Texas’ Delaware Mountains


Culberson County Ranch

This is a remote place in Culberson County, Texas, rugged and unspoiled, I have painted several pictures with Guadalupe Peak in them~

This is a picture of  the ranch in the Delaware Mountains in far West Texas. It is 70 miles from Van Horn so is about as remote as it gets. You see Guadalupe Peak  in the background, the highest point in Texas at 8,751 ft. It is a magical place, the ranch has been in the family for around a hundred years. One day Dan’s Grandpa Pelt was in the coffee shop at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio when he got to  visiting with a man sitting there and they started talking about their ‘white elephants’. Grandpa had property in the Valley near Edinburg and the other man had a large ranch in Culberson County. When they were finished  that day, they had made a a trade for each other’s land, sight unseen. Back in those days, deals were struck like this all the time. The ranch has been  wonderful for 5 generations  to enjoy.   It is a favorite family hunting place with big mule deer, antelope, and every kind of wild life. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away, coming up to  the rim and seeing for a hundred miles, it was like the Grand Canyon of Texas. Thank you Grandpa, sweet trade~

Art Exhibit


they wanted to learn how to paint bluebonnets, rocks and clouds~

I was having an art show in Dallas in the 1970’s, I painted while people browsed and watched the demonstration. I loved doing this, so many people either painted or wanted to paint.  There was a young man  who came every day and sat and watched and asked questions. He just knew he could do it and was serious about trying. I gave him a list of  paints,  brushes, canvas sizes and told him to buy a ‘How To Paint’ book. All of this would cost him about $25. I painted a couple of fast sketches on a pad for him to follow when he got started. He was on fire, he couldn’t wait to get going. Several months later I was in Dallas again for a show, I wondered if I would see him. Sure enough, here he came all happy and excited. When I asked him how the painting was going, he said he had put it off for a while. Right after he bought the art supplies, he came to watch a man demonstrate guitar playing and had always wanted to play guitar so bought one and was taking lessons! I love this story, it just shows that we all have the urge to do something creative, it doesn’t matter what it is, just so when we hear that voice inside, we know we must do it.

Debbie Pina

Sweet little Debbie

Here is a painting of Debbie with two kid goats.

This is Debbie Pina, she grew up on the farm where we lived. She was one of the sweetest children I ever knew and simply adored by her grandmother Goya. Her mother was a nurse and her daddy worked for the city, her parents were tragically killed in a bus accident a few years ago while on a tour with a group from the First Baptist Church in Eldorado. Debbie lived with her brother Danny and his family after that. She and Danny were often the subjects in my paintings. A farm is a wonderful place for children, always something interesting going on. There was a storm cellar, tractor, barns, two ponies and a goat. We had a tree house, there was the ‘Peacock Club’ in the garage room,  and there was a cave in the pasture. (Even after my boys were in college, their friends, several from other countries, came to spend the weekends and savor the country life). Those are sweet memories

Art Lessons

working on his project

this was a mama painting for sure, to keep for myself

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’.

Texas Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets in the Hill Country

as they say spring time is ‘when Texas has it’s Sunday britches on’

When I think of the excitement of July 4th fireworks, bombs bursting in air, the crowd holding it’s breath for the next shower and explosion  of colors, it is one of the things we all love. Or the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, where the beautiful balloons drift into the air to fill the sky with colorful, billowing shapes, puffing as they rise into the heavens. Everywhere you look, the sky is filled with wonderment. We all cheer and are thrilled by this experience.  Drive through the Texas Hill Country in the spring and see the bluebonnets and wildflowers. This is the best of all. Around every curve, a new scene of beauty. It takes your breath away. This is a drive you need to share with others.There are massive live oak trees, mesquites just starting to put out their bright green lacy leaves, the red sandy roads with puddles of water from a recent shower, it paints a splendid picture. There are miles and miles to see all over Central Texas, the best being from Mason to Stonewall. This is the Texas Hill Country. This is the Lord’s Work.

Cow Skull


Old cow skull

a cow skull makes a nice piece of art for the wall

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. 

