The Tree is Finished

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Is the oak tree mural finished?? I think it is, although until the customer sees it (and my oak tree expert says it is believable), the question remains unanswered. 

It took about 20 hours to paint. All that time was alone except for the busy nice man from Delta Liquid Gas, a brief hello from a friend and a check-up by the property manager. I listened to Truman, written and read by David McCullough, listened to music (prolly a little dangerous to listen to “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” while on the top of an extension ladder), began listening to an updated audio version of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (and someone else from the 21st century who applied Carnegie’s principles to the digital era) and spent a lot of time staring and thinking. Building a tree to look believable when none of my tree photos are the right shape takes a lot of thought.

Feeling fairly satisfied with the right side, I focused on the left side. I studied various areas, came up with thoughts like “too narrow, too short, too empty”, then climbed the ladder and tried to remember which thought applied to which area.

This shows twigs now added above the register.

The horizontal branch is too short, too narrow and too empty.

After the left side was done, most of the changes were just tiny adjustments, widening a branch here, adding a few more twigs there, touching up the drips, and just generally polishing things.

FINISHED! (Finished??)

Yep, 3 ladders in the Jeep! (Not my Jeep – I try to work for money, not for fun, I want my money when my work is done.) The extension ladder came with the job; the other 3 are mine. A muralist needs ladders (or a scissor lift, or a scaffold, or a big flatbed truck). 

A Tree Continues Growing in Three Rivers

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

On Day Two of the oak tree mural in Three Rivers, I walked to work, because I didn’t have to haul any paint. That is another benefit of working indoors – all supplies are secure overnight.

Yup. Looked the same on Day 2 as it did when I left at the end of Day 1.

On one of my many breaks, I took this photo through the sliding glass doors. You can see Alta Peak (the elephant!) and Moro Rock. The unsightly palm tree will be going away. And now the house across the street is also for sale – will it also become a vacation rental?? Time will tell. . .

I spent the day studying the mural from below, climbing up the ladder and working until I got confused and too hot. Then I’d climb down again, study the mural some more and make a next step branching plan, figure out which ladder needed to be moved next, reload my palette, and climb back up.

The extension ladder needed to go up another notch, which meant it bumps the ceiling each time I move it. Not complainin’, just ‘splainin’. 

In spite of the air conditioner working hard all day (and it was only about 99º, not in the triples), it was HOT HOT HOT up at ceiling level.

The stroke of brilliance looks really great in the late afternoon light coming in the window.

At the end of Day Two, this is what I had. I fattened the trunk, fattened lots of branches, and climbed up and down all day.

It seemed as if three days would do the trick.

A Tree Grows in Three Rivers

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in commissions, Murals, Three Rivers | 4 Comments

A Tree Grows in Three Rivers? Hokey, I know, and I can’t even remember what A Tree Grows In Brooklyn was about.

This is a commissioned mural inside of a home 2 doors away from me. It recently sold and will become yet another vacation rental in a town and neighborhood that is jammed full of such units. But that is a topic for another day, and probably another forum.

Working indoors is a pleasure – climate control, flat surface to stand on, consistent lighting, tunes or an audio book on my old laptop (why didn’t Apple include a CD slot in their new laptops?? – I get SO TIRED of “upgrades”, but again, a topic for another forum.)

This is what I found when I unlocked the door on Monday a.m. (a week ago). The carpet will be replaced, so no tarp was necessary. Weird.

This is outside the house and will have a human sized chess board, which I might be painting next.

I procrastinated a bit before beginning. Giant blank walls are intimidating.

I measured the height of the ceiling, because inquiring minds need to know. 14′. I climbed up the extension ladder and dropped a vertical so I could begin building the oak tree around it. It is the same method I use when drawing trees with pencil on paper (not with blue chalk – just a light pencil line).

The extension ladder was a bit cumbersome, so I went home for my own ladders.

After a bit of staring and thinking, I gave myself some more blue chalk guidelines.

A normal way to paint a mural is from the top down, but trees grow in the opposite direction.

There never is the perfect photo of the perfect tree, so I used all my oak tree photos to remind myself of the bark texture and the branching patterns. It is slow, thinky work.

This was a stroke of brilliance!

The raised hearth is helpful in boosting short ladders.

At the end of day one, this is what 

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. . . .

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.

Redbud Festival (not rosebud)

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Events, the business of art, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

Redbud is a gorgeous tree or shrub that blooms in March in Three Rivers (and probably many other places.)

For many years, Three Rivers has had an arts and crafts fair called the Redbud Festival. It happens in May, this year on Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14. 

Where?

So glad you asked – Three Rivers Veterans Memorial Building

When?

Great question – 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, 10-4 on Sunday

This is how my booth looked last year. Oh dear, there is that 24×30″ unfinished painting of The Oak Grove Bridge. I may bring it again this year, along with FIVE coloring books, ZERO tee-shirts, many cards and lots of new paintings (including a rooster, a pair of hens, and 2 paintings of eggs).

Spring Walk in Three Rivers

About a mile from my home in Three Rivers there is an extensive area of BLM land. There are several ways to get there, all of them a little ambiguous, but the place is still well-used and loved by mountain bikers, casual walkers, hard-core walkers, photographers, and horse-back riders. The place is called “BLM”, “Salt Creek”, and “Case Mountain”. I tend to call it “top of Skyline”. Sometimes, just walking to the opening gate is enough exercise for me, so when I want to get far out on the trails, I drive to the beginning.

Enjoy some photos from a recent excursion, where I went farther than I have for a year or two. (To a view of the second waterfall!)

Hmmm, I seem to have a pattern of photographing animals as they stick out their tongues.

Wildflowers in Three Rivers

The hill behind my house has a wide variety of wildflowers each spring.

The steepness makes it hard to photograph. Or, perhaps it is the lack of skill on the part of the photographer. I miss my manual cameras. Digital cameras have many advantages, but all this automatic baloney is a real hassle. Guess that is life – the more advantages, the more disadvantages too. But I digress. Let’s just enjoy the wildflowers, shall we?