Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fellow Blogger's Christmas Post

Check out this excellent Christmas-and-Marine-related post by friend and colleague, Beth Crumley at the Marine Corps Association :

Christmas Greetings!

Merry Christmas to all Marines and their families!

Click here for the Commandant's Christmas Message:

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Agony of Da Feet

Here's another painting nearing completion-- "Jellison's Bridgeport Blisters", a painting about a young Marine nursing his feet (as per Corpsman's orders) after a long training exercise in the Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, CA:

Friday, December 02, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

The National Museum of the Marine Corps just decked its halls with all sorts of Christmas cheer last night and this morning, hanging garland all around and decorating several Christmas trees in Leatherneck Gallery.

Today I had the pleasure of helping transport and hang one of our best works from the Art Collection, a painting by WWII combat artist Cpl Tom Lovell of a Marine as Santa (we affectionately call it "the Christmas Lovell").
Here are Alice and Joan, of the Art and Exhibits sections, levelling the Lovell:
Here am I, confirming the level on the Lovell...
May your Christmas be merry, and your holiday season decorated with joy...
Semper Fi!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Triple Seven

 Here's a painting I've been working on for some time, about Artillery Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan:
While visiting Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dwyer, I spent some time out where the "Arty" guys had their battery, taking photos and sketching them as they practiced their profession (see my original post with a sketch I did on site).

I watched the Marines as they were setting in their gun (an M777 155mm Howitzer, called a "Triple Seven"), and felt the scene  was perfect for a painting, as the figures were dynamic and the composition interesting. And as artillery doesn't often get featured in combat art, I wanted to give the "cannon cockers" their shot...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cards at Play

(UPDATED Dec 6th:)

Here is the painting process:

I started out with a toned gesso on the canvas, and applied the drawing...

To fix the drawing this time, I copied a process I just learned about while attending my MFA course's Fall session, out in Pasadena-- Kenton Nelson showed us his studio, and told us of his process of using clear gesso over the drawing, to fix it to the canvas and to maintain an undisturbed drawing as the paint is applied (drawings can get muddy and disappear during the first wet and brushy paint application. This way, the drawing can be seen if you rub off or sand down misapplied paint, without worrying about loss of detail.

The drawing on the toned gray canvas:

Basic "blocking in"-- applying the lightest lights and darkest darks:

These guys were some colorful fellows, passing time at FOB Delhi in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in July 2009. They were Marines from several units who were either stationed there at Delhi, or recovering from wounds and waiting to ship back out to their units in the field.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Here's a blast from the past, and one that relates to Thanksgiving.

This is an oil painting entitled, "The Chess Game," and depicts several Marines sitting around playing chess and reading, passing the time.

It's based on a sketch and photos I took at an outpost on Route Michigan in Al Anbar Province on Thanksgiving Day, 2006. The Marines depicted were engineers who had spent their day on a route clearing mission (making sure there were no IEDs on the road)-- they certainly had earned some down time.

I enjoyed watching these Marines relax, and we spent a few moments chatting about Thanksgiving. As the "old man" in the room, I asked the young men to go around the room and mention something they were thankful for, and they obliged. Each expressed thanks for home, family and friends-- and to be alive, of course.

It was a bit of home there in an outpost.

I was thankful to God that America still produces young people like these, willing to serve wherever called.  I am still thankful for that today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Salute to the Veterans

 Happy Veterans Day to all who have served our beloved republic!
We salute you.

And Thanks to all the families who've served at home, and to those who have been a part of our nation's war efforts. Without your service, ours would be impossible.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Combat Art from the Field-- a Marine Corps Birthday from the Past

I got this today in an email from Jack Dyer (Vietnam Marine combat artist and former curator of the Art Collection):

"...drawing shows Marines at the Khe Sanh Combat Base South Vietnam in1968 prepping for a primitive cake cutting ceremony led by COL Wickwire wielding a machete. Steaks were grilled on an inch thick slab of armor plate laid over a shallow charcoal filled trench. To celebrate our 191st U.S. Marine Corps Birthday GEN Brute Krulak lifted his ban of 'beer in the trenches' 'tho I do not know if any current histories carry that story."

Note: this just shows that Marines have to celebrate however and wherever they can!

Happy Birthday, Marines!!

