Friday, December 30, 2011

Coming in 2012

I've been in quite a slump, seeing my last post was in October. I'm working my way through a few old... okay VERY old projects. Hopefully 2012 stands a chance of being a much more productive year. BOTH of my blogs are in need of some serious TLC.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spayd painting done

Finally finished this one yesterday.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Manassas Commemoration is history

I'm finally settling back into my normal routine following the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Manassas or Bull Run, depending upon which side of the Mason Dixon line you live on. Over 8,000 reenactors/ living historians gathered to commorate one of the first (don't forget Big Bethel) land engagements of the Civil War. The weekend was characterized by EXTREME heat and humidity which curtailed physical activity. There were some great historical impressions to be seen with several units making the effort to represent those standout units that fought at the battle. Unfortunately I did not take very many pictures as keeping cool and hydrated was the order of the day all day. The weekend did leave me with not only a deeper appreciation for the men that not only fought that day but the entire course of the war.

Fire Zouaves sit and relax before battle Saturday morning.
Note they all wear red overshirts. Civilian shirts as well as
Federal issue donnet flannel were also worn.

The front of the Fire Zouave's shebang denoting members
of the Columbian Engine No. 14. residing inside. This Engine
 Company had the largest number of members of any other
Fire company in the Fire Zouaves.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Original paintings for sale

I'm offering a small selection of original paintings for sale. If you're interested follow the link to Planet figure. Here is what's available.

2nd Virginia
8 X 10
Acrylic on board framed

"The Red Shirt"
8 X 10
Acrylic on board framed

Grenadier, Regiment Von Reidesel
8 X 10
Acrylic on board framed

Sergeant, 18th Line Regiment
8 X 10
Oil on Gessoboard framed

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fire Zouave Uniform

It will be interesting to see the multitude of uniforms representing both sides that will be at the 150th (anniversary) Commemoration next week. It's interesting to ponder the confusion that took place at times with each side wearing essentially the same uniforms in certain cases.

Pictured above is a red wool flannel over shirt with a black
neckerchief with a Firemen's badge.Topping it off is a red
and blue kepi. The kepi would also have a Company
letter, in this case E with "1Z"standing for "First Zouaves"
 under the Company letter. I'll be adding mine at the event.

When Elmer Ellsworth Recruited his regiment in New York City he was specific as to the type of men he wanted for his regiment. "I want the New York Firemen," Ellsworth said, "for there are no more effective men in the country, and none with whom I can do so much. They are sleeping on a volcano at Washington and I want men who can go into a fight now." Given the large number of Firemen in the ranks, many took to wearing their badges on their uniforms. It's those little touches that help to make a uniform stand out. That little touch has been added to today's Fire Zouaves.

Fifty reproduction badges representing
Columbian Hook & Ladder Co. 14 were
specially made for the event.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

So you wanna be a Fire Zouave?

I love a happy accident. By chance I realized a few month's back that I had a week of vacation that takes place on the 150th Anniversary of the 1st Battle of Manassass (1st Bull Run). Within a few days I had contacted some folks and found myself falling in with the 11th New York Volunteers, or more famously the Fire Zouaves". After getting the wife's blessing to go off to war I then had a lot of work ahead of me. The big hurdle was a uniform. By the time of Manassass the showy "zouave" dress associated with the 11th was on it's last leg. A new uniform was issued but was of Government issue not to the zouave's liking. The Government then hastily issued red fezzes and blue sashes which were worn with dark blue issue trousers and red over shirts. A group uniform "package" was put together for those that needed a uniform ( ME ) with the downside in my opinion being the quality of the garments. So I could either go with the $100 kepi, shirt, and trousers ( cost for all) or an unknown amount for top shelf reproductions. I jumped in with both feet and choose the latter. I had a fantastic reproduction of the Fire Zouaves kepi made that coat $85, and that's without the brass "E" company letter and "1Z" which adds another $5 to $10. My choices for a shirt were a red overshirt ( didn't have to be a Fireman's shirt ), Federal issue shirt ( which I had ), or other civilian pattern shirt. I decided to pursue the red over shirt option with the Federal issue as my fallback. I found a young lady that had a small number of red flannel over shirt kits available. After a few weeks and $110 later I have an accurate over shirt. The shirt is also accented with a black neckerchief tied sailor fashion adding another $16.
I still have a pair of dark blue Federal issue trousers on the way ( $185...ouch! ). The neatest touch to all of this is going to be a custom made reproduction Fireman's badge of which only 50 were being made costing $30. I'll do another posting of the entire ensemble once everything is here. There are a few minor things which I may pass on as they won't necessarily take away from my impression.

Participating in at least some of the 150th Commemorations will no doubt fuel some inspiration and drive which is lacking these HOT summer days. Further posts will also include those projects inspired by this event.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A little progress

After wiping off the face four or five times I'm moving on to Spayd's uniform. There are only two images of Henry Spayd that I've seen. The first is a wartime image of Spayd in uniform. The other is a three quarter portrait of Spayed as an aged veteran on a G.A.R (Grand Army of the Republic) medal. Getting Spayd's likeness is really important so I'll come back to it later when the task is a little more fresh. I did manage to get some paint on the frock and blanket roll. I'm going to darken the coat in a few places once the paint has dried for a few days.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Henry Spayd, 149th PVI color bock-in

This picture shows the basic colors blocked in. I want Spayd to look like he's standing in the open where there's a lot of sunlight. This painting is going to be 12 X 16, which will be my largest to date.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

33rd Foot done...almost

The painting is basically done. The only thing left is to put more highlights on the musket barrel. It's drying really slow. I think I'm going to start using Liquin to help accelerate drying. the reds turned okay though they could be a bit darker for an enlisted man.

