Artist Diaries

Hockney Interview Image

First person insights on the hearts and minds of famous artists of the past are rare.

Thanks to his prolific letter writing (almost daily) to his brother, Theo, we know more about Vincent Van Gogh than any other artist throughout history. We know about his struggles with poverty and sanity. We’re privy to his hopes and dreams. We learn of his relationships with other artists and neighbors, but most importantly we have a front row seat of his creative process, on a granular level: his goals, failures, successes, and his approach to painting on a technical level. Marvelous…if you haven’t read his letters, do so…what a treat to share the journey with this troubled creative genius.

Yellow House PaintingBe warned, I initially walked away not liking Vincent as a person very much: the constant whining and complaining, his continuous begging for more funds from his younger brother, but I’ve since learned of the details of his arrangement with Theo. The paintings Vincent created belonged to Theo…Vincent shipped them off to his brother, in bundles, once they were dry enough to travel and they were to remain Theo’s, until Vincent could return the funds he’d borrowed to support his creative efforts, in full.

Young Hockney ImageOver the weekend, I viewed artist interviews on YouTube, here and there, whenever I took breaks to cool down and rehydrate during my brush clearing efforts (it’s that time of year again, up here in the Sierras). I ended up viewing a lot of David Hockney interviews and discovered how many with this artist were up there.

Hockney Middle Aged PhotoMr. Hockney is a favorite of mine, he was recognized and successful at an early age. He’s thoughtful, loquacious and, at age 81, has accumulated quite a catalog of video interviews. The sessions run the gamut of his career, he was interviewed at the beginning, in his 20’s and 30’s, across the decades, right up to the present.

Hockney Today PhotoI was struck by the similarity of this collection and Van Gogh’s letters. The videos document David Hockney’s thoughts, opinions, working methods, etc., across his career, who he was at the beginning, his evolution over the years and who he is now.

What a gift to artists! Hockney isn’t alone. Through catalogs like YouTube, you can gain incite into the workings of all the major artists of our times.

Great Time to Paint!

Bedroom in Arles Image
Vincent Van Gogh, “Bedroom in Arles.”

We’ve all dreamed of being a painter during one of the great historical art movements: Impressionism, Post Impressionism,  Romanticism, Modernism, even the Renaissance. What would it have been like to have been a guest at the Medici estate during the Italian Renaissance, to sit around a table sharing conversation over a glass of absinthe with the likes of Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Monet and Degas or to have attended a party in Gertrude Stein’s Paris apartment, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Picasso and Matisse?

As artists working in the 21st Century we’ve come to take for granted all the art conveniences we avail ourselves of each day. Painters of the past didn’t have it as good!

Take, for example, our box of paints. Not only are they highly portable (up until the middle 19th century they were traditionally stored in ram’s bladders), but the variety of available colors and the pigment’s permanence makes this a great time to be an artist.

Classic Palette Graphic
The mineral color palette of the Classic painting period, © 2018 Gamblin Artists Oil Colors.

Take a look at the mineral color palette to which artists of the Classic period (through the first half of the 19th Century) were limited (thanks to Gamblin Artists Oil Color for all these palette graphics).



Impressionist Palette Graphic
Colors added to the Impressionists palette, © 2018 Gamblin Artists Oil Colors.

Driven by a need for pigments in commercial industry,  the Industrial Revolution developed abilities to fuse inorganic materials, such as cadmium, cobalt, and chromium together at high heat, greatly widening the spectrum of available colors for artist. The permanence of these new highly intense colors was not always great. Here’s a comment from Vincent Van Gogh about the problem, in one of his letters to his brother Theo, “All the colours that Impressionism has made fashionable are unstable. […] all the more reason boldly to use them too raw, time will only soften them too much.”*

20th Century Palette GraphicOrganic chemistry, in the 20th Century brought  new pigments into existence (Hansa Yellow, Phthalo Blues and Greens, Napthol and Perylene Reds, Quinaquidones, Dioxazine Violet, Hue and Permanent versions). The new colors may look similar to those from the industrial revolution, but many boast better permanence and the new colors retain their chroma when changed in value, through mixing with white or other colors, which is not the case with older ones, they lose chroma as their value is changed.

