Sawtooth Peak Oil Painting Continued

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in General | 7 Comments

The layers continue to build on Sawtooth Peak, an oil painting.

As it was when you last saw it:

Another layer added to the sky:Another layer added to Sawtooth:

Another layer added to the lower ridges:

And more added to the lower ridges:Yo, Professor Layer, may I be finished with the sky and the peak and the lower ridges now? (Can you see Trail Guy’s visor in the background as he adds grommets to the Kaweah Artisans banner?)

When this dries, I’ll put in branches at the bottom edges. I think this wants greenery, or maybe it is fine as it is. . .

What do you think??


Kaweah Artisans

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 in Events, the business of art, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Kaweah is the name of the river (rivers – it is THREE Rivers) in town. Artisans are people who make specialty stuff; more precisely “workers in a skilled trade who make things by hand”.

For about 18 years I have been part of a group called “Kaweah Artisans”. We do shows, which we prefer to call “boutiques”, 2-3 times a year. We change venues, and our membership fluctuates. 

The rules are one maker per medium, be different from the crowd, be professional, and know how to display well. So, if you make something cool but not cutesy, are professional in your conduct, approach to business and display, and we have no other item maker in your category, we’ll take it to The Committee and decide. If your items meet the criteria and our space is not too crowded, The Committee will probably say yes. (But not if you have a reputation as a jerk; this is a very small town within a small county, and life and business are hard enough without personality complications.)

When I joined, there was a florist, a jeweler, a jam maker, a photographer and a weaver. Only the weaver and I remain of the original group. For our next show, we will be joined by a jeweler, a gourdista*, a cosmetic maker, a photographer, a small sculptor, a potter, and a chocolatier.

We still have our original banner, looking tired and worn out. It was time to update things.

When the banner arrived, I unrolled it outside to see how beautiful it is. Samson helped.

I FORGOT TO ORDER IT WITH GROMMETS!! The local hardware had them.

THE VINYL WAS TOO HARD TO PUNCH THROUGH! Our neighbor lent a hole punch.

And, Trail Guy put them in!

Kaweah Artisans marches on with lots of help from our friends, neighbors, family and pets. Our next boutique will be on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

*Do you like the word “gourdista”? I just made it up.

You Know You are Middle-aged When. . .

Posted by on Sep 27, 2017 in General, Personal | No Comments

Rapid Change*, pencil drawing, title indicative of life as a middle-aged being

An older and wiser friend reminds me from time to time that life is like a roll of toilet paper–the closer to the end, the faster it goes.

I’ve been thinking lately that you know you are middle-aged when. . .

. . . you prefer hiking uphill to downhill because your knees kill you going downhill.

. . . you choose not to watch a movie because you don’t want to shuffle 3 remote controls and don’t understand why it is even necessary.

. . . your pastor, doctor and the president are all younger than you. (Not so with the current president, in case you were wondering.)

. . . you go to your class reunion and can’t find your friends among all the old people.

. . . you know the words to the orchestrated songs in the grocery store.

. . . you notice young people driving too fast instead of old people driving too slow.

. . . you recognize the word “update” as a euphemism for “complications and trouble ahead”.

Do you have anything to add to this list?

*Rapid Change is available for sale here.


Book Shepherd

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in Publishing and Editing | 4 Comments

What is a book shepherd?

One who guides or “shepherds” a book from an author’s idea to final printed version. If you have ever written a book, you might know that feeling of, “Now what am I supposed to do to get this published?” A book shepherd guides the author through the options and steps of ending up with a well-written and well-printed book.

My learning about book shepherding began with self-publishing The Cabins of Wilsonia. I was my own contractor, doing all the research, photography, drawings, book design, book formatting, computer work on the drawings, and finally finding a printer. I hired a self-publishing consultant, an editor for the written parts, and had 4 friends proofread for me. (NO ONE should EVER do a final edit on one’s own writing or EVER pretend to be able to proofread one’s own work – it parallels the saying “He who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer”.)

This experience woke up something inside of me that said “BE AN EDITOR – YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME ANYWAY!” (Yes, it shouted at me in bold and all capital letters.) IT is something that manifests as a Typo Psycho, and causes me to twitch whenever I read most self-published books, if I can even get through the first big error of “Forward” instead of “Foreword”. These self-publishers tend to be ignorant of the parts of a book; their books are full of redundancies, run-on sentences, unnecessary and boring topics, poor grammar, typos, and horrible formatting. They bring to mind a description from my friend Jennifer: “Loving hands at home”, not meant as a compliment.

People who have a story to write need help. There is so much more involved than writing! I want to help.

When I first heard “book shepherd”, I realized that I had done this already; even though it was just for myself, it counts. My experience allowed me to share my new-found knowledge with Louise Jackson on her book Trail of Promises. This book turned out so beautifully that Louise asked me to help her with The Visalia Electric Railroad. We are nearing completion and the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train book.)

There were more books I helped on along the way in various capacities, but this post is getting too long already. It probably needs a good editor.

You deserve a nice picture after wading through these thoughts. This is my favorite wildflower, Explorer’s Gentian.


