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.
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.
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:
- Mineral King Aspens – these are along the Nature Trail that connects Cold Springs Campground to the Mineral King Valley.
- The Nature Trail with Sawtooth in the background. I’ll add wildflowers (and a lot more detail and paint – fear not.)
- 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.)
- Monarch Trail – this is heading back down the hill from the lake. Makes my feet hurt to think about it.
- 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.
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.
Remember this stage of all these Mineral King oil paintings, as seen last week?
Here is the next phase – skies done. Sort of an assembly line method of painting, but I can’t think of a better way to finish 11 paintings in a short amount of time. (Remember, I have a show coming this weekend called Gray Matter? Gotta hang the show, and then who knows how long it will take to figure out what to wear and how to make my hair behave!)
Kind of scary looking to see them all in this stage of semi-completion. Not as bad as sausage, I’ve heard. And once these are finished and scanned, we will all be pleased with the outcomes. I’m confident of this.
I also dabbled a bit more on the lanterns. They are too small for this much detail, but I’ll keep on keeping on.
Because of the lanterns and the recently painted iris and sunflower, my palette is pretty these days. Often it is nothing but browns, grays and greens, so this is more fun.
Sometimes I do my “homework”. Studio work. Planning. Educated guesswork.
I looked through my records of paintings sold at the Silver City Store over the past 7 years or so. I made lists by subject matter and lists by size. I averaged the total number of paintings sold, and made a new list of which subjects in which sizes that would most likely sell this summer.
Nothing in college as an art major prepares one for this sort of exercise. Of course, attending 4 schools over the course of 5 years and earning a 2 year degree isn’t exactly a stellar climb up the artistic ladder of excellence.
Never you mind, I know what I am doing here.
Oh yes, there is more and there will be even more. I’m working hard at figuring out how to paint the same scenes over and over in a manner which isn’t just mindless repetition. This could be trying different colors, light, or even testing my memory and trying to paint from what I remember.The most popular scene is by far and away the Crowley cabin with the stream in the foreground and Farewell Gap in the background. It is the scene from the bridge at the end of the road and used to have two large trees. It is uncannily symmetrical, but two years ago the taller of the two trees, a red fir, was removed because it was wearing out.
Trail Guy and I were quite surprised to learn that most people didn’t even notice that one of the trees was removed. People don’t seem to notice in my paintings either, so sometimes I paint it with the 2 trees as they were.
Here is the one that sold most recently.
Was Trail Guy really attempting to get into Mineral King? Or was he just having a fun day with his buddy Mike? Whatever the motivation, they didn’t make it to the end of the road but they did have a good time together.
The photos aren’t in any particular order, and I can’t identify where each photo was taken. They were snow avalanches, and what shows is all the debris left behind.
The redbud is still quite beautiful on the lower part of the road. Isn’t the color brilliant after all the browns up the road?
On Day Twelve, the final day of repainting the Mineral King mural in Exeter, I spent a lot of time staring at the wall to determine what might need a touch-up, some polishing, a minor correction. It was hot, and the longer I stood there, the less I could see to do. Fortunately, there were many interesting visitors to visit with while I contemplated matters of possible consequence.
This is an ore bucket, one of the hidden items. It still seems obvious to me, and may be obvious to other observers. Since it is one of 13 hidden items, it is okay to have a few easy ones.
I stared and stared, thinking to show you before and after photos of the polishing process. Now I can’t tell which photos are the before and which are the after.
I added what might pass for phlox and groundsel wildflowers to this hill. The heat immediately turned the paint to the consistency of toothpaste and made the brush thick and unwieldy. The flowers don’t even show in the photos!Finally, I signed it. Had the same trouble with the heat and the paint consistency on the signature. I would have kept the old signature, but the brilliant periwinkle blue color was just too weird. Now that I see it on this photo, I wonder why I didn’t sign directly beneath the plaque. This might require another visit to the wall, on an overcast day when the brush can retain a point and the paint can retain flow.
Then, because there was shade on the other side of the parking lot, I stood back and took a few final photos, because the next time I see this, there will be cars parked alongside.
