"I grew up just opposite of
"What I found was just fascinating -- the war had been portrayed so little by paintings that had survived from that time," he said. "You could read about historical events, but there weren't any historical pictures to go with them. Or you would see lousy portraits that were shown over and over again -- these artists were copying each other's designs."
His hobby of painting historical scenes from the war quickly evolved into a profession as he discovered there was demand for his work among historical and educational groups.
"They needed me to provide visuals to illustrate their subject and make it more accessible to the public," he said.
Painting historical marine art cannot be done quickly, however, because of the time it takes to be historically and technically accurate,
"Historical types have a degree of disdain for artists that say, 'That sounds like a neat subject; I'll peel one off.' The tough part about it is getting past the blunders and pitfalls caused by bad information," he said. "Early on, I was repeatedly embarrassed when I would work away in solitude and try to do my best. An expert would say, 'Nice painting, but the ship didn't leave on that day.' Then the whole painting would be an imaginary piece of crap."
The technical accuracy needed to paint historical ships is also a challenge,
"Back then, they had to use levers, tackles and other equipment where humans had to do a huge amount of weightlifting and pulling -- well beyond his or her strength," he said. "The rigging setups were extremely well thought out. Lines are either thick or thin, tied or loose, attached to a sail or spar."
"What you're doing is basically building the ship on canvas. And I can do my best with a fine brush, but if the line was only two inches in diameter, my fine brush work would look like a six-foot tree. So I have to use an X-acto knife to paint it even finer."
Historical painters sometimes run the risk, though, of becoming too obsessed with the finer points of a painting,
"At a certain point you might know there is even more detail to paint, but you have to decide you're not going to do more," he said. "It's a problem, because I know enough about how sails work and what they need. Even though a sail needs a set of ropes, I might decide not to put them in. With a painting of a certain size, you might decide it's idiotic."
"This time, I'm going to talk about how to create a painting that doesn't exist, from beginning to the end," he said. "People will see how I do certain things, and I hope they will be encouraged to take a whack at it."
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