Jana Botkin | Cabin Art

A California Artist's Show-and-Tell

Jul 22 2014

You are Invited To My Other Blog

Published by under Mineral King,Wilsonia

Hi. Thanks for stopping by my regular blog. Today I am posting at The Cabins of Wilsonia blog.

Tomorrow and Wednesday too.

You are invited to see what is happening with the upcoming book at that site.

Thanks for stopping by – come back on Friday for Mineral King photos and a little commentary.

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Jul 21 2014

A Color Junkie Goes on About Primary Colors

I am a color junkie. It jumps out at me everywhere, and I think about it without meaning too. Primary colors are the basis for all colors, and when I began oil painting, I became even more aware of colors, particularly the primaries.

Red, yellow, and blue make up all the colors in the world. I have to add white for painting.  I’ve heard it described as the absence of color, the sum of all colors, the coldest color and some people refuse to call it a color. Doesn’t matter – it is impossible to mix colors without it.

The primaries keep appearing in my life. Early in my painting career, I was given the assignment to copy one of the old masters. I chose Vermeer, and later realized the primaries figured in large in the painting.


I liked the painting so much that I did another one. Red, yellow and blue are all over the place in this one too. (Of course they are all over – I did the entire painting using nothing but the primaries and white.)

See my palette? White, yellow, a mixed orange, 2 reds, 2 blues, a mixed purple and then the other colors that I mixed for whatever I was supposed to be painting when I was procrastinating by photographing the palette.

Every spring I look for blue flowers to put in my blue pots, completed by reds and yellows. No pinks, no purples, an occasional white, but mostly the primaries.

Last summer we were walking through a village on an island in Alaska and I saw these cans.

Only a color junkie would get excited about a scene like this.

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Jul 18 2014

Is Mineral King the Most Beautiful Place in Tulare County?

Mineral King is probably the most beautiful place in Tulare County that is accessible by car. “One of the most” is probably more accurate that “the most”.

Make up your own mind. Of course, I’m only going to show you my side of the story!

Empire Mt. in Mineral King

Trail Guy takes this photo every summer, several times. Each time we are convinced the the rock outcropping on Empire Mt. is the best it has ever looked in the last sun of the day.

Timber Gap in Mineral King

Timber Gap remains green far into the summer.

Vandever Peak in Mineral King

Vandever Peak, the right side of Farewell Gap, shows up in most of my Mineral King paintings.

mule string in MIneral King

This mule string is National Park animals getting ready to head out over Timber Gap.

Thimbleberry bloom

Thimbleberry blooms in June and might be an edible berry in August. You’d have to ask a bear, but they don’t have calendars.

Mineral King wildflowers

The bright flower is “Pride of the Mountains”, which is a penstemmon. Most of what I know about wildflowers comes from Stephen Stocking and Jack Rockwell’s book, Wildflowers of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks now in its 4th edition from SNHA. I wore out my copy from 30 years ago, and Stephen brought me one in Wilsonia 2 weeks ago! What a thrill! He said there are about 10 new flowers in this version.

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Jul 11 2014

A Walk in Mineral King

Last week we took a wildflower walk in Mineral King. This week we continue up the trail.

It was just a walk – no pack, no water, no food. It was hot out in the sun chasing down those wildflowers, so I was looking forward to stopping by the Ranger Station for a drink of water.

First, Trail Guy found a dead bird. Normally this would be no big deal, but this was a special bird, one that he had seen a few weeks ago. He told me about it because of the color, and he looked it up in a bird book because he has a good bird book and is curious that way. It is one of the things I really appreciate in him.

dead lazuli bunting

This is a dead lazuli bunting. I had never seen one or heard of it before. What a color! Sorry, Little Bunting. And Trail Guy, I’m sorry you have a boo-boo on your thumb.

lazuli bunting

HEY! Here is a live lazuli bunting! That is so fun – never seen one before, and then BOOM! A dead one and a live one all close together!

Trail Guy suggested a short cut, heading back across the stream on a log. I told him I was wanting a drink of water, and he said he thought that could be arranged.

It was a little unusual, a little over our heads, a little splashy, but Trail Guy is resourceful and knew what he knew. I said, “How many other women would put up with this?”  He said, “That’s why I married you instead of those other women.” So, we got our splashy drinks and then ventured across the log.

