First Snow

first snow woods photograph

Luckily, I captured this picture during the first snow of the season as I walk outside the studio. Almost every day, I get to see beautiful scenes like this and my camera is a real happy camper. You can see that there was a small accumulation of snow and actually the day was warm. Sometimes, it feels like I live in paradise with nature all around me like this.

Max and I are not the only ones enjoying this area. There are tracks from our neighbors who had just ridden their ATVs through it, and there are a lot of Bambi and turkey tracks too! Everyone loves the outside up here in Elk, WA.  Many times I wonder if our neighborhood is what started the, “You might be a redneck if……” joke line. Check out one of my favorites,  Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian here.

My goal right now is to conquer a fear of painting snow and get good at painting winter scenes. I figure the more I paint, the easier it will get. Hmmm. Kind of a common saying for me. We’ll see, won’t we?

walk first snow WC washHere is the first study I painted of this view, as a horizontal presentation. After finishing the study, I am able to see areas to improve. Standing back away gives me a good view to ponder how I want to proceed with the larger painting.  I’m not so sure I will go with horizontal, I think I like the vertical better.

Walk First Snow
Watercolor study complete for horizontal layout.

Even though I like this image, I will try a vertical layout next. Just need to see if it is more inviting in that format.

Finishing Details on the Mural


Adding finishing details and final touches to this winter scene interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. My scaffold gets packed up and I use the ladders to work on the last parts of this project. With my smallest brushes, I paint, then backup to see how the whole wall looks to me. This little step-back-and-look habit, always really helps me to change my perspective making it possible to see things I do not notice when I am close to the wall. After repositioning myself, I usually see missing items better.


Watch Out

Mountaintops in the winter can easily become an addictive thing. This whole project is quite an enjoyable one for me as I am painting from my own memories on the hill. There is absolutely nothing like spending the day speeding down a powdery hill feeling the cold wind kissing your face. Your eyes take in some of the best views on the planet as your heart races similar to being on a rollercoaster. If you have not tried skiing yet, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience in your life. You may find that winter will become your favorite time of year!

I tell you the truth, skiing is just about as much fun as you can have without breaking any laws.


Finishing Touches

I carefully add scattered groups of detail in larch and birch between the evergreens bringing a little realism into the whole impressionistic view. Stepping back, lets me notice that I am missing majestic tamarack trees both in the background and upfront. Next, some shrubbery is added at the tree bases using a rigger brush with dark browns and then adding snow on some of them. Some of the closest snow mounds receive a stroke of white to finish them up.


Standing back to get a better look, another missing ingredient comes to mind. I can’t forget to add little clumps of snow resting on the branches of the trees. If you knew our family, you’d know why that snow is important! Especially Patrick, who is known for sharing those clumps of snow with unsuspecting fellows on the slope. Okay, remember now that payback is the patient dude!

Wall “A” is a twenty-foot-long space and all details are complete now.

Finished 49 Mural Wall A first half Finished 49 Mural Wall A second half

Wall “B” is a forty-foot wide wall in three sections, having 2 columns and a doorway in it. It also has a rather large storage cabinet built into the corner behind the cash register. It was kind of tricky to figure out where to put the finishing details and not cause confusion or competition with the door or columns, and use of the benches. People tend to hang out and examine the details in a mural, so I try not to interfere with the business by drawing attention to the placement of details to areas away from traffic patterns if possible.

finished 49 Mural Wall B1 Finished 49 Mural Wall B2 Finished 49 Mural Wall B3

Wall “C” is now finished as the shortest twelve-foot wall that divides the nursery from the children’s club. The cash register counter is on the right where parents check-in with their children dropping them off for lessons on the hill.



When you are all finished with something, then you are “all pau” with it in Hawaii. This is simply a scrap of trivia information for those of you who enjoy collecting those little bits of trivia. I can’t wait to start skiing this season! Hope you can come up to 49 Degrees North to see the mural and let me know what you think. Time to pray for snow everyone!

Finishing a Mural

One Step at a Time

Finishing a mural involves painting, cleaning up, and changing colors to do it again. Persistence pays off in this line of work, and so does good planning. Remember, taking time to plan for less cleanup makes the process of painting a large mural much easier. I paint the entire length of the surface over and over until I’m done. Simple tools are what I use, like a handy “paint can lid” pallet with large pools of the color on it. It is easy to hold in one hand as I use it to mix paints on my brush. Most importantly, if I run low on a  color, it is easy to go back and dip in the bucket to quickly refill and continue. I grab my brushes and paint anything I run across on the wall using that group of colors.

“B” is the longest wall being 40 feet long (400 sf), and Wall “C” is 12 feet (120 sf).

wall B treelineWhen I put the frosty trees in, I also put in more of the white on the mountain tops at the same time. Catching all the things using whatever color I am working with.

wall B treeline 3I see a real good separation after the green and gray treelines on the horizon are rendered.

wall B treeline 4Adding the trunks with dark shadows on the closest evergreens to give a deeper feel to their shadows.

