Heroes

Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US territory of Midway found itself threatened by a powerful Japanese naval force. The marines garrisoned on the island were ill-equipped to fend off this challenge. Among their weapons was the outdated Brewster F2A Buffalo, an overweight, underpowered Navy cast-off fighter plane, derisively nicknamed the “Flying Coffin” by the pilots that flew them. Nevertheless, on June 4th, 1942, the pilots of VMF-221, warriors to the core, took to the skies to repel the invaders, knowing full well they were flying inferior planes. Vectored out by radar to a distance of 72 miles, well beyond the horizon, the pilots immediately found and engaged the enemy. Their planes were no match for the more modern Zero. Many of these men had no eyewitnesses to their courage as they took on a superior enemy. They gave everything they had in a fight to the finish, and then disappeared.

Watercolors on Arches paper.

Mid Spring on the trail

This is an acrylic painting. I made it last year from a photo that I took along the Wyomissing trail. Everything had just started turning Spring green, and I felt the urge to put the watercolors aside and record this one with a more forgiving medium. Two nice features of acrylics are their fast drying time; and the ability to scrape off and reapply paint until you’re satisfied with the result.

Acrylic on illustration board.

Guardians of the Beach

It’s not hard to get possessive of a stretch of beach when you are on a mini-vacation and just want a break from a work schedule for a couple of days. So it was on a chilly day in September that we took possession of a narrow, windswept and mostly empty stretch of beach. Loki helped run security while we relaxed and let the waves mesmerize us.

Watercolor and pencil on Arches paper. To leave a comment, click on the post date or title and scroll down.

Figure Friday

Our group doesn’t get to see this lovely model too often, but we like the poses she throws at us. This one ranks up there with the child’s pose as one of the most challenging to draw in the span of ten minutes. Closed up studies like this are always great fun to draw. Much of her figure is hidden from view, but the anatomy is still there, and needs to be described in a way that looks believable on paper. Indeed, that’s the challenge for all visual artists – making our 3-D world look believable in 2-D.

Pencil and watercolor wash on rough paper.

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Color and Value

This post is actually about value as it relates to color, but is also something of an In Memoriam. Here’s a gouache painting of the cherry tree that once graced the left side of the Reading Public Museum’s main entrance, and has just recently been removed. The tree stood for generations and was a favorite subject of mine. I’ve drawn, photographed or painted it many times over the decades. This painting was made from a photo that is about 20 years old.

Color is a challenge for me, especially as it relates to value. Fortunately, I have Photoshop, and within that very powerful program is a feature that allows one to convert a color scan to black and white. So, when I’m struggling with a painting, I scan and convert it.  The grayscale version will immediately show any value mistakes, and I can correct it from there.

On The Rocks

I reached for the gouache this time. The fast, rough motion of waves battering rocks on the New Jersey coast needed a medium that is also fast and energetic to describe the action. I used quick, swirly brush strokes for the crashing water; short, blocky strokes to describe the flat, stubbornness of the rocks as they so insolently resisted the onslaught. It was a bleak, February day in Spring Lake. The medium seemed to fit the scene. This is one color – Prussian blue and white on illustration board, and is currently in my older brother’s collection.

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Mirror Monday

This is the second installment of my mirror series. I use workshop time to draw the pose, then, in my studio,  I modify it, transfer it to a good piece of paper and finish it. This is yet another of our talented models with the ability to lock-in and stay still for long poses.

Watercolors on Arches paper.

Figure Friday

This lovely lady was (if memory serves me) a writer by day, but she also had a short-lived career as a figure model. She posed for us a few times, and even wrote about her experience as a live model in a blog called The Yellow Robe. She was talented, and I managed to get a few good drawings from her poses. This is one, a ten minute drawing, using watercolor pencil and wash on Bristol board. We were disappointed when she retired.

Scheherazade

Here’s a portrait of the same lovely model that readers of this blog are getting to recognize. It’s drawn from a smartphone picture of her that was taken while she was on her break. Her exotic looks are the inspiration for the title of this piece, named after the legendary queen and storyteller of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, who tricked a murderous sultan into keeping her alive by spinning cliff hangers, then refusing to finish the story until the following evening, after which  she would begin a new one. Wikipedia explains that after one thousand and one nights, the sultan was so impressed that he allowed her to live. Nice guy.

Watercolors on Arches paper