Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas illustration

I decided to do another Chrismas illustration as last year's snowman was a fun little break from whatever I was doing at that time. This year it's Valley Forge with a little twist. The painting is on a 8" X 8" piece of multimedia board and was done in acrylics.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A small side project

While work on the next painting continues I've also taken up a small side project. I'm working on a set of Woodland Indian body painting schemes. These will be part of the instructions for a Bushy Run vignette that is going to be released in the near future. This is a fun little project that easily could have taken a life of it's own. This figure is one of three that I'm doing. The scheme represents a man that has his body painted red with black stripes and dots.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Art or illustration?

The subject of my next figure study is a Corporal from the 44th Regiment of Foot that fought alongside the 48th Regiment of Foot at Braddock's defeat in 1755. The painting will be based on an updated version of a sketch that was first done in 1997. I'm also considering a colored illustration showing what the typical redcoat of the day carried while on campaign. A thought came to me while sorting out what items to include. What would make one painting art and the other illustration? Maybe my work fits more into the area of illustration.

I've recently posted my paintings on a forum for artists in the hopes of getting some feedback that might improve my stuff technically. While there have been some positive responses to the postings I'm wondering if lack of appeal for historical subjects could be the reason behind not many responses.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Miniature Sculpting blog update

My Miniature Sculpting blog is not yet open for viewing. I have a few projects I'd like to have a little further along before posting.

On the Historical Art side of the house there will be a new figure study posted soon along with some supporting text.

Sorry for being so slow to get new stuff up, but that's the nature of the beast (me).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gary's Miniature Sculpting

I've decided to create a separate sculpting blog. This will hopefully jump start me back into figure sculpting. I'd like to show current projects along with some step-by-step stuff. I'm open to suggestions, so please feel free to throw some out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mark Twain

5 x 7 Acrylic on multimedia board

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." ~Mark Twain

I've wanted to do a study of Twain for some time and it's a nice change of pace from military subjects. This painting was done over three days. Not that it's a good

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I would like to have been able to paint something, but my snail's pace for doing projects would have seen a Halloween piece getting done around Thanksgiving time.

I did a small portrait sketch and then added the coloring, raven's shadow, and text using photoshop.Without it (photoshop) the whole thing would have been little more than a doodle. He's got such a great face, I may just have to do a color portrait sometime.

Friday, October 26, 2007

2nd Virginia Regiment, 1779

5 x 7"
Acrylic on multimedia board

Friday, October 12, 2007

Study of a study

Last night I took a 4 x 5 piece of board and started this head study of the 2nd VA guy that is giving me a run for my money. This is pretty loose compared to my other stuff. For some reason the head and background on the 5 x 7 has really been a problem. This study has allowed me to relax and just fling paint. After painting the face I realized there are some anatomical issues that need to be reworked on the original drawing. I'm happy with the blue on the uniform but the red needs a bit of work. This "time out" has helped me to relax and get a rough idea how to better approach the subject so it can finally be completed.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Inspiration and frustration

This all sums it up. At one time these folks had to start somewhere, grant it they all have had some serious art instruction under their belts.

There, that's enough punishment for one

2nd VA, attempt number three

That's right, what I thought was going to be a 5 x 7 simple painting has turned into a multiple attempt stress fest. The face still needs some (understatement) work. I told my buddy Pete that however this turns out I will finish it. If nothing else winter is coming and I could use it to keep me warm. Just kidding. I find The more I study other artist's work the more I realize how technically deficient I am at painting. Compared to them I feel like a little kid with a box of Crayolas. There are some amazing painters out there doing some mindblowing figurative work. I feel inspired and punched in the gut at the same time when viewing these masterpieces. I'm going to pick up where I left off tomorrow as I'm spent for the day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Outline done

I could not wait to get home from work to outline the figure so I can move closer to finally painting. Now that I've done it I almost wished I had not outlined the figure. It can be covered with paint over time, as for now it's way too dark.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A toned board

I finally got around to transfering the drawing onto my 5 x 7 piece of multimedia board. I decided to try toning my board first instead of a tonal painting or just blocking in the main shapes. The drawing was transfered using a softer grade of drawing pencil to insure the image would be visible. My main concern is the pencil smearing or lifting if I get water on it. I've decided to go in and outline the drawing with paint so I not only have a guide but that it seals in the pencil.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

2nd Virginia Regiment, 1778-1780

Here's the subject of my next painting which will be a modest 5" x 7" half figure study. My buddy Pete Culos has done several of these and they are really nifty. What's really nice is it should take less time than a larger painting. As soon as the proportions of the figure are sorted out I'll transfer him to Multimedia board and paint him up.

