Pelicans

Art is so extremely subjective, that bringing someone you don’t know much about a painting sight-unseen can be “risky business”.  Choosing one out of my collection that is of that person’s local environment seemed to be a safer course, as this would be a gift.

A family lost everything they had in a house fire, and I really wanted to help in any small way to restore their abode. In my life, books and art are at the forefront of activities and interest, so that is what I brought for them to sort through and choose from.

I was really blessed when the woman looked at the painting of pelicans and declared that would be perfect for her husband, because he loves the birds.

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“Morning Throw Bill” – 20″ x 30″ – Oil ©Bohlender

I enjoyed the pelicans along the gulf coast, their communal living and primeval appearance. Their fishing was exciting to watch, as they dive and catch.

Other pelican pieces painted include these two:

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“Lovely To See You Again” – 22″ x 28″ – Oil ©Bohlender

“Lovely to See You Again” was donated to an Air Force fund raising effort. I do not know who owns this piece, but I loved the “comedy” in their communion.

 

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“Friendly Gossip” – 16″x 16″ – Oil ©Bohlender

The comfortable fold of their webbed feet, the apparent interest of the one who is listening to the one joyfully divulging its treasured bit of juicy news.

This piece is a permanent part of my own collection.

 

San Antonio Sunshine

We went on a road trip recently, joining I-10 from El Paso, Texas all the way out to Alabama.

We drove as far as Ft. Stockton the first day. There we learned that there is a booming oil business happening, with “drilling going on all over the place”, and they just could not find enough help. There were plenty of new hotels there in Ft. Stockton, at a little higher than normal prices because of the demand.

Our goal was to make it to San Antonio the second day, without too strained of an effort.

It was cold, windy and overcast the three days we were there. It was cold, windy, raining and overcast the entire week I was there not too long ago. It was a little disappointing, but I did get to watch TV, which I don’t do all that often.

San Antonio is growing rapidly, with new housing going up everywhere. The city has two loops around it, and is said to be the 7th largest city in the USA now. I truly love the older part of San Antonio. I love the River Walk and the missions. I used to enjoy the Greenhouse Gallery, but they sold it years back and it is not there anymore.

This post is more about the memories of the sunshine, though I do plan a series of watercolors using the West Texas hill country, fog, scrubby trees projecting out of the fog, and ravens. In my mind, it seems Edgar Allen Poe-ish. But on to the sunshine.

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All God’s Creatures – 30″x 20″ – Oil

“All God’s Creatures” is one of my favorites, but it is a little busy for some people’s living rooms. I love the color and movement in this painting. I was impressed with three different cultures of people all forgetting everything and enjoying the family of ducks going by. They became happy, stopping to look, even glancing at each other occasionally with brief smiles. Sometimes we forget to look at other people, staying in our own world, but animals and babies seem to be a “protection umbrella” under which we feel safe enough to acknowledge other human beings. It was a sunny day at the River Walk.

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“Hot Dog” – About 24″x 18″ image area – Watercolor

Down toward the Alamo, there was a hot dog stand under the bright and happy umbrella. I was amused by the baggy drawers on the young man, and the man observing him cynically. Now in my cruder language, if someone is doing fancy deeds, showing off  or doing silly things, I might refer to them as a “hot dog”. So I thought this young man might be doing “silly things”. He is actually the Hot Dog, but the Hot Dog Stand deserved to be equally honored.

I love the lighting at the Hot Dog stand, the shadows – equally in All God’s Creatures. The sun was warm, then, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

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“Lady in Red” – about 10″x 16″ image area – Watercolor

So much goes on at the River Walk, people moving happily about, light and shadows, lots of color… even purple table cloths. Pigeons sometimes land on tables to clean up left-overs, but I didn’t notice any at this place. What I did notice was this graceful woman in a red dress. She may have been a hostess, or just there breathing, and I found her enchanting. She stood out in many ways besides the color of her dress, but her grace affected me.

This was a happy one to paint, layers and layers of light and color, a lot of activity and varying lines. And the lady in red.

So there truly are sunny days in San Antonio, they just didn’t happen this time through. I will make it to these wonderful places again, in the sunshine.

I loved painting some of the missions as well, the light and shadows, lines and textures. But that is for another time.

This painting is in a private collection in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

Being Loved at Annie’s Place

So the goats are gone, the socks don’t flop and it seemed it was the end of the Floppysocks era, the book-writing era. My books are not on the New York Times best-seller list, and are somewhere in the 8 milllionth ranking on amazon ….Which is fine in most ways, the Lord being in charge of all things and such.

