What made you all come to Fredericksburg and what were the early days like?
It was more of a farm and ranch town. There wasn’t too much going on. For us to go to school, it took a good 1.5 hours to and back. We were the first kids on in the morning and the last in the evening. It was an all day adventure to go to school. When people talk about their parents, we would talk about dad being an artist and people didn’t know what to do with that. They'd ask, “Do you grow or raise anything?” It was a small town with probably around 2,400 people. It’s over 10,000 on a weekend now.
How else has the city changed since you all arrived?
Main street changed dramatically. It was mainly small mom and pop shops. There was only one major department store attached to a grocery store. They did have a theater right in the middle of downtown - that is now a retail establishment. Even the banks on main street have now converted to retail. It’s gone from a small mom and pop shops to more of a little shopping town. There was also no tourism before. People just drove through without stopping.
Did you all travel around Texas and, if so, was it for the art?
Absolutely. We would ride around in a station wagon with 5 kids. You had to have a car that could handle everybody. The seats in the very back turned backwards, that’s where Joe and I would sit. We all knew our pecking order. Ben, Kathy and Linda in the middle and the parents in front. Dad would drive all the time. He would pull over on the way to Houston 15-20 times to take photos. Early on, we would stop in various places to sell prints. He might be in there for an hour and we’d sit in the car. It would get hot in the car, but we would never complain. After he’d sell something we’d get a Coke.
Did you attempt to draw because of your Fathers talent?
No, I never really did until my kids were born. I would draw with them and then we would do a little bit of painting on canvas as I was raising them.
What was Charles' favorite work?
He was very proud of the museum of natural history in Houston. It was a huge endeavor for him. He had 140’ long and 14’ tall installation. His master series in pen and ink were also things he was very proud of. When he moved to the 16,000 sq ft art gallery, he was proud of that. When he published his first book, Images of Texas, he was proud of that. One thing he worked on diligently, he worked on the pride of lions painting. After he did that 6 or 8 months, he painted over it. He painted the foothills of the guadalupe. It’s the guadalupe mountains with horses going down it. he changed the sky and would change it again. That was one of his masterpieces he was proud of.
Is everyone in the family an artist?
Our oldest sister Kathy was very artistic and has a creative mind. If we as a family were on an indian reservation and we saw two people working on the side of the road, she would recognize that they were dressed in war paint and dressed up. We all looked and recognized that they were dressed in plain clothes. She had quite the imagination. She still has creative talent.
What was your favorite adventure with your dad?
As a cub scout, dad never really liked to do with things with other parents. He was asked to do this campout at a camp outside of Austin, Texas. He was talked into helping monitor the group of boys. One of his duties was to take the group on a hike. It was going to be a nature hike, since he knew so much about nature. He agreed to it. Prior to the hike, we took a canoe trip. My Dad and I were in a canoe going up the river when a speedboat came by and our canoe capsized. We were both in the water swimming for our lives. Dad figured it out - after his feet hit the bottom, we realized that we were in 3 feet of water. The next thing we were supposed to do was hike. Our boots were soaked. I don't think he ever stopped complaining about the boots and hike.
At the end of his life, he had entered paintings into the National Parks Foundation Art Competition. He entered four paintings, two of which were chosen for a tour of the USA. The event in which they unveiled the winners was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My mom said they were going to drive up for it. I told her not to tell dad, but we were going to fly up and surprise him. Mom and dad were staying at one lodge and we stayed at a different one. I called him at the hotel he was at and asked him where he was staying and if it was close to the museum. I asked if it was by the Tetons. Then I said, "Can you have dinner tonight?" and Dad said “You’re not here!” and I said we were. It was memorable for us.
What was the one thing you remember most that your dad taught you?
He really taught us all to have a love and appreciation of nature and God’s creations. That was something he instilled in all of us.
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