Opening Mineral King 2017

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Mineral King, Personal | 5 Comments

Mineral King officially opened on Wednesday, May 24. This is remarkable, considering it was a huge winter. Most of the reason it is open is because Trail Guy borrowed a backhoe and spent 120 hours of volunteer work to fight through the avalanches. This made it possible for the Park’s road guy to do the basics in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Fantastic water flow as seen from the bridge at the end of the road, AKA Mineral King Bridge

Bless those older generations of cabin folks who planted daffodils!

The parking lot at the end of the road is boggy, but Trail Guy is also Retired Road Guy and we rigged up a barricade.

Whoa. This is the beginning of the Eagle/Mosquito trail. The Park’s sign took a hit. Your feet might get wet heading this direction. (Might get wet heading any direction.)

Our cabin had a ton of snow on the front porch (and the back porch too). Trail Guy is resourceful, and after I spent an hour or more shoveling, he thought of this tool.


Easy Bridge?

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

I thought this view of the Oak Grove bridge would be easy.

Fall down laughing. . .

I am enjoying the very tight detail, working from a greatly enlarged photo on my laptop screen. I am “drawing with my paintbrush”, a big no-no in the Art World. Ask me if I care. . .

I am looking for a certain result, and this is the only method I know to achieve it. Layer after layer, brushes getting smaller and smaller. I wonder if I will ever even want to try that thick all-in-one (alla prima) palette knife painting. 

Prolly not.

The bridge itself looks empty, missing posts and rails. Some of the arches are a little catty-wompus. Just a little. . . but enough to cause me to take note and find a smaller brush. Here I have added more details, like the oak tree on the left which covers that side of the railing a little. (If something doesn’t show well enough to paint, just plant a tree.) Also worked on the stuff above the three arches on the left.  Is there any difference here? Hope so. These photos were taken about an hour apart, so there’d better be improvements! If not, I might have to fire myself.

The next time I show you this, it will be completed and scanned.



Mineral King Trail Paintings

Posted by on May 24, 2017 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 3 Comments

Does “Mineral King Trail Paintings” sound as if I am painting along the trail?

Sorry to disappoint – there is too much snow to be hiking there now. Instead, I am oil painting in the studio, working from photos taken while hiking in the past. Or just walking. . . remember, it is a hike if you carry lunch and/or water; if you go without provisions, it is simply a walk.

Have a look at these beginning messes oil paintings. Sometimes it is easier to get a thin first layer down and then move on to the next painting. Other times it seems to work better to get it done in just one thick pass over the canvas. I don’t know why my working styles vary – subject matter? colors? temperature in the studio? Amount of sleep I did or didn’t get? Other pressing business? Mosquitoes?

Top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Mineral King Aspens – these are along the Nature Trail that connects Cold Springs Campground to the Mineral King Valley.
  2. The Nature Trail with Sawtooth in the background. I’ll add wildflowers (and a lot more detail and paint – fear not.)
  3. Atwell Mill – this is a campground below Mineral King and Silver City in a grove of Sequoia trees. It has a great trail that leads through the big trees down to the East Fork of the Kaweah (and on to Hockett Meadow if you are so inclined.)
  4. Monarch Trail – this is heading back down the hill from the lake. Makes my feet hurt to think about it.
  5. White Chief – short and steep, makes my heart sing and my lungs beg for mercy.

When finished, these paintings will be for sale at the Silver City Store. They are each 6×6″ and will be $65, including tax.

Or, you can email me and request one before I cart it up the hill.

Alternatively, you can ask for it after it is there, I can fetch it when I head up IF it is still available, or I can paint you a new one.

So many choices.

Red Hot Chile Peppers

Posted by on May 23, 2017 in commissions, Oil Paintings | No Comments

These habañero red hot chile peppers are fun to paint. Check out the progress.

I chose this view because, without slipping into boring Artspeak, it fills the space well, and I like it.

The first pass provides an underpainting and also gives me a chance to decide if the arrangement is pleasing.

Instead of printing a photo to use, I just kept the photo up on the laptop. I have the peppers to check the coloring, but I’m afraid to touch them.

There is something fun about mixing all the reds and oranges. It might simply be the contrast against all the greens, grays and browns of my usual landscape paintings.

One more pass over the canvas to perfect some tiny areas and to put in the stems ought to do it for these red hot chile peppers. Samson will be on standby to keep me company. He seems to be enjoying The Great Course called “Understanding the Fundamentals of Music”, which I’m listening to while painting these days.

There You Go Again . . .

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Oil Paintings | No Comments

Happy Birthday, Ann!!

Yeppers, here I go again on a painting of the Oak Grove Bridge.

First, the edges of the Big One. I always paint the edges because I think paintings look best without frames. (This photo is before the edge is painted. Duh.) I also added a teensy bit of age spots to the bridge itself, thanks to a very good suggestion from a friend at the Redbud Festival.

Okay, moving along to Oak Grove Bridge #22, this time 11×14″ instead of 24×30″. First, I drew it in pencil. Then I began mapping out the dark areas.

Next, I walked back to the house for something. . . such pretty light.