Semper Fi!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mule Go 'Round

Here's a bit of video I took as we circled the mules one day before stepping off on another leg of our 6-day field excursion:

Once the Mules and Marines were in proper train order, we moved out.

I Got the Mountain Feevah, and the Only Cure is More Mule Sketches!

I was going through my sketchbook this morning, and found some more sketches I'd done in the Animal Packers Course at MWTC out in Bridgeport, CA. I figured it's always best to post them:
Sketches of the Sawbuck saddle & notes from class on the Basket Hitch

Mule with a Mantee Load tied using a Basket Hitch

 Jimmy the Mule

 Saddlin' Up and a sketch of Panniers in a Box Hitch

 Saddlin' Up!

 Race! Marine rushing to get his .50 Cal tied up and then put on the mule during a squad competition (and me, rushing to draw him before he ran off!).

Marines talking while in bivouac out in MWTC.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


More sketches from the rifle range...

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Here are a few moments from ART 6-11, the Rifle Range I was a part of recently... This is Target Point 27, 2nd Relay (I was Target Point 27, 1st Relay):
This is during the "Stage One, 200 Yard Line Slow Fire (Sitting Position)..."

Table 2 Course of Fire was completed Thursday and Friday. This entailed a different type of shooting, to make the Marine involved a more well-rounded and competent shooter, capable of firing the weapon accurately and confidently in combat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Rapid Fire" Sketches on the Range

Marine in the 200 yard Slow Fire Kneeling Position

Here are a couple more dashed-off ink sketches I did on the rifle range during ART (Annual Rifle Training):

They're a bit rough, as I was using pen without any preliminary pencil lines to denote shapes, edges and proportions (and the Marines would move every several seconds), but they turned out OK...
Marine firing in the 200 yard Slow Fire Standing Position (we used to call it the "Offhand"position)
 I had originally planned to spend more time sketching Marines firing, but my mind seemed more focused on what I had to do to score well on the range (I got a 221 Expert today, and now have to qualify Friday on the "Table 2" course of fire in order to see if I maintain my Expert qualification).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ART of a Different Kind

You've probably heard the phrase,  "Every Marine is a Rifleman"...

Well, this is not just a phrase with the Marine Corps.

Each Marine is required annually to train with his most important and necessary piece of gear-- his rifle.

It's been a year since I last qualified with the M16A4, and so it's my turn once again to attend a different kind of "ART" class-- Annual Rifle Training, that is.

ART 6-11 (Annual Rifle Training class #6 of 2011) began this week. We began Thursday and Friday with classes in how to handle the rifle, the effects of weather on shooting, what to expect during the course of fire next week, and "snapping in". We also BZO'd our weapons, to make sure our sights were well-aligned.
A PMI (Primary Marksmanship Instructor) gives a class in firing positions (Prone position shown here) 

A Marine demonstrates proper variations of the Prone and Sitting positions
I was able to do a little sketching Thursday during the class in the basic firing positions (always difficult because the "model" moves in a few short minutes, and shifts positions as the instructor tells him to!).

Stay tuned, because all next week I'll take my sketchbook, pencils, and art stool-- as time allows I'll sketch my fellow Marines as they live up to their obligations as well-trained riflemen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mule Train!!

I just returned early this a.m. from the Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, CA, where I attended and passed the Animal Packers Course.

I am now a certified Animal Packer(!)

The course required us to learn several basic and necessary hitches and knots, equine anatomy, loading various types of gear on mules, movement considerations, CASEVAC,  etc.

The apex of the course required a week-long excursion out into the wilds of MWTC, over the several ranges and training areas, stopping at certain LZs for nightly bivouac.

 GySgt Hutton gives instruction on how to tie a Mantee Load of MREs onto "Norman" using a Basket Hitch.
 Sgt Dahl teaches students how to load a rocket launcher to a mule using a Barrel Hitch.
 Sgt Southworth teaches the Marines how to tie and load a casualty to the mule ("Rescue Randy" was the mannequin casualty)
 "Ozzie" is loaded for bear with two .50 Cals and a 5-gallon water bag.
  SGT Withrow (USA) volunteers to demonstrate how to sit on an improvised saddle for transport of wounded .
The train comes over the hill, headed for the last bivouac area near Poor Lake.

(Note about mules-- they've earned their reputation!)

Here are some sketches I did while in the course: