More whimsy….

November 30, 2009

Except for the pieces of wood and case, this is a sculpture Monte created of a “unicorn mouse.”  The wildflowers, lady bug, morel mushroom, dew drop, dried leaves and the “unicorn mouse” were all created by Monte’s hands.

Though it is hard to tell, those are whiskers from the mouse’s head and not something it is chewing on.


A few pencils

November 29, 2009







Portraits for money

November 27, 2009

To raise money, Monte decided at one point to offer his skills for paid portraits.  This is not something he had much desire for, but being poor, it was something that had to be done.

Below is a pastel used in an ad Monte and Sharyl placed in a local newspaper offering these services.

Many people mistakenly believe the young girl in the pastel was their daughter Kathy, however, that is incorrect.  Kathy was born in 1962 and this portrait was done in 1963.  The girl in the portrait is obviously more than one year old.

Other portraits completed by Monte included a horse and dog.  It’s not known exactly who owns other portraits done by Monte.

At times during his life, Monte was contacted by several popular out-door magazines for cover illustrations, but in most cases the editors wanted artwork that would have required a great deal of time and effort.  One such magazine made an inquiry about a large enough art piece where shotguns could be placed upon the piece for the cover illustration.  For the amount of money offered, Monte felt the work required would be too great.



November 27, 2009

This is a close up of a nesting humming-bird.  This is an early prototype created by Monte.   Later, he would create a more realistic setting, which would include pieces of wood, with handcrafted wild flowers, lady bugs and morel mushrooms.

On a humorous note, while at the Duck Island Gun Club  as the site manager, one time swallows built a nest above a light socket inside the clubhouse.  Monte and Sharyl let the bird raise its young and then leave.  When the bird and young swallows left the nest, Monte created a life-size replica of the swallow and placed it in the remaining nest.  Afterward, when friends and family would visit, they would quietly be led in to the clubhouse to be shown the nesting swallow and then express great surprise when they learned the bird was fake.

The swallow replica still exists.

To appreciate this posting, one must understand a few things about Monte, Sharyl, Kathy and Jared.

In one way, Monte and Sharyl were like a cat and dog.  They could bicker like no other couple, but were also greatly devoted to each other.  In their later life, they also had a complex relationship that goes beyond the scope of this blog.  Near the end of the individual lives of Kathy, Sharyl and Monte, most were accepting of these complexities.  As anyone who has led a long life knows, love and relationships can be complex things.

Jared was a very beloved brother of Monte, a very beloved brother-in-law of Sharyl and a very beloved uncle to Kathy.  Kathy took great solace knowing she would be buried next to Jared and next to her Grandparents, John and Zelma Ellis.

Below is a picture of the tombstones of Kathy and Jared.   Note, Kathy’s grave site is adorned with angels and Jared’s grave site is adorned with out of doors items.

Sharyl decided to be cremated prior her death in 2007.  After Sharyl passed away in 2007, her cremains may or may not have been buried at Kathy’s grave site.   And if it did happen that Sharyl’s remains were buried with Kathy, she would have also taken great solace in being returned to her daughter, Jared and John and Zelma.

Monte also decided to be cremated prior to his death.  Monte also had somewhat of a request for his own ashes.

Below is a close up of the grave site of Kathy, the daughter to Monte and Sharyl.

Under Monte’s request with what to do with his cremains, only a real few requests were made.  It was not that he cared more where they went, but more about where they did not go.  He made it known a few sites where his ashes could be spread, so on October 25, 2009, his son Eric, and two of his cohorts Mark and John, took it upon themselves to accomplish this task.  That is, if it ever really happened.

October 25, 2009 was a beautiful day.  The fall temperature was just right and the sun was shining with no clouds in sight.  A better day could not have been created.   The first stop in this true story, if it is true, was Kathy’s grave site.  Eric thought Monte, or the majority of Monte, would like to be returned to the earth along with his beloved daughter, wife, parents and brother.

So if this event did happen, an even such such as this might have happened:

Mark drove John, Eric and Monte to the grave site.  Eric said to Mark, “Be sure to park as close as possible as you can and make sure it’s on the correct side of the grave.” Later, Mark rightfully pointed out that really, there was only one side to even park.

Eric then climbed out of the SUV with a small shovel at his side, telling Mark and John, “We have to hurry because if we get caught, we could get in trouble.”  Eric then, may have or may not have, quickly dug a small hole in Kathy’s grave, to the left (Monte’s preferred direction) of where Sharyl may or may not have previously been buried.  He then returned to Mark’s SUV and pulled a clear plastic bag holding Monte from the black, plastic cremains case and returned to the grave site.  Eric may have said to Mark, “I left the case in the car because any one who saw it would know what it was and what we were up to.”

Most of Monte may then have been poured into the small hole and afterward, Eric returned the plastic bag to the SUV.  If this event did happen, no one present received a face full of ashes similar to that seen in “The Big Lebowski.”  When he returned to the grave site, he saw the hole had not yet been filled in.  Being that Eric was with a pounding hangover from the night before, he said to Mark, “Jesus, the least you could have done is fill in the god damned hole for me since I have a hangover.”  Mark’s reply could have been, “Well, I thought since he was your Dad, it would be a personal thing for you.”  Eric may have replied, “I don’t give a shit, it’s a goddamned hole,” to which Mark replied, “In that case, I will tamp it down for you if you like.”

