Oil Painting of The River


My favorite river scene

The idea for this water scene came from a nice day I remember on a river in Sutton County, that place had a peaceful feeling~ good company 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~

Spring Brags in Texas


Bluebonnet painting with live oak tree

this live oak tree is a landmark between Eldorado and Christoval

Sen. and Mrs. John Tower

Sen. and Mrs. John Tower shown with the painting which was included in a special exhibit in Washington

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~

The Card Game

The dress was wonderful to paint, her wrap too, it looks like ‘someone’ won her away from the card game~I painted this picture in 1965, it was  large and took two months to complete.

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. 

Bald-Faced Cow

cattle are fun to paint, ZZ was able to paint this one in two days, and then put in a little more detail after the paint dried.

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~

Guanajuato Mexico

this was a common scene in Mexico, it was like something from another world.

I painted this Mexican man with his oxen pulling a cart in 1966, after one of our trips deep into Mexico, (not far from, Guanajuato.) Usually I take a picture and use parts of it for a painting. This time, it is almost exactly like the photo I took. There were three men sitting on a bench under the tree and I chose to leave them out.  This part of Mexico is beautiful, the scenes are like they came from another world. It has a  ‘feel’ about it that you don’t forget. With sounds like a donkey braying,  a ‘hee-honk~wheeze~ hee-honk~wheeze~ noise’ that keeps going until you wonder if he is dying~or just happy.  The birds have their brilliant colors and exotic songs. In all of this noise of nature, people are quiet spoken and you hardly hear them make a sound. Nothing rowdy going on here. You notice all of this because it is so different. Then the smells are fresh and pleasant,  orange, pineapple and mango, the slightly pungent  smell of papaya,  (I am aware of smells and enjoy that special sense, next to seeing and hearing~ a cow lot, or a dirt floor in a barn when it starts to rain, the warm sweet smell of a baby’s hair, a  puppy’s breath~) Anyway back to Mexico, I know I will never be able to go there again, but it stays fresh in my mind and I will keep it with me forever.  México, hermoso país, personas finas

Bluebonnet Painting


Small Bluebonnet Painting

this painting is small, it is only a 9″x12″ but has all the detail as a larger one.

This is a small 9X12 painting of bluebonnets. You don’t need to have a huge wall size picture, the smaller ones can be just as impressive. You just want to hang them in the appropriate spot, like in a foyer or on a narrow wall. Near a light switch is perfect, every time you pass by, you will notice it and enjoy having it there. Another thing, the center of the painting should be just about eye level, a  mistake is to hang it too high on the wall. Be careful who you trust to do this job, my uncle was putting pictures up in my grandmother’s living room, using some pretty hefty nails. Later when we were putting clothes in the bedroom closet, there were those nails sticking through the wall.

Silk Roses

Some of the nice surprises from Nancy~

Some of the nice surprises from Nancy~

My sister Nancy surprised me with this beautiful bouquet of silk roses over 30 years ago, she had made them after taking a silk flower class. They are just as fresh and pretty as the day I got them. Nancy always had a knack for picking the best gifts, she knew what anyone would like and and especially me. The shoe is from the ‘Right Shoe’ collection and the figurine is one from G. Amarini’s ‘Magic Moment’s’. These are some of my treasures, but most of all she is the real treasure, if you have a sister, you have a friend forever. She loved my babies and I loved hers. Oh and we do have fun on the phone, that is the best of all.

Nancy has a sweet smile and sparkling eyes. She is the pretty one~

Nancy has a sweet smile and sparkling eyes. She is the pretty one~

Gentleman Farmer

Longino worked all his life for Bill McWhorter on the farms. They grew up together.

This is Longino Pina, the man who farmed the place where we lived for 20 years. It was over a section of land and had two large fields which he plowed  and took care of by himself. He had a small field behind his house and  planted it in field corn. He raised beautiful corn. He would give us toe sacks full to put in the freezer, the best I ever ate. In the fall, he and his friends got together to butcher the hogs. They usually had two or three. It was quite a project, one time Longino sent his little son over to borrow Dan’s razor, (I think they shave the pig’s hide~ the last thing before they cook the cracklings). Dan gave him the razor and told him he ‘didn’t need to bring it back’. Later all the women got together and made hot tamales.  One day Bill told me I should paint a picture of Longino so I asked him, and his wife Goya thought it was a good idea, and he agreed.  When I finished it he was not happy because he was missing a bottom tooth, so I painted it in for him. Bill traded with me for it and hung it in his den, he was proud of that picture.  After he died, and then Longino died,  I gave it to Danny Pina, his grandson. It was nice living out there by Longino and his family. We were good friends for all those years. Goya taught me how to make tamales and all kinds of wonderful Mexican food.

