Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Back in the flow

Long time, no posting! Fall was incredibly busy, between running the gallery, working on commissions, and having a full exhibition and teaching schedule. Today, as I sit here trying to come back to "real life" after having a wonderful few days with as many of my family members as were able to be present, I thought I'd share the image I used for my Christmas card this year. This is a scene set up at the Shriver House Museum --309 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, PA -- in the parlor of the Shriver House for their annual Candlelight Christmas tours, depicting traditions and decorations of an 1860's Pennsylvania family. It's a wonderful museum -- a beautifully restored 1860 home -- with a fascinating story of how one family dealt with the Battle of Gettysburg. I highly recommend a visit in person, or at the very least to their website:

Happy Holidays to all! I'll be posting new work soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Basil Biggs, Step 3

Progress has been slow for me on this project. I'm doing a lot of teaching right now and have a number of commissions that I need to devote time to, so I don't have quite as much time to give to my series projects. But that's OK -- I enjoy the variety!

Before the end of the month I need to finish my research on Basil Biggs at the Adams County Historical Society, because they will be moving out of their building while it's under renovation and their collections will be inaccessible during that time. And I still need to determine what buildings are known to have been standing on the south side of York Street from Lincoln Square to Stratton Street. At least I've made a little progress on the horse.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Codori Barn from Little Round Top

I took a break from working on my latest Battle of Gettysburg/Civilians of Gettysburg piece about Basil Biggs, to produce this small landscape from the Gettysburg battlefield. I created a much smaller version of this scene in colored pencil for entry in the upcoming Miniature Art 2011 exhibition at the Council for the Arts in Chambersburg, PA, and decided to try this second, larger version using watercolor and colored pencil on a sienna-colored piece of Pastelmat. Once again I love this particular combination of media and working surface; it's the same combination I used on Summer Sunset, McPherson Farm (see post from June 12), and on my one-day drawing/painting giveaway of  Stone House, Manassas National Battlefield (see post from June 21).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Basil Biggs, Step 2

Made a little progress -- at least it's easier to tell this is a horse! So far I've not been able to find photos of the buildings on the south side of the first block of York Street. Next week I hope to get to the Wills House where there's a new diorama that shows the buildings that were standing on streets close to the square in 1863, and it sounds as if it's very well-researched and accurate. In the meantime I'm working on some small landscapes of the Gettysburg battlefield that I may post. If we get the fringes of Hurricane Irene here in Gettysburg over the next  two days, I may have a lot of time for blogging! Who would've guessed we'd get an earthquake and a hurricane all in the same week?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Battle of Gettysburg/Gettysburg Civilians Series: Basil Biggs

Not much to see with this composition, yet -- in fact, you may have to look at the enlarged view to understand what it is. The only portion that shows color, at this point, is the -- um --"hindquarters" of the horse. The scene is a depiction of an event which occurred prior to and shortly before the Battle of Gettysburg: the evacuation of the town's black population, among them a farmer by the name of Basil Biggs. Understandably fearful that the invading Confederate army would take them prisoner and send them south into slavery, the local African-American residents either hid or made their way out of town to presumably safer locations.  Biggs fled town, on a borrowed horse, heading out York Road as he could see the Confederates filling the town square from the west.

I have a little more research to do, to determine what buildings were standing along this stretch of York Road in 1863, besides the Lutheran Church that I have roughly indicated to the left. But I thought that posting this very early stage would help jumpstart my progress on this piece. The composition is 16" x 20", rendered on museum board with colored pencil using a traditional dry layering, sharp point-scumbling technique.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to Work

This post title would seem to imply that I haven't been working, which certainly isn't the case! What I'm really getting at is that recently I've been posting previously completed works that relate to 1861, as 2011 is the 150th anniversary for that year. Now I think it's time to get back to my original primary intention for this blog: posting newly-completed works and work-in-progress.

