Eight Things I Learned in March

Posted by on Mar 30, 2018 in General, Personal, Thoughts | 4 Comments

This month’s items don’t have anything to do with art or my art business, but they are all interesting to me and I hope they will be to you too.

  1. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins says we have to parent ourselves because we will NEVER feel like doing the difficult or unpleasant things. Our brains only have two speeds – auto-pilot and emergency brake. We want to do what is comfortable, and the minute we begin something not auto-pilotish, our brains pull the E-brake. Self-parenting is when we tell ourselves to do it anyway, to think about the long-term results. That’s what I do to make myself paint when I’d rather be drawing. Do you parent yourself?
  2. Crocs are coming back in style. What? They were out of style? I’ve only had mine for about 3 years, and apparently I was 7 years behind when I discovered them to be the perfect shoe for my weird little cube-like feet. Do you wear Crocs?
  3. Amy Dickinson wrote one of the best memoirs I have ever read, Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things. I rank it with my two other favorite memoirs: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Do you have any favorite memoirs?
  4. “The Road Back To You” is the podcast (and book) from which I learned about the Enneagram. Now Ian Cron has another podcast called “Typology”, which is more about the Enneagram. Fascinating topic, and also the most relevant personality typing information I’ve encountered. Have you learned about the Enneagram yet?
  5. Nobody want a Nordic Track ski machine. A friend listed mine on the local Facebook Trading Post at $50/ OBO and we’ve had NO responses. Are you interested in this exercise machine? I will ALWAYS choose taking a walk over doing something repetitious inside.
  6. A friend told me this: all of the music we call Negro Spirituals can be played on only the black keys of the piano. (Say what? How did people without pianos know which notes were the black ones??) The slaver John Newton picked up the melody of “Amazing Grace” from the Africans in the hold of his ship, and after he repented, he put words to it. When I learned this, I went to the piano to try this theory and sure enough, if you start on D-flat, you can play the entire song on only black keys. But, The Google said the song’s lyrics were put to the music of a song called “New Britain”, so I’m not entirely sure about the origin of the melody. Still, it makes me want to find songs in this category and test the theory. Have you ever heard of this??
  7. “Dx” is the abbreviation for “diagnosis”. Does this enhance or simplify your life? (It makes me feel a teensy bit smarter about medical terms).
  8. Dreamland by Sam Quinones taught me about black tar heroin and Oxycontin. If you are interested in learning about the opioid epidemic, this book is very easy to understand, full of stories that explain the rise in popularity of both of these truly terrible drugs. The only good part is that Quinones is an excellent writer, so I might see what else he has written and learn more.

Just to make us smile, here is this sheep expressing her opinion of muddy feet.

What did you learn in March?

Shedding More Light on Those Lanterns

The lanterns languished. Finally, I reminded myself that I am the Mayor of Realville, the lanterns were too hard for me at that size (a paintbrush will never quite behave like a pencil), and it was time to make them go away.

So, I turned the painting into one of pomegranates.

Five Poms, 6×18″, oil on wrapped canvas, $160 including tax

Still, I wanted to do something with those charming little lanterns. If it was too difficult a subject in oil, then surely I could draw them!

This time I had to change the format, because my intention is to use them in the 2019 calendar. I squished them closer together, eliminated a board at the bottom, and began.

When they were in progress, I took them to my students and said, “Do to me what I do to you – evaluate this drawing honestly!”

They told me to forget all the grass and turn the entire background into boards. Being confident that I have taught my students well, I followed their directives. You can see that the grass on the left side is boards; the grass of the right side is still grass (or hair or a weird texture of something?)

I also hadn’t yet decided how much color to include, so the lantern on the far right needs more blue. The shadows aren’t dark enough, and the drawing isn’t finished yet in the top picture.

Now it is finished, photoshopped for best reproduction, and I really really like it!!

P.S. The 2019 calendar will be called “A Touch of Color” and will be pencil drawings with a little bit of color in them, probably all Tulare County subject matter.

Shedding Light on Some Lanterns

Posted by on Mar 28, 2018 in Oil Paintings, the business of art | No Comments

While participating at a boutique on a quaint little farm in Three Rivers in December of 2016, I photographed these lanterns:

Everything the farm couple touches is quaint, beautiful, pretty, attractive, and every other complimentary term I can think of. My intention was to paint the lanterns on a 6×18″ canvas.
I started the painting with high hopes. First layers are never anything to feel good about.