I was surprised by how much easier it is to paint from this angle. It is because there aren’t as many visible layers and levels of boulders and rocks that seem to echo and mimic one another.

The shadow beneath the bridge is what makes this particular view come alive. While painting the details, I look at an enlarged version of the photo on my laptop. It helps immensely to see what I am painting. Again, duh.

Looks as if 2 more layers will do the trick, with most of the attention focused on the bridge itself. 

Day Trip to Mineral King

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Mineral King | 3 Comments

About 1 week ago, Trail Guy took his buddy Mike to Mineral King for the day. The idea was to take the Trackster into the valley, and then perhaps do a bit of snow-shoeing or skiing. Trail Guy wanted to see the cabin after the big winter to be sure all was well.

Lots of snow through Faculty Flat, AKA West Mineral King.However, the daffodils are blooming at the Dixon cabin, just before reaching the Ranger Station. Alas, there is still another large avalanche remaining at the Sawtooth Parking lot area. Looks as if the Michaels climbed to the top to cross over and then took a picture of the little snow buggy below. (That’s the Trackster.)

The bridge at the end of road is snow-free. Hi Mike! These cabins are snow free.

And the avalanche had to be crossed over to get back to the Trackster. 

Our cabin was fine, but is always the last one to melt out. Trail Guy did not take any pictures of it; even if he had, I might not be willing to post them on the World Wide Web.

Hottest Peppers To Paint

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Oil Paintings | No Comments

A friend commissioned me to do a little painting of a jalapeño pepper. 

She liked it so much that she brought me 2 habañero peppers, one of the hottest chili peppers available. 

Treating them like toxic materials made it a little tricky to photograph them, but I persevered. 

Now I have to decide which arrangement is most pleasing for the second painting. I’ve narrowed it to these four ideas and will have the real peppers on hand to make sure the colors are correct. Sure does make me nervous to touch them. . .

Before I saw them, I assumed I’d be using a green background, but that will hide the stems. Gray might be the right solution.


Disconnected Observations of Life in Three Rivers

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Thoughts, Three Rivers | No Comments

Thoughts collect in my brain, camera and computer that are disconnected from art but seem worth mentioning.

  1. Last week I waited for a mess of RVs to pass before I pulled out onto the highway. As I went around the lake, I picked off 7 identical RVs through the 3 passing lanes. When I got below the dam, I could see 7 more identical RVs in front of me. There’s a story here that I probably will never learn.
  2. On the way home, I was struck in my heart by the signs that said spring is almost over. They are the fire danger sign, the brown hills, and the Farewell-to-Spring flowers. 
  3. At the Redbud Festival, I had two conversations with different people about specific trees they love. One told me of a Redwood tree somewhere in the backcountry; the other told me of a sycamore somewhere near Conley Creek and the South Fork of the Kaweah. I tried to find the sycamore, but there are several, so I just took some photos of the river, in case I want to draw more water.
  4. Samson is too interested in the nests of some scrub jays outside one of the living room windows.

Redbud Wrap-up

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Events, Oil Paintings, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Another successful Three Rivers Redbud Festival in the can!

This is how my booth looked upon arrival on Saturday morning.

The large wet bridge painting seemed too fragile to ride in the back of the Botmobile, so I walked it down to the Memorial Building. Perhaps that helped to speed the drying process.

Nikki Crain, Handweaver Extraordinaire, was my next-booth neighbor. We like to do shows together, and have been for about 25 years or so. She took drawing lessons from me for several years, and we know how to cover for one another and help one another through the various ups and downs of events.

These paintings sold (the sizes are not in correct proportion to one another here: real sizes top down — 6×18, 8×10, 6×6, 6×6, 10×10)

I met a future student, reconnected with old friends, met some friendly people from Australia (either there are no grumpy people on that continent, or maybe the grumps don’t travel to the US), worked out a trade deal with another vendor, and met a bunch of new folks that I probably won’t remember. I hate that forgetting thing, but people are always nice about it. As a bonus, I collected another peculiar sight for the blog when I looked out the window on Sunday afternoon.

Weekend In Review

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Events, Murals | No Comments

The reason for going over subjects like this is because I want to give you a complete picture of what an artist’s life consists of. (No, I don’t get to just sit around and draw all day. Phooey.) 

This could be called “Celebrating Agriculture With The Arts”, but that title already belongs to the Madera Arts Council.

First event of the past weekend was a reception to view and celebrate the new mural at the Tulare County Farm Bureau.


I was given a chance to bid on the project, but when I heard that Colleen Mitchell-Veyna was interested, I told the Farm Bureau to just hire her because she is The Best Muralist Ever. (Then I proposed doing the coloring book, Heart of Agriculture)

First, inquiring minds need to know: why do so many people drive white cars??

Morning light, more distance, and squaring up the camera would do this more justice. Colleen had to revise her design multiple times in order to show off the Best Cow in The Entire Country and to satisfy the bureaucracy in Visalia. 

The event was a good time of reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen in awhile, meeting new people, and catching up with The Best Muralist Ever. 

Colleen, I am so proud of you!