Jana Botkin | Cabin Art

A California Artist's Show-and-Tell

Apr 23 2014

Invitation to Visit Wilsonia Blog

Did you know that I have another blog?

“Cabin on a Sunlit Meadow” – sold



It is called The Cabins of Wilsonia. For almost three years I’ve been working on a book of pencil drawings of the cabin community Wilsonia at Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

The process is documented here. If you click on the highlighted word “here”, it will open in a new window with my other blog.

Today and tomorrow I’ll be posting over there. I didn’t want you to think I’d quit on my real blog.

This is my real blog. Did you know that? I love writing this blog. Yeah, yeah, I know we are supposed to love people and use things. . . it is just the sloppy vernacular of my lazy generation that causes me to state it that way.

For over a year I’ve been missing from this blog about one day a week. You might have thought I had gotten lazy about regular posting, but I was over there.

I’m sorry for not inviting you sooner.

You are invited now.

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Apr 22 2014

More Spring in Three Rivers

A glorious time of year in a beautiful place – that’s spring in Three Rivers, and it brings me inspiration.

In Three Rivers, this is called “Karl’s Tree”. It is a group of 8 dogwoods, a variety called “Carolinus Florida”. It blooms around the first of April, give or take, based on the weather.

Did you know that locust trees come in pink? These are also in Karl’s yard. They are more purple in real life than in this photo.

Fiesta flower is common in my driveway in early April. Mid April too.

Here is a pink dogwood and a white one too, both in bloom at the same time.

But what is there to DO in Three Rivers? Oh, trespass along the flume, look at the flowers, see the views, you know, just boring stuff like that.

The poppies look yellow in this photo. Colors don’t always work out to be accurate in digital photography or on the computer.  But, it is still beautiful!

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Apr 18 2014

Spring in Three Rivers

February is my favorite month. No wait, it’s March! Hold on a minute – I think it might be April!

Salt Creek ought to be raging about now. Instead, we are pathetically grateful for a tiny amount of flow.

My cousin loves to watch birds. I learned a ton from him and his sister in just a few days.

Green doesn’t last long around here so I soak in as much as I can.

More bird watching cousins. I am a cousin watching my bird watching cousins.

Way too much inspiration around here – this will have to be continued next week.

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Apr 17 2014

A California Artist Paints (Without Benefit of a Crystal Ball) in Tulare County

The Redbud Festival is coming soon. First weekend in May this year, and at the Memorial Building in Three Rivers, which is a new location.

As usual, I have no idea what to expect in terms of visitation or sales. A crystal ball certainly would be useful.

Oh well. Guess I’ll just paint a combination of what has sold well before and what floats my boat.

The first draft is bright but rough.

Now they are drying in the window sill. The colors look funky because they are wet and reflective.

What is that stack of stuff? I looked through my fruit photos (Phruit Photos? Fruit Fotos?), picked the ones that floated my boat, attached hardware, then wrote titles and inventory numbers on the backs of each canvas.

Now they are almost finished, drying on hooks next to the window. When they are dry enough to handle, I’ll sign them. When that part is dry, I’ll scan them. These are 6×6 wrapped canvases, in oil paint, and will sell for $50 each.

Or not.

I may be a California artist, but Tulare County is the 13th poorest out of 58 counties. And in spite of putting the price next to the painting, people always ask how much. We are also the 3rd least educated county in the state.

Always gotta do things the hard way, eh? Do you think my paintings of fruit would sell in Marin County? I could add another zero, maybe borrow my neighbor’s BMW, have someone dress me so I could pass, and make a run up there.

Nah. They’d see right through me.

Tulare County is where I was born, and it is where I’ll stay and paint. Sometimes I love it here, and sometimes I want to run away. That’s probably how it is with every place in the world.

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Apr 15 2014

Beautiful Pencil Drawing

Published by under drawing,Lessons

Every Tuesday I teach people how to draw at the Courthouse Gallery in Exeter. Been doing it for 20 years or so. You can learn about it here. Drawing Lessons

My drawing students are wonderful. They work hard, and they learn and they do beautiful drawings.

This beautiful woman drew her beautiful granddaughter. It is her first portrait, which is one of the hardest subjects to tackle. She has been drawing with me about 2-1/2 years, and honestly, she had a bit of a head start because she used to touch up portrait photos. But that doesn’t mean this wasn’t hard – it was hard! Everything is hard, so pick something you love, because you’ll be staring at it for a long time.

P.S. Today is my 6th Blogiversary. I still haven’t run out of things to write about!

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Apr 14 2014

Drawing Sequoia

Sequoia Natural History Association has sold my work for many years. Great organization – they stock and man the visitor centers and ranger stations throughout Sequoia. They do a lot more, but this post isn’t about them. It is about a drawing I am working on in hopes that they will add it to their inventory in the near future.

This is how the bridge over the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River looked during my recent visit to Sequoia National Park. This bridge is in the Lodgepole Campground.

This is the pencil drawing and the photos I’m working from. The white spaces in the photo are unfinished or sunshine, not snow.

Just in case you were wondering. . .

