28 September 2014

Writing Between the Fighting

16" x 20", oil on wood panel, 2014, private collection

Composed from several images form an old documentary on World War One, this scene of soldiers taking a few precious moments for correspondence with their families at home was important for me to show that it wasn't all killing and mayhem. Many specific details had to be left out for security reasons, of course, but even when it came to general matter-of-fact details of war, one soldier put it this way:

"Your very existence was different to anything you'd experienced before. You could speak to your comrades, they understood...the civilians? It was just a waste of time."

This is the painting I was working on during my on-site painting at the Mariners Park Museum in Prince Edward County.

This painting has a companion piece in the War at Home section called The Tyranny of Distance.

19 September 2014

Catalysts for Calamity

28" x 20" oil on wood panel, 2014
(work in progress)

I originally had planned to simply paint a portrait of the archduke Franz Ferdinand and, using the same title, it would stand apart from the five groupings paintings my World War One project, To the Sound of Trumpets, are sectioned off in. Ferdinand's assassination by Gavrilo Princip in Serbia on 28 June 1914 wasn't directly the cause of WWI, but it certainly provided a convenient excuse to activate the machinery of war that had been preparing and the animosities and ambitions that had been building in Europe for quite some time.

While working on another painting for this project a few weeks ago (months, maybe? time is beginning to blur) I was listening to a lot of Peter Gabriel's music. When Gabriel introduced "Family Snapshot" (on Plays Live) being about the hunter and the hunted, I immediately thought of my planned portrait and, using the song and its title as my guide, reworked my composition. Told from the assassin's point of view, it's quite rousing and the key lines I used as inspiration for this composition, putting together the hunter and the hunted, are these:

I don't really hate you
I don't care what you do
We were made for each other, me and you
I want to be somebody
You were like that, too
If you don't get given you learn to take
And I will take you

I'm not saying the situations are the same, just pointing out where the inspiration to put these two together in the portrait came from. I find Princip's hands on Ferdinand's shoulder particularly chilling.

However, the title "Catalysts for Calamity" is taken from a line in Sam Brown's song "They're the Ones" from her album Box.

I say above "work in progress" but it's about 98% finished, but I find I'm still tweaking tiny bits here and there.

11 September 2014

Asleep in a Foreign Soil

28" x 20", oil on wood panel, 2014

Since the theme of this year's Doors Open is World War One, there's going to be an exhibition of artwork with a poppy theme at the Wellington Town Hall (just down the road from the museum). The painting above (part of the "Remembrance" section of of my War Project) is my submission to the show and is inspired in part by this quote:

"For the first time the British army lost its spirit of optimism, and there was a sense of deadly depression among many officers and men with whom I came in touch. They saw no ending of the war, and nothing except continuous slaughter such as that in Flanders."
–notes from a war correspondent



I thought about including a helmet or rifle, but I didn't want to indicate which side this soldier is/was on; he's meant to represent all who died in the war.


On my last two (of 10) painting sessions in Prince Edward County's five museums I was at the Wellington Heritage Museum which used to be a Quaker Meeting house (which I painted this museum last year as part of my County 101 marathon). Speaking of Quakers, I have two Quaker-based paintings in store for my War Project, inspired by stories related to them being conscientious objectors during World War One and the disturbing repercussions of that stance. 

And now houses a pretty impressive collection of canning items from the county's rich canning past...

I like this doorway.

Cool canning gear.

There's lots of great stuff to see here, especially if, like me, you're fond of vintage label design.

By the sheet.

I like old cans.