Saturday, November 27, 2021

In honor of Marine Corps gunners everywhere...

 What would a Marine Corps unit be without its ability to close with and destroy the enemy using fire and maneuver?  The machine gun is an important part of that ability. 
Here are some drawings of Marine Corps machine gunners I've done over the last few years, posted here as a tribute.

Damage Control: Always Vigilant!

 A US Navy ship is a highly-developed, powerful, fast and seaworthy thing. It is truly an engineering and craftsmanship wonder.

It is a giant conglomeration of parts-- thousands of tons of steel, miles of electric wires, fuel and water pipes, ventilation & heating & cooling ducts, and so on. Fill it up with people and countless other things-- many of which are flammable or can sink! There are so many things that can threaten the safety of the crew and the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Damage Control is critical to the survival of the ship, in war or in peacetime.
While on board the Harry S. Truman in September 2015, I got to witness a common but very important training event, conducted by the crew-- a GQ (General Quarters) Drill.

"General Quarters" is regularly sounded to keep the crew sharp, and on their toes, ready for any contingency. Every crewman has a duty station when this happens, and they all rush to their battle stations, put on their gear, and do drills. It's a very interesting thing to watch, and it makes you admire the efficiency and teamwork the Navy engages in with every sailor and section on board a naval vessel.

 Getting geared up fast for fire control...

"Fire Drill in Aft D.C." 2015, oil on canvas, 20" x 24" 
Here are some of the Fire Control related sketches I did while visiting the destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64):


A Guest at the Supra!

Here are some of my sketches from Batumi, Georgia a few years back, when I was part of a group of Navy folks who were guests at a traditional event called the "supra," hosted by the Georgian Navy.

I was there as a Navy artist on board the USS MOUNT WHITNEY LCC 20 (we'd just transited the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, and docked at Batumi).
The tradition of the supra involves a great dinner, with guests and hosts going around the table during the evening, each making a toast (with everyone at the table drinking from their cups --or horns, depending!). Georgian food is amazing, btw.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

A Mule and His Marine -- the sculpture is cast!

How joyous it is when a project comes to fruition-- especially when it's been a long, intense process involving every bit of your creativity and skills.

Sculpture can be challenging. It is difficult to create something from materials such as clay or wax, and to make it look as you want it to look. To capture the emotions, form and texture of a thing in three dimensions requires hard work, focus, and faithfulness. But with bronze casting, THAT'S ONLY HALF OF THE STORY.

It takes a whole, involved creative process to take the original sculpture, formed by the artist in clay, and cast it in a metal.

Foundry work is the big unsung element of sculpture. So much work is done by the foundry craftsmen, yet the artist gets all the credit!

A couple of years ago I was blessed to have one of my sculptures cast in bronze for display by the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico.

I had begun the work several years before that, and posted about it on this blog, here and here (at the bottom of the post).

Well, the sculpture was brought to a pretty high level of finish when I was on active duty, but due to an early end to my active duty career (I'd been a mobilized Reservist on active duty for eight years, and could no longer stay on active duty in the combat artist billet according to law and regulation), the sculpture sat in the Combat Art Collection gathering dust, hoping for  finish and fulfillment.

A few months ago, the National Museum of the Marine Corps contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to finish the mule sculpture for them, and to assist the foundry to get it molded and cast in bronze, for display at the Museum! I said "yes" of course! So a few dozen hours of sculpting later, and another several weeks of good, hard foundry work at Wegner Metal Arts in Fredericksburg, VA, the sculpture was finally realized in bronze!

Here are some of the photos of the process:

The original, finished in wax, metal, wood, and plaster, arrives at the foundry:

The original is segmented out into its constituent parts, for the next step in the process:

Rubber Molding: (I call this the "chocolate bunny" phase, because the resulting cast wax model is a lot like a hollow chocolate bunny...!):

(the nylon strings I'd used had to be replaced with twine, in order to not leave a residue and cause trouble during the lost wax "burn out" phase...

The wax model is dipped in a liquid ceramic "slip" and coated in silica, several times, until a shell is around the model. Then, this shell is heated to harden the mold and melt out the wax, leaving an empty mold in the exact shape of the wax model which once occupied it.
Then, the mold is heated once more and molten wax is then poured in, creating an exact replica in bronze of the wax model, and thus the original piece.

Steven and Stewart Wegner of Wegner Metal Arts in Fredericksburg, VA pour the bronze into the ceramic molds.

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Painting on Fire

I was looking once again at the works by Col Charles Waterhouse in the Combat Art Gallery at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, and specifically this piece in the Medal of Honor series about Cpl. Hershel W. Williams and his flamethrower.

It struck me how "on fire" the whole piece is, not only in its colorful and energetic depiction of the scene from Iwo Jima in 1945, but also in the WAY Col Waterhouse expressed it WITH THE PAINT ITSELF: If you look at some of the detail photos, you'll notice that he captured the heat, drama, and chaotic nature of a flamethrower in action using a very modernist technique-- splattering and dripping-- it's like "Jackson Pollock goes to war!"

Though Pollock was non-figurative in his signature technique, Waterhouse utilized that abstract technique to represent something from nature-- and to both denote and connote a visual and emotional truth. The paint tumbles and falls over itself as the colors burst amongst and on top of each other-- it's chaos with an order to it, guided by the artist's hand.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Marines of the 24th MEU on the USS Bataan (LHD-5)

I mentioned in the previous post about my experience as an artist for the Navy Art Collection, and of coming across Marines on USS Bataan (LHD-5), who were training for an upcoming deployment with the 24th MEU.
Here is a painting I did based on that time on board and observing the Marines:
"Filing out to the Birds," acrylic on canvas. 30" x 20".  Marines on the flight deck of USS Bataan (LHD-5) head out to board MV22 Ospreys.