Tahoe Snow

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

[Posted November 11, 2020]

As the Sierra Nevada mountain range starts to settle in for winter, let’s visit Lake Tahoe, at least virtually! As the snow settles on the large boulders which line the lake, interesting abstract patterns start to form which are fun to paint. The lake is too deep to freeze, so the myriad blues and greens of the water contrast against the whiteness of the snow and the dark evergreens. Soon the winter wonderland attracts skiers, snowboarders, and winter enthusiasts from around the world visiting the many ski resorts.

Showing in a gallery (now closed) in Tahoe City for many years, the lake is probably my most often painted subject. Visiting frequently in my car, motorcycle and RV, I painted it in all seasons, both plein air and studio versions. From the “quarantena dello studio”, today’s brief virus diversion is a studio painting of the east shore of the lake deeply blanketed in snow.

The Accidental Environmentalist

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

Thunderbird Cove, 8×10, oil on panel, plein air

Yesterday [sic] I told two stories, one of a place and person, the other of my painting of it. Today I’ll also tell two stories, of the same place and person, but a different painting.

Yesterday my story of George Whittle Jr was not very complimentary, but that is just part of it. Whittell’s life was not all tawdry intrigue, ceaseless orgies and torrid love affairs. His enormous assets allowed him to purchase most of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe where he built the Thunderbird Lodge in the 1930s. He resisted a formal education, traveling instead with the Barnum and Bailey Circus where he developed a lifelong love for wild animals. Whittell was made a Knight of the Order of Leopold by the King of Belgium for his distinguished service as an ambulance driver in World War I.

Increasingly reclusive, Whittell refused to develop his Lake Tahoe holdings. He donated land to the University of Nevada and Zephyr Cove, where a high school bears his name. When George Whittell died he left a legacy of pristine shoreline along with a large share of his fortune to the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Much of the east shore of Lake Tahoe is still undeveloped and now enjoyed in it’s original natural condition because of George.

I hiked down that steep east shore embankment to paint this plein air. Although I thought there was a trail, I ended up scrambling over logs, rocks, and brush to reach the shoreline. Just around the corner of the painting is Thunderbird Lodge, but not visible here. If you look at yesterday’s painting, this is from the shore along the peninsula. I originally didn’t think it was that great a painting, as it was mainly meant to capture the colors and values. When I took it to the local gallery, they thought it was wonderful. I now think it is one of my best and most accurate captures of the colors of the Lake Tahoe shoreline, and used it as the title page in my book “Plein Tahoe”.

You can read more about George Whittell here– https://tahoequarterly.com/best-of-tahoe-2016/george-whittell-jr-the-accidental-conservationist

Thunderbird Overlook

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Thunderbird Overlook”, 12×16, oil on panel, plein air

“When men stop boozing, womanizing and gambling, the bloom is off the rose.”

George Whittell Jr.

My have times changed! A little backstory….

The first art gallery that accepted my work after going full time as an artist was in Tahoe City. They have since closed down, but in the 2000’s sold a lot of my work. I used to visit Lake Tahoe every few months, do new paintings, and drop off both plein air and studio works. This is one of the plein air pieces I did on those trips.

This painting is an overlook of Thunderbird Lodge, which I have written about before in these posts. Built in 1939, it was designed to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. But, the guy who built it might have been more interesting. George Whittell Jr. was born in San Francisco in 1881, an heir to one of San Francisco’s wealthiest families. His father was the founder of PG&E, the Northern California utility corporation, and Jr eventually became one of California’s richest people then at age 49. He built the lodge in 1935 to escape California’s higher income taxes. Yes, even back then, people left California to escape taxes!

There is a lot more to the story, and you can read more about it here… https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Thunderbird_Lodge_(Lake…
From the Studio Karanten”

Rubicon View

Since April 2020 I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts.

“Rubicon View”, 28×22, oil on canvas

How many of you, when kids, used a rope to swing over your favorite swimming hole, creek, or lake? I stumbled upon an article about the ‘worlds biggest rope swing into water’, over Lake Tahoe. Upon watching the video, the place looked awfully familiar…I have painted there!! If not the exact spot, awfully close! It’s on the Rubicon Trail in DL Bliss Park, one of my favorite Tahoe trails. The trail winds above cliffs which plunge straight down into the deepest and bluest water of the Lake. You can see the rope swing here–
https://activenorcal.com/behind-the-stunt-100-foot…/?

Today’s offering from the “Studio Choky”, is a painting from the Rubicon Trail—-
“Rubicon View”, 28×22, oil on canvas

Tahoe Snow

Since April 2020 I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts.