In keeping with my Civil War 150 Project, and to have an image to submit to an upcoming exhibition at the Clara Barton National Historic Site entitled "The Art of Clara Burton", I completed the above image in colored pencil on Canson Mi Teintes paper (color: Sand), Study of Clara Barton. I'm still learning about Ms. Barton and I'm sure will do more works that feature her in the years to come, since she played such an enormous role in the Civil War. This piece was an effort to study her facial features and see what I might learn from them by working closely with two of her Civil War era portrait photographs. Ms. Barton's first involvement with Civil War nursing was the result of her witnessing the wounded and dying soldiers brought back to Washington (where she worked at the Patent Office) after the First Battle of Manassas, something which would have been occurring approximately 150 years ago.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Aftermath of Battle: "Collateral Damage"

This piece serves as homage to Judith Carter Henry, the first civilian killed in the Civil War.

The Notions of Safety and Security
The Final Chapter in the Life of Judith Carter Henry

In the summer of 1861, Judith Carter Henry was an 84-year-old widow, living on a small farm just south and east of the intersection of the Warrenton Turnpike and Manassas-Sudley Road near Manassas, Virginia; Spring Hill, the farm was called.  She had lived there for 35 years and, in fact, was born less than a mile away.  For most of those years she had lived a quiet farm life, marking the changing seasons with the cycle of planting and harvesting, and raising four children, watching them grow to adulthood.

But in July of 1861, things took a dramatic and unfortunate turn for the elderly widow.  Union and Confederate troops had gradually begun moving into the region, and Judith’s daughter Ellen, who lived with her mother, became gravely concerned.  In May her brother Hugh, living in Alexandria, VA, had written a letter emphasizing his belief that their mother’s “entire helplessness” should keep her safe from harm from the invading armies.  But Ellen, and another brother, John, who lived nearby, feared the worst. They determined to try to move their dear mother to safety.  Despite evidence that the fighting was edging ever closer, Judith, who was frail and bedridden at that point in her life, did not want to leave the familiar and comforting surroundings of her home.  She protested as, on the morning of July 21, they attempted to carry her from the house on a mattress, and the group made it only as far as the spring house: not only was Judith begging to be taken back, but Ellen and John also realized that the troops were too close and the situation was too dangerous to permit their plan to work.  So they returned to the house, and Judith was carried to her bed. They could only hope that Hugh’s earlier assurance of her safety would prove true.

As morning turned to afternoon, Union artillery moved their guns onto the Henry House property, not far from the house. They soon discovered they were being fired at by Confederate sharpshooters, who were either hidden inside the house, or just outside of it and using it for cover.  Since nearly all of the other residents of the immediate area had long since fled to safety, Captain James B. Ricketts had no idea there were civilians still inside.  His immediate goal was to put an end to the firing of the Confederate sharpshooters, and he shelled the house.  One of the shells burst in Judith’s bedroom, and she died of her wounds soon after.

A woman that history has recorded only as “Florence”, attended the memorial service for Judith Henry held on the grounds of the farm, two days after the battle. In a letter to her sister, she gave this account:

        The papers will have told you before this reaches you that old Mrs. Henry was killed during the
         battle…I do not think I ever felt more deeply than when I stood among the wreck and ruin of her
         home and saw the poor mangled body of the old lady placed in the coffin and borne to her last
         resting-place by stranger hands…Around the Henry garden, where a fence had stood on Sunday
         morning, was a hedge of althea, the only things that had escaped destruction.  They were loaded
         with crimson and white blossoms, and you cannot imagine how strangely they looked in their
         purity and beauty amidst that scene of desolation and death.  I stopped to gather a few of these
         “roses of Sharon” to place on the coffin…

In 1870, a new house was built to replace the one in which Judith’s life ended.  A photograph, taken in 1896, features a very elderly Hugh Henry seated on a chair on the porch of this house, the same house that stands on the battlefield today.  In the picture, just to the right side of the porch, can be seen a vigorous Rose of Sharon, quite possibly one of the very ones that were such a part of Judith’s happier times at Spring Hill.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

150 Years Ago Today, July 21, 1861: First Battle of Manassas, Part 3

This piece serves to remind us once again, that it isn't just adults who are impacted by war.

