Saturday, October 19, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural Update 8: It's done!!!!!

It's done!!!!

"This mural is a gift for my friends Diane and Pat and the people of Meadow Vista who love vegetables.
Muralist: Diana Caplan      Assistant Muralist: Brent Klava
Painted with help from Gene Cain, Laurel Bollinger, Diane Bollinger, and Pat Bollinger.
Thanks to Sunset Ridge Mandarins, Gene Cain, the Kerns, the Lowrys, and Janet Root."

This morning to finish up we wiped off the dirt that had dripped down on the painting from the top of the shipping container and then raced to put the finishing topcoat on before the sun came over the trees and heated up the surface too much to paint. We did it. 

Brent has been such a help for this whole thing. At one point when he was away working, he wrote me a love note that talked about how he wanted to support me in this next phase of my life, this art and music phase. I thought he meant emotional support at the time. Neither of us realized that it meant he'd be be here for every day of painting. At some point I called him the Assistant Muralist, and he liked that. I like to tease him and say I meant to say Muralist Assistant. Either way, without him, this mural would be nowhere near done and I'm so thankful for all his help.

There was a time around the beginning of July where it had been four months since I had been researching mural painting and telling people I was quitting my job to do art and music and I was gonna paint a mural, and it started to feel untrue. Like it was just talk and I was never gonna actually do it. I had a couple of days of feeling like a poser, like I was just telling myself and others this story to seem cool. It was such a relief when I finally bought the paint because then I knew it would happen. And then it did. And now it's done. And I love it. 

Here's some more details:

Basket of acorns under the black oak.
Falcon greeting folks at the covered bridge.

Cute tongue.
It's done!!!! I'm so happy and proud and excited. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Foothill Roots Mural Farm Number 7 Update: More Progress

Brent and I painted until dark today, and then kept painting with our headlamps. I took a picture of the mural before it got dark though. Before I show you that, check out how nicely Pat cut up these leeks:

Impressive leek cutting. Anyway, here's the mural:

I know the picture sticks out of the blog frame when I make it this big, but I don't care. I'm excited about how the mural looks.

Here's a closer look:

And closer:

Whoah, that was too close.  You can see the dirt streaks.
No ones' perfect. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural Update 6: Speed bumps

Um, this happened:

We got back from rafting the Grand Canyon (which was awesome, by the way) and found that the paint and primer have been blistering. Agh!!! How could this have happened???

The surface of the shipping container was real dirty when we got back, so I hosed it down. Could the rapid cooling of cold water on the sun warmed surface have caused it? Could it be that the primer has been exposed too long? Could it be the hot sun warming the mural? Sometimes it gets so hot it will burn your hand. Could it be the rain that came down while we were gone? What's happening? Why? Because we have no answers and don't know what to do about it, Brent and I ignore it and paint other things. 

Brent puts the leaves on the tree in the top right corner. I put Falcon the horse, in the field across the creek.

There is a sign on the fence that borders the field across the creek (in real life) where Falcon used to live. It says "Falcon, Gone But Not Forgotten". I never met Falcon, but I guess he used to come up to the fence right where the trail goes by it and greet people. He's touching noses with a coyote in the mural. The idea of Falcon living out there in the field alone makes me a little sad. Horses are social and get lonely. My own horse spent a lot of time being lonely because we didn't know horses are social and didn't really think about it. I think it makes me sad mostly because I still feel guilty about my horse, Canela, being lonely for so many years. Anyway, Falcon is in the mural now.

And so are these confounding paint blisters. I finally decided we should pop them and scrape the paint off, re-prime those spots and re-paint. I'm afraid we won't get it all done by Saturday when Brent and I have to leave again. I'm afraid the mural won't be done before the weather really turns and I can't paint anymore. I'm afraid the paint will keep blistering and peeling off. I'm afraid the whole mural will peel and fall off, hundreds of dollars and hours and hours will fall to the ground in little colorful flakes. 

But whatever. There are bigger things to fear. Like having a scorpion on your shoulder. That then runs down your shirt. On the inside. And stings you. That actually happened to Brent while we sat in the van after getting off the river. 

