Jana Botkin | Cabin Art

A California Artist's Show-and-Tell

Oct 21 2014

Finishing the Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Part One

Published by under commissions,General,Murals

Remember the mural on the side of Rocky Hill Antiques? I painted it last June. Here are the links to the posts about it:

Projecting A New Mural, Chapters two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight

The mural looked like this at the end.

We simplified it from the original label, which was full of words and a cellophane wrapped Sunkist orange. After simplifying, my customers decided it was too plain.

By that time, it was summer and definitely too hot to paint on a wall that collects heat all morning. There was much discussion, and eventually the owners decided they wanted an orange added with the word “ANTIQUES” on the orange.

This is Exeter, California, an orange-growing mecca, and this is an orange grower’s label.

I used the orange off a label provided by the store owner and Photoshop Elements to try to illustrate what I thought they were requesting.

They may have requested a larger orange, or perhaps I just decided to try one.

The word in the orange just doesn’t belong. Of course that is my opinion, not an absolute truth. The customers’ wishes are supposed to take precedence over the artist, or are they?? Hard to say. . . I am a hired painter, but I do have a little pride in my work.

Let’s look at my favorite version.

This suits me. However, it still didn’t suit the owners.

What’s an artist to do??

Wait. Wait for a better idea. Wait for the heat to abate. Wait for inspiration, for something.

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Oct 20 2014

Fancy Drawing of a Not Fancy Cabin

Published by under commissions,drawing,Wilsonia

This is the final drawing of the commissioned pencil drawing of a Wilsonia cabin. The customer chose “A”, asked that the sign size be reduced and that plenty of scraggly branches be added to that large tree in front that she affectionately referred to as “the old man”.

It was fun! Drawing cabins is one of the best parts of my business, Cabinart.

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Oct 17 2014

Looking For Red Leaves in Mineral King

Published by under Mineral King,Photography

No red leaves at the Honeymoon Cabin.

No red leaves here either.

Let’s go hiking and see if there are any red leaves further up the valley.

Yellow tunnel ahead – no red leaves there.

Entering the yellow tunnel – maybe there will be red leaves on the other side.

Yeppers, just above Soda Springs!

And at Franklin “falls” – wow, we need rain.

What are these red leaves? I think I ask this question every year, but when the leaves are green, I pay no attention whatsoever to this plant.

There it is again!

No red leaves on Farewell Gap. Plenty of bronze.

Reddish leaves on the way back down.

These yellow leaves were glowing.

I wonder if people who are surrounded by red leaves go in search of yellow leaves?

Did you know that there really is very little red in nature? It’s true!

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Oct 16 2014

Complicated Drawing of a Simple Cabin

Published by under commissions,drawing,Wilsonia

A nice lady wrote to me to ask if I would draw her Wilsonia cabin for her. She said it is plain, or perhaps she said “it’s not fancy”, but it means a lot to her family.

I knew which cabin it was. It wasn’t one that I planned to show in the upcoming book The Cabins of Wilsonia.  There are 214 cabins in Wilsonia, and there are lots of reasons that not every cabin made it in the book.

But, I have been accepting commissions to draw cabins in pencil since 1987. It’s what I do! My business is Cabin Art. 

So, I took photos of her cabin from many angles. It was hard to find the most interesting angle, and hard to see something special.

These aren’t the photos I ended up using, but these are like those “before” photos when someone gets a makeover. You know – out-of-date glasses, limp hair, no make up, bad light, old sweatshirt. (Substitute tied up hair and flannel shirt, and you’ve got a picture of me while painting.)


The customer requested a collage, which gives plenty of opportunity to dress up a picture. I did 2 versions and sent the sketches to her.

Come back on Monday to see which she chose and how it turned out!

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Oct 14 2014

A Well-Organized Show in Visalia

Published by under Events,the business of art

The organizers provided pop-up tent-tops, lunch and handled all the filthy lucre.

I began the day with high expectations and much optimism.

The pop-up tent was 10′x10′ in theory. In reality, it tapered inward, so instead of fitting all 6 of my display screens, only 5 would fit. So, quite a few paintings didn’t make it. Still, I have a TON of paintings.

There were 3 or 4 blocks of these tents with umbrellas in the middle of the street, because it was hot and shade was very welcome.

After setting up, I went exploring down the street. (or was that up the street? I walked North on Garden, so I think it would be “up”) This is GORGEOUS work by my amazing friend Nikki.

This was a simple booth with 3 different books for sale. (Hi Carole and Irene!) I thought the display was EXCELLENT. I wonder who won the best booth prize??

An hour before the show was advertised as open to the public, there were VIP guests. Except there weren’t. It was a nice idea, but just meant we had an easy first hour.

Then the public began to arrive. I saw many old friends, former and current drawing students, met new people, and had my sister with me for about 2 hours.

People were nice, and many of the comments and conversations were either puzzling or funny.

“I have 2 lemon trees in my back yard.” 

“Oh?” (What is an appropriate response? “Great! Want to buy a painting of a lemon?”)

Or, “Oh my gosh, I thought those were pictures!!” (usually pronounced “pitchers”)

Couldn’t really say what I thought, which was, “They are pictures. Did you mean photographs?”

