Because Jimmy Asked

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Mineral King | 2 Comments

Who is Jimmy? A friend of mine.

What did he ask? Something about William O. Clough and his memorial and Franklin Lake’s dam and the dams built on lakes by the Mt. Whitney Power Co. It wasn’t a specific question, more of a request for more information. He asked me, because Google sent him to my website (probably among several hundred thousand others).

Bill Clough was a colorful guy (an early Trail Guy, perhaps?) who had the job of closing the dams for the winter that Mt. Whitney Power Co. built on four lakes out of Mineral King. Or maybe he opened them. . . I don’t know how this works. (Yes, it still works, but might involve helicopters for transportation these days.)

One fall, Bill didn’t return. The following spring or summer, or maybe even a later spring or summer, someone found his boots near the little cabin he built about halfway between Mineral King and Franklin Lake. Did he live in the cabin? In the summer? 

So many questions. . . wish the guy had kept a journal, or a blog or something else helpful.

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The corner of his cabin still exists.

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This giant red fir near his cabin ruins has a memorial plaque. Placed by whom? When?

Memorial plaque for Bill Clough

What does it say?

Bill Clough's plaque

Look how high up it is – it must have been placed many moons ago, when that place on the tree was reachable. (Hi Deendie!)

So many questions, so few answers. Here is a list of what I know:

  1. The dams out of Mineral King are on Franklin Lake (the lower larger lake), Crystal Lake (upper or lower? It’s been too long since I was there), upper Monarch Lake, and Eagle Lake (only one of those in Mineral King).
  2. The cave out of the South Fork (of the Kaweah River) Campground of Sequoia National Park is called “Clough’s Cave”. The cave has a gate, so forget about it.
  3. You can read more about Bill in Mineral King: The Story of Beulah by Louise A. Jackson 
  4. My second mural in Exeter called “Men + Mules + Water = Power” is of Franklin Lake as it looks now, with insets of related historic scenes.

Hope that helps, Jimmy, and thank you for asking so that I could put a Mineral King post up on a Friday in the middle of winter when the ideas are a little sparse.

NEWS FLASH: Bill Clough’s great-grand-niece just left my studio. Uncle Bill closed the dams for the winter. He closed the Franklin dam one fall, then returned to his cabin area, sat down and died. The following spring, my friend’s granddad went looking for him and found his boots and his beard. Uncle Bill was “eccentric”, had a very long beard, and sometimes he preached. (To whom? What? Always more questions around here. . .)

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Stick a Fork in Me, I’m Done

That’s a non-Google kind of title, but the real title is boring. “Mineral King Mural #3 is Finished in Three Rivers Museum”.

First, a little context. Here is mural #1 as it appears in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum (Redundant, I know, but I have to say all those words so this post can be found on the World Wide Web.)

Mineral King mural in Three Rivers Museum of Empire Mt. mining area.

Mineral King mural  of Empire Mt. mining area in Three Rivers Museum . No miniature ore buckets hanging from the little cable yet. . . will they get made in time for the January 22 opening party of the room?? As always, more will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

And to our left in the Mineral King Room:

2 more murals in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum

2 more murals in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum

The cabinet in front of mural #3 will be sitting lower once it is removed from the dollies. Yes, those rolling platforms are called “dollies” – anyone know why?? The other sort that guys with their names on a patch on their shirts use to push around boxes of things are called “hand trucks”. (One never knows what sort of helpful tidbit one might pick up on this blog.)

And now for a little glimpse into what sort of fiddling and polishing happens at the end of a mural job – here is how the left side looked last week:

Left end of mural #3 before the final details.

Left end of mural #3 before the final details.

Left end of mural #3 after touching up a few details

Left end of mural #3 after touching up a few details

Louise said that the snow patch on the far end looked like white paint. I agreed, and saw that it had the wrong angle on the bottom. Then I added a spot of rocks in the center. She also said that the trees were too sparse, and of course she was right there too. 

These are minor details, but those who know, KNOW. Louise KNOWS. I fully trust her judgement, particularly about Mineral King. She has been a tremendous help to me on every Mineral King mural I have ever painted, and I LOVE working with her on any project. (Remember the book Trail of Promises this year? It came out in July, and is available here and on Amazon.)

