are participating in the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour this weekend, you will truly enjoy visiting the 7 studios in Three Rivers.

This is because it is BEEE-YOOOO-TEEEEE-FULL up here right now.

IMG_0455 IMG_0463 IMG_0465 IMG_0470 IMG_0479 IMG_0480 IMG_0483

Studio Tour Reminder

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in Events | No Comments

studio tour

Will I see you??

For info or tickets or a list of participating artists, click on this link.

Painting and Painting

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015 in Events, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Language is so confusing. “Painting”, a noun (a stretched piece of canvas with a picture depicted in oil paint)? Or “painting”, a verb (the Central California artist at work)?

Both. It means both.

I’ve been painting and painting and painting. Oil painting. Studio Tour is coming, and people like to see new things. I’ve repainted some subjects, painted over the top of others, and begun and completed entirely new oil paintings, some of old subjects, and some of newer ones.

That should have covered it, but just in case confusion lingers, here are some pictures of oil paintings. (I keep saying “oil paintings” instead of just “paintings” in case it helps someone find my blog and website.)


If this photo doesn’t confuse you, perhaps you are unconfusable.


Some are finished, some are not. Guess you’ll have to attend the Studio Tour or the upcoming Redbud Festival (unless they all sell at Studio Tour) to see these.


Mineral King on the Easels

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | No Comments

Fridays are sort of for Mineral King on this Central California artist’s blog. Can’t get there right now, although people did drive all the way to the valley a week or 2 ago.

However, I have many photos, and Mineral King is probably the heaviest category.

As a studio artist, I rely on photos. They are photos I have taken of the same subjects multiple times in a variety of seasons and times of day. Art snobs think that painting from photos doesn’t count. I don’t know any of those people, or if I do, they haven’t shared their bias with me.

Anyway, in spite of the time of year, I am able to paint Mineral King, that oh so popular subject. Here’s what is in progress:

This is the Monarch Lake Trail, heading back down to the valley. There is a section of trail with some very gnarled junipers that I photograph each time I am there. I’ve painted it before, but not in this square format.


Sawtooth sells, so I repaint it. Farewell Gap with the Crowley cabin sells, so I repaint it. Sometimes I put hours and hours into these little 6×6 paintings, and then I feel a little yucky about selling them for $50. So other times I put less time into the detail, and then I feel a little yucky about selling them at all. These are NOT finished, or to quote my friend Ron T., “Best viewed from the back of a fast horse.”


Farewell Gap with the trail heading toward the now defunct pack station. This is the first pass over the canvas. It is also a 6×6″.

I noticed that my friend and fellow Three Rivers artist Nadi Spencer is now charging $60 for 6×6″ paintings. She is light-years ahead of me in experience, so she should be getting more for her work.

I wonder if I should raise my prices. That, along with actually selling the work is the most difficult part of being a Central California artist. I wonder if it is easier if one lives in the land of Art Snobbery. . .?

Studio Tour Coming Soon!

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Events | No Comments

In the past, there has been a tour of Three Rivers artists’ studios every other year. Now the event includes artists all over Tulare County. Central California artists, unite!


studio tour


Tickets are also available in Visalia (too much info about addresses, phone #s and hours to type out here) and through this website.

2 more things: my studio will NOT be open on Friday of the tour and I don’t take plastic, just cash and checks.