Mineral King Opening Weekend

Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Mineral King | No Comments


Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and of Mineral King time. Thus, you get to read (or skip reading) about Mineral King on Fridays on my blog.

This year we had May weather in March (and February and April too), so we got March weather in May. The weekend in Mineral King was cloudy, cold, overcast, foggy and rainy, with intermittent hopeful spots of sunshine.

My friend Tracy and I went to the Silver City Store to conduct a little business, which is a euphemism for deliver new oil paintings. Here is one that I am particularly fond of:

Below Atwell

Below Atwell, oil on wrapped canvas, 6×18″, $150

Tracy couldn’t remember ever seeing this sight, so we headed on down to Atwell Mill to take the gentle and scenic walk to the footbridge on the East Fork of the Kaweah (on the Hockett Trail for those of you in the know).


First we passed this thing. It was some sort of an engine that ran the machines for turning redwood trees into lumber.


This is one of the giant sequoias that escaped the loggers’ attention. Maybe it was too far from the lumber mill to bother with.


Here is the falls on the East Fork of the Kaweah River below Atwell Mill.


It is powerful and a bit intimidating even in a low water year. There was a little girl crossing the bridge with her parents and brothers, and she was shouting, “I’m going to fall, I’m going to fall!” They hustled her right across, and then she recovered enough for me to take some nice family photos for them. They had their dog with them and were quite surprised to learn that dogs are not allowed on the trails. Guess they didn’t see the many signs.


No matter where I stood on the trail, I couldn’t find the exact view of my painting. Guess I took some artistic license. This is good to know, because it says I am not a slave to my photos.

Come back next Friday for more pictures and chat about opening weekend in Mineral King!

Relevant Links:

The painting “Below Atwell” is available here: cabinart.net

Silver City Store

Atwell Mill Campground

One Bridge, Two Paintings

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

1521 Paradise bridge

Buckeye Bridge 3

After finishing the 6×6″ painting of the Buckeye Bridge AKA the Paradise Bridge, I studied it along with the 12×16″ version. Why was the 6×6″ more appealing?

More contrast. Brighter colors. These are the usual reasons.

Now, the larger painting has brighter colors. When it is dry, I’ll rescan it and then we can compare apples to apples, or bigger paintings to bigger paintings, to be literal about it. (This is just photographed while wet on the wall rather than wreck my scanner by putting oil paint on the glass. I’m just cautious like that.) When it is dry, I’ll scan it so we can truly compare the before and after.

buckeye bridge


One Bridge, Two Friends, Two Paintings

A few years ago, I was hiking with a friend. She wasn’t familiar with the foothills of Sequoia National Park, so I took her to see the Buckeye Bridge. She exclaimed, “Oh my, that is so beautiful! If you paint it, I will buy it!”

Being a realist (both as an artist and in life), I recognized the exclamation as an emotional reaction to beauty, a momentary response rather than a commission to paint.

I also recognized the scene as a potential subject, so I painted it.

Buckeye Bridge 3

Buckeye Bridge, 12×16″, oil on wrapped canvas, $225

When my friend saw the 12×16″ oil painting, she asked how much. I told her the price of $225, and she got all quiet. Then she said, “Oh. I thought it might be around $75.”


Doesn’t matter. I used the painting in my 2015 calendar of paintings called “Beautiful Tulare County”. Another friend who shares my love of art and this area, got all excited when she turned to the May page of her calendar. Her friend’s dad helped to build that bridge, and she commissioned me to paint it 6×6″ as a gift for that friend.

buckeye bridge painting

It is almost finished – maybe a few more little touches and then a signature.

I paint better now. The original painting will get moved into the category of “Do Over”, AKA “I Paint Better Now”. Or, perhaps I photograph better now?

What Shall I Paint?

Have you ever wondered how an artist decides what to paint?

Me too.