While we’re on the subject of new colors and color substitutes, have you ever wondered what the descriptive “Hue” meant on a tube of paint, such as in Cerulean Blue Hue? The Hue versions are generally much less expensive than the original. This is because Hue versions have substituted multiple, often less expensive pigments to simulate the color, rather than using the traditional pigment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as often the Hue version will use more permanent or less toxic pigments in this simulation. Read the available information about the color, understand the details before you buy.

All things considered, we’re living in a great time to be a painter!

* This emphasizes the importance, today, of understanding the permanence of the pigments you’re using. That information is usually available on painting manufacturer’s websites, is available behind the “pigment info” tab accessed by clicking the paint color identifying number on the Dick Blick website and if all else fails, at the end of a Google search. More stable substitutes are available today for many of the less permanent colors, such as Alizarin Crimson Permanent in place of Alizarin Crimson.

Turning Pollution to Paint

Reclaimed Earth Violet Photo

Through Gamblin Artists Colors I learned of a fascinating new project they’re involved in with artist and activist John Sabraw and Ohio State University. I found out about this new project in the Gamblin newsletter. I’ve been transitioning to Gamblin oil paints over the last few years, since I learned of all they’re doing to make painting materials safer for the artist and the environment.

If you’re unfamiliar with Gamblin, I suggest you become familiar with them. You can visit their website at, but here’s a brief overview of their founder, Robert Gamblin and his company.

Mr. Gamblin began his career as a pigment creator, working for the Smithsonian. He’d been hired to recreate paints for the organization’s art restorers that matched the formulas of the pigments originally used on the works they were bringing back to life. This led to a thorough investigation of the makeup of artist colors through history. I’m guessing he was shocked by the toxic ingredients of many of these historical pigments and surprised by the fact that today’s modern artists colors weren’t all that much better.

At any rate, after his time with the Smithsonian he decided to start a company to make artist’s materials and, in turn, their studios a safer place. Gamblin Artist Colors has accomplished much towards this goal with many of THEIR versions of traditional colors free enough of toxins to be packaged without the traditional warning labels. Their turpentine substitute, Gamsol, is virtually orderless and much less toxic than Turpenoid. They’ve developed a line of solvent free painting mediums and to help keep toxic pigments out of the landfills, they suck escaping pigment dust from the air during the paint making process, turn it into paint and give it away free, as Torrit Grey, a grey made up of all the colors of the rainbow (a bit different with each batch).

Now Gamblin is working on a Kickstarter project with John Sabraw and Ohio State, where they’ll take water polluted by toxic coal mine drainage, which kills aquatic life in streams and waterways worldwide (1,300 miles of these polluted waterways in Ohio alone), remove the toxins from the water, neutralize it and turn the product into pigments and paints. With the sulphuric acid and heavy metals removed  the clean water is returned to its original location where it can now support aquatic life.

During their process the captured heavy metals are reduced to iron oxides. This now non-toxic orange colored iron oxide is set aside to be dried and ground for use as a pigment. They’ve found if they heat the pigment 1000 degrees, it becomes a deep red. Heat it 2000 degrees and it become a beautiful red-violet. It’s this red-violet that Gamblin is turning into a limited edition artist oil color they’ve named, Reclaimed Earth Violet.

With our federal government currently relaxing pollution regulations for coal miners to reanimate this dying industry, this project seems well timed!


Left to the Village Image
“Left to the Village,” by Trowzers Akimbo, rejected by the 2016 Yosemite Renaissance exhibit/competition

First, let me apologize for my lack of new posts over the last two weeks. I’d received two new commissions for mural paintings from two different children’s hospitals a few day apart from each other and they required me to create 4 designs in 16 days. This, along with the 3 workshops I’ve been teaching each week, made it impossible for me to put together new posts.

Anyway, now that I’m writing again I wanted to talk about rejection. It seems to be going around lately! I recently ran into an artist friend, at an opening, who told me her submission had been rejected from a recent exhibit/competition. This from one of the most sought after, financially successful artists I know.

Two days later, at a local art organization holiday party, two more artist friends presented their work, prefacing with the fact the pieces had been rejected by recent shows. This prompted me to ask all present (about 50 artists) to raise their hands if they’d ever been rejected from an exhibit or competition. Every hand in the place shot up!