The End of Innocence
A New Day is Dawning
 The battle outside raging
will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
for the times, they are a-changing.
These Bob Dylan lyrics, though written for twentieth-century ears, also reflect the reality of the turmoil as war began to touch the lives of Americans in the summer of 1861.
 Northeastern Virginians who took the time to record their impressions noted that Sunday, July 21st, 1861, was a remarkably beautiful summer morning.   In the area near Sudley Ford over Bull Run Creek, just north of Manassas Junction, Virginia, many of the local residents were out, dressed in their Sunday finest, preparing to attend services at Sudley church.  In fact, some accounts indicate that a number of worshippers had already arrived at the church, little suspecting what was soon to unfold before them.
 Around 9 o’clock that morning, 13,000 Union troops under division commanders David Hunter and Samuel Heintzelman approached Sudley Ford, nearing completion of their flanking movement around the Confederate army; a maneuver they had begun nearly seven hours earlier.  Captain E.P. Alexander, Chief Signal Officer for General P.G.T. Beauregard  (commander of the Confederate forces in the area), positioned on a signal station on Wilcoxen Hill near Manassas Junction, was the first to spot the Federals approaching from the north: “. . .(C)areful observation. . .detailed the glitter of bayonets all along a road crossing the valley. . .” The first of the Union troops passed Sudley church around 9:30; within 30 minutes the church was converted to a battlefield hospital.
“I wish I could adequately describe the loveliness of this summer Sabbath morning.  In the midst of war we were in peace.  There was not a cloud in the sky; a gentle breeze rustled the foliage over our heads, mingling its murmurs with the soft notes of the wood-birds; the thick carpet of leaves under our feet deadened the sound of the artillery wheels and of the tramp of men.  Everybody felt the influence of the scene, and the men, marching on their leafy path, spoke in subdued tones.  A Rhode Island officer riding beside me quoted some lines from Wordsworth fitting the morning, which I am sorry I cannot recall.  Colonel Slocum of the Second Rhode Island rode up and joined in our talk about the peaceful aspect of nature around us.  In less than an hour I saw him killed while cheering on his men. . .”
 --Lieutenant Colonel Francis S. Fiske, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

150 Years Ago Today, July 21, 1861: First Battle of Manassas, Part 2

Yesterday's post featured The Awakening, a colored pencil painting focusing on the widely-publicized Washington civilians and politicians who came out to view the battle. But this post focuses on local citizens -- and one in particular -- who viewed the battle from the other side of Bull Run creek:

Far from Home
Soldier’s Son; Reluctant Witness
Many Civil War researchers and enthusiasts are familiar with the reports of Washington civilians riding out in their carriages to view the action of the First Battle of Manassas.  But as historian David Detzer reports in Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861:
          Almost overlooked in the accounts was the fact that many civilians observed the battle on the opposite     
          side of Bull Run…Their vantage point was much better than the Centreville knoll, and they could see
          more of what was happening.  One of them was a boy of about twelve… He knew his father was fighting
          over there, and he wept.
 In reading this, I was immediately struck by the idea that this is the sort of personal reality which is so often overlooked in the general histories, and yet it is so representative of what war “feels like” for those individuals who are caught up in it. Upon researching further, I learned that a woman known to us only as “Florence”, who was presumably the wife of a Confederate officer stationed near Manassas, had come to the area to stay with family in order to be closer to her husband. As a result, she found herself right in the midst of the turmoil of the battle. In a letter to her sister dated July 24th, 1861, she describes her encounter with this young boy on the afternoon of July 21, in an area close to the field of battle known as the “Douglas Heights”:
         Near me, on a noble horse that bore the marks of long and hasty travel, sat a boy of about twelve years
         old, the son of Colonel B____s, who had come from his home near Aldie that morning. His large blue
         eyes were fixed upon the distant scene, and his handsome features were convulsed with pain as he
         exclaimed aloud: “My father is in the midst of the fight; I must go to him!”  More than one detaining hand
         was laid upon his (sic) bridle, and several old men, gathering around him, represented the impossibility of
         finding his father in such a scene…I felt the tears dimming my eyes as I strove to speak some words of
         comfort to the boy.
With little solid information about this boy, I considered what may have gone through his mind, as he rode out alone some twenty miles from his home to this field of battle. He was probably driven by a desire to see his father, whom he may not have seen in a while.  He may have thought, in initially heading out, that it would be exciting to witness the battle; he may have imagined that his father would be easy to locate; he may have been thinking back to the pageantry of parades or rallies he witnessed in the several months past. But when he arrives, he is totally unprepared for the fearful spectacle he sees: the smoke, the noise, the confusion, the vast number of troops – the “machinery” of war. 
 The paper in his hand is my own symbolic addition. Is it a letter from his father providing details about his company?  Is it a letter the boy wrote, hoping to get it to his father?  Is it a map? Regardless, it is the implication of a simple, basic human desire to connect with a loved one; a human need that, sadly, must be suppressed if the machinery of war is to be effective. Still, his deeply personal connection to the battle will not allow him the sort of detached curiosity that typified the mood of the Washington civilians watching from the other side of Bull Run Creek.

