I copied a chair that had belonged to Dan’s grandmother which was over 100 years old. The real chair was hand made and uncomfortable, the seat was too high, so I cut off the legs and made new mortise and tenons, put it back together and it is now (like in The Three Bears story) just right. The miniature is 12″ tall, my first attempt at carving. It is made from dowel pins and oak wood. Ron Sutto came one day and told me how nice it was, in fact he bragged so much about it, I was feeling just pretty good! After he left, I picked it up and said something like, ‘it is a pretty good piece of work’ ~ then dropped it on the tile floor and it splattered into a dozen pieces. (pride before the fall) I put everything in a shoe box and left it for a couple of months before I had the energy to rebuild it.This was the beginning of a passion for making miniatures.
This is a landscape I painted in 1989. The barn was near Fredericksburg,Texas, the rest is just dreamed up. I have never painted on site, everything was painted at my kitchen table. I have always taken pictures of interesting trees to put in a painting, otherwise I would find myself putting the same tree in the next picture. I took pictures of barns and houses, then built a painting around those. Old houses add a lot of interest, they all have a story. A clothes line out back, with some clothes moving in the breeze can bring life to a dilapidated house. You don’t want to see one too far gone, you want to have hope that there is still some life left in it, that someone can still make a home there.
My friend Pat brought me an snap shot of an old grist mill in Glen Rose, it was built back in 1860 and at one time owned by her Great Grandfather Price. She wanted me to paint it for her. She told me the story behind it and I found more information on the internet, so while I was painting, it was interesting to know the history. She remembered visiting her grandmother there when she was growing up so it was part of her young life. Once when she was six years old, her mother put her on a bus in Ballinger, sat her behind the driver and told him not to let her off until she got to Glen Rose where her grandparents were waiting to pick her up. Times were different back then. After I finished the painting and she had it for a few days and came back and wondered if I could add some children playing in the yard. I asked my little Edmiston neighbors to come over and pose under my oak tree, with a wagon and the swing, then painted them in the picture. It brought it to life. This old building still stands in Glen Rose, it has been a grist mill, cotton gin, hospital and now an art gallery, many changes in a century and a half. Pat has this little bit of history hanging on her wall. I enjoyed painting it~
In 1963, we had a seven year old in school and a two year old baby at home. I was painting every day, it helped keep me from being lonesome. (work and projects always make me happy). PJ wanted to do whatever I was doing, so I let him paint with me. I could give him a brush and a canvas and he liked it. One day I saw a perfect picture of him working in his pajamas and I painted this ‘mama picture’, something to keep for myself. Both our boys have been the subject in many paintings. They were always available and willing. Being mama is the best of all blessings, and now I am mama to my little ‘ four legged babies’.
Today’s blog is one I originally I posted last year. I would like to post it again since at that time I had just started my texasmornings and had very few people looking. I was feeling pretty good when I was up to 9 lookers until someone told me that by the information on the my stat counter, 5 of those were me. So after a couple of weeks, I was up to 4 real people looking. One more thing that confused me was the time, instead of regular time, it used Military time so it ended up going on in the middle of the afternoon instead of early morning. Someone told me Military time ran from 12:00 midnight to 24 hours later and then started over at 1:00 AM. I would throw that system out but maybe we would have lost a war or something if we had done it my way.
This is a John Townsend secretary I copied from a real one I have in my living room. It is 23″ tall and made of mahogany. I found a place that made skis from thin strips of wood and they gave me enough scraps for years of projects. Unlike the smaller miniature furniture, the drawers and doors need work on the larger pieces. It took a while to make it, all the drawer pulls were made from copper wire that I hammered flat, then cut into shape with a scroll saw, probably something like making jewelry. Dowel pins are great for carving figurines, vases and all the pretty things we like. I found a jewelry place in Bryan going out of business and bought a box full of stuff. I took the stones out of the earrings and used the bezels to frame tiny photographs. Crystal beads and chains made great chandeliers. It was always fun making the furniture pieces but the best part was making all fancy things to fill the shelves. There are envelopes the size of a fingernail, addressed and stamped, inside each one is a two page letter. It only takes simple tools to build and carve these things. I used a coping saw, Diamond Deb fingernail file, emery boards and carpet knife. Later I bought a small scroll saw, it has a round sanding disc to shape the turned pieces. Finding good glue was always a problem, it had to be sticky to start with and then be really strong when it dried. This was always happy work.
