10.23.09

Detour

Posted in General, Literature at 12:23 pm

I’m still blogging but. All future posts will be here now. Thanks for stopping by my blog. See you at the new site.

Steve Mitchell Design – Design That Works

10.18.09

I’m Back

Posted in General at 5:32 pm

My stats tell me that there are some visitors at least to this blog and I’m here to tell you I’ve not abandoned blogging. I’ve taken the last 6 months or so to assess exactly what I’m doing with this forum and why (not to mention being very busy). So if you happen by or have happened by in the past and wondered if I would begin posting on a regular basis again, fear not! I will. The blog may be taking on some slightly different directions and may be combined with my other blog but in the end it will be much the same; featuring art that I’ve done or am doing or other topics related to my interests and what I like to draw and paint. Stay tuned!

03.02.09

Doolittle Did a Bunch

Posted in Aviation, Drawing, History, Illustration, Military at 6:29 pm

While doodling this sketch of the notable Jimmy Doolittle, I realized how little I actually know about him.  Aside from leading the famous “Doolitte Raid” on Tokyo, I couldn’t tell you one thing (hey, I’m an artist not a history professor).  Anyway, after a little Googling I came up with this list of things I didn’t know but found very interesting.  Perhaps other readers will as well.

  • In 1922 he made the first flight to cross the continent in less than a day, or 21 hours, 19 minutes to be exact.
  • Earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing his dissertation on the effects of wind velocity on flying characteristics at the age of 29.
  • Performed an aerobatic demonstration in Argentina with two broken ankles.
  • Performed the first successful outside loop in 1927.
  • First person to win every major aviation racing trophy.
  • Won the Bendix Trophy by setting a new speed record, flying from Burbank, CA to Cleveland, OH in 11 hours, 16 minutes.
  • While racing, he set speed records for both the Curtis Navy racer seaplane and a Gee Bee R-1.
  • Received the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading his famous “Doolittle Raid”, a carrier-based, B-25 bomber attack on Tokyo and the first U.S. attack on Japan in World War II.
  • Commanded the 12th Air Force in North Africa, the 15th in Italy and the 8th in England and Okinawa.
  • Was offered but declined a position as NASA’s first administrator.
  • After his retirement he became chairman of the board of Space Technology Laboratories.

02.04.09

Before They Were Famous

Posted in History, Illustration, Literature at 5:19 pm

If you were living in 1897 and purchased this book, you would most likely not have recognized the names L. Frank Baum or Maxfield Parrish.  This is Baum’s first children’s book as well as the first book Maxfield Parrish ever illustrated.  In case you need a hint, Baum later earned wide spread fame for his children’s book and greatest success, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Maxfield Parrish probably needs no introduction – just one of America’s most popular illustrators from the early 20th century.  Parrish’s amazing work never fails to inspire, this early work included. It’s also interesting to catch glimpses of “firsts” for each of these men coinciding in this edition.

Memories From a Civil War Sketch Artist

Posted in Drawing, History, Illustration, Military at 12:27 pm

Found an interesting collection of sketches today from the Library of Congress Exhibitions section.  Lots of other cool stuff there too.

Alfred Waud was recognized as the best of the Civil War sketch artists who drew the war for the nation’s pictorial press. Waud could render a scene quickly and accurately, with an artist’s eye for composition and a reporter’s instinct for human interest. Read More.

12.02.08

Old Men of the Wood

Posted in Drawing at 12:19 pm

Just a couple of fun sketches from my sketchbook.  I’ve been exploring some ideas for a wood carving.

11.10.08

Honor the Decision

Posted in History, Military at 4:24 pm

On Veteran’s Day we do not honor armies, victories, dates, places or history lessons. We honor individuals. Certainly we honor their service, but that service started with a big and very personal decision. Without those decisions there would be no veterans. History books don’t adequately communicate the thoughts and emotions that surround such a decision. The decision is huge. At some point we all probably ask ourselves hypothetically, “Would I do that?  Would I make a decision that might cost me my life in service to my country”? But few of us consider the question for real. For those who do, the decisions may not end with joining the military. A soldier must decide to stick with his commitment through everything: training, rough living, enemy fire, and even the specter of death.

Consider this soldier’s last written words.

“If ya’ll are reading this, then I am on my way to help do my part to ensure the future security of our great nation. I don’t take this charge lightly, or with a cavalier attitude, rather with a resolute heart and a clear conscience. I am strongly convinced that what we are doing is just and worthy of all that could be spent in the effort.”

Did you hear the decision behind the resolve? Those words might have been written by many soldiers from many periods in our history, but these particular words happen to be from Master Sergeant Kelly Hornbeck, Army Special Forces, and were in his last letter home from Iraq. In his case the “worthy effort” cost him everything, but that was a decision he had already made. On Veteran’s Day, we honor the thousands that have made a similar decision to serve, not knowing what it might cost them in the end.