If you would like to see more of my Civil War-themed work, or are interested in ordering prints, please visit my website at or email me at 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

150 Years Ago: First Battle of Manassas, Part I

The official 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas (or First Battle of Bull Run) is tomorrow, July 21. But I have three different images I want to post that correspond to that
day, and rather than post three in one day, I prefer to spread them out a bit. This first piece relates to the civilians and politicians who came out from Washington to view the battle.

The Awakening
A “Picnic” Spoiled

Students of history have been amazed and appalled at the reports of Washington socialites who rode in carriages dressed in their Sunday finery and carrying picnic baskets to catch a glimpse of the fighting at the first major battle of the Civil War.  But it is these smartly-dressed civilians who so perfectly symbolized the nation’s naïve view of the war in July 1861. 

Historical writers who had not personally witnessed the event, as well as some who had, were prone to sensationalize the circumstances surrounding the civilian spectators.   Judith McGuire of Virginia derisively described the group as having a “right royal picnic on the field of blood” even though she was not there to witness it.   A war correspondent for the London Times, William Howard Russell, was present and wrote perhaps the most famous account of the scene, that included the suggestion that “a few of the fairer, if not gentler sex” were not only present but thrilling to the sounds and sights of battle.  Historian John Hennessy has concluded that by “revel(ing) in the follies of our ancestors…(w)e have contorted the image into a carnival: civilians sprawled about on blankets on the edge of the battlefield, nibbling on picnic lunches while watching death and carnage…”

Why did an estimated 500 civilians set out on that Sunday morning to ride several hours through deeply rutted and difficult roads on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages to witness a battle that would claim the lives of 847 men with more than three times that many soldiers wounded?  Politicians and newspapers foretold of a war, if there was to be war, that would be of very short duration and with few casualties.  Most Americans in 1861 had only read about wars and those wars had been portrayed as noble and glorious.  As Hennessy explains, “most were spurred forth by a sense that they were going to witness something spectacular, something momentous.”   

And what did these spectators see?  From the vantage point depicted here – the heights just west of Centreville, Virginia, nearly five miles from the battle site – not much more than occasional clouds of smoke and glints of steel.  Most if not all of the female spectators returned to Washington long before the battle ended, as did many of the news reporters present, leaving them with very little hard battle news to report. A few of the male civilians, frustrated with the limited view from this location, moved to a second location on the heights just east of the stone bridge and within a mile of the field of battle; some of them would eventually find themselves caught up in the Union retreat. 

But regardless of how little or how much they would actually see at that moment, there is no doubt that for these spectators and for all Americans, this day would mark a transformation in their attitudes. As historian David Detzer writes, “After that terrible day it would be impossible for thinking people – on either side – to feel so casual about war.  Bloodier battles would be fought in the next few years. . .but none would be quite so educational.”  The “picnic”of American life had been rudely interrupted.

For a key to the individuals depicted in The Awakening,

If you would like to see more of my Civil War-themed work, or are interested in ordering prints, please visit my website at or email me at  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

150 Years Ago Today, July 17, 1861, Part 2: Union Troops on the March to Bull Run Creek in Virginia

Road to Bull Run

Calm Before the Storm

As the war began to unfold in the summer of 1861, the vast majority of Union soldiers were volunteers who had received very little military training, unused to the discipline of military life. The 25-mile march from Washington, D.C. to Manassas Junction, Virginia was hot and boring and subject to many halts, due to the difficulty of mobilizing such large numbers of men. On these occasions, the soldiers found other ways to entertain themselves:

“July 17, 1861. On the way (from Annandale to Fairfax Court House, Virginia) we found an old railroad embankment, and I never saw blackberries more plenty. We stopped and ate what we wanted. . .July 21. Almost nine o’clock in the forenoon we reached Sudley church. . .We now took a side road that skirted a piece of woods and marched for some distance, the men amusing themselves with laughter and jokes, with occasional stops for berries. . .” -- Private Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Company D, Second Rhode Island Volunteers

“They stopped every moment to pick blackberries or get water, they would not keep in the ranks, order as much as you pleased. . .” -- Union General Irvin McDowell

“. . .for all my personal efforts I could not prevent the men from straggling for water, blackberries, or anything on the way they fancied.” -- Union Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman

If you would like to see more of my Civil War-themed work, or are interested in ordering prints, please visit my website at or email me at 

150 Years Ago Today, July 17, 1861, Part I: Confederates at Blackburn's Ford, Viriginia


Road to Manassas

Hopes Burn Bright

Prior to the first major battle of the Civil War – first Manassas, as it was later known to Confederates, or First Bull Run, as it was would be called by Federals – recruits of both sides were quite naïve about the realities of war. Nearly everyone believed that this would be a war of short duration, that a single battle would resolve the matter, and that what few deaths might result would be quick and glorious. For many young men who had never been away from their farms or home towns, the war was viewed as a “grand adventure” which they would enjoy describing to their grandchildren years into the future. An atmosphere of youthful enthusiasm, bravado, and high spirits pervaded the camps.

This image is inspired by an account taken from the memoirs of Alexander Hunter, who when only a teenager enlisted with the 17th Virginia Infantry. It features members of the regiment (Hunter is at the far left) around a campfire at Blackburn’s Ford on the night of July 17, 1861. The next morning would find these troops involved in a skirmish with Federals that would become a prelude to the First Battle of Manassas.

Hunter recounts some of the early notions of his fellow compatriots: “Imaginative battles were rather of the ‘Iliad’ order – a few rounds, then a rush of cold steel and all was over. It was agreed that Company A should go into action with each man carrying a revolver in his belt and a bowie-knife in his bootleg; it would look decidedly war-like and unique. . . .There was one little fellow, a private named Hunter, who grew meditative as the discussions waxed more thrilling. . .This bowie-knife business might be a very good thing, he thought, for immense fellows. . .but for a sixteen-year-old soldier of ninety-seven pounds fighting weight, it might not prove so very amusing after all.”

If you would like to see more of my Civil War-themed work, or are interested in ordering prints, please visit my website at or email me at 

Reception at the Hauser Winery on Saturday, July 16

I just wanted to take a minute to say "thanks" to my daughter, Laura, and son-in-law, Greg, for their help with my Artist's Reception at Hauser Winery. Laura has worked in the hospitality industry for quite a few years and was very much at-ease with creating a beautiful presentation with the simple fare we'd brought. Greg took the lead on the loading and unloading of supplies and all in all, it couldn't have gone any more smoothly. Plus, it was great fun to have them for a visit from Cincinnati. The second photo I took of them and their two English Springer Spaniels, Remy and Roxie, while we walked through Devil's Den on the Gettysburg battlefield, near sunset. It's great to have the support of your family!

The exhibit of my work at Hauser Winery (410 Cashtown Road in Biglerville, PA, just west of Gettysburg and a little north of Rte. 30) will continue through August 17. Hope you get a chance to stop out!

Friday, July 15, 2011

150 Years Ago, Mid-July 1861: While the soldiers were marching...

Rose O’Neal Greenhow

Red-Hot Fires of Patriotism

As the 1860’s began, Rose O’Neal Greenhow was a wealthy, attractive and outgoing widow, who made no effort to conceal her strong Southern sympathies. Living just across Lafayette Park from the White House in Washington, D.C., and being a very popular member of Washington’s highest social circles, Rose was strategically positioned to secure information valuable to her beloved Confederate cause.

