Repainting Mineral King, Day Nine

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | No Comments


What a wonderful painting day! The weather seemed iffy, and I was reluctant to leave home, but after two phone calls to verify a rainless situation, I left. Made it a mile, turned around and went back for my lunchbox. 

On this post, I will put the explanations beneath the photos. I know that sometimes it is confusing. I am often confused, with a mind blurred by exhaustion when I write these posts.

The redbud is in bloom, there was a fire in the wood stove (yikes, don’t let the pollution police see that photo), the fake lawn is mowed (weeds, not synthetic lawn), there are flowers, weeds to be pulled, and my one surviving dutch iris is in bloom. Drove down wishing I could stay home, but it was the best painting day I’ve had so far. It never was hot!

This area seemed so small after I finished it on Monday. I felt discouraged.

“Small”? It is about 4 feet wide. It would take me a month to do an oil painting of that size! Buck up, Buckwheat. You are right on schedule.

This snapshot of the old Mineral King store appeared to have lost its shadow. I worked on that for a little variety. It still doesn’t show well, so I’ll strengthen the contrast on another day.

My updated banner arrived and Trail Guy got it ready to hang. It won’t fit on the back end of the Freightliner, so I hung it on the side. I’m flexible like that.

Here is the old banner, acting as a shade device in the windshield of the Freightliner. 

When I stopped painting around 12:30, this was how things looked. I felt hopeful that perhaps I will be able to finish it in the estimated time frame of 12-16 days.

I chose a triangular area on the upper left side of the old store snapshot. It helps to define areas to complete so that there is a sense of progress.

It was a day of many visitors, so many groups and pairs that I gave up writing them down. Lots of explaining about the murals, Mineral King, the reason for repainting, Exeter, even talking about why chains are required in Sequoia when there is no ice on the road. And, showing people where the hidden items are.

Next, it was time to beepbeep, back the truck up. Piece of cake – rear outer tire on the curb, no problem.

You can see the bed is sort of tilted, because the curb is about 3 inches higher than the asphalt here. But, I can deal with a bit of a slope, because I am flexible like that.

Look at that – the inner tire is floating up in the air!

Today’s visitors were too numerous to list. There were folks from Tulare, Visalia, San Francisco, Fresno, and Clovis, Redlands, Vancouver (Washington), plus an entire busload from People’s Church in Fresno. Most of the semi-locals had out of town guests with them. This is EXACTLY what the mural team had in mind when we began the project 21 years ago. My friend GE stopped by as did my friend MG. That was a treat! Larry said “Good Morning! Good Afternoon! Whatever it is!” 


Little Break From Repainting Mineral King Mural

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in Personal, Three Rivers | 6 Comments

I wasn’t able to paint on Wednesday, due to life’s other commitments that make me thankful to be self-employed.

Have you been missing Samson? He is semi-civilized now, although better behaved for Trail Guy than for me. It might just be a male-bonding issue, or perhaps it is that Trail Guy is around more.

The first photos show our redbud tree in bloom. In the last photo, you can also see the tail end of the bloom on the flowering quince.

Just an average spring morning in Three Rivers . . .

Spring in Three Rivers is almost worth the long hot dry smoggy crowded summers. No, it IS worth it (but I doubt if you would like to move here – remember, we are all fat, poor, uneducated, have diabetes, get pregnant as teens, and have bad air. Besides, there is no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.)



Hidden Items in Murals

Posted by on Mar 22, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

When Exeter began its mural project, I was the president and had no earthly idea how big this thing, this rescue of a city, this PROJECT would become. The mural team was fantastic, and we figured out how to make this happen together. Then, one of the early artists, Nadi Spencer of Three Rivers, hid something in her mural.

WOW! What an excellent idea! The mural team ran with it.

When I painted the first Mineral King mural in 2009, I hid 12 things, 3 per panel, 4 panels. I posted about it here, with a contest for finding the 12 without even knowing what they were. My drawing student Adalaide won, with determination, confidence and focus like I have seldom witnessed.

