The Lone Tree

Well, this is pretty much about nothing.  It’s definitely not about art. You might be wasting your time reading this.  Anyway, here is the story…

I bought my house in 1984 , a new tract home, when it was still being built.  Awhile after I moved in, and during my daily trek home from work, I always looked up to the hills behind the house.  Through the seasons, the coastal hills of California turn from a deep Irish green to golden fields of dry grass.  Scattered around are plenty of oak trees. 

Looking up, I began to notice a tree at the crest of a hill on the skyline which was all by itself.  It was a little odd shaped like it was windswept bending over to the right.  Most every day I would glance up as somewhat of a beacon to the way home. In my mind, I called it “The Lone Tree”.  

My original intent was to eventually move up to a bigger house, although this one is plenty big.  As time passed, I got married, had a son, and pretty much settled in.

Through the years, the tree was always there, beckoning me home.  One day I was driving home with my son, and he just blurted out, “Dad, have you ever noticed the Lone Tree?”.  So, I’m not the only one who noticed it, and my son is also observant!  I answered, yes, I look at it most every time I drive home.

Some years ago, when I had more free time, I began to wonder if I could drive or hike up to the tree.  I looked for it on Google Earth, and tried to see if there was an easy way up.  I would occasionally drive up in the hills nearby to paint,  but couldn’t see it from those vantage points.  It must be on fenced private property, so never did try to visit it.

A year ago, I purchased a fairly nice drone, a DJI Mavic Pro, and if you follow my adventures have seen my many drone videos the last year.  You can see them all here.  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations has a limit of 400 feet altitude AGL (Above Ground Level) for drones.  It is built into the drone software, and it will stop you from flying higher.  I might have missed something, or DJI changed the software, but recently discovered you can set the limit much higher, about 1500 ft, even though it is breaking regulations to fly that high.

I didn’t want to break any FAA rules, but if I keep the drone close to the hillside, it will never be 400 feet above the ground, which is legal. From my takeoff point in nearby Groesbeck Hill Park, the Lone Tree would be much higher, but the rule is above ground level where ever the drone is, not from where it took off.  So I took the drone on a journey up the hill to find the Lone Tree.  Here is a short video clip of the drone’s journey…

It looks like an Oak Tree, and looks like it might be dead.  Perhaps I will do another reconnaissance in several months to see if there are any spring leaves.  BTW, the tree is about 1350 feet above our neighborhood.

So, this blog entry is pretty much about nothing…possibly reminiscing the passing of time.  Maybe a little about observation of your surroundings.  Perhaps it’s just about a tree with a couple of admirers.  Perhaps I have too much time on my hands to write blogs like this.

Adventures in Fairyland

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Watch this:


Once again, I was honored to have a painting in the Yosemite Renaissance Exhibition. This juried art show opens at the Yosemite Museum, and then travels around California for a year.  The show also starts around the time of year for the annual Firefall event in Yosemite Valley, and I don’t need much of an excuse to visit!

The opening reception was Friday, February 22 this year, so I arrived a day early, Thursday afternoon.  Lodging prices in Yosemite were quite high for winter season (possibly because the Firefall is getting ever more popular), so for the first time, I elected to stay outside the park in El Portal, which is right at the entrance. 

After checking into my motel, I headed into the park.  A series of recent snowstorms had hit the area, and it was like driving around in a winter fairyland.  I wouldn’t have much time to paint, so just drove around for a few pictures, then headed to the Firefall.  I won’t go into that experience  here, as I posted a weblog entry you can read here.  If you haven’t seen my short Firefall video, you should watch it:


I won’t go into detail on my visit, but it was very cold, barely getting above freezing most days, so my painting activities were a bit limited.  Plus, with all the recent heavy snow, many pullouts and parking lots were unavailable, and those available quickly taken up by the unusually large winter crowds.  


Here are a few pictures from the trip.  Click on the thumbnails to get a larger picture and description.

Yosemite Renaissance 34 will be on display at the Yosemite Museum from February 23rd through May 5th, 2019.  The Museum Gallery is open daily 10 am to Noon, and 1 pm to 4 pm. The 2019 Traveling Exhibit will be displayed at the following venues. We will confirm specific dates and times as they become available.

Kings Art Center, Hanford, CA. (June through July)

Carnegie Art Center, Turlock, CA. (August through October)

Gallery 5 at Gallery Row, Oakhurst, CA (October through November)

Out with the old…

For friends who have visited, they know I don’t have a great, large, wonderous studio in which to create great artworks.  Actually, I never have, and its not really necessary to produce good art.  One of my favorite paintings is this one from around 1981, painted entirely at night in a small motorhome with just a  dim 1/4 watt 12v light bulb overhead.

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The short story is, I used to paint in an empty bedroom, until I got married, and shortly thereafter became a nursery for my newborn son.  Around that time, I sold about $7K of paintings to a local company for their new building.  That money was enough to turn one of my three car garage stalls into a studio.  We installed a wall,  skylight, and other items.  It eventually turned into a general workroom and storage area, but still my studio.

I have been cleaning out the studio this week and going through old paintings.  Many artists periodically purge old paintings, whether finished, abandoned, etc. and I do every once in awhile.  Artists, even famous ones, will also paint over an old painting.   I generally don’t like to paint over an old canvas, but most of my small paintings are on canvas board, and lately I just scrape it down, and paint right over it.   The old paint can also give a nice texture to what I paint over it.  

After sorting thru everything, I now have over 250 canvas boards, worth probably $2K, to paint over which will last quite awhile!  

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Fire on the Mountain!

Yosemite Firefall
Yosemite Firefall

What a spectacular display of mother nature!  Here’s the story…

I recently visited Yosemite National Park for the opening of the Yosemite Renaissance show where I have a painting hanging in the Yosemite Museum.  More about that in a later blog.

While there, I was fortunate for the second time to witness the ever more popular (and crowded) firefall.  You can read about the old manmade firefall in years past and about today’s yearly natural phenomenon on my blog entry here.   This year was even more spectacular than I experienced several years ago, and many have said one of the best in years.  Due to the heavy snow in Yosemite Valley, we had to work for it a bit more by having to walk over a mile for the best vantage point…but well worth it!

The recent snows added another dimension, and when the wind blew the icy crystals off the shoulder of El Capitan, the entire cliff lit up as if fire in the bowels of the earth emerged.

Here is a great article about this years event.    CBS also reported on it here.

Enjoy my short video as the sun slowly sets–

I videoed this with a new camcorder and in hindsight, I wish I would have brought a tripod and in set it to 4K…but maybe next time!!

Stayed tuned…more about the trip to come!