Day is Finished

max 1

When I am wanting to get a mural finished, I get kind of lost in my painting and lose track of time. The job site supervisor is telling me it is time to get home as he sings me a howling song. It is really good for me to have this kind of buddy around because he makes me take breaks and walk around with him. He never lets me eat lunch alone. If I get lost in my work Max will bring me back down to reality. Dogs are some of the best people! If you would like to see more of this fantastic dude check out this link.

max 2 max 3

To Fog or Not to Fog

Allisons Idea for the mural
Allisons Idea for the mural

The question is to fog or not to fog on the mountain. Ever wondered what fog is?

The underpainting is done. Here is a refresher peek at the sample provided. To me this appears like a foggy day of snowing on the mountain. Toning down all the colors by applying a layer of gray and then rapidly wiping with sponges to remove layers.

Before the Fog

wall A Before FogHere is a picture of wall A before the fog layer is applied to the mountain scene. You can see the bright trees and slopes very clearly.
After the fog layer application here is how it appeared.
After the Fogwall A after fogwall A after Fog with BThe difference is really noticeable when you look around the corner at wall B without the fog. Hmmmmm. I took a few more comparison looks and my gut reaction was a solid YUCK! So, before I proceeded any further, I walked up to the ski resort offices and asked the big cheese to come down and take a peek.

He walked in immediately noticing wall B located straight in front of him (which had not been fogged), and he said he liked it. Then he turned to his left and saw wall A (with the fog layer) and just blurted out, “I hate it!” He much preferred the other walls and so did I.

Fixing it

That meant I had to remove as much of the fog layer of paint as soon as possible. I spent the next half hour scrubbing with sponges and towels and was able to lift off about half the gray. Color changes were to add more green tints to the faraway tree line on the horizon. It was a couple of hours of fine-tuning to get the vibrancy back so all three walls were friends again. Here is how wall A looked after the re-do was complete.

wall A redo

These kinds of things happen, but I am getting better at trusting my instincts and questioning whenever I get a feeling things are not right. I never assume that I know better than my customer, making an effort to always listen to what they want. Re-do’s aren’t much fun so if I can limit it to a lesser quantity I am a lot happier.

Mural Distraction

Screaming Distractions

I began painting both Wall A & B and discover a horrible mural distraction that I will need to camouflage. WALL “A” is 20’ x 10’ (200 sq ft). WALL “B” is 40’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (400 sq ft).

corner wall A&B background

wall B conduit

Can you guess what it is? Stepping back I happen to notice an item that screams loudly at me.

Bright, shiny aluminum electrical conduit lines reach across the sky. Those conduits are horribly distracting. Luckily, I have learned ways to camouflage un-moveable tyrants like these, when they interfere.

The person who taught me to paint houses and walls was my Dad the contractor. His rule was to paint every single surface. Voices from the past. I remember having to paint the bottom and top of shelves in any cupboard and all sides of every door or drawer. Why did I have to paint something I wouldn’t be seeing? Well, there was no arguing with him. Now, painting every surface is a rule that I adhere to.


I backtrack and camouflage paint all the conduit and wire surfaces in the same colors as the mural it is traveling over. I didn’t fix anything I just hid it. The improvement to the entire presentation is amazing. Take a look at the before and after shots to see the difference.

You can see the conduit on the left side of the column that is painted gray and then black where it crosses the column. When I look at that side my eyes are not so distracted.

wall B conduit painted

The wire and conduit on the right side of the column are not yet painted and are very distracting. So, I will be painting these wire surfaces from here on as I finish the mural.

Compare these two images below. Simply painting the conduit lines black as they are traveling along the black beam makes them seem to disappear.

wall A background with trees
wall A conduit Painted

Be sure to check this mural out when you visit the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA this winter and let them know what you think about their improvements!

What a perfect example of how un-anticipated additional costs and time occur on any job site.

Ski Lift View

The Ski Lift view always takes my breath away. This is an oil rub-out painting entitled, SunThruSnowyTreesL804, which focuses on the sun rays shooting through trees early in the morning up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington.

Sun Thru Snowy TreesOne of the most entertaining parts of skiing is the ski lift ride back up to the top of the hill. After putting some real effort out speeding through whatever terrain you are doing, you quickly slip into the lift entry gate to catch your breath. Then as you take your seat you experience a take-off into the tree heights. Up to a level where you can observe pristine quiet mountain views as you float over and through the treetops. It is a real meditation time with soft breezes and nature to the max. Some of the most peaceful and extravagantly beautiful skies and mountain scenes I have ever seen were from my seat on a ski lift. It never gets old.

First Day Back Skiing

First Day Back Skiing… in three years! YAHOOOOOO!

3 years ago, I had open-heart surgery so skiing was put on hold for quite a while. Yesterday we went skiing and I am feeling so glad to be alive. Life is SO GOOD! When you find something that makes you smile just thinking about it – go for it YEAH!

beginning oil painting of 49 degree North mountaintop 49NpanoG4306Thought you might like to see a favorite view I painted from time spent on the hill, here is a shot of the painting just started and then another of it finished. See more about a great mountain at, 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington.

Bison Let it Snow

Bison Let it Snow matches our weather today, I thought a watercolor of snow would be appropriate to post. Yellowstone in the winter is the most amazing vacation memory I have had with Pete. Really something worth doing. These Bison were walking so close to us I could not get a whole one in a picture frame.

Bison walking in the snow.