So Eric filled the hole in and when the dirt was all back in, Mark exerted himself by tamping the dirt back down.  While Mark was tamping the dirt down, Eric could have started saying, “Shit, shit, shit.”

When Mark heard Eric saying multiple “shits, ” he thought  Eric had grown upset with him and stopped tamping the dirt down.  Eric then pointed out to Mark and John what he had noticed in front of him, while Mark was tamping the dirt down.  The below picture is what Eric saw when he looked up while Mark was tamping the dirt down:

Yes, in Eric’s haste in possibly burying his father’s remains, the wrong grave may have been selected.

After the initial shock, the three cohorts then started to discuss how appropriate this event truly was and that Monte, Sharyl, Kathy and Jared would have truly enjoyed to have been there to see this.  Now, Zelma may have been a bit perturbed, but she would have quickly forgiven her grandson for such behavior.

Mark even pointed out that it was pretty appropriate Monte was further from Kathy’s angels and closer to Jared’s wildlife and just out of grabbing distance from Sharyl.

The rest of Monte may then have been spread at this location,

and this location,

Monte, Sharyl, Kathy and Sharyl’s sister Susan, dug up oak trees from this very area and transplanted them in the front yard to Monte and Sharyl’s Banner home.  The trees thrived and are quite lovely and were of great pride to Monte and Sharyl.

More of Monte’s remains were spread near the base of the trunks to two huge Blue Spruce trees in their yard as well.  Years ago during a long drought, Monte would carry buckets of rainwater to these two Blue Spruce trees to make sure they survived.

Further creativity…

November 15, 2009

File0127From many of Monte’s artwork, he would create ways to use his pieces in different ways.  This piece comes from a note card Monte produced.

A hand…..

November 15, 2009

This is a self-portrait created by Monte of his left hand.  It is a very accurate reproduction of his left hand.  Monte had fine, delicate fingers on his hands.
One interesting thing about Monte’s hands was after some time, he developed an allergic reaction to oil paints.  Contact with oil pants would cause his hands to inflame, his skin to peel, resulting in great pain.  At one point he did try to paint while wearing latex gloves, however that proved to be too troublesome. He then moved away from the use of oil paints.

The very sad thing about this affliction is when one looks at his very early oil paintings, his skill with oil paints is  quite evident and because of this allergy, his oil painting potential was not realized.

This reproduction of Monte’s hand is owned by his son, Eric.


November 15, 2009

When it comes to selling art, most likely it is not disputed any publicity of one’s artwork is good publicity.  The above artwork piece by Monte was completed for a donation in 1981 to Ducks Unlimited for a fund raising auction.  From time to time, Monte would do such things for commercial purposes.  Monte was conflicted regarding organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.  To Monte, while Ducks Unlimited does have a stated goal of developing and protecting habitat for waterfowl, it also has an  interest of such habitat for the purposes of hunting.

As Monte aged, his opinion of organizations such as Ducks Unlimited grew much harsher, while his opinions of organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, GreenPeace and The Seirra Club grew more fond.


November 15, 2009

In the early days, Monte had a whimsical side to his artwork.  There are many pieces of a light, fantasy like nature similar to this one.

One interesting thing to have known would have been what possessed Monte to do pieces like this.

Monte and his beliefs……

November 8, 2009

Above all things, Monte believed in the natural world.  He was a believer in Darwin and natural selection.  But to do so, he did not ignore the impact man had upon this world and the unfair impact man had upon the natural world. Possibly the best way to understand Monte and his love for the natural world would be to look at this love as how a parent would love a child.  That is how deep this love of nature was for Monte.

Monte was known to state how he had more compassion toward animals than he did man.

Monte did not believe in a Christian God, either.  If anything, Monte’s thinking was more along the same lines of Native Americans when it came to a “God.”  Monte worshiped the earth, what came from the earth and what went back into the earth.

Not enough can be stated about Monte’s admiration for the natural world.  Monte truly loved nature and it pained him greatly to watch environmental shows depicting the destruction of the natural world.

And with many of us, Monte could be seen as a huge pile of striking contradictions.  Though at one time he was the caretaker for a private hunting club, Monte was never partial to the hunting of animals.  To further add to this contradiction, he was fond eating of wild game.  Monte always loved good eating.  The distinction that can be made is, trophy hunting disgusted him, but hunting for food did not.  He did not mind the hunting for the pleasure of food, but the hunting for the pleasure of the kill is what bothered him (and yet, another contradiction pops up when regarding Darwin and the survival of the fittest).

As written earlier, Monte was a stubborn fellow and did not suffer fools lightly.  He enjoyed a good time and could converse with the best well-rounded of people.  He enjoyed good cinema and other artistic forms of culture.  Later in life he did not enjoy crowds and other than nearby drinking establishments, liked to remain close to home.