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~

Guanajuato Mexico

this was a common scene in Mexico, it was like something from another world.

I painted this Mexican man with his oxen pulling a cart in 1966, after one of our trips deep into Mexico, (not far from, Guanajuato.) Usually I take a picture and use parts of it for a painting. This time, it is almost exactly like the photo I took. There were three men sitting on a bench under the tree and I chose to leave them out.  This part of Mexico is beautiful, the scenes are like they came from another world. It has a  ‘feel’ about it that you don’t forget. With sounds like a donkey braying,  a ‘hee-honk~wheeze~ hee-honk~wheeze~ noise’ that keeps going until you wonder if he is dying~or just happy.  The birds have their brilliant colors and exotic songs. In all of this noise of nature, people are quiet spoken and you hardly hear them make a sound. Nothing rowdy going on here. You notice all of this because it is so different. Then the smells are fresh and pleasant,  orange, pineapple and mango, the slightly pungent  smell of papaya,  (I am aware of smells and enjoy that special sense, next to seeing and hearing~ a cow lot, or a dirt floor in a barn when it starts to rain, the warm sweet smell of a baby’s hair, a  puppy’s breath~) Anyway back to Mexico, I know I will never be able to go there again, but it stays fresh in my mind and I will keep it with me forever.  México, hermoso país, personas finas

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. Spring time was a good time to hunt rattlesnakes. Even after our boys were in college, their friends, (several from other countries,) came to spend the weekends and savor the country life). Those are sweet memories

Texas Bluebonnets

A painting of a scene from Mason County

A painting of a scene from Mason County

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. This is always a fun picture to paint.

Country Road

Old live oak tree

this is typical of live oak trees, they have been through a lot and it shows, still they keep going~

A painting of an old oak tree out on a ranch road in Schleicher County, and one of the ornate frames I told you about in an earlier blog, I like these frames because they go well with landscapes, water scenes, portraits, and just about anything I paint. They do more than just hold a painting on the wall, they compliment it. Hobby Lobby carries nice ready made frames in different sizes and the corners are finished, they are reasonably priced. Most of my frames come from the TWT Company in Brownwood, they are finished in real gold leaf and some are hand carved. The scene from this painting is near a pasture where my sisters and I use to hunt ‘chigger toes’ in the spring. Those are little red fruits that grow on the top a round pincushion cactus. They look like small red peppers but are are sweet and tasty. I still look for them in the pastures around my house~it is exciting~ like finding Easter eggs~or your lost keys~

A Few Pictures Today

This morning I started cleaning out my albums, some pictures were duplicated as many as 10 times, no wonder my computer bogs down to a crawl. As I went through them though, I found lots that I liked and want to post. 
Dan made this pond years ago and we have all enjoyed this pleasant place to gather after a wonderful meal together

Dan made this pond years ago and we have all enjoyed this pleasant place to gather after a wonderful meal together. All the pet ducks and several koi fish have had this as their play ground. Once in a while a frog turned up~

ducks are noisy, but those of us who owned them loved the sound of their 'wok wok wok'

ducks are noisy, but those of us who owned them loved the sound of their ‘wok wok wok’

Sarah Kate turned out to be a male. When they are very young you can’t tell so if they got a name, it stayed. He was Debbie’s baby.He had a beautiful pond in the back yard and enjoyed it with Algeritta. They made lots of noise but neighbors had barking dogs so no one complained.
Algeritta went to live in Santa Fe Park after some bad boy stuff~

Algeritta went to live in Santa Fe Park after some bad boy stuff~

This is an old picture of a car and trailer that was out at the ranch in Culberson County back in the 1930s. The boys who hunted out there could carry their cots, cooking utensils, and junk for their yearly hunt. The place is 70 miles from Van Horn which is the closest town. One year Sam was trying to sight in his gun and couldn’t hit the target so just kept shooting. He noticed he was feeling something spattering on him and then found he had shot the hitch off of the trailer. I guess that year they left the trailer there. 
this trailer has side boards, you can really overload it. They probably carried stoves, cots, water, food and a bunch of junk that hunters would need for their two weeks in the mountains

this trailer has side boards, you can really overload it. They probably carried stoves, cots, water, food and a bunch of junk that hunters would need for their two weeks in the mountains

A few sketches I did one year. These were hard for me, you need to be born with a gift to draw and I was not! I love to see drawings in pencil, ink, or charcoal. They are so fresh and interesting.
Lion Enjoying Breeze
My Baby
Magazine Ad
Young Man

Guy in Magazine

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!