I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

I’ve been working on The Visalia Electric Railroad: Stories of the Early Years with Louise Jackson. Books take a ton of work AFTER the writing: a lot of talking, editing, tons of computer time, decisions, decisions, decisions, emails, phone calls, meetings, more editing, proofing, more decisions. And it is all very fun, especially when you get to work with people you love.

One of my tasks as Louise’s book shepherd is to gather photos and make them usable for the book – change all the mysterious computer things, clean up the fuzz and hairy stuff and tears and stains, resize them, and figure out where they belong in the book.

Yep, book shepherd is a real job, and it is what I did for her Trail of Promises book and am doing for The Visalia Electric Railroad. There is another book by another writer coming soon, but I won’t be telling you about that until January or so. 

Time out for a quick commercial: Trail of Promises: Packing the Backbone of the Sierra is available here. Here is the entire cover as it would look if the design guidelines didn’t show, and if you smashed the book flat and open. (This is not recommended behavior.)

But I digress. Have a look at a photo that won’t be in The Visalia Electric Railroad. There will be a similar photo, but this is too precious to not show you.

Hi, Mom!

What’s the Problem?

Posted by on Sep 22, 2017 in Publishing and Editing | 2 Comments

Problem? There is no problem. Why do you ask?

Oh. Because I’m not posting as regularly. Because today is Friday and there is nothing about Mineral King.

After Labor Day, my real life resumes. I don’t go to Mineral King as often, because there isn’t as strong a need to escape the heat. My workload picks up, and drawing lessons begin again. Or, maybe I just miss Samson and want to stay home more. (He’s not dead, just dead to the world).

I’ve been working on the railroad. . . sing along now!

Couldn’t help myself. Sorry.

I’ve been working on a book with Louise A. Jackson. It is The Visalia Electric Railroad: Stories of the Early Years.

This book was first published by the Tulare County Historical Society. When they ran out of inventory, they asked Louise if they could get it reprinted. She said yes, but she wanted to rewrite some of it, correct some things, have me do her editing, work with me on the photos (the previous printer did not do any justice to the old pictures), and have me do the formatting so we could print it as a proper paperback in 6×9″ instead of as an 8-1/2 x 11″ book with staples in the center.

So, we’ve been working on the railroad, and more will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Layer By Layer

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

I learned to oil paint in layers, called “glazing” in ArtSpeak.

The oil painting of Sawtooth is acquiring layer #2. Something I didn’t learn is this: how many layers does a painting require? If it looks great after layer #2, do I really have to put on more layers?

The teacher in the 1/2 semester class I took at the local junior college had us repaint the entire painting every single time we went to class. I learned a few things from him, but not why he thought so many layers are necessary. He could have just been making us practice and learn by repetition. 

I don’t want to be like the woman who automatically cut off the end of the roast because her mom did, because her mom did. Turns out Grandma cut off the end because her pan was too short.

Here’s Sawtooth as layer #2 works its way down the canvas.

Odd Job Completed

Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in commissions, the business of art | 2 Comments

The odd job of painting a mailbox took about 4 hours. Maybe 5, but that extra hour was probably due to my own inexperience and lack of confidence. Oh, and another hour working on the colored pencil design. 

Will the customer be happy? As a friend, will she tell me the truth if she isn’t happy? I think she will – honesty is one of the things I appreciate about her. She is kind and professional too.

I have some wonderful friends.

She likes it!!

Now, will I start getting mailbox painting requests??

More will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

Odd Job

Posted by on Sep 18, 2017 in commissions, the business of art | No Comments

Because I am an artist who has lived in the same area for over 30 years, making art the entire time, when people need something art related, no matter how odd, I often get asked. People ask me to do things that I am supremely unqualified to do, lacking skill and experience.

Sometimes, no, often, I say yes. I try to warn them that I am out of my area of expertise and that the results might not be what they expected. (“Past performance is no guarantee of future results” or some such disclaimer?)

Variety is good. Stretching one’s abilities is good. The trouble is, I have only been asked to paint on a quilt square once, a patio umbrella one time, an antique window once. . . is this because I didn’t do a good job, or because there aren’t enough of those types of jobs? 

This odd job is a mailbox for a property management company. My friend told me her idea and showed me a photo of her mailbox. I did 3 sketches for her, she picked one, I gave her a price range and some instructions on how to prepare the mailbox and then drew it again showing both sides and the top, using colored pencils. Then I warned her that trying to achieve tight detail with acrylic paint and small brushes might not produce my normal quality of work.

She said she liked the design and the price and wants the job done. We had to plan this for a weekend when she could remove the mailbox on Friday and replace it on Monday. No pressure or anything. . .

Sawtooth Peak

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in drawing, Oil Paintings | 6 Comments

Sawtooth is an easy to distinguish peak in Mineral King, visible from Visalia when the wildfire smoke or the pollution from the Bay Area are not obscuring the view. Lots of people like to climb it. I think it is good to look at, but I am scared of climbing it. I am only interested in photographing, drawing and painting it.

My most recent pencil drawing of Sawtooth Peak:

And now I have begun a 24×24″ oil painting. Try not to be scared – it will get better.