Painting a Ranger with Photoshop

I'm really impressed with some of the work artists are producing using this amazing program. I decided to "experiment" by coloring in an old sketch done around 2001. Though there are some things that could be improved on I just needed something to throw some color on. The subject is a Ranger, circa 1759, Quebec. The first thing was to put in a color background of sorts to get rid of the white of the paper the drawing was on. I then erased all of the background that covered the figure. The next step was to start blocking in all of the colors that will make up the painting. Each major element has it's own "layer", that way I can for example erase part of the coat without erasing part of the background. Regardless of how this turns out this program is a great way to see what colors will work on a painting without using up paint and wearing out brushes on color studies.

I really like the way the drawing looks against a colored background. The figure really pops out and looks better than just floating in a white space.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New blog header

I decided to change the header for my blog as I thought it needed to have an older (more historical) look about it. This also gave me an excuse to play around with Photoshop some more.

A few more older drawings

Here are more older drawings, a few of which I might clean up and make into 8 X 10 figure studies. Most if not all of these were done around 2001-2003. Every now and again i get these bursts of energy (not often) and crank out 5-15 in a few days. Mostly I do 1 or 2 sketches a week if I'm lucky.

1. Rifleman from the 4th Maryland Independent Company, 1776. A painting I did of this unit's drummer was the first or one of the first things I posted on my blog. I think this would make a neat little full color figure study one day.

2. I found this badge on Fort Ticonderoga's website one day and had to have it. Their site made it impossible to save or print so I drew it from the computer. As I wanted the badge to be accurate I placed a grid made from clear plastic on my monitor so I could get the badge exactly as it looked. I then did a detailed drawing in ink on bristol board. This is the pencil drawing with notes I did before the final drawing.

3. Various Revolutionary War cartridge boxes done from photographs of the real thing. I darkened the drawing so it would show better.

4. This was a fun little drawing to do. The original was drawn by Jean Baptiste Antoine De Verger. I did a smaller version of De Verger's drawing with my "modern day" version. It was drawn with a ballpoint pen and I really like how it turned out.

5. Smallwood's Maryland Battalion, Baltimore Independent Cadets, 1776. Here's another drawing I'd like to do a color figure study of. What's interesting is the unit wore a red coat with buff facings. Over this they wore rifle frocks/shirts. I wonder why?lol

6. Another ballpoint pen drawing showing various types of civilian dress.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mc Pherson barn DONE!

I finally finished last night. Like everything else I learned a few things. Though I like a painting to be tight and have details I tried to loosen up a bit. Now back to painting soldiers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Photoshop fun

I'm going to be putting a few things together for the Artist Preservation Group and I'll hopefully be handy enough to do some stuff in photoshop that will be of use. I put together this Iron Brigade piece just as an exercise. I thought a picture of the 24th Michigan monument at Gettysburg would make a fitting background. The photo was "cropped" so I would end up with a round image, which payed homage to the brigade being part of the 1st Corps of the Army of the Potomac. I further enhanced the image by coloring the entire image red, which was the color of their Corp badge. It's a simple design which a lot could be done with. I may put it on a T-shirt just to see what it looks like. anyway it was fun to do.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Gettysburg battlewalks

I never come home from Gettysburg empty handed. In addition to a few books I also picked 5 of the Gettysburg battlewalks DvDs Produced by the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). These battlefield tours are conducted by Park Service historian/park rangers or licensed battlefield guide. I chose the DvDs that had tours conducted by historians/guides I was was familiar with. The programs run anywhere from one to two and a half hours. There are about 12 walks available for sale in Gettysburg that run in price from $15.99 to $25. The PCN website sells them for $25 and lists 89 different walks! Here is a link to PCN which also has a list of available Gettysburg book lectures.

The Herbst Woods tour pictured is conducted by Park Service Historian Scott Hartwig. This program is 2 hours and 25 minutes long and is an in depth coverage of the fighting that took place on that part of the field. Harwig is not only knowledgeable about the subject but also weaves a human element into his presentation.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gee wiz

I picked up a book about the Gettysburg National Cemetery which has a number of human interest stories relating to a number of the soldiers that are buried there. While walking through the cemetery I thought I'd look for the grave of a soldier I recently did a study of. The soldiers are buried in sections for their respective states. My search led me to the section for Minnesota which only has a small number of soldiers. Much to my surprise I was able to locate the grave of Alonzo Hayden of the 1st Minnesota Volunteers. Like other graves in the cemetery Hayden's first name if spelled wrong. The name on the grave is Alonze C. Hayden. I also managed to locate three other individuals that will eventually become subjects for future paintings.

