Texas Sumac Tree

 

It isn’t too easy to transplant a sumac, they grow up on  roots from other trees, sort of like a sucker. They can be grown from seeds but that is even harder. We did get several to grow, once they are started, they do well.

This is a companion picture to the bluebonnet painting on my blog a while back. It is a sumac tree beside a creek. When the days start getting shorter, the leaves start to turn a fiery red. They keep the color for a few weeks in the fall and are beautiful. They grow along the road in the bar ditches and there can be a long string of them in a cluster. These are natives and can make it on their own. I like this picture, it has water and bright color.

General Robert E. Lee

one of my favorite paintings, it was a pleasure to paint this great man, I knew his history and felt like I knew him personally by the time I was finished.

I painted this picture of Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1984, from a photograph by Mathew Brady~ published in Harper’s Weekly at the time, the caption read:  “This photograph shows shows a picture of Robert E. Lee. The picture was taken shortly after Lee’s surrender. The photograph was taken by Mathew Brady, and shows the General in his uniform. Despite his recent loss in the War, the General still stands tall and proud. ” I enjoyed painting this picture of the General  tremendously, he was one of the really great men of all times. The painting  belongs to one of my sons, he found a mistake, he said “General Lee did not have blue eyes.” 

Angora Goat/my favorite

goats do well in hilly, rough country where most ranch animals would not~

I painted these two goats in 1969 down near Camp Wood, some of the roughest country in this part of Texas. Goats do well there, (it might be a problem with predators though). I wonder how they round them up to shear them or doctor them~ not a good place to drive  a four-wheeler. I like goats, they are the cutest of all little ranch animals. The kid goats play and climb trees and just can’t stay still. They make good pets but they will get the top of the car.  

they were great friends, they were never more than a few feet away from each other, except for that one time~

We raised Hank from a baby, he was an angora goat and ag project at  school. He was smart and sweet, the boys even brought him in the house a few times when I was not home. He took up with our neighbor’s horse Polk, and from then on, they were always together. The first time Hank got sheared, he disappeared for three days. Polk ran circles around our fence looking for him and was terribly upset. We looked all over the place and thought maybe Hank had been stolen. We finally found him hiding in the barn behind a pile of boards, he was ashamed that he was naked. Someone told us that happens sometimes. Anyway when he got back with Polk and was happy again~ Polk didn’t even recognize him for a couple of days~ those two were together for years~I like goats, I loved Hank.

Kendall Art Gallery

this was a large 24×36 landscape I painted during a demonstration, at first people are quiet but soon the hush goes away and there is lively conversation and comments. Quiet makes me nervous, I like the happy chit chat~

This is another painting I did years ago while demonstrating. This time at the Kendall Art Gallery in San Angelo, their first membership meeting of the year. There were 60 artist present that evening. This is a scene out of my head, no real place. Someone wanted to see how I painted rocks and then a cactus. Again, I was painting wet on wet paint, not something I like to do. There needs to be a drying time in there so the detail goes on just right. Later at home, when the paint was dry, I went back and was able to finish it up. The gallery has so many beautiful paintings in all mediums. There is unbelievable talent in this part of West Texas. They have several special art shows throughout the year. The gallery is over near the City Auditorium, go by and see it.

Texas State Fair 1972

they really had a nice space set up for me to paint, show my art work and the miniatures

I painted several large pictures in the 15 days, and probably a hundred or more sketches for people wanting to know how to paint certain things~

It is hard for me to write about this, it was either an accident or just plain luck. I was completely humbled by the whole experience. By 1971, I was painting every day and had started making miniatures (while waiting for the paint to dry) That year I painted 52 pictures~ Jerroll Sanders let me hang many of them in his restaurant in town, and he had a cabinet built to hold the miniature rooms. One evening in July 1972, he came out and brought a nice young man from Dallas who had been passing through and saw all my stuff. His name was Forbes Woods. He bought a small picture and then asked me if I might consider an exhibit at the Texas State Fair in October. (Of course, I was excited but doubted it would happen). A week later, Mrs. Elizabeth Peabody called and asked for some photographs of my work, she was the Director of the Women’s Department for the fair. Things moved fast, she liked what I sent and said I would be the Artist in Residence at the Texas State Fair. One thing she made very clear, if I agreed to do it, I HAD to show up and be committed to 15 days of painting and demonstrating. She called several times in the next few weeks to be sure I would be there.  (the only downside was  leaving our two boys at home, Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucille offered to keep them so that was settled).  In October, Dan and I left in our little Airstream trailer, it was packed from floor to ceiling with paintings, the six miniature rooms, plus a covered wagon I had carved, with over 100 pieces of tiny things that went with it. We got to Dallas in the middle the day and had to move all the things into my space in the Women’s Division Building. What a surprise! There were special cases set up to hold the miniatures and people there to unload and hang the paintings. Everyone was nice and helpful, Dan and I kept looking at each other in awe, this was nothing we had expected. Each day I could hear Big Tex out on the fair grounds, announcing the different attractions, the Dallas Civic Ballet, a man who could pop his eyeballs out of their sockets, Rita McWhorter’s little miniatures and painting demonstrations, etc~) Then for 15 days I painted for wonderful crowds of people, many came back every day to watch and ask questions. ‘How do you paint a cactus or rocks, or water, or a mesquite tree’, I would paint on my pallet or sketch pad and give it to them,  it was fast and I did many of those.  They would come and bring me gifts, like a  small hand painted piece of china  they had done, or chocolate éclairs or cookies they had made. They asked about my boys, and told me about theirs. (painters are nice people). There were hundreds who came through each day and ‘looked and liked’, especially the miniatures. They enjoyed Dan, he was an asset when it came to visiting and talking about the art work. Two days before the fair ended, Mother and my sister Tricia brought our boys to Dallas and when I saw them, I wasn’t the only one crying,  I had missed them terribly and some of those around were shedding a few tears with me. This was the biggest thrill of all. The boys took off and went to see everything at the fair and had a wonderful time. After we got back home, I had lots of nice letters and notes from people who had come to watch. (even a beautiful poem from Dan Hill which he had written for me). It was hard to get my feet back on the ground again, I was feeling good! A few days later I went to a small get together and someone asked me what I had been doing lately. When I said, ‘painting’, she said, “I am getting my kitchen painted right now, I don’t do these things myself like you younger girls do”~ so in that instant I was back to normal.

