Day Trip to Mineral King

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Mineral King | 3 Comments

About 1 week ago, Trail Guy took his buddy Mike to Mineral King for the day. The idea was to take the Trackster into the valley, and then perhaps do a bit of snow-shoeing or skiing. Trail Guy wanted to see the cabin after the big winter to be sure all was well.

Lots of snow through Faculty Flat, AKA West Mineral King.However, the daffodils are blooming at the Dixon cabin, just before reaching the Ranger Station. Alas, there is still another large avalanche remaining at the Sawtooth Parking lot area. Looks as if the Michaels climbed to the top to cross over and then took a picture of the little snow buggy below. (That’s the Trackster.)

The bridge at the end of road is snow-free. Hi Mike! These cabins are snow free.

And the avalanche had to be crossed over to get back to the Trackster. 

Our cabin was fine, but is always the last one to melt out. Trail Guy did not take any pictures of it; even if he had, I might not be willing to post them on the World Wide Web.

Painting Mineral King, Continued

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Remember this stage of all these Mineral King oil paintings, as seen last week?
Here is the next phase – skies done. Sort of an assembly line method of painting, but I can’t think of a better way to finish 11 paintings in a short amount of time. (Remember, I have a show coming this weekend called Gray Matter? Gotta hang the show, and then who knows how long it will take to figure out what to wear and how to make my hair behave!)

Kind of scary looking to see them all in this stage of semi-completion. Not as bad as sausage, I’ve heard. And once these are finished and scanned, we will all be pleased with the outcomes. I’m confident of this.

I also dabbled a bit more on the lanterns. They are too small for this much detail, but I’ll keep on keeping on.

Because of the lanterns and the recently painted iris and sunflower, my palette is pretty these days. Often it is nothing but browns, grays and greens, so this is more fun.

Painting Mineral King

Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Sometimes I do my “homework”. Studio work. Planning. Educated guesswork.

I looked through my records of paintings sold at the Silver City Store over the past 7 years or so. I made lists by subject matter and lists by size. I averaged the total number of paintings sold, and made a new list of which subjects in which sizes that would most likely sell this summer.

Nothing in college as an art major prepares one for this sort of exercise. Of course, attending 4 schools over the course of 5 years and earning a 2 year degree isn’t exactly a stellar climb up the artistic ladder of excellence.

Never you mind, I know what I am doing here.


Oh yes, there is more and there will be even more. I’m working hard at figuring out how to paint the same scenes over and over in a manner which isn’t just mindless repetition. This could be trying different colors, light, or even testing my memory and trying to paint from what I remember.The most popular scene is by far and away the Crowley cabin with the stream in the foreground and Farewell Gap in the background. It is the scene from the bridge at the end of the road and used to have two large trees. It is uncannily symmetrical, but two years ago the taller of the two trees, a red fir, was removed because it was wearing out.

Trail Guy and I were quite surprised to learn that most people didn’t even notice that one of the trees was removed. People don’t seem to notice in my paintings either, so sometimes I paint it with the 2 trees as they were. 

Here is the one that sold most recently.

An Attempt to Get Into Mineral King

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in Mineral King | 5 Comments

Was Trail Guy really attempting to get into Mineral King? Or was he just having a fun day with his buddy Mike? Whatever the motivation, they didn’t make it to the end of the road but they did have a good time together.

The photos aren’t in any particular order, and I can’t identify where each photo was taken. They were snow avalanches, and what shows is all the debris left behind.

Friend Mike and the Cushman Trackster

The waterfall looks camouflaged here. It is the one called “Three Falls Below The Gate”; can you pick it out?

The redbud is still quite beautiful on the lower part of the road. Isn’t the color brilliant after all the browns up the road?

Repainting Mineral King, Day Twelve, Part B

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 11 Comments

On Day Twelve, the final day of repainting the Mineral King mural in Exeter, I spent a lot of time staring at the wall to determine what might need a touch-up, some polishing, a minor correction. It was hot, and the longer I stood there, the less I could see to do. Fortunately, there were many interesting visitors to visit with while I contemplated matters of possible consequence.

This is an ore bucket, one of the hidden items. It still seems obvious to me, and may be obvious to other observers. Since it is one of 13 hidden items, it is okay to have a few easy ones.

I stared and stared, thinking to show you before and after photos of the polishing process. Now I can’t tell which photos are the before and which are the after.

