31 March, 2009
I recently watched The Moderns via Netflix. I enjoyed this movie back in the eighties, when I watched a series of Alan Rudolph movies with Keith Carradine and Geneviève Bujold. This one is about Modern art and deception, set in nineteen-twenties Paris. In a web of deceit, our romantic artist moves among the ex-patriot crowd of American somebodies that includes Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Typical love and gun play movie stuff, but also featuring Modigliani, Cezanne and Matisse. Is Modern art a big hoax? See what you think.
Still to be released is the movie Local Color. I'll embed the emotionally moving trailer, and I think you'll see why it should be a hit with artists.
30 March, 2009
You will be kept up on my World War Two soldiers project, and any other random thought that comes my way, though.
26 March, 2009
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.
25 March, 2009
This week I am working on some drafts for a WW II memorial stone. It also happens that today is a day set aside by our nation to remember the recipients of the Medal of Honor.
My life has been touched in brief but meaningful ways by the medal. From the comfort of a coach tour bus, I listened to a veteran from my father's army division describe the decision-making challenge that their division commander faced when pursuing the Nazi German army into the Alps in North Italy. The choice that General Hays made to dog the Germans along the tight corridor on the east shore of Lake Garda was a daring one. My dad was a breath away from getting killed in that battle, and others were not as fortunate as he. But the war ended days early, which also saved a lot of lives, and may have prevented further messes. The German general surrendered the whole Italian front and insisted on being taken to Gen. Hays.
George Hays was a brave man. Here is General Hays' Medal of Honor citation from the First World War:
HAYS, GEORGE PRICE
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army 10th Field Artillery, 3d Division. Place and date: Near Greves Farm, France, 14-15 July 1918. Entered service at: Okarche, Oklahoma. Born: 27 September 1892, China. G.O. No.: 34, W.D., 1919. Citation: At the very outset of the unprecedented artillery bombardment by the enemy, his line of communication was destroyed beyond repair. Despite the hazard attached to the mission of runner, he immediately set out to establish contact with the neighboring post of command and further establish liaison with 2 French batteries, visiting their position so frequently that he was mainly responsible for the accurate fire therefrom. While thus engaged, 7 horses were shot under him and he was severely wounded. His activity under most severe fire was an important factor in checking the advance of the enemy.
Were you aware that the nomination for the MOH is a citation in itself? A fellow from my high school was nominated for the MOH, and received the next medal down for heroism as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He was searching for a downed buddie's chopper, and pressed the search in spite of heavy enemy fire. That was Jimmy McQuade, and his younger brother was my classmate. This link provided is a very moving example of the personal sacrifice that goes with these proceedings. I also met a MOH recipient from the Vietnam War who was an infantry lieutenant, but can't recall his name.
Another notable guy recommended for the MOH was a General named Carpenter. I met him at Ft Benning, Georgia when I attended the school for wayward boys there. A big man, he was courteous, and certainly a living legend.
And, finally, if you were here with me today, I would take you for a short drive down the road, past wheat fields and bald ridges, to the boyhood home of our local Joe E. Mann. The Mann's recall the following about their late WW II veteran:
MANN, JOE E.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company H, 502d Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. Place and date: Best, Holland, 18 September 1944. Entered service at: Seattle, Wash. Birth: Rearden, Wash. G.O. No.: 73, 30 August 1945. Citation: He distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. On 18 September 1944, in the vicinity of Best., Holland, his platoon, attempting to seize the bridge across the Wilhelmina Canal, was surrounded and isolated by an enemy force greatly superior in personnel and firepower. Acting as lead scout, Pfc. Mann boldly crept to within rocket-launcher range of an enemy artillery position and, in the face of heavy enemy fire, destroyed an 88mm. gun and an ammunition dump. Completely disregarding the great danger involved, he remained in his exposed position, and, with his M-1 rifle, killed the enemy one by one until he was wounded 4 times. Taken to a covered position, he insisted on returning to a forward position to stand guard during the night. On the following morning the enemy launched a concerted attack and advanced to within a few yards of the position, throwing hand grenades as they approached. One of these landed within a few feet of Pfc. Mann. Unable to raise his arms, which were bandaged to his body, he yelled "grenade" and threw his body over the grenade, and as it exploded, died. His outstanding gallantry above and beyond the call of duty and his magnificent conduct were an everlasting inspiration to his comrades for whom he gave his life.
