This painting is on the South Concho River near Christoval. You can get in a kayak and paddle almost to the ‘head of the river’ where it starts as a small gravely spot and water bubbles up out of the ground. Like Magic, it turns into this wonderful river that flows all the way to San Angelo 19 miles away. When you are in a boat, every bend in the river is a new scene, one thrill after another. I like painting water, not only rivers and ponds, but a puddle in the road, or dark clouds building up before a rain.. I have seen paintings of the surf, with waves tumbling over each other, white foam and aqua colored water, I tried it once but it was a failure. I can appreciate anyone who can capture all of that wonder. I have to stick with the calm water of the river. Air, water and food, in that order, we can’t survive without all three~I am grateful~
This is a scene near Mason. I would love to drive down this road on the way home every day, a winding road with trees making a canopy overhead. We used to visit relatives in East Texas and between Douglasville and Atlanta, there were roads like this that went to the farm houses. It was magical, mystical, and maybe a little bit spooky at night. Dan’s ‘McWhorter cousins’ lived in East Texas and I liked going there, it was so different. The people were soft spoken and no one ever got in a hurry. Their voices had such a sweet, kind sound. (Dan always came home with an East Texas accent and it took a few days for it to wear off). I was amazed at how green it was back there, very hot and humid too. Ben took us fishing in his boat, we got out in the middle of Caddo Lake, anchor in the water, hooks baited, then he had to turn around and take Cousin Lilla all the way back to the bait stand because she was afraid of the water. We fished all day while she sat on the dock beside the picnic basket with the food, I wished I had stayed with her. We loved our East Texas people.
This is a miniature copy of the swing set at Camp Rock. (I didn’t make the trailer, it was a gift from Dan and Debbie). The barn is a copy of one Dan built, ZZ helped him by handing him each nail, one by one that went on the roof. There is the picnic table like the one I built that washed away. I bought the real swing set at Lowe’s and put it together. It came in several heavy cartons full of pipes, seats, chains and a thousand nuts and bolts. I laid it all out on the ground, opened up the instructions and it said, ‘have your helper hold the first leg steady as you connect it to the horizontal top bar’. Well,the only helper around was my little dog Spook. One of these things can be assembled by one person because I did it that day. (a hard job) When it was finished, it was worth it. Our kids came for vacation from Albuquerque the next day, and ZZ had stars in her eyes when she saw it. She spent the next two weeks on the slide or a swing or sitting in the glider with her dog and her stuffed toys, she was three years old. I see swing sets in people’s back yards that are a piece of work. They have climbing walls and bridges, curved slides, ladders up to a landing on top with a flag flying. They are made of redwood and and likely very expensive. I know it would take more than your dog to help put one together. But what a nice thing to have when your kids are growing up, it should last forever. When I grew up, we were lucky if we had a tree big enough to hang a rope swing. Ours was across the street in Grandmother’s yard. You could sit in it and have someone wind you up and spin until you were sick. You staggered out of that swing drunk as a skunk~
This is a picture ZZ painted of a cow. We took lots of cow pictures in Buscher’s pasture, they were strange looking but probably good ones since they all had ear tags. ZZ was 9 years old on this one. I helped her sketch it off on a 9×12″ canvas. (paint the eyes in first, then it will watch you while you paint in everything else.) To show her how, I would write in b for brown, w for white, etc. and she would paint in the different colors. She learned to mix paint from an early age, we used very few colors, white, blue, yellow, red, and brown. Nearly any color can be mixed from these. She learned early not to mix a big pile of color, if you mix small amounts, each one will be different and make the picture more realistic. One time when ZZ was about 5 years old, we were buying brushes at the art store and an older man and his wife were shopping. From what we understood, he had decided to start painting. He was saying, ‘let me see, I need some purple and some green, and some black’~ I could tell ZZ was having a fit. She finally told me, ‘that man is not obeying’. She knew blue and red made purple, and yellow and blue made green. She was beside herself wanting to go help him. She painted several parrot pictures and sold them on e-bay. Children like bright colors. She painted a lot of adobe houses. They are easy to do and when you are finished, you have something worthy of a nice frame. They have a 3-D effect with shadows and sunlight hitting the walls. The great thing about her is she never got tired, she was never ready to quit. I love this old cow. I love that sweet girl~
Looks like a tea party going on, maybe for you and a special little granddaughter. It is almost as easy as reaching in the cookie tin and walking through the house eating cookies, except you will enjoy this special moment you give yourself. The figurine is one my sister Nancy gave me, one of my favorites. The china is from my Grandmother Christian’s set when she started house keeping as a new bride. Little girls like tea parties and old girls do too~
This is a large 24″x36″ painting of a river scene, no real place, not really anywhere. The idea for it came from once going with Mother to a friend’s ranch in Sutton County and spending the day on the river. I remember the woman had a camp house with a wood cook stove, and she cooked up the most wonderful pot of red beans and baked a skillet of cornbread. We had that with iced tea and it was a feast. The smoky smell of the wood stove made it even more memorable. But back to the river scene, water has always been one of the things I enjoy painting most of all. As anyone who paints will tell you, when you are lost in this kind of project, you can only have good thoughts, good feelings, and all stress is washed away. For a while, you can forget problems (like worrying whether the avocado will be ripe by Sunday, you know~ those big things~) I can look at one of the paintings and remember what was going on in my life when I was painting it. I think it always had something to do with the people I love~
Dan made a rocking chair to give his daddy for Father’s Day a few years ago. It took him 7 months, it was a work of art. He had to make all the jigs to bend the strips of walnut, spent weeks putting it together, sanding and rubbing the wood.Finally it was finished and it was delivery time. Debbie called me when they got to the edge of town to have me to send daddy off in the car for something so they could come slip it in the house. Daddy came back, walked right in past the chair and sat at the bar, then Dan gave him his card. Daddy read it and looked it over and was so happy. He said, ” you made this card yourself?'” Well yes! So he read and re-read the card and said it needed to be framed. He thanked Dan again and gave him a big old daddy/boy hug. We were about to crack up it was so funny. Then we all went
to sit in the den and Daddy saw his chair. He was speechless! He sat down and went over every inch of it, stroking it and saying over and over again, “I can’t believe it, and you made this chair!” Daddy treasured things and was happy beyond words. What a wonderful day.
