Mertzon Road

I like rock tanks, I know of many that have been here longer than I have, they are beautiful. I would imagine rock masons would go through the country building tanks and rocking houses. They were master craftsmen~

Here is another place between Eldorado and Mertzon. I think I painted every scene from here to there at some time. There are a few pretty live oaks, some windmills and rock tanks, and only about three houses in the 32 miles.  A woman who lived on a ranch out there was at a bridge party one time and we were all telling funny stories, she told us that one freezing day she went out to see if ice was forming on the water in the tank and dropped her car keys in. She had to do what was necessary so she ran to the house. put on her bathing suit and went back and jumped in the freezing water. She found the keys and was climbing out when Mr. Halbert drove up in his butane truck to deliver gas. She said she headed straight for the house like nothing had happened. She was sure he must have thought she had lost her mind. It was a good story and I know none of us ever forgot it. When I look at the paintings from Mertzon, I think of her.

Oil Painting~Cowboy Driver

this scene is from Irion County in West Texas, not far from Mertzon and after some nice rains

I can’t just paint a man on a horse, I need a photograph to go by, it is the same with animals. I have so many pictures I have taken of sheep, cattle and horses, even pigs. I just single out a few and paint them into a picture. Proportion, color intensity and detail is important to give the painting it’s third dimension, otherwise it will look flat. In this painting, the horse is as tall as the windmill, the prickly pear is the same height as one of the cows, the rider and the horse are as tall as the tallest tree. Also, the sharp details need to be at the bottom of the painting, and should  fade out toward the horizon. You paint what you see, not what you know. If you have something way back in the pasture, you know he has eyes but if you paint those details in it will bring him right up front and you will end up losing the depth. Same with bluebonnets, those at the bottom of the canvas will show the detail and the brilliant colors, they need to start fading fast into the background to a faint pale blue. (An interesting way to see the depth is to make a fist and look through a hole at the painting on the screen). Knowing proportions has made it easy for me to carve all the  little miniatures, I made the first chair for instance and proportioned everything else to it’s size. 

The Story Teller


I got this idea from a photograph in an old National Geographic magazine, I painted the woman in the likeness of Lizzie McAngus as I remembered her and the girl in the pigtails was one of the Bouie kids.

This is ‘The Story Teller’, companion painting to ‘The Old Ladies’ I posted a few days ago. I  painted them both the same week in 1963 and was excited, these were so different from the usual landscapes and river scenes. I loved that time in my life, we had our two little boys and that is the sweetest time of all. This painting has been at the Schleicher County Nursing home for many years. I like it, it reminds me of my grandmother Christian reading to me and my two sister. She always had time read to us and tell us stories, (the one story that always stands out is when her baby boy Jack was born and weighed eleven and a half pounds and it took three days). I am sure everyone has their own good memories of their grandmothers. And now we are the grandmothers~we are all blessed~

The Old Ladies


I painted in faces of women I remembered as a child, Miss Dora Rilley and Miss Kitty Buchannan~sometimes people would ask me it that was them~

Today’s picture is one I painted in 1963. I found a photograph of two old ladies in an old National Geographic magazine. It only showed their faces and they seemed to be enjoying a little light hearted gossip. I asked  my mother to come and poise for the figures to go with the faces, I painted a book in one of their hands and it looked like they had gotten into some rather shady stuff, so decided change them to tea drinkers. Much better. This is a painting Dan bought from me so it “wouldn’t ever get away”.  He paid his usual $35. It has been hanging in the Schleicher County Nursing Home for many years. Everyone seems to like ‘The Old Ladies’. I painted a companion picture at the same time, I will be showing it later. It is in the same style as this one and I call it ‘The Storyteller’. Oh yes, and Dan bought that one too. After a lifetime of painting hundreds of pictures, the only ones I still have are those he bought. 

