What I Did On My Summer Vacation, and then some-Part 3

AUGUST 18, 2010

The final pieces for the USAF Art Program exhibit have been finished, scanned, with one being framed right now.  I held off posting the last works till I had the last scan ready.  This has been an involving, exciting, project these past months, with much learned (and probably just as much forgotten as retention of successful processes is not my strong suit).  But I have become a real convert to painting on solid wood (birch) panel (available at Home Depot) that has at least seven layers of gently sanded gesso.  Just love that sliding effect that paint has on that kind of surface.  My thanks to Bryan Snuffer for pressing upon me the idea of heavy gesso preparation and for insisting that I try acrylics again.  One of the huge advantages of acrylics is the ease and peace of mind just going over areas that don’t satisfy without having to suffer through the long wait so common with oils. 


Shifting to a more painted approach on these Air Force images wasn’t planned.  It seemed to just naturally morph as a result of the other work I had been doing and posted about here and the confidence that has been gradually developing.  There’s no intention of abandoning the reportorial drawing aspect of the work for the Air Force, not at all, it’s way too  satisfying and real time, but the addition of the painting makes for a welcome layering of new potentials.  It’s all about potentiality.  The universe of infinite possibilities. 


I truly hope these pieces will add to the revitalized spirit of the Air Force Art Program that has been in the works for the past few years.  There is some very strong work in this year’s show.  The exhibition will be on view at the Society of Illustrators thru September. 


I apologize to friends on Facebook for any content in this post overlapping with what's been posted while in progress on Facebook. 

Mountain Rescue training. Kirtland AFB.

Combat Control exercises. Pope AFB.

Combat Control exercises. Personal training (PT) warm up stretches. Pope AFB.

The PJ's in training. Search and Rescue exercises. Kirtland AFB.

This is for Felix since he asked. The image of the mountain rescue training was the first in the series. 300 lb Arches. No priming. Kind of found my ass getting kicked by the way the paper was absorbing the acrylics. This one and the next had the most pencil line underdrawing involved. There was something about the composition and criss crossing of the two main figures in the mountain rescue exercise that I felt a strong need to get it down right. Continued applications of paint in somewhat thicker gobs started solidifying the parts that I was hoping to create density.

There were times when the brushstrokes felt so on point and I found myself saying, "Okay, stop. Don't add another mark." It didn't matter that some of the underdrawing was still exposed.

There was still a lot of watercolor thinking in terms of the application here. In all of these the desire to get the sense of light correct was very important. It was hot, at times blinding without sunglasses, and I wanted that to get across

A more impastoed application. I was having a real terrific time while trying to figure out the issues of contrasting density with the luminosity of the woods in the background.

I am almost embarrassed to say it, but some of my favorite parts in this painting had to do with managing textures. I had no formulas to work with but intuited that with the acrylics I'd be doing myself a favor painting what's behind the stretcher before laying in the semitransparent darker fabric. My favorite parts of landscape paintings are those that imply the zen glance that caught the painter's attention. I felt that way about the setting here. The desert colors were great fun and those mental notes in the form of the quick marks set up a nice contrast to the more hard details in the action in the foreground.

Same deal. In all honesty, none of these paintings have the drop dead detail that skilled realists can accomplish. But I wasn't doing these with the intention of them being used in exams. Attention to accuracy was very important, as well as the action and spirit, so there was no compulsion to massage every fold and stitch. The way I treated the instructor overseeing the exercise had me so thinking of a memory of a Winslow Homer painting.