Great painting Robert. I am personally not a fan of the subject matter, but that is more to do with an allergy to Tobacco than anything else. There are some great elements in this picture for me but the standout is the way I can feel the coldness of the surface of the table. Not an easy trick to achieve with paint, but even more challenging with watercolour. I have never used frisket myself but rather struggled along with out it (and occasionally I use a hint of White Gouache when necessary). The silver coloured lighter is also just perfectly handled.
Watercolor is faster for me than oils. Just wanted to get this thing done. Started with a drawing from life and said "this needs color." Still, for me, I use many many layers whether it's oils or watercolor.
I have used white gouache here. Frisket is more trouble than it's worth. Where I've used it I end up using gouache to smooth out the always rough edges that frisket leaves.
Oh, I didn't even try to show what's etched into the lighter. On one side it shows my actual dog-tag info etched into a pair of dog-tags with the chain:
Tracy R.C. O Pos [blood type] 238 21 99 [I'm not giving my actual service number here, as it can lead bad guys to get things from me. But on my lighter I do have the correct service number. In my day we didn't have our Social Security number there, but were given a "service number". I still have in my wallet my Geneva Conventions Identification Card with name, rank, branch of service, birth date and service number. The Communist enemy in Vietnam didn't pay a bit of attention to that, just as today's enemies don't. USMC M (M stands for size of gas mask) Infidel (I had the etcher change my original dog-tag from Catholic to Infidel as a revolt against our today's enemy).
Robert your reply took me a bit of time and re-reading just to understand and to reply in a proper and thoughtful way. It is because I hold you in such high esteem that I could not reply quickly or frivolously to it.
As an artist you excel and push the boundaries in some amazing and wonderful ways. Your life is about your art more than it is about you. Being an artist sucks because we are driven to do it, and most think we do it for pleasure but in fact we do it because we are forced by ourselves to do it.
I am so glad you added colour to your drawing but I totally understand your use of layers to complete it, I myself wish I could paint faster and more efficiently but I can't and I know that. I need to work and re-work things until they are right for me.
The lighter intrigued me, and more so now that I know the details of it. It is a very special part of this painting.
Never having ever been in battle or a soldier myself I can only wonder, and imagine what it is all about. The fact that your blood type is the first detail says so much (mine is O-negative and they use it for baby transfusions because it is clean and works for that).
Every time I have ever heard the Geneva Conventions mentioned in a movie or TV show I roll my eyes. I always suspect that in battle no one ever concerns themselves with that at all, but I like the idea of it.
Your paintings are so much about you and all the things you have survived through. As calm as the moment is in this painting I get a sense of all the struggles and terror that you dealt with to get to that point in time. In some ways you having a cigarette in your house is a moment of lucky fate, as it is the down side for the ones that never got to do that again. I think this is a very deep painting and I am privileged to see it.
Your details are moving but it is you the artist that motivates and pushes me to appreciate what I have, and the gift that being able to paint is for me.
Thank you, Warren, for your thoughtful and heart-felt reply.
As regards the Geneva Convention, I keep my card to remind me just how much it's not observed by our enemies, yet America observes it--and should not. Will send a note for my reasons. Here is not the place for a long thesis on Reason vs Faith--the latter being at the root of that damned document.
If you please, let me re-phrase one of your statements. Being an artist is as close to God as man can get. He creates his own universe. It's a great pleasure though the pain of the work sometimes makes you feel as if you're under orders by a sadistic drill instructor to go on. But it's a choice we are driven to by our own passion. No government is forcing me to do this.
Yes, a lot of living Vietnam Vets leave a pack of their lost buddy's favorite brand of cigarettes at The Wall in D.C. If smoking kills me, I don't mind. It's a choice I made, and so far, still have that choice.