Another thing to fear is finding out the sugar in the cookie dough you just mixed up is actually salt. And now there's not enough butter left for a full batch of cookies. That actually just happened tonight to Pat. He figured it out when Diane tasted the cookie dough and promptly spit it out. Honestly though, that scares me less than the mural falling apart. 

Something interesting: After we peeled the paint/primer off we scrubbed it with Simple Green to get our finger oils off so the primer would stick. Here's Pat's mom Gene, washing the spots. 

Notice they are blue after their scrubbing. There is another layer of white paint or primer under the primer I put on. It's covering up a bunch of blue and red paint that was already on the shipping container before I got to it. All the paint blisters are on this under-layer of paint. Very interesting. At least to me. 

Anyway, it's late and I'm ready for bed. Here's one last picture of the blue spots getting primed again. We'll see what happens.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural Update 5: Pause on work.

Well, just a quick update.
Here's what the mural looks like right now:

It's happening!

Also, there's still time to get your name in the mural as a supporter if you donate $25 or more before the mural is done! A number of lovelies have donated and it really helps a lot!

Here's some close-ups:

I'll post more when I get back! Yay!!! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural Update 4: Get your name in it!

One thing I've learned in taking on this project: It's expensive to paint a mural!!! Over the last few months I've spent about $450 just on supplies.  

The majority of this amount ($410) is primer, paint and varnish. The rest is things like brushes (the rolly kind and the brushy kind), photocopies, pencils, cleaner, things like that. My mom and some friends lent or gave me a bunch of supplies so I didn't have to buy those: grid paper, a tape measure, sanders (which I ended up not needing), facemasks, a long handled roller holder thing, paint pans, etc. And Diane and Pat borrowed a pressure washer, which was awesome, so I could blast the moss off the surface. That was super fun. But anyway, I was talking about money.

I've been so excited to have the opportunity to paint a mural that I've been happy to spend my own money on this. I feel like it's giving me awesome experience and exposure as an artist. I get pretty much complete creative freedom. I get encouragement from Pat and Diane when I start to get nervous and have doubts about this or that. I get to support their farm, which I just think is so wonderful. I had this idea that after the mural was painted I would fundraise to make some or all of the money back. Because people would see it and love it and want to give me money, or something. Not sure what exactly I was thinking. It has occurred to me that that's kind of silly. If I start fundraising now, people who donate money can have their names in the mural!

So here's the deal: if you donate $25 or more to the Foothill Roots Farm Mural fund before the mural is finished (this is a moving deadline here), you can have your name in the mural as a supporter. 

If 18 people donate $25 each, that will cover the cost of supplies!!! If more people donate, it can start to cover my gas costs! Yes! If even more people donate, well, gee, maybe I can afford to keep painting murals! Maybe I'll paint one for you! That would be such a dream for me. 

How to donate:
  • In person: come by the farm! 
  • Mail: cash or check made out to Diana Caplan, 2314 Estes Rd., Chico, CA 95928 (if you are excited about getting your name in the mural, this is not the best option).
  • Paypal: you can send money via paypal to my email address, which is simply my name with no spaces at gmail dot com.

I quit my full time job a few months ago so I could dedicate myself to art and music for a year. By donating to support the mural, you are supporting me as an artist and you are supporting the Foothill Roots Farm and Pat and Diane as farmers. You are also supporting similar awesome endeavors that may take place in the future. I'd love to be able to paint more murals to support more causes. 

Thanks so much for reading!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural: Part 3


The loud thud and subtle earth shudder woke me this morning.
"What are Diane and Pat doing down there?" I wondered from my bed in my tent on the hill across the creek. I assumed it was another shipment of woodchips. Real heavy ones.

Wrong. It was this:

"Start the harvest day off with some excitement, hey?" Pat shouted to me from where he and Diane were already collecting lettuce heads, even while I was still stumbling sleepily from the hill. No kidding!

Yesterday rained and thundered on and off all day. Pat blamed it on me, claiming I brought the storms. Not one to be pushed around, I cleverly retorted, "Me?? No."

I took advantage of the rainy day to finish the design for the mural on my little scale grid paper. So the schedule has shifted, and that's okay. After spending so much time outside in rain and lightning with students for so many years, I thoroughly enjoyed being in Pat and Diane's dry home, drinking tea and drawing coyotes.