What I paint falls into 4 categories:

  1. Things I know will sell
  2. Things I want to paint
  3. Commissions
  4. Reworking old paintings

Category #1 includes Sequoia scenery, anything Mineral King, citrus, the Kaweah Post Office, the Kaweah River, the Oak Grove bridge and poppies.

sawtooth XI

Sawtooth Peak, 8×10, sold (Mineral King)

Category #2 can be flowers, fruit, an experiment, something with great light or a color that makes my heart sing, a gift for someone, or something so beautiful that I cannot resist.

Category #3 is anything a customer has requested, usually paid for up front, and sometimes working from his photos.


Sequoia painting in progress, sunflowers because I want to paint them, Buckeye Bridge as a commissioned piece.

Category #4 happens when I look objectively at a painting that’s been hanging around for awhile (literally) and decide that I paint better now.

Lake Kaweah

Lake Kaweah, or perhaps Kaweah Lake, 16×20, $350, repainted, revised, and revisited more times than I can remember. The constant improvement is bound to catch the eye of a customer. Oh – it is called “Lake View VII” on my website!

Blue Moon Sign in Situ

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Color, Going Places, Three Rivers | 6 Comments

(Happy Birthday, Ann!)

“In situ” means in position. Isn’t it fun to learn new expressions?

The question that nagged me during the entire process of designing and painting the Blue Moon Nursery sign was this: Would it be able to complete with all the signage along that stretch of the highway in Three Rivers?

See? A whole messa signs! But, I can spot ours. . . can you?


blue moon nursery

Here is the light blue with the darker green.


This is the darker blue with the light green.



Let’s go inside the nursery.


IMG_0980 IMG_0982 IMG_0983 IMG_0984 IMG_0985IMG_0988 IMG_0989 IMG_0991 IMG_0987 IMG_0986

Blue Moon Nursery in Three Rivers is a charming place with a variety of plants, including natives and drought tolerants. Check out Seger’s blog and find the hours here: Blue Moon Nursery.

Odd Job, Chapter Four

Finally, I got to the actual painting stage of my odd job.

The Blue Moon Nursery got a 4’x8′ piece of very thick plywood, built a frame around it and painted it with multiple coats of white paint. This was a result of walking out to the road and measuring the existing signs. A medium sign looks like an unnoticeable postage stamp when you pass it in a car. A big sign might get noticed. A huge sign is too much for this Central California artist, so we just went with big.

I traced our final design onto a clear piece of plastic and using an overhead projector in three stages of measuring and adjusting. I used a Sharpie marker to transfer the image, along with a square, a yardstick, and a long tape measure. It took a very long time.

Then, I traced it from Side One onto 2 18″ x 8′ pieces of tracing paper, retraced it with a very black pencil on the back side, taped the 2 sheets to Side Two of the sign, and retraced it over the top with a pencil to transfer the design to the sign. Then I retraced the faint pencil transfer with the Sharpie. This took a very very long time.

Do you need a nap yet? Hang on, color is coming!

After a very fun color mixing session with the owner of Blue Moon, I began painting.


First, a small brush to reach into the pointy places.


Then, 2 coats of the dark blue. Next the green. Hmmm, we really like the color of the masking tape with the dark blue.


I can mix that color! (This is actually side 2, after we chose a different blue for the moon and the spirals). The new blue called for a new green.


Check out Side Two, with masking tape blue and light spring green!


This is Side One, with a darker green and a lighter blue.


Isn’t this cool? The owner of Blue Moon and I both are slightly offbeat, marching to the beat of a different drummer, enjoying variety. (After being friends for 4-5 years, we discovered that we were in the same class in the same high school!)

So, we decided to let the 2 sides remain in different (but very close) colors, and then we’ll listen to people’s comments. It is my guess that very few people will even notice the difference.

Thus, I conclude my story of yet another odd job for this Central California artist. It is a pleasure to beautify Three Rivers!

Do you have a preference on the colors on Side One and Side Two? I’d love to hear your opinion!