“Oh my gosh, that’s $50??!”

“Uh, yes, it is an original oil painting, Doofus.”

Nope, I didn’t say that either.

In conclusion, I don’t think my work is suitable for a street fair in Visalia, no matter how well organized it is.

Visalia is the largest city in Tulare County, and it would be good to have my work in a place with a greater population than Three Rivers. However, I don’t know what would be the right venue.

More will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

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Oct 10 2014

Feels Like Summer, Looks Like Fall in Mineral King

Published by under Mineral King,Photography

Last weekend the fall colors were beginning to show in Mineral King. Weird, because it sure still felt like summer. Rather than blather on about the endless heat, I’ll just shut my yap and share some photos.

See that reddish tree? I wonder if it the same one I spent a weekend chasing back in 2012. 2012 was certainly more colorful, but it is still early.

Instead of red leaves, there is weird red stuff on the bark.

Still lots of green in the leaves.

I’ll save the other photos for next Friday, because Fridays are for Mineral King on this blog.


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Oct 08 2014

Taste The Arts

Published by under Events,General,Oil Paintings


Blooming Oranges #2, 8×8″, oil on wrapped canvas, $125

Taste The Arts

Saturday, October 11, 2014

11 AM – 5 PM

Downtown Visalia 


Taste the Arts is the name of a street fair type event in Visalia. It is very extensive, with lots of opportunities to try different methods of making art. There will be demonstrations in  spray paint, stenciling and murals, along with lots of artists exhibiting and selling their work.

Here is their link: Taste The Arts

I participated in an early version of this show about 2 years ago. The Arts Consortium is the most organized group I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, and I expect this event to be great!

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Oct 03 2014

Married in Mineral King

Published by under General,Mineral King

Yep, we were. 28 years ago tomorrow.

Hey Trail Guy, thanks for 28 years of supporting my relentless pursuit of art as a way of life.

(No, I’m not putting personal messages on the World Wide Web.)

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Oct 01 2014

Reading While I Paint

Reading Rabbit loves his books. So does this Central California artist, just a regionalist from Quaintsville.

Bet you are just dying to know how I can read while I paint. Or maybe you are wondering how in the world I can paint in solitude and stay motivated, hour after hour, day after week after month after year.

Audio books!

1. No Excuses by Brian Tracy is motivational reading to help you identify, set and reach goals. Sometimes I feel as if I’m sort of like the rabbit above, and it takes some simply worded motivational kicks-in-the-pants to get me going. After listening to the first several chapters, I stopped and made a list of paintings to finish for the upcoming fall shows. On purpose, not willy-nilly as I am sometimes prone to do.

2. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn was published in 1966 and is the story of a black man from New Orleans who escaped that Jim Crow place, became highly educated and returned. You can’t tell at all that it was written in 1966 (except the term “black” is not used). I wish it was on tape, because I’d rather sit and read this book than do my work.

3.  Rich Habits by Tom Corley is also not an audio book for me, but I’ve listened to a couple of wonderful interviews with the author. Here is a link to one of the interviews: Tom Corley at Matt McWilliams Tom did a study on really wealthy people to see if he could find consistent patterns. Instead of writing it as a dry study with facts and charts, he wrote the book as a a bunch of short stories. It is surprisingly good in addition to being really interesting (and easy peasey to read).

Here are the links. If you order through Amazon, I get a few cents.

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Sep 30 2014

Painting for a Show in a City

With the first fall show coming on October 11, the pressure is on to get some paintings finished, signed, dried, scanned and varnished. Let’s see what is in the painting workshop.

Yikes. This photo shows me that my Mineral King mural needs to be freshened up. Wouldn’t it be fun to repaint it every 3 months to reflect the actual season? Forget it – I have to finish paintings that can be sold!

I had no trouble finishing these pumpkins. The bridge might be finished. The poppy fields are rough – this is after one pass over the canvas. The orange wants a few more blossoms.

I thought this would be too hard, because it is a challenge to turn 2 rectangular photos into one square scene, and real life is very messy so I’m trying to clean it up here. The rocks and background trees have been really satisfying. I love detail – did you know that?

On the advice of a trusted friend, I added more foliage to the poppies. It probably isn’t enough to suit her, but I like it. Those 4 orange poles will become The Four Guardsmen, 4 sequoias you pass among as you enter Sequoia National Park from Three Rivers. There is Farewell Gap (Mineral King) as it appears in early fall – leaves changing a bit, no snow, and very low water. Getting the water and rocks to look right is stretching my limited abilities. And the bottom scene is the trail to Farewell Gap. The light was wonderful that day! It isn’t finished in this photo.

Upcoming Show: Taste the Arts, Saturday, October 11, 11-5, downtown Visalia on Garden Street from Main to Oak Streets. (no idea where I will be – I’ll just follow directions like a good soldier when the time comes.)

Woohoo, world, I’m going to the big city of Visalia to meet some people and sell some art!

Yeah, I know, I really don’t get out much. Visalia is the county of seat of Tulare County, population around 125,000. “City”? It is to me! Three Rivers is 35 miles east and has about 2500 people, including all the part-timers. Just sayin’ so you can keep things in perspective from where I live.


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