No blue tape! Stick a fork in me; I'm done!

No more blue tape. . . Stick a fork in me; I’m done!

3rd Mineral King Mural, Day #3

Posted by on Dec 19, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals, Three Rivers | 6 Comments

The third Mineral King Mural in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers History Museum is almost finished. I estimated 3-4 painting days, and that’s about right.

First I worked on the mountains on the upper right. They were still rough, but it wasn’t apparent until I had detailed the other mountains. The contrast was strong between finished and unfinished mountains, but I didn’t take a close-up photo because I was DETERMINED to finish that day. (In spite of being a conscientious blogger, I do try to live in the moment rather than live to document life.)

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Now the upper mountains are tighter, and it shows the unfinished forested areas and everything else below the upper ridge.

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Can you see the improvement now? Louise helped me decipher the miniature details of the actual Mineral King valley, because that is the most important part.

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I added detail to the foreground – texture, rather than specific rocks.

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There might be no difference here, except that I remembered to move the photo taped to the mural.

I added details to the mountains to the left of the valley, detailed the foreground a bit more, added a foreground tree on the left and one on the right, added texture, snow, contrast, details, details, details. The pencil artist in me wants to take this thing to the nth degree.

Couldn’t stand it – I was compelled to remove the tape to get a cleaner view.

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This is how it looked at the end of the day. I left the photos up so that visitors to the incomplete Mineral King Room can see that it is real, not just a figment of some demented artist’s over-active imagination.

Here is the list of what remains to be done on day 4, which hardly counts as a painting day:

  1. Review all the details and the accuracy with Louise Jackson, author of Trail of Promises, dear friend, coordinator of the Mineral King Room and all-around Mineral King expert.
  2. Remove blue tape.
  3. Wash off blue chalk.
  4. Touch up wall paint where the mural paint bled under the tape.
  5. SIGN IT!!
  6. Ride off into the sunset.

This is how it looked when I stepped outside after painting 7-1/2 hours without stopping.

This is how it looked when I stepped outside after painting 7-1/2 hours without stopping.

Third Mineral King Mural in Three Rivers Museum

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

“Third Mineral King Mural in Three Rivers Museum” does not sound like a colorful, clever or creative title, but that’s the truth of the matter.

This is mural #1 in the Mineral King Room of the museum.

Tram tower for ore buckets from Empire mines in Mineral King

Mural of tram tower for ore buckets from Empire mines in Mineral King

Here is mural #2.

Sawtooth mural through window of Mineral King cabin facade.

Sawtooth mural through window of Mineral King cabin facade.

Finally, here is what you have been waiting for and wondering about: Mural #3!

Step one: determine where it belongs and tape off the edges.

Step one: determine where it belongs and tape off the edges.

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Step two: draw it. Actually, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw.

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Step three: start painting with whatever is farthest away.

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Step four: keep painting. Paint what matters the most, sort of working from farthest to closest. Get those peaks right so that everything else will line up underneath.

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Step five: block out giant patches so there is a sense of progress after all the little fiddly things make me feel as if I’m not getting anywhere.

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Step six: recoat the sky, retouch the tops of the peaks, reorganize the photos so it looks as if I am in control.

I think this will be a three day mural. The size is 9 feet by 2 feet. (Bet you can guess which dimension goes with which number. . .)

Third Mineral King Mural in Three Rivers Museum Day 2

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals, Three Rivers | No Comments

Day #2 on the third Mineral King mural in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers Museum might be easier to paint than to spell out.

I began on the left, working down and forward in space. 

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Then, I realized that the farthest mountains were quite unfinished. This meant starting at the top (farthest distance) and painting down.

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Sort of. Maybe it would be good to add some more detail in the middle ground. Or a few trees up close.

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Or fill up all that white space on the far right. I think it is all forested over there.

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What do you mean by “It’s time to close”??? I’m not done, and I thought this was going to be quick and easy.

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One of the best ways I know to stay self-employed as a full time artist in Tulare County is to never lose my optimism.

To be continued. . .

New Mineral King Mural Planned

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals | 4 Comments

That mural I showed you yesterday served 2 purposes: 1. To dress up the exterior of my studio and 2. To keep me in practice because I felt slightly inadequate to begin the next mural at the Three Rivers History Museum.