Joe E. Mann's citation is evidence of his status as an American rifleman, an integral part of life in the west. No doubt he grew up hunting deer, and defending the ranch animals from predators. Good thing, too.
Keep an eye here for my sketch of a WW II soldier.
23 March, 2009
After a full blown rain storm yesterday, today turns out to be a beautiful spring day here in eastern Washington. But, it is pretty much wasted on me. Although my studio furnace is back in action, and my WW II monument illustration is begun (over half the battle is just beginning), I am suffering from the same flu that has been keeping my youngest out of Kindergarten. Ug. No fun, this.
Who am I kidding? I don't even like the sun - especially when it taunts my aching head like this. My guiding hope, after getting my daughter and the rest of us well, is to be back in the studio and back to work. I'll confide to you, kind reader, in my moment of weakness, that I fear my best work for the Hoquiam River Series may have been the first one! Can that be? What does an artist do with that situation, I wonder?
20 March, 2009
It was a pleasure and an honor to receive an e-mail last week from the mayor of Hoquiam. He had his Google alerts turned on, and liked seeing my Hoquiam River Series. Looks like I'll have a public venue or two to exhibit these. I'd better get busy and make some more, soon.
Just call me Chilly, Willy
Too bad I'm not in the studio much, as my furnace gave up the ghost two weeks back. Call me Chilly Willy. With the extreme winter, all of my furnaces have needed maintenance this season. Two oil-electric space heaters are fending off the cold so that my stored paper doesn't get damp from condensation.
From the heart
Another project that is close to my heart is an illustration and design that I am working on for a monument. A granite stone, with my design, will be up for review as a memorial to the men of the Tenth Mountain Division who fought in World War II. An elite division of skiers and climbers, this unit has a big legacy both in war and in the post-war period.
My drawings will be of either a rock climber or a skier, and will represent the ever upward attitude and grace of these great athletes who went to war. It is an honor for me to commemorate these stalwart men.
Soon we'll have the furnace back in order, and I'll be back with some new Hoquiam works. Also, a few other works as well.
17 March, 2009
16 March, 2009
12 March, 2009
Right click to open today's music in a new tab.
Working on a half sheet of La Carte sanded board, I had my memory of this place (near memory and distant memory) and a photo series taken on an overcast day. Even under cloudy skies, the light from above is the greatest element. That is made more evident by the darkness and the light absorbing qualities of the old green forests.
As I post this image, I am aware that I didn't really "nail" the dark zone as I wanted to. The colorist impulses took over, and I focused on the red in trees and the green of the muddy river water. So be it. The image works for that.
As an extra bonus, I felt very influenced by Henri Matisse when I was at the easel with this work. How so? The abstract pattern and the shapes remind me of one of his interiors.
Crop of the Little Hoquiam River
Photo: Casey Klahn
This violates my usual practice of not posting a photo with an image. But I want to illustrate what I am exploring.
Music Credit: medienkunstnetz.de
11 March, 2009
Here is the theme music for this post ( Right Click to open a new tab).
Dark places absorb light. They absorb this dimension. Not just a visual experience, but one of the mind - a plastic space that you are falling into.
"That's the signpost up ahead! Your next stop..."
Soundtrack Credit: Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Theme.
09 March, 2009
Sketch from Little Hoquiam River
Charcoal on Paper
For some time now I have been carrying this dark secret. It just appeared one day, out of the blue, in my painting Blue Wandering.
You can see it there - a dark "spot" or space hovering by the trees. What is it doing there? Soon, dear reader, I shall reveal this dark secret to you.
The Hoquiam River series
The series of works that I have been doing, which I call "The Hoquiam River" series, explores this dark path, or space. My home town of Hoquiam, Washington, is an overcast place - just like my father's home town of Forks, Washington, which was made famous by Twilight.
