Monday, July 26, 2010

The Rose

 Love in Any Language
 Oil on canvas, 12" x 12" x 1.5"

My interpretation of one of God's most beautiful creations. Personally I can't imagine how anyone can look at one of these and not believe in a Creator, but then at various times I have also said that about horses, dogs, cats, sunsets, rainbows, oceans, mountains - well, you know.   Psalm 19:1 says it all: "The Heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows forth His handiwork."

Lately I have been drawn to looking at things close up. I even began a series of animal paintings called "When I Look in Your Eye."  While roses don't have eyes,  they seem to me to be more beautiful the closer you get. It may have something to do with being nearsighted.  Georgia O'Keefe developed a similar attitude toward flowers. I remember seeing a film in which she described her fascination with a Jack-in-the-pulpit. She did a series of paintings from a closer and closer point of view until she was almost inside the flower.  She was a fascinating artist, and though I don't share her style or philosophy, I really admire her talent and her "toughness," especially when she grew older.  One of the things in my "bucket" is visiting her museum in Santa Fe,  New Mexico.   But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep...

The rose is in oils on a wrapped, canvas, stretched over 1.5 inch thick stretcher bars. The painting is extended over the edges. No frame is necessary. It will be listed on Art Helping Animals and Daily Painters.

10% of the sale will be donated to Old Dog Haven.
And 10% of the sale will be donated to Children's Cup Relief

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Isn't it Romantic? any other name...
What is it about roses? While they may not be everyone's favorite flower, I don't know of anyone who actually dislikes them.   One of the world's greatest honors, (to my mind better than the Oscar, the Emmy and the Tony combined, better than being elected to high office or even the Nobel Peace prize) is having a rose named after you.  They are as loved and cherished as their namesakes -  the famous: Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Taylor, Dolly Parton, Shaharazade;  the less than famous: Alister Stella Gray, Francis Debreil, Mrs. Dudley Cross, Mrs. B.R. Cant;  the noblest of ideas: Peace,  Fellowship, Joyfulness. Love;  or someone's homeland: Dublin, Suffolk, Shreveport, or Arizona.  For obvious reasons, Elvis Presley's rose was named Graceland,  Somehow that sounds more "roselike" than his own name.

It seems to me that when God made roses, He put within them the very essence of love. Their intoxicating fragrance, velvety petals and vast array of colors all speak of something more of heaven than of earth. And they have their own language.  A white rose is the symbol of purity and devotion, while a yellow rose suggests faithful friendship and pink roses bring to mind young romance.  But when a woman receives a bouquet of red roses, it carries with it the promise of enduring love and unbridled passion. Indeed there is something wild and almost dangerous about red roses. Of course, not all promises are kept, and sometimes people can be disappointing, but that is not the fault of the rose.

My husband photographed this rose in our backyard, and shared it with me because he knew I love painting them. Now that is true love!  Deciding that only oils could capture its subtlety and delicacy, I used the photo as the inspiration for a softer, more Impressionistic version of this rose. Unfortunately, we don't remember its name, though I am fairly certain it doesn't have anything to do with Elvis.  The painting was finished yesterday and is still too wet to handle, even to photograph, but you will see it here Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Muralists, Conclusion

Trolley, Waiting
72" x 72"

At last, we have reached the end of our journey. The trolley mural is finally finished. Many hours of research and work went into the painting of this trolley, which began operation in 1906.  I wrote more about the history of the depot and Inter-Urban trolley in The Muralists.  Even after the painting was finished,  it took a while for us to declare an end to all the picky details and get it out of the house and into its new home.  With the help of Russ and his pickup, Larry and I installed the mural in the Old Depot this morning. Russ, who came up with the brilliant idea in the first place, said the mural needed a name and came up with Trolley, Waiting.

New home of Trolley, Waiting, painting by Larry and Della Burgus

We chose the hottest day of the year to install the painting -  in a hundred year old building without air conditioning. That's planning, huh?  The actual temperature was in the nineties, but all the television weather forecasters continually warned us that "heat indexes would be in the 100 degrees"  By elven o'clock that heat index had reached 111.  And everybody was saying what they always say, "It isn't the heat, it is the humidity."