Hemphill Wells in San Angelo invited me to have an art show and demonstration at their store in 1973, (the same time the San Angelo Roping Fiesta was being held at the fair grounds, the men roped, the wives shopped). I painted for a week and enjoyed every minute. People came to look and other artists came watch me paint the bluebonnets, landscapes and water scenes. By the third day, they were bringing their folding chairs and staying all day. (Mr. Russell wasn’t too happy, he had planed for it to be a time they would be shopping for pretty things on the fourth floor). This is one of the paintings, it is 24″ X 36″. Since I was painting under florescent lights, the colors seemed pale, I had to work to make them brilliant. Later when I came home I found all the pictures were extra bright and a little different from the norm. I was happy with the end results. I was invited back several times for demonstrations, something I looked forward to. I never taught art lessons but gave demonstrations along with the art shows. When people watch, they are inspired and they learn a lot of the tricks and techniques. I learned from an early age by watching my mother Elizabeth Elder. She was wonderful painter. If you pick up a brush and squeeze paint out on a pallet, I will be cheering you on!
This is an old steer skull I found in the pasture. First the buzzards, then the bugs, finally staying out in the weather for a couple of years, and it was nice enough to work on. Fine horns, nice bone structure, it was like it had been hand carved. I can just imagine what a beautiful creature he once was. I sanded it down until it was smooth, stained it, then put on several coats of polyurethane varnish , sanding it between each coat. I painted a cattle drive scene on the forehead, then added leather strings and turkey feathers.
A friend who knew I liked to work on the skulls left a goat head on my front porch one morning, It was way way too fresh! I held my breath while I carried it out behind the rock fence and left it for a year. Then I found it there one day and made a wall hanging from it. It is a beautiful skull, I liked working with it. I hope this one lived a very long time and died of old age. I like goats~
I painted this picture from a black and white Mathew Brady sketch. I was not excited to do it but someone wanted it. Since the sketch had very little detail, I painted in faces that were not there. I ended up with people I knew, members of the family, I had to improvised. When I thought it was finished, I had to go back and take out the 30.30 rifles, they didn’t have any of those in the Civil War, and replace them with muzzle loaders. I also had to repaint the Mexican people with black people. There was a lot of painting going on with this one. It was a huge challenge, all the faces are the size of a postage stamp .I was loving it by the time I finished. The guy who ordered it traded it for something else. (Some day it will be his again).
When ZZ was growing up, her favorite toy was her play kitchen. One year she even got an E-Z-Bake oven and was able to make cakes and cookies. She had her Papa’s little table and two chairs and all kinds of dishes and cookware. She could put a real meal together for her little friends,( both real and play like). It was fun watching her. Most of her other ‘toys’ were how-to books. One was on sculpting and making figures. They were made from polymer that was baked in the oven and came out strong and hard. The figures had finest detail, ribs on the socks, buttons and buttonholes. She gave one away to someone special every year . What a thrill to be “the one”. These two pictured are a little boy with his fishing pole, Dan and Debbie got that one for Christmas one year, the girl in the blue dress and sandals is mine. What a treasure~
My boys like to carve and whittle. Here are a few of the things they have made. The wooden chain is carved from a single straight board, the egg started as a square block of wood, then there is a box with open center and a carved ball inside. Each of these started with a solid piece of wood.
My favorite is this spade, made from walnut with a maple handle. The shovel part is carved thin and is as smooth as silk. It is a contrast between a tool used for hard digging and an exquisite piece of art.
In l963, I painted this picture from a snapshot my good friend Helen McAngus gave me of her daughter Lisa and nephew Willie. Their horse was Sally~ This picture was one of the most enjoyable to paint that I can ever remember. I knew these kids well, they had fun growing up in the country, there was always something to do. About six years ago, I had a letter from Helen’s granddaughter Shannon, telling me she had the painting now and how much it meant to have something from her mom’s childhood. Since then I have written her notes about Lisa and Willie growing up. Shannon has a beautiful little daughter named Morlee who looks a lot like Lisa. This picture has been on Face Book but I wanted to put it in my blog, it has come full circle for me, fun from 1963 and on up until today. I love this story, I loved those kids~
Meet Stanley and Rose Olive, the Jamaican dolls I made in around 1956 . He was a wheeler dealer and she was a show girl. After a while I decided they needed a place to sit so I made the two wing back chairs. Stanley has a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes in his shirt pocket, he carries a leather bill fold in his pants pocket with a driver’s license and a picture of Rose Olive. She used to have a big purse but lost it. I liked these two characters. A few years ago, someone came to my house and was offended by them so I put them in the cedar chest in the attic for quite a while. I just recently decided to bring them back out and enjoy them again. They are really quiet nice, they have never caused trouble ~except for that one time~