The color isn’t as good in the afternoon light as in the morning light. I like this because Marty Weekly’s mural “Timber Trail” shows in the distance through the awning. (far right side of photo). Why didn’t Marty’s fade? I’m sure it goes back to the colors I used; in spite of the high lightfast rating, my yellow was most certainly not light fast or fade resistant. This time using different yellows, it WILL last. I insist upon it!
And with this, we conclude our Repainting Mineral King series.
First, on Day Twelve, I returned the truck. Just drove it like I knew what I was doing, but sitting there on the giant bench seat, I couldn’t even reach the top of the steering wheel with my hands because it was so huge. Nice Freightliner, and I got it up to 25 mph. Just zipped right along.
Sorry. You probably don’t care about that.
Then I walked the mile or so back to the mural, and along the way I encountered a good friend from Three Rivers, the man with the Events Room where I painted 2 murals last year (the second one here), stopped in at the dentist office to see if any decisions have been made about muralizing there, and checked in with Rosemary & Thyme to learn they are out of coloring books again.
It was a walking business trip, but I can’t write off the mile for that.
Then, with the Freightliner out of the way, I photographed the entire mural in the morning sunshine. At this distance and these angles, it appears to be finished.
This lower hill needs wildflowers.
I’m certain there is something needed here, such as better foreground trees or a camouflaging of a hidden item.
But look – what is this? A visiting celebrity, a guest artist, none other than. . . TRAIL GUY!
What could I do except take a break and treat him to lunch?
So, this will be continued tomorrow. . .
Today will be my last day on this wall. The list of touch-ups, detailing, hiding things, camouflaging hidden things, and evaluating is long and boring. Maybe the photos will be interesting. I’ll show you tomorrow what I did today.
Meanwhile, I thought you might like to see the photos I worked from for the mural. You have to imagine them all stretched out one after another, and cropped off at the bottom, with snapshots of cabin scenes lying on top of the scenery. Then imagine them all lying ended to end, but now they are 110′ long.
Kind of makes your head spin a bit, yes?
On Saturday, there were a lot of Model A Fords in Exeter. The weather was a bit iffy, but after a phone call, I donned my painty pants and headed down the hill. I tried my best to not think about all the things to do at home, and listening to the audio version of Cry, The Beloved Country really helped. (Anyone read this book? It’s about South Africa in the 1940s.)
Because of the rain, I was able to fill my water bucket by scooping up from a puddle. Very convenient. Next, I worked on the “hidden” lantern. It was blue the day before.
I added a coffee pot to make up for the one I lost. This was all just sort of fiddly stuff, waiting for the tour groups to appear. The first group came quickly and I didn’t have my camera handy, but Betsy did. Look at all these interested people – what an audience!Then my buddy Jay showed up. (Yes, I was lost on the wrong mural.) If Jay can drive a Model A, I figured he can back up and turn around a Freightliner. Yeah, sure, I prolly coulda* done it myself, but Jay is a farmer, and farmers can drive anything and do it right the first time.
See? Perfect! I didn’t even need a stepladder to reach those upper blue trees.
This was my view of the mural, from the very very convenient placement of the truck for trotting back and forth to see how things look from a distance.
The second group arrived, and this time I was able to take their photo and speak from my elevated platform.
They invited me to lunch, so after meeting and greeting a few other mural visitors, I put a bunch of orange traffic cones out and left the Freightliner hogging up the alley.
After lunch, I fiddled around a bit more on the parts I could easily reach, and finally decided that I was perfectly capable of repositioning the truck myself.
Nothing to it. Might get a job with a trucking company when this mural is finished.
I camouflaged the lantern a bit more, and finally tackled the remaining blue patches.
Now that the end is in sight, I am wanting to slow down and detail everything within an inch of its life. In spite of all my lack of confidence, I do feel quite proud of and connected to this mural. Each time I’ve worked on it, I’ve met nice people and built up my skills at muralizing.
P.S. Larry warned me about running at age 79. He said he was fine at 78, but now that he is 79, it just doesn’t work.
*”Prolly coulda” – I know it is “probably could have” but I wanted to sound like a trucker.