Archive for the ‘Watercolor image’ Category

Today is to -12º F as Spring is to Bright Tulips

February 8, 2011

When I awakened this morning the thermometer read -12º F. While I know that is a heat wave for some of you, I’m staying in the house and thinking S-P-R-I-N-G!

Last April I photographed this Willis Avenue (Perry, Iowa) tulip (above). It caught my eye because it is similar to tulips in Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) Bright Tulips 1968 watercolor shown below.


The Bright Tulips original is owned by Kim Webb Toth-Tevel of California. Kim, a granddaughter of the late Jane Webb (formerly of Rolfe, Iowa, and dear friend of Mother’s), was generous to ship her painting to me so prints of it could be made.

Bright Tulips prints in three sizes* are available by contacting me directly at or by ordering online. A limited supply of Bright Tulips is available at Wild Faces Gallery (712-848-3399) in Rolfe, and the Rolfe Public Library (712-848-3143). The profits go to the Rolfe Public Library where Mother worked for thirty-five years.

*The three sizes are as follows: 10″ H x 13.3″ W (Medium $25), 13.25″ H x 17.6″ W (Standard $35…when matted, fits in standard 20″ x 24″ frame) and 16.4″ H x 22″ W (Grand $50). Larger sizes may be special ordered by contacting me or the gallery.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


Pocahontas, Iowa, in the Summer of 1949 (Part II)

January 23, 2011

To make sense of this post, it would probably help to refer to Part I. While Part I definitely is about the summer of 1949, this Part II post is more of a potpourri about the general location (past and present) of Arlene Brockney’s story of when she was a teenager in 1949. Also, referring to the post titled Pocahontas, Iowa: One Subject Equals Two Paintings will explain about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) almost identical watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator, painted the same year as Arlene’s story…1949.

This is an eBay photo of Pocahontas, Iowa. The camera is at the east looking basically to the west. In the upper left corner is just a tad of Highway 3 with what looks like one car on it. Also at the upper left is what I'm thinking is a gas station at the location of the current Pocahontas branch building of the Rolfe State Bank. The water tower in this photo no longer exists. The grain elevator annex (the 2nd tallest large building in this photo) was not present at the time Mother (Marion Gunderson) painted her two Pocahontas grain elevator watercolors. According to the Pocahontas County History (1981) the 200,000 bushel annex was built in 1954. Also according to the history, a new 400,000 bushel silo (not in this photo) was built in 1970. From that, I assume this photo was taken sometime between 1954 and 1970. You can also see the car dealership in the bottom center of the photo. The train tracks in this photo run from southeast (lower left) to northwest (upper right) along the southwest side of the grain elevator. After looking closely at Mother's watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator, I see that the railroad cars were between her and the grain elevator. With that in mind, I'm assuming Mother painted her Pocahontas Grain Elevator watercolors at a vantage point south or south-southwest of the grain elevator. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


My research about Mother’s vantage point for her two 1949 Pocahontas grain elevator watercolors included my talking with Bob Bellows, Rolfe State Bank Vice-President. Bob works at the branch office in Pocahontas. On my behalf, he conducted research of his own. According to Bob’s source, there had been a double-wide trailer where the Rolfe State Bank branch building now sits. Bob and I are assuming it is the same trailer in which Arlene Brockney lived. (Arlene’s story is in Part I.)

Bob also said there was a DX station (as Arlene also mentioned) closer to Highway 3. The DX station was owned by Jerry Hotovec. The DX station was sold and another building built at the same location in the mid-’60s. This building was the Superior 400, which later became a Gulfstream station, and then was the Pro Coop’s cartrol (i.e., credit card-only station.) The former location of those businesses is now the location of the current bank branch parking lot. It is sandwiched between the Highway 3 and the south side of the branch bank building.

The Rolfe State Bank branch in Pocahontas opened in September of 2001…in a trailer (different than the one Arlene mentioned) which was to the south of the current RSB building. On March 1st of 2004, the Rolfe State Bank moved from the trailer into the present branch building.

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(Click on photo to enlarge.)


*In case you missed it, here is my oldest sister Clara’s comment from Part I about Mother’s watercolors of the Pocahontas grain elevator.