These bold admissions illustrate an important point for all artists, beginning or well established, to remember. Rejection is just a part of being an artist and rarely has anything to do with the piece of art being rejected. Instead, it has everything to do with the judges making the selection: their personal tastes or bias, their education, life experience, relationships, mood, even what they had for breakfast and their drive to work that morning. Different judges or a different day, completely different result.

Vincent Van Gogh only sold a single painting, during his lifetime.They hated his stuff! The Impressionist proudly chose their art movement’s name from a “catty” art critic, rejecting their work in whole as simply impressions of paintings, in a newspaper review he’d written.

All artists, big and small, are faced with rejection of their work. It goes with the territory. It signifies nothing. Don’t let it discourage you!

Brush with the Infamous

Hope Town Photo

A recent announcement in the news reminded me of an incident I hadn’t pondered in a very long time. I apologize for straying from my discussions of art in this post, but couldn’t resist sharing this experience, once it came to mind.

Back when I was in art school, my father, brothers and I were into off-road motorcycle riding and motocross racing. My father was seriously involved in a motorcycle club which shared these interests, the Dirt Diggers. In fact he eventually became president of this organization.

Hope Town Race ImageThe Dirt Diggers biggest event of the year was to hold a pretty famous motocross race at Hope Town, a collection of old movie sets, then owned by Bob Hope, located in the Santa Susana Mountains of California. The course took participants along a serpentine route which included travel down many old western town streets. We’d all travel out to Santa Susana, the weekend before the race, to grade the course with tractors, set up hay bales in corners, string flags, generally, build the track. A bonus was that after all the work was complete, we could start our bikes up and give it a few test runs.

While we were running the course, one of my younger brothers thought he’d improve the track by adding a side trip down a short unpaved road to the dirt front yard of an old run-down ranch house. There we could plant one foot on the ground, cross our handlebars, crank the throttle, perform a tight doughnut turn (throwing a rooster tail of soft dirt into the air with our back tires) and head back onto the rest of the course.

Biker PhotoA few trips down this addition and we’d apparently interrupted a couple of guys working on dune buggies in a nearby open garage on the property. A few more trips and they walked over to where we were making our turnarounds, yelling, screaming and shaking big wrenches at us.

Typical teenagers, right or wrong, we didn’t respond well to threats, so on our next and last trip down the side road, we directed the dirt streams thrown from our back tires, as we made the hairpin turnaround in this makeshift cul de sac, all over individuals shaking tools at us.

A year later, when along with the rest of America, we were familiarized with every detail of their sinister, horrifying actions, we learned who we’d offended. Whether Charlie Manson was present at the Spahn Ranch that day, with those members of his dune buggy army, we’ll never know, but the experience made clear to me that you NEVER know who you’re dealing with.

Always More to Learn

Museum Logos

No matter who you are, how much education, experience or opportunity you’ve had, there’s always more to learn. A closed mind is an atrophied mind. This is especially true in art. Art dies when you close the door to learning, experimentation and new experiences.

It’s never been easier to gain knowledge. We live in a time when worldwide learning opportunities and experiences (secondhand anyway) are at our fingertips. The Internet is your door to all this information. Let me get you started on this mind-expanding journey.

Corey as Pollock PhotoOne of my favorite online sources for learning is the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) YouTube channel. There is so much information presented here, by category, I don’t know where to begin. Don’t miss the on-going In The Studio series. This constantly growing collection of videos, hosted by, painter, restoration artist and art historian, Corey D’Augustine, allows you a fly on the wall view of famous artist processes. Corey shares details of how various modern artists worked, as he actually creates new works of art, before your eyes, utilizing their procedures. Fascinating!

While not all of them are as complete or organized as the MoMA channel, every major art museum has a channel on YouTube and all are worth mining for new knowledge: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Getty Museum, the de Young and Legion of Honor (Fine Art Museums of San Francisco), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Van Gogh Museum are just a few notables. I’d like to recommend the Musée d’Orsay (the Impressionism Museum), but the narration is all in French and I haven’t been able to find any way to add English subtitles (oh, those French!).

“In the Conservancy” by Édouard Manet.