On Sunday, before the rain kicked in, I did manage to prime the shipping container, Diane helped me cut away the blackberries in the work space, making it friendly for open-toed shoes. Today I'll be marking the grid up on the surface, so I know where to draw things. Then I'll draw things.

At some point today, my partner will arrive and I'll get to show him this wonderful farm that Pat and Diane have built. Tuesdays they harvest a bunch of things, wash them, bundle and box them to give out to their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture - it's like a weekly veggie subscription) customers. Last time I was out here I got to help them in this process, it was a lot of fun work. "This is so much fun!!" I kept saying, and, "I wouldn't want to work this hard all the time, but I'm sure having fun now!!" Perhaps today, while I draw things on the blank slate that is the future mural, my partner can have fun helping Pat and Diane.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Foothill Roots Mural Part 2

A few people have been asking how the mural is going and I'm happy to report I'm finally back on the farm and ready to start flinging paint around! Here's a rough schedule of when I'll be working on what for the next week or so. I've also included notes for potential helpers on when you can help and with what:

  • Sunday, September 1: Priming, letting it dry. Hoping it doesn't rain. I'd love help with priming but realize this is very short notice.
  • Monday, September 2: Gridding, penciling in the mural design. Would love some help with gridding. I'll be doing the penciling myself though.
  • Tuesday, September 3 to Friday, September 6: Color painting. This is the part that seems to sound like the most fun to people and that everyone wants to help with. Please feel free to drop by and check out how things are going, but it's unlikely I'll have much for you to do if you are looking to help. Thursday 3-7 is the farm stand, so if you come that day you can also buy some produce!
  • Saturday, September 7: no mural work (my friend's wedding).
  • Sunday, September 8 and Monday, September 9: Color painting.
  • Tuesday, September 10: Either Varnishing the finished mural, or just packing up to leave for my next adventure (if it's not finished yet).

This whole schedule is of course subject to change based on the weather. If any of the fancy beautiful paints or primers wash off in rain I will be so sad!!! It seems ambitious to me to try to paint the whole thing in a week, but since my dear sweet partner has agreed to come out on Tuesday and help with stuff for the rest of the week, it seems more doable. Yay for supportive partners!!

One more important date:

Saturday, September 28: Foothill Roots Farm Harvest Festival
Starting at 4pm, Diane and Pat are having their Harvest Festival. Check out for more info. It's under events and Diane is making a post about it as I type. I wish I could be here for that! 

Diane, making a post. Note the hair. Oh yes.

Between my last post and this one, I did make it out here to pressure wash the shipping container, which was really fun.

Apparently I like pressure blasting moss off of sheet metal. Who knew.

 I've also spent a significant amount of time drawing, erasing, sketching, drawing, starting over, enjoying and agonizing over the actual mural design.

For example, these coyotes?

Not even in the design anymore.

These little planty vegetables however, are definitely still in. And in real life they're not even upside down.

Feel free to contact me if you want to come and help. I'll be checking my email and comments sections. Or call me if you have my number. My intention is to post more as things progress, but I've said that before and not followed through, so no promises.

It's time for breakfast and then painting stuff, hopefully. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What snagged on the sunflowers: a love letter.

Fields and fields of sunflowers stretch away from my arms, out from the steering wheel, green and yellow nodding heads. They all say yes to this drive I'm learning so well from San Francisco to Chico and back and back and back again. They line the road in numbers I've never seen, rows next to rows making squares of beauty growing, watching that blue sky, neverminding those clouds.

I speed by over and over with my aching back, stiff arms, restless legs, impatience growing. But also ideas and emotions. Like steam rising from a pond in early morning, but imagine it in motion, a mist of ideas and feelings streaming off my watery body as I move from home to home, snagging on sunflowers and catching in the beaks of those black curvy-billed birds I've been seeing the past few days.