Drawings and Sketches

I am not a sketch artist, I think people who are able to draw are born that way, not easy to learn otherwise.  
Painting is something anyone can learn, I never sketched on a canvas before I painted, I just drew circles where a tree would go or where a road run with whatever color I had on my brush. 
Drawing is a real challenge for me but for some reason I like to try.  Before computers, I would write my little sister Nancy ever few days and always draw a picture of a longhorn steer on the outside of the envelope.  
It was good practice and It got easier as time went on.  I am showing a few sketches I saved in a folder.   
I can  appreciate anyone who has the gift of drawing, I know it is hard for those of us who are not born with this special talent.   

Angelo State University Folk Festival


this is a special photograph for me, sitting behind me were my mother Elizabeth Elder and my little cousin Carroll Morgan, both flew away to heaven within a year~

I was invited to exhibit and demonstrate oil painting at the ASU Folk Festival in February of 1973. I met a lot of people and also saw many familiar faces. I liked the demonstrations, everyone was happy and full of chatter, they enjoyed watching and many of them were also painters. I had my miniature covered wagon and all the little rooms on display so if anyone wasn’t interested in painting, they liked to look at the little things. The famous wood carver, Gene Zesch was also exhibiting his wonderful carvings, he carves old cowboys and anything to do with ranch life, with much skill and unbelievable humor.  I was in good company that day, it is a sweet memory for me~

Texas Sumac Tree


It isn’t too easy to transplant a sumac, they grow up on  roots from other trees, sort of like a sucker. They can be grown from seeds but that is even harder. We did get several to grow, once they are started, they do well.

This is a companion picture to the bluebonnet painting on my blog a while back. It is a sumac tree beside a creek. When the days start getting shorter, the leaves start to turn a fiery red. They keep the color for a few weeks in the fall and are beautiful. They grow along the road in the bar ditches and there can be a long string of them in a cluster. These are natives and can make it on their own. I like this picture, it has water and bright color.

General Robert E. Lee

one of my favorite paintings, it was a pleasure to paint this great man, I knew his history and felt like I knew him personally by the time I was finished.

I painted this picture of Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1984, from a photograph by Mathew Brady~ published in Harper’s Weekly at the time, the caption read:  “This photograph shows shows a picture of Robert E. Lee. The picture was taken shortly after Lee’s surrender. The photograph was taken by Mathew Brady, and shows the General in his uniform. Despite his recent loss in the War, the General still stands tall and proud. ” I enjoyed painting this picture of the General  tremendously, he was one of the really great men of all times. The painting  belongs to one of my sons, he found a mistake, he said “General Lee did not have blue eyes.” 

Angora Goat/my favorite

goats do well in hilly, rough country where most ranch animals would not~

I painted these two goats in 1969 down near Camp Wood, some of the roughest country in this part of Texas. Goats do well there, (it might be a problem with predators though). I wonder how they round them up to shear them or doctor them~ not a good place to drive  a four-wheeler. I like goats, they are the cutest of all little ranch animals. The kid goats play and climb trees and just can’t stay still. They make good pets but they will get the top of the car.  

they were great friends, they were never more than a few feet away from each other, except for that one time~

We raised Hank from a baby, he was an angora goat and ag project at  school. He was smart and sweet, the boys even brought him in the house a few times when I was not home. He took up with our neighbor’s horse Polk, and from then on, they were always together. The first time Hank got sheared, he disappeared for three days. Polk ran circles around our fence looking for him and was terribly upset. We looked all over the place and thought maybe Hank had been stolen. We finally found him hiding in the barn behind a pile of boards, he was ashamed that he was naked. Someone told us that happens sometimes. Anyway when he got back with Polk and was happy again~ Polk didn’t even recognize him for a couple of days~ those two were together for years~I like goats, I loved Hank.

Kendall Art Gallery

this was a large 24×36 landscape I painted during a demonstration, at first people are quiet but soon the hush goes away and there is lively conversation and comments. Quiet makes me nervous, I like the happy chit chat~

This is another painting I did years ago while demonstrating. This time at the Kendall Art Gallery in San Angelo, their first membership meeting of the year. There were 60 artist present that evening. This is a scene out of my head, no real place. Someone wanted to see how I painted rocks and then a cactus. Again, I was painting wet on wet paint, not something I like to do. There needs to be a drying time in there so the detail goes on just right. Later at home, when the paint was dry, I went back and was able to finish it up. The gallery has so many beautiful paintings in all mediums. There is unbelievable talent in this part of West Texas. They have several special art shows throughout the year. The gallery is over near the City Auditorium, go by and see it.