Want to study paintings up close, brush stroke by brush stroke? Travel! Just kidding…a few years ago Google took on a project to archive as many of the art treasure of the world for posterity, as the artwork’s owners would allow. The result was the Google Art Project, now part of the total Google Arts & Culture site. For this Art Project, Google has been traveling around the world making high

Manet Detail Image
Zoom In on “In the Conservancy”

resolution scans of great works of visual arts (paintings). Many of the paintings are scanned at such high resolution you can zoom in to see the threads that make up the canvas, between the strokes of paint. What a learning device! Even if you have super-human eyesight, security would never let you close enough to a painting in a museum to see this kind of detail. For the first time, see what the individual brush strokes look like that make up that Manet masterpiece! You can travel through the front doors of the Google Arts & Culture or Google Art Project (click the View Project Site button in the upper right corner to get to the paintings) sections, but here’s a shortcut directly to the paintings.

There’s likely a whole lot more out there waiting for you that I haven’t discovered yet, but these will whet your appetite. As the saying goes, “The world is your oyster!” Now get out there and begin collecting those pearls!


Be Good to Your Brushes & They’ll Be Good to You!

Brushes Photo

I believe in investing in good brushes. I know it’s a poor artist that blames their tools, but I’m annoyed by brushes with wild hairs sticking out this way or that, applying color everywhere but where I want it to go. As I’ve grown older, I’ve reluctantly learned to accept hair from my head in the sink, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to accept it falling from my paint brushes, when I clean them.

Brush Cleaner PhotoGood brushes are expensive, so it makes sense to care for them properly, extending their life as long as is possible. When I was a kid, there weren’t any specialized products available for cleaning brushes, so the best choice was a bar of Ivory soap. Times have changed and today there are specialized products that not only aid in keeping your brushes clean, but also even condition the hair in your brushes. Two of the most popular are Speedball’s Pink Soap and my favorite, The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Conditioner.

Using the proper brush for the medium with which you’re working, I’ve learned, plays a huge role in brush life. If you’re painting with oils or watercolors, you can use either natural, synthetic or blended brushes. If you’re painting with acrylics, do yourself a favor and restrict yourself to synthetic brushes. Using natural hair brushes or even natural/synthetic blends with acrylics will quickly turn even the very best of these brushes to junk. I’ve learned this the hard way, through experience. If you’re painting with oils, you’ll get the best results with natural hair brushes, especially natural hair bristle brushes. They’ve yet to develop a synthetic bristle brush as stiff as a natural hog’s hair brush. A stiffer brush better moves paint in its fresh out of the tube consistency. With watercolors, purchase Kolinsky Sable brushes, if you can, otherwise buy the best synthetic sables you can afford.

Keep your acrylic brushes wet, at all times, when working with them. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get all the pigment our of your brushes, during your end of the day clean-up. Don’t leave them sitting in the water. Instead dip the hair of the brushes in the water from time to time, during your painting sessions, to keep them wet. Leaving them standing in water will loosen the hairs from the ferrules and break the paint down on the brush handles, causing it to crack and pop off, resulting in loose ferrules on the brush handles. Having to keep brushes wet is one of the  reasons synthetic brushes are the best solution for acrylics, natural hair breaks-down, when kept wet all day.

I avoid dipping a completely dry brush into paint, first wetting it with the solvent or medium I’m using. With oils this is linseed oil, painting medium or turpentine (or an odorless substitute). With acrylics or watercolors this is just water. I believe this prevents the pigment from latching onto or being absorbed into brush hairs.

At the end of every painting session and I mean every painting session (don’t close the studio door and tell yourself you’ll deal with cleaning your brushes tomorrow), I first get my brushes as clean as I can with the solvent I’m using. I then use my brush cleaning product and clean my brushes until the soap foam being produced is no longer tinted with color, being sure to pay attention to the area where the hairs meet the ferrule (I gently squeeze the hairs between my thumb and finger here to get all the pigment out).

Brush Before Photo
“Frizzies,” without cardboard shaping.

Lately I’ve adopted one last step to my brush care. I’m sure you’ve noticed how perfectly your brushes are shaped when you first bring them home from the art store. That’s because the manufacturers have dipped them into a soluble solution, prior to shaping them. This solution washes out with the first use, leaving even the best of brushes with a case of the frizzies. I’ve always done most of my own house painting. I’m cheap, have always known my way around paints and brushes and it’s difficult for me to hand over thousands of dollars to someone else, to do for me, what I can do myself. I’ve always wrapped my house painting brushes, after I’ve cleaned them, in newspaper or their original cardboard cases, if they came with them, to help the brushes maintain their original shape. It took hearing one or two others were doing this with their fine art brushes, for it to occur to me that this might be something good to try out. I’m now a convert!

