End of the Year Thoughts

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in General, Personal, Thoughts | 2 Comments

 Those year end newsletters are good for updates, and they make everyone else’s life seem so sparkly, happy and fun, just like Facebook (Nope, not on, and not going to join). Life is a balance of both good and bad things, but who wants to put the sad, bad and hard stuff in a newsletter?

Here is some of what I remember about 2016, but not all of it. I want my life to look sparkly, happy and fun too, but realistic. The list could be longer, but I want you to stay for the photos at the end.


  1. Lost neighbors on three sides, all for different reasons (We aren’t lawn-parkers, don’t have barking dogs, don’t have loud parties or lights that stay on all night – what’s the deal??)
  2. Lost Perkins, the kindest-hearted cat of 17 years, and gained Samson, the fiercest little feline I’ve ever met
  3. Visited Israel (still in shock – did this really happen??)
  4. Took very long road trip – Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada
  5. Hit 30 years in the marriage department
  6. Walked the Lake Tahoe Marathon


  1. Edited a novel
  2. Edited, designed and published Trail of Promises
  3. Painted 5 murals (2 in someone’s Events Room and 3 in the Three Rivers Museum)
  4. Designed and published 4.9 coloring books (#5 is completed but not printed yet, waiting customer approval)
  5. Did all the other normal work stuff – lessons, oil painting workshops, speaking to groups, oil painting, pencil drawing, blogging, bazaars/festivals/boutiques/shows
  6. Received an award, Women in the Arts, from the DAR (Not sure why, but appreciative all the same!)


Sweet Perkins

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Trail of Promises


The cover of the next "Heart of" series of local coloring books for grown-ups.


Somewhere in Idaho


T and I were cold, excited and ready!

T and I were cold, excited and ready for our 1/2 marathon in Lake Tahoe


A long bridge into Sandpont, Idaho


Bridges, always bridges. . . what is it with the Central California artist and bridges? The answer is that a bridge picture is the perfect combination of scenery and architecture. This one is in Oregon, not in Central California. I don’t know if California has any covered bridges except for one in Wawona near Yosemite.

mineral king coloring book Heart of the Hills

DAR award

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Mineral King mural in Three Rivers Museum of Empire Mt. mining area.

Mineral King mural in Three Rivers Museum of Empire Mt. mining area.

2 more murals in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum

2 more murals in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum


Take that, 2016!

Thank you, dear blog readers, for sticking with me through 2016.

Happy New Year!

P.S. Am I always standing by people I love with my arm thrown over their shoulders?? Nope. Couldn’t stand to be touched in Israel because it was always too hot.


Two Last Non-Art Subjects

Subject #5


What is this? Inquiring minds NEED to know. . . we got a pair of insulating mugs for Christmas, and got curious as to which sort of mug will keep coffee the hottest. So, we conducted an experiment. They were all within degrees of one another, with the short Starbuck’s mug in the middle slightly ahead. Trail Guy is a little bit sad that his special old mug from Cabela’s with its hand-carved wooden handle didn’t win.

Subject #6

On Boxing Day, as December 26 is known in England, Trail Guy and I drove down to Lake Kaweah (AKA “The Lake”) to take a walk. This is an interesting place to spend time when the water level is low. There are great views of Alta Peak, lots of birds, an old road to walk on, a bridge or two to cross, cockleburrs to pick out of your socks, rocks to contemplate, the river (Kaweah) to watch, mud to slide around on, and people’s undisciplined dogs to fend off.

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2 More Random Non-Art Subjects

Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in Personal, Thoughts, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Subject #3

This deserves no photos. On Christmas Eve it was raining and dark when we got home from our church’s Christmas Eve service. Trail Guy pressed the button on the garage door opener (my favorite luxury item) and nothing happened. He pressed it again, the door went up a little bit, then it thudded back down with an uncharacteristic loud clunk.

Say what? My car is in there! The pickup is out here! What’s the deal?

A spring broke. It was very important. It took an hour with lots of banging, grunting, and possibly some swearing although no one here is going to admit to even knowing those words, and now the garage door is neatly folded in a pile in our front yard.

Here – look at the new green chair and feel better. I wonder how long it will take to find the right lamp table. . . will we go dumpster diving? curbside shopping? garage saling?


Subject #4

On Christmas Day we had 2 very dear friends join us for lunch along with my mama. It was a perfect day for a post-lunch walk.

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Nothing to say except a good time was had by all, and the Central California artist probably ought to make a New Year’s resolution to give up sweets.

