Jana Botkin | Cabin Art

A California Artist's Show-and-Tell

Oct 30 2014

2015 Calendar Coming!

Published by under Oil Paintings

Two years ago I published a calendar of oil paintings.

Last year it was a calendar of photography. (I was too busy drawing The Cabins of Wilsonia to paint.)

This year it will be a calendar of oil paintings.

It will be called Beautiful Tulare County. If that sounds like a joke, stop being cynical! There are beautiful places and times of year around here. It is my business to find those places and times, and then to share them with you.

The calendar’s pages will not be precisely seasonally correct. They will be close, but summer is a dominant season around here, so those types of paintings will be dominant in the calendar.

Waiting for the price from the printer (NOT the book printer!!) and the estimated time of arrival before making them available for purchase. I’ll make it an easy price, a round number that includes tax and mailing costs.

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Oct 29 2014

I Love To Teach People How to Draw

Published by under drawing,Lessons

One afternoon per week, I am in Exeter at the Courthouse Gallery of the Arts. Each hour on the half hour, four people come in for their weekly drawing lesson. Each person works at her own pace on her own picture. Or his. We have a great time, and people really learn to draw!

The gallery just got new wood floors in the workshop room and it is beautiful.

We go to great lengths to understand what we are drawing. In spite of having set up the scene and taking and editing multiple photos, Elainea and I found it helpful to have these creatures here in person to really inspect. If we can’t see it, we can’t draw it.

Mae is more than ready to have the background finished on her rose. See? Her hands are flying!

Mary is working on the layout.  (I know – it looks as if she is picking the longhorn’s nose.) To draw, we have to know where everything belongs and get the shapes and sizes right. Proportion is everything.

I teach both adults and pre-adults. As long as you are at least in 6th grade, you can take drawing lessons from me.

Finishing touches are important. Celeste has worked very diligently on this for quite awhile, and it shows. This is FABULOUS!

I love to teach people how to draw. It is all about seeing correctly, and then learning the steps. Then we just inch along, piece by piece, step by step.

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Oct 28 2014

Orange You Glad This Mural is Finished?

Published by under commissions,Murals

A drive-by shooting of the Rocky Hill label mural on the east wall of Rocky Hill Antiques, east of Exeter.


This is how the mural looks in the morning light. It faces east, so I was only able to work on it when the shade was 2 feet wide, around 2 in the afternoon.

And, in case you have forgotten, it has a hidden item! No prizes offered, just the satisfaction of finding it.

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Oct 27 2014

Finishing the Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Part Four

Published by under commissions,Murals

On Thursday, I left you with a cliff-hanger of a green orange. (Reminds me of the time my mom wanted to show orange trees to her 4 year old Kansas granddaughter. “Look Ashley, those are orange trees.” “No they aren’t, Grandma – they are green!”)

White paint is opaque. Put down white paint, and then paint the orange! Sometimes I just floor myself with my on-the-spot innovations.  Honestly,  I often have to ask Trail Guy, but I forgot my old flip phone with a broken hinge so I couldn’t call him.

That looks weird. Gotta confess that it crossed my mind to paint it as a baseball. (It was the day that the Giants won the National League to go to the World Series.) As fun as that would have been, it would have meant that I needed to return, and I wanted to be FINISHED with this project. After all, I started the mural at the beginning of June.

Yes! The orange is done.

It looks good! The owners were right to add an orange.

I couldn’t photograph the entire mural because the pickup was blocking.

I spoke to one of the owners about adding the word ANTIQUES to the side of the mural. Together we concluded that it falls under the heading of sign, and under the skills of a sign painter. I am not a sign painter; I am a mural painter. The mural is finished.

May it be so.

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Oct 24 2014

Seeking Inspiration in Mineral King

As a studio painter, I rely on my camera and memory. I’m continually seeking the best light, the most advantageous angle, the brightest colors, the most details and anything else that can be recorded. What is inspiration? Something that motivates me to take photos, to paint, to draw.

It was another beautiful day in Mineral King. (Not gonna call it “paradise” because of the drought.) Here is the way I take photos for painting later while in the studio.

Nice light and colors, Farewell Gap barely visible and the peaks around it completely hidden. Plus, the stream isn’t visible.

Now you can see the Gap and the stream. I wonder how much I’d have to distort the perspective to include them.

This is nice. Vandever is fully visible and there is some blue reflection in the stream. The trees don’t really look like fall, but the lack of color in the foliage and low water indicate the season. Do I really need to paint the Honeymoon Cabin? Maybe this scene is good on its own.

I want a closer look at the water and rocks. The growth around and across the scene is certainly unruly. Real life is quite messy. Have you noticed that?

This is better. More water, more peak, less tree. Or is less tree an improvement?? I have a personal bias toward vertical scenes. It is hard to be objective. Objectivity just might be impossible.

Forget it. Let’s go for a walk.

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Oct 23 2014

Finishing the Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Part Three

Published by under commissions,Murals

We are waiting for the heat to end so I can finish the Rocky Hill Antiques mural. September passes. October arrives. The heat continues. FINALLY, last week, it mellowed from the 90s to the 80s. Practically sweater weather around here!

Wow, the mural is dusty and has some spider webs. No worries, I’m a country girl. “Girl”. Old girl. Never mind. An overall wearing man who works at Rocky Hill Antiques offered to back his pickup to the mural so I could paint from the tailgate. Perfect! He said he’d worked off scaffolding and ladders enough to know that it’s not easy. He was right, and I REALLY appreciated his help.

First step: draw the orange.

Can you see the chalk? When I backed up, I could see that the orange was too squished, so I added a bit to the right side. The leaves were also too short. They didn’t look bad, but my instructions were to follow a certain orange, not just go hog wild. (Guess I could say “off the reservation” since the mural contains the “Indian Outlaw”.)

First, I mixed some greens. There is a good dark green in that plastic jar. I didn’t put any on the palette because it dries out too fast that way.

First leaf finished, second leaf begun. Notice the headache bar from the pickup? I didn’t hit my head once!

Two leaves done! Now, time to mix the orange paint.

I premixed the basic orange in the plastic jar, then added white, yellow, 2 reds and a brown to the palette. By the way, the “palette” is a lid to a paint bucket.

Houston, we have a problem. The paints are transparent, or maybe the word is translucent. Whatever it is, they are see-through. This means with the orange paint that is mostly yellow placed on top of that blue, it goes all green! This is supposed to be a ripe orange, not one that is waiting for cool nights to arrive.

What am I going to do??

Come back on Monday, and I’ll show you. Why not tomorrow? Because Fridays are for Mineral King on this blog.

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Oct 22 2014

Finishing the Rocky Hill Antiques Mural, Part Two

Published by under commissions,Murals

I showed my favorite view of the potential revision/addition of the Rocky Hill Antiques mural to the owner. He still wanted the word “ANTIQUES” included. I tried to convince him that the word would change a mural into a sign, and there is plenty of signage at the business with no doubts at all as to what the business is about.

But, the owner requested the word ANTIQUES, so I showed him some alternatives. He liked this typestyle. I still thought the word didn’t belong in the orange.

How about if we move the type outside of the mural?

Finally, the owner said that would be okay, but he liked the larger orange.


Bigger orange, like this, minus the word in the orange, and added to the outer edge.

Phew. Now all I had to do was wait for the heat to abate.

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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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