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.
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.
Just a couple of fun sketches from my sketchbook. I’ve been exploring some ideas for a wood carving.
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.
For an artistic anatomy teacher, you can do a lot worse than Michelangelo. He was himself an avid student of anatomy. Duh, right? But its interesting to see where some of his anatomical training came from. As a young teenager and a member of the court of Lorenzo de Medici, he frequently attended dissections held by physicians of court and at 18 was even performing his own dissections. His studies and influences also included drawing studies from sculptures such as the Belvedere Torso and The Laocoön and His Sons. He even aspired to produce his own artistic anatomy book. Doing my own drawing study from Michelangelo’s sculpture repeats a process that was familiar and beneficial to him as well.
This is an arm study I did from Michelangelo’s David, rendered in pastel pencil on colored paper.
Nobel author Henri Bergson once said, “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” I agree. And although this probably isn’t exactly what Bergson had in mind, these eye drawings from my sketchbook represent exercises in artistic comprehension. When I feel that elements of my drawing need more character, I, like many artists, draw them and try to understand those elements a little better; a little more intimately. For me, sketches like these represent one of the great joys of drawing and artistic expression; not merely recording visual information, but comprehending a subject on a new and deeper level.
One of my favorite Revolutionary War reenactment events takes place only about 40 miles from me. The actual battle took place on January 17, 1781. Fast forward 227 years later and the anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens will be held this weekend near Gaffney, SC. at The Cowpens National Battlefield. The Park is set in a nondescript, out of the way, rural landscape that most people wouldn’t look at twice or normally think about even once. But great things happened here that helped change the course of the war.
The reenactors that participate make for curious photographs and even more interesting art subjects. This drawing is intended to be the start of, what I hope will be, a fun and rewarding watercolor painting. Mountain and backwoods militiamen, such as this drawing portrays, played a key part in this colonial victory. The planned painting is based on one of my photographs. Another of my paintings is featured in my previous post on this event. Also below are a few pics from past events. I’m looking forward to getting a few more good pics this year.
The desire to get out in the crisp October air and do some sketching brought me to a local park and these interesting tree roots. I only got in about 15 minutes of sketch time on location before I found, much to my amazement, that I was smack dab in the middle of a Frisbee golf course. I tried to ignore what I thought was some maniac yelling and whistling to “look out”. I ventured a gaze and discovered he was yelling at me. After about 4 groups of Frisbee golfers came through, I decided to pick up and move on. I continued to work on the drawing at home from my imagination.
Tree roots like these always seem to have sort of an ancient quality to them. To add to the antique feel, I scanned the drawing and added a texture and a little Photoshop coloring. Turned out to be a descent fit for the Illustration Friday subject this week.
…of a little woods next to the park. I caught a Wood Spirit watching me go by. He lives in an old gnarled tree trunk and I don’t think he knows I saw him.
I’ve recently become intrigued by the tradition of Wood Spirit carving like the ones done in walking sticks or Cottonwood bark and have always wanted to try it. I have done a few practice pieces to get my carving techniques down but nothing grand. This is a rough sketch I did last night that might translate to an actual wood carving some day.
The carving below is one of my practice sticks studies.
Robert E. Lee once said, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” But that “terrible” quality seemed totally incomprehensible in the encampments on the eve of the first major battle at Bull Run. On that night, the only evidence of an impending clash was the presence of thousands of soldiers in surreal repose. One Yankee wrote, “Tens of thousands lay awake looking up into the heavens. “The sky is perfectly clear, the moon is full and bright, and the air as still as if it were not within a few hours to be disturbed by the roar of cannon and the shouts of contending men”. A reporter, experiencing the quiet, the warm glow of a thousand campfires, the occasional interludes of music and the distant lowing of cattle, described it as “a picture of enchantment”. Four bloody years and over half a million casualties later, history records little of that war that could be considered enchanting.
Pencil drawing from my sketchbook.
I was watching a documentary on the life and work of Norman Rockwell the other night. As I watched, I pulled out a book cataloging some of his work and started sketching some faces of my own creation (below) but inspired by characters and expressions he painted. The degree to which he sought to get the perfect expression to tell the story and then exaggerate it even further was remarkable. He had a professional photographer take many of the reference photos he would paint from and he constantly looked for suitable models to photograph. One of the criteria used to screen many of his models was how well they could raise their eyebrows. If you ever look through a book of his work it makes sense. He used the expression quite frequently and to great effect.
Wow, finding time to do blog posts over the past month has been tough. Its been very busy for me. These are just some rough sketches out of my practice sketchbook. Realistic hands have always been tough for me to draw, especially out of my head. These were drawn using Bridgman as a reference. The power of his drawings are phenomenal. This montage sort of has a surreal feel to it. Especially with the eyes thrown in.
Do I remember when my daughter was 6? Barely! She’s 22 now and getting married in 2 weeks. Where has the time gone?
I’ve always wanted to do a portrait of good old George and my last post started me thinking on it again. I didn’t want a copy of the highly recognizable dollar bill image or any of the famous portraiture from days gone by. Those never seemed quite natural enough to me. But aside from pure speculation, how should I change it?
It is pretty well known that many portraits depict him with dentures that made his mouth look odd. So I thought a portrait that shows a more natural mouth would be a must. Then I recently ran across a photo of a life mask made of him and it was striking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a painting that took in this likeness. Everything from a disproportionate nose to varying head shapes to the afore mentioned denture mouth can be seen in other works. Age differences I’m sure have made made their mark too so I decided on a slightly younger portrait as the life mask seemed to portray. As I studied different portraits certain features appear with regularity so these I tried to include. Most notably the roman nose, the high arching brows and the stern straight-set mouth. So I’ve begun my portrait. Despite everything this is a personal interpretation and a synthesis of several images. You may also see the likeness change just a little as I make adjustments in the painting process.
This under drawing will make the foundation for the painting. The approach will be a multimedia one; going next to an acrylic under painting and wash background and then to an oil glaze rendering on top. I’m taking a purist approach here and won’t be doing any digital painting on this piece. I want an authentic physical original when I’m done and not something I have to print. In reality I can’t wait to experience the smell of the oil paint again. If you are a studio artist you’ll understand.
Below is a quote from a 1977 documentary film by Francis Schaeffer I’ve been watching. Good stuff! Schaeffer died in 1984 but it is believed that other than C.S. Lewis, few other writers had as much impact on modern philosophical thinking as it relates to Biblical theology. Shaeffer looks like someone straight out of the 17th century with his attire and hairstyle. I couldn’t resist doodling his face while watching the video.
“Humanism invariably ends in despair. If you begin with that which is finite, no matter how far you project it, you can never come to an absolute, never.”
Francis Schaeffer – How Should We Then Live