26 March, 2009

Climber Sketch

Sketch WW II Climber
11" x 9"
Charcoal, Pastel and Compressed White Charcoal on Rives BFK
Casey Klahn


Yesterday's post on the Medal of Honor.

I am proposing an illustration for a memorial to my late father's World War Two army division. I will post the roughs and sketches here as I get them completed.

This guy has a ways to go as a sketch, but he's on the path. I want to re-render the hand, and maybe add some more grace of movement. That used to be a big deal for me in the days when I drew the figure lots, and it has extra meaning when rock climbing is involved. I did enjoy taking the extra effort to model the figure, especially since it will stick out (if this becomes the final image) from a marble flat as an etching.

Next, I want to render a ski trooper as another proposal for the etching.

For you oldsters out there: remember Tom Lea? I certainly thought of his seminal on-sight drawings from WW II. Must have rubbed off on my psyche.

This book, The Two Thousand Yard Stare, covers Lea's WW II art and writings about his work. I once asked my late father, who saw heavy combat in North Italy, about this phenomenon of the "two thousand yard stare," which is the look a shell-shocked infantryman "gets" when he comes off the line. His story was a keeper. He said that he recalled one guy in particular who had that look coming off the front in the North Apennines (revered as one of the worst places to be in WW II) and he was also rather tall. Maybe 6' 6" or something like that. Years after the war, my dad picked him out of a crowd back in the states - quite an unusual circumstance, but he certainly remembered that guy's face.

I spent a number of years in the infantry, and later as a mountain climber. All subjects deeply held, and good content for my illustrations.


They Drew Fire. PBS documentary on war artists of WW II.
Tenth Mountain Division Association. My father's army unit. I am working up illustrations for a
memorial plaque in their honor.

9 comments:

JafaBrit's Art said...

What experiences to have to go through in life. It is a good thing to remember and honor them and thanks for sharing this.

Miki Willa said...

This sketch reminds me of many of the WWII artists. The style is very reminiscent of the period. Great sketch.

Casey Klahn said...

And don't forget, these guys who skied and climbed around Mt Rainier, Washington and in the Colorado Rockies also had the time of their life. Their fond memories go along with the tough ones, I understand. Thanks, Corrine.

Maybe some Willy and Joe in there, huh, Miki? Thanks for the compliment. The page certainly had a lot of lookers - so it is gratifying in that. Can't wait to see the final work, myself.

Deborah Paris said...

Thanks for posting this Casey- I look forward to seeing how the memorial develops. Your desire to honor your father and his unit touches me deeply. As I think I shared before, my father (now departed) was WWII veteran who saw heavy combat in Europe (Bastogne and Battle of the Bulge). Also, my husband was a combat artist in the Marine Corp in Vietnam (at age 18!). So, these things run deeply in our house.

Casey Klahn said...

Combat artist in Vietnam! And at that young age - what an experience. Your husband should be quit familiar with Tom Lea, then, whose work with WW II Marines in the Pacific is well known. He also did some interesting work in the southwest after the war.

As time matches on, I have the fear that our collective memories of WW II will slip, too. Can't let that happen.

Thanks, Deborah.

Trevor Lingard said...

A lovely immediate sketch with such character.
Masterful.
Kind Regards

Casey Klahn said...

Thank you, Trevor!

Carole Buschmann said...

Thank you for doing this project. The men of the 10th Mountain Division have brought a lot of strength, vision and vitality to our Colorado Rockies.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for looking here, Carole.

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