As I repaint this mural, I sometimes can’t find the hidden objects, and sometimes they are too faded to see. I’m trying to keep it the same, but have lost a coffee pot and added a 13th object.

Here are photos of most of the hidden items as they appeared originally. Since the repainting of the mural is still in progress, we don’t yet know how the hidden items will appear when it is finished.

I’m keeping quiet about #13 (unless you happen to be a mural tour guide or Betsy, my mural boss, or the drawing student who provided the inspiration, thanks, Kelvin!)



Repainting Mineral King, Day Eight

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 3 Comments

It wasn’t hot Monday! I thought I’d be able to paint on the Mineral King mural in Exeter (please excuse the redundancy – it is for the search engines) until around 5 p.m., but no way because I am a middle-aged wuss who ran out of gas.

A pleasant day with lots of interesting folks stopping by. I’ll put the list at the end.

The day’s work began with detailing the area below Farewell Gap, while standing on the ground. This is what I consider to be the focal point of the mural, but with something this wide, there are many focal points. It’s because this area is closest to the valley floor of Mineral King, even though the mural isn’t tall enough to include the valley floor.

This is how it looked after 1-1/2 hours of painting. Felt quick, but needed more detailing. Plus, there is still a blue space, which probably measures 2×4 feet. That would be a large painting by itself, but on this mural it is about the relative size of a postage stamp.

When I took a brief break at noon, this is how things looked. Lots of little dabs, softening edges, roughing up parts that looked too smooth, fiddling, “perfecting”, which is actually not possible with these huge brushes, at least as I define “perfect” (and “huge”).

Next it was time to climb up on the bed of the truck, and move into Panel #4. (Wait! it is only Day Eight, and this is supposed to happen on Day 10 at the earliest!) Some of it is too high to reach from the step ladder while leaning across the void, now that I am not putting the rear tire on the curb. Gonna have to come up with a plan for this.

After 2 hours of painting, this is all I’ve done?? It is probably a lot of real estate, but in contrast to all that remains, it ain’t much. That’s okay, this is only day eight. There’s plenty of time. . .

At quitting time, which was only around 3:30 (what a wuss), this is all that was covered. I also poured some paints from the buckets into the little containers, mixed some more gray and another green, and talked to a lot of people. (Didn’t want you to think that all I do is stand around and paint.)

Look at the day’s interactions:

  1. Anibar and Marcos from the City of Exeter checked in to say hello and exchange small talk about our weekends.
  2. Dan from the large and well-stocked antique store The Grove stopped by to introduce and be friendly.
  3. Mrs. Homeowner of the Three Rivers house that I painted last year came by. You can see her house here.
  4. A couple of guys walked past and commented that, “Some tough people lived in those houses!” They were referring to the cabins in the snapshots on the mural. I said that they were summer homes only and that I thought it took more toughness to deal with the summers down the hill than to live in cabins up the hill. 
  5. A woman came by from Tulare who said she’s about to move to Colorado. We had a nice conversation about what it is like to radically change locales. She’s lived in lots of places, and said the best thing she does is to first find a church. Then the other things work themselves out. I was severely traumatized by moving the 14 miles from Lemon Cove to Three Rivers 18 years ago, and can’t imagine changing states (although it is tempting at times, particularly tax time, election time, bad air time, Sequoia prescribed burning time. . . never mind.)
  6. A man and woman stopped by on their lunch breaks. He sells Kirby vacuums door-to-door and is an ex-Marine. Very engaging guy, probably does well. She works for Monrovia Nursery, grew up in So. Dakota, and hasn’t yet experienced summer here. Good luck!
  7. Tim and Elizabeth from Stanford University stopped by. He is now working in ag around here, she isn’t yet graduated, and they are very interested in Mineral King. Welcome, and I hope to see you this summer up the hill!
  8. Joanne, a mural tour guide stopped by, so I showed her the latest hidden item. 
  9. Anibar and Marcos stopped by again on their way back to the City yard for the day. Really nice guys, and very hard-working. I feel as if I have a pair of protectors near by, not that I need any.

No painting on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. If it isn’t raining, I’ll paint Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


Repainting Mineral King, Day Seven

Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

When I arrived at the Mineral King mural on Day Seven, it was obvious what needed paint next.

Finished that part, and then it was time to beepbeep back the truck up again.

This one was tricky. The asphalt is dropping so the curb is higher with each truck backup. When I looked at the back tire balanced on the curb, I realized that the next truck move would need to be off the curb. Too risky to have the tire drop into the planting bed and the mirror crash into the wall. Not my Freightliner, gotta be careful! Not my wall, either.

Memory: The last time I painted this mural, the truck was facing the other way. In order to do the far right end, I had to drive the truck around the block to reposition it. Holy cow, I just knew I was going to do something horrible. I’d never driven a giant flatbed on the road without my dad coaching me along. That one was a ’53 International, stick-shift of course, and in order to put the clutch in, I had to stand up. I learned about double-clutching, and was instructed to “never touch the white button”, which had something to do with overdrive. Sort of wish I had that truck because it was sky blue, very cool-looking, and would have been handy for murals. Of course I would have had to charge twice as much for murals in order to pay for the maintenance, registration and insurance. Never mind.

More painting until it is time to beepbeep back the truck up again, but this time it is first pull forward, straighten out the tires, climb down to pull weeds so the curb is visible while standing up trying to see it in the mirror while inching back. Big revelation: the outer rear tire extends wider than the front tires. This explains a lot of my confusion about lining up the tires. Now I know that I only need to peer under the rear to see how I am doing. 


Paint some more until it is too hot to stand on the back of the truck. Why does it seem cooler and easier on the ground? And I can see from the photo above that more blending between the old and new will be necessary.

Paint until I am too hot to think, pack up, bid farewell to Farewell Gap.

“Farewell, Farewell!” (I used to say this every time I left Mineral King with my young neighbor after her annual weeklong visit. Her response? “You always say that”.)

If I stick to my estimated schedule, I will have 2 more days to work on this panel. Betsy said I am painting too fast! It is interesting for the visitors to Exeter to see a mural in progress; they ask very specific questions, take pictures, see the physical effort necessary to have an outdoor gallery and as a result, feel more connected.

There weren’t many visitors today, but Larry came back and said, “Hi Painter Person.” No one told me that I missed a spot or asked how I keep paint from getting on my clothes, but someone asked for the umpteenth time, “Did you paint all these murals”?

Ummm, no. 

It might be raining this week so that will slow me down a bit. 

Repainting Mineral King, Day Six

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 5 Comments

Traffic picked up a bit on Day Six, but still no Larry. Have a look at the day’s visitors:

  1. 3 really smart, cute and personable girls on a break from med school in Iowa
  2. An old friend told me he liked the blue better than the green, and he asked me if I am still married. Say what??
  3. Betsy and I pulled a few weeds. She asked me if I would coat the mural after I am finished painting. This is a new step and one that requires some learning.
  4. Mike with his cut hair and his dad
  5. Tim, whose boys I drew in pencil so long ago that I can’t really remember the job other than one of the boys was missing his front teeth. The boys are probably parents by now. . .
  6. A man who travels the entire state of Calif. for his work looking for “wall art” wherever he goes who then posts his findings on Facebook. He said he’d make me famous. I’ll pass on famous, but thanks anyway, Facebook Man.
  7. An entire extended family from Texas and Utah – The patriarch said that Exeter is the biggest mural city in California. I think it might have the most murals, but I’m not sure. 
  8. Someone was visiting from Pismo Beach and trying to get a certain number of steps in. I threw off her count by visiting with her for awhile.

