Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Scribbles and Rushes

I realized earlier today as I looked at some sketchbooks from Mojave Viper in August, that I hadn't posted all the sketches I had done (or at least all of the presentable sketches--you know how it is...)

While at Mohave Viper, I was able to sketch frequently from life, even when things were moving fast, and here are some of the products of those times:photo of me sketching as the machine gunners did their thing

These sketches happened during a mock assault on a "enemy" positions, in which the weapons platoon took up positions overlooking the assault area, and laid down fire on the enemy strong points across the valley, as the infantry assaulted.

After sprinting up the hill in full gear and body armor in 100 degree heat, I can tell you that drawing becomes a bit difficult! (witness the scribbley line quality...) .

The value in these drawings is that you get good practice in quick contour drawing, telling only what's necessary for the image. Note also that down in the corner I listed the date and time the events were sketched.
Here is a life sketch of the crew of gun #3 of Weapons Company, 2/25, as they do their thing bringing the hurt to a target out in the desert. I had to sketch through several "hangs" of the mortar round as they fired and adjusted fire, so what you see in the finished product is a composite of several moments of firing, depicting the moment as the mortarman hangs the round before dropping it and sending it downrange:These two sketches depict radio men as they talk to forward observers and the fire control center to adjust fire on the target:Marines I sketched as they were watching being briefed on the upcoming assault course:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sweatin' and Sketching with the 25th Marines at Mojave Viper

Marines provide "overwatch" at Range 400

Machine gun crew firing on "Machine Gun Hill" at Range 400, MCAGCC

During the Assault Training at the DAC Course

The FST coordinates mortar fire at Range 400, MCAGCC

More machine gunners in action

81 mm mortar crew in action
Greetings again, Marine Corps (and Marine Corps Art) lovers!

CWO2 Fay and I recently got back from covering the Mojave Viper training of 2nd Bn, 25th Marines, at 29 Palms, CA. These Marines come from all around the Northeast of the US: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachussetts, Maine, (and even some from the Midwestern state of Ohio).
I produced mainly black and white drawings and ink washes during my outings, due to the nature of the situation and the heat (watercolor is difficult due to the fact that the paint dries rapidly in the heat, and drawing is made more difficult due to the sweat dripping off your hands and face as you sketch!).

We went out to several evolutions of the Mojave Viper training, humping the gear and sweating with the Marines, as they prepared to deploy to Iraq in the near future.
One day I thought I was going to die or go crazy, as we had to sit inside an AAV for four hours, waiting for the combined arms of air support and artillery to do their part in neutralizing the "town" we were going to assault. If you want to lose weight, or get over any clausterphobia you might have, I strongly suggest this type of training! After sweating and almost going insane with boredom, we reached our drop off point and rushed out, getting online and assaulting the objective-- a small village made of cement block buildings.

This is another way I recommend to get fit and thin. Fireteam rushes in full gear, in 106 degree heat, under live fire conditions is an experience all Americans should have.

I learned that it is true that not anybody can be Marine Corps Infantry! Thank God for these kind of young people, who can be this physically and mentally tough. They took it in stride, enjoyed the live-fire training, and honed their skills as Marines (and we combat artists got to hone our skills in highlighting them).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Awards and Autographs

On Saturday, my wife and I attended the 2008 Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Dinner & Awards Ceremony up at the Marriot in Chantilly.

In attendance were generals and a former Marine commandant (Gen Jones), many influential businessmen and donors, as well as Mr. Ross Perot himself (namedropping!) who also received an award and who was kind enough to stop and pose with me in front of my art.

It was a great time-- the food was incredible, and the speakers and host made it lively and interesting (and what made it even better was that I was honored to receive the John W. Thomason Award for my art about OIF.

From the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation website:

The Colonel John W. Thomason, Jr. Award was established in memory of this decorated combat officer, known for his artwork illustrating Marines in World War I, China, and Latin America. It is given for excellence in the fine or applied arts, including photography, in depicting the historic or contemporary Marine Corps.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Painting Continues

More photos showing the development of the painting I'm working on, the FOB scene from Iraq:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gunner Fay's Sculpture

Check out Chief Warrant Officer Mike Fay's sculpture at Fire and Ice:

A Little Light Reading

The new Painting is coming along quickly.

It's the largest canvas I've painted on in years, at 54" by 48" .

I am painting in a loose style, being as gestural with the brushstrokes as I can, and amping up the texture as much as possible. I'm using larger brushes, as well as palette knives to help with this. I'd been getting in the rut of painting too detailed, being a slave to a type of photographic realism, and I wanted to paint with painterly gusto.

The scene is from my first deployment to Iraq, in November 2006, when I was out near Habbaniyah, with Lima Co 3/2, at one of their FOBs, OP Broncos. I took a lot of photos and did a lot of sketching at the time, and went out on several patrols with them, to see how they lived and worked and record their activities.

One morning, as I walked into the area depicted here, I saw the way the light was cascading on everything, and the way the Marines were sitting there, reading and keeping warm by a small fire, and I knew I'd have to paint it. It not only served as an historical scene, as a picture of life in an outpost, but also as an artistic investigation of light (who's Thomas Kinkade kidding with his art title, anyway?!) ...

The Marines depicted here were reading books and magazines they'd received from Stateside, and were shooting the breeze, before getting on with the duties of the day--standing post, patrol, etc.

Here are the stages of the painting so far:

The Drawing (This is important, as the phrase I heard Schmid say, quoted from the French Academy, "Well Drawn is Well Painted")

The First Strokes!:
Establishing the Lightest Lights (I got that from Charlie Grow here at the Combat Art Program. This helps a lot later on in keeping high values and avoiding muddy or unexciting paintings...):
Establishing the Darkest Darks (Once this is done, along with the lightest lights, it really helps fill in the middle ranges, where the transitional forms and values make a painting richer):
Then Flesh it out (Here the painting is in its youth, not fully grown, but beginning to stand on it s own...):
If I can maintain the sort of controlled frenzy each time I approach the painting, I may be able to save a lot of time and worry, and have a dynamic painting to show for it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Painting, Paperworking, Sculpting, and Self-Aggrandizing!

Hello, all--

I have been busy lately, working on administrative things for future promotions and deployments, as well as working to finish some things I've been putt-putting around on in the studio...so I have little to show you visually (yet)--

I can report, however, that I have just started a sculpture-- MY FIRST ONE!

It's an actual, honest-to-goodness clay sculpture built on a wire armature, and hopefully will be cast-able when it's finished. There are no guarantees on whether the Corps will cast it in bronze, but even if it's not cast, it will serve as a great foundation and practice for future works. I'll show you the photos this week, when I get the next step done...

By the way-- you may think you know how to render and that you know anatomy, until you try to sculpt the human form in three dimensions!

Gunner Fay, who has a lot of experience with the sculpted form, has been teaching me a lot about the physiology of the figure. He's been giving me books to read and websites to check out. It's helped an immense amount. I feel a lot more confident that I can render the figure in both 2- or 3D, after this.

By the way, CWO2 Fay and I were in the local paper recently, and he provides the link to it, but if you want to see it now, here it is.