Odd Job, Chapter Three

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Color, commissions, the business of art | No Comments

My odd job of painting a sign for the Blue Moon Nursery in Three Rivers progressed through the decision making progress.


This combination of type was our first choice. The style of Blue Moon is a little hippy-dippy, loosey-goosey, whimsical (sorry, can’t think of a rhyme for that word). “Nursery” looks solid, professional, steadfast, here to stay.


It needs some decoration, but this wasn’t the right one.

The owner and I decided on the best combination of type and decorations, and then got to the part we both love (both avowed color junkies).


We both love the dark purply-blue, the high contrast with the white lettering, and it is a given that the growy needs to be green and the moon needs to be blue. Color is sooooo fun.

Now what? How will I get this colored sketch onto a 4′ x 8′ board??

Stay tuned!

Odd Job, Chapter Two

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in commissions, General, the business of art | 2 Comments

It is a bit odd for a pencil artist/drawing teacher/oil painter/muralist to be asked to paint a sign. The owner of Blue Moon Nursery in Three Rivers knew we would work well together, so she decided to overlook my lack of experience and hire me for the odd job. (Odd job to me, but sign painting is a solid profession. I’d like to have the tools, ability and knowledge to do it well.)

After messing around with typestyles and shapes and weights, it was time to add the extras. A nursery asks for things that look growy, and “Blue Moon” is sort of a gimme.

IMG_0937 IMG_0938 IMG_0939 IMG_0940

None of these made the cut (what exactly and literally does that mean??).

The owner of Blue Moon Nursery had some definite and good ideas, and together we came up with an excellent combination of type and frou-frous.

Stay tuned for the decision and the next steps.

Odd Job, Chapter One

Is sign painting an odd job for an artist?

It depends. If you live in a city where there are sign painters, they would be a logical choice for a sign.

If you live in Three Rivers, have a limited budget, would rather not drive 35 miles and want to have input, then choosing an artist might be a good decision. Blue Moon Nursery, AKA Sierra Garden Center, is one of my top 5 places to spend money in Three Rivers. (grocery store, post office, hardware store and Sierra Subs)

My sign painting odd job began with a conversation: “How comfortable are you with lettering?”

I’ve learned to just listen and ask questions, so we moved along until I decided that perhaps I could figure this thing out.

First, I messed around with type – the styles and the arrangements seemed endless.

IMG_0941 IMG_0942 moon 7 moon 8

It was a progression as I experimented with different styles, different weights and different curves. The final one here was my first choice.

Stay tuned to see what the next decision was!

A Very Happy Day

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Personal | 2 Comments

This will be a very personal post, not about my art or Tulare County or Mineral King or Three Rivers.

In the past week or two, I have alluded to a family crisis. In short, my brother-in-law has been diagnosed with a glioblastoma, the very sort of brain tumor that took out my dad 15 years ago.

His oldest daughter had her wedding planned for August 1. She made a very mature and exciting decision on May 3 to have the wedding on May 9. Yes, a wedding was planned in SIX DAYS, and we even received an invitation in the mail so we could ask Mr. Google how to find the location!

There was a team of AWESOME people who made this all happen. Words cannot express our gratitude and awe and admiration for those who pulled off this incredible event.

So, I’ll show you a few photos. Just a few, because this is the World Wide Web, not a private session of friends sitting around my dining table.


The setting was the most stunningly beautiful and perfect private backyard I have ever had the privilege to experience.

audrey and steve

This is the moment that undid the entire group of those of us in attendance.


My niece, grand-niece and new nephew. No words. . .

creative people

And, lest you think my nieces and nephews are normal, nope. They are uninhibited and creative and full of fun. Used to be 5 of them, now there are 7, plus 2 more in the next generation. (Some wise adult protected them from this moment of foolishness and frivolity.)

Thank you for listening, reading, looking and caring.


Aunt Jana