The technical side of my painting continues. I found
studying how artists keith Rocco and Robert Griffing
helpful in getting the red coat to where it's at now.
highlighting red is a bit tricky, but that will come in

A close up of the head.

Friday, April 22, 2011

33rd Foot homestretch

Things are slowly winding down on this painting. I'm going to let it sit a few days as the red is probably the biggest hurdle on this one.

More work has been done on the coat since this
photo was taken. The red is taking a while to dry
so in a few days I'll go back in and add highlights
and deep shadows.

As in the previous photo more work has been done
on the face and tricorn as well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

33rd Foot update

I finally got around to making some minor progress on this small study. At some point I'll do this as a larger 12 X 12 painting. The face has been really enjoyable to work on. I still have to tweak some of the features after the oils dry a day or so. I want to be careful here as it would be very easy to run this right into the ground.

The goal is a very British face. Not quite there yet...close.

The painting before starting the face.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

33rd Foot tonal painting

Here's the acrylic tonal painting almost complete. It's a bit overboard as a lot of folks just do what is called a "cartoon" that consists of the transferred drawing that is just brush painted without and lights or darks being noted. I'll finish it off with a very thin even tone of oils. Then the fun of painting begins.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Soldier, 33rd Regiment of Foot

This 6" X 6" head and shoulders study will give me a chance to concentrate on face painting as well as painting a lot of red. Here's the basic line drawing that will be transferred to board.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Painting done

I finished this up a few days ago. Despite a few frustrations I enjoyed doing this piece. Aside from a bit of glare the color in the photos is pretty close.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A face...finally

It's been a chore to get the face done on this figure study. While it may not be a face only a mother could love I'm sure she could at grow to like it. I'm going to do a little more shading and highlighting after this dries. I have to teak the shako a bit too, so that should help. I also had to wipe off the collar and cuffs and hands which need to be redone.

In addition to the hair I also decided to
give the figure a mustache. I think it works.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This little project is starting to wind down. Overall the face has been the only part that has given me some problems. Hopefully building up the forms will be the approach that finally works.

The musket is the only major part left to do.
 After that it's a mater of finishing up uniform
 details and completing the grass.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Slow progress

After wiping off the face three times I turned my attention to the uniform. The coat is not as light as it appears in the photos. The buildings need a little touch up here and there. After the figure is complete I'll finish the grass.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A little more progress

Still blocking things in although I started to tighten up some parts of the buildings. This painting is coming together really fast. It should slow down a bit once work is started on the figure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blocking in

Here the background is being blocked in. It's quite a difference from using acrylics that's for sure. It was hard getting a decent pictue as the freshly laid oils had a bit of a sheen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tonal painting

After transferring the drawing to the board I do a quick acrylic tonal painting. The board is then toned with oils.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Something a little different

I've been toying with the idea of doing something other than an American subject, or at least a foreign subject that did not see service in the states. This figure study will represent a Sergeant of the 18th de Ligne, 1809. The inspiration for this piece comes from the work of Detaille, Meissonier, and Keith Rocco. The figure was taken from a photo of a slender reenactor that has a physical build with a period look.

The figure with the grid
 it was drawn on erased.
I next had to decide on a background to set the figure against. In looking through several pictures of old farm buildings and small towns in France I settled on one that would not overpower the figure. Instead of drawing the buildings in the traditional manner I did it on the computer using Google SketchUp 7. This program allows you to do 3D models of buildings, vehicles what have you. What's also neat is you also have the option of giving your drawing cast shadows.

One of the challenges with this study is how to do the cast shadow for the figure so it matches that of the buildings. I colored the figure in with black using Photoshop and used that to create the cast shadow for the figure. This is not the traditional way to do this, but it does speed things up a bit.

Silhouette of the figure with it's cast shadow. It gives me a better
idea of how the shadow should look though I'll tweak it a bit.
The figure drawing set against the background. This will be traced and transferred to an 8" X 10" of Ampersand board.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Redemption and Ted Williams

At some point we've seen people like Ted Williams. I've seen them here in my own hometown. Years ago I sometimes walked by or stepped over people like him on my morning walk to the Art Institute. By now I'm sure a lot of you have seen or heard his story in the news. With politics and war being a constant topic it nice to see and hear a "feel good" story for a change.

Now I know this has NOTHING to do with historical art, not to mention art in general. I do think that it has a little to do with the power that any natural talent or learned skill potentially possesses, and the great changes it could bring into your life.  I hope Ted with his (checkered) past behind him is able to make a successful return to his passion for radio with that "golden voice". To say he's been given the second chance of a lifetime is an understatement. Any future professional opportunities should also be backed with the support needed to prevent another downward spiral.
For those not familiar with his story check it out.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.