Known as “The Cowboy Artist,” Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes of the American West. Most followers of all things Western know of his paintings, sculptures, and writings. His 1918 painting, “Piegans,” sold for $5.6 million at a 2005 auction.
What fewer people are aware of are Charlie’s more “earthy” portrayals of cowboy life, including a hand-lettered water color piece now a part of the Amon Carter collection in Fort Worth, Texas. Entitled “Just a little sunshine, just a little rain,” Russell portrays in four small paintings some of the ups and downs of cowboy life.
The first picture shows a cowhand on day herd.
The cattle graze easy on a sunlit plain, the rider slouching in his saddle. Russell has entitled this picture, “Just a little sunshine.” Picture two shows the cowboy riding herd in the rain, huddled in his yellow slicker, the day wet, cold, and miserable. Title? “Just a little rain.” Picture three shows the cowhand well in his cups being helped out of his clothes by a soiled dove in a cowtown bordello. Title: “Just a little pleasure.” Fourth picture portrays the cowboy back on the range, in obvious distress because of a “social” disease. The title? “Just a little pain.”
First, my apologies for the over-long delay in getting back to those of you who follow my blog.
When Lynda and I retired to Ecuador on the last day of 2012, we believed it would only be a week or two before I got back to you. That was before I learned that our life in Ecuador would have a slightly different, but equally accurate, version of “Just a little sunshine, just a little rain.” No riding day herd in the rain, and no bordellos, but…
During our first few weeks in Ecuador, we found the country incredibly beautiful, its people warm-hearted and friendly.
Just a little sunshine…
No daylight saving time, the sun comes up at 6 a.m. and goes down at 6 p.m. every single day. Temperatures are approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime to 55 at night. Rains are gentle, and quickly pass. Winds are mild and moderate.
Just a little rain…
During our second week in Quito, I suffered an attack of bronchitis that took me to the emergency room for an all-day treatment, including oxygen supplementation, X-Rays, and medication. Still feeling shaky, I was dismissed at the end of the day and returned to the B & B where we were staying.
Just a little pleasure…
We take in the sights in Quito, including the exact location of the equator, a museum or two, and trips to neighboring cities and towns. Volcanoes loom above farms built on lush hillsides, deep canyons reveal rushing rivers and lakes, local leather craft and woven fabrics are offered at low, low prices. Food is delicious, plentiful, and varied. We move briefly to a rooftop apartment in the colorful pueblo of Cotacachi.
We explore other parts of the country, including Loja and Cuenca. We find Cuenca to be a perfect fit for us–a city of rich and diverse cultures, and a blend of the historic and modern. We move there and rent a high-rise apartment alongside the Tomebamba River. We travel twelve and a half miles north to the spectacular Cajas National Park. With mountains reaching from 9,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level, ice cold lakes, streams, and waterfalls, roving herds of alpacas and lamas, and abundant wild flowers, we find the Cajas a remarkable and very special place.
Just a little pain…
My bronchitis returns with a vengeance. A local doctor treats me with medication, oxygen, and physical therapy. I begin to recover, but oh, no! Now Lynda has bronchitis, too, no doubt having caught it from me! For a week or so, we’re both sufferers together, and then, finally, we’re over it.
We begin to explore our new city. We dine out at a restaurant or two. We attend a concert by the local symphony. We talk of a photographic tour, perhaps some time at the beach. And then my long-time acquaintance and constant companion, my prostate “problem,” suddenly goes to condition RED! I’m fortunate indeed to find a world-class urologist and all-around great guy, Dr. Jose Medina, who doesn’t sugar-coat my condition. He has me tested, calls me in, and says, “You need operation. NOW.” He admits me to his clinic, performs the needed prostatectomy, and I go post-op at his clinic and then back at our apartment. I heal up.
Lynda and I look for, and find, the apartment of our dreams, furnish it, and move in. We are in what I believe is the best part of the city, we have great neighbors on the floor below, perfect landlords. Once again, life is good.
Just a little (more) pain…
By the middle of April, my voice has grown more and more hoarse. In fact, by most evenings I’m unable to make myself understood at all. Doctors diagnose my problem as a paralyzed vocal cord. I’m sent to a pulmonologist, who orders blood tests, scans of my chest and throat, and biopsies. The examination brings bad news, a diagnosis of squamous cell lung cancer. The good news is that the tumor seems to be confined to the top lobe of my left lung. It has not, as far as we know now, spread to other parts of my body. More good news–Cuenca, Ecuador is the home of a world-class cancer center (SOLCA) that attracts sufferers from the United States, Great Britain, and Europe, as well as patients throughout Ecuador.
Referred there by my pulmonologist, I have taken a battery of diagnostic tests, and will meet tomorrow with the team of oncologists addressing my case to learn the test results, and the team’s recommendations for treatment.
If you believe in prayer, I earnestly solicit yours on my behalf. If you don’t believe in prayer, I’d appreciate your good wishes.
It seems to me that Charlie Russell’s title,
Just a little sunshine, just a little rain. Just a little pleasure, just a little pain
is a metaphor for everyone’s life journey. Mine has been a very good journey indeed. May yours contain an abundance of sunshine and pleasure, and only such rain and pain as you may need to provide you with the perfect, balanced life. I’ll keep you informed with regard to my medical problems, life in Ecuador, Montana and the Old West, and life and love in its many forms through this blog. Thanks for following me, and for your support of my work these many years.