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)

Trail Paintings Portfolio, Autumn 2016

Coyote & Thunder Portfolio of #trailpaintings, 2016

I see all around us, evidence for a deep narrative of Californian ecology that transcends its present human occupiers. Ancient and enduring systems, defining the wild character of natural California, which while never completely static, remain intact and steadfast despite the forced stresses imposed on them from the contemporary human ecology and society. My paintings describe my journey towards understanding California as a single breathing, moving, living system that holds one epic narrative: a thread of natural history bright, poetic and undeniable.



About; Growing up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist, Obi Kaufmann spent most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo, mapping and naming the creeks, oak forests and sage mazes.  Into adulthood he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one as his identity as a wilderness naturalist took hold. For Obi, the epic narrative of the California backcountry holds enough art, science, mythology and language for a hundred Field Atlases to come. When not backpacking, today you can find the painter-poet at his desk in Oakland, posting @coyotethunder #trailpaintings on social media. His website is

Posters, Paintings & Commissions

For the first time, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Map-Poster by Obi Kaufmann is available. Click here to buy.


New #trailpaintings available include RED FOX. Click here to buy. 


COYOTE. click here to buy.


Custom trail paintings are available. Originals for personal use only of any subject, including portraits of people, are available for $100, size: 7.5″ x 11″. They take one month. Please email me, Obi at


This Sasquatch was commissioned by the Nature Conservancy.

Preview/Interview with Gestalten… What is Coyote Thunder?

The following is an excerpt of the original interview with me, Obi Kaufmann of @coyotethunder by Daniel Crockett for the new Gestalten Publication WILDSIDE, due out in 2017.

What is coyote thunder? 

 @coyotethunder is my Instagram handle. is my website, the hub of me online. It is also a couple of words I have tattooed on my left hand. The American essayist Barry Lopez wrote a compendium of amazing stories called Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with his daughter, Coyote Builds North America. I first picked this book up thirty years ago and still carry a copy of it around with me. I do so largely because of how baffling the character of Coyote is: both creator and trickster, genius and fool, good and evil. I think the Coyote character, panculturally across indigenous American mythology, is certainly as sophisticated and as poetic as any character inhabiting Shakespeare’s universe.


Tell me more about your Californian Field Atlas project?

I’ve been walking and painting California my whole life. I’ve been a willing subject to a lifelong parade of massive, heady doses of all the beauty that the California wilderness has to offer and now I am ready to give it all back. In order to transmit this love for the larger story of these spiraling landscapes, my once and forever home, I am retreading all those steps: hundreds perhaps thousands of foot miles rendered, mapped, and painted. This is the spirit of the California Field Atlas. It will be published by Heyday Books in 2017.

The California Field Atlas is the ultimate road trip guide, as exhaustive as it is lyrical. Every inch of the state is detailed and every page drips in soul and color. I see evidence for a deep narrative of Californian ecology that transcends its present human occupants. This ancient and enduring system defines the wild character of California, which is never static and remains intact, steadfast despite the stresses imposed by contemporary human ecology. The California Field Atlas describes my journey towards understanding California as a single breathing, moving, living system that holds one epic narrative:  a thread of natural history bright, poetic and undeniable.

The Field Atlas is a compendium of hundreds of hand-painted maps and trail paintings. My mission is to compose what is a love letter to the land of gold, oak, condor and granite. Every map sings in the poetry of place. Every painting reads with a novel, topographic integrity that haunts with deeper truths. Every mote of knowledge playfully addresses how California, while being a land of superlatives, is governed by the most subtle of relationships.


Are we as humans experiencing a widespread disconnection from nature and how is this affecting our society?

It is easy to fret about society and it is easy to feel disconnected from nature. In fact to do both of these things defines our modern world. My attitude is a bit different. I believe that all of our works are ultimately, the works of nature herself. We are currently climbing the exponential slope of population growth, as species who have managed to exploit a particularly advantageous niche do. That is the most natural thing in the world. There are rough times ahead. There are rough times behind. There may be nothing but rough times. The answers to connection, sustainability, and community within a larger ecology lay in history. The truth of life is a temporal cycle in that the distant future always looks similar to the distant past. I see as much connection as I do disconnection.


Are you following a heritage with your trail paintings, who were your inspirations?

The trail paintings exist in a larger context of wilderness poetry. Each work is a snap shot of time, color, mood and place, like a poem or an essay. Both of which often accompany the visual work I produce. I am inspired by California’s frontier naturalists as much as I am by its artists and writers. I think of men from David Douglas to John Muir who were the first to approach the extreme west with a respectful, discerning eye. I believe Wallace Stegner is the greatest novelist in the West, and his prose continues to inspire me on a daily basis. The poetry of Gary Snyder moves me deeply, helping me draw quiet, zen calligraphy across this quiet landscape. The wit and critical thinking of Joan Didion is always a wonderful insight into California and her attitude to it often mirrors my own. I respond to writers and naturalists who endeavor to see things as they are, and it may be unexpected that I find more inspiration there than I so often do in my fellow painters.


LIFE. Trail Paintings Spring 2016

POP LIFE Spring 2016 #Trailpaintings

The Spring 2016 Portfolio of #trailpaintings “POP LIFE” by Obi Kaufmann, @coyotethunder on Instagram and @obikaufmann on Twitter. Watercolor on cold-pressed 90# paper. Ready for framing. Each Painting comes with a Tuleyome poster and a deck of Astral Guides cards. Proceeds from each purchase goes to California Wilderness Defense, details below.

This is the LIFE portfolio. To peruse the POP portfolio, click here to be redirected to


Poet and artist Obi Kaufmann is an advocate for wilderness defense and conservation. His written and visual work always 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 Bay Nature Magazine,, and the Bureau of Land Management. In 2016, he will participate in artist-residencies with both the Human Collective Group in NYC and the National Parks Conservation Association. He is currently working on a California Field Atlas for Heyday books which will launch in the Fall of 2017. Obi publishes his #trailpaintings as @coyotethunder and on the website


“I’ve been working on a lot of commissions lately. Apart from authorship, map making, concept art and portraits are how I make my money. These paintings represent everything that comes between: what I do on my own time… mourn the death of famous musicians who have touched my life… make fan art of TV shows and movies I love… and of course, paint wildlife.”


The Poster

18” x 24” < folded > Obi: I was commissioned to make this poster, a handpainted map of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, (the first of its kind) by the Tuleyome organization. Being this painting today is the only way to get one of these posters through me. On top of it, I will sign each one that goes out. The proceeds that are made here will be donated to the Tuleyome’s #donatetorestore on May 3; a 24 hour fund-raising event for the recovery of fire-scarred land in the monument.


The Cards

Obi: My Astal Guides deck, a kind of Tarot game based on the stars was a project of mine from 2013. What amounts to a game and a mythic-figurative art portfolio, I have enjoyed a ton of feedback from fans and collectors about how the hopeful, divinatory tone of the cards has affected them.


The Organizations

The following 11 California Wilderness Defense Organizations will receive the proceeds of the sale of these paintings:

  1. Tuleyome Snow Mountain Berryessa National Monument Stewardship @tuleyomeorg Instagram @tuleyomeorg Twitter
  1. Turtle Island Restoration Network Coho Salmon habitat- restoration in Northern California @seaturtles_org Twitter
  1. KSWild Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center @kswild Twitter @klamathsiskiyouwild instagram
  1. Friends of the River California River Conservation Advocacy  @calrivers Twitter @friendsoftheriver Instagram
  1. Ventana Wilderness Alliance Protecting the wild lands surround Big Sur @ventanawildernessalliance Instagram
  1. Friends of the Inyo Caring for the Eastern Sierra @friendsofinyo Twitter @friendsoftheinyo Instagram
  1. California Wilderness Coalition The voice for wild California @calwild Twitter
  1. Mojave Desert Land Trust To protect the Mojave Desert ecosystem Mojave Desert Land Trust, Facebook
  1. Restore the Delta To save the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary @Restorethedelta, twitter
  1. Sierra Nevada Alliance“Our mission is to protect and restore the natural resources of the Sierra Nevada for future generations while promoting sustainable communities.” @SNVAlliance, twitter




Click on Galley for purchase information

Available May 1st, 2nd & 3rd. 2016

The other half of the show… the POP in POP/LIFE can be found at


Painted Maps of the Tuleyome






a non-profit conservation organization based in Woodland, CA, is the local proponent of efforts to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region. Their mission is to protect the wild heritage and agricultural heritage in the Northern Inner Coast Range and the Western Sacramento Valley.

Bay Nature

The Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, California, is dedicated to educating the people of the San Francisco Bay Area about, and celebrating the beauty of, the surrounding natural world. We do so with the aim of inspiring residents to explore and preserve the diverse and unique natural heritage of the region, and of nurturing productive relationships among the many organizations and individuals working towards these same goals.

click to enlarge <below>




Castle Mountains National Monument

Designated by the Obama administration, Feb 2016





<<< from @coyotethunder instagram >>> My solid gold desert got me nearly blind today with its almost painful, radiant joy, murmuring majesty. Then, a bittersweet leap back into the wide silence. Guiding my way, a color parade of pending starlight reflected from the smiling eyes of all those I carry, and who carry me. Can we finally trust to allow this sublime Wild, a reinvention of ourselves in the garden more raw? Today I may be nothing but heart.


desert studio


The body of the desert is skeletal. Its bones, the folded mountains, run thirsty courses of growth and decay as all mortal systems.

The ocean of the desert is tidal. Its waves, the pulsing life, holds tenacious breath of advance and retreat as all geophysical topographies.

The book of the desert is open. Its language, the written roots, blanket determined calligraphy of rhythm and wisdom as all knowledge archives.

castle mountains





154,000 acres of Wilderness Area, National Preserve and BLM land around Morongo Valley, and on the border between the Sonoran and the Mojave deserts of Southern California, has recently been designated as the Sand to Snow National Monument. We in the conservation game, across California, rejoice in this wonderful news. Here is my map of the Monument. #trailpaintings – click to enlarge






I was at this unveiling and am pictured here in the upper-right.