"A sketchbook is a secret thing, a collection of unfinished and often times abandoned ideas never intended for public consumption—at least not in their current state. It’s a private space for honing one’s craft and workshopping, separating good ideas from those best left unexplored." -Brian Heater at The Daily Cross Hatch.
I've really been dying to get back to the watercolors (oils, not so much) but fate conspired against me this weekend.
So, here's a portrait of a Korean War-era sailor named "Coldhauser". I wonder what he would think of today's digital camouflage working uniforms, fleece/gore-tex foul weather jackets and 8-point covers...
You'll never guess what. Go ahead. Guess. C'mon. G'head. Yes! You got it! I found a website for the ship (the USS Virgo) that was the inspiration for Thomas Heggen's USS Reluctant of "Mister Roberts" fame! It's pretty incredible I think. Apparently the USS Virgo saw service until 1971 when it was decommissioned. If you haven't read the book, or seen the movie go run to your nearest bookstore or get it from the Netflix. Truly a great novel and a great film.
Anyways. I was poking around on the Virgo's crew photos section where I found some very cool unrep photos (check out the wooden deck!). I really wanted to do this as a watercolor- and I just might at some point- but I am seriously, seriously, under the weather (never get on an airplane with a head cold). So, even though even though I've been lolling around at home watching my favorite cartoon sailor battle triads, mad unsurrendered Tsarists and cossacks (Red and White) in Manchuria, I haven't had too much energy to do more than this pen sketch. I really want to get back to the watercolors or the oils, but ...I don't have the juice right now. So. Enjoy.
Three adjectives currently define my oil painting: "tacky" (which can be taken more than one way), "dull", and "ashen". I wanted to prove to myself that I could still draw and had some type of sense of color, so I whipped up this quick (and it was relatively quick) watercolor.
Since I still like what other people can do with oil paint, I'm not giving up- but right now, I'm very far from happy with what I can do.
What we have here in tonight's illustration is an Electrician's Mate signaling an aircraft carrier to commence refueling. I chose this guy because he doesn't look like he's having a great Navy day. ...and of course, I thought his demeanor was a good subject to paint and immortalize. (Source photo is from Navy.mil, btw).
Edit (04-12-10): Today The Scoop Deck posted a blog about the UNREP on the USS Freedom where I got my source photo from...
For those of you who haven't seen it, "The Battleship Potemkin" is the story of a Russo-Japanese War-era Russian Navy crew who mutinies after their officers attempt to punish them for not eating maggot infested provisions. One of the principal mutineers of the mutiny links their plight to the burgeoning political upheavals in Russia, exhorts them to rise up and...the action ensues. It's a true story- and as a side note, the last survivor of the crew lived to be over 100 and started a fish and chips chain in Ireland.
I chose this shot to illustrate because it was so striking. Towards the end of the film the Potemkin is met by a squadron of Russian ships sent to intercept it. The Potemkin and the squadron train their respective guns on each other and through signaling, the Potemkin attempts entreat their brother sailors to join them in revolution. The tension is extreme as the Potemkin begins to pass through the squadron, during which there is a shot of a sailor holding a scarred shell, ready to load it and commit fratricide. I won't spoil it (any more than I have), but it was a fascinating film- albeit one made solely for propaganda purposes. Stalin actually ordered the film to be shelved when he decided that he didn't want to be in the business of encouraging foreign navies to revolt.
Anyways. Great flick. If you want to see some Dreadnought-era battleship porn (the movie was filmed in 1925, the real Potemkin was "pre-Dreadnought"), I highly recommend it.
Here's a panel from "Matlow and the Bolsheviks" that I decided not to use. In the process of creating this comic I'm doing everything I'm not supposed to - i.e., doing things off the cuff without a lot of planning. Real comics are written first, laid out in thumbnails, and then taken to the drawing board. Obviously, I'm not following that very logical procedure- which is why it's not getting done. So, here's a piece that I did and decided...I didn't like it. Too boring. Poorly executed, etc. (But, I do like the dock hand).
I got some painting time in today. I need to block out more time to do paint- you know when you spend as much time cleaning your brushes as you do painting, something's gotta change.
So. Now that I had my underpainting done, I got into using some safflower oil to mix with the paint. I have to say I had some "happy accidents" and it's interesting stumbling through this learning process...but, I'm going to have to by a book or two because there's a lot to learn, obviously.
I didn't know what to do with the background- so in the middle of the night I thought, "Why don't you paint it in three stripes reflecting the current color scheme of the Oly?" That would be, red lead "red" (at the waterline), white (on the hull) and buff (on the upper parts of the architecture). After I did the red, I figured I'd hold it and let it sit before I add the buff stripe up top.
Long way to go on this baby, but I'm enjoying the process, frustrating as it is.
Today in Navy history ...The rate of Chief Petty Officer (1893) and the US Naval Command in Vietnam (1966) were established. (Thank you US Navy Calendar). April Fools!!!!!!! These drawings have nothing to do with any of that. (And speaking of Vietnam I noticed I got a visitor from Hanoi!!!!!!!!!! Awesome! Attention visitors from far-flung places: Please leave a comment, even if it's just "Hello"!)
I didn't get a job this morning, so I'm killing some time before I attempt to put in some laps at a pool with blood warm water. These are some old sketches. The bearded sailor is from a collection of photos from the WWII-era USS West Virginia (after it had been rehabilitated, post- Pearl Harbor). Apparently the Captain allowed them to grow beards to foster a "Mountaineer" espirit de corps. (I love those old school deck jackets, btw). One of the other sketches might be a Marine, but that's "maritime" in my book. I'm definitely going to do some oil painting later today...Update on that will be forthcoming.