Mineral King in Winter

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Mineral King | 4 Comments

Retired Trail Guy and a friend went to Mineral King in Winter. This week. Yes, winter is really happening this year!


Nice light on this cabin. People ask “How much snow?” The answer is “Depends on where you are.” Snow piles up or doesn’t pile up in different depths in different places. The best way to see how much is to check the Mineral King webcam. In the 2nd photo, taken toward Timber Gap, the striped stick is 10′ tall, and every stripe is 1′. Click here to open the Mineral King webcam in another window.



This is The Trackster. It is more reliable than a snowmobile. This is not Retired Trail Guy. It is Retired Mailman.


Retired Mailman is very tall, and he shoveled off this part of the roof.


Then he photographed Trail Guy, AKA Shoveler-on-the-Roof. Our cabin is over 100 years old, and it has survived many heavy winters. Still, it takes a load off our minds to take a load off its roof.



This is a neighboring cabin. The snow is “bridged”, so the weight isn’t as heavy on the roof.


And a view of Sawtooth on the way back down the road. It is the tiny point on the far right of the whiteness in the distance.

A Cabin Drawing from Wilsonia

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in drawing, Wilsonia | No Comments

It took me 4 years to learn Wilsonia, plan the book, take the photos, design the book, gather the quotes and complete 272 drawings.

The book is available here: The Cabins of Wilsonia

Here is another drawing for you from the book.  Thanks for looking!

Wilsonia cabin drawing

Pick Something You Love

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Oil Paintings, Sources of inspiration | No Comments

In spite of obsessing about The Oak Grove Bridge, I am capable of painting other subjects.

1566 Olives II 1567 Olives III 1577 Olives VI

After painting 6 little paintings (I CAN count, but thank you for your concern – here are 3 of the 6)  of olives in December, I decided that olives are a pretty subject, worth another painting. This one is larger (8×8″), and I am taking the info from multiple photos.

Incidentally, although olives are grown here in Tulare County, they are not in the top 10 money producing crops. So what? I grew up in a house in an olive grove, and I like them.


I thought it would be easy-peasy to incorporate the best parts of the previous paintings into a new arrangement.

I thought wrong. As I often tell my drawing students:

It is all hard, so pick something you love, because you’ll be staring at it for a very long time.

The Cabins of Wilsonia

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Wilsonia | No Comments

My other blog, The Cabins of Wilsonia, is broken. I’ve neglected it and now I don’t want to get trapped on the phone with weird music in the background while a recorded voice tells me the same lie over and over.

“Due to an unusually high volume of calls, we are experiencing long wait times. We appreciate your business and want to provide great customer service.”

Yea. Sure. If the volume is unusually high, why do callers get this recording EVERY SINGLE TIME we call you?

So, I will be posting things from The Cabins of Wilsonia here on my “real” blog, starting today.

The book is finished and available for sale here: The Cabins of Wilsonia

It is a beautiful book and it costs $80.

I will just be showing you cabin drawings from the book now. Let’s begin with the cover.

The Cabins of Wilsonia Cover

It was my wish to put any American flag in the book in color, but it would have made the cost of the book go up to about $200. Seemed a little steep, don’t you think?

What I Wrote to Tulare County About The Oak Grove Bridge

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Oil Paintings, Sources of inspiration | No Comments

This is what I wrote to Tulare County about The Oak Grove Bridge. Notice I am now capitalizing “The” with the name of the bridge. It is growing in importance in my little world.

The email to him may have landed in his spam file because I attached this picture:

Oak Grove Bridge X

Hi Jason,

Tulare County is a little weak on historic landmarks, but we do have the Oak Grove Bridge on the Mineral King Road. When driving that rough, narrow, winding, rural road, it is a wonderful and elegant surprise. It is one of the most beautiful structures in our entire county. 

I am horrified to think that it could be replaced with something new. Please do everything you can to preserve this special bridge and remove the option of tearing it down from your list of possible solutions.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Jana Botkin

That sounds reasonable, not hysterical, right? Someone, anyone, please reassure me that everything will be okay!!

P.S. Here is the link if you want the info to send your own email: Bridge

The Oak Grove Bridge Saga Begins

Or perhaps it continues. . .



Oak Grove Bridge XVII

This commissioned oil painting of the Oak Grove Bridge is signed, sealed and delivered.

On Monday, February 8 at 6 p.m., there will be a public meeting at the Three Rivers Memorial Building concerning the future of this bridge. A hearing? Something about the planning commission? Not sure exactly of all the bureaucratic wording, but whatever it is, I will be there. (Lord willing, the Creek, etc.)

In addition, we are invited to send “comments” (does that mean opinions? suggestions? protests?) to a Jason Vivian by February 1. Here is a link to an explanation that includes Jason’s eddress. Click this.

