Thursday, August 26, 2010


Just in case any of you are wondering how my cat, Pfeffer, is adjusting to California; she's doing very well. She has several acres of land to run around on. She shares the place with my landlord's two little dogs, their cat (which is rarely seen) and, occasionally, Belinda's dog, Meecah (which she kind of bullies). She seems to like it here, running around the property and climbing the trees in the orchard. My concern for her is that I spend a lot of my time in the park and I'm gone for 3 to 4 days at a time usually. When I'm up there she stays very close to me most of the time .... when she isn't wanting in and out and in and out.

Another Squash

My neighbors/landlords have a very nice garden with corn higher than I've ever seen corn grow! They occasionally bring me stuff they have grown. As you may know, I'm a vegetarian ... well, that is to say that I don't eat meat ... but I'm the worst vegetarian in the world; mostly I don't like veggies, even though I do eat a lot of 'em. Mostly - I eat pasta and rice, etc. More of a pasta-tarian. The great thing about vegetables -- perhaps the most important thing about them, though, is not their flavor, but, rather, their colour, shape, and texture. They are very pleasing to the eye. I think that God actually made them to be painted rather than consumed.
I made a little still life of some of the things that the Bartholomews brought me the other day ... and I added some of the little yellow tomatoes from our tomato plant (which Kathie and Eldon care for more than we do, actually). Then I cut most of the stuff up and added it to a pasta salad! YUM. I especially like those apple-shaped cucumbers!
It was a fun little piece ... it's nice to do something other than landscapes sometimes. I gave the painting to them for all of the cool things that they do for us.

Mirror Lake (again)

A couple of days after my last hike up Snow Creek Trail, I returned to Mirror Lake and did a painting from one of the best views of Mt Watkins. Unfortunately, it was also a very busy thoroughfare for the touristas. In spite of some strange weather, strange bugs, and even stranger tourists, I had a great outing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Hike

The other day I went on a hike that was really cool ... and, well, maybe a bit on the scary side. As I was heading out past Mirror Lake, I passed a sign that went on about Mountain Lions. !? Okay, I did know that this was part of the mountain lion habitat, sure ... but one doesn't think about these things while there are a zillion tourists (tour-ons, as they are better known) runnin' amok in the park. The sign went on to warn about hiking alone and the kinds of things that one might do if they were to come face-to-face with one of the critters. Cheeze, it wasn't bad enough that I have to worry about heights and rattle snakes! Okay, so, I hiked with a good sized rock in my hand.
It's funny, most of the trails have a lot of people on them ... I happened on one that had almost nobody on it all day. It was a huge elevation gain (and loss on my way back) and took me hours to go each way (a lot longer on the way up ... puff, puff ... not just because I stopped to paint). The trail, if you wanted to google it or something, is called the Snow Creek Trail. I only hiked part of it ... the hard part; from the floor of the valley, up to the top where one gets another thrilling sight of the valley from a new perspective.

This time out, I brought my watercolours -- much lighter than my oil painting rig ... it would have been a good idea, too, if the paper that I'd brought was real watercolour paper. Unfortunately, it was that slick stuff that is almost worthless for watercolour, (imho). That will teach me for picking up a pad with "watercolour paper" written on the front without opening it up and checking it out. Derrrr.

Anyway, a wonderful hike ... even if I was whipped when I returned almost ten hours later.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Four Mile Trail

Yesterday I hiked the "Four Mile Trail" up to Glacier Point. The name is a misnomer, as the trail has been changed in the last 150 years and is now closer to 5 miles. It was a real fun hike but a bit hairy in places. Helen Hunt Jackson, in her 1872 "Ah-Wah-Ne, a Visit to Yosemite Valley", penned: "... it is the steepest trail out of the valley, zigzagging back and forth across a sheer granite wall, one rides up it with little alarm or giddiness."
Helen Hunt Jackson and I do not agree on the definition of giddiness, apparently. There were places along the way where my acrophobia nearly made me go to my knees and crawl ... and maybe I would have if I hadn't been schlepping that four thousand pound easel.

I started a painting from Union Point on my way back down ... but it wasn't much of a start. You would think that I would have learned my lesson from my hike up the Yosemite Falls trail about painting first and exploring later. Perhaps next time I'll get it right. Perhaps next time I'll take my watercolours instead of dragging that heavy easel up the mountains ... and then I can do an oil painting from my studies later in the studio.

