The Red Church of Sonora: An Ironic Painting Story

A must-do road trip for anyone who loves California and its history is to travel the length of CA Highway 49. This road wiggles south to north through the Sierra foothills, starting at Oakhurst, sixteen miles south of Yosemite, and following the Mother Lode vein of gold through dozens of Gold Rush-era towns, all the way to the northernmost one, Nevada City. The road actually veers east at that point and ends at Highway 70 in Vinton, a place that almost doesn’t exist—it has no zip code—and though it has the distinction to lie along Highway 49, it’s too remote from the Mother Lode to cash in on the Gold Rush

The Mother Lode was, of course, the impetus for the California Gold Rush. … Read more

A Florida Friend I Didn’t Expect to Meet

Do you know what this little guy is? My friend Carole, who works at the Miami Zoo, didn’t. A specialist in exotic animals (“the expert lady”) who found him in a Miami street dragging a leash around, didn’t. And certainly I didn’t! But I did after Carole told me his story.

I went to Florida in April to visit Carole, a long-friend from college whom I hadn’t seen since last century, and after that to visit Jan and Terry, my sister and brother-in-law, who had recently moved there. … Read more

(or: My Demo for the Santa Clara Watercolor Society: A Step-by-Step Description)

I was invited by the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society a few weeks ago to do an hour’s watercolor demonstration at their annual show and reception. The general directive they gave me was to show “wet-into-wet” technique—something aspiring watercolor painters are likely to learn on their first day in art class.

I vacillated and dilly-dallied for weeks about what to do for this demo, and while most of the things that came to mind would have been okay—that is, they could have given people information of some reasonable value—I really couldn’t get into them. … Read more

A Sound Track for the Grand Canyon

As I hike and paint at Grand Canyon, I often have tunes in my head.  I don’t mind having tunes in my head because, though they may range from Mozart to Lady Gaga, they have some way of connecting with what I am seeing and painting out there.

At the same time, I sometimes think, I haven’t yet heard the real music of Grand Canyon.  That is, if God were to send down THE exact right music for this place, what would it be?  … Read more

Lost and Found in Yosemite

Everyone knows Half Dome and El Capitan. These spectacular mega-monuments stand alone in the eyes of the world as icons of Yosemite, made world-famous by the brilliant photography of Ansel Adams. But there are also others—stony needles, razors, sawteeth, and cliffs with precisely vertical smooth-as-glass faces reaching 1,000 feet, 2,000 feet, 3,000 feet from earth to summit, just like El Cap and Half Dome, that are not so well known. Sentinel Peak is one of these. It’s not an icon, but that in no way minimizes its splendor. … Read more