Oh – you want to see what I did yesterday?? Why didn’t you say something?? This is how things looked when I arrived. Plenty of painting to be done without moving the Freightliner.

This section of Farewell Gap needs to be detailed and accurate. The photo taped to the wall was supposed to help, but the part I am working from is so tiny that it was too hard to find each time I looked back.

So, I just started spreading green, and also blending into the existing blue-ish rocky areas to it isn’t obvious where old meets new.

This area is going to take awhile.

That’s a lot of blue real estate to be covered. Probably should not have looked ahead. Feels endless.

Stop it!

This area needs a bit more snow.

Thus we conclude another day on the Mineral King mural in Exeter.

Repainting Mineral King, Day Five

Posted by on Mar 16, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

Happy Birthday, Laura!!

Repainting Mineral King, Day Five was a wuss-out day. The heat did me in. Sometimes I wonder if my Mom would have been climbing around on the back of a truck in the heat at age 57 . . . no, she was probably climbing a home-made scaffolding while hanging wallpaper. How about Grandma? Naw, she was probably hanging off the top rung of a ladder while painting her house.

The first thing I did was just walk past the mural and study it to figure out where to begin. I don’t want to have to move the truck more than necessary, so I figure out the most efficient way to tackle things. In the process, I realized that I have lost several of the hidden items in the mural, both in my memory (HEY! THERE’S A SECOND COFFEE POT??) and on the wall. This will need to be addressed in another blog post. 

I had to pull the truck forward in order to reach this blue section. “Pull it forward”? Makes it sound as if I was tugging on it with a rope.

There was very little visitation or delivery trucks today. 2 nice ladies from Arkansas were admiring the “murial” and together we tried to find the ax that I have misplaced. Did I hide an ax in 2009? I thought I did, but if so, it is hidden very very well indeed.

Hey. There’s a purse. 

That’s not a purse, you weirdo. That’s a fishing creel.

What’s a fishing creel?

It’s a wicker purse to put fish in when you catch them.

See? I told you it was a purse!

Hmm, I’m going to have to camouflage that item a bit more.

Next I worked on the ground beneath this snapshot, changing the blue-ish gray to dirt colors, redoing the shadow under the snapshot, and redoing the trees.

See? Better colors. It seems that I have eliminated a few trees. Must have been that missing ax at work.

Time to move the truck again. It needed to go back until I could see the Pinkham cabin out the passenger window. Did this without a GPS too. . . aren’t you impressed with my navigational skills?

Oh my goodness, there’s Farewell Gap already! I’m almost finished with Panel #2 and it is only day #2 on this panel. Guess I am making up for the extra time it took to do all those rocks and grasses on Panel #1 even with Allen’s help.

Holy cow, it was so hot. I decided it was time for a break and looked at my watch – a minute before noon. I ran to the bathroom and cowered in there, then ran the hand dryer fan to make some extra noise to drown out the sound of the noon whistle. When I came out, there it went. Fortunately, both hands were free to clap over my ears. That thing originates from the fire station which is very close to the mural, and it is a powerful sound. 

Next, I got out my reference photos to figure out what is supposed to be where, mixed another dark green, finished Panel #2, crossed briefly into Panel #3 and gave up for the day. 

Day Six’s high temp is supposed to be 75 instead of today’s 86. I can do 75.

But where was Larry today? I was looking forward to his daily word of wisdom.



Spring in Three Rivers

Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Yesterday I didn’t paint on the Mineral King mural because it was a drawing lessons day.

In the spring, it almost causes me physical pain to leave Three Rivers, even to go to a place as mellow as Exeter, even to do a job as exciting as repainting the Mineral King mural or teaching people I care about to draw.

Life’s hard; put on your big girl pants and deal with it.

Sometimes I walk by this in the mornings (unless I’m commuting to Exeter).

If you could work here, would you drive somewhere else? 