Billy Goat Skull

This is the skull from a billy goat, his horns are 2′ across

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~

Old Cowboy


The Cowboy Hat

you can make anyone what ever you like just by changing their hat

This old cowboy wasn’t really a cowboy at all, he just put on the hat for me that day. He usually wore a hard hat, he worked in the oil fields in West Texas on drilling rigs.  He was my daddy, Jack Elder, and  was the subject in several paintings. When someone has a wrinkled and weathered face, those are the best to paint. He could be a farmer, roughneck, sea captain, or cowboy, rough and rugged. I could just put him on a different hat  and in a different setting and make him whatever I wanted. My favorite painting was always the one I was doing right at the moment. I have always been a landscape artist, all the other things were  just for fun.  If you can wake up every morning with a project, you will be excited all your life.  (This morning it is to make some peanut patties.)


Texas Bluebonnets

scene between Mason and Llano in the spring time

This is a painting I did in 1976, bluebonnets have always been my favorite subject. In the spring time throughout Texas when the country has had rain at just the right time, everything turns blue. The best is always in the Hill Country around Mason, Llano and Fredericksburg. This should be a good year. Everyone looks forward to a day trip on the winding roads to see all the wild flowers. They last for several weeks. It is a sight to see and one of Texas’ most beautiful treasures. It will take your breath away.

Art Show

I painted this as a demonstration during my art show at a Hemphill Well Department Store. I donated this one to the West Texas Rehab Center in San Angelo. It hangs in the beautiful new conference room.

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! 

Miniature Rocking Chair

this chair is 12″ tall, it was my first attempt at carving, I tried carving and was hooked~the bluebonnet painting is 3″ X 4″, the globe on the lamp is a ping pong ball

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.

Big Papa

while painting, I saw where the family noses, eyes or  hair came from~

This is a portrait I painted  of my great-grandfather A.A. McGill. My grandmother really loved her papa, I think she must have been his favorite child. Since she loved him so much, I  did  too. I doubt if he even knew my name, by the time I came along he was an old man who sat in his rocker all day and didn’t want to be bothered by children. He and Big Mama lived in San Angelo,Texas on Rust Street by the railroad overpass where Rio Concho Manner stands  today. They had a pretty  two story house with a long porch on front. There was even a metal  porch swing  and you could swing really big!  (get it going good and it would bang into the wall, and that brought Big Papa out to run you off!) I never got to see the upstairs, it was my dream to go roam around up there and see all the rooms. The nearest I came was once when I made it  to the first landing,  he came into the hall and grumbled and sputtered at me and down I came. There was a large bathroom downstairs, a dark room with no window. A chain hung down to turn  the light bulb on but it was too high for me to reach, it was a scary room. Big Papa had a wine cellar, he made his own wine. There was a decanter that sat on the buffet in the dinning room, I could pull a chair up, lean way over to take the stopper out and smell the fumes. The whole family gathered at the McGill’s  for New Years every year. The grown ups ate a huge meal, and talked while the kids had go off some place and be quiet~we would eat later.  A pitiful thing,( that made me be a better mother though. Any child in my house ate when we ate, at the same table or at one close by.) Big Mama had a maid  who came to  help  with all the work. I never knew her name, but behind her back, all the uncles called her “Feather Legs”, and  of course, I  shared this information with her. Big Papa died when he was 94. I painted his portrait as a gift for my grandmother. I think she liked it but when she was ‘studying it’, the first thing she said was, “Papa never wore a tie like that”. Now Big Papa has been hanging on the wall in my bedroom for several years. I like the painting and hope he knew I did love him as much as he would let me. The great thing is I ended up with that swing  from his  porch. It is one of my treasures.

Big Papa & Big Mama

When my Uncle James Montgomery was with the Air Force in North Africa during World War 11, he was in the Cantina one day and picked up a magazine where he saw this picture of his Big Papa and Big Mama McGill at the San Angelo Fat Stock Show in San Angelo Texas. It was a huge surprise. It must have made his day!

Swimming Hole

swimming hole at Camp Rock

This is a painting of the swimming hole at Camp Rock on the beautiful South Concho River. I took artistic license in several areas, the water hole isn’t quite this big  and  the hills in the background are actually the double knobs near Grit in Mason County. I painted this one to hang out on my screened porch, it was there for almost 40 years with no fading or  weather damage, (the secret in oil painting is to use linseed oil to mix the paint colors and never ever  use turpentine, that is for cleaning brushes). There is something so special about water, I always wondered if people who grew up in a town with a lake or river could appreciate what they had. I almost always  put water in a painting, if not a river, then a puddle in the road or a windmill with a rock tank. I always need to be able to get a cool drink~ Two years ago I turned the screened in porch into a sun room, with insulated windows and air conditioning. It is my favorite room in the house.