Meanwhile on the Ranch

Wells Fargo Express building in French Corral 1850’s era. (photo extracted from the internet, photographer’s name was not noted)

On this particular day I decided to veer away from my muse, the river to paint at The Ranch at French Corral  I met with Matt the owner, he graciously took time out of his very busy work load to show me his ranch. The ranch is the site of a historic mining camp during the heyday of French Corral’s mining history. The creeks were running nice and full. From what he told me last year the creeks were very low if not running at all.

French Corral has the historical distinction of where it was the terminus of the world’s first long-distance telephone line in 1877. One of the original buildings in French Corral is the Wells Fargo building from the mining era of the 1850’s, (above photo). Here is a link about the history of the area:


This was my scene. I took several pictures when I first started but found few that turned out well enough to satisfy me. These photos aren’t what I liked either but I needed some type of reference photo so here we are. By the time Matt and I scouted out the different viewpoints on the property the lighting wasn’t my favorite. I should  have planned on touring the ranch one day and painting on a different day. I decided to go ahead and find a spot to paint. I was so frustrated with my painting from the start. I am not sure why other than perhaps the excitement of discovering a new place to paint and actually having a tour conflicted my painting mode. Matt also introduced me to many of his rescue horses.


I thought these manzanita were pretty awesome because they were as large as trees (at least 20 feet high). In our part of the world they are typically a bush and not a tree and they are also a nuisance . They also create a fire hazard because the wood burns very hot. We had a local who lost their home because of overfeeding their stove with manzanita.


This painting experience was not to my liking and I wiped it down at least twice! I worked the longest ever on this painting. Typically a painting session is approximately 90 minutes but usually never longer. I do believe that I painted over 2 hours on this stinker! I have since taken it home and reworked it which I never do other than finishing a painting. I hardly ever re-do a painting because plein air looseness and freshness is lost if you over-paint it.

My camera tweeked what you are looking at. The background is more moody and not so rich in coloring. The blues and blacks are more vivid here than they actually are. I struggled so much with…..all of it! Especially those darn mossy rocks! I think I was close to having a major artist brat attack with this painting. So you wonder why keep at it and why not wipe it down to use it for another painting? Well, I am trying to teach myself to proceed on with a painting that I hate or one that I am struggling with. I am hoping for some hard earned lessons. In this case:

1. Don’t be so darn hard on yourself! It is just art!
2. You can do it! just relax and don’t judge it so critically. Who can work under conditions?
3. The “ugly stage” is just a stage not a prelude to disaster.
So….what I like most in this painting are the colors in the middle ground and the background.

The areas that I like the least are the sky holes and those darn rocks. And I am good with rocks! what happened? NO clue.


9 thoughts on “Meanwhile on the Ranch

  1. hi Margaret, boy – I do love your background!!!
    and the sky holes to me are actually ok…. I quite like the painting overall, its really very lovely. I wouldn’t be cross; maybe the only thing that confuses my eye a smidge, is the creek not getting a teensy bit wider in foreground.?
    The Background! – More than makes up in Beauty for any other microscopic issues. imo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Debi! I don’t think that I noticed that, I’ll take another look-see…..the creek probably lost in the battle! boy was it a battle. I thought of by-passing this painting experience and not posting it but I think that embracing not so wonderful paintings is a learning experience not only for me but for others. As artists we are not infallible. I appreciate the extra “eyes” thank you! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. really, I love this one. the enchantment of the back and midground is exquisite ! Margaret….. the foreground is good too. I nearly said nothing about the creek, as its just a weeny little iota. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Manzanitas are beautiful! I know many people consider them to be weed, but since I saw them for the first time, five years ago, I loved them. I understand your frustration with the light. Sometimes I have such high expectation of a place I’ve heard a lot about before hand. When I get there the light is too harsh. It happens. I enjoyed what you shared. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lacey

    Thanks so much for sharing! and for following me as well 🙂 I very much enjoyed hearing about your frustrations! Being fairly inexperienced and self-taught, it helps to know that others share some of the frustrations and experiences I have with my own work. Your painting turned out wonderful! I’m finding out that, except for “Art Critiquers”, we are hardest on ourselves. I look forward to following your journey 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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