House Portraits by Pete


Why I'm Painting Scenes Along Rte.66

Monday, April 23, 2007

My name is Pete Morris and I'm doing a series of paintings, mostly watercolors, along Rte.66. You can view what I've done so far by going to my website: I am beginning on the West Coast where I live and moving east along the route as I have time and opportunity. Most of what I've done so far is in California, but I have done a few Arizona and New Mexico scenes. I have travelled as far as Amarillo, Texas, and will be doing a painting of the "Cadillac Ranch" in the near future. Eventually I plan to reach Chicago and to have completed a good number of paintings.

So why am I doing this series? The idea came into my head about 15 years ago I think, when my wife Susie bought me a wonderful book by Michael Wallis: on Route 66: The Mother Road. I devoured the book. It captured my imagination and I began to daydream about travelling Rte.66 and painting what I saw. Memories came flooding back about a trip to Oklahoma from Los Angeles when I was 6 years old along Rte.66. It was my parents, my twin brother Jonathan, my little sister Muriel, and my uncle Ernie travelling along in what seemed like a snail's pace in a brownish '50 Chevrolet. The kids sat in the back seat and pulled out stuffing from the dilapitated seat cushions.

I remember vividly the things I saw with six-year-old eyes: Indian trading posts, petrified rock and a nice lady who explained that this was created by everthing being under water a long time ago, the Painted Desert in Arizona, little markets with gas pumps in front, miles of yellow flatlands edged by barbwire in the Texas Panhandle, a bungalow court motel where we had a hair-raising experience with bedbugs, and passing through Albuquerque on a steamy day.

I've been a lover of roadtrips ever since, Rte.66 being the primary road in my imagination.