I remember going with Mother once when she painted the Pocahontas elevator. Although we probably were with other members of the Barr Art Association, I don’t remember if they were there or it was just Mother. Nor do I recall how old I would have been, but if it was this painting, I was probably seven.

One thing that we didn’t discover until recently is that sometimes Mother created more than one painting of the same thing. We think it’s the same, but when we look closely we discover differences. That’s true with this elevator painting. We don’t know if Mother was so intrigued with the painting that she did another, if she was trying to correct a flaw (she always thought of something that could be improved), or if she was creating another painting for someone else.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Pocahontas, Iowa, in the Summer of 1949 (Part I)

January 20, 2011

In November of 2009 the Des Moines Register published an article about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) work and her watercolors. The timing of the article coincided with the open house at Bill’s and my Perry, Iowa, home. At that open house, prints of Mother’s watercolors were sold with the profits going to the Rolfe Public Library Trust.*

Pocahontas Grain Elevator II Prints are available in three sizes: Medium (Limited Edition, 10" W x ~12.3" H, $25), Grand (~18" W x 22" H, $50), and Largest (20" W x ~24.5" H, same size as the original, $70). (Click photo to enlarge.)

The watercolor featured in the Register article was that of the Pocahontas, Iowa, grain elevator, shown at the left. The article caught the attention of Arlene Brockney of Waukee who lived in Pocahontas in the late 1940s and is the daughter of Viola Jacobson.

Arlene’s recollection of the grain elevator construction is as follows.

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Pocahontas Elevator, Summer of 1949

My family lived west across the street while it [the grain elevator] was being built. They worked all day and night pouring the cement. For the workers there was a huge night-light that was also great for evening walks.

My mom went to work at the Ideal Cafe at 5 o’clock in the morning. As she would leave the house for work, the construction crew would holler down to her their orders for breakfast. That way, hot food was ready for them when their shift was done.

When the elevator was finished, my mother and two sisters rode to the top and waved at me. Our lot is now in the approximate area of the parking lot for the branch office of the Rolfe State Bank.


The building in the foreground is the Pocahontas, Iowa, branch of the Rolfe State Bank. As a teenager, Arlene Brockney lived in a trailer that, in the 1940s, was in the vicinity -- just north -- of what is now the location of the bank building. The grain elevator that Mother painted is behind the bins in this photo. The street at the far right is Highway 3 running east/west. The camera is pointed primarily east. (Click photo to enlarge.)

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Arlene said she was 14-years-old and detasseled corn that summer of 1949. She said that the night-light for the construction crew was like a helicopter hovering. Arlene chuckled when she said that the light did not allow for privacy, making her glad that the elevator construction was completed by the time she started dating!

In the midst of the breeze of the summer nights, while on the ground, Arlene could hear the construction workers above talking. Well, actually mumbling with people below not knowing exactly what the workers were talking about.

At that time, Arlene’s family lived in a trailer on the Pocahontas property that is now owned by Rolfe State Bank.

(Click here to view Part II including what I think is a 1950s or ’60s aerial photo of the Pocahontas grain elevator.)

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At this link you’ll see information regarding prints of Mother’s watercolor (shown above) as well as where you may purchase them in Rolfe. Prints may also be ordered online. Mother also painted the Rolfe grain elevator and train depot (two watercolors) and Gilmore City grain elevator and depot (one watercolor).

*All profits go to support the digitizing of 101 years of Rolfe newspapers so they will be accessible online. Hopefully they will be online in March.

Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.

Geraniums in the Fall (actually, anytime)

November 27, 2010

What a difference one week of fall can make. All four photos in this post include geraniums. To enlarge the photos, just click on them.

The top photo was taken one week ago on November 20th. The second photo* was taken today, the 27th.

The third photo is of the geranium watercolor painted by Mother (Marion Gunderson) in 1972. Mother was partial to geraniums, planting them in the several-feet-long brick flower planters at Gunderland following each Memorial Day. (Because of her fondness of them, ever since I was a little girl, on Mother’s Day I gave Mother a potted geranium.)

The bottom photo was taken May 29, 2005, six months after Mother passed away. The photo is of Daddy (Deane Gunderson) placing a geranium on Mother’s grave at Clinton-Garfield Cemetery in Rolfe, Iowa. Mother passed away peacefully on November 30, 2004.







