Saturday, May 26, 2007

Oil Study-- "Sleeping Terp"

In a couple of weeks, I’m going to begin a painting, based on an experience I had in Western Iraq back in January.

I was riding in an LAV going out to Rutbah—which was an interesting ride, in and of itself. Riding in the LAV were the crew, some other Marines, an interpreter, a civilian contractor, and all our gear. We bounced about for quite a while, with the dust flying, trying to keep our balance and sanity.

As an event, it pointed out to me for me the unique non-traditional aspects of OIF. The work is not just done by people in uniform, as there are so many non-military aspects to winning the peace as well as the war. As a scene, it was very interesting from a formal, visual/artistic perspective.

Above is the oil study I did recently of the “Terp” (as some call Interpreters), as he tried to "catch some Zs" as we rode along.

I am beginning to appreciate some of the reasons classical artists did oil studies of figures they were putting in larger paintings.

My sense is that a Study allows the artist to solve the problems of rendering the figure, before placing it in the composition, and enables the artist to develop the “muscle memory” of how the paint goes down as the figure takes shape.

It’s been helpful, and I will do studies of the other figures in the project as I go along...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Simple Pleasures in Life and in Painting

I've been working on a whole series of oil paintings, as you know, based on my recent deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

One of the works I began in Iraq, and on which I painted when I could in my "studio" in Camp Fallujah, was a small oil on panel titled, "The Chess Game at OP Steelers."

I've worked on it every so often since I returned, though my focus has been other larger format oils.

The painting is coming along, however, and is really close to completion, with only some details to be finished on clothing, equipment and faces... a painting is never done, as you know.

The Marines depicted were playing chess in a room being used as a makeshift sleeping quarters. It was Thanksgiving day, and they just got back from patrol-- they are Combat Engineers, and they just completed an IED sweep of the area, specifically the main route through their AO (Area of Operation).

It was a great scene, and they let me do a sketch of them, and I also took photos of them as they played.

Later, we had hot chow trucked out from the base to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. We talked and joked, and had a good time. And, believe it or not, when I recommended that we each go around the room and mention one thing we were thankful for, they each opened up and shared what they were thankful for (of course it was mostly for family back home...)!

It's scenes like this one-- depictions of seemingly banal activities in daily Marine life on the front lines-- that connect with folks back home, and show the human side of war. This scene captures something for me, and I hope it does the same for you.

Semper Fi