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!
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.
When I arrived at the mural on Friday a.m., this was my view. Sunny day ahead?
This is the area where I wanted to start, so I studied it for awhile to figure out how to blend old blue with the new green, way up on the wall.
I mixed a bluish green and blended the new with the old so the transition isn’t abrupt.
Hey look! The City of Exeter had 2 great guys working who did me the favor of removing the weed piles!
A little more green has been applied. Hard to tell the difference.
Now look – lots more green. I made a bit of a box around the signature but haven’t decided if I need to paint it out and re-sign it or just leave it old and blue. And bye-bye, sunshine.
At quitting time, I left a blue patch. . .
. . . and a blue lantern.
Here’s a weird deal: last week a friend and I were strolling through the murals and she spotted this.
So what? Okay, look more closely.
I never heard of this before UNTIL the very day I saw the box. That morning, one of the truck’s owners stopped by and told me the truck is actually owned by Fremont Fruit. Say what? What does this have to do with Botkin Bros.?
Mysteries, unsolved mysteries.
P.S. Lots of visitors but not as many as on Thursday. Larry stopped by the truck along the sidewalk and asked, “Does this mean you are almost finished?” I’m guessing about 2 more painting days ought to do the trick, which will make 12 days, as I predicted.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUDREY!
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!”
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!)
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:
- Anibar and Marcos from the City of Exeter checked in to say hello and exchange small talk about our weekends.
- Dan from the large and well-stocked antique store The Grove stopped by to introduce and be friendly.
- Mrs. Homeowner of the Three Rivers house that I painted last year came by. You can see her house here.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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!
- Joanne, a mural tour guide stopped by, so I showed her the latest hidden item.
- 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.
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”?
It might be raining this week so that will slow me down a bit.