Roads throughout history have provided man with a way to connect with his fellow man. In times of peace they have served as thoroughfares for commerce, trade, communication & travel. In times of unrest and war they became avenues for assembling armies of men for invasion or defense. To illustrate these momentous events historians thru the ages have taken pen in hand to mark on maps the routes they have trodden to and from the field of battle be it victory or defeat.
In 1960 when I was 8 The American Heritage Publishing Co. published the "Golden Book of the Civil War". Within those pages were paintings, photographs and drawings of historical events I knew little about. What really caught my eye were three-dimensional maps of the major engagements of the Civil War specially created by the artist David Greenspan. These illustrations took you high into the air to hover as an observer as if suspended in a balloon. As one gazed at the scene below the opposing armies were visibly arrayed upon the fields, roads, hills and valleys. The maps portrayed the countryside complete with hills and valleys, woodlands and farms and men in uniforms of blue and gray fighting for possession of it. Like many boys of that day I was captivated by American history.
As a young man I had always liked to draw but those maps would forever influence me. The phrase" One picture is worth a thousand words"became my mantra. The detailed filled illustrations by Tony Sarg in the 1920's of New York City life and a series of picture books entitled "Anno's Journey," by Mitsumasa Anno done in the late 70's and thru the early 80's also inspired me. I would look at the wonderful illustrations with my then young daughters and we would scour the pages for all the little vignettes they contained making up stories as we went before they were off to bed. The Anno books illustrated the countrysides and cities of England, Italy, Spain and America and the culture and activities of the people that inhabited them. This overhead style of painting allowed me to fill my work with a variety of detail. Every inch of the canvas had a story to tell and it took time for the observer to study to see all of the minute details. My Noteable Days of New Canaan, a series of 10 paintings (prints & notecards) illustrating the yearly celebrations of a small town, grace the homes of many people throughout the world. I had experienced the events many times with my family and had catalogued in my mind various impressions throughout the years before ever setting brush to canvas.They became a journey of sorts of discovery and recognition.
My career path as a commercial advertising illustrator/ filmmaker / Artist / Historian gave me the opportunity to develop my skills doing storyboards, test video animatics, 3-D Corporate and home town events. I have studied and read about the Civil War since my youth. Made movies of the Battle of Antietam and Gettysburg with a super-8 camera and later in 16 mm at Denison University 75' with armies of hand painted soldiers on miniature landscaped tabletops complete with detailed backdrops. My award winning film at the Dixie2005Filmfest for: "Outstanding production and set design. "The 'Other' Great Locomotive Chase." www.TOGLC.com is a favorite of Civil War buffs and rail fans throughout the world. The art I have illustrated so far I hope is just the beginning . To do it properly, I felt the strong impression to start at the beginning when that first shell exploxed over Sumter. This act was the catalyst for all that followed. The paintings are meant to give us a feel for the time and the settings in which these events occurred. The war was a human drama on a nationwide scale. A painting of a battle is meaningless unless you know the participants. I wanted to show how the people of this country went from peaceful citizens to soldiers and then back again to a bruised but unified country that we call the United States of America.
I have already illustrated most of the action of July 1st at Gettysburg but will now need to go back because my style has changed. I will post them in time along with some I did of Gettysburg way back in 1979 and presented to the Gettysburg NPS. Research is now easier with the internet and an incredible amount of information is available through the efforts of many researchers, artists and writers who have gone before me. My own attention to detail is much higher now. There are many things that we can never know given the changing landscape and lack of photograpic reference. It is easy to cover this up with alot of battle smoke and tighter cropping of the scene portrayed. The 3/4 perspective does not allow you to hide too much and the effect is always captivating in its birds eye view and rich detail. To make it work more research needs to be done so even the tinyest detail is not overlooked. Artistic license will be employed when all other avenues of investigation are exhausted. I will also at time need to reduce the size of the units portrayed for artistic reasons but will try to be as accurate as possible. What makes this art interesting is the detail. As I illustrate the Northern version I am also illustrating a parallel version of the Southern experience. My dream is to take the series all the way to the peace table at Appomattox C.H. and beyond. As each campaign series comes to a close I will compile the artwork and copy into a large format book and possibly with some backing into interactive e-books.
There are two sides to all stories. These unique paintings of this momentous time in history are meant to inspire both young and old. It is the generations to come who will need to learn of the roads that the men of both the North and South trod that would forever change the course of this great country. The United States of America.
The Painting that started it all
Union Camp overlooking the Potomac 1861