I'm back

I had (as well as the family) a great time in Gettysburg. We did have a little rain the first two days but it did not interfere too much with walking the field. For the most part it was typical Gettysburg in the summertime...HOT! Here are a few photos from my many excursions out on the field. I usually get up around 5:30 am so I can get some photos before it's overrun with tourists. I took a number of pictures to be used for current and future projects. There are always new things to take pictures of as well as take better ones of the monuments and areas I've photographed in the past.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Few for the road

I'll be leaving for Gettysburg shortly and thought I'd post a few old "doodles" for the road.

1. This is one of many sketches I did years ago for a yet to be published article on Confederate battleshirts. This drawing did not make the cut for one of the six color illustrations I eventually got around to finishing. If I did the article today I'd probably do the color illustrations over as they look horrible to me now.

2. My inspiration for these zouaves came from reading about the 9th New York ("Hawkin's Zouaves") at the battle of Antietam. You might also note the heads of Gen. Francis Barlow and Gen. Winfield Hancock among them. NOTE: Somehow I reversed the image by mistake. You'll notice the equipment is on the opposite sides.

3. This last page was done I believe around the time I sculpted the 83rd Pa Vol (hometown regiment) figure for Fort DuQuesne Military Miniatures. The chasseur uniform looks really sharp. I hope to paint a figure study of a soldier in this uniform one day. Sorry, the drawing is pretty light.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

McPherson barn color study

I've decided to change gears and do a small landscape. To possibly save me from trashing another painting I've opted to do a color study of the subject first. The McPherson barn is one of the first things to come into view as you enter Gettysburg on I-30. We are very fortunate to have such a place preserved (for the most part) to honor the men of both sides who fought on the ground of this sleepy little Pennsylvania town in July of 1863. My painting is based on a photograph (a poor one) of the barn I took years ago. The finished painting will be 8 x 10, so I decided to make my study 4 x 5. As with my other paintings it is done in acrylics. I probably did more to this than I should have but it was a fun little project. This color study will serve as a handy little guide for determining the colors to be used.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Continental in hunting shirt 1780-1781

I think I'm going to call this study done. Though I could add maybe a little shading here and there on the musket, it would not hurt to leave it alone. The next painting will be an 8 X 10 landscape with a historic structure as the central focus.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sketches and doodles

When I'm kicking around ideas for figures or scenes I often sketch out full or partial figures as well as other little details. Often things such as anatomy and accuracy of uniforms and equipment are not as important as developing the idea itself. The sketches or doodles that follow are fairly old, in some cases 10 or more years. WOW!
1. Is a 2" x 2" head study of an early war Southern volunteer. I was playing around with watercolors in preparation for a series of 6 half figure paintings of Confederates wearing battle shirts for an article a friend had written. There were other practice heads and shirts detail painted on the board this guy is on, most of which I crossed out with black ink as I was not happy with them. Anyway I kept the board it's painted on just for this one head.
2. Is a series of head and partial figure doodles of members of the 20th Maine at Gettysburg. I believe I was inspired by the movie Gettysburg and the heroic stand of the 20th. These doodles were done in the hopes that at some time I
might put together a diorama or painting of my interpretation of this action. The only figure that does not really belong to this group is the Jacobite in the center of the page. Why I drew him I have NO idea.
3. Is a pen and ink drawing of a 120mm 14th Brooklyn figure I sculpted for Fort DuQuesne Military Miniatures way back when. The drawing shows the overall pose as well as the locations of the brass rod used for the armature.
In looking at these older drawings I quickly realized that I am ten times more absorbed with historical details than I was when these were done. I owe most of this to the load of quality reference books and information now available.

Try try again

Given my lack of activity here and on boards I used to actively post on I considered shutting my blog down. As of now I'm going to keep it up and just post when there's something worth posting. My painting of the Continental in the hunting shirt took a nosedive when I added a background. The colors made the uniform pop out but it just looked too surreal a setting. It was like placing a historical figure in a fantasy setting. It's a bit of a shame as I liked how the white of the uniform was turning out for the most part. The plan is to now do the figure with some background fading out around the figure. This should look better than just painting a white uniformed figure on a stark white board. after laying in the base colors for the figure I used liquid mask to block out the figure so I could add the initial background color. The mask easily comes off with an eraser or by rubbing your finger over the masked surface. The next step is to start adding some color.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Now some color

The highest highlights on the shirt had to be darkened as they were way too bright. There are a few more lighter shadows and highlights along with some dirt left to do, especially on his overalls (gaitered trousers). I'm not sure what to do about the background yet. I had thought to just put some grass and shadows around his feet. I will probably settle for the grass, shadows, and addition of a darker background to make the figure pop out more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Continental infantry in hunting shirt

I have finally started my painting of a Continental infantryman wearing a hunting shirt. This figure represents a mid to late war soldier, though this type of shirt saw service through the entire war. Hunting shirts proved to be a suitable substitute when uniform coats wore out or were unavailable. They were also sometimes worn over coats to save on wear and tear. This 11 X 14 acrylic painting is in it's early stages and I'm still undecided as to what, if any background the painting will have.