I took a bevvy of pictures on this hike, and I've posted them to facebook. If you're into the whole face thing; go and check them out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More work

As you can see, I've been busy in the studio, fixing starts from out in the field, and working from sketches and photos on other paintings.
First: This is the revised version of the terrible start that I had while hiking up the Yosemite Falls Trail. I had planned poorly and was already depleted by the time I even set up my easel. I probably should have just packed it in at that point, but I forced myself to work. I'm glad that I did, really, although, on my hike back down those horrible switchbacks, I didn't feel that way.
The start was possibly the worst that I've ever done. I don't know, I've had so many horrible starts - but this one just felt bad from the start. The only redeeming thing was that I had a decent composition ... oh, and that I'd captured the main subject (Half Dome) fairly well.
In the studio, though, going by memory, feel, and photos, I was able to salvage the painting and am now relieved that I didn't fling it into the void as I'd been compelled to do from the cliffs where I'd been painting.

A few weeks ago, you may recall, I painted from the "Old Stagecoach Road" Trail. From there I worked on a painting of Bridalveil Fall across the valley ... which turned out fairly well. While I was up there, I imagined what it must have been like back in the times of stage coaches and all of that ... how different it must have been, and I wondered if I could pull off a painting that would give that feeling.
Finding a stage coach is not a real problem, as there are some in static display up at Wawona Pass ... but having one that's got all the horses hooked up and all of that ... that's a whole different story.
So, just as an experiment, I took pictures of the road and the valley and also took pictures of the wranglers next door at the stables, hauling mule teams in and out ... and made a painting from these references. I have mixed feelings about the result. I think it gives the feeling that I wanted, but not sure if it will work with a stage coach. That experiment is still to come.

Wanting a change of venue, I decided to paint the vineyard of my landlord the other morning. It was hot (what do you expect, right ... it's summer in California) and I was thankful, once again, for my umbrella! It was okay for a sketch, but still needs work; my lights don't pop like they should. Oh, well, another one to fix in the studio.
One of these days I've got to figure out this whole landscape thing.

This one is just a studio piece. Simple, yet fun.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


In an attempt to break from doing so many landscapes, I did a quick self portrait the other night. I've painted myself so many times in the past that I wanted to do something different. I tried all sorts of costumes and what-not ... but I always still looked like me! Ug.

Then I tried something that I haven't done in at least ten or fifteen years -- I took off my hat! I don't like to be seen without a hat ... not just 'cause the hair is thinning --- I just don't like the way that I look without a hat -- and haven't for many years -- even before I started loose my hair. Heck, I don't even like to look at myself without a cover on. So, when I looked in the little mirror across the studio - without my hat, and with my new hair cut; I looked like a whole other person.
"Who's that old guy? Surely that can't be me!"

{Yes, it is. And stop calling me Shirley!}

In keeping with the whole idea, I made it as immediate and unpolished as I could without deliberately making me look even worse than I do.

It was a blast.

I also did a quick sketch of one of the squash from the garden.
Enough goofin' off ... back to doing landscapes. Well, I'm also going to try some other things that are a little different. And, hopefully, it won't take me weeks to do another post.


Half Dome (from Olmstead Point)
I know, it's been weeks since I've posted - and, no, I'm not sitting in the hospital after falling off of a cliff or something. Finding a wi-fi area is a real trick sometimes. Hopefully that won't be a problem for much longer.

Yosemite Falls (from SYPT)
I have been busy. I'm working on a deal to have several of my original paintings in a fancy resort ... and prints and cards, etc. There are several views of the park that they wanted to have that I had not painted. They are the typical view from the same spots that everyone else has painted or taken photos from since the 1850's. Guys like Bierstadt, Jorgensen, Hahn, etc helpped to make those the touchstone icons of the park. I wasn't thrilled with doing them, but, that's what they want, so ... that's what I've been working on. It's strange ... one of those spots just showed up on the new Yosemite Park quarter that was released a week ago. I've painted from the exact spot that was used for that view of El Capitan.

Yosemite Falls
I'll provide more information on the purchase of some of the prints, etc, from their web-site when the deal finally goes through.
Tunnel View of Yosemite Valley
In the mean time, here's a look at some of the schtuff I've been working on.
Tenaya Lake

Ahwahnee Hotel