Brush After Photo
Brush after cardboard shaping.

With round brushes, while they’re still wet from my cleaning them with brush cleaning soap, I just shape them back to a point with my fingers. With flat brushes, however, while they’re still wet, I wrap them in thin cardboard, held in place with a small binder clip. I use cardboard from old cereal boxes, cut into strips a little wider than the distance from the bottom of the flat part of the ferrule to a little past the end of the brush hair. I leave the cardboard longer in length than what is needed to wrap around the brush, for easier handling. I use these cardboard strips over and over again on brushes of the same width. Through trial and error, you’ll be amazed how close you can get to achieving a shape similar to the one they had, when you brought them home from the art store.

Brush Wrapping Steps PhotosWith proper care, brushes can live a long, useful life. I’m still working with some of the brushes I purchased back in art school!

Why Impressionism?

Monet Haystack Image
“Haystacks, Effect of Snow and Sun,” by Claude Monet

Many factors came together, at a particular place in time, for Impressionism, one, to come about and two, to succeed.

First was the arrival of a fairly efficient method of making tangible, hold in you hands, copies of the images captured by a camera. Cameras, in the form of the Camera Obscura, had been in use by artists since before the Italian Renaissance,  but a practical means of recording the images viewed through a box with a lens didn’t come about until about 1840. It’s also significant that this development (excuse the pun) was revealed by Louis Daguerre, in Paris.

Louis Daguerre Photo
Daguerreotype of Louis Daguerre.

Photography quickly replaced the artists as visual documenter and encouraged them to look introspectively at what it was they did. Turner, Delacroix and Manet were some of the first to move away from treating their paintings as if they were a window through which to view subject matter, paying more attention to the canvas surface and its 2 dimensional attributes. They flattened their picture planes and explored the expressive qualities in paint application.

Driven by the needs of its growing textile industry, The Industrial Revolution introduced new, brightly-colored pigments to the artist’s palette: cadmium yellows, reds, oranges and greens, cobalt based colors like blue and violet. Prior to this, only earth toned colors were available. The most brilliant paint color in the Renaissance palette was something like an Indian Red.

American John Rand enabled artist color portability with the invention of the tin paint tube, in 1841. Before his invention, the most popular container for storage of mixed colors was a ram’s bladder. A bit of discouragement in transportation of paints.

Goethe Color Wheel Image
Goethe’s color wheel from his 1810, “Theory of Colours.”

The french easel appearing in the mid-19th Century, also encouraging outdoor, on location work, but one of the biggest developments changing the direction of painting was artists exposure to 19th Century scientific discussions of Color Theory. Although color theory principals actually appeared in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, the study was furthered by Isaac Newton in the 18th Century, then fine tuned and published widely throughout the 19th Century, accelerated largely by the color needs of Industrial Revolution’s textile industry. Primary, secondary, complimentary and tertiary color and how it is produced in nature was being discussed openly for the first time, along with the publication of Color Wheels and charts, leading directly to the Impressionist use of Broken Color and Pointillism.

So these developments and innovations brought Impressionism to the canvases of Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Pissarro, Degas, Morisot and the others, but “If you build it they will come,” does not always work out, the paintings of these iconoclasts were far from well received. In fact, the label Impressionists was derived from an insult by a French art critic, of the period, Louis Leroy, who described an exhibition of the work as merely impressions of paintings. Bad boys and girls that they were, the painters proudly adopted the insult as a label for their movement.

Paul Derrand-Ruel Image
“Portrait of Paul Derrand-Ruel,” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Like the Beatle’s George Martin, there was another individual, behind the Impressionist’s curtain, a French expatriate art dealer, living in London, Paul Derrand-Ruel, crucial to Impressionisms success. Derrand-Ruel believed in their work, when no one else did, and put his money where his belief was, purchasing their canvases in bulk, providing them additional monthly  funds, paying their bills for rent, tailors, paint suppliers, doctors, etc., keeping them afloat and painting. He also provided moral support, even offering a room in his home to Monet, for use as a studio. Derrand-Ruel loaned Monet the funds to purchase his now famous home Giverny. The art dealer tried many methods, at the time untraditional, to gain popularity for his artists, print reproductions, solo shows, but it was a trip to America with 300 paintings that proved the ultimate solution. American buyers carried none of negative prejudice towards the work, present in Europe, and lapped the canvases up.