Miniature Living Room

I restored my 40 year old miniature rooms, this is the living room. This was a job I had been dreading for a long time. As it turned out, I enjoyed working on them, it was almost as exciting as when when I first made them. Most of the rooms are 11″x16″. Through the years, the glue has failed on some of the furniture and just like real rooms, the walls need  repainting. They were old and it was time to redecorate. There are seven rooms in all and originally each one took about a month to make. Since the drawers and doors didn’t have to be functional on tiny miniatures, they were easier to make than the larger pieces. The piano took a while to make, the keyboard is scored and has individual black keys, each one hand applied. I will put the all rooms on my blog  later.

Work started on living room

after the walls are painted and things start getting moved back in, it turns into happy time

the paintings are done on linen canvas,

It is hard to photograph these small rooms~

  I like the little things, there is a child in us that can live for a lifetime. 

Jack-knife Drilling Rig


I painted several oil rigs and learned a lot about them. I also filmed the drilling operation, set it to music and made copies for Dan to give to the men.

This is a jack-knife  drilling rig on location near Pandale in Crockett County, Texas. Both of our boys worked on this kind of rig in the summers between college semesters. They worked for Ingersoll-Rand, blowing air. Some rigs drill with mud and some with air. Their jobs were to keep the huge air motors running. Since it was a remote location, they lived there in trailers until the job was completed. That is Matt Bumgardner by his pickup and the little yellow Honda belonged to PJ. Back in the early days of drilling for oil, the rigs had to be built and torn down for each well. The jack-knife folds in half and is hauled on trucks. It is quite an operation to watch, and is  exciting to see the huge tower fold over while the motors blow black smoke as they lay it over. I have seen them move a rig in the standing position by skidding it over to where they will drill the next well. Daddy worked in the oil fields as a roughneck, he said the first rig he worked on in the 1930’s took just under a year to complete and when he retired at age 68, they were completig a well in one week. The oil and gas industry has kept West Texas going for almost a hundred years.

Ranch House

An old home place

This wasn’t an actual place, just a scene from memory. There is something appealing about old houses, they all have an important history~

Here is an old ranch house I painted in about 1968. It seems like all of these old houses were built from one of  two house plans. This one had one front door (sometimes two) and a wing built out in front. (there was usually an add-on shed in the back). Then there was the house with a long porch across the front and two or three front doors. You would wonder which door to knock on. Most of these old places had an out house. The better ones had a pit toilet with a modern looking oak seat  and a metal floor. (home for granddaddy long leg spiders.)  Others were two and three hollers and a trap door in the back.The yard had a picket fence to keep the stock out. The barn was usually finer than the house and there was almost always  a windmill, the sound of the mill turning is something we always remember. There is something cozy about these old houses. A nice place to come home to. When my granddad retired he and my grandmother moved to their farm at Grit. Before they finished fixing up the old house, it was  primitive but it did have running water inside. I loved being there, it was wonderful, the kerosene lamps smelled good but they didn’t put out much light. What I missed was a refrigerator, they had an ice box and things were never very cold. Granddad built a big cement tank and we waited all summer for it to fill up so we could go swimming, when it was time for us to come home, there was about  nine inches of water in it. I had to save my new blow up water wings for another year.

Oil Painting

Country Scene

no water in this one but the clouds are building up, maybe a shower tonight~

This landscape is 24″x36″ and has always been my favorite size to paint, it is the right proportion. It works well on a wall above a fireplace or over a large piece of furniture. This size canvas takes about four days to paint, with a couple of days drying time in between. I have always kept three paintings going at once, that way when I have gone as far as I need to on one, I can let it dry while I work on another one. Painting  wet on wet ends up a dull grey picture, bright highlights will pop out if the paint under it is dry.  I have never used an easel, it  is awkward and makes my arm tired. I had rather stand over the canvas with it lying flat on the table or sit with it propped up in my lap. When paintings were finished, Dan framed them for me. A salesman came twice a year from  Brownwood to show me the samples. They have beautiful ready made frames with elaborately finished corners. Even a small 5″x7″ painting in one of these frames turns it into something special.