Forget it.


Time Off to Take in the Views

This week I will post several different subjects, all unrelated to art work. These could be titled “Sources of Inspiration”, although I don’t know if they will result in paintings or drawings.

Subject #1

Trail Guy took the Botmobile to a secret location with a great view of the High Sierra. The mountain range is the Sierra Nevada, and it is only people from Southern California who say “the Sierras”. Those of us in Central California generally know better in spite of being uneducated, poor and fat.


I wasn’t there because I was finishing the mural, not goofing off. Yet.

Can you pick out Sawtooth?


Here – have a slightly closer look.


Subject #2

The Captain decided that this rocking chair, more of a glider, a beautiful piece made by the Amish, no longer suits her. Together we figured out how to fit it into my car, and voila! It looks just right in this corner of our living room.


There used to be plants on that table, but Samson thought it was his personal jungle. Now there is a squirt bottle handy to remind him that our hands and feet are not his chew toys.

The view out the window looked like this:


Hey, this isn’t complete. We should be seeing Moro Rock to the left of Alta Peak. Time for some yard work.


Alrighty then. Life in Three Rivers for this Central California artist and her husband, AKA Trail Guy, seems to be about views.


Merry Christmas!

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in drawing, Oil Paintings, Photography | 12 Comments

img_3754 winter-bridgeFor you, kind blog readers, a variety of photographs, oil paintings and one pencil drawing (this year’s Christmas card to my drawing students) just to enjoy. 


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Field Trip With Peculiar Sights

Happy Birthday, Louise!!

Yeah yeah, I know I told you I’d be telling you about the newest coloring book. There’s too much to show and tell, and I don’t know how to best present it or condense it.

Instead, I’ll show you some fun photos. This is how artists reload their mental files of raw materials for future paintings and drawings. After too long of just traveling in the same small circles I get dizzy and dumb.


While I was away, it rained hard, and Trail Guy took this photo of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah, looking downstream off the Dinely bridge.

I went to visit The Captain, who LOVES her animals. I didn’t photograph her with the ball boa constrictor or the rats that are supposed to become its food but instead are pets. No rodents or reptiles for me, thanks anyway.

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This is Ernie, a Halflinger, which is a small draft horse. He is the most beautiful combination of colors, my favorite sort of horse, which is “sorrel with a palomino mane”. If he was dry and brushed, he’d knock your socks off with his beauty.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . . no wait, I was at the ranch. Trail Guy was at home with Samson and the wild turkeys. Last time I counted, there were 26 of them challenging Samson while he fluffed himself up and bounced sideways. I picked him up and we ran after them, growling and being large and fierce together.




Here is what I really wanted to show you. I took both of these photos without realizing the common theme until I saw them on the computer. I’d call these both peculiar sights.


Makes me laugh every time I see these. Just spreading a little holiday cheer!

Merry Christmas!

Maybe I’ll tell you about the new coloring book next week.

Stick a Fork in Me, I’m Done

That’s a non-Google kind of title, but the real title is boring. “Mineral King Mural #3 is Finished in Three Rivers Museum”.

First, a little context. Here is mural #1 as it appears in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum (Redundant, I know, but I have to say all those words so this post can be found on the World Wide Web.)

Mineral King mural in Three Rivers Museum of Empire Mt. mining area.

Mineral King mural  of Empire Mt. mining area in Three Rivers Museum . No miniature ore buckets hanging from the little cable yet. . . will they get made in time for the January 22 opening party of the room?? As always, more will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

And to our left in the Mineral King Room:

2 more murals in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum

2 more murals in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum

The cabinet in front of mural #3 will be sitting lower once it is removed from the dollies. Yes, those rolling platforms are called “dollies” – anyone know why?? The other sort that guys with their names on a patch on their shirts use to push around boxes of things are called “hand trucks”. (One never knows what sort of helpful tidbit one might pick up on this blog.)

And now for a little glimpse into what sort of fiddling and polishing happens at the end of a mural job – here is how the left side looked last week:

Left end of mural #3 before the final details.

Left end of mural #3 before the final details.

Left end of mural #3 after touching up a few details

Left end of mural #3 after touching up a few details

Louise said that the snow patch on the far end looked like white paint. I agreed, and saw that it had the wrong angle on the bottom. Then I added a spot of rocks in the center. She also said that the trees were too sparse, and of course she was right there too. 

