This painting is on the South Concho River near Christoval. You can get in a kayak and paddle almost to the ‘head of the river’ where it starts as a small gravely spot and water bubbles up out of the ground. Like Magic, it turns into this wonderful river that flows all the way to San Angelo 19 miles away. When you are in a boat, every bend in the river is a new scene, one thrill after another. I like painting water, not only rivers and ponds, but a puddle in the road, or dark clouds building up before a rain.. I have seen paintings of the surf, with waves tumbling over each other, white foam and aqua colored water, I tried it once but it was a failure. I can appreciate anyone who can capture all of that wonder. I have to stick with the calm water of the river. Air, water and food, in that order, we can’t survive without all three~I am grateful~
This is a picture ZZ painted of a cow. We took lots of cow pictures in Buscher’s pasture, they were strange looking but probably good ones since they all had ear tags. ZZ was 9 years old on this one. I helped her sketch it off on a 9×12″ canvas. (paint the eyes in first, then it will watch you while you paint in everything else.) To show her how, I would write in b for brown, w for white, etc. and she would paint in the different colors. She learned to mix paint from an early age, we used very few colors, white, blue, yellow, red, and brown. Nearly any color can be mixed from these. She learned early not to mix a big pile of color, if you mix small amounts, each one will be different and make the picture more realistic. One time when ZZ was about 5 years old, we were buying brushes at the art store and an older man and his wife were shopping. From what we understood, he had decided to start painting. He was saying, ‘let me see, I need some purple and some green, and some black’~ I could tell ZZ was having a fit. She finally told me, ‘that man is not obeying’. She knew blue and red made purple, and yellow and blue made green. She was beside herself wanting to go help him. She painted several parrot pictures and sold them on e-bay. Children like bright colors. She painted a lot of adobe houses. They are easy to do and when you are finished, you have something worthy of a nice frame. They have a 3-D effect with shadows and sunlight hitting the walls. The great thing about her is she never got tired, she was never ready to quit. I love this old cow. I love that sweet girl~
This is a large 24″x36″ painting of a river scene, no real place, not really anywhere. The idea for it came from once going with Mother to a friend’s ranch in Sutton County and spending the day on the river. I remember the woman had a camp house with a wood cook stove, and she cooked up the most wonderful pot of red beans and baked a skillet of cornbread. We had that with iced tea and it was a feast. The smoky smell of the wood stove made it even more memorable. But back to the river scene, water has always been one of the things I enjoy painting most of all. As anyone who paints will tell you, when you are lost in this kind of project, you can only have good thoughts, good feelings, and all stress is washed away. For a while, you can forget problems (like worrying whether the avocado will be ripe by Sunday, you know~ those big things~) I can look at one of the paintings and remember what was going on in my life when I was painting it. I think it always had something to do with the people I love~
In the summer of 1966, this painting was included in a special showing of paintings by 15 outstanding Texas women artists in the office of Sen. John Towers in Washington. The painting, “Spring Brags in Texas” is a bluebonnet scene with the huge live oak tree which is a landmark between Eldorado and Christoval. It stands at the entrance to the Bob Helmers Ranch. An account of the exhibit was written into the 89th Congressional Record and later taken on a circuit tour through Texas. I painted it 48 years ago and it was like yesterday~
Dan’s mother saw this painting and mentioned it several times, it hangs in the Hermitage in Russia. It was an old world painting, ‘The Stolen Kiss’ by Fragonard. I found a photograph of the painting and was overwhelmed by the beautiful detail in the woman’s dress, I decided to try to copy it. It took several weeks to sketch it off on canvas and once I started painting, I was terribly excited to be doing it. Painting the folds in the woman’s dress was a great experience, it was like reading a good book~ hard to put down. When it was finished Dan gave it to his mother on Mother’s Day, she loved it. She had a beautiful formal living room and the perfect place for it. It has been in the family for 47 years, it now hangs in her grandson’s home.
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
This is a small 9X12 painting of bluebonnets. You don’t need to have a huge wall size picture, the smaller ones can be just as impressive. You just want to hang them in the appropriate spot, like in a foyer or on a narrow wall. Near a light switch is perfect, every time you pass by, you will notice it and enjoy having it there. Another thing, the center of the painting should be just about eye level, a mistake is to hang it too high on the wall. Be careful who you trust to do this job, my uncle was putting pictures up in my grandmother’s living room, using some pretty hefty nails. Later when we were putting clothes in the bedroom closet, there were those nails sticking through the wall.
My sister Nancy surprised me with this beautiful bouquet of silk roses over 30 years ago, she had made them after taking a silk flower class. They are just as fresh and pretty as the day I got them. Nancy always had a knack for picking the best gifts, she knew what anyone would like and and especially me. The shoe is from the ‘Right Shoe’ collection and the figurine is one from G. Amarini’s ‘Magic Moment’s’. These are some of my treasures, but most of all she is the real treasure, if you have a sister, you have a friend forever. She loved my babies and I loved hers. Oh and we do have fun on the phone every day, that is the best of all.
I restored my 40 year old miniature rooms, this is the living room. This was a job I had been dreading for a long time. As it turned out, I enjoyed working on them, it was almost as exciting as when when I first made them. Most of the rooms are 11″x16″. Through the years, the glue has failed on some of the furniture and just like real rooms, the walls need repainting. They were old and it was time to redecorate. There are seven rooms in all and originally each one took about a month to make. Since the drawers and doors didn’t have to be functional on tiny miniatures, they were easier to make than the larger pieces. The piano took a while to make, the keyboard is scored and has individual black keys, each one hand applied. I will put the all rooms on my blog later.
I like the little things, there is a child in us that can live for a lifetime.
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.
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.
This is a landscape I painted in 1989. The barn was near Fredericksburg,Texas, the rest is just dreamed up. I have never painted on site, everything was painted at my kitchen table. I have always taken pictures of interesting trees to put in a painting, otherwise I would find myself putting the same tree in the next picture. I took pictures of barns and houses, then built a painting around those. Old houses add a lot of interest, they all have a story. A clothes line out back, with some clothes moving in the breeze can bring life to a dilapidated house. You don’t want to see one too far gone, you want to have hope that there is still some life left in it, that someone can still make a home there.