I’m not much good at rock hopping due to a depth perception problem but I can do log crossings.

Mineral King aspens

And this scene? I think it is exactly the place that I painted for my friend a few weeks ago! I actually recognized the exact aspen trees. (Hi, L!)

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Jul 10 2014

Odd Job #10, Part Two

Our Bride-To-Be of the rustic wedding selected the typestyle and chose the solid version, so I began burning numbers on wooden discs.

At first I tried to trace and transfer the numbers. That didn’t work on the wood. After thinking it over, I realized that every table will be separate, so no table numbers will be displayed together. This freed me up from having to perfectly match every bump and bite and wobble of Papyrus. It also freed me to make each number whatever size looked best on its own individual disc.

After burning the #1 solid, I realized that this job just might delay the wedding, due to the slowness of the artist and the process.

I went rummaging around in the workshop and found some wood stain. At the risk of upsetting The Bride To Be, I stained #2. It looked so good that I proceeded to numbers 3-7. Then I got a little nervous, so I photographed and emailed them to her.

She loved them! (This is an Angel Bride, not a Bride-zilla.)

Because the wood burner is borrowed, I felt an obligation to complete this task as soon as possible. I liked drawing the numbers, fitting them around the center of the branch. I liked painting them with the stain. However, burning with fancy expensive tools is a tedious task. Next time I may ask to scratch it in with a nail and then fill it in with a Sharpie!

Oh, and the location of the rustic wedding? Malibu!!!

Here are links to some more previous odd jobs:


Chair slat

Cabin sign (gotta scroll down to see this one)


RV Decal

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Jul 09 2014

Odd Job #10

When you need an artist in a rural place such as Tulare County, chances are you don’t know too many. When you need an artist for a specific job, chances are you will simply ask the only artist you know.

The question usually sounds like this: “Do you know anyone who can do this obscure, one-time, peculiar semi-art-related task?”


It gets me all excited so I might raise my voice a bit. Sometimes I might even jump up and down, although that is rare.

A friend has a friend who has a sister who has a daughter who is getting married and wants things rustic and woodsy. They found someone to cut and sand 1″ thick wooden discs, about 5-8″ in diameter. (Thank goodness they didn’t ask me about that part!)

Then came the question about who could put table numbers on the discs.


It’s all who you know, and I know Rosemary who owns a stable of wood-burning tools. She lent me a fancy one that just might be worth more than my car.

I sent The Bride To Be several type styles. She chose Papyrus, which happens to be my favorite in spite of great contempt from all young graphic designers (Cory, I know you are listening). I practiced numbers on a board, and gave her a price.

Have a look at the practice board. If you are a real wood burning artist, kindly avert your eyes.

Here are some discs next to the numbers:

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll tell you (and show you) the rest of the story of this Odd Job. (Funny – I have the strange urge to spell “job” with 2 b’s when writing it next to “odd”.)

Here are some links to previous odd jobs:

Painting on a quilt square

Houseboat sign

Pet clinic sign

Painting on an antique window

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Jul 08 2014

Remember Reading Rabbit?

Published by under Reading

In the summer months of July and August, lessons are adjourned, suspended and recessed. Sometimes my students say “Have a nice vacation!” I don’t always take a vacation, although there are plenty of extended weekends in Mineral King, AKA The Land of No Electricity or Internet.

Salt & Light, or Reading Rabbit, oil on board, 11×14″

Reading is vacation to me. Being prone with a book without a sense of time or obligation or guilt about undone tasks is VACATION!

Here is a look at three books I have recently finished. (If you click on the links at the bottom of the post, it will open in a new Amazon window. If you buy as a result of that clicking, I will earn a few cents. It’s called “an affiliate link”. I’ve been taught it is a smart thing to do on a blog.)

1. Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson. Are you about to hurl? If you are, I agree with you that Duck Dynasty is one of the dumbest things on air these days. I don’t watch teevee but have overheard and overwatched as Trail Guy channel surfs. A friend said this autobiography was surprisingly good and that Phil is surprisingly smart, enterprising and interesting. He was right! This is one of the best autobiographies I’ve read in ages. Who knew??