The second and third layers provided a little more confidence.

Then I got to refresh a mural in Exeter, prepare for and participate in a pencil show with 3 of my students, paint some Mineral King to sell in the summer, draw lots of water, do 2 more murals in some vacation rentals, teach a couple of drawing workshops, work, and more work, all of it challenging in a great way.

Meanwhile, the lantern oil painting just hung in the workshop, getting dusty. I took almost the entire month of July off work, and hiked, sought out new wildflowers, visited Hume Lake.

More Mineral King oil paintings were necessary on short notice, then I drew morempictures of water in pencil, some pencil drawing commissions came in, and suddenly it was time to prepare for the fall shows.

Still the lanterns waited for some attention.

What was this Central California artist going to do with those lanterns?

Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you.

Birds Old and Sold

Posted by on Mar 27, 2018 in Oil Paintings | No Comments

I got curious about how many hens and roosters I have painted, so here is a recap for us all to enjoy. I wonder how long this will be a popular subject. A friend had her kitchen decorated in hens and roosters in the ’70s, I think. She gave them away in the ’90s. And, here they are again. . . “We’re back. . .!”

M’s Hen – the first domestic fowl that I painted, a 6×6″.

This one is titled simply: “Fowl” and he appears to be in a foul mood..

Cleverly titled “Flock”, this one was cobbled together from multiple photos.

This is Dinnerbone, the first time I painted him.

Ethan’s Chickens, and I don’t remember the size. Probably 8×8″ in order to get the detail on both the birds.

Ethan’s Rooster – I wonder if it was Gumball or if it was Dinnerbone? I might have called him Top Dog. This one was 8×10″.

Birds, Birds, Birds

Posted by on Mar 26, 2018 in Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

The domestic bird paintings are all 6×6″, oil on wrapped canvas as usual, $60 plus tax as usual (unless you live outside California, in which case you can skip the 8% sales tax).

The wild birds are on 4×6″ wrapped canvas, oil as usual, $50 plus tax (unless you live in another state.)

Ethan named this rooster “Cloudwing”, so I am naming this painting “Cloudwing”. (I’m clever that way sometimes.)

Ethan named this rooster “Dinnerbone”. He is clever; I am an imitator. So, this painting is named. . . can you guess??

This is a hen named Blondie. Originally I named the painting “A’s Buddy” (“A” is Ethan’s sister); now the painting is simply called “Blondie”.

Would you believe “Gumball”? Yeppers, this is Gumball!

This is the third time I’ve painted a California Quail, but calling it Quail III. . . meh. So, it is simply “California Quail”. SOLD

Heron – Great Gray? Great Blue? Nope, just “Heron”.

Finished Mineral King Oil Paintings

Posted by on Mar 23, 2018 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

These are the oil paintings that were dry enough to scan so I can list them on my website. This size doesn’t normally sell through the website but does sell very well in Mineral King in the summer, and I am now ready. Maybe.

They never scan as bright or colorful or pretty as they look in real life.  There are two more, but I showed you yesterday and don’t want to bore you.

Mineral King VIII, 6×6″, oil on wrapped canvas, $60 plus tax for Californians

Sawtooth #27,6×6″, oil on wrapped canvas, $60 plus tax for Californians

From Timber Gap, 6×6″, same, same

Upper End of Nature Trail, SOLD

Mineral King IX, all other info the same

More Mineral King Painting Factory 5

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | No Comments

This one sold!

I like this one so much that if I saw it in a gallery, I’d probably buy it.

This is an 11×14 of White Chief.

When this is drier, I can add the flowers.

Piper is easier to paint with than Samson was. He is calmer.

This is Timber Gap, as seen from the trail nearing Crystal Creek, and that is Piper asleep under the easel.

This is the trail leaving Monarch Lake.

Those rocks along the sides of the trail are a time-consuming challenge. They don’t have to be exact, but they have to be believable, and there are so many. . .

At the end of last week, I had 4 more finished Mineral King oil paintings, a 6×18″ was sold, and the 2 paintings on hold were still just waiting their turns. Now it is time to count up again, evaluate by subject and size, and decide if I need to keep the factory producing more Mineral King oil paintings.

Really, truly, I just want to draw. I love to draw. Have I told you this?