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* The second photo was taken with the combination of three accessories: 1. 50 mm lens, 2. Kenko 36mm extension tube and 3. Kenko 12 mm extension tube. Shutter: 1/8. Aperture: f/9.0. Exposure Bias: 0.0. ISO: 400. Manual focus. (I was so close to the geranium that I couldn’t get the camera to focus automatically any better than just a blur.) It was approaching dusk, so gettting dark; I used Photoshop to lighten up the photo just a tad, but not much.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

OooooOooooooOooooooooooohhhhh (La La) — Part II

September 22, 2010

Five posts ago I was excited to include a tease about the newest prints of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolor, Churchyard, painted in 1954. I got sidetracked in subsequent posts. Finally here is the full image of predominantly rich purples and blacks with tombstones of oranges and moonlight. YES! If you look closely at the painting, you’ll see that Mother somehow “painted” the tombstones and church with magical moonlight! This IS a fabulous painting.

Churchyard prints are available in two sizes: Medium (13.25" W x 10" H, $25). Large* (Limited Edition, 20.35" W x 14.25" H, same size as the original, $45). (Click on image to enlarge.)

As a kid, did you ever go with a bunch of kids out to a cemetery when you really weren’t supposed to? At night? When your parents thought you were probably doing something worthwhile? If you didn’t, maybe you were a better “good kid” than I was! (I was good…just not perfect.) I was once at a cemetery at night when I wasn’t supposed to be…the Old Rolfe cemetery. Summer of 1969. Although this painting** is not of Old Rolfe, when I look at the painting, I’m “there” in that adrenaline-flowing creepy night when small town kids will be kids. Oooooooo…OooOOoooooooooo…OOOOoooooooooooooohhhhhh! La La!

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In this photo is Mother's handwriting on the back of her original of Churchyard. It appears that she included this painting in one of her exhibits, but did not want to part with it! (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Although Churchyard is festive for the fall season, it doesn’t shout “Halloween.” I typically rotate it with other artwork, but also have been known to display the original throughout the year.

*To help cut down on framing expenses, when bordered with a 2″ mat, this large size (20.35″ W x 14.25″ H) fits perfectly in a standard size 18″ x 24″ frame. I’ve seen one Churchyard matted with a single orange mat. Another was accentuated with a double mat of two shades of purple.

Prints may be obtained by contacting me (, by purchasing at Wild Faces Gallery (712-848-3399) in Rolfe, Iowa, or by ordering online at (At the eCRATER site, Churchyard is in the “Year-Round or Seasonal” category.)

**Mother’s note about Churchyard says, “Done from newspaper clipping.” My family does not know the location of this particular churchyard.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

ISU Heating Plant Vantage Point, Simplified

June 11, 2010

ISU Heating Plant, Ames, Iowa, watercolor by Marion Gunderson, 1951. (Click on image to enlarge.)

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In case the first “Vantage Point” post about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) ISU Heating Plant watercolor was just a little too detailed for you, here’s the cut-to-the-chase version. At left is the image of her watercolor (same image as in the first post).

I’m also including a photo-with-explanation indicating her most likely vantage point for the watercolor.

At the end of this post are links that provide more information about Iowa State University’s heating/power plant.


Iowa State University Power Plant, March 2010. (Click photo to enlarge.)


At the links below, more information is available about the history of Iowa State University’s heating/power plant, or current information.

At this link scroll down to the “Power and Heating Plant” heading.

ISU power plant floor plans, etc., are available here.

Additional background information is available here.

This Iowa State University link ( provides a map of campus. To easily see the location of the current power plant, in the upper right at this ISU web site you’ll get a pop-up menu if you click on “select building.” In that pop-up menu, select “power plant.” OR, at the left side of the same web page where it says “Layers,” put a check mark in front of “building names.” Then enlarge the map (i.e., click on the “+” sign) a little and you’ll be able to see the names of buildings on campus.

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(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Vantage Point for “ISU Heating Plant” Watercolor by Marion Gunderson

June 7, 2010

In the previous post I explained how I learned the identity of the building in Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolor of Iowa State University’s heating plant.

Mother’s notes indicate she painted the 1951 watercolor “From charcoal sketch done while at ISU.” She was a student at Iowa State during the period of 1937-1941. In other words, there was at least a ten-year span between when she created the charcoal sketch and when she painted the watercolor.