Armed with these facts, Col. Thomas Jordan, a United States officer with strong Southern sympathies of his own, approached Rose about developing a Confederate spy ring, and supplied her with a cipher code to use in sending messages. By April of 1861, Rose had developed a network of spies, ranging from ordinary household servants – to whom she referred as her “little birds” – to prominent professionals and government officials.

Through the assistance of this network, Rose was able to provide General P.G.T. Beauregard with the timetable for the Union advance on Manassas. On July 10th, a courier delivered a small package to Brigadier General Milledge Bonham to forward to General Beauregard. The package, a piece of black silk folded to the size of a silver dollar, contained the message informing General Beauregard that General Irvin McDowell would lead 35,000 Union troops out of Washington on July 16th.

Subsequent information from Rose described McDowell’s plan to advance through Arlington, Alexandria, and Centreville, Virginia on his way to his objective of destroying the railroad lines at Manassas Junction. Because this information allowed the Rebels time to consolidate their forces, Jefferson Davis credited Rose with helping the Confederate army to achieve this first major victory.

If you would like to see more of my Civil War-themed work, or are interested in ordering prints, please visit my website at or email me at 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

150 Years Ago Today: July 14, 1861

Waiting for War
“My Dear Sarah…”
Waiting for War depicts the importance placed on writing and receiving letters, in the lives of all soldiers, in an age before telephones, pagers and email; a time when letters were about the only means of communicating with loved ones far away.  Letters were looked upon as treasures, and families saved them for years afterwards.  Letter-writing was a serious, almost sacred activity to those involved in it.  And when one of the writers was a soldier preparing for battle, the letter took on additional meaning, since there was a real possibility it could be his last.
A letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry serves as the inspiration for this image.  While at Camp Clark, near Washington, D.C. on July 14, 1861 – one week prior to the first Battle of Manassas – Major Ballou wrote a very moving letter home to his wife, describing his feelings about fighting for his country as well as the depth of his love for her.  The intense internal conflict he experienced over his divided loyalties to country and family are vividly described in this, his last letter, which was never mailed but found amongst his belongings upon his death in battle a week later.

To read the text of Major Ballou's letter, please visit:

To see more of my Civil War-themed work, or to inquire about purchasing originals or prints, please visit my website at, or email me at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

150 Years Ago this Month: American Families Prepare for War, Part 3

This is another piece in my Beyond the Battlefield series aimed at showing how war impacted all portions of society, regardless of age or sex:

No Idle Hands
"There is Much for Us to Do, and We Must Do It!"

The statement above, made by Judith McGuire, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia (and a refugee for much of the war), illustrates the "commitment to their cause" demonstrated by women in both North and South as war became a reality. Almost as quickly as American men began enlisting in the war effort, American women began doing all they could to support them.

From the very beginning, it was obvious that many things would be needed by the soldiers which the women they left at home could supply: underclothing, shirts, pants, blankets, etc. Women of the era were trained from a young age to knit, crochet and sew a wide variety of items, so it was only natural that in such a time they would gather together to produce them in great quantity.  Lucy Wood of Charlottesville, Virginia spoke volumes in a letter to her fiancee when she wrote, “Our needles are now our weapons. . .”  In numerous diary accounts of the early war effort, however, it becomes obvious that the non-stop needlework was prompted by more than just a desire to provide for loved ones; activity was a constructive way of dealing with anxiety. Virginian Sara Pryor said it well: “To be idle in war is torture.”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

150 Years Ago this Month: American Families Prepare for War, Part 2

The men who determined to volunteer were faced with a painful moment of separation -- saying goodbye to family left behind. Often we see images created from the point of view of adults, but because of my firm conviction that war and the upheaval brought on by it affects all members of a society, I wanted to create some images that told the story from the point of view of the children. A Promise to Return is the first of those images.

This has been one of the most popular pieces in my Beyond the Battlefield series, and I suspect that is because it conveys a timeless scenario: with our current military involvements we have watched this scene played out countless times in the media and within our own communities and families, as have Americans of many other generations. The clothing changes but the emotional impact does not.