And I think bridges are remarkable pieces of architecture. They are simple spans over space, but they can be so elegant. Stone work, rustic wood, flowing water – what’s not to like?

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Apr 11 2014

TG Friday in Mineral King

Published by under Mineral King

Trail Guy – Friday in Mineral King. You thought I was referring to a restaurant? Not this little gray duck.

The white snow (thank you, God!) blends with the white (gray?) sky.

Trail Guy skied up to Crystal Creek.

Look – something that isn’t like a black and white photo.

A little break in the clouds made it prettier in person than in this photo.

And thus we conclude our  late winter check-in with Mineral King. Summer is much more visually inspiring to this California artist than the snowy landscape and gray (white?) sky.


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Apr 10 2014

Visiting Sequoia

When I was a kid and there were guests from out of the area, my folks would take them up to visit Sequoia National Park. I remember thinking, “Do we have to go to the mountains again?”

What a punk. A punk in the Park. A Park Punk?

Two very dear cousins of mine were here recently. We had family business to attend to, and then, we went to Sequoia! I wanted to go, and I really wanted to go with them. They had spent much of their childhood summers in Sequoia, and many of our memories were from times there together.

It had snowed several days before and the previous night. Our first stop was Beetle Rock, which involved some fun stories and binoculars for bird watching.

It was overcast and cold. Doesn’t matter. We were in the Park, and surrounded by Sequoia trees. I love this fence, even when there is no sun on it, even when the snow is tracked.

Cousin Joel seems tall to me, but not compared to a Sequoia tree. He has binoculars, because he sees a bird. Or maybe he hears a bird and is looking for it.

We walked up toward Tokopah Falls, stepping in the tracks of some previous hikers. Doesn’t this look cold? It was 34 degrees.

This is the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. It flows through Lodgepole. Brrrrr.

It got so foggy we descended to enjoy the foothill part of Sequoia. This is the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River as seen from a suspension bridge out of the Potwisha campground.

Isn’t this a cool bridge? When I bounced on it, it was hard for my cousins to hold the binoculars still and identify their birds. I tried to not be a punk and mostly succeeded.

Isn’t this cool?

This is an old flume and provides water for hydroelectric power. Very clean energy, and nothing gets wasted. There were no birds in the flume, so the binoculars weren’t necessary.

For the record, this former punk really enjoys Sequoia Park. I am now a California artist who loves the special places of Tulare County, and that’s the truth! (Raspberry sound, but I can’t spell that)



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Apr 09 2014

How to be a Professional Artist in Tulare County

  1. Love the place
  2. Be flexible
  3. Never quit


Easy sounding? Here are the details:

1. Love the place – take a camera everywhere, always be on the lookout for a different angle, another landmark, better light, something never noticed before. Take what feels like endless photos of Sequoia trees, Mineral King, oranges, poppies. Learn as much as possible about the landmarks. Meet as many people as possible who have lived here a long time, especially those who know people who know people, go places when you’d rather stay home. Pay attention to the geography, the seasons, the agriculture, the flora and fauna.

2. Be flexible - learn to teach drawing lessons, figure out how to give both private and group lessons and workshops too, learn to paint when you’d really only prefer pencil, learn to do murals even if you think it seems impossible. Accept commissions of things that don’t seem worth painting or drawing and figure out a way to make them look great – find their beauty and show the customer. Enter shows, schlepp your work around, try new shows, take your work to different places of business so it gets seen because there aren’t many galleries in Tulare County. Listen to suggestions by people of what to draw or paint. Be willing to give talks to groups. Be willing to open your private studio to the public from time to time. Reproduce your work as cards, printstee shirts, whatever it is that people are wanting to buy. Write a blog. (NEXT WEEK IS MY 6 YEAR BLOGIVERSARY!) Maintain a website when you’d really rather be drawing or painting or blogging.

3. Never quit. Get a second job if you have to, but don’t quit trying to make it with art.

P.S. Every so often, publish a book. Upcoming from me, The Cabins of Wilsonia.

Any questions?

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Apr 08 2014

Drawing in Pencil

Published by under drawing,Three Rivers

I’m drawing in pencil because I love to. There might be a purpose to these drawings in progress, and it might be to keep from doing repetitive and boring work on the computer for the upcoming book The Cabins of Wilsonia. The book isn’t repetitive and boring; the computer work is both of those things plus IMPOSSIBLE. No worries, I’ll figure it out or figure out who to ask for help. Meanwhile, I am drawing, a very therapeutic and productive procrastination technique.

This is a scene I’ve painted in a horizontal format, and one that I’ve lent the photo to a drawing student so she could draw it. I might have drawn it before, but I’ve slept since then. Actually, this drawing might be finished in this photo. Here, have a closer look:

This is the Generals Highway, above the Sequoia Park entrance at Ash Mountain but below Hospital Rock. You can see yucca in bloom (this is from a photo taken in June) and Moro Rock in the distance. Just a typical scene from Three Rivers, California. . . yawn.

But wait – there’s more!

This is an unfinished pencil drawing of a “Sheltie” named Wally.

Okay, I admit it. This is now finished too.

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