2. The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern is by Victor Davis Hanson, one of my favorite writers and thinkers. He is a farmer in the Central Valley of California (that big valley is where I grew up, just down the hill from Three Rivers), a former history professor and currently someone important at Stanford in something called the Hoover Institute (I just work here, ‘k? I don’t know nuthin’.) My copy is autographed, dogearred and scribbled in. I had to read it with a dictionary, and it took me a couple of months. I finally took notes in a separate place so I could grasp the concepts. I’ve heard Victor speak twice in person over the last few months, and he is BRILLIANT, ENGAGING, and tells the hard truths, particularly about California. Yikes. You might need to read something light or fun after Victor’s work. (That’s why I chose a book with the title of Happy, Happy, Happy!)

3. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant explains how the world is divided into givers, takers and matchers and how that affects each one in life and business. I loved reading about the different studies and people and results. Who knew that givers end up on both the top and the bottom of the success spectrum? And aren’t you interested to know which category you are in?



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Jul 07 2014

The Cabins of Wilsonia Now For Sale

After 3 plus years of planning, designing, photographing, editing, drawing, designing some more, exploring, computing, planning, and more drawing than you can possibly imagine, The Cabins of Wilsonia  is available foPRE-ORDER.

Pencil drawing of Wilsonia Club House


This means that you have to trust me to deliver a great book to you in 2-1/2 months.

So that you will be inclined to trust me, the pre-order price is $15 less than the real price.

The pre-order price is $70, which includes tax and mailing costs. (Mostly – I will be eating a little bit of those costs to keep the price to a nice round number.)

If you wait until the book is here to buy it, the cost will be $86.

pencil drawing of Wilsonia cabin

You may buy it here, using Paypal. When you get to Paypal (you need to already have a Paypal acc0unt for this to work), it will allow you to choose the quantity you want to order.

If we see each other regularly,  I will refund the mailing prices because I can simply hand the book to you.

You ready? I sure am!

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Jul 03 2014

A Wildflower Walk in Mineral King

Happy Independence Day Eve!

Normally I post about Mineral King on Fridays, but this week I will be silent on Friday because you will be busy and so will I. So, you get to read about Mineral King on Thursday. Hope you are feeling flexible.

Trail Guy and I took a break from our labors around the cabin (Is knitting a labor??) for a walk. No packs, no water, no snacks – just a walk. He wanted to visit his favorite flower, which has popped into bloom a little early this year since spring came early to the mountains.

Crimson Columbine

This is not his favorite flower – this is Crimson Columbine.

This is not his favorite flower either. I don’t remember seeing it before. I don’t know what it is.

wild blue flax

This is not Trail Guy’s favorite flower either. The color is washed out here, but it is Wild Blue Flax. I took this photo because this was taken in June, and normally this flower doesn’t appear until August.

Mariposa Lily

This Mariposa Lily might be Trail Guy’s second favorite flower. It is one of the few white flowers that I’ve bothered to learn, because usually I think white flowers are boring.

Mineral King

This is one of my favorite views, but it rarely photographs well and has never looked good enough to paint.

This is an almost invisible little bitty purplish blue flower that our friend Sue got all excited about. She called it an “Alpine something-or-other”. I’ve never seen it before and don’t think Sue had either.

Leopard Lily

LEOPARD LILY AKA TIGER LILY is Trail Guy’s favorite wild flower.

Leopard Lilies in Mineral King


They smell very very fragrant. Trail Guy thinks if it could be bottled, the bottler would be a zillionaire.

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush grows at most elevations. This is one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.


I love penstemmon, particularly this purply-blue version. I don’t know its real name.

This blog post got long. I’ll tell you about the rest of our walk next Friday.


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Jul 02 2014

Label Mural Afterthoughts

Published by under Murals,Thoughts

Ever heard it said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee?

Rocky Hill Antiques mural

The Rocky Hill Antiques mural is in danger of becoming a camel. Three owners, a former owner, vendors within the organization – many many people have opinions.

I will paint until the one who writes the checks is happy.

More will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Meanwhile, only TWO people have told me what is hidden in the mural. There have been many imaginative guesses; I think people are very very creative!

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