I added what might pass for phlox and groundsel wildflowers to this hill. The heat immediately turned the paint to the consistency of toothpaste and made the brush thick and unwieldy. The flowers don’t even show in the photos!Finally, I signed it. Had the same trouble with the heat and the paint consistency on the signature. I would have kept the old signature, but the brilliant periwinkle blue color was just too weird. Now that I see it on this photo, I wonder why I didn’t sign directly beneath the plaque. This might require another visit to the wall, on an overcast day when the brush can retain a point and the paint can retain flow.

Then, because there was shade on the other side of the parking lot, I stood back and took a few final photos, because the next time I see this, there will be cars parked alongside.

The color isn’t as good in the afternoon light as in the morning light. I like this because Marty Weekly’s mural “Timber Trail” shows in the distance through the awning. (far right side of photo). Why didn’t Marty’s fade? I’m sure it goes back to the colors I used; in spite of the high lightfast rating, my yellow was most certainly not light fast or fade resistant. This time using different yellows, it WILL last. I insist upon it!

And with this, we conclude our Repainting Mineral King series.


Mineral King Mural, Day Twelve, Part A

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

First, on Day Twelve, I returned the truck. Just drove it like I knew what I was doing, but sitting there on the giant bench seat, I couldn’t even reach the top of the steering wheel with my hands because it was so huge. Nice Freightliner, and I got it up to 25 mph. Just zipped right along.

Sorry. You probably don’t care about that. 

Then I walked the mile or so back to the mural, and along the way I encountered a good friend from Three Rivers, the man with the Events Room where I painted 2 murals last year (the second one here), stopped in at the dentist office to see if any decisions have been made about muralizing there, and checked in with Rosemary & Thyme to learn they are out of coloring books again.

It was a walking business trip, but I can’t write off the mile for that.

Then, with the Freightliner out of the way, I photographed the entire mural in the morning sunshine. At this distance and these angles, it appears to be finished.

Au contraire!

This lower hill needs wildflowers.

I’m certain there is something needed here, such as better foreground trees or a camouflaging of a hidden item.

But look – what is this? A visiting celebrity, a guest artist, none other than. . . TRAIL GUY!

What could I do except take a break and treat him to lunch?

So, this will be continued tomorrow. . .


Repainting Mineral King, One Day Left

Posted by on Mar 29, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | 2 Comments

Today will be my last day on this wall. The list of touch-ups, detailing, hiding things, camouflaging hidden things, and evaluating is long and boring. Maybe the photos will be interesting. I’ll show you tomorrow what I did today.

Meanwhile, I thought you might like to see the photos I worked from for the mural. You have to imagine them all stretched out one after another, and cropped off at the bottom, with snapshots of cabin scenes lying on top of the scenery. Then imagine them all lying ended to end, but now they are 110′ long.

Kind of makes your head spin a bit, yes?


Repainting Mineral King, Day Eleven

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | No Comments

On Saturday, there were a lot of Model A Fords in Exeter. The weather was a bit iffy, but after a phone call, I donned my painty pants and headed down the hill. I tried my best to not think about all the things to do at home, and listening to the audio version of Cry, The Beloved Country really helped. (Anyone read this book? It’s about South Africa in the 1940s.)

Because of the rain, I was able to fill my water bucket by scooping up from a puddle. Very convenient. Next, I worked on the “hidden” lantern. It was blue the day before.
I added a coffee pot to make up for the one I lost. This was all just sort of fiddly stuff, waiting for the tour groups to appear. The first group came quickly and I didn’t have my camera handy, but Betsy did. Look at all these interested people – what an audience!Then my buddy Jay showed up. (Yes, I was lost on the wrong mural.) If Jay can drive a Model A, I figured he can back up and turn around a Freightliner. Yeah, sure, I prolly coulda* done it myself, but Jay is a farmer, and farmers can drive anything and do it right the first time.

See? Perfect! I didn’t even need a stepladder to reach those upper blue trees. 
This was my view of the mural, from the very very convenient placement of the truck for trotting back and forth to see how things look from a distance.

The second group arrived, and this time I was able to take their photo and speak from my elevated platform. 

They invited me to lunch, so after meeting and greeting a few other mural visitors, I put a bunch of orange traffic cones out and left the Freightliner hogging up the alley.

After lunch, I fiddled around a bit more on the parts I could easily reach, and finally decided that I was perfectly capable of repositioning the truck myself.

Nothing to it. Might get a job with a trucking company when this mural is finished.