This is often how I feel when about to begin a mural. I don’t know how long it takes to confidently approach a wall and just git ‘er dun. I’ve been painting murals for about 9 years now, so one would think I’d have a bit a confidence.

One would be wrong.

This was the first mural in the Mineral King Room at the Three Rivers Museum.

This is the first mural in the Mineral King Room at the Three Rivers Museum.

The tower/tipi thing was one of many that supported a cable which transported buckets of ore down from the mines to the stamp mill. That is an ore bucket on the floor in front of the mural.

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The second mural is behind/through/under/which word? that window.

This is the completed cabin facade. The idea is that you are inside a cabin, looking out the window at Sawtooth.

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The third mural is in the planning stage.

The cabin facade is on the left, the first mural is on the right (out of the view of the camera). Over this display case there will be a panoramic view of the Mineral King area as seen from Mather Point (near Timber Gap). The size will be 2 feet by 9 feet.

I’m not sure when I will begin. First, we must conquer the inexplicable case of nerves. I think it will help to buy new brushes, and to know that there is wall color paint available should I make a total dog’s breakfast of the thing.

“Just fine, thanks, but why are you asking?” says the Central California artist with a tic under her eye and a twitch in her shoulder.

Mineral King in November

Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in Mineral King, Personal | 6 Comments

It is Friday, and I have some recent Mineral King photos for you. Trail Guy and a friend went up the hill for a day. He is retired, I am not. That’s okay – he provides photos for you who love Mineral King and I post them. We are a team here.

Check out the red tree at the Sweet Ranch.

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That is a hornet’s nest near the Tar Gap parking lot (1/2 mile below the end of the road.)

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Say hello to Steven!

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Snow? But Steven was wearing shorts!

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Yep. Snow.

Now, time for a Samson update. He is still cute, and he is still biting us.

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Hey, Samson, these turkeys are not your friends.

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After Trail Guy took this photo, he rescued Samson from the aggressive birds. That little dude is fearless. Better not get too attached, because he might try to befriend or even challenge a bobcat.

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Sure, try to not get attached to this bundle of joy. He’ll attach himself to you with his teeth!

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Is Samson stalking the coffee mug??

Three Rivers Museum Mural #2, part 2

Posted by on Nov 4, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals, Three Rivers | 10 Comments

The new mural in the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers History Museum took about 5 hours to paint. It is taking 2 days to tell you about it.

img_4706I was zipping right along, just slamming this Mineral King mural of Sawtooth out of my brushes like nobody’s business. (Now that’s a quaint phrase – “nobody’s business”? What does this mean?)

Louise stopped by. She is the Mineral King Guru, an accomplished and published author, and a dear friend who has helped me with several of my murals. I said, “Hey Louise, will you look at this while I hold the window in place so we can be sure that I didn’t cover the peak of Sawtooth with the wooden separator of the window?”

Ahem. Houston, we have a problem.

So, I moved the peak of Sawtooth to the left. Seeing double? Yeppers. Two Sawtooths. Wait. Should that be “Sawteeth”?

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No problemo. (a little Spanish lingo for you to balance the French lesson yesterday) Let’s fix the sky, shorten the right side of Sawtooth and add some yellow so the whole world isn’t green, gray and blue. (“Let us” – “us” is the royal we. Thank you for your participation – I appreciation the help and enthusiasm.)

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In fact, let’s add a tree. Trees are good. This looks green, but it really is red fir.

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Museum Man Tom wedged the window into place so we could be sure of everything. I think you need to see this in person to fully appreciate its coolness. The glass makes some obnoxious reflections in the photograph. The camera’s flash washes out the colors too, but I couldn’t hold still enough without it.

In spite of the difficulties, you can see the peak of Sawtooth, and there is a sense that you are looking out of the window because of the space between the window and the mural.

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Now, no plastic and no window. It was a little weird to paint with such sloppy edges, but the window frame will cover the roughness.

The apparent darkness at the top of the sky with that stalactite is the shadow from the roof and rafter tail of the “cabin”. The lighter circle in the sky is a mystery, probably related to the way Museum Man Tom moved lights so I could see what I was painting.

