Drawing Architecture in Pencil

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in commissions, drawing, Wilsonia | 2 Comments

Drawing architecture in pencil is my favorite thing. Since this drawing is gone, I get to redraw it. Second chances, opportunities to improve, do-overs–all good things.

This is how it looks after about three short sessions with my pencils. Cabin closing, oil painting, teaching drawing lessons, taking inventory and planning for shows, editing, book design, blogging, these things all cut into time to do my favorite thing. But, pencil drawings don’t take up a lot of room, there is no palette to secure or brushes to clean. (More reasons why pencil drawing is my favorite thing.)

Would you believe these roofs all belong to the same structure? This cabin in Wilsonia contains some of the most interesting architectural oddities and details of any of the cabins. I hope to see it up close and personal next summer!

As Long As You Are Painting, You Might As Well. . .

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | No Comments

I was working on the Sawtooth oil painting. This is the first time I had painted in a few weeks, so I started over with fresh paint on my palette.

White, 2 yellows, 2 reds, 2 blues, and a mixture of the darkest blue with the darkest red. All that the Sawtooth oil painting required was a brown and about 3 greens. No need to waste all that paint once Sawtooth was finished. What to do?

I could have covered it and put it in the freezer. Eventually, I did that. But first, do you remember the hot peppers that I painted for a friend’s kitchen?

Now I get to paint a tomato for her. There is no deadline, but I started it now because the paint was just itching to be used.

The photo is to help me know how to place the darks and lights. Because it is a tomato and they aren’t supposed to be identical, I don’t care if the shape is exactly the same. Because I like brightly colored tomatoes, I am relying on my memory for the best colors. Because this is the first layer, it will get better as I go. 

It’s good to get a thing started.

Oil Painting Accountability

Posted by on Oct 16, 2017 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Oil painting isn’t my favorite thing; pencil drawing architectural subjects is my favorite thing. Given the choice between oil painting and waiting tables or cleaning motel rooms, OF COURSE I’d choose oil painting. However, some days it helps to have a bit of accountability to do the thing that isn’t my favorite.

My nephew didn’t want to go to class (he is in college) and I didn’t want to paint. So I said I would if he would. We both did. Yea, Nephew! Yea, me!

Here are the results of that accountability.This:Became this:And now looks like this:

All that remains is to let it dry so I can flip it onto its top to paint the bottom edge and then sign it!

And another Mineral King Sawtooth oil painting will be finished.

Final Mineral King Weekend

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal, Photography | 7 Comments

This will be a long post with lots of photos, and then I might run out of things to post about Mineral King for awhile.It didn’t have to be the final Mineral King weekend, because the Park gates stay unlocked until October 25. But, life down the hill beckons, fall is very full of events for us, and we need to close things up when the weather is still good during a season of unpredictable weather.

We have taken on the responsibility of closing the Honeymoon Cabin for the past several years. This is a little cabin left after Disney destroyed the resort in advance of building their ski resort, which never happened. The cabin is now a mini museum of Mineral King history, open all summer to anyone who wanders in. It is at the beginning of the Eagle/Mosquito/White Chief trail.

This is the interior. It is about 10×10′.

After our chores, we had time for a final walk.

Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a juniper tree, not a redwood. Mineral King is too high for redwoods.

The yellow tunnel isn’t very bright this fall.

This deer reminds me of Samson

Cowboy Bert listens to an animated Trail Guy explain something important.

It was a smoky smoky smoky day. There was a wildfire south of us.

My favorite ranger of all time!

These are cottonwoods.

These are juniper berries

And then we made time for one final pass down the Nature Trail. It goes through so many changes in such a short season. . . in July it was packed with all variety of wildflowers. Now, just look at this:


The Captain

Three weeks ago these were goldenrods.

This was an unusual summer in Mineral King for several reasons. Perhaps I’ll make a list for you next Friday.

The Real Columbus Day

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Personal, Photography | 8 Comments

Today, October 12, is the real Columbus Day. In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Ferdinand and Isabella paid for the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. It’s a fine holiday, but it has fallen out of favor.

Fake Columbus Day has also fallen into obscurity. It changes every year, just chasing the 3 day weekend. Only federal and bank employees are aware of it. Postal employees, too.

Who cares?

Careen, Nicole, Kim and I. Happy birthday to us. 


Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 in commissions, drawing, Wilsonia | No Comments

I get another chance at a do-over!

A customer asked to buy three of the original pencil drawings from The Cabins of Wilsonia. One of them is gone, so I offered to redraw it for him. He agreed.

The one he wants redrawn isn’t one I felt very proud of. Maybe I got sloppy in the midst of 272 drawings (can’t remember the actual number). Maybe I draw better now. Maybe it didn’t reproduce as well as I had hoped. Maybe I did a poor job prepping it for printing. Maybe my standards have been raised or tastes have changed.

Maybe it is all in my head. 

Here it is:

I can’t wait to redo this! (Have I told you how much I love to draw, especially architectural scenes?)


Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

First I ate my vegetables of fuzzy faces. I saved dessert for last.

What is she talking about? I can hear you thinking.

My customer brought me three commissions to draw in pencil. The first 2 were the fuzzy photos of faces with no discernible features. The 3rd was a beautiful building, designed by Julia Morgan, the architect most known for her buildings at Asilomar and for the Hearst Castle.

Drawing architecture in pencil is my favorite part of my art business.

What is That Thing?

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 6 Comments

Remember Henry and Dora in front of their tent last week? Here, have another look:

I showed my drawing students, because it is good to learn from one another. They were kind and complimentary, but honest, as we are with one another. “What is that thing in the tent?” is something I heard a few times.

I dunno. Some of their belongings covered in a tarp, perhaps.

My curiosity got the best of me, so I returned to the photos, both the original and the photoshopped version where I removed two of the women so the customer could see a version of what he had requested–just Henry and Dora, please.

Original photo:Photoshopped version:Well, oops. That thing is the lap and legs of one of the women that I photoshopped out of the photo. The converse to “If I can’t see it, I can’t draw it” is, “If I see it, I draw it”.

That’s why we have erasers. Here is the revised Henry and Dora drawing.


Fall in Mineral King

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal | 5 Comments

Warm sunny fall days in Mineral King . . . a transitional time, torn between 2 places. I could be gardening at home, but I can still be hiking in Mineral King. I’ve been gone much of the summer, I miss home, but the cabin is still open and it is nice up there. 

Choices and consequences, decisions, saying yes to one thing means saying no to a whole bunch of others.

We were up the hill last weekend and these are some fall sights.

Lots of wood, but not enough is split. We have more fires in the stove in the fall and sugar pine burns up quickly.Fortunately, it splits easily.Alrighty, then, let’s go for a walk. (Not a hike – used too much energy swinging an ax? Nah, just lazy.)

I helped Trail Guy close up a neighbor’s cabin – such solid shutters.

The water in the east fork of the Kaweah seems just as low as it did in the falls of drought years.

Very heavy currant crop this year

A neighboring cabin isn’t quite closed for the season, but has that “almost over” look.

Tall grasses and a more yellowish coloring on things say “Fall”.

The cottonwoods are turning.

I love this tunnel of yellow.

Very low flow of water at Soda Springs, tall grasses, that golden look over all. . .

Pink?? What is this? Dried out something-or-others. Definitely not golden.

Just three months ago it was too scary to cross this stream (Crystal Creek).

A stock party lost a bag of grain along the trail.

A hiker lost his group, and Sierra the Trailhead Ranger is on her way to escort him back while Trail Guy demonstrates the path that we saw the search helicopter take. You can tell it is fall because he is wearing long sleeves.

Hypocritical Artist

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

I am a hypocrite. I tell my drawing students to not attempt to draw faces smaller than eggs and to never draw from photos that are too fuzzy to see, because IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT, YOU CAN’T DRAW IT! (Yes, often said in all capital letters and sometimes even with a bit of bold thrown in for extra emphasis.)

The author/customer needs drawings because his only photos are not good. A drawing is better than a poor photograph. But, if I can’t see it and the faces are smaller than an egg, what’s an artist to do? I want to help the customer – that’s my job!

The answer is I work really hard. I focus, adjust, erase, add, erase, adjust, study, think, erase, et cetera. All work is done with a giant magnifying glass with a special light bulb, and strong magnifying glasses, along with very sharp points on my pencils.

Here are Henry and Dora at their tent above Springville, living there in hopes that Dora’s tuberculosis will be cured.

For the rest of the story, you will have to buy the book. But first, it has to be written, edited, rewritten, formatted and then printed. 

It may be awhile. . .