To view my entire body of Civil War artwork, I invite you to visit

Saturday, July 9, 2011

150 Years Ago this Month: American Families Prepare for War, Part 1

When I made the decision to pursue the genre of Civil War art, I felt I needed a direction -- something that would tie my individual images together in a cohesive fashion. What made the most sense to me was to work through the various events and scenarios of the war in a chronological fashion, and the colored pencil drawing above, Conflict of Interest, thus became the first piece in the series.

When it became obvious that war was becoming a reality for 1860's Americans and volunteers would be needed in large numbers, couriers were sometimes sent out to those who lived on farms outside of towns to deliver the news and encourage enlistment. My research indicates that many American men at that time were actually relieved to see this day come; war had been threatened for so long that there was an almost "let's get this over with" mentality. But as a wife and a mother, my perspective is different; I was imagining a young mother with small children at home, interrupted from a quiet tea with her husband, anxious of how this turn of events would affect all of their lives in the days to come.

To view my entire body of Civil War artwork, I invite you to visit my website at

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One-Day, Painting/Drawing Give-Away for History Meets the Arts

This past Saturday I had my gallery -- Civil War Fine Art in Gettysburg, PA -- open from 10 until 8, and invited gallery visitors to watch and ask questions as I developed a small (6" x 9") watercolor and colored pencil painting on PastelMat, as well as enter their names in a drawing to win this composition at the end of the day. At 7 pm, I drew the name of a couple from Harrisburg, and will be shipping the finished, matted piece to them today.

The image is of the Stone House, a prominent landmark on the Manassas National Battlefield in Virginia. As part of my Civil War 150 Project, I decided that each year I do this One-Day painting/drawing event, I'll feature a landmark from a major battle of that anniversary year. Since 2011 is the 150th anniversary for the year 1861, and since the First Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run) was a significant event in that year, I chose this site to depict for this event. For reference for this piece, I used a black-and-white 1861 photograph of the house and edited out several of the people, as well as added in the color using modern photographs for reference. I hope the couple who recieves this painting will be pleased!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Days 4 and 5, Gettysburg Plein Air Paint-Out at the Fringe Festival

It's been a busy but productive week! On Monday, June 13, I painted in the morning with Dianne Lorden, Sue Gray and Jonathon Frazier at the Rose Farm off Emmittsburg Rd on the Gettysburg battlefield. Then in the afternoon I painted out at Hauser Winery in Arendstville on a perfectly glorious (albeit a little windy) day.

Tuesday, June 14, found me in the company of Claire Carnell, Linda Young, Paul Gallo and Sue Gray in the Devil's Den/Slaughter Pen area of the battlefield.

Today I was supposed to have painted at Meade's headquarters (Leister farmhouse) on the battlefield, but it was persistently raining/drizzling and not terribly conducive to toting an art set-up a fair distance, as there's no really close parking area to that farm. So I opted to spend my time preparing for this evening's Edible Art Tour, the kick-off to History Meets the Arts, where I'll be "stationed" at Lincoln Into Art (next door to my own gallery) with artist/owner Wendy Allen, gallery director Elaine Henderson, and photographer Dan Mangan. This is a ticketed event which runs from 5 - 9, and is a part of the Gettysburg Festival. Tomorrow and Saturday I'll have my own gallery open from 10 am until 8 pm, where I'll be focusing on my personal "Civil War 150 Project". Looking forward to it and hope you'll come out to visit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 3, Plein Air Paint-Out at the Gettysburg Fringe Festival

Sunday I painted at the absolutely indescribably-gorgeous Beech Springs Farm in Orrtanna, with painting buddies Claire Carnell and Linda Young. We had a brief interruption for a pretty serious thunderstorm, but fortunately we were able to take cover in the barn on the property. The storm passed quickly and I was able to complete this watercolor and ink sketch in the remaining time. A beautiful day (after the storm, anyway), great company and idyllic surroundings. Guess you couldn't ask for more!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 2, Gettysburg Festival/Fringe Festival

I didn't participate in the Paint-Out yesterday, due to needing to open my gallery on a Saturday. But I did attend the Artists' Reception at the BarnArt 2011 exhibit at the GAR hall, where I learned that I'd won First Prize for my entry, Summer Sunset, McPherson Farm, seen above! This small (approx. 6" x 8") painting is done on PastelMat -- a sanded pastel paper that has a very fine grit, feeling almost like velour -- using several underneath washes of watercolor pencil and finished with layers of dry colored pencil for detail and enhancement. All in all, I've had a very exciting start to the Festival!

