Friday, August 31, 2007

Up a Certain Proverbial Creek

This is an ink wash I did from photos I took back in Dec 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. I used India ink, brush, and watercolor pencil on Arches watercolor paper.

We went out to see COP Falcon, one of the Combat OutPosts in South Central Ramadi, and we noticed a lot of muddy water in the streets at that time. It really made an interesting visual element, with the reflections and play of light, and I felt compelled to draw the scene, even after I found out the source of the water and its color (hint: they called the stream "S*#t Creek"...)!

I also found the sign on the back of the Humvee instructive, and I kept it in color to emphasize the feeling of intense alert one gets when in or near a convoy in a combat zone...

I very quickly came to admire these kids -- the Marines who regularly ventured into such challenging places as Ramadi and helped further the security and stability of Al Anbar.

Look, Ma, I made the cover!

I am about to have one of my works on the cover of Fortitudine magazine, the bulletin of the USMC Historical Program, produced by the History Division. It's a great honor.

The image is an oil painting I did of a MV-22 Osprey from VMM-263 as it is taxiing on the flight line at Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC.

As many of you may know, the Osprey is the "new wave" of Vertical and Short Takeoff and Landing aircraft, and is being used by the Marine Corps and the Air Force.
The aircraft will soon have its debut in a combat environment, as VMM-263 is expected to deploy to the War on Terror sometime in the near future.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Portaits R Us

John Singer Sargent was once reported to have said, "A portrait is a painting with something a little wrong with the mouth."

How true.

I have been working on a set of portraits of Marines I met in Iraq during my deployment.

Two of them I have signed, and the third is nearing completion, though I could paint forever on them (someone else said that a painting is never finished... that is also true)...

I am always excited when a painting comes to its completion--if it can survive over-working-- because as it matures, the colors and values all begin to resonate in harmony, and the time of ugliness is over for the piece (I have a theory that all paintings go through an "ugly adolescent" phase before they grow up and are let out of the house)!

I love Alla Prima and direct painting, as I have stated in previous posts, but there is definitely a richness in the classical methods of painting, in which layers of color and glaze are applied over an underpainting, slowly bringing the surface to maturity.

The hard part is that one can too easily get stuck in a painting and over work it. Also, an artist's production is drastically slowed with the more "Academic" methods.

Portraiture, with all its demands and difficulties, also has an inherent power, in that the viewer sees the arrangement of form and color that you've created as a personal object-- that is, when you paint a person's image, people relate to it more deeply-- especially if you've rendered the likeness in a pleasing way.