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~
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~
In 1973 I painted this combination of places and things. I started with a sky and everything else just grew until it was done. The building is a barn behind a nice home in Mason, Texas. I added a porch and a second story. Polk, the horse belonged to Danny Pena, Hank was Dan’s Ag. project, the chickens were Goya’s and the woman was ‘guess who’. The good thing about oil painting, if you don’t like something, you can let it dry and paint right over it. When I was painting full time, I kept at least three painting going at once. The first one I worked on completely covering the canvas, the sky and ground and some sketching with the brush. That went fast. Then I turned to the second one that had been drying for a couple of days and I worked on the road, trees and had it pretty well done. This was the time to correct things I didn’t like. Then the third canvas was ready for the fun part, all the many little details that made it a finished piece. (And I mean finished, there is a time to stop and not over work it.)
A scene from New Zealand~I would have loved to have gone there sometime. I have seen many pictures from that area and it is a beautiful and tranquil place. That is about as far away as you can get from West Texas. I painted this picture for my brother in law, along with a fall scene from Pittsburg, they were both colorful and went well together. I have never traveled outside the states except for Canada and the many trips to Old Mexico. This is about to change when I will be going to Kenya, East Africa in in December, a trip I have been planning for a year now. Some of my family worries about me going, they are afraid I will get over there, get sick and die or something. (I told them if I die, they can just send me home in a Mason jar). It is finally going to be my turn~
We found this pretty little Mexican girl selling bread at a market in Guadalajara, Mexico. Dan took her picture, bought all of her bread, and a few weeks later when we came home, I put her on canvas. This was in the summer of 1966. Since then, she has held a special place in the study over his desk. Dan could speak Spanish well, and liked to visit with people. (I understood enough of the language to know when someone told me how pretty and clean my little boys were). We traveled in a tiny 17′ Airstream trailer, I will have more stories about that later. One of the nicest things I can think of is when we bought the trailer, I finally had my playhouse.
I painted quite a few pictures with guns in them. They made the painting more interesting. Here is one of the boys sighting in a .30 30 rifle. The gun was one my daddy owned that had belonged to his grandfather, one of the original 1894 Winchester lever action models and a good gun for deer hunting. It had a soft recoil and a range of 200 yards. It got it’s name from the shell that held 30 grains of smokeless powder. When I grew up, everyone who had a pickup truck had a gun rack above the back seat. Their rifles were within easy reach and didn’t get all scratched up, (they usually had a .22 and maybe a shotgun). My mother loved to hunt and every deer she ever killed was with this .30 30. She didn’t have a gun rack or a pickup but she always had that gun in the back floorboard of her car. This was back in the time when no one locked their car doors, they didn’t need to.
Dan had made it out of special ordered redwood that had no knots or flaws. He hand carved it with a hammer and a chisel, (not a router), every letter was perfect. Then he carved the beautiful pineapple for the top.
I was overwhelmed. I never owned anything so nice, not ever~ There were also 4 X 4 redwood posts with hand carved gold leaf finials on top. It was painted in hunter green marine paint and the lettering was 18 ct gold leaf. They meant for me to put it in the orchard by the flag pole. I wouldn’t even consider that, it was too fine to be put out in the weather. I hung it over the bar in the den and I enjoy it every day. I made another sign for the road, no pineapple on it but people can find my house. ZZ carved a sign for their house and also made a CAMP ROCK sign for the river). We all had so much fun carving. This was my nicest surprise gift ever, it is a beautiful work of art. Proud Mama~
We were always looking for simple subjects ZZ could paint when she came to visit. Desert scenes were simple enough, blue sky with one cloud, sandy ground with a few patches of scrub brush. Then we needed a subject, like a yucca plant or as in this case, a group of adobe houses connected with each other to make a small pueblo. Starting with a few ‘boxes’ and adding ladders to get to the upper levels, vigas~or wooden beams~ then doors and windows. Shadows were the fun part, they made the different rooms stand out from one another. ZZ painted several of these scenes when she was around 11 years old. Some she gave away, some she sold on e-bay and others she kept. (when you paint, pretty soon you have a lot of pictures). New Mexico is rich in ancient history and these kinds of pueblos are scattered throughout the state. These that she painted were made up, no real places, just remembering those we had seen.
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.
Today’s picture is one I painted for a couple from their family’s ranch in northern Sutton County. It is a beautiful spot with rolling hills, live oaks and there is plenty of grass when it rains. It is good ranch country. Usually there have to be changes painted in a scene to make it better, moving a road over, adding a few trees that are too far off to the left or right, removing trees or clearing out brush that hides the road. That was not the case with this one, everything was painted just as it was, it was a breathtaking scene, one of my favorites. There is something special about being out in the country where the only sound is that of birds or a cow in the distance. It even has a different smell from any other place. It gives you an easy peaceful feeling that you won’t find anywhere else. If you grew up in the country, you know~
This is another one of those great snapshots. It didn’t take any cropping or enhancing, it was just what it was. I used it in a painting and added a couple of goats because it looked like what a goat would enjoy, they are playful and they are climbers. It was probably more coyote and mountain lion country. It was natures perfect scene.
This is a West Texas ranch scene that I snapped a picture of in the 1970’s. It looks the same today. It was a perfect setting with the old house, windmill, tank and oak trees. It is in the western part of Schleicher County and was owned by Elizabeth Rae Powell. Her father Mr. John Rae established the ranch in the 1800’s. The ranches in this area cover many sections, they are big and have been owned by the same families for decades. This is one of my favorite photos, tranquil and peaceful. There is nothing like country life.