Explosion of Interest in Block Diagrams

I have not posted here in a while, because I am trying to crowdsource funds to write new books and publish them through lately.

But when I posted this geology-hydrology block diagram on my Twitter page, it went viral. 

That surprised me, as this was an old-fashioned, hand-drawn illustration. But it raised some interesting questions about the loss of traditional artistic techniques, and methods of presenting scientific information. Perhaps computer-driven digital graphics still lack something (unless you have a gigantic budget to hire Hollywood film-quality graphic designers). 

I whipped this block diagram illustration out easily in a day. I started with a rough pencil sketch, using the principles of perspective.  Then I traced over the pencil lines with pen and ink. Lastly, I colored in the diagram with colored pencils. On paper.

Seems primitive nowadays. But the response from social media has been tremendous, and many people seemed to appreciate the hand-drawn quality, backed…

Point Reyes Tour of Coastal Prairie and Elk!

Join me and expert native plant restorationist Diana Oppenheim for a Monday morning tour of coastal prairie relicts and discussions of how we can help conserve this amazing peninsula.

Can't make it? No worries, I will schedule another tour in June on a weekend.

Point Reyes National Seashore is undergoing a General Management  Plan revision, which means we the public all need to weigh in and comment. I'll let you know what links to follow to comment when the time comes.

Paint Outs

I've had a busy Fall teaching workshops in Nevada and hosting Paint Outs where local artists get together to paint outdoors at a select location. We try to do this once a month in a new place, and I plan to also host these in a wider geographic area in California and Nevada. We named our informal group Desert Plein Air Painters, and you can find us on Facebook and MeetUp.

In October and November we met at different locations in Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada. We each painted a similar view, and the results were very different interpretations of the landscape--always interesting to see the different styles!

Completing a painting outdoors is quite a challenge, and I've had to "throw out" several attempts--either the sunlight changed too fast to finish, or I simply couldn't capture the effects I wanted in the few hours working outside. Actually I never throw out a painting, they are all valuable experiences learning how to mix color,…

San Francisco Before the City

500 years ago: imagine standing on Nob Hill in present San Francisco looking eastward towards the East Bay, Mt Diablo barely visible in the distance. The middle ground Bay shore to the right is the site of downtown SF, since filled in with landfill. Market Street with tall skyscrapers would fill the view today. Treasure Island lies in the middle distance, and Oakland and Berkeley are in the background shore. Sand hills, coastal prairie with diverse bunchgrasses, California buttercups (Ranunculus californicus), California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), lilac bushes (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus), and a shed tule elk antler are visible in this early scene of San Francisco past. 

I painted the bay waters with a glaze of verdigris in Copaiba balsam to make a translucent glassy effect that differs from the opaque greens of the grassy hills and flats. The glaze was placed over a bright white acrylic gesso ground, and light bounces off this white ground through the glaze to add sparkle to the …

Art Prints Now Available

I have a collection of limited edition prints of various oil paintings, many of which are illustrated in my book A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010). These are printed on a professional press with archival ink on microceramic paper, and each has a label and protected by a clear sleeve, ready for framing. I adjusted each print during the process to match my original oil paintings as closely as possible.

Go to this link on my art website to view the prints:

As a fundraiser towards publishing my future manuscripts, such as a possible volume 2 on the ecological history of California and Nevada, I am reducing the price on these prints. Email me to purchase prints and I will ship them to you by Priority mail. You can mail a check to me at PO Box 70, Beatty NV 89003, or drop a payment into my PayPal account.

I only have one or two of each, so collect them while you can!

Meet Up Group

Check out my new Meet Up group for painting and sketching in the Great Basin. I'll be in South Lake Tahoe the first week of August. 

Also a new Facebook page to go with it, where I share my explorations of the Great Basin:

It's a long process, but this is all part of how I do research for a potential Volume 2 book on the Ecological History of the Great Basin, which would be a companion volume to A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010).

Mountain and Desert Travels With Paintbox: Part 1

The past month I've been trying to bring the paint box along with me more on trips and pause for an hour or two at certain spots to paint a landscape or a study of a part of a natural feature. Since I live in the Nevada Desert, any sort of travel means I have to drive through some beautiful countryside, so I have been determined to paint more of it (and sketch it too). In this 3 part series I show some of my methods and the resulting open-air oil paintings.
Twenty or so years ago when I took my paint box outdoors to do oil studies it was this large and somewhat clunky old paint box:

This served me well over the years, and it held everything I needed, but it was large and heavy--too heavy really to take on a hike. I usually sat on a chair or on the ground and set this paint box on the ground near me or on a table--no tripod in those days. Today there is a large array of small, light-weight, and well-designed paint boxes of all kinds to choose from. Many come with a backpack or car…