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, I think 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.
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!
little things are fun to make, and filling the shelves up with pretty things is the best.
Today’s blog is one I originally posted January of last year. I would like to post it again since at that time I had just started my texasmornings and had very few people looking. I was feeling pretty good when I was up to 9 lookers until someone told me that by the information on the my stat counter, 5 of those were me. So after a couple of weeks, I was up to 4 real people looking. One more thing that confused me was the time, instead of regular time, it used Military time so it ended up going on in the middle of the afternoon instead of early morning. Someone told me Military time ran from 12:00 midnight to 24 hours later and then started over at 1:00 AM. I would throw that system out but maybe we would have lost a war or something if we had done it my way.
This is a John Townsend secretary I copied from a real one I have in my living room. It is 23″ tall and made of mahogany. I found a place that made skis from thin strips of wood and they gave me enough scraps for years of projects. Unlike the smaller miniature furniture, the drawers and doors need work on the larger pieces. It took a while to make it, all the drawer pulls were made from copper wire that I hammered flat, then cut into shape with a scroll saw, probably something like making jewelry. Dowel pins are great for carving figurines, vases and all the pretty things we like. I found a jewelry place in Bryan going out of business and bought a box full of stuff. I took the stones out of the earrings and used the bezels to frame tiny photographs. Crystal beads and chains made great chandeliers. It was always fun making the furniture pieces but the best part was making all fancy things to fill the shelves. There are envelopes the size of a fingernail, addressed and stamped, inside each one is a two page letter. It only takes simple tools to build and carve these things. I used a coping saw, Diamond Deb fingernail file, emery boards and carpet knife. Later I bought a small scroll saw, it has a round sanding disc to shape the turned pieces. Finding good glue was always a problem, it had to be sticky to start with and then be really strong when it dried. This was always happy work.
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.
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.