Bluebonnet Oil Painting

this landscape was just as I found it, I had to change nothing when I painted it.

This is a painting I have in my living room. It is a scene of an actual place in Schleicher County and I didn’t have to change a thing. When my little granddaughter wanted to paint a large picture, she copied this one. It took her over a year since she could only work on it when she was visiting. It is easier to copy a painting than a photograph, I showed her painting on an earlier blog. It is a great way to teach a child to paint, they can learn to paint a tree and road and soon be doing their own originals. She never got tired, she stayed with it. Those were sweet days for me.

Small Texas Landscapes in Oil

 

here again shows a road with an open gate, it invites you into the picture, remember in real life, if you find a gate closed, be sure to close it behind you.

 

a companion to the first one, both are landscapes, both are in the country and work well as a nice pair

These are a pair of landscapes that worked well together, just right for a small space. The paintings are 9×12′s  and I painted them in a few hours, with drying time in between. First coat is to pretty well to finish the sky and hill, then put in the dark green where the trees will go, and the calache colored ground, road, and brush. No details at this point. After the canvas is covered and it is time to let it dry, I pull my pallet knife over the wet paint to make it smooth. That way when I come back to do the finishing work,  the canvas is nice and easy to paint on. (If it is rough, it is like trying to paint on a cinder block). After it is completely dry, that is the time to paint in all the details, the heads on the grass, the gnarly limbs coming out of the tree, hit it with highlights, and don’t forget to sign your name~

The Art Lesson

Dan’s first painting was a small desert scene with blue sky, sand hill and yucca plant in the center, later he painted this larger one with more detail. Not bad at all~He was liking the art lessons and liking the girl~

In the summer of 1953, I was home from UT, and working at Blake’s Electric. Not much happening. Mother kept books for my daddy’s business and gave art lessons twice a week. She said  ‘Dan’ came in the station one day and sat around for a while then asked her if she would teach him to paint. She was surprised, all of her students were women but she agreed to give him lessons in the evenings. After a few weeks, she couldn’t meet with him for a couple of sessions but told him that I might help him instead.  He was serious about learning to paint and he was doing a good job. That was the start of a whirlwind courtship.

We went to Garner State Park for the afternoon, it was a pretty place near Uvalde, I thought he was just pretty neat~

First real date was going to San Angelo to play miniature golf one afternoon, then to Garner State Park for a Sunday afternoon, every evening we painted or went to a movie. It was a fun summer. When it was getting time for me to go back to school he started trying to talk me out of leaving. I had pre-registered, my room at SRD was reserved and it was all set. I thought maybe he would come to Austin once in a while and we could see each other. One afternoon we went out to the farm on Rudd Road to shoot his new pistol. No shooting that day, instead he proposed to me. He went to meet with  Daddy and ask for ‘my hand’. Oh my goodness how very proper. Daddy told him all the reasons it would never work, too much age difference, (12 years), I was not going to be easy to live with, (a silly girl) and I wasn’t finished with college. (Daddy, will you please be quite!) But the stars were right and it happened and Daddy was wrong, ( a few times I had some doubts though)

we were married Sept. 20, 1953 in my Grandmother Christian’s home and went to New Orleans on our honeymoon. I love remembering all of this~

We were married for 57 years and had two wonderful little boys. Dan quit painting after a few years and just helped me haul my paintings to shows. He liked art just as much as I did. (he also liked music, food and cigars)

Oil Painting and Friends

I had no plan when I started this one, I wanted to demonstrate “how to” on a sky, tree and road and had a nice group of ladies (and two men) who watched all afternoon~

I painted this picture while I was demonstrating at the Fat Stock Show in San Angelo one year. That was always fun because I knew many of the women who came to watch, most of them  were painters too. For several years I judged art shows at the Kendall Art Gallery and had many friends from there. There is a lot of great talent around this area. And as I have said before, painters are nice people. You can’t paint and not feel good. This painting I am showing you today is one I did from start to finish in one sitting. It was a large 24X30″. I always say you need to let the paint dry after putting on the first coat and not put wet paint on wet paint or it gets muddy. It can be done but it is not easy. I worked on this one for four or more hours that day, the time flew by. Lots of lively conversation, it is surprising but I can remember what they were talking about that day.  Mostly telling on themselves. Good stories. I can almost always remember what was going on in my life when I painted any picture~almost like writing in a journal.

