"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 been wanting to continue on with my "Matlow v. The Bolsheviks" project for a while now and I decided that what was holding me back (among many things) was my desire to get everything 100% historically accurate and write the story first. Well, I'm a busy guy. I just don't have time for any of that! So here we go with the new format, fast, on the fly and barely accurate. :) Story (sort of) follows from here.
I've been tearing through Karl Marlantes' Vietnam novel "Matterhorn", which set my mind and pen wandering to draw this sketch. (This is taken from Larry Burrow's Pulitzer Prize winning photo taken atop "Mutter's Ridge" in 1966.) Having read a ton of Vietnam novels in my day, I can offer the informed opinion that "Matterhorn" is one of the best Vietnam novels, if not one of the best war novels ever written. There's no hackneyed patriotism or testosterone fueled chest thumping manly action. The bravery and heroism displayed in the book are demonstrated by men who simply survive horrific, grueling conditions that are sometimes (often) created by the whims of the 'politically' ambitious.
A poster on Terminal Lance (who I assume knows from whence he speaks) says that the novel could have taken place during our current war, implying that the more things change the more they stay the same. Indeed, Marlante's publishers urged him to change it and make it about Iraq or Afghanistan.
What makes it unique from most Vietnam fiction is that racial tension is one of the main drivers of the story. (Marlantes says that in early drafts he tried to avoid it but couldn't.) In James Webb's Fields of Fire (which I consider to be the best novel about Vietnam), racial issues create some of the conflict, but not to the extent they do in "Matterhorn". I chose to sketch the image above, because it exemplifies how Marines in line units transcended racial friction- even though Marlantes says that once they were out of the field, that same tension became impossible to ignore.
There are parts of the book which are grueling and exhausting to read and make you wonder how anyone could have survived. Very little war literature (with the exception of "The Thin Red Line") approaches the vivid detail and intensity in which the suffering sustained by Marlantes' Marines (and Sailors) is illustrated.
Anyways. Hell of a book. I'm glad it made it into print.
Whenever I need some illustration inspiration (which is every day) I head over to Leif Peng's "Today's Inspiration" where he showcases illustrators from the the unparalleled era of the 1940's and 1950's.
Today, he showcased Carl G. Evers, a maritime artist who I'd never heard of, who painted in gouache! I paint in gouache a lot and let me tell you...even contemplating trying to approach Evers level of mastery over that medium is a daunting prospect.
Hi folks. No art update today as I'm still trudging through a challenging commission.
What I would like to do is introduce you to a new blog by Will Van Dorp (author of the amazing Tugster blog) entitled "My Babylonian Captivity". Will has the unusual distinction of surviving the opening salvos of the 1990-91 Gulf War as a human shield held by the Iraqis in Kuwait. His new blog will present excerpts from a previously completed manuscript detailing his captivity.