Gekkos in Three Rivers, Finished?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Is my mural, “Gekkos in Three Rivers” finished? A job isn’t finished until I hear from the customer that she is happy. As of the writing of this blog post, I haven’t heard.

The gekko on the left was the next one to be painted. These are the colors I chose. You can see the striking difference from the colored pencil version to the painted one – colored pencils make such wimpy-looking art! (unless you bear down with a zillion layers. . .)

I finished the remaining one – my current favorite color combination of blue with brown (a teal sort of blue with a pinkish grayish brown is really my favorite, but let’s not quibble here).

This is all 3 pairs. I studied them from a distance and then touched up this, that and the other thing. . . a little wider tail here, a few more spots there, painted “fingernails” in a few places, a wider body. . . 

And here you can see them all together.

What a lovely place to work this has been. . . happy sigh of gratefulness for nice weather and a really full river.

Let’s step back and see it in on the gazebo. Don’t you just want to hang out here?

And finally, as it appears from the road. 

It sort of looks like a (wobbly) banner. You can see there is something on it, but don’t know what it might be. Lots of colors, but which ones? Hmmm, maybe it will make people drive more slowly on North Fork.


Gekkos in Three Rivers

Posted by on Jun 20, 2017 in Murals, Three Rivers | No Comments

My decision is made: gekko is correct.

Here is how the first set of transferred and redrawn gekkos looked on Day Two in the shade. Still hard to see, but not invisible. 

After applying more blue chalk to the back side of the tissue pattern, I transferred 2 more sets of gekkos to the board, and then went over the top of the chalk with a pencil. (I’m always most comfortable with a pencil in my hand.)

The surface of the board is very rough, so it was with trepidation that I applied paint. I knew the brush would just bounce over the surface and make lumpy edges, so I did not put on my magnifying glasses. If I can’t see the lumpy edges, they don’t exist. 

See? no lumpy edges! The colored pencil version of the first pair is taped alongside so I can match the colors.

It seemed prudent to step back and see how things look from a distance. The first gekko matches the sycamore leaves in the background exactly.

Don’t be chicken and cower with nothing but familiar green paint . . . pick another color and get on with it.

This is how it looked after 3-1/2 hours of painting. It was fun to mix up so many different colors instead of painting miles of trees in 3 versions of dark green. The sun was creeping closer and closer, and although the board was still in the shade, the painter was not. So, I loaded my supplies into the car, stepped back for another photo, and then headed back to the studio for other work. (In case you were wondering, I LOVE the variety in my job/career/business/occupation!)

I can see that some of these little guys need fattening, and it is possible that I will ask Customer if I can add some things in the open spaces around the edges and corners. I’m thinking sycamore leaves might be nice. . . sycamores are native to Three Rivers; gekkos are not. But, Customer is in charge of the content of her mural, so again, more will be revealed. . . .

Gecko/Gekko Mural, Day One

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in commissions, Murals | 2 Comments

Customer approved the colors and arrangement of the geckos with interlocking tails, so I packed up my supplies and drove to the river gazebo. The board is a good height for painting, the river is roaring, and there is great shade in the morning. I’m going to enjoy this job!

Where is this place? So glad you asked! It is in Three Rivers, on the North Fork of the Kaweah River, next door to the Arts Center, and it is called “The Bridge House” on VRBO. Here is the link: The Bridge House The gazebo is across the street, and was built on a patio overlooking the river, incorporating bridge abutments from the bridge that washed out in the flood of ’55.

First, the board needed to be painted. I had a partially used gallon of “High Hiding White”, which sounded just right.

I put a coat of white on the board, then went home with some specific measurements so I could figure out how to get the design from 8-1/2×11″ paper onto a 20″x 10′ board. It took a fair amount of measuring and math, tracing and transferring, but eventually I had it on tissue paper, the appropriate size.

When I returned to the gazebo, I saw it needed a second coat of High Hiding White to hide the first coat. This gave me time to think about how to transfer the image from tissue to the board. 

I used blue chalk on the back side of the tissue, taped the pattern to the board in the center, and rubbed it with my finger.

Can you see it?

Neither can I. This will have to be continued on another day when the shade has returned.

Gecko or Gekko?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Murals, the business of art | 3 Comments

I don’t know the correct way to spell gekko/gecko. Both seem to work.

Who cares? (WHAT?? The Typo Psycho actually doesn’t care how something is spelled??) When I spelled it with 2 k’s, I found better images on Google.

A customer has asked me to design a mural of gekkos/geckos, because they are a symbol of welcome. Here are photos of some of the steps so far, using Photoshop Elements (that’s the baby version) to see how things might look.

Better if that board is painted first. . .

Nope, Customer has a stylized gecko/gekko she likes better than the photographic look here. What can I do with this?

She preferred the 3rd arrangement and suggested colors that she likes. I colored them (on copies with colored pencil) and photoshopped them onto the board.

Mind reading isn’t my strong suit, so it takes multiple sketches, colored sketches and photoshopped versions to see if I am able to portray the customer’s vision.

I await her response. . . more will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

. . . and you thought I just sit around drawing all day? Nope. Sometimes I get to color too.


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!

Repainting Mineral King, Day Twelve, Part B

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 11 Comments

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.


Mineral King Mural, Day Twelve, Part A

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

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.

Au contraire!

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. . .


Repainting Mineral King, One Day Left

Posted by on Mar 29, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

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?


Repainting Mineral King, Day Eleven

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | No Comments

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.

Repainting Mineral King, Day Ten

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | No Comments

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.

Nice blue.

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.