Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Storm and Stone...Initial Oil Study

Here's a glimpse at the process behind a painting to be titled Storm and Stone. An earlier post shared a series a black and white sketches on newsprint, and with this posting you can follow the transition from pencil to brush. The initial oil study was done on stretched and gessoed watercolor paper. Gesso is a "ground" that acts as a medium between the surface material and the medium applied to it. I personally favor oil over acrylics for one simple reason; I love the smell of not just the paint, but the turpentine as well. The watercolor paper was stretched by lightly soaking it with damp sponge and stapling it to a sheet of 3/4" plywood. This process prevents the paper from rippling when the several layers of gesso are applied.

Positioning groups of figures using tracing paper prior to transfer to working surface.

Figures laid in with single tone and fore and middle-grounds developed using thin washes of color.

Background and sky fleshed out.

Figures finished. Storm and Stone:Study 23"x30"

This past week, between fielding e-mails and phone calls from a bevy of media folks and consulting with the Marine Public Affairs Officer at Quantico, I completed the first oil study for Storm and Stone. The Marine Corps was gracious enough to have extended me permission to talk to the press about my time last October spent with the Marine unit, K/3/1, implicated in the alleged Haditha incident. However, at the end of the day, I decided to decline the radio, newspaper and television entreaties, and focus on just doing art. No Marine officer, not even the Commandant, has gone on the public record about the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate and controversial event......I wasn't going to be the first. Plus, these news people seemed a little too desperate for anything, and what little I know would have surely ballooned up way out of proportion to fill an information vacuum; a vacuum that is currently swollen with enough second-hand twice removed conjecture and editorializing, sermonizing and demonizing. It was interesting to have had the opportunity to speak at length with Thomas E. Ricks of The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Making the Corps.

On a sad note: I'd like to pay tribute to my Mom's companion of nearly 20 years, Andy Frantz. Andy passed away this afternoon of complications following a massive stroke a week and a half ago. During the last three years he struggled with the insidious assault of Alzheimer's Disease with dignity and an unfailing sense of humor. Andy was what we back home refer to as a salt of the earth Pennsylvania Dutchman. His passing will be mourned by my Mom, her seven grandchildren (who knew him as their Grampy Andy), and legions of friends in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Here's to you Corporal Andrew Frantz USA, 82nd Airborne Division...go easy my friend.


MissBirdlegs in AL said...

You and your family have my sympathy. I'm sorry for your loss.

I don't blame you for not wanting to comment on the Haditha 'incident' or the men you know. No telling what would have been added or subtracted from your words. Why can't they (MSM & others) just wait until the reports are out?

AnonymousOpinion said...

Condolences on Grandpa Andy.

Thanks for showing us the process of creating your art.

V. Schroeder said...

Thanks for showing this process, it's really a privilege to see it.

And condolences to your family.

Beth* A. said...

I also add my sincere regret for you family's loss, Mike Fay. Alzheimers is a rough disease on everyone involved.

I think missbirdlegs in Al said it best; no telling what would have happened to whatever you told the press about the 3/1. Canny on your part to give them all a pass. Canny, but not surprising that you show solidarity to other Marines by doing so.
Like every one else, I am anxious to know what happened, but I am more than willing to be patient and let the process be thorough and fair, rather than quick and dirty. We've already seen that angle, from Murtha and the press.

I think we owe it to the Marines accused to bide our time and wait. Let the truth carry the day.

Bag Blog said...

I have stretched wet watercolor paper on plywood to do watercolor paintings, but I have never topped the paper with Gesso to do an oil - very interesting. Am I getting this right - watercolor paper, gesso and oil paint? Any specific reason why you work this way instead of on canvas or some other sort of board?