Painting Mineral King

Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Sometimes I do my “homework”. Studio work. Planning. Educated guesswork.

I looked through my records of paintings sold at the Silver City Store over the past 7 years or so. I made lists by subject matter and lists by size. I averaged the total number of paintings sold, and made a new list of which subjects in which sizes that would most likely sell this summer.

Nothing in college as an art major prepares one for this sort of exercise. Of course, attending 4 schools over the course of 5 years and earning a 2 year degree isn’t exactly a stellar climb up the artistic ladder of excellence.

Never you mind, I know what I am doing here.


Oh yes, there is more and there will be even more. I’m working hard at figuring out how to paint the same scenes over and over in a manner which isn’t just mindless repetition. This could be trying different colors, light, or even testing my memory and trying to paint from what I remember.The most popular scene is by far and away the Crowley cabin with the stream in the foreground and Farewell Gap in the background. It is the scene from the bridge at the end of the road and used to have two large trees. It is uncannily symmetrical, but two years ago the taller of the two trees, a red fir, was removed because it was wearing out.

Trail Guy and I were quite surprised to learn that most people didn’t even notice that one of the trees was removed. People don’t seem to notice in my paintings either, so sometimes I paint it with the 2 trees as they were. 

Here is the one that sold most recently.

More Iris Oil Paintings

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

In thinking about painting Dutch iris, I got curious about the previous oil paintings of my favorite flower.

So, let’s have a look. A couple of these might be Japanese iris instead of Dutch. And the colors always photograph a bit bluer than the beautiful blue violet of real life flowers and paintings.

I like this last one best, but think my current two are better. 


Maybe. Taste is an individual matter, or in Latin de gustibus non est disbutandem. My dad liked saying that, and it made me smile, so I learned it too. I think it translates as “is it useless to argue about matters of taste”.


Iris Oil Paintings in 3 Layers

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Oil Paintings | One Comment

Layer #1 on these iris oil paintings is rough but recognizable. If I painted with a palette knife, using thick paint and finishing it all in one pass (“alla prima”), then the finished version of these would be similar to this. 

Sorry to disappoint . . . that’s not my style, although it might be fun to try.

Layer #2 is better.

And layer #3 brings them to completion. I love that contrast of light against dark, those crisp edges, that precise detail. And the colors are better in person than on screen here.

Why two paintings that are so similar to one another?

Because Dutch iris are my favorite flower, because it is makes sense to paint multiples, because I am 57 and I can do whatever I want.

Fall down laughing. . .

. . . if I had more sense, I’d be painting multiples of poppies, because those are more popular than Dutch Iris.

Oh yeah?


Pencil Show Coming Soon

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in drawing, Events, Lessons, the business of art | 7 Comments

A pencil show? Yes, an art show of only pencil drawings by 3 of my advanced drawing students and me!

Some facts:

Title: Gray Matter

Dates: Friday, May 5 and Friday, June 2

Location: Brandon-Mitchell Gallery, 117 So. Locust in Downtown Visalia (between Main and Acequia, west side of the street)

Time: 5-8 p.m.

Participants: Kelvin Farris, Maggie Meling, Wendy Miller, Jana Botkin

We are part of the monthly “Art Walk” in Downtown Visalia. There are many business and art studios that join in this regular event. This is something I’ve never gone to, so I don’t know what to expect. However, you can expect some wonderful pencil drawings, including these.

Abby the Calf, pencil drawing by Kelvin Farris

Farmersville Corner, pencil drawing by Wendy Miller

Pensive Pose, pencil drawing by Maggie Meling

More Oil Paintings in Progress

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Oil Paintings | No Comments

Lest you think I only paint eggs these days, here is a look at other oil paintings in progress. The way I keep myself glued to the easel is by audio books – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was captivating and pushed me through many paintings last week.

Poppies, always need poppy paintings. And I love Dutch iris but haven’t painted any for several years. The lake painting? It’s been in this state for several months. I had another painting of this view for several years before it sold, so I’m not sure that this is a subject that is in demand. 

Those lanterns are definitely too hard for me. So, I dab away, adding one layer at a time, working from back to front and dark to light, wondering if I am learning anything or just reinforcing bad habits. That ignorance is one of the set-backs of being self-taught and working alone.

Decision time. First, the lake. If it took several years for a buyer, why am I painting this again?

Forget it. Bye-bye lake, hello Farewell Gap.

