Today’s picture is one from Culberson County, with a chuck wagon and ranch hands having their morning coffee. It is a large 24X36 I painted in 1982. That is Guadalupe Peek in the background. Joe and Henry Rounsaville were brothers. Joe was a ranch hand for the big KC Ranch and married Velma Casey. Henry worked on the ranch for as long as I can remember. Henry was quite a character. The story goes that Henry had been in some ‘trouble with the law’ and that the State allowed him to go and live on the ranch while serving probation. (He reminded me of Slim Pickens, who was in the movie Dr. Strangelove.) A part of the interesting things about this ranch had to do with him, he had a different take of life. He was killed in a rollover in his truck, swerving to avoid hitting two horses. I have painted several scenes from this remote part of Texas. It is a mystical place with a great family history that could fill volumes. For all the years since the 1930’s, it has been a hunter’s paradise for family and friends. I call this the ‘Grand Canyon of Texas’. Unbelievably beautiful, another of the Lord’s masterpieces~
We were in Mexico in 1968 and I found a beautiful miniature Conestoga wagon. It was well made and I was excited to buy it. After I had it for a year I kept thinking about trying to take the measurements and copy it, but in oak instead of the light wood it was made of. At that time I had no power tools so the wheels were a challenge. I used a coping saw. This project took several weeks but everything was coming together and I could see it was going to work. It was a good feeling when I put the ‘canvas’ cover over the bows, which was a dish towel that I painted several times to make it stiff. It just seemed to turned it into a little house. Although the wagon is completely made of oak, I needed to make parts of it look like metal, I mixed silver paint with burnt umber oil paint and it did look like steel. I started adding everything a person would need, traveling across the Great Plains to Oregon in a covered wagon. A ladder, sacks of feed, a crate of ‘live’ chickens, a quirt, an anvil, tools, a lantern, and of course a muzzle loader. I used a rooster spur for the powder horn, perfect size. Then I found a little mule in a shop and knew this was going to be my one ‘bought item’. (I named her Molly) I loaded her with sacks of feed, garden tools, and a butter churn. Now all I needed was a story to go with the wagon, so I named the fellow Mr.Thomas McCann. He was leaving his sweetheart Blossom Blue in Boston for the time being and would return for her later when he was established out west. A package of miniature letters, each hand written, tells their story~ more on this later~ This has been my favorite blog to post, I suppose building this wagon and all the little stuff for it was was the most fun, but I always like whatever project I am doing at the time.
I had to take a life drawing course in college where you sketched life sized models on a big 4 foot pad with charcoal. It was fun but I couldn’t see any practical need for this in my future. Several years later, I saw an old world painting of a nice nude and wanted to paint it on canvas. When I was finished, there was the problem of what to do with her. She stayed in the garage closet, in the attic, under the bed, always out of sight. Dan was trading on the market at Uhlman Grain in San Angelo and had friends he ‘shot the breeze with’ every day. Jimmy Gouras (Jimmy the Greek) was one of his best friends. Jimmy knew I painted and was always sending someone down to buy a picture. One day a guy came (I will call him Duncan) to buy a painting for his wife. Dan showed him the nude and he decided that is what he wanted. They struck a deal and the deed was done! I was a happy girl that day. A long time coming but at last the nude was out of my house and out of my life. The next day Dan and Jimmy were visiting and he told Jimmy about Duncan buying the painting and said he thought he “sold it too cheap, how he REALLY hated to see it go” etc. etc. etc. A couple of days later, here comes Jimmy into Uhman Grain carrying the nude, he had bought it back from Duncan! So Dan had to come home with that picture and face me, I was shocked, I was stunned and I was mad! Yep, she’s back~
Good end to this story, it now has a place in a stunning home in San Antonio, showcased by a couple who recognized it’s beauty.
This horse portrait is one I did for practice, I don’t know his name. I painted in whiskers, which my horse ‘expert’ told me not to do, this one must have gotten past him. I like painting horses, but my favorite large animal is a cow. I have known cows personally and have been fascinated with them. You can get up close to them and watch them while they eat. They have beautiful eyes and nice features. (they can whip that tongue out and just about wash their whole face). They are fun to paint, every face is different. Back to the horses, they seem nervous and jittery. I am afraid of them. I went off the back of Spark Plug, my Granddad Montgomery’s horse, when he was at a full gallop. The girt broke and the saddle slid off and so did I. I was hurt for several weeks. That was the last horse I ever rode and it has been over 60 years. Yep, I flat out quit~
Today I am showing the miniature attic room. It is also the painting room. I never had an art studio even though Dan wanted me to have one when we were building our house. I liked to paint on the kitchen table in the middle of family life. I would work for several hours after the boys went off to school, then put everything away to cook dinner. It was always nice to start out with a clean space again.
Back to the attic room, there is a real card game going on, and place for someone to have a ham sandwich, bag of Fritos and a Coke.
Then a place with all the things I needed to paint pictures. The paint box has lots of tiny tubes of paint, brushes, turpentine, and yes it is a mess just like in real life. A stool, paint rag, pallet, and easel with a work in progress.