Friday, June 8, 2007

No new work = no new postings

This is due to having twins graduate highschool and plans for college in the fall. There are also some other family issues that are leaving little time for more relaxing activity. I have a Revolutionary War figure study waiting to be painted and my General Meade figure is basically in limbo. It's a good thing I do not paint or sculpt for a living. Though it's not enjoyable, there is something to be said for having a fulltime job with a steady paycheck. Hopefully things will settle down enough for me to have at least a part of the day in the very near future to nyself.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A small change

I have decided to make the main focus of my blog historical art and the research that goes into putting a painting together. Though I enjoy sculpting figures, I see little to no point in duplicating posts from my Planet figure vBench. I will still occasionally post on miniature projects along with a link to it's Planet figure thread.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

General George G. Meade 1/32 figure

After a break from sculpting I decided to do a figure that's been on my "to do" list for some time. Shenandoah miniatures has a set of heads wearing Federal Dress Hats and one of the heads appears to be based on this photograph of Meade. I've always wanted to do a figure of Meade and after seeing this head my mind was made up. The metal bootee/boot blanks are from Latorre and are perfect for Civil War footware. I will also be using a Shenandoah photo-etched belt buckle, with the remainder of the figure being scratchbuilt. To see the step-by-step being done on this figure, click on the following Planet figure link.
The following link has biographical information on Meade's life.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Alonzo Hayden study finished

The Hayden figure study is finally done. This is actually version number two. The most difficult part was the face. He has a fairly smooth face overall and the period photograph was very light. I have two or three more Gettysburg related portrait figure studies that are on my short list. This study is 8" x 10".

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The real Alonzo C. Hayden, 1st Minnesota Volunteers

This portrait CDV (Carte De Visite) or "visiting card" shows the subject of my next figure study. Alonzo was born in 1839. His family moved to Minnesota from Somerset Maine. in the Summer of 1854. His parents were lured to Minnesota because of good farmland. The settled in Elm Creek where Alonzo busied himself clearing land on the farmstead. Alonzo and five others signed up following a speech asking for volunteers to put down the rebellion. Though excepted into the First Minnesota they were all split up into different companies. Alonzo's oldest brother Anson was mustered into Company I, while Alonzo ended up into Company D. He participated in the First Battle of Bull Run and continued with the regiment until July 1862, when he became sick and was sent to hospital in Washington. He returned to the regiment and was soon sent to the hospital in Philadelphia. Alonzo recovered and was back with his regiment by March, 1863. Alonzo was in the ranks of the regiment at Gettysburg when it made it's now famous charge. Alonzo would be mortally wounded and would die on July 3, 1863. He was buried near where he fell. In October his remains were re-intered in the newly dedicated National Cemetery. He lies there today with his comrades in Section A, Grave #2.

This will be the first in a number of paintings honoring men of the rank and file who get swallowed up into the bigger picture of battle.

Alonzo C. Hayden, 1st Minnesota Volunteers

This is the subject of my next painting. Alonzo C. Hayden was with the 1st Minnesota when it made it's suicidal charge at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. I'm undecided on the size, but it will more than likely be 8" X 10". Pictured is the sketch that will become the painting.

I'm back...with a finished project

Here is the finished 4th PA Rifleman. This piece was long overdue to be finished, but I managed to muster both the concentration and time to get it done. The leaves were probably the most time consuming part of the painting. Though they could have been more detailed I did not want them to take away from the main focus of the painting. Thanks to those of you that continued to visit my blog while I took my "break". I appreciate your taking the time to see what, if anything was going on.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

4th Battalion close up

The waistcoat became a huge hurdle to get over when I decided to paint it as if it were made from stripped lined or ticking material. The problem was in getting the stripes the right color. The red I mixed kept going on too bright. What made all of this frustrating is if the stripes were not right the entire waistcoat had to be painted over again. On the fourth attempt I arrived at a color that looked very close to what I envisioned.

The face has been far. At this stage it looks considerably older than the original sketch which shows a more youthful face. A little more work will be needed to turn back the hands of time to get a more youthful look.

4th Pennsylvania Battalion painting update

I have made a lot of progress on the figure in just a few days of working on him. The way the final colors of the clothing and face are established would probably make a seasoned painter cringe. Each part is approached almost as an experiment and is subject to drastic change at any time. Though areas like the face may look finished I still have not arrived at what the face will look like. I'm still searching for that middle ground to where all the detail is there, but where it still retains a painterly look.