And more Farewell Gap – summer’s coming, and the Silver City Store will want paintings to sell. Here are 2 in progress.

One more layer ought to do the trick on the poppy. Seventeen more attempts on the blue and white plate under the egg might do the trick.

Special delivery!

Spring Walk in Three Rivers

About a mile from my home in Three Rivers there is an extensive area of BLM land. There are several ways to get there, all of them a little ambiguous, but the place is still well-used and loved by mountain bikers, casual walkers, hard-core walkers, photographers, and horse-back riders. The place is called “BLM”, “Salt Creek”, and “Case Mountain”. I tend to call it “top of Skyline”. Sometimes, just walking to the opening gate is enough exercise for me, so when I want to get far out on the trails, I drive to the beginning.

Enjoy some photos from a recent excursion, where I went farther than I have for a year or two. (To a view of the second waterfall!)

Hmmm, I seem to have a pattern of photographing animals as they stick out their tongues.

Eggs, One More Time

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Oil Paintings, Personal | No Comments

Before we have one more little talk about eggs, here is Samson, in case you were wondering.Ethan’s eggs are so interesting to me that I took many photos and started 2 new paintings. These are in the category of This Looks A Little Bit Too Hard So I Will Challenge Myself.

The little plate will really test my ability to control a paintbrush and see elliptical shapes. 

The egg needs to become the right color. Why? The current color is believable, but I am always testing my ability to mix colors accurately. And that plate might just be the undoing of me.

Meanwhile, Samson is testing himself while neighbor dog Tombo is oblivious.


Speaking of Eggs

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in Oil Paintings | No Comments

Yesterday’s post was about not drawing a face smaller than an egg; today’s is about Ethan’s Eggs.

Who is Ethan? He is a kid in town who raises chickens that produce eggs of several colors. They are quite beautiful, so I decided to convert a painting of a plum to a painting of Ethan’s eggs. Something about the plum didn’t suit me, so I just made it go away.

Turning things sideways or upside down helps me see the shapes more accurately.

I wasn’t sure of the accuracy of the colors working from a photo, so I brought the eggs to the studio to verify.

I think one more pass over the canvas ought to finish this up nicely. 

This is 8×8″ and will sell for $100. Or not. Maybe I will turn it into a pine cone in a year or two. . . 

No Face Smaller Than an Egg

Posted by on Apr 18, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | No Comments

That’s what I tell my students, and perhaps I need to specify that I am NOT speaking of a hummingbird egg.

But, sometimes my students test their skills while also testing mine. I warn, nag, deny, forbid, warn some more and finally capitulate, but with more warnings.

When someone insists on doing a drawing that I know from experience will be too hard, I just help them as much as possible, and moan the entire time. (Good thing I am not a parent.)

Susan is a classic case. She is determined, committed, focused, and perseverant. Look what she did!  Yes, she erased the face multiple times, and there was one day where I almost shouted at every class, “LEAVE YOUR ERASERS BY THE FRONT DOOR TODAY!!” As she would leave class sometimes, I would tell her, “DON’T TOUCH THE FACE!”

Why she puts up with me, I’m not sure. She is a remarkable person doing a fantastic job of learning to draw. Congratulations, Susan, on a job well done!

P.S. To everyone else taking drawing lessons, NO FACE SMALLER THAN A GOOSE EGG! (At least I didn’t say an emu egg, although I felt like it.)

Susan at 27, pencil drawing by Susan Oldfield

Pencil Drawing Commission (Dr. Pencil to the Rescue)

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 4 Comments

This began with an email, then became endless emailed photos and discussions and phone calls. Oh, and can you have this by the 22nd? Wait, we need cards made, so can you do it in time to give the print shop enough time?

No problem. Art Emergencies are one of my specialties.

The subject matter is a city park that is not yet completed. That makes things a little tricky. The chain link fence surrounding it further complicates things.

No problem. They call me “Dr. Pencil”. (Who is this “They”? Never you mind. . .)

Here are the beginning photos. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

Better see what this looks like in black and white – sometimes that clarifies things.Now I am ready to offer the customer some choices.

She chose B, my favorite. I love it when that happens. Makes me feel trusted. I got it laid out and began shading.

And then I had a long day at the drawing board. Not too long, just uninterrupted focused hours to listen to podcasts and figure this thing out.

The next step is the photoshop clean-up and prep work while I wait for the customer to make decisions about the cards.

Goodness, I hope the customer is pleased, because there isn’t enough time to redo anything!