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.

 

Faraway, Yet Near

Near the entrance to the amazing Chiricahua National Monument, is the original homestead of the Riggs family, called “Faraway Ranch”. The family settled there and then founded “The Wonderland of Rocks”, later becoming  “The Chiricahua National Monument”.

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Entrance to Faraway Ranch – 24″x 20″ – Oil – (Photo from older photograph, maybe early 2000. I do not remember where this original painting is now – nor the title ).

It is a beautiful walk into the ranch area, you feel yourself coming home in a way… it warms you as you come closer to pass by the old buildings past the fence, on the trail that leads to the main house.

There was something really odd while I was there one day, walking back from the house toward the old buildings. I do not know what the buildings were… work sheds, out-buildings maybe. But I thought for sure there were chickens there at one time.

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Wooden Fence at Faraway – about 20″x 14″ – Watercolor

I loved the pathway that passed this fence, and the light through the trees… the calm light gracing everything. It was peaceful. Yet, for just a moment I thought a woman walked by me with a basket of eggs in her hand, walking on this pathway. But there was no one there.

Everywhere there was evidence of lives lived, hearts given, times gone by.

Maybe that’s why these paintings came to mind this new year. Yesterday I read of someone else’s experience of his life lived, of the memories now being longer than the time remaining, of the “owning” of our own imminent bodily death. But then, “And then I lift my head and look about me at the river and the valley, the great, unearned beauty of this place, and I feel the memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave..”

The memoryless joy of a man just risen from the grave…. a new creation, in resurrection life. Gone is the old and the new is here. Jesus said He is making all things new. All things. Not only now, in this life and the ages to come for those who believe, but all things.

Our time on this earth may be a shadow, or passing wind, but in Him is Life… His Life never ends. His Being IS, WILL BE, WAS…. of His kingdom there is no end.

So here, I look about me at…the great, unearned beauty of this place, and feel joy. I am grateful for this life/time that remains on earth, until we go home.

It really is a gift.

 

A Friend

The “random” setting on my screensaver brings memories and works to mind. Today my friend Tom went by, and my heart was happy to remember him.

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I can’t remember the exact size, but it must have been 12″x 16″ or so, in oil. I hope I named it “My Friend Tom Tom”. That’s what I’ll call it today. He usually doesn’t wear a watermark across his neck, that it there to stop people from making posters and mugs of things that isn’t of their own creating. So, I apologize for that distraction.

Tom, himself, is wonderful, a kind and determined man.

I don’t think he’s mind me telling you that the sign on his office wall read, “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” He magnified the things he could work with, and suffered the things he suffered with equal grace and determination.

He ran a coffee shop, which in its day, was the best. He said he liked to “create experiences” when he made your coffee or whatever was your delight.  He also had hair, but at this point in time, he didn’t. I thought he was feisty and nice looking.

We moved away and I no longer hang my work in his shop or see Tom, but I think of him occasionally, when I drink coffee, or look at the cabinet he traded me that I now use for art supply storage. Lovely. He is no less my friend just because I do not see him.

The painting itself is one of my favorites that I’ve done. I didn’t struggle with it then, but now I wonder how I painted it. He owns the painting, and last I saw, it was hanging in his shop.

I praise God for Tom Tom.

Gail’s Garden

A very gracious woman commissioned me to paint an anniversary gift for her husband. She wanted it to be “through her eyes”, across her lap – showing her hand resting on her leg with her wedding ring, looking out across her garden from her garden chair.

In order to paint it, I had to go experience her garden, through her eyes. What a magical experience, full of joy and heaven. A delightful place, full of flowers and butterflies and bees… a well-loved, orderly chaos of color and life.

We had tea in the sunshine. We shared joy in the morning. The mountains echoed the vibrancy of color and life and sounds of birdsong.

The garden gate slightly opens from the pathway, leading back to her home, but closed enough to keep us embraced, almost secreted in her garden.

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“Gail’s Garden” – 24″x 36″ – Oil

I had taken a thousand photos, hoping to compose them all into a working painting. I cannot remember all the different kinds of flowers and insects there, but what a joy.

Before I painted this, I was struck by Gail’s grace – the elegance of her motions and softness of her hand while working with her plants. I painted a kind of “warm-up” painting of her clipping a flower, her braid falling behind her back. When I placed it in the gallery, her husband bought it. But it was not the painting she wanted.

After I completed the commission, I took back the portrait piece, and she was delighted with this one. It was what was in her heart. It is one of the most joyful paintings I have ever painted.

It was a painting of Gail’s heart.

Early Works

I had always drawn or shown interest in creative endeavors, but I didn’t paint until I was 14 years old. After finding money on a sidewalk, I used it to buy my first Grumbacher oil paints; and copying from paintings in library books, learned a few things, painting on my bed. If you look closely at my very first piece (after a Vermeer painting) I used the pointed handle-end as much as the brush, but it turned out well for a first painting.

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I now possess this again, thanks to my aunt who kept it all these years. There were more paintings in between this and the painting shown below, but I have no records of them.

This work reflects the times, this being painted in my junior year of high school, while listening to Moody Blues, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Cat Stephens and others. I think it’s about 18″x 24″, oils, naive – but done in love.

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I gave the painting to a man who just came back from ‘Nam, and his wife and child. He is still my friend.

Although at that age our soul and passions are often misdirected, I am glad now that my art never left me. The Lord gave me art as an anchor, and later, a way to understand more of Him.

 

 

 

 

 

A Taste of Home

There are those things that happen every day in our lives that define who we are at the time.

Raising children was the happiest and most substantial of times in my life, the things we did together, and what we enjoyed together, how we lived.

We ate meals together, we read books while we were eating, or talked, but meal time was always good. Food was important, I thought I was making nutritional meals and healthy snacks simply by making them myself. Through the years, I discovered what was not healthy was sugars and white flours, things like that, but the transition of understanding and lifestyle was slow.

I was shopping at a sidewalk produce market, where a young Italian boy told me his grandmother did not use any sugars in their apple pies. It was a combination of apples that made it just right, along with few, but perfect, spices.

My crust was made with real butter and whole grain flour, my pie filling made with that little Italian boy’s grandma’s apple recipe… give or take a little of this or that.

I thought it was so healthy, we would eat them for breakfast, or supper, or whenever. I’d make 6 at a time.

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“A Taste of Home” – 18″x14″ – Oil

I haven’t been able to eat too many of any pies for some time now, but I savor the memories of eating together with my children. I love the bowl with the red stripe that was found at a yard sale, a hand cutting blender for the butter into the flour that I bought from Goodwill, a rolling pin from my husband’s aunt for our wedding gift.  The “salmon pink” counters (that came before I got there) tell a story of a house I once lived in, wanting to change the color of the counters yet never getting to it. Even the counters tell a happy tale now.

I still have this painting, will pass it on and not sell it. They can later if they desire. For me, it holds a representation of dear, dear times.