Next week I”ll show you what I wrote.

Meanwhile, I have 2 more bridge paintings to finish.

Happy Recipients

Here are some works of art that were done for Christmas gifts. I heard back from 3 of the 5 about the happiness of the recipients. The fourth and fifth are most likely very happy – an email and a phone call would confirm it, but I don’t like fishing for praise. So, I will assume that the recipients are happy.

colored eyes IMG_2081 petrich gamma.07 toyless dogsbrundage

People say they love my pencil drawings, and I believe them. That’s what they choose for commissioned work.

As far as “off the shelf” work goes, the oil paintings far outsell the pencil.

Go figure. . .

Bridge Paintings

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 in commissions, Oil Paintings, Three Rivers | No Comments

My favorite bridge is currently my favorite subject for oil painting. (Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Dept.)

The Oak Grove Bridge crosses the East Fork of the Kaweah River, 6.5 miles up the Mineral King Road, out of Three Rivers, in Tulare County, California.

Some governmental agency has declared it to be unsafe. There is talk of rebuilding it, leaving it in place as a foot bridge and building a new driving bridge upstream, and even tearing it down. 

Better start saving $ for my bail, because I might have to chain myself to the bridge and then get arrested.

Nah. I’ll think about that tomorrow. I have some paintings to finish.

Oak Grove Bridge

The detail on the railing is the most difficult part of painting this bridge, especially when it is 8×10″. Too too tiny.


Why is this upside down? Because every part except the top of the painting has wet paint on it. Okay, the back doesn’t have any paint, but you probably figured that out. This one is a commission, and the customer specifically requested detail around all four edges.

Took Some Time Off

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in the business of art, Thoughts | 3 Comments

Did you miss me? I missed you. I think of you as The Blog, and without knowing exactly who or how many you are, you, The Blog, keep me accountable. You keep me working, when it seems as if I am just slogging along, trying, trying, trying, does anyone care or notice, I’m just working, working, working, does it matter?

Thank you, The Blog!

January has been quite eventful so far. Here are a few things, some related to the career of Central California Artist for cabinart, and some just the stuff of life.

  1. After doing 4 little boutiquey shows in November and December, I was really tired. It caused me to rethink the wisdom of signing up for the Studio Tour this spring. I decided against participating in 2016.
  2. Some scumbags came onto our property in the early morning and we watched them steal our trailer. They were caught and our trailer was returned. The first photo is what I saw through the rainy window of the Botmobile when we went to retrieve it. After being awakened by rude intrusive upsetting noises at 4 a.m., one tends to take strange photos.
  3. Rain and snow! Look at all the white on the mountains in the second photo! The lake has been drained in anticipation of more precipitation.
  4. Fog. Look at how the dam on Kaweah Lake is holding back the fog. This is how it looked as I drove down the hill to resume teaching drawing lessons. My classes are FULL! I love to teach people how to draw.
  5. I am becoming an editor, currently editing both a novel and a work of non-fiction. I AM AN EDITOR AND AN ARTIST, and very happy about both of these careers!
  6. I have 3 murals coming up. It takes awhile to bid, sketch, and come to a full understanding of what the customer wants, especially when the customer isn’t quite sure. I will keep you posted.
  7. 2016 marks eight years of blogging, 23 years of full time art, 22 years of teaching people how to draw, 10 years of knitting, and in October, 30 years of marriage. Never you mind how many years of living, or of living in Tulare County, the place where I am A CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ARTIST. (Just had to say that in case Mr. Google is trying to find me; he might have forgotten me in my time off.)




Still a Central California Artist

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Oil Paintings, Sources of inspiration | No Comments


Calm yourself, Interviewer. I’ve been thinking, planning, resting, and taking care of stuff.

Stuff? What stuff?

None of your beeswax.

Fine, then tell me if you are still a Central California Artist.

I am. Want to see what I am working on?

Are you working on something?

But of course. I am a Central California Artist, and artists make art.

Let’s see some evidence! Prove it! Show us!

Keep your shirt on, Interviewer. I thought you were going to ask me about my plans, direction, and what I’ve been thinking about.

Nah, just show us some art, Central California Artist.

My Favorite Bridge

This one is 11×14 and is just because I love to paint this bridge.


This one is 8×10 and is just because I love this bridge.


This one is 8×10 and is a commission. It is further along than the other two paintings because someone is waiting for it.

These oil paintings are of the Oak Grove Bridge on the Mineral King Road. It is my favorite bridge, in case you have forgotten. I am currently on a roll of enhancing colors to make things seem a little brighter and prettier than real life. When life feels hard, look at something beautiful because it takes the edge off without any ill effects.