Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Written in the Sky



There are, among many, two very beautiful things here in Iraq. One is the warm glow that reaches across the flat terrain every evening. Sunlight stretching through the atmosphere with nary a hill betwixt you and it's source is magical. Objects glow with deep violet shadows and bright orange highlights. Many a Marine has come up to me wanting an email address so they can send me a beautiful sunset they've captured on a handy digital camera. The other thing of beauty, which takes a little while to develop a taste for, is Arabic calligraphy. Calligraphy means beautiful writing, and once the left brain surrenders trying to gleen literal meaning wandering up and down the rows of complex Koranic script, a harvest of visual inventiveness and vitality is there to satisfy the right brain's eye. I've tried to wed these two visual ideas, flaming sunset and Muslim calligraphy, in this watercolor. Although the sky here is almost always a great featureless expanse, there are times when high up delicate strokes of cirrus clouds leave their icy signatures. I'm not speaking of contrails from jets, but expressive stokes of satin white across the deepest blue of the sky. I can't help but wonder if these etheral shapes are the orginal inspirations for the Arabic alphabet. This scene shows a Marine standing post at the Entry Contol Point(ECP)for E/2/7 in downtown Fallujah. In the background stands a mosque freshly patched up following the previous years epic battle. This particular structure was the scene, both inside and out, of some of the bloodiest fighting.

5 comments:

Samantha West said...

A perfect expression of the beauty you were trying to capture.

Exquisite as always!

Sam
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Beth* A. said...

There are 'icecream colors' in Iraq!?! That IS pretty neat! Cool idea with the clouds inspiring their caligraphy, too, as it adds a certain local flavor to your painting.(I remember that dark cloth on the wall of your inner sanctuum; I was just guessing, but I thought you might have it there for the sheer beauty of the script.)
Two friends have said the best thing about being there (and for one, the only redeeming factor) was the spectacular sunsets.

Carol said...

Mike,

I like how the sky offsets what's going on below..so pale and lovely, almost washed out. Beautiful detail on the minarets too and, of course, your wonderful use of light again.

Be well.
Carol

yankeemom said...

I so appreciate your work as it gives me a different perspective of the country ~ it takes me past the war to the nature of the land.

Cobalt Blue said...

I like your stuff a lot. Have you ever seen Edward Seago's war paintings? Those are also beautiful. Keep up the good work!