Ironically, through the efforts of Paul Derrand-Ruel, it was America, not France, responsible for survival of the artists and the success of Impressionism!

Artist in Residence – Day 6

El Cap with Dogwood Image
My in progress, end of day painting, © 2017 Trowzers Akimbo

On Day 6 of my Yosemite Renaissance artist residency in Yosemite, I’m joined by artists Vicki Thomas and Terry Robinson. Photographer/artist, Kerby Smith, has decided to stay over another night, so he’ll be with us on the last two days of the residency. Kerby’s wife and my artist friend of 25 years, Lura Schwarz Smith, will be joining us tonight and painting with us tomorrow. I actually met Lura (and Kerby for that matter) through my wife, potter/fabric artist, Betty Tikker Davis. Lura and Betty have been part of a small quilting group that have been getting together, once a week, at our house for 25 years. Anyway, this promised to be the largest group visiting me all week.

We’re traveling to Yosemite Valley to finally paint that elusive perfect view of El Capitan. Kerby had a scheduled photo shoot at Glacier Point, in the morning and will join us when he’s done. Terry was running late, so he plans to meet us at the painting location.

On arrival, the Valley is packed. Traffic is backed up near Bridal Veil Falls and visitors are double parking at the areas designated for cars, along the roadways, waiting for a slot to open up. We’re painting at a little known location, so chances are we’ll have a place to park. Trying to find the spot on my own, I realize I didn’t landmark it well enough and circle around twice, without success. I call both Kerby and Terry, who both know the location well, from my cell for guidance. We catch Terry as he’s entering the Valley and he guides us in.

As hoped, crowded as the Valley is today, parking alongside the road is wide open at our location. We’re good to go.

Tight Group Photo
© 2017 Kerby Smith

We want to avoid blocking the trail, which limits the perfect point of view to a small patch of semi-flat ground in which to set up, so we’re going to be a tightly packed group today. The setting offers us something from all the major food groups: a Yosemite monument, a rushing river and a blooming dogwood in the foreground (there was also a fallen redwood framing the scene in the foreground, but none of us included it). We paint until about 5pm.

The best of settings, great weather, good friends, an ideal plein air painting day!

Artist in Residence – Day 4

Half Dome Photo
Half Dome from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, © 2017 Trowzers Akimbo

No painting the morning of my 4th day as a Yosemite Renaissance artist in residence, I had to drive down from the cabin to teach art to two 5th grade classes in Mariposa. It’s a twelve week teaching artist program on behalf of the Mariposa Arts Council and I still had 3 weeks left.

There’s been no cell phone reception on my AT&T phone, while I’ve been up in Wawona. The artist/photographer, Kerby Smith, who’s going to be with me over the next three days, tells me his Verizon cell phone is working in Wawona, so I picked up a Verizon burner phone in town, before I headed over to the school.

I’d agreed to meet Kerby at tunnel view, above Yosemite Valley, when I was done at the school. He wanted to share a couple of possible locations for painting in the valley, he’d discovered through his photography outings. I’ve learned that photographers search locations like Yosemite, for those special spots from which to take the money shots and they’re very protective of them. If a photographer friend ever offers to share one of these with you, take them up on it, it’ll be well worth your time.

So, Kerby showed me ideal settings for painting Bridal Veil Falls (more powerful than I’ve ever seen it, due to the warm weather snow melt) and El Capitan: a location with the Merced River and a blooming dogwood in the foreground. Too late to start a painting that day, we agreed to return tomorrow.

On the way back to the cabin, we discovered they just opened the road to Glacier Point, so we traveled on up. Still a lot of snow up there. It was cold and windy and clouds had started rolling in from a predicted storm to occur the following day. Among other vistas, I snapped the above shot for future painting reference. We returned to the cabin, well after dark to discover there were absolutely no signal bars on our Verizon phones. Without cell phone reception or an Internet connection, we were forced to talk to each other all night.

Under concern of the predicted storm, we decided to rise early and head back to Yosemite Valley to paint. Even if the weather services forecast was correct, maybe we could sneak in a few hours before the rain hit.