Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Current Debate

I have tried to stay away from commenting about the great debate occuring in both Houses of the US Congress with regards to the War in Iraq and the "surge". In war there are two concepts which, though intimately linked, are essentially different and at times in direct conflict with each other. One is called tactics and the other strategy.

In previous posts I have spoken about how the "I support the troops, but not the war" mentality says in effect "I support you tactically, but I oppose you strategically". Our enemy, both in Iraq and elsewhere, is not trying in any way, shape, or form to defeat us tactically. They are trying to defeat us strategically. They cannot stand toe to toe with us on the battlefield and win. However, they can defeat us in the realm of perception.

The stragegy of our enemy is simple.....use terror with impunity against any and all targets.

To vote against the surge, to vote to leave Iraq without stabilizing it is a vote in support of our enemies strategy......terror. We will be saying simply this, terror works. Building schools, rebuilding infra-structure, organizing and carrying out free elections, liberation from brutal dictators, etc, is a failed strategic position.

Finished......The Skipper it is, sculpture #1 is done! I showed it to the curator of the Marine Corps Combat Art Collection, Charles Grow, on Friday and he was very, very happy with the result calling it Rodinesque. He just about made me swear a sacred oath to not touch it! (I have a nasty habit of not leaving well enough alone.)

Charlie is himself a combat artist, having covered Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia and Operation Enduring Freedom. He's also an accomplished photographer as well. There is no higher accolade for me than his thumbs up. He's asked me to contact a foundry here in Fredericksburg and start the process of getting it cast in bronze.

The piece, as I worked on it over the past couple weeks, became a haggard rifle company commander. Over the years I've tended to focus almost exclusively on sergeants and below, the grunts. But I've also carefully observed the late twenty-something captains who carry the burden of command with weary grace. The young Marines are lovingly lead and often painfully mourned by their commanding officer, the "skipper". Skipper is a term both respectful, and filled with warmth. It's the un-official moniker for a Marine captain.

As you look at these photos of the piece try and imagine it without the white plaster support. When it gets cast it will only be the plasticine portion.

*Click on images to enlarge

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Trying My Hand at Sculpture

For the past few weeks, between working on the upcoming Michener exhibit, I've researched and began trying my hand at sculpture. Here's a series of images showing the progression of my first piece, from armature to about two thirds completed. I'm using plasticine to create the initial piece with an eye towards having it cast in bronze at a local foundry. The finished bust will stand about 16 inches high and show an exhausted Marine just in from a patrol with a wicked bad case of "helmet hair"

Our two other artists, Major Alex Durr and Sergeant Kris Battles, are hard at it in their respective studios. You can check out Battles' work at Sketchpad Warrior and Major Durr at .

Step 1: Create armature attached to a lazy Susan

Step 2: Flesh out armature with newspaper and masking tape

Step 3: Cover newspaper form with plaster cloth

Step 4: Apply initial layer of plasticine facial masses and plains

Step 5: Establish basic features and likeness

*Double click on images to enlarge