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~
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~
I can either stop posting for a month, or show some re-runs since I am taking care of some business this summer. (like 40 chickens, three dogs and fighting coons every night to keep them out of the fruit trees). Maybe by the end of June I will have some new and interesting fresh material to write about. Good things are happening right now in Uganda!
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 49 years, it now hangs in her grandson’s home.
This picture today is a thoroughbred horse I painted for practice. I have painted a lot of horses in the last 60 years and it has always been a pleasure. People treasure their horses, there is a special bond between them. Ranchers use quarter horses in Texas, I painted a quarter horse for someone who was giving it to her husband for Christmas one year. She gave me a photograph to go by, mesquite tree, calache road and their recognizable ranch land in the background. This was going to be an easy one. I loved doing it, but I did ‘doctor up’ it up just a little, you know, a little more muscle, longer legs, what I thought would enhance it. I showed it to Jim Cawley ~a horse expert and friend~ to have him critique it before I delivered it . His comment was, “Dang, that is a fine horse but that is NOT Bob’s horse!”, so I started over from scratch and painted Bob’s real horse. Jim taught me a lot about horses, I have had to remove the perfectly painted whiskers in a horse portrait, re-work the eyes (moon eyes are not acceptable) and every horse has to be the exact color. Horses have four legs, sometimes I would have liked to have painted them standing in tall grass, the legs are no fun.
I copied this dining room set from a real one that belonged to my Montgomery grandparents, they had started out their married life with it. When I received it, I refinished the table and six chairs. It was a surprise when I removed all the different chair seat covers that had been replaced through the years, the original was maroon leather. The price stamped on the bottom of the chairs was $4.75. It is over 100 years old. I treasure this table and remember growing up and having wonderful meals at their house. The miniature table is 7″ tall, it is made from mahogany. The secretary is a copy of one that belonged to Dan’s grandmother. It took several weeks to make all the pieces but was one of those really happy projects.
This is a painting of the swimming hole at Camp Rock on the beautiful South Concho River. I took artistic license in several areas, the water hole isn’t quite this big and the hills in the background are actually the double knobs near Grit in Mason County. I painted this one to hang out on my screened porch, it was there for almost 40 years with no fading or weather damage, (the secret in oil painting is to use linseed oil to mix the paint colors and never ever use turpentine, that is for cleaning brushes). There is something so special about water, I always wondered if people who grew up in a town with a lake or river could appreciate what they had. I almost always put water in a painting, if not a river, then a puddle in the road or a windmill with a rock tank. I always need to be able to get a cool drink~ Two years ago I turned the screened in porch into a sun room, with insulated windows and air conditioning. It is my favorite room in the house.
A couple of years ago I had some projects that needed to be done. They took several weeks, the signs were some I carved years ago and the paint was blistering and peeling, the gold leafing was suffering. Here are pictures of that project before and after. Just like keeping a house in good shape, it takes constant maintenance.
Nothing lives in this little house now. Buttermilk and Domino sometimes sit on the porch in the shade. They are my sweet kitties, they like it here~I like them~
Harold Wood, who was in charge of the LBJ Park near Johnson City once sent me an old photograph of a camp cook with his chuck wagon and wanted me use it as a subject for an oil painting. I really enjoyed painting it and it hung in the Library and Conference Room at the park for several years. It reminded me of far West Texas and the Culberson County Ranch. Hunting camps still have camp cooks, usually one of the hunters takes on the job and does it year after year. Sometimes a real cook comes and gets to hunt for free. I can only imagine the men starting out early on a cold morning with a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, boiled coffee and biscuits cooked in an old Dutch oven on the open fire, then heading out for the big hunt. This is where fathers bond with sons, brothers with brothers. This is where friendships are made that last a lifetime.
Artist, wife, mother, she was born in 1913 and moved to Eldorado as a young bride. She lived with a creative urge that would not be put down. Painting was her passion,
”she seized the rainbow and laid it on a piece of linen”.
She poured her heart and soul into her work, and when she finished, she was anxious to begin again. Inspiration was a blank canvas.
In the early 1940’s and for the next 25 years, she taught art lessons to many young people, even high school boys came to her classes. Every student’s first picture was a scene with a bright blue sky and a yucca plant sitting on a sand dune. Easy to do and pretty enough to frame. Later, there were bluebonnets and landscapes. She taught women’s classes in Sonora and formed lifelong friendships. She brought a bit of artistic culture to a void in West Texas.
Her first baptistery painting was for the Primitive Baptist Church in Eldorado.
She had the huge canvas standing against the wall in the kitchen while she worked. She gave us brushes and let us paint fish on the bottom of the picture.
Later, she ‘covered our up our fish with the river’. When doing the baptistery for The First Baptist Church, she let her small grandson have the honor. When I see the painting, I know there is a red fish down there under that water.
She painted many of these large pictures for churches in the area, always as a gift.
I am happy that you have chosen to use this baptistery painting for the cover of your cookbook. She would have been so very pleased.
Blessings, Rita McWhorter
Happy Mother’s Day. To me everything in life pales by comparison to being a mama. I dreamed of having a baby from when I was a little girl. My doll was the only thing I needed. I made her a bed out of a wooden lettuce crate, she had nice blankets and pillows. It bothered me though that when she was in my bed at night, her spot never got warm. Dan and I had two boys, I don’t know how we got such wonderful children but they have been a blessing and a mother’s dream. I painted this picture in 1973, I had lost my mother a year before on Mother’s Day. I put my heart into it and have feeling for this one~more than any I have ever done. I don’t remember where I got the subject matter, I saw the room with nice windows in a picture and added the characters from different pictures and ideas. It is a peaceful scene, it is filled with sweet feelings and warm thoughts.(now I need to add several of my puppies and it would be complete). I will add several more Mother’s Day stories to my blog in the next few days. Just today, Dan and Debbie brought a feast for an early Mother’s Day dinner after church.
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~