Bluebonnet Landscape

this is the largest size painting I usually do, a 24×36″ .My favorite size is an 18×24″, which is easier to paint and the proportions are just right .

Today I am showing you a painting of a scene near Fredericksburg Texas. It is large, a 24×36. (I have painted a couple baptistery pictures that are larger, 5 ft x 8 ft ) This one I painted over 40 years ago and when I pass by this place, I am amazed that it looks the same today.  Used to when I painted something Dan liked, he would buy it from me so I wouldn’t ‘let it get away’. Every Christmas and birthday, he would want a painting, so that is how I ended up with a lot of those I still have. Many of them are hung at the Schleicher County Hospital and Nursing Home. It is a nice clean safe place to keep them. I will show you more of those Dan “owned” later, I know which ones were his, I have a list of them all in a file he kept, when he acquired them, how much he paid and where I had to sign them over to him. ~many for $35, he liked a bargain~

Miniature Den Restored

I like a den, we didn’t have one in the farm house where we used to live. When I made this one, I knew I wanted one when we built our house. My real one  is connected to the kitchen, you can’t beat that~

I showed you this little den before it had been restored. Now I have changed out the carpet, carved a new coffee table, and cleaned the clutter up. All of the little stuff has to be dusted so I am making it easier to keep clean.

the sailing ship took longer to make that most things but was fun to make. I like detail and this had a lot of it~

When I took the book case down, I got a good look at the sailing ship on  top and had almost forgotten even making it. I had copied it from a larger one  the boys had so that made it easy. I remember painting the sails with Elmer’s Glue to make them stiff so I could make them ‘billow out in the wind’. The shelves are loaded with books, photographs of the boys and a black & white TV set. Nice storage cabinet underneath it too.

 

 

The world globe was one of the more realistic pieces. The wood turnings  were made from sanded down tooth picks, the ‘globe’ was a small ‘roll on’ deodorant ball, and as always, paint did the magic on any carving.

A phone, typewriter and world globe, everything you needed. I remember my first electric typewriter, it had spell check on it and I was amazed,  wonders never cease

 

I like putting a door in the little rooms, it keeps you from feeling trapped. The only thing I ever lost out of one of the  rooms was a Life Magazine from the magazine rack in the den. I didn’t mind, I was so happy when someone liked the little things. Back when I made it, there weren’t computers with printers to reduce the size of a cover and make a realistic copy, that one was hand painted. Usually these little rooms and the covered wagon have been in my exhibits~most times displayed in the open so people could get close and see things~

Texas’ Worst Dust Storm

that is Goya’s house to the north of us, I could see her running for her storm cellar, a few seconds later it was completely blacked out~total darkness 

This is more of a sketch than a finished painting. I found it in my attic not long ago. I painted it during the worst drought in Texas in the mid 1950′s. It was just another hot, dry day, not a drop of rain for months. We had been having dust storms every few weeks, but today was different. It was still and calm when a really dark cloud came up north of our house, it looked like a blue mountain. It was growing in size and was strange to watch, everything was whisper quiet. Soon there was a little wind that picked up and big billowing clouds started to roll in. I could see Goya’s chickens flying all over the place and she was running for her storm cellar.  The blue mountain had turned into the most beautiful brown mass and grew larger until it was completely covering the sky. Then everything went pitch black, (it reminded me of Carlsbad Caverns when they turned the lights off)  this was when I got scared. Dan was in town so it was just me and our dog Suzy. Total and complete darkness for about ten minutes and then the wind started blowing hard and howling. Finally it began to pass on through and behind it was a huge dust storm. I could see Goya’s house again through the dust. Dan drove in and told me what had gone on in town. He said he stopped the car when it hit and had his lights on but couldn’t even see the the hood of the car. When it was light enough, he came home to see if I was alright, then went over to check on Goya~ she was terrified. Later we went to town, there were lots of people on the street talking about what had happened. We never heard what caused this ‘storm’ it has remained a mystery. There was some speculation (Eldorado Talk) that there was a test of some kind in New Mexico where the government was working on bombs that produced mushroom clouds and maybe something got away from them. The next day I painted this large picture while the details and the experience were fresh on my mind. Then the third day I cleaned the dirt out of our house, there was fine dust pilled under every window, an inch deep. The drought went on for several years after this, Elmer Kelton wrote a great book about the drought~ ‘The Time it Never Rained’,  as for me, I call it the time I never forgot~