Friday, January 26, 2007

Out of Iraq!

Hello, all

I am happy to report that I am safely back from Iraq (I went to see the elephant, and thank goodness he didn't see me)! Though I went to many places in Iraq--most of them not on the travel brochures-- I was spared from all dangers, and escaped wounding, combat, and major distress.

I left Iraq and arrived at Ali AL Salem airbase in Kuwait on 17 January 2007, stepping down onto the tarmac, a free bird off the Freedom Bird! (see the photo of my boots on the asphalt...)

After a gruelling experience involving the paperwork required to fly my weapon back with me out of Kuwait, I boarded a commercial aircraft on 20 January at the Kuwait Airport and flew across the sea. The flight lasted over fourteen hours, but the movies and the meal were good, so it was overall quite bearable.

I reported to Camp Pendleton the same day, 20 January (due to the dynamics of jet travel and changing timezones, 20 January lasted more than 30 hours for me!). At Camp Pendleton, I spent a few days checking out of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, the unit I was attached to on my deployment.

Then, after a gruelling experience involving the screening required to fly my weapon back with me out of the San Diego Airport, I flew back to Quantico on 24 January 2007. The flight had a short layover in Ft. Worth which broke up the long distance, so I didn't mind it, though I was longing to see my family.

After a third and final grueling experience involving my weapon (I won't go into details...), I began settling back in at home. Soon I will be back to work in the studio.

Utilizing all the sketches, photographs and video I collected during my deployment, I will create larger, museum-quality paintings and sculptures for the National Museum of the Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps Combat Art Collection.

I can't wait to get started...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Arrested in Iraq!

I'm safe and sound and back in the office where we're working, after an interesting event. I was given the truck here, and told I could go out and sketch ... I did so...

The MPs drove up just as I was leaving, and asked me if I was taking photos, I said I was, and that it was part of my job, showed them my Letter of Instruction detailing my job description, etc... they called it in, spoke on the radio with their boss, and told me that though they didn't have a problem with it, I'd still have to come with them down to the station to explain it to the Watch Officer... I followed them in, explained it, showed my ID, papers, secutiry clearance ID, and they told me that I should always phone the MP station before drawing and photographing, and then they let me go.

Wow, what a day, huh? I can now say I got arrested by the MPs in Iraq!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Life at an Outpost

Hey, everyone-

Man is my deployment going by fast! As Mary Todd, a friend of mine, likes to say, "Time flies like an arrow-- fruit flies like a banana..."

I am back inside the proverbial wire, and preparing to go out again, and I thought I'd better post some more of the sketches I've done recently while out visiting the troops where they work and live.

Most of these drawings come from my recent time with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. They are in graphite wash, and I did most of them from life (the loose ones are from life- I find that the line and wash is more "loosey-goosey" when drawn from life than when drawn from photos) There's a freshness that comes from sketching from life-for all of you artists out there, I highly recommend sketching from life as often as you can.

The line drawing, "Post at OP Riviera" is really unfinished, and I have to plead artistic (and old fashioned) cowardice, as I was rushing to finish it, due to the very real threat of snipers(!) It's very hard to concentrate on a drawing when you're doing the "sniper dance!" I will complete it in watercolor, or in oil, when I get time, as it's really an interesting structure, visually.

The sketch of the marine reading the newspaper is from a photo I took back in November, and is a value and figure study for a larger oil painting I plan to do back in the States. It is a scene with several marines 3rd Bn 2nd Marines at OP Chargers near Habbaniyah, starting their morning.

The sketch of the "Humvee" is a value study, as well as a study of one of the many types of turrets there are out here on the vehicles... I don't usually like to draw equipment alone, as it's rather impersonal, but I was interested in the netting draped on the turret, and thought it'd be good practice to render it... It's not perfect drawing, yet I was satisfied with the product and the practice.