Finally a cozy bed, I like beds. I had lots of good feelings when I was restoring this room~
Today I am showing a green scene. We are pretty green here right now because of wonderful rains in the past month. The great thing about this part of the state, if we get a little rain, everything turns green in a few days. The pastures have buffalo or mesquite grass, it can survive almost any drought and come right back with a rain. I painted this picture from down around Llano. I like a road in a picture, or a trail, something to let you imagine being able to get into it. A gate needs to always be open or it stops you dead in your tracks. Now in real life you would never leave a gate open. If you find it closed, you close it behind you. An Eldorado character (Jim Runge) who has a ranch north of town had a gate standing beside a country road, not connected to a fence but just a gate standing there. He had put a sign that read, “Keep Gate Closed”. Pretty funny~ Have a nice weekend~
At first I thought this little dining room do-over would be the easy one. It took me more than two weeks. Everything in the china cabinet was in good shape, no repairs there. The fruit bowl on the buffet has apples, oranges, and bananas that are carved from wood. I started by whittling a piece of fruit on the end of a dowel pin, this way I had something to hold to, then sanding and shaping it with an emery board. Finally I cut it loose and painted it. The grapes are mustard seeds rolled around in Elmer’s glue to make a clump, dried and then painted. They are still good after 40 years. Pile it all in a bowl (perfume lid) and it is done. Copper wire is great for so many things, I hammered it out in a flat ribbon and made the arms for the chandelier and the drawer pulls from that an then painted them with gold leaf. The dining chairs got new covers. Glue has always been a problem for me. It needs to be tacky so it will hold the pieces together and then dry strong. There is no way to join the parts and then hold each tiny piece for 20 minutes until it bonds, it has to be sticky. I think I have finally found the perfect glue, it is Loctite Stik N’ Seal. The carpet is the original, velvet fabric that I painted a design on. I re-varnished all the little furniture in each room, it made a big difference. I use polyurethane satin, everything looks brand new again. This project was almost as much fun as it was the first time ~except nowdays I get tired and think about a nap~
I painted this picture of an Indian boy with his goats in 1965, I found the photograph in an old National Geographic Magazine, it was taken somewhere in New Mexico. There were so many interesting photographs in the old magazines, they were black and white so easy to sketch and paint. Some of them dated back to the 1930’s, I got a big stack of them at a library book sale. Congressman O.C. Fisher owned this painting and in 1973 when he retired to his Kimble County ranch in Texas he brought it home with him. It was lost when his ranch house burned. If I might add, he was a great statesman, author and one of Texas’ finest~he passed away in 1994 at the age of 91.
Today’s picture is a painting I did of a New Mexico Indian woman with her baby. I found a black and white photograph in an old 1930’s National Geographic Magazine. The painting is owned by a rancher from San Angelo. I like mother pictures, I like the old idea of babies being close to their mothers, held and nursed and taken care of by one special woman until they are ready to run and play (then to be able to come back and hold onto her skirt when they want to be loved some more). The old way was the best~
Here is a painting of the Hughes home in San Angelo. My friend Kitty Trigg grew up there and asked me to paint it for her. Later she decided she would like one for her sister, Mrs. Crews. The second one was a spring time scene so it was different. The house sits on Beauregard Avenue and used to be in a quiet neighborhood at the edge of town but San Angelo has grown until it is now a very busy street. It is an old home that has been well cared for and loved by this family. It should be there forever. I have noticed that the house has recently been repainted in a beautiful soft gray green color. I also painted Mrs. Crew’s rock house in Mertzon and later their camp house on Spring Creek. There was a little log cabin there that was a play house for all the Hughes children. I loved these projects, I can just imagine what fun those kids had growing up.
This is the miniature bathroom, renovating it was pretty easy compared to the other eight rooms, but I always hit a snag somewhere. This time it was a new mirror. It took three tries to get it right. I put new ’tile’ on the floor and walls, some left over from doing the backsplash in the kitchen. When I thought I was finished, Anna said I needed to put uba tuba ‘granite’ on the counter. I am glad I did. I like bathrooms, the bathtub especially, it is my reward every day. My sister Nancy gave me bubble bath one year for my birthday and said I would never have to wash the tub again~ but she wasn’t right.
The blog this morning showes my big mess. Last year I was working all day, every day re-doing the miniature rooms and didn’t have time to put together a good blog. I thought this do-over would just involve a little touch up painting and cleaning. No, all the stuff had to come out, furniture needed new varnish, walls repainted, (some three times because the paint color I was wanting was the color of my knit shirt, I took it to Lowe’s to match it and when I put it on the walls, it looked like Pepto-Bismol). Not good for a formal dining room~ The old glue was failing on a lot of the things, I had to make new draperies and curtains. Then when the kids came for dinner the next Sunday, Dan told me I should do a complete renovation on the kitchen with ‘granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and a travertine black splash’. I think he was teasing, well big surprise Cowboy Bob, I did it. For the counter top I bought one floor tile the color of uba tuba granite (66 cents) and cut it to fit. I painted the appliances with silver leaf, and I worked on the travertine tile. Maybe I will have something better to show tomorrow. Right now I am going to go watch another episode of Downton Abbey. That is my reward~