Stephenie Meyer says about her book, Twilight:
For my setting, I knew I needed someplace ridiculously rainy. This turned out to be the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I pulled up maps of the area... And there, right where I wanted it to be, was a tiny town called "Forks." It couldn't have been more perfect if I had named it myself. I did a Google image search on the area, and if the name hadn't sold me, the gorgeous photographs would have done the trick. (Images like these of the Hoh Rainforest (a short drive from Forks). Also see forks-web.com ).
This coastal hometown
"Ridiculously rainy;" good one. Rain and clouds dominate everything, and one's cup runneth over with nature, as it were. Trees, moss and greenery as thick as primordial soup cover all aspects of the landscape. Mud and muck; clouds and cold. A place to love, but only if you're from there, it seems.
This coastal hometown is where I first started drawing and developing my art. As you might imagine, the colorist side of me never flourished until I moved to the sunny eastern side of Washington state. But the fundamentals of light and line were my muse on the coast.
Trees as tall and as big as all heaven surrounded us, and the pathways between them, well - there weren't any. The undergrowth is as thick as a jungle, which coastal forests here are literally. They are called temperate rain forests, and are exactly like jungle, minus the nice temperatures.
What are the dark secrets? Just ask yourself this: what are the ways to create a plastic space in a picture? Why might one's eye fix inside the picture plane and stay there? More when we enter the Hoquiam River Series...
Credit: MP3 Music from the Dark Shadows TV Series.
07 March, 2009
My Posts. I have been posting a lot of my art, lately. I am thinking about offering prints through imagekind, and to that end I ordered a framed photo just to test them out. The return time was lightning fast!
My usual resistance to print media (photo reproduction, gicle, etc.) is breaking down. Some of that resistance has been due to the nature of my color palette, which is not reproducible by print means. But, there are also a number of my images that are reasonable to print. What do you readers think about this? Should I offer a few images in print?
My Artworks. The studio has been abuzz with activity, after my trip to the coast last month. I have begun a new series featuring riverine subjects, but the direction is more about dark things. I'll be posting these, soon.
Download Department. I printed out this article on genius, which came to me via Sue Smith. Also, there is a video which is going viral about genius. I am not sure that I endorse either one, but it's all food for thought, huh?
Man, I'm drinkin' a lot of coffee, here. It is still snowy white outside, with fresh stuff on the ground and 18 degrees. 'Nother cup, please.
My favorite subject - World War Two History. Found this post: My Father Asks For Nothing, at Sippican Cottage (Gregory Sullivan). One box of tissues, please.
Local Artist Blogs. I found out about this Washington artist blogger, Neece Clark. That's a nudge for me to update my Washington State Artist Bloggers utility. Any more out there?
When I Run Out Of Red, I Use Blue
Publications. I always enjoy getting the catalog from Judson's Art Outfitters. Even if you prefer some other box than the cool ones they offer, you can't help but find some necessity for your plein air activities. I use the ThumBox with tripod, and it is awesome. Here's a picture of my last trip with it. They offered this quote that is a jewel: "When I run out of red, I use blue," Picasso.
They have a blog: Judson's Plein Air Journal .
The latest Pastelagram also came in the mail, which keeps me up on the activities of the Pastel Society of America. The art can sometimes look really different in print versus on the CRT, so I always love seeing what they offer.
In my e-mail came a PDF from David Jon Kassan, whose studies of the human skull inform his portraits. I love his handling of the pencil, which is evident in the following video. Warning: extreme art fun and good rock&roll, too.
Pastel. I'm cooking up more guest posts at the pastelsblog. Stay tuned. Also, more tree school entries are forthcoming - you won't want to miss those!
04 March, 2009
02 March, 2009
Sad to hear of the loss of radio legend Paul Harvey on Saturday. Harvey knew how to hide a surprise in his prose, and he knew how to deliver his comments so you'd have to listen. I think he's one of the reasons that I occasionally adopt a twist in my pronunciation when speaking expositorily - it gets the listener's ear perked up.
Lloyd Irving Bradbury had a post (Building Blocks) on February 12th, before Harvey passed away, with a great sentiment from the keen commenter. Bring a tissue when you go there to read.
And, it wouldn't hurt to add a pregnant pause
to one's soundtrack occasionally...
A note on the artwork - a post about the field work for this ocean painting is here.