In the summer of 1966, this painting was included in a special showing of paintings by 15 outstanding Texas women artists in the office of Sen. John Towers in Washington. The painting, “Spring Brags in Texas” is a bluebonnet scene with the huge live oak tree which is a landmark between Eldorado and Christoval. It stands at the entrance to the Bob Helmers Ranch. An account of the exhibit was written into the 89th Congressional Record and later taken on a circuit tour through Texas. I painted it 48 years ago and it was like yesterday~
When I was growing up, I learned first hand about men and hats. This is a picture Granddad Jack’s old Stetson. Let me see, I think it was the Silver Beaver XXX and cost $15~ a huge amount back 75 years ago. He only wore it when he went to lodge. He had another one he used for every day. If we were in the car, it blocked the view from the back seat, more than once it blew out the window, and often blew into the back seat and into someone’s face. We were constantly reminded to “watch out for my hat!”. When we got somewhere, he had to find a place to put it, men did not wear their hats inside! Later, Dan and I married and he liked hats too. He had lots of them, I had to go shopping with him and he would try one on, hold the brim in front and give it a shake. (this was a test or something) It took forever for him to decided since not many fit just right. (Someone once told him that he had a ‘well shaped head’ and he liked to remember that compliment). I hated the hats. They were trouble! We were in Luby’s eating one day and someone took Dan’s hat and left him theirs. He never forgot it and from then on we would have to sit where he could watch his hat like a hawk. When my first little boy was four, Granddad Jack gave him a Stetson for Easter and I thought, ‘Oh No, Here We Go Again!’ It went through lots of wear and tear with stick horses and cowboys and Indians. Sometimes it ended up on the closet floor, under a pile of toys. It was recycled on down to his little brother. I found it in the cedar chest not long ago and was overcome with feelings, I realized how much I loved this one.
Dan’s mother saw this painting and mentioned it several times, it hangs in the Hermitage in Russia. It was an old world painting, ‘The Stolen Kiss’ by Fragonard. I found a photograph of the painting and was overwhelmed by the beautiful detail in the woman’s dress, I decided to try to copy it. It took several weeks to sketch it off on canvas and once I started painting, I was terribly excited to be doing it. Painting the folds in the woman’s dress was a great experience, it was like reading a good book~ hard to put down. When it was finished Dan gave it to his mother on Mother’s Day, she loved it. She had a beautiful formal living room and the perfect place for it. It has been in the family for 47 years, it now hangs in her grandson’s home.
Carrot cake is one of the best cakes around. It is moist and full of flavors. The lemon icing makes it extra special. It is one of the easiest cakes since you dump it all in the bowl and mix it up. When you are taking it out of the pan, run a sharp knife around the edges and then shake it loose from the sides before you flip it out on to a rack. Put wax paper under the rack to catch any icing that drips.
Heat oven to 350 degrees
2 c sugar
1 c Canola oil
1 flat can crushed pineapple (drained)
2 c grated carrots
1 c white raisins
1 tsp vanilla
2 c coarsely chopped pecans (toast in microwave about 2 minutes, stir after a minute)
1 c shredded cocoanut
Beat this all together in mixer
Mix next 5 ingredients together and then pour into first mixture..
3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp soda
Spray bundt or tube pan with Pam. Pour in batter. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, test with a tooth pick for doneness .
Cool for about 10 minutes then carefully remove from pan onto wire rack.
Grate lemon peel,
squeeze juice from one lemon into small bowl
¼ tsp lemon extract
1/8 tsp vanilla
Mix with 2 c powdered sugar.
Drizzle or spread on top and sides of warm cake
(this cake freezes well)
The picture today is more about the Stetson hat topic from a while back. Here is Granddad Jack with his little grandson~ wearing the new Stetson hat he gave him for Easter. The year was 1960. I was planning to have the hat steamed and cleaned, these hats can be restored to look like new, but It might be better to leave alone, with all the wear and age showing. Like old saddles, these hats grow in character as they age. I am starting to re-think my dislike for hats. I sure loved that little boy who wore it ~