One of my photos from the annual anniversary reenactment event at Kings Mountain National Battlefield in SC.

10.11.08

A Costume Treat, No Tricks

Posted in Family, General, History at 8:51 am

You can always tell a gifted artisan or craft person by their attention to detail.  That attention expresses a sort of joy and passion for what they do.  Trick or Treats Costumes is the site of just such an artisan.  I’ll have to tell you up front that I am more than a little partial since the seamstress is my oldest daughter Apryl.  But don’t take my word for it.  If you love costumes, visit the site, read the testimonials, and judge for yourself.  Oh, and you may just happen to see my face lurking around in her galleries somewhere as a surrogate Luke Skywalker.  I know I know, I don’t see the resemblance either.

09.25.08

Cavalryman Watercolor

Posted in History, Illustration, Military, Painting, Step By Step at 8:16 am

Just finished adding some color.  Watercolor was glazed right over the previous drawing, a technique I enjoy using.

09.11.08

Awesome History Blogs

Posted in History at 8:02 am

I was pleased to open my email this morning and find that BestCollegesOnline.com had included Ponder & Dream on their list 100 Awesome Blogs for History Junkies.  Thanks guys!  And check out the post, it has quite a few other interesting history links.

09.06.08

If Stones Could Talk

Posted in History, Literature, Painting at 4:21 pm

Textures are probably one of the most fun things to do in watercolor. I was in the mood to render some stone textures for practice and thought Stonehenge might do the trick. This is a quick watercolor study loosely based on a few of those stones.

Stonehenge captures my imagination.  If the stones could talk what stories would they tell?  Interestingly enough, a book on Stonehenge recently came to my attention by archeologist Anthony Johnson, a recent visitor to this blog.  I am anxious to get my hands on a copy of his book “Solving Stonehenge - The New Key to an Ancient Enigma”.  The Stonehenge archeological site is not finished giving up its secrets.  Tony’s work appears to shed exciting new light on that fact.  If you get a chance check out his book.

08.23.08

Cavalry to the Rescue

Posted in Drawing, History, Illustration, Military at 4:53 pm

A good part of my childhood was spent pretending I was fighting imaginary battles from a horse.  Broom sticks and later my bike served as trusty steeds.  Fighting from a horse was cool to my young, idealistic mind, but for many colonial Americans, horses were a common-place necessity of everyday life.  As a result, cavalry might have given Continental forces during the American Revolution an edge.  It was difficult for the British to ship horses across the Atlantic, meaning their cavalry regiments were often forced to use stolen horses.  For the Continentals and colonial militia, horses were more readily available.  Fast strike tactics from horseback helped even the odds and commanders such as Francis Marion, “Light-Horse-Harry” Lee, and William Washington used them to good effect … now those guys were cool!

I did this drawing using a combination of pencil and wash pencil (a water soluble graphite pencil). I used photo reference from one of my reenactment photos taken earlier this year at a cavalry tactics demonstration.

08.07.08

Cloud with a Silver Lining

Posted in Photography at 5:01 pm

What started out a beautiful, sunny day along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC, turned drizzly and gray. We were literally up in the clouds. I wasn’t finding a lot to photograph until I sauntered out of a rest area men’s room, turned around, and boom, there was this awesome tree in the mist. Cool photos aren’t just composed and taken. Sometimes they are literally found and unexpectedly at that.

08.05.08

Captain Cook & Lord Nelson’s Logs

Posted in History, In the News at 5:46 pm

In the true spirit of Ponder & Dream and finding relevance in history for present day, the logs of Captain Cook and Lord Nelson have been found to lend 18th century evidence to the mounting case against man-made global warming. Read the article. This was also reported on Fox News. Pay close attention to the political and commercial motives behind man-made global warming, “sky is falling” rants. Are there political and monetary interests behind them? Umm, did Lord Nelson ever unfurl a sail? Unbiased, uninvolved sources, like Cook and Nelson, can tell you a lot, as can scientists who swim against the popular current of thought. They may risk their professional integrity as they seem to be motivated more by the knowledge that, just maybe, they’re getting to the truth behind global warming. My money is on those guys.

07.28.08

The Headline That Went Nowhere

Posted in In the News, Military at 1:12 pm

I caught part of a talk radio show today that was discussing this Associated Press headline.

Analysis: US now winning Iraq war that seemed lost

For anyone truly following the war news from Iraq this isn’t really news. So what was the discussion? You guessed it. Almost no newspaper printed this story. Those that did buried the story. The great thing about blogs is the potential to balance the ridiculous press and its incessant habit of determining what news is important and unimportant. This story is important by any news standard. No matter your stance on the Iraq war or how you feel about Bush, this is encouraging news – for our troops if for no other reason. Read the article, its well worth it.