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.

saduckswatermark

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.

hotdogwatermark

“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.

riverwalkwatermark

“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.

 

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.

Roperwatermark copy

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.

happytrailswatermark

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.

Jim

“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.