Flowering quince is still in bloom in my yard.

If you had this guy sitting on a table outside your office, would you want to leave him?

And this is the flowering pear tree outside the studio.

Repainting Mineral King, Day 4

Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

Time Change + Heat = Tired

The air temperature was cool, but the wall was actually hot to the touch. 

Oh wait! That is Allen, from Friday, the cool overcast day. Doesn’t he look convincing as a skilled muralist?

Let’s have a little review of before and after.

BEFORE: (Notice the correct spelling because I speak English, not Bingo)


This isn’t entirely finished; there will be flowers. They will be like the cherry on top. It was too hot to keep standing there, so I moved after 3 hours of finishing the rocks, dirt and growing clumps of this, that, and the other thing.

There was a tiny bit left to finish on Panel #1, and I was able to cower in a little shade cast by my favorite Freightliner.

What is this??? (Or more accurately, who?)

Two guys working for the City of Exeter stopped by to say hi, and wondered how I paint across the gap between the truck and the wall. I appreciated their concern and curiosity. They appreciated the Disney character.

Panel #2 doesn’t have a lot of green, so I may be able to make up the time that Panel #1 ate up with all of its detail.

Traffic and visitors were down on Monday. 

Larry said, ” I get why you have paint on the front of your pants, but how does it get on your butt?”

Only 2 idling trucks – Coors Light and Tapia Bros. Mondays must be slow for deliveries.


Repainting Mineral King, Day Three

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

When I arrive each morning, I study the mural and decide the order of business for the day. On Day Three, the first item of business was to hang a banner on the back of the truck. (Thank you, Trail Guy, for the most excellent suggestion!)

The second item was to move the truck out of the way of the lower hill. No, wait! It was to get the truck closer to the wall, with the tires on the curbing. Tricky business. I have to stand up while inching backward in order to see the curb in the mirror. I’m sure I make really funny faces, and I keep climbing in and out to see if the tires are straight. Makes me feel macho to climb in and out of a giant diesel truck. The steering wheel is probably bigger than the tires on my car.

Close enough? 

Then I stand on the ground to figure out what needs to be attended to first. The trees waaay up on the side of the hill needed to be un-blued, but I could only reach so high. Then the hidden item, a coffee pot, had to be hidden better. Next, the trees on the right side of the piled up snapshots needed to be regreened.

After that, it was time to move the truck back again so I could tackle the detail on the lower foreground hill.

I started on the left, just scribbling, then refining the scribbles.

It was a very good day painting, in spite of the realization that this foreground hill is throwing off my estimate of 3 days per panel. The entire mural has 4 panels, and my very optimistic estimate is 12 days of painting.

Look at Day Three’s list of things worth remembering:

  1. It was cloudy, not hot, so I was able to paint until 4:30!
  2. I met some people from Linden, Washington, who were full of compliments for Exeter. (Perhaps they haven’t been there in August. . . )
  3. Bob and Elainea stopped by and brought me some sunscreen that resembled curds and whey. We laughed a lot. He is also known as My Favorite Customer, and she is my A Student.
  4. Betsy came by and brought me two chocolate chip cookies.
  5. Stephanie came by without knowing I was going to be there, just showing off Exeter’s murals to a visiting friend. She was one of the leaders on my Israel trip last summer!
  6. The man who built my studio stopped by on his way to get a hair cut. (I almost asked him which hair, but refrained).
  7. Allen stopped by, and I got him to do a little painting. We took photos on his phone so IF he approved of any, he would send one and I would post it. So far, no photos. He always makes me laugh.
  8. Charlie The Fireman stopped by and said, “You missed a spot”. It only took 3 days for someone to say this. (He said that he always gets asked what is the grossest thing he has ever seen.)
  9. I met Stu, a plein air painter from Marin County, here working in Tulare Co. for awhile. His hobby is painting, and he is interesting, kind, and quite good.