Country Church at Art, Texas

Country Church

This is an old stone Methodist Church near Art Texas, population 18

Between Mason and Llano,Texas  there is a place called Art, population 18. This old stone Methodist Church stands out there in the country  by itself. It is picture perfect with huge live oak trees, lush grass and just another wonderful scene in the Texas Hill Country.  It was built by early German settlers to the area. In the spring time the pasture is covered in bluebonnets and wild flowers, and it is beautiful any time of the year. I painted this scene several times at different seasons. My grandmother grew in the area around Loyal Valley and Camp San Saba near here and remembered a few of the last Indian raids. She had lots of stories from her childhood. This is a sweet part of the Texas Hill Country. Bluebonnet time is almost here and it should be a great year for them. Soon after that the Indian Blankets will show up.

China Doll


China Doll

This china doll was made into something pretty from one not so pretty at all

I found some 16″ tall china dolls that had good features but ugly painted faces.  They cost less than $5 so I bought several. I sanded the paint off, which took a while because it was kilned fired. Then I repainted them using my oil paint to look like real people with soft colors and pretty eyes. I made new bodies to replace theirs which were stuffed with something like floor sweepings. I designed pretty new dresses. They turned into something you might find in a doll shop. The carved chairs were a copy of those in my dining room.  These were gifts for my sisters Nancy and Tricia, and I kept one for myself. This project was one of my favorites. My grandmother Montgomery had a neighbor who had a beautiful china doll in her bedroom and I  was was captivated by it, as a  young girl I dreamed of having something like that. Finally I got my own doll~

Gentleman Farmer

Longino worked all his life for Bill McWhorter on the farms. They grew up together.

This is Longino Pina, the man who farmed the place where we lived for 20 years. It was over a section of land and had two large fields which he plowed  and took care of by himself. He had a small field behind his house and  planted it in field corn. He raised beautiful corn. He would give us toe sacks full to put in the freezer, the best I ever ate. In the fall, he and his friends got together to butcher the hogs. They usually had two or three. It was quite a project, one time Longino sent his little son over to borrow Dan’s razor, (I think they shave the pig’s hide~ the last thing before they cook the cracklings). Dan gave him the razor and told him he ‘didn’t need to bring it back’. Later all the women got together and made hot tamales.  One day Bill told me I should paint a picture of Longino so I asked him, and his wife Goya thought it was a good idea, and he agreed.  When I finished it he was not happy because he was missing a bottom tooth, so I painted it in for him. Bill traded with me for it and hung it in his den, he was proud of that picture.  After he died, and then Longino died,  I gave it to Danny Pina, his grandson. It was nice living out there by Longino and his family. We were good friends for all those years. Goya taught me how to make tamales and all kinds of wonderful Mexican food.

Ranch House

An old home place

This wasn’t an actual place, just a scene from memory. There is something appealing about old houses, they all have an important history~

Here is an old ranch house I painted in about 1968. It seems like all of these old houses were built from one of  two house plans. This one had one front door (sometimes two) and a wing built out in front. (there was usually an add-on shed in the back). Then there was the house with a long porch across the front and two or three front doors. You would wonder which door to knock on. Most of these old places had an out house. The better ones had a pit toilet with a modern looking oak seat  and a metal floor. (home for granddaddy long leg spiders.)  Others were two and three hollers and a trap door in the back.The yard had a picket fence to keep the stock out. The barn was usually finer than the house and there was almost always  a windmill, the sound of the mill turning is something we always remember. There is something cozy about these old houses. A nice place to come home to. When my granddad retired he and my grandmother moved to their farm at Grit. Before they finished fixing up the old house, it was  primitive but it did have running water inside. I loved being there, it was wonderful, the kerosene lamps smelled good but they didn’t put out much light. What I missed was a refrigerator, they had an ice box and things were never very cold. Granddad built a big cement tank and we waited all summer for it to fill up so we could go swimming, when it was time for us to come home, there was about  nine inches of water in it. I had to save my new blow up water wings for another year.

The Little Sofa

The Sofa

a hand high and two feet long

Today I am showing a little sofa. It is one of the larger miniatures and a copy of a real one we bought at Robert Massey’s in 1964. After making the John Townsend secretary, I scaled everything to that size. When I first made it,  I kept it in my living room with copies of each piece of furniture, even the bay window with draperies and swags. It took up a lot of space so now the different pieces are sitting in other places around the house. The sofa is on my dresser and I see it every time I walk in the room. There is something magical about little things. Your eye is fooled and you can put yourself right in the middle of it. The sofa is one hand high and two feet long. Tumbleweed Smith (Bob Lewis) came out this fall to do an interview about my paintings and liked the little furniture most of all. That was a special day.