These are minor details, but those who know, KNOW. Louise KNOWS. I fully trust her judgement, particularly about Mineral King. She has been a tremendous help to me on every Mineral King mural I have ever painted, and I LOVE working with her on any project. (Remember the book Trail of Promises this year? It came out in July, and is available here and on Amazon.)

No blue tape! Stick a fork in me; I'm done!

No more blue tape. . . Stick a fork in me; I’m done!

The Chair From the Dump

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in Personal | 2 Comments

Remember the chair I found in a dump this past summer? Trail Guy asked about it and learned it got tossed off a balcony. We looked it over and decided it could be repaired. Then Trail Guy loaded it in the back of the Bot-mobile and brought it home. It has been at the upholsterer’s since July.


Last week it was ready, Trail Guy brought it home, and we put it in the green room.

Covered in plastic

Covered in plastic

Next, I need to find a lamp table that looks solid and chunky to go with the chair.

Samson has been attacking, killing and hauling this stuffed cat around from when he was smaller than the thing.

Samson has been attacking, killing and hauling this stuffed cat around from when he was smaller than the thing. He looks harmless here, but ask the black cat how harmless he is.

Meanwhile, I can’t uncover it because of Samson. He has been going wild in the plastic, and I think he’d shred the new fabric in a matter of minutes. We don’t leave him in the house alone, but if we aren’t watching him every minute, providing diversion, fighting him off, chasing him around, he is either attacking us or attacking something.

I miss Perkins.


3rd Mineral King Mural, Day #3

Posted by on Dec 19, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals, Three Rivers | 6 Comments

The third Mineral King Mural in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers History Museum is almost finished. I estimated 3-4 painting days, and that’s about right.

First I worked on the mountains on the upper right. They were still rough, but it wasn’t apparent until I had detailed the other mountains. The contrast was strong between finished and unfinished mountains, but I didn’t take a close-up photo because I was DETERMINED to finish that day. (In spite of being a conscientious blogger, I do try to live in the moment rather than live to document life.)



Now the upper mountains are tighter, and it shows the unfinished forested areas and everything else below the upper ridge.


Can you see the improvement now? Louise helped me decipher the miniature details of the actual Mineral King valley, because that is the most important part.


I added detail to the foreground – texture, rather than specific rocks.


There might be no difference here, except that I remembered to move the photo taped to the mural.

I added details to the mountains to the left of the valley, detailed the foreground a bit more, added a foreground tree on the left and one on the right, added texture, snow, contrast, details, details, details. The pencil artist in me wants to take this thing to the nth degree.

Couldn’t stand it – I was compelled to remove the tape to get a cleaner view.


This is how it looked at the end of the day. I left the photos up so that visitors to the incomplete Mineral King Room can see that it is real, not just a figment of some demented artist’s over-active imagination.

Here is the list of what remains to be done on day 4, which hardly counts as a painting day:

  1. Review all the details and the accuracy with Louise Jackson, author of Trail of Promises, dear friend, coordinator of the Mineral King Room and all-around Mineral King expert.
  2. Remove blue tape.
  3. Wash off blue chalk.
  4. Touch up wall paint where the mural paint bled under the tape.
  5. SIGN IT!!
  6. Ride off into the sunset.

This is how it looked when I stepped outside after painting 7-1/2 hours without stopping.

This is how it looked when I stepped outside after painting 7-1/2 hours without stopping.

Third Mineral King Mural in Three Rivers Museum

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

“Third Mineral King Mural in Three Rivers Museum” does not sound like a colorful, clever or creative title, but that’s the truth of the matter.

This is mural #1 in the Mineral King Room of the museum.

Tram tower for ore buckets from Empire mines in Mineral King

Mural of tram tower for ore buckets from Empire mines in Mineral King

Here is mural #2.

Sawtooth mural through window of Mineral King cabin facade.

Sawtooth mural through window of Mineral King cabin facade.

Finally, here is what you have been waiting for and wondering about: Mural #3!

Step one: determine where it belongs and tape off the edges.

Step one: determine where it belongs and tape off the edges.


Step two: draw it. Actually, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw.


Step three: start painting with whatever is farthest away.


Step four: keep painting. Paint what matters the most, sort of working from farthest to closest. Get those peaks right so that everything else will line up underneath.


Step five: block out giant patches so there is a sense of progress after all the little fiddly things make me feel as if I’m not getting anywhere.


Step six: recoat the sky, retouch the tops of the peaks, reorganize the photos so it looks as if I am in control.

I think this will be a three day mural. The size is 9 feet by 2 feet. (Bet you can guess which dimension goes with which number. . .)