‘An Oil Painting of Clowns Storming Normandy Beach’
Sometimes you get a commission request that you just can’t refuse, no matter how outlandish it might be. That was the case with this piece.
I was contacted by the wife of a brother from my old Iraq unit one day asking if I would be interested in doing a painting commission for her. Of course I was interested in the work, and even more so because of who it was for. When I heard the subject I was a little thrown. ‘An oil painting of Clowns storming Normandy beach’ had me furrowing my brow a little to figure out the significance. Then she told me the story of him hearing the phrase after watching an April Fools video gag of guys asking for fake items at a department store, and how he laughed and talked about it for days and weeks after. She said she just wanted to hear him laugh like that again after a really rough year. I was all smiles after that.
So regardless of my own misgivings about clowns (THEY’RE TERRIFYING), I set to work. She wasn’t expecting to have the piece until sometime this year, but I was able to knuckle down and get the painting off in time for Christmas morning when he received it.
A lot of work, a lot of hours, and a probably a few nightmares, but it was all for a smile.
I’ve seen a local event at one of the shops called a ‘Paint and Drink’ or something along those lines, and for a while I’ve considered taking my wife out for one. In the end I decided why couldn’t I just sit at home with her and do the same thing! I have all of the equipment and supplies we could ever need so it only makes sense to throw some music and wine into the mix.
It was fun to teach her some techniques for painting and get her to actually make something with me that doesn’t involve digging around in the yard! She did most of the initial drawing work and then handed the brush off when she felt the need to take a break (she is a self-professed perfectionist) and I would dig in with carving the painting out and trying my best to explain what I was doing at the same time. Apparently I did a good enough job because she’s looking forward to the next one!
In continuation of the Topsail Island poster set, I present to you a Sea Turtle! I can’t help but make sea turtle based artwork a lot, it’s my wife’s favorite ocean animal of all time it would seem. Ever since we went to the Sea Turtle Hospital on Topsail Island, our home has been covered in sea turtle trinkets and decorations!
This piece made use of the Pentel Brush Pen almost exclusively. There might have been a few spots where I touched up some finer detail with the sharpie pen but for he most part I went with heavier lines. Again, this piece was colored digitally and the linework edited in photoshop to give some sense of depth.
This set has also made me love working on a Wacom Cintiq which is an expensive taste to have…
I’m working on a set of travel posters for Topsail Island, NC and the imagery is all worked out and ready to go, I just need to get the header text sorted a little more and they’ll be done.
This is the first of the two focusing on the amazing amount of shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina. It’s a scuba dream and something I really want to see myself. I’ve never actually gone scuba diving but I fully intend on trying to get out into the water this summer.
This style is a bit of an evolution and is still coming together, it’s obviously influenced by comic books but I want to still try and keep some of the line quality I’ve been working with in my military drawings. This piece made use of Sharpie Pen and a little Pentel Brush Pen to give a little weight where it needed it. I’ve colored this piece entirely digitally and even edited some of the line-work to fade back and give more depth.
All in all a successful exercise in a newish direction for me and one I’m going to keep playing in.
Normandie, approx 9″x11″ woodblock print, waterbased ink on 98lbs paper. First Proof.
The images of the US assault on Normandy beach have stuck with me from the first day I ever saw them. Visceral and engaging they haunt my mind with ease. To see the stills in motion during the film Saving Private Ryan created a sense of longing inside of me to do something that meant half as much as what the men who sacrificed so much on those beaches had. I could thank Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for sparking that sense of patriotism within me at a young age.
I wanted to capture some of the emotion I have for that day and the images from it in a woodcut. There’s something more to this process than say drawing it or painting it. The cuts have to be felt through the wood and the mindset as you cut all the more important because when you drift, you make mistakes. In this, the ‘mistakes’ are the only additions to the image, a result of drifting into thought as I worked on it. Thinking of the men in the image and if they made it out alive. Thinking to my own friends and colleagues who didn’t through our own trials.
I plan to do a small run of this plate. This proof gives me hope that the rest will come out even better with a little more control over the climate in the room I end up printing in.