“Tahoe Snow”, 15×30, oil on canvas

From May, 2020 —

Summer’s almost here, but lets take one more look back at winter for today’s painting from the “Studio Can”…

Thunderbird Lodge

Since April 2020 I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts.

“Thunderbird Lodge”, 24×12, oil on gallery wrap canvas

Today’s offering from the house of detention. After I did the painting shown yesterday, I launched into a ‘Vertical Water’ series, one of which is shown below. There is also a great backstory about the “Tahoe Elephant” on my weblog here–

Tahoe Squall Line

Since April 2020 I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts.

Tahoe Squall Line, 6×6, oil on panel

Another painting in my annual holiday sale, Lake Tahoe is frequented by stormy weather during all seasons of the year. This piece depicts the steep eastern shoreline as a squall moves across the lake.

This is part of my still active holiday mini sale you can see here–

https://pin.it/3YfUZ82

Truckee Blue

Since April 2020 I have posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts.

“Truckee Blue”, 6×8, oil on panel, available 2020 Magnificent Miniatures

“Truckee Blue”, 6×8, oil on panel, available 2020 Magnificent Miniatures
From the “Studio büntetés-végrehajtási intézet”, just finished, is another painting for my annual miniatures for sale through the holiday season. For 120 miles, the Truckee flows from Lake Tahoe, from the high Sierra to the desert, winding through mountain canyons, thru the communities of Tahoe City, Truckee, Reno, and Sparks. I have painted it many times in both plein air and studio…there is a never ending supply of different scenes in different weather and mood.

This is part of my still active holiday mini sale you can see here–

https://pin.it/3YfUZ82

Misty and Stormy

My misty paintings seem to be popular, so I am painting more minis. Also, stormy Lake Tahoe scenes do well, so more of those too!

Here are my first four. The first sold almost immediately on Facebook, but the others are still available…


There are more in the pipeline, so stay tuned!!

Drops of Color, Everywhere

Carson Colors, 8x16, oil on panel, plein air
Carson Colors, 8×16, oil on panel, plein air


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus


Just returned from my usual annual fall trip to the Sierra’s to paint and explore the fall color. I generally go to Lake Tahoe and Hope Valley, but sometimes over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park and around the Lee Vining area along the eastern Sierra escarpment. This year was Tahoe.

I didn’t really have an agenda to do a lot of finished world class paintings this trip, but take it slow, enjoy the colors, do some paint studies, explore, and absorb the surroundings.


Sunday, I drove up Hwy 88 looking for color around Silver and Caples lakes, but color was past it’s prime, so decided to keep going over Carson Pass into Hope Valley. I have painted here many times for fall color. I settled on a spot by the West Fork Carson River and close to where I had painted in prior years. I ended up right under a highway bridge, and painting a scene looking under the overpass.

(Click on a thumbnail picture to see an enlarged version.)

I got about half done with the painting, but was tired after the drive, so headed into South Lake Tahoe to check into the motel.


Next morning, I waited until it warmed up a bit from below freezing to go out. I have painted in rain, sleet, snow, freezing temps, etc. so been there done that, and today it was wait for a little warmth!

It was back out to Hope Valley, which is about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe, and started a painting just across from Sorenson’s Resort, again on the Carson River as it starts to tumble out of Hope Valley. This time I was painting on top of a bridge!

I got about half done, then decided to head back to yesterday’s spot and finish yesterday’s painting. Bonita Paulis, an art acquaintance stopped by for a chat. After living in the area 35 years, she gave me some great out-of-the way places to paint.

The most complete piece I did on the trip
The most complete piece I did on the trip


Tuesday morning I trekked down to Carson City, NV, to have breakfast with an old childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years. After a great time reminiscing, went back up the mountain to Tahoe, and in the afternoon ended up on the Upper Truckee River, which had some great spots Bonita had told me about the day before.


Time to head home Wednesday after stopping at James Harold Gallery in Tahoe City to swap some new miniature paintings with some older pieces.

On an artistic note, I many times have a difficult time painting fall color aspen trees, so this trip was helpful. They are harder to paint than it seems. After trying to faithfully reproduce the color and value of the leaves, it always looks a little too bright and gaudy to me, and I need to tone them down. I did get one painting finished, and two started to finish in the studio. The journey of art never ends!

On a technical note, I have found Grumbacher Cadmium-Barium Yellow Medium is almost the exact color of the aspen at their height of yellow color. Other brands don’t seem to match as well.