New Zealand Oil Painting

This a re-run of a blog from this time last year. It was at a wonderful time in my life when I was getting ready for a trip to Kenya, East Africa. I will be posting the whole story over in the next few weeks since not many people were looking at my blog the first time around.  
this is a scene from New Zealand, what a beautiful and far away place~I never traveled there  I have heard wonderful things about 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~

.30 30 Rifle

.22 rifles were what most people used  for target  practice because the shells were cheap.  You can still find old rusted out cans  full of holes  in the pastures. This kid was sighting in the .30 30 Winchester.

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 like 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. 

Young Mexican Girl

this young girl was selling bread at the big market in Guadalajara

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.

Christmas Surprise

Christmas with our family is always full of surprises. I will be having Christmas stories on my blog off and on until Christmas. Today’s was from 15 years ago. We always go to Dan’s and Debbie’s house in San Angelo for Christmas. Debbie has a wonderful Christmas Eve super and she also makes a huge Christmas dinner the next day. There is a lot of fun going on up there.  That year, there was a big gift under the tree, all wrapped up with ribbons and bows, it was an odd shape.  I was in on the ‘secret’, Debbie told me it was a new headboard for Stacy’s bed and it was exciting because I knew she would be SO surprised. Opening gifts got going and finally everyone had opened their things, except for Stacy’s present. Then they brought it to ME!  I was puzzled I thought they had made a mistake. When I opened it, it wasn’t a headboard at all, instead it was this beautiful sign with MCWHORTER carved on it. 

it was four feet long and two inches thick and absolutely beauriful

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.

a pineapple is the sign of hospitality Dan carved it out of bass wood, it is thick and stands out from the sign itself. No way was I going to put this sign outdoors~

 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~

Pueblo Paintings

a simple painting with a pueblo in a distance, desert scenes are easy to paint. This one was on a 9 x12 canvas, ZZ was ll years old when she painted these

a desert scene is easy to paint, you need a cloud in a blue sky,sandy ground and a subject  to make it interesting.

 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.

Carving and Whittling

this is a group of carved pieces, there has been a lot of whittling going on for years, these are just the things I ended up with.

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.

the little hard hat is carved from bass wood, It has all the detail of a real roughneck’s steel hat.

the leather band inside cushions a blow to the head

There is also a hard hat, made exactly like the steel hats roughnecks wear on drilling rigs. It even has a leather headband inside.

the little shovel is a fine piece of art

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.

Sutton County Ranch

this is not a good photograph of the painting but you can get an idea of what a good scene looks like. Nothing had to be changed, best of all it had just rained~

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~ 

Rugged Country

this would inspire you to climb to the top and see what is on the other side. When we were here, there was no such thing as cell phones~you had to be careful

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.   

West Texas Ranch

John Rae Powell and his son Johnny and wife Claire operate this ranch. It is a beautiful place with lots of oak trees. It has been in the Powell family for four generations.

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.

Showy Texas Trees

this is a large 24″x36″ size painting

This is a fall scene  painted in 1988. There are several kinds of trees with leaves that turn brilliant red around November. Spanish Oak, Red Oak, Chinese Pastiche, and some of the prettiest are the medium size Sumac that grow in the right of way along the highways. Those are bright green in the spring, make purple berries in the summer, then in the fall, they turn red. They are spectacular and showy. They grow from a meandering root system so they are thick and a stand of them can be a hundred feet long or more. If you ever get them established, they can make it on their own, they don’t need any kind of special care. I love all trees~

Two Orangutans

these are the most human like of all the primates, they seem to have a sweet and gentle nature.

I painted these two orangutans a long time ago and have had them hanging around my house ever since. I move them around so I will remember to notice them. I saw a photograph in an old National Geographic magazine and knew I wanted to paint them. Of all the primates, the orangutans are my favorites, they look like little old men and seem more like humans than any of the others. I enjoyed painting these two and like having them around.  Believe me, they are better than the real thing. We had a monkey when I was growing up and it was not easy. We all loved him but a dog is the world’s most perfect pet. 

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.