I wondered what Mother’s vantage point might have been as she created her sketch (later used as the reference for her watercolor). In an effort to learn more about the vantage point, I contacted Jeffrey Witt, Iowa State’s Assistant Director of Utilities.


ISU Heating Plant, Ames, Iowa, watercolor by Marion Gunderson, 1951. Medium limited edition: 13.25″ W x 17.5″ H (approximate size of the original), $35. Large: 15″ W x ~20″ H, $45. (Click on image to enlarge. To order, see * below.)



Vantage-Point Explanation and Photos from ISU’s Jeffrey Witt March 2010

This painting [immediately above] appears to have been done looking south and east towards the power plant from the north side. We do not have any photographs of the plant from this perspective but there may be some in the Special Collections section at Parks Library. I was able to find two views of the plant from that general timeframe and one a few years later. These [below] are scans from a historical account of the power plant put together by one of our staff.



“The first picture.” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The first picture [immediately above] is looking at the plant from the east looking west. This photograph was before the large concrete smokestack was constructed. The concrete smokestack shows in the background of the painting.



“The second picture.” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The second picture [immediately above] is looking at the plant from the south looking north and a bit west. We believe this picture was taken in the 1930s about the time the sketch was done.



The third picture [immediately below] is an aerial view of the plant from the north and west looking southeast and was taken in 1954. The plant had a major addition in 1948-49 so it looks different than the previous pictures. It looks to me like the artist may have done the sketch while standing in the vicinity of the 4 white oil tanks that show in the foreground of this picture.

“The third picture.” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The power plant depicted in the sketch and painting was built in 1906 and includes an addition in 1914. The facility would have looked similar until 1948-49 when it was modified to look like the 1954 picture [immediately above]. Another major addition was added to the south in 1968 and a 3rd major addition to the north in 1986-87. Over the years we have built on all four sides and on top of the original 1906 power plant. The original power plant supplied steam for heating and electricity for the campus. Today’s power plant still provides heating steam and electricity and we started providing all the cooling for campus with the addition in 1968.

The power plant is in the same location. I included a photograph for your reference [immediately below]. The photograph is looking east and north at the plant from the west and south. The area where the artist likely stood is still there as well. It is a green metal shed** located north of the power plant that is used by the facilities department for equipment storage. You can locate the power plant if you go to ISU’s website and look at the campus maps.***

“Photograph for your reference” of current power plant.

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*To check on availability of prints at various locations, please email me at You may also order online. (The ISU Heating Plant prints are online in the “Potpourri” category.)

**In the photo at this link, the “green” storage shed looks more yellow/tan. In reality, it is green.

***In the next post I’ll include web sites providing more information about the heating/power plant.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Iowa State University Heating Plant + Marion Gunderson = Georgia O’Keeffe-like Watercolor

June 2, 2010

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Mother (Marion Gunderson) used to store her watercolors in two ways at Gunderland. She had approximately seventy of her watercolors stored loose in portfolios under the basement steps. Another fifteen-or-so of her paintings were framed and displayed around the perimeter of the basement.

A portion of Marion Gunderson’s ISU Heating Plant watercolor, 1951. (Click photo to enlarge.)

It must have been after Mother passed away in 2004 that one of those paintings hanging in the basement caught my attention. I had no idea what building/location was in the painting. I just knew that the Georgia O’Keeffe-like gentle-curvy lines and rich colors that Mother used prompted me to ask to have this particular painting.

Not realizing that the painting included mounds of black coal, I thought that perhaps the painting was of another ag-related building. My dad (Deane Gunderson) and my husband (Bill Shimon) didn’t know the exact location of the building in the painting; because of the coal in the painting, they believed the painting might have been of something factory-related.

Mother’s, Clara’s (my oldest sister) and Marti’s (one of my middle siblings) work helped with my investigation. Several years ago at Mother’s request, Marti took inventory snapshots of as many of Mother’s watercolors as could be located. Mother then put those snapshots in an album. Along with the snapshots, Mother provided corresponding documentary notes for most of her paintings that were in those snapshots. Since before Mother passed away in 2004, Clara has been our family’s keeper and continuing recorder of documentation about Mother’s watercolors.