  We made the mural a tad too large, on the theory that boards can be cut down, but they can't be stretched, so some alterations were necessary.  Fortunately Larry belongs to the school of "measure twice, cut once," so things went rather smoothly. Actually, he measured everything three or four times, just to be sure.  There would be no reattaching it once we cut it down.

Measure the wall

The mural would be mounted here, on the door where passengers left the depot to board the trolley.  A second door will slide in front of the mural to protect it when not in use.

Measure the mural

Trim it "just a hair."

Can we get it to fit?

 This takes concentration

 Larry installed the painting with small screws and nails.  He was so creative about incorporating them into the machinery hardware.  After he finished, I covered them with small dots of paint.


  Dixie, Russ's wife, shot some pictures of Larry and me standing in front of the finished product and said it would be in the bulletin. Oh, goodie!  I hope they don't put it in the newspaper! I don't have a copy of any of the photos and probably wouldn't share them here if I did.  Me, with my baggy shorts, paint shirt and frizzy hair from the 90 plus temperatures. Since I took most of the photos for the blog, you won't find me in any of them.

Russ closes the door.

 I am happy it is over, relieved to get it out of my house and my studio. But it was a good experience and I am glad we did it. We always enjoy doing projects together and we each like to add our own special little touches.  The painting will serve as a reminder to some and an introduction to many others of a time long gone, before superhighways and airplanes.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Muralists

A photo of the Inter-Urban Depot, now a shelter house at McColl Park in Woodward

Back in 1898, before most of us were even born, the Des Moines City Railway incorporated and became the Inter-Urban Railway.  It was tied in to the Des Moines street railway system and connected  some of the smaller rural communities to the city.  The Inter-Urban Trolley provided service to Woodward beginning in 1906 - also before we were born.  The Inter-Urban was the major form of transportation to the smaller rural communities in the area for several decades.  Service continued through the depression but ended in 1941 when improved roads and automobiles made it no longer necessary.
In 1951, five acres of land surrounding was given to the city for a park and the old depot, lovingly restored, serves as the shelter house.

If any of you are still with me after all that, you might be interested to know that my husband and I were commissioned to paint a mural of the trolley for the depot.  Not large as murals go, only 72 inches square, and we are able to do the work at home in our air conditioned studio. Instead of painting directly on the depot  wall, we are painting on a smooth wood panel which will be attached to  the wall when we are finished.  After looking at dozens of old photos of trolleys  my husband drew a sketch which we enlarged and projected onto the panel.  We had a couple of "false starts," designing and redesigning the thing as we went along  but finally came up with something that looks good  - at least to us - and is as accurate as we could make it.  Discovering all sorts of things as we go along. Like using blue painting tape to help us paint straight lines. Solves the endless cycle of painting - touching up - repainting...  Larry sits and studies train wheels until he sees them in his sleep. As far as the trolley itself goes, I know nothing and have no desire to know.  With the help of the blue tape, I can paint within the lines that Larry draws. But the background - landscape, skies, bushes, etc.  are mine. We like working together, although we do have somewhat different styles. It really bugs me, though, that when I work, the paint goes everywhere - on my clothes, on the floor, in my hair, on my face, on the dog  - while he could paint all day wearing his best clothes and they would still be clean enough to go out to dinner. Is that fair???

Today I began painting the train conductor, loosely based on a very old black and white photo. Loved the handlebar mustache, but did run into trouble with the hat.  The poor man looked more like a member of the French Foreign Legion  than he did an agent for the Des Moines Railway System.  Back to the drawing board!

I will not show you the whole thing until it is finished. Right now it is at its "ugly stage." In fact it has been pretty much at that stage all along, but I am confident it will look like something someday. Soon, I hope.  My husband likes to sneak up on me and take pictures of me working. It is a horrible thing to do to a poor, unsuspecting artist, but I am unable to defend myself against the relentless camera stalker.
I did find one relatively harmless photo. My hand only. working on the sky.

Hope you all have a happy Fourth of July holiday week end!  And please say a prayer for those brave men and women who serve to protect us and our freedoms.