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Now have a look at the “cabin”. You’ll have to stay tuned or stop by the museum after the window is put in place and secured. I didn’t dare put it in and risk cracking another pane of glass. (No, I didn’t crack the first pane. For once, I wasn’t the Breaker, although I continue to be a loser in the true sense of the word.)

Cabin facade in Mineral King Room of Three Rivers History Museum

Cabin facade in Mineral King Room of Three Rivers History Museum

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Three Rivers Museum Mural #2

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals, Three Rivers | 3 Comments

Do you remember during the last post about the Three Rivers History Museum Mineral King mural that I advised you to stay tuned?

This week we resume our ongoing saga of Mineral King murals.

A man built a cabin facade (sorry, I don’t know how to make the little comma in the air above the “c” in “facade”. . . in case you are confused, it is a French word, and it is pronounced “fuh-SAWD”. It means fake front.)

Where was I?

In the Mineral King Room of the Three Rivers History Museum at the fake cabin front.

Cabin interior facade in Mineral King Room of Three Rivers History Museum

Cabin interior facade in Mineral King Room of Three Rivers History Museum

I bought that window at a garage sale because it is my favorite color and because it is neat-o, but I had no idea of how to use it. It sat in my workshop for 2 years or more, and then it was needed in this “cabin”.

The idea is to feel as if you are inside a cabin, looking at a Mineral King scene through the window.

First, I had to draw it. Wait – first I had to decide what to paint, then I had to put plastic and tape all around so I wouldn’t splatter or spill on the “cabin”.

img_4704Can you see it? That’s okay. You don’t have to. I do. I did. See the 2 photos beneath? These were my guides. I had to be careful to place the peak of Sawtooth where it wouldn’t fall behind one of the “bars” of the window. (I can’t remember what that word is, the wooden things that separate the panes of glass.)

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Woohoo! This is going fast, and I just know it will be easy.

Fall down laughing. . . I forgot an important principle about painting murals. The smaller they are, the longer they take. “Longer” in relative time. Instead of about 1/2 hour per square foot, it is closer to an hour per square foot. This is because I keep detailing and detailing. I hope I remember this the next time I bid a mural job, and I hope I remember this and PACK A LUNCH!

Trail Guy to the rescue – he has kept me from being a starving artist for 30 years now.

This is too long. I’ll continue tomorrow.

 

 

New Mural in Three Rivers, Chapter 3

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in Mineral King, Murals, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

The Mineral King mural in Three Rivers is in this building.

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This is how the mural looked when I arrived on Day #2. Tower is in place, background sort of finished, trees located.

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In the last post I said it is quiet in the museum. Ahem. Not on Day #2! A cabin facade is getting built behind me, and every hammer blow or power tool is amplified in the empty room with a tile floor. It is going to look great, and on the back wall will be a window with a painted view of something Mineral King.

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On to the day’s work. . .

Trees in place

Trees in place

The tower needs more work

The tower needs more work

Something is wrong with that tower, but I can't see how to fix it in the photo.

Something is wrong with that tower, but I can’t see how to fix it in the photo.

 

Louise called someone who remembers the tower from when it was still standing. He verified that it had 4 legs. But, we couldn't figure out where the 4th one belonged or how those steps worked.

Louise called someone who remembers the tower from when it was still standing. He verified that it had 4 legs. But, we couldn’t figure out where the 4th one belonged or how those steps worked.

The bright sun came in through the skylight and with my strongest magnifier glasses, I figured it out!

First, I painted out that back let in its wrong position.

First, I painted out that back leg from its wrong position.

Then I painted it in the correct position and added the steps.

Then I painted it in the correct position and added the steps. Much better! It is tricky to paint things I’ve never seen, especially when the photos don’t help.

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Now the lower background needs more work, along with the foreground.

Those small trees on the lower left look wrong. The trunks don't belong. They are too complete for their small size. Something is out of whack.

Those small trees on the lower left look wrong. The trunks don’t belong. They are too complete for their small size. Something is out of whack.

After putting growing things in the foreground, I painted off the bottoms of those 2 trees. On Day #3, I will figure this out and finish!

The mural started out sort of easy, but on Day #2 I was just making stuff up without photos to help. That’s not easy at all.