This idea of coyotes in my mural, a vision from under the black oak on the hill looking down over the farm and the grinding rock there. Those brokenhearted family feelings of letting go and getting ready to fight, like a cat bunching her haunches. Images of my new home and the creek that runs through it, the black walnuts towering over the little red house and the whirlwind of energy and doing that is my new roommate. More feelings around the massacre of the Maidu at the farm, and how it's actually more than that: everywhere I've lived has been stolen from someone. Remembering the grinding stones beneath my mother's house. The spring next door to my apartment and the shell mounds on the edges of San Francisco. Everywhere I live has been stolen unfairly from someone and this mural is just the first time I've really realized it viscerally and felt like I personally am part of the thieving and the benefitting from the theft. This desire to do what seems most like the right thing in each situation, such an impossible task but still trying anyway just because that's the person I want to be and that's the world I want to live in. The simple plain joy of eating a purple black plum ripe in my mouth as I drive and leave my mists hanging in the sunflower fields.  

And always traveling with me there's the thought of you and all this love between us. I want to share each day each thought each affirmative sunflower face most of all with with you. So I am. Like this.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Foothill Roots Farm Mural: Part 1

I'm going to paint a mural!! On this big blank shipping container:

Let me tell you more. My friends Diane and Pat have a new farm, Foothill Roots Farm (the astute reader [you] may have guessed this from the title of this blog post). The farm is in Meadow Vista, near Auburn, east of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevadas.

I got to visit the farm a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty wonderful. Diane is an old friend of mine- she has been one of my mentors in life and I owe a lot of my skills to her. In college, she'd always take me climbing and telemark skiing and was patient with all of my fears. In fact, she's the person who convinced me to apply to Outward Bound, which ended up being the best job ever. Anyway, she's awesome.

Diane and her husband Pat have now mostly left the world of climbing and skiing and outdoor education and have gotten in to that other adrenaline junky sport: farming. For real. They interned somewhere or other and learned a bunch of stuff and now they've started this farm in Meadow Vista.

What's amazing to me is how much work they have done. They just signed the lease on the land like 9 months ago and they already have a CSA going and a farm stand on Thursdays (3-7pm if you want to go by and buy something delicious to support them!). It's hard for me to understand how two people have done all this.

They've put up fencing, put down drip tape, put up a green house, cleared brush and grass, planted, furrowed, seedlinged, transplanted, thinned, covered, uncovered, mulched, and other things that I don't know the words for.

They've got this old tractor from the '50s that they've converted to solar power somehow.

Pat says, "we've converted this old tractor to solar power somehow!".
Just kidding, that's not what he's actually saying.

The day I was out there helping, there were two other people helping. Diane told me that
was the most help they'd had at one time.
They've had some help, in the two days I was there people kept dropping by to check things out and a couple people came by to volunteer. Apparently, if I'm remembering correctly, this is the first farm ever in Meadow Vista. From what I could tell, the community seems real excited and supportive of them being there.

"Farm on!"
(I'm not kidding, they were climbers before they were farmers.)

The farm is on the old Simpson Ranch and has some interesting history, past and present, which I'm still looking in to. I will write about that in another blog post. I'll also talk about the materials I'm going to use, the process of painting a 27'x8' mural, and brace yoursefl, I'll probably be asking you for money in every blog post!

I'm happy to paint this mural so I can learn experientially how to paint murals, get some exposure as an artist, support my friends and a good cause, and all that good stuff. Other than personal satisfaction and exposure, I'm not getting paid and am paying for supplies from my own pockets. Contact me if you'd like to get involved or want to help out with things like time, materials and/or money. It would be nice to be able to recover some of the costs. I'll write more details on costs in another blog post as well.

Thanks for reading! I'm excited to share this project with you on my blog as it unfolds! Feel free to share it with people you know!

Friday, March 15, 2013


To live a life of fig jam and swimming holes
long walks and at least two kinds of hummingbirds
naked desert showers and coyote song
belly laughs and belly love
nighttime kisses impervious to mosquitoes 
big blue sky of a blue not taken for granted
my company for hockey sometimes
massaged kale and steak cooked perfectly two different ways
teaching and learning to catch with a mitt 
crying because it hurt when the ball hit
and stubborn refusal to stop learning 
at least until it's just not fun
and then also
canoeing fishing coffee 
tea sailing sit-ups 
pushups beer banter
and learning more birds
walking more miles
and each new thing that makes you come alive
with me.