Texas State Fair 1972

they really had a nice space set up for me to paint, show my art work and the miniatures

I painted several large pictures in the 15 days, and probably a hundred or more sketches for people wanting to know how to paint certain things~

It is hard for me to write about this, it was either an accident or just plain luck. I was completely humbled by the whole experience. By 1971, I was painting every day and had started making miniatures (while waiting for the paint to dry) That year I painted 52 pictures~ Jerroll Sanders let me hang many of them in his restaurant in town, and he had a cabinet built to hold the miniature rooms. One evening in July 1972, he came out and brought a nice young man from Dallas who had been passing through and saw all my stuff. His name was Forbes Woods. He bought a small picture and then asked me if I might consider an exhibit at the Texas State Fair in October. (Of course, I was excited but doubted it would happen). A week later, Mrs. Elizabeth Peabody called and asked for some photographs of my work, she was the Director of the Women’s Department for the fair. Things moved fast, she liked what I sent and said I would be the Artist in Residence at the Texas State Fair. One thing she made very clear, if I agreed to do it, I HAD to show up and be committed to 15 days of painting and demonstrating. She called several times in the next few weeks to be sure I would be there.  (the only downside was  leaving our two boys at home, Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucille offered to keep them so that was settled).  In October, Dan and I left in our little Airstream trailer, it was packed from floor to ceiling with paintings, the six miniature rooms, plus a covered wagon I had carved, with over 100 pieces of tiny things that went with it. We got to Dallas in the middle the day and had to move all the things into my space in the Women’s Division Building. What a surprise! There were special cases set up to hold the miniatures and people there to unload and hang the paintings. Everyone was nice and helpful, Dan and I kept looking at each other in awe, this was nothing we had expected. Each day I could hear Big Tex out on the fair grounds, announcing the different attractions, the Dallas Civic Ballet, a man who could pop his eyeballs out of their sockets, Rita McWhorter’s little miniatures and painting demonstrations, etc~) Then for 15 days I painted for wonderful crowds of people, many came back every day to watch and ask questions. ‘How do you paint a cactus or rocks, or water, or a mesquite tree’, I would paint on my pallet or sketch pad and give it to them,  it was fast and I did many of those.  They would come and bring me gifts, like a  small hand painted piece of china  they had done, or chocolate éclairs or cookies they had made. They asked about my boys, and told me about theirs. (painters are nice people). There were hundreds who came through each day and ‘looked and liked’, especially the miniatures. They enjoyed Dan, he was an asset when it came to visiting and talking about the art work. Two days before the fair ended, Mother and my sister Tricia brought our boys to Dallas and when I saw them, I wasn’t the only one crying,  I had missed them terribly and some of those around were shedding a few tears with me. This was the biggest thrill of all. The boys took off and went to see everything at the fair and had a wonderful time. After we got back home, I had lots of nice letters and notes from people who had come to watch. (even a beautiful poem from Dan Hill which he had written for me). It was hard to get my feet back on the ground again, I was feeling good! A few days later I went to a small get together and someone asked me what I had been doing lately. When I said, ‘painting’, she said, “I am getting my kitchen painted right now, I don’t do these things myself like you younger girls do”~ so in that instant I was back to normal.

Bluebonnet Oil Painting

this landscape was just as I found it, I had to change nothing when I painted it.

This is a painting I have in my living room. It is a scene of an actual place in Schleicher County and I didn’t have to change a thing. When my little granddaughter wanted to paint a large picture, she copied this one. It took her over a year since she could only work on it when she was visiting. It is easier to copy a painting than a photograph, I showed her painting on an earlier blog. It is a great way to teach a child to paint, they can learn to paint a tree and road and soon be doing their own originals. She never got tired, she stayed with it. Those were sweet days for me.