Yet sometimes they are being read in the neatest of places… Like Annie’s place.

Annie’s Place is a safe place for children to be, baking cookies, painting their own outdoor area with happy colors, reading books. Annie’s Place is a warm place, with a porch swing, hummingbird feeders, a new juicer and a loving, listening hostess. She gives love to these children, in a most sincere way. God made her able to do that, making her (in my view), a very special vessel.

And He made a couple of other very special “vessels” who came recently into my life through Annie’s love and those very rare books at Annie’s Place.

 

 

 

I was truly blessed to receive this gift through these young men’s willingness to be photographed with books I had been part of. It was very good to hear that they read them together with a friend, talked about them and that they meant something to them. They said, “We love your books.” I wanted them to know that at that moment for me, this was a great encouragement.

Why did these boys run into these unknown books?… except the Lord is in charge of all things and such.

Annie told me what fine young men these boys are. They have a future and hope. It is wonderful to see what God has made in each child, who He has made them to be and become. I love how He brings a special friend at the right time that we can trust, who gives us an open door to know Jesus, and mayhaps, some very rare books.

Thank you for these pictures.

 

 

Another’s Seasons of Passing Through

Lately I questioned creating without showing the work. It was a retirement experience, yet art does not retire. I am grateful. Every day there is still the work to listen to and work on.

It is a happy gift to realize when someone tells you your art has affected their life, that the Lord has – through His grace – worked through the work to touch another human being. Either as creating artists or sharers in viewing, there is a quiet sweetness knowing that we have listened, and we are heard.

This is most of a message received recently:  “I am familiar with your work… I purchased a painting of a chair facing a fence. You said it was part of a series painted when you had faced several personal losses. This email is in reference to two other pieces in this series depicting a woman sitting in a rocker and a second one where the woman is standing holding one arm – …

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The Empty Chair – Oils

Currently in my life there seem to be lot of things going nowhere and I remembered these paintings. I told you at the time that what I saw in those pictures was hope; a person who was tired, even very sad. Someone who just had to stop for a while and let the feelings of sadness, loss, despair, weariness pass over – but someone who would pick up and move on. Life was not over, just a season that must be lived through. A place all of us experience at least once in our lives.

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Title – 36″x 48″- Oil

Today, during a time of prayer, those two pictures came vividly to my mind. They ministered hope and encouragement that brought tears to my eyes and a joy to my heart. I was hoping to find pictures of them online. Failing that, I found a way to contact you and let you know just how much they ministered to me. I love my picture of the chair. When I look at it I see hope, faith, expectation. Thank you Jean for sharing your life in your art.”

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“The Empty Nester” – 24″x 48″ – Oil

I thank you for your letter – it is a very encouraging blessing to me – a reminder that we really are “passing through” a place that is not our home …. and difficult times that build “an eternal weight of glory.” That we have our expectation in Christ.

It seems that all three paintings were prepared for my first one man show, entitled “Passing Through – Seasons of Mid-Life.” Amen. Passing seasons…

“The Empty Chair” is in a private collection in Arizona, Sadness is in Washington State, and “The Empty Nester” is in a private collection in Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Business

Ranchers. Cowboys. There aren’t too many of those around most places. They are a unique breed of people. Like farmers, they have to know a lot about a lot of things, from machinery, animals, feed values, accounting, commodity markets, on and on. There is no specialized area of their occupation. But it is a specialized occupation all together. Under that unique type of hat that most cowboys and ranchers wear, they have to “wear many hats”.

A lot of farms and ranches are still family businesses, working together, learning what the other family members know to keep the business possible in today’s economy. I have discovered also that each family operation is uniquely run from all similar operations, varying skills employed and philosophies about their business.

Every one that I have witnessed seems to be the same, however, in their love, obligation and responsibility to the land and to the animals. They also seem to be very willing to help each other in any way when it is needed.

I thought I might write a few stories about the times I was invited into some of these ranches, camera in tow. This is the first “installment”, featuring a father and son. I was blessed with the generosity of the the ranch owners, the hands and friends who allowed me into their work and personal space. Some even had fun with it.

The rancher in this series has been featured in other artist’s work before. He has a natural personality that tells tales and whoppers without a word being spoken. Yet, his skill level is not a tale or whopper. He seems to know what he is about pretty well.