P.S. Look out the window at the shingle siding on the studio!

More Mineral King Painting Factory 4

Posted by on Mar 21, 2018 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Week One of Operation Mineral King Painting Factory felt successful. 7 of the 11 paintings are completed (except for drying, scanning and varnishing), and it seems possible to complete the remaining 4 (3 are large-ish) and maybe even make tracks on the other 2 on stand-by, all next week. (Prolly not. . . that is overly ambitious, given the way life often intrudes on my work plans.)

This painting really wanted to be detailed, so I began on the left side.

The right side is really looking sorry by contrast.

This detailing took FOUR HOURS!! Good thing I like it. I like to draw, because I definitely “drew” with my paintbrushes, something frowned upon by The Big Boys and Girls of Art. 

This painting was a challenge. It is a scene I haven’t painted before,  the view at the upper end of the Nature Trail as you enter the cabin area. 

This might be the best I can do with this one. Squishing a vertical scene into a square sort of works.

This one is also new to me in terms of painting. It is the view from Timber Gap.

This feels easy after working on the 6×18″ piece of a similar view.

I like this!

This one needed a sky do-over. I think I last worked on it in low light. It is better, but this was photographed in low light, so hard to say.

This one is finished, and is so fun to photograph in front of its larger brother.

Why not photograph the new Sawtooth in front of the muralized one?

And I think this one can be considered finished.

That was a productive 4 days of painting. 

More Mineral King Painting Factory 3

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MELINDA!! (now entering the S-words)

This is the third day of Mineral King Oil Painting Factory. 

This one was drying, taking up valuable easel space.

These three needed attention.

Here they are with the photos on top that I’ll use, hoping that somehow seeing them there will make me a better painter.


Piper, how did you convince your brother to come out of hiding??

Tuxedo sat there briefly, tiptoed around a bit, heard a noise and returned to the hole. I’ve been thinking that Ansel would be a good name for a black and white cat.

Back to work, feeling happy because perhaps I will have 2 cats after all.

Feeling happy makes for good painting, maybe. When this is finished and dry, I’ll compare it to the earlier ones (unless they have all sold).

Sawtooth. I thought I could set it aside, and then I realized that the telephone pole could use some foliage.

Here is the popular 6×18″ size.

Same, but better

Just kept adding detail, layer after layer, until it seemed as if I was just lifting off what just got laid on.

At the end of the day, I feel tired of standing, staring, squinting and painting. That makes it a good time to do some loose base coats, since my ability to focus has diminished after about 6 hours of painting.

This whole idea of being a painting factory has its good points and its not so good ones. Have you noticed that applies to almost every single thing in life?

The good: Getting things finished well in advance of a deadline is a good way to do business, and focusing on the same subjects and colors over and over should be honing my skills.

The not so good: Focusing to this degree is tiring, I might be boring my readers, and OH NO WHAT IF THEY DON’T SELL BECAUSE I HAVE SATURATED THE MARKET??

Besides these 11 paintings in progress, there are 2 more that have been on stand-by for months – my favorite bridge and Eagle Lake. 

I’ll think about all that another day.

P.S. Tony was thrilled with his goose, the black and white cat is definitely gone, and the 6×18 painting has sold.

More Mineral King Painting Factory

Posted by on Mar 19, 2018 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | No Comments

Are you just bowled over by the clever titles to my blog posts? Some days I just about put myself to sleep with the repetition in titles, but there is always something new to post for you to see and read.

This one only had a tiny mark on it during the last painting session. It will need aspen branches and leaves in the foreground to make it more identifiable as the upper end of The Nature Trail in Mineral King.

These 2 blank canvases were waiting for me; I forgot to start them on the day when I began the other 9 paintings. Forgot! Right there on the table and I FORGOT??

Surprahz, surprahz, surprahz, as Gomer Pyle used to say. This is Farewell Gap with the Crowley cabin.

Now here’s a real surprise – Piper is becoming comfortable. The tuxedoed brother was still in hiding at the time I wrote this post. (Update on tuxedoed brother cat: he ran away.)

He looks both scrawny and confident.

This is an entirely new format for a Honeymoon Cabin painting.

I add the next layer with better attention to color and detail, working from back to front and left to right.

At the end of the painting day (and decent light), Piper was still hanging out with me. And you can see that the color of light is distinctly different at this time than when I began.