I camouflaged the lantern a bit more, and finally tackled the remaining blue patches. 

Now that the end is in sight, I am wanting to slow down and detail everything within an inch of its life. In spite of all my lack of confidence, I do feel quite proud of and connected to this mural. Each time I’ve worked on it, I’ve met nice people and built up my skills at muralizing.

P.S. Larry warned me about running at age 79. He said he was fine at 78, but now that he is 79, it just doesn’t work.

*”Prolly coulda” – I know it is “probably could have” but I wanted to sound like a trucker.

Repainting Mineral King, Day Ten

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | No Comments

When I arrived at the mural on Friday a.m., this was my view. Sunny day ahead?

This is the area where I wanted to start, so I studied it for awhile to figure out how to blend old blue with the new green, way up on the wall.

I mixed a bluish green and blended the new with the old so the transition isn’t abrupt.

Hey look! The City of Exeter had 2 great guys working who did me the favor of removing the weed piles!

A little more green has been applied. Hard to tell the difference.

Now look – lots more green. I made a bit of a box around the signature but haven’t decided if I need to paint it out and re-sign it or just leave it old and blue. And bye-bye, sunshine.

At quitting time, I left a blue patch. . .

. . . and a blue lantern.

Here’s a weird deal: last week a friend and I were strolling through the murals and she spotted this.

So what? Okay, look more closely.

I never heard of this before UNTIL the very day I saw the box. That morning, one of the truck’s owners stopped by and told me the truck is actually owned by Fremont Fruit. Say what? What does this have to do with Botkin Bros.?

Mysteries, unsolved mysteries.

Nice blue.

P.S. Lots of visitors but not as many as on Thursday. Larry stopped by the truck along the sidewalk and asked, “Does this mean you are almost finished?” I’m guessing about 2 more painting days ought to do the trick, which will make 12 days, as I predicted. 

Repainting Mineral King, Day Nine

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in Mineral King, Murals | No Comments


What a wonderful painting day! The weather seemed iffy, and I was reluctant to leave home, but after two phone calls to verify a rainless situation, I left. Made it a mile, turned around and went back for my lunchbox. 

On this post, I will put the explanations beneath the photos. I know that sometimes it is confusing. I am often confused, with a mind blurred by exhaustion when I write these posts.

The redbud is in bloom, there was a fire in the wood stove (yikes, don’t let the pollution police see that photo), the fake lawn is mowed (weeds, not synthetic lawn), there are flowers, weeds to be pulled, and my one surviving dutch iris is in bloom. Drove down wishing I could stay home, but it was the best painting day I’ve had so far. It never was hot!

This area seemed so small after I finished it on Monday. I felt discouraged.

“Small”? It is about 4 feet wide. It would take me a month to do an oil painting of that size! Buck up, Buckwheat. You are right on schedule.

This snapshot of the old Mineral King store appeared to have lost its shadow. I worked on that for a little variety. It still doesn’t show well, so I’ll strengthen the contrast on another day.

My updated banner arrived and Trail Guy got it ready to hang. It won’t fit on the back end of the Freightliner, so I hung it on the side. I’m flexible like that.

Here is the old banner, acting as a shade device in the windshield of the Freightliner. 

When I stopped painting around 12:30, this was how things looked. I felt hopeful that perhaps I will be able to finish it in the estimated time frame of 12-16 days.

I chose a triangular area on the upper left side of the old store snapshot. It helps to define areas to complete so that there is a sense of progress.

It was a day of many visitors, so many groups and pairs that I gave up writing them down. Lots of explaining about the murals, Mineral King, the reason for repainting, Exeter, even talking about why chains are required in Sequoia when there is no ice on the road. And, showing people where the hidden items are.

Next, it was time to beepbeep, back the truck up. Piece of cake – rear outer tire on the curb, no problem.

You can see the bed is sort of tilted, because the curb is about 3 inches higher than the asphalt here. But, I can deal with a bit of a slope, because I am flexible like that.

Look at that – the inner tire is floating up in the air!

Today’s visitors were too numerous to list. There were folks from Tulare, Visalia, San Francisco, Fresno, and Clovis, Redlands, Vancouver (Washington), plus an entire busload from People’s Church in Fresno. Most of the semi-locals had out of town guests with them. This is EXACTLY what the mural team had in mind when we began the project 21 years ago. My friend GE stopped by as did my friend MG. That was a treat! Larry said “Good Morning! Good Afternoon! Whatever it is!”