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, it’s 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 Nice Nude

I copied this from an old world painting, fun to do but now what to do with her~In order to keep my blog family friendly, I added a little cover up in Adobe Photoshop~ 

I was required 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.

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~

This is one of several of Dan’s paintings while he was taking art lessons. He liked bight colors~

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, most 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)

Bits & Pieces

 

pretty prickly pear~has nothing to do with the story, it is pretty though

Dan and I used to go to Johnson City often where he visited with Harold Wood who was in charge of the LBJ Park . One day we finished early and Dan asked Harold where was a good place to eat. He told us he liked a  cafe  that had pretty good old German food in Fredericksburg. We stopped there and ordered our lunch. Dan was eating his salad and found some shrimp shells in it. I said, “Don’t Eat It and Just Don’t Make a Scene!”  In a little while a kid was cleaning off the table next to us and held up a bowl of half eaten jello, he yelled to the back, ‘Hey Erna, Do We Save This?’ 

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.

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~

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~

Culberson County Ranch Hands

here is my rendering of  several old ranch hands, hanging out by the chuck wagon before their morning ride. There was Joe and Henry Rounsaville , and Cal Jones

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~

Young Girl Painting

she started working on the clouds and had the first coat on in a couple of hours

When ZZ was eleven years old, she decided she wanted to paint a big picture. She had been painting since she was a little girl, mostly 9X12  scenes of adobe houses, parrots, and cow’s portraits. I told her it would take a long time on a large one since she could only paint a couple of weeks every so often when she came to Texas.

she is taking a break, that didn’t last long and she was back at it again

She picked a bluebonnet to copy, looking at another painting is a great way to learn, you can see the brush strokes and mix the colors to match. The first day she had the sky pretty well done, start at the top of the canvas, that way you don’t get your hand in wet paint while you come toward the bottom. She started painting the dark green where the tree would go. Later when it had dried for a couple of days she put some of the highlights on the big tree and the lighter bushes and trees in the background.

this was almost a year later, here she is putting in the finial touches, the details are the most fun of all~

 She had the first coat on the whole canvas in about a week, then let it dry and worked more on the clouds, pretty well finishing those up. If she was having a problem, I would paint a clump of bluebonnets, or a rock or grass on a pallet and she watched, then did what I did. When she came back to see us, she went back to work on it. It took her several trips to finish. Dan put it in a beautiful frame and it has been hanging at home since 2001. 

all done, she was excited and ready to start on another one~ these are the favorite times , doing things with ZZ.   She cooked, sewed, drove the pickup and played cards with Granddad~

Miniature Bath Room

the perfume and lotion bottles are carved from wood and painted. I had a lot more stuff on the counter that I left out this time.

 

The commode and bath tub are carved out of wood. The toilet paper roll is 40 years old and still in good shape.

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.

Miniature Covered Wagon

this wagon is one foot tall, ready to roll

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.

the envelopes are smaller than a postage stamp, all the letters are hand written~they are quite proper