Today I'll open the gallery at around noon but then will close to join fellow painters Claire Carnell and Linda Young at Beech Springs Farm in Orrtanna, PA, at the Old-Fashioned Sunday Supper paint-out. After my return I'll reopen the gallery, and hopefully this evening or tomorrow morning I'll have a new piece or two to post.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 1, Plein Air Paint-Out at the Gettysburg Fringe Festival PLUS More Good News!

Yesterday (Friday, June 10) was a very productive art day for me! In the morning I set up at the Eisenhower Farm to paint. Turns out I was the only artist at that location, so it was very quiet, but I managed to find a nice spot in the shade a little distance behind the house and created this watercolor and ink sketch of the house and a portion of the barn.

In the afternoon I attended a free workshop at the Gettysburg Railroad Station hosted by Chroma, a manufacturer of "interactive" acrylics -- a product I had not been familiar with -- entitled Luminous Landscapes. It was interesting and though I don't generally work in acrylics I did create a small ground for use as the basis for a future landscape, based on the techniques and using the materials Jennifer VonnStein provided. If I find a vista that will lend itself to this base, later this week during the Paint-Out, I'll probably add Prismacolor ArtStix to see what effect that creates.

After the workshop Mary Beth Brath, Jackie Mickler and myself headed up to the square to do some more plein air work, with the news that a local television station would be arriving at 4 to do a short interview for Festival plublicity. They did indeed arrive at 4 but went off to interview a musical group first, and as I needed to be at the opening reception for the Adams County Arts Council Juried Exhibition shortly after 5, I just couldn't stay any longer and took my leave. Still, I did get most of the way through another watercolor and ink sketch which I'll hopefully finish today and post soon.

Then: at the opening reception for the ACAC Juried Exhibition, I was awarded second prize for a piece I've posted several times this year, Transformation/Liberation -- the second in my Sarah Emma Edmonds series! I was stunned and excited to have received this honor. Quite a day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

April 1861: War Hits Home

Sometimes written histories can lead us into considering war only in the abstract. But the Civil War, like all wars, was experienced deeply by the individuals of the era. This is the first of several posts of my artwork, meant to illustrate examples of the personal realities of the War.

In April of 1861, as President Lincoln put out his call for 75,000 volunteers after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, James P. Mills, the oldest son of Galen and Elizabeth Mills of Ripley Township in Huron County, Ohio, was a student at Baldwin University (now Baldwin-Wallace College) in Berea. Though nearing the completion of his education, Mills was thoroughly convinced that the proper place for him at this time was in the service of his country. Unlike many other Northern recruits, however, who insisted that theirs was simply a fight to save the union, Mills’ own stated cause was the elimination of “accursed slavery”, and his fervor was fed by his environment, as he writes in his letter to his siblings that “the faculty are for war to a man”.

While this Ohio college student in his early twenties pens a letter brimming with idealism, a letter written at the same time by his mother to her other children bears a slightly different attitude. She is in Berea at the time the call for volunteers is made, and witnesses all of the pageantry and patriotic zeal: rallies to recruit volunteers held every evening, a procession of citizens through the town accompanied by martial music and the firing of cannon, speeches by faculty and students in favor of taking up arms, and a campus flag-raising by her own son and another soon-to-be soldier. She understands the needs of the country, and her convictions tell her that she must not stand in the way of her son doing what he feels is his duty, but her heart is overwhelmed by the sentiments of a mother fearful of losing her child. In fact, on James’ own letter, she has included a sentence hastily scrawled in the margin: “kep [sic] this letter safe it may be the last from J.”

To see this and other colored pencil images in my series, Beyond the Battlefield, please visit Or better yet, stop in to my gallery, Civil War Fine Art, 333 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA, this summer and especially during History Meets the Arts (June 16 - 19), a part of the Gettysburg Festival, June 10 - 19!

Monday, May 9, 2011

150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War

One hundred and fifty