All I paint are spirals between the stars and their root-light feeding the big trees. Between you and the diamond veil is a single beat of the hummingbird’s tiny heart spread like thunder down into the river canyon. Nature has one seamless memory of itself. The algorithm at the unifying border is as shocking in its resiliency as its elegant simplicity. All the forms of sex and death are found on this side of the creek, in the forest at dawn. (obi)

Tour Notes from the Dry Winter of 2018

It is hard to know what to think of the weather. The warm and dry weather has us Californians fretting over living in a place that we have tricked now for over a century to think it is not truly the desert landscape that it is. We hope that March and April will give us all the precious preciptation we could use to make up the deficit that the last few months have failed to afford us. That being said, the first leg of this, my most recent book tour into Los Angeles and beyond, has been met with enthusiastic and attentive souls, all of whom seem so ready for this nature-first narrative that I present. I could not be more grateful for my reception again and again. I see our electric network and I can sense the paradigms shifting among our populace.

The book, my California Field Atlas climbed its way back to number one on the Northern California Nonfiction Bestseller List just in time for the latest printing to sell out again. The next printing is on its way although I’m now having to ration my own copies for the upcoming tour dates. I have removed the book for sale from the website, but if you are having problems finding one, I can be afford a few copies to send. Please let me know via email if you would like one: /// Obi


As I write these words, I am half way through a week of tour dates – please read on for a brief synopsis and some updates to my calendar. For a complete list of my calendar, please cruise over to I would like to thank the tremendously generous and insighful Lanny Kaufer of HERBWALKS for inviting me as his special guest this past Saturday as we surveyed the Ventura River two months after the monumental Thomas Fire. My notes of the scene: “This morning you could feel the sweet rain on its way. I was so happy and ready to spend it meeting an unprecedented network of connected spirits, now monitoring how all this dynamic, new-green is pushing up through the broken gray of a terrible fire two months back. The Ventura River watershed will recover and this precious place will regrow under the careful stewardship of all those capable hands and hearts I’ve met determined to make it so.” /// OBI

Let’s celebrate this triumph of restoration! The spring-run Chinook salmon may yet be returning to California’s San Joaquin River. I donated this painting to the @friendsoftheriver raffle-event one week ago in Coloma, where I’ll be presented the #californiafieldatlas at, at the Gold Trail Grange onHighway 49. Let us now, always work to restore the San Joaquin River, the second largest river in California. We are seeing promising signs that salmon can thrive in the river as hatchery fish are attaining new milestones. For the first time in sixty years, in 2017, spring-run Chinook salmon created their nests in the colder parts of the river below Friant Dam. By diverting most of the San Joaquin River for irrigation, since its building, the Friant Dam has caused about 60 miles (97 km) of the river to run dry. The fish last year successfully spawned, laying eggs that incubated and hatched into tiny fry as the sexually mature fish died. Biologists working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s San Joaquin River Restoration Project have now begun to catch in order to study and release the juvenile fish in traps for the first time in November and December. These critically endangered, spring-run Chinook are successfully reproducing in the embattled, and itself endangered, San Joaquin. The desiccation of the river has caused the degradation of large stretches of riverside habitat and marshes, and has nearly eliminated the historic chinook salmon run that once numbered “possibly in the range of 200,000 to 500,000 spawners annually”. Now as we glare at our ability to destroy we see an new road, a new dawn toward our ability to participate in creation and preservation across new vistas of restoration and conservation.

to continue now, the tour notes – On Saturday, I was welcomed at one of my very favorite motor inns in California, the Ojai Rancho Inn by my dear friends Chris and Chelito (pictured on either side of me, above) and their small retail space in the motel’s lobby, called Eskina. Masterful purveryors of style and grace (both social and design), Chris and Chelito have in Eskina, a retail-habitat that I could not be more proud to present the Atlas in.

Yesterday, I brought the #californiafieldatlas to @2ndhandrevival in Eagle Rock. I’m so proud to be included among this excellent creative community and to have been asked by our host @hodism to once again paint the invitational poster.

Tonight, I will be presenting at the Audubon Center at Debs Park.

I am so proud to support my friends at the @mojavedesertlandtrust. The MDLT works hard across a whole spectrum of conservation activism. Their agenda includes not only affecting policy change by defending the California Desert Protection Act from the thieving attempts of the executive branch of our current, federal government – they work every day at restoring the natural features and habitats of the Mojave: planting desert plants which they grow themselves and tearing up roads on private inholdings that they have purchased, remediated and plan on managing for public use. I will be there on Saturday the 17th to help kick off the #desertlovers campaign with the #californiafieldatlas. The original of this painting will be raffled off then as well, again as always – to support the great work they do.

I have a new map of the watersheds and watercourses of the San Francisco Peninsula – please go check it out now at In collaboration with the @peninsulaopenspacetrust, the map will be printed as a poster in the next month or so. As with all my maps I see it as my duty and my honor as a painter, a cartographer and a naturalist, to present as clearly as I can what is effectively an inventory of conservation. We have to know what there is to defend in order to conserve it at all. I am sure that by presenting this information in a beautiful, simplified, graphically-efficient manner, the well-rendered, handpainted map can be a vehicle for what is certainly no less than a fundamental, consciousness shift. By familiarizing ourselves with the larger geography of the natural world and its living systems that support and sustain us, our value perceived towards those systems begins to warp into a more organic paradigm; a new paradigm that the stressed and exploited resource-systems that we rely on need for us to immediately adopt. In that spirit of geographic literacy and with assured hope that simply by learning, by naming and by apprehending how and where these local, living networks interact, our love and respect for them grows.

In my most honest moments when my eyes become birds with tiny wings and big songs and when the roots of the friendly oaks find my heart and wrap it in paper for the wind, I throw off the rest of my skin with the leaves and take to the raccoon trails. The mushrooms pop up through the earth with bassoons burping as I count the fallen willow flowers with coyote’s nose, from one to the next, I sailed past the abandoned math on a broken bit of lichen thread with only the assurance that I got from blatherings of the silver creek that the best of use of all language is given to the winter mud where the seeds inside can bake and wait until they’re damn good and ready.

Trail Paintings Portfolio – Early Summer

Note: I’ve posted 15 recent trail paintings on my etsy shop. You can link to them here or by hitting the button on the left. This group is a bit different than earlier portfolios: I’ve let the designs open up a little bit – the animals depicted are more open, painterly and maybe even aloof. Since I am offering them at a reduced price, and with free domestic shipping, I am only going to make them available for a week or so. If you find one that speaks to you, please snatch it up right away. I am also offering tattooing services at – $200 gets you a custom painting that you get to take home, and a tattoo. Something to think about if you are in the Bay Area and into such things.  Contact me directly about tattooing or any other service at Peruse the gallery below and link directly from each painting through to where you can purchase it. Thank you, Obi.

June 2017 #1: “Three ravens sing of us all in the new day, from the archaic visions (of nature as the old enemy and the kingdom of low animals) to the new welcoming. How the song surrounds and permeates us! Tentative inclusion to the storied processes of all non-sorrowful nature, that we may recognize the fight not as a combat, but a ritual dance. #trailpaintings

June 2017 #2: “The #trailpaintings pile and churn and I keep in front. I tackle the beast with something that feels like aggression while it is going on (tear it out, uncover it, it’s mine!) A running hunt where at the end there is no injury, maybe only even a lonely sigh. When the air is right, the next exercise demands me to go at it immediately again and as before, I’m out of control and crushed in the waves – exactly where I was born and will always be. ”

The COYOTETHUNDER portfolio of applied arts, 2017

I regularly work on a project basis for a wide variety of clients. I am presenting here a portfolio of my most recent work which I am calling Applied Arts, which is a term I use to include all work by commission, and not simply my own art or art made for the California Field Atlas. While the scope of work for each project is often broad, I’ve only included here one image per project as the best indication of style. This portfolio highlights a number of my highest-profile projects and were chosen to demonstrate a consistent yet heterogeneous portfolio. Although the content and the application of work is varied, my hand-painted style is very predictable – I like to say that my clients know what they are going to get before I ever pick up my brush. I work at the client’s pace and am able to provide quick turnaround on deliverables or, if needed, to massage out the process, depending on what the project calls for. My manner of working is always adaptable, either through brand-collaboration or art-only deliverables. I prefer to remain the artist-only and will rarely carry the work through graphic design to its final design. I describe my hand-painted style as being naturistic and fluid, with minimally applied color. Email me  at My office is at Premium Tattoo, in Oakland, California.


Spring Trail Paintings

The gallery of spring harvest #trailpaintings for the pending California Field Atlas, all available for purchase. All are original, hand-painted works that measures 5-1/2″ x 7-1/2″.

About the artist: Poet and artist Obi Kaufmann is an advocate for wilderness defense and conservation. His written and visual work makes reference to a deeper mystery where an inner world of adventure and wonder meets the outer world of evolution and natural history. He illustrates for Indigofera jeans, Allet, Bay Nature Magazine, Juniper Ridge, Tuleyome and the Bureau of Land Management. He is the artist in residency for Human Condition Labs Research Program in New York City and the 2016 recipient of the Phelan Award for California literature with the San Francisco Foundation.

Obi Kaufmann’s mammoth compendium of California’s natural world, entitled the California Field Atlas is being published by Heyday books in September of 2017. Obi publishes his #trailpaintings as @coyotethunder and on the website

Trail Paintings; Wildlife Fundraising

Many Wilderness and Wildlife defense organizations are having “double-your-donations” drives until the end of the year. I am working at raising as much money for ten specific organizations as I can by selling ten original water color paintings from my upcoming California Field Atlas.

The ten organizations that will be benifitting from this drive are:


Black Heart Wilderness Defense


limited edition print, 11″ x 7.5″. Painting 11.09.16. “Black Heart Wilderness Defense” numbered and dated by @coyotethunder. Painted on the day after the 2016 presidential election. All proceeds from the sale of this print will go to Wilderness Defense organizations across the West who stand steadfast against energy interests infiltrating our public lands for energy extraction or for any other corporate reason.


Original Trail Paintings for Sale

Original watercolor paintings; from the field book – a rough and dirty thing; this painting, a piece of the forest of California, alive in prayer; a howl at sunset, a jar of cloud, a stick of lightning.

Click here to purchase paintings

show-instyclick here to purchase paintings

When not being willingly swallowed by the California backcountry, you can find the painter-poet at his desk in Oakland, posting @coyotethunder #trailpaintings on instagram.

His book of handpainted wilderness maps of California will be published by Heyday Books in 2017, as will the California Hiking Series of men’s apparel by Indigo Fera, based on the paintings and life of Obi Kaufmann.

The website is