Back to the above-mentioned painting…I hung on to the painting for another couple of years before asking Clara if she had any idea of the identity of the building in the painting. Clara looked in Mother’s notes and found that about this particular painting, Mother had noted, “ISU Heat Plant, Ames, Iowa. From charcoal sketch done while at ISU.”

Bingo! Identity known!

Alongside Mother’s signature on the painting she included the year “1951.” Mother attended Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) from 1937-1941. We assume that she created a charcoal sketch of the heating plant sometime between 1937 and 1941, and later, with the charcoal sketch as her reference, in 1951 painted her watercolor of the same heating plant.

Because the heating plant in the watercolor looks nothing like the present Iowa State University power plant, I was confused about what Mother’s vantage point might have been when she painted the heating plant. I recently contacted Jeffrey Witt, ISU’s Assistant Director of Utilities, to learn more about the history of Iowa State’s heating plant. More specifically, I wondered if he could shed some light on where Mother’s vantage point as she painted might have been, in relation to the current power plant at Iowa State.

In the next post I’ll include the connect-the-dots information Jeff provided in regard to history of Iowa State’s heating/power plant and Mother’s 1951 watercolor of the older plant.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

A Designer’s Perspective

March 17, 2010

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Grain Elevator, Rolfe, Iowa, by Marion Gunderson, circa 1950. Standard size limited edition -- 13.25" W x 17.25" H, $35. When matted, fits in standard size 20" x 24" frame.* (Click photo to enlarge.)

Kathleen Beeler is an interior designer friend who several months ago saw a few of Mother’s original watercolors. Kathleen plans to incorporate fresh-looking artwork in her home and wanted to take a look at prints of Mother’s watercolors…mainly the agriculture-related ones.

Yesterday I took prints to Kathleen’s home for her to try in various rooms. (I felt like the Fuller Brush man.) Kathleen was/is so pleased with her finds. Knowing that Kathleen has a design background that I trust, I got goosebumps thinking how pleased Mother would have been listening to Kathleen ooh and aah about Mother’s work. “They fit my house, my lifestyle and my husband’s background.”

What really made me “see” Mother smile was something Kathleen said about the ag-related prints/originals, for example of the Rolfe, Iowa, grain elevator that was destroyed in a 1969 fire. Or the Iowa State University heating plant** (that Mother painted a watercolor of in 1951) that no longer exists. Kathleen kept commenting about how even though the watercolors were painted decades ago, they haven’t faded out of style. She said, “They aren’t stylized. They are sophisticated. They are contemporary portrayals of something in America we’re losing.”


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* Click here for size/price information about prints. All profits from sales of prints go to the Rolfe (Iowa) Public Library.

** Within the next few months, prints of the Iowa State University heating plant watercolor will be available.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Hollyhocks Watercolor by Marion A. Gunderson, 1954

March 14, 2010

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The newest image for this blog’s header/banner is of a very small portion of the Hollyhocks watercolor (below) painted by Mother in 1954. (1954 was about two years after Cathrine Barr taught her last class for northwest Iowa’s Barr Art Association. The association* continued to meet into the 1970s.)

Hollyhocks watercolor by Marion A. Gunderson, 1954. This watercolor was framed and behind glass in this photo. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In case you are trying to figure out exactly from where in the watercolor the much smaller banner image is taken, maybe this explanation will help. If you could take the banner that is above and rotate it 180 degrees, it would be right-side-up. It could then overlay part of the lower left hollyhock bloom in the actual painting.

Before I had this original framed. I took two frame moulding samples to Mother’s nursing home room. (This would have been within the year before she passed away.) I explained to her that I wanted her to select the moulding sample that she liked best, which she did. After the framing was complete, but before Bill and I hung this watercolor in our home, I once again took Hollyhocks to Mother (still in the nursing home) so she could bask in her painting’s beauty.

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To view images and size/cost information regarding currently available prints of Mother’s watercolors, click on the “View and Order Prints” link on this blog’s home page.

With Easter just around the corner, at present the Bunny prints are in the highest demand. In the actual Bunny prints, the tail and ears look more pink-than-orange than they do on my computer monitor.

Prints have not yet been made of the Hollyhocks painting. However, if you have an interest in having a print of this watercolor, please contact me at

*More information about Cathrine Barr and the Barr Art Association is in this post. Within the next year, I hope to have additional information to add about Cathrine and/or the association.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)