Before Picasso painted abstracts and distortions, he painted realism quite well. I think before a cowboy can be relaxed and play, he has to excel in his trade. I think that because of this man, with the rope and also painted leading the horse.

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The Roper – 36″ x 12″ – Oil

“The Roper” was taken from the ground, looking up on the cowboy seated on his horse. He swings his rope, placing the lasso under the back feet of a running calf. Cowboys catch the animals, treat them as humanely as possible while vaccinating them etc., and quickly return the calves to the mother cows.

“The Roper” is in Colorado now, private collection.

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Happy Trails – 20″x 20″ – Oil

“Happy Trails” depicts the rancher’s son, riding the periphery of the herd after the cows were herded towards the fences, being held in a group until moving further, or until the strays were gathered. He and his horse seemed more actively inclined that day, than the cowboys and horses that calmly rode into the herd to cull.

“Happy Trails” is in a private collection in New Mexico.

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“Jim” – watercolor

This simple little watercolor caught the joy and spirit of Jim pretty well, I thought. He had a good time in his work, here shown leading his horse.

The background of the watercolor is white, but the only photo I have of this painting was taken under a lightbulb which showed yellow. Ah, I don’t know why I did that when I know better. However, I do have a record of the work, and that is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Farrier & His Horse Named Finn

Remember I talked about my friend’s coffee shop? Always interesting folks would show up there, anyone from travelers from foreign lands to Border Patrol Agents to cowboys, farmers and businessmen, and a farrier.

The farrier’s wife worked at a national park, and one of his jobs was shoeing horses.

(I wondered where the word “farrier” came from. According to The New Oxford American Dictionary, it is from a mid-16th century, Old French word “ferrier”, which, from the Latin ferrarius, from ferrum ‘iron, horseshoe’.”) It interested me to know that.

This farrier was gracious enough to let me photograph him shoeing his horse, “Finn.” Finn is a beauty, quite patient. So is the farrier with his craft.

After driving out to their place, I was able to get an entire memory card full of the photos of them working. I was happy to see the healthy feet of the horse and the wonderful work of the craftsman. The shoes fit well.  (I thought it would hurt my back dreadfully to bend over like that for very long.)

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Finn & the Farrier – 18″x 22″ – Oil ©Bohlender

I love painting horses, their textures, their well defined personalities and forms. I also have loved painting skilled workmen, their tools and clothing.

Mr. Farrier has this painting, wherever they are now. I am happy it is theirs.

 

Farewell Goaty-Goats

We have had goats for about 6 years now, and now the last of them has gone off to literally greener pastures. Having livestock is expensive as well as time consuming for the care giver.

It affected me quite a bit more than I had expected to say farewell to Skunky and Mocha. They were very good girls, great with their kids and milking, great friends to my husband. He loves his animals, and they love him.

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My involvement with the goats (and chickens) is more peripheral, romantic and not practical in the least. I liked to visit them, see their babies, watch Jeff play with them, and hear the stories of their antics. On occasion I pet them, help take care of birthing and new ones,  pet Skunky on her neck and back, and, if Mocha would allow, feed her little goodies now and then.

I did like to hug Henny Hen and Mr. Rooster, a.k.a. Rooster Blowhard, and Jr. Blowhard… but the roosters in real life get very ornery over time, and we just leave them to their hens at that point.

There are three books written about the goats, chickens and others who lived on our place. They are the Mr. Floppysocks series – Mr. Floppysocks is Loved!, Mr. Floppysocks is Happy!, and Mr. Floppysocks is Content.

Funny things happened along the way though. Buying Jeff his new socks eliminated the “floppy socks”, we ate or lost several of the heroes, roosters get mean and the billies get rowdy. I do fall in love with the critters, and it is hard to write fun stories about them when they are gone. And, amazing but true, I didn’t have more to say about Mr. Floppysocks’ adventures.

It’s like having a testimony to all of their lives. I love their stories, and it was an honor to know them.

Mr. Floppysocks series © Jean Bohlender. All books available at amazon.com, and type in jeanbohlender.

The books have stories in them, totally illustrated in watercolor or photographs. They include things like a southwestern American wildlife dictionary with photos, an American idiom dictionary, etc. Each book had unique features, and plenty to say. They are fun to read and were very fun to write. They all have a Christian flavor to them. Their cost is higher than some books on amazon.com, but they are around 70 pages, full color and an odd size and are independently published.

Originally, I thought I was writing for children, small children being read to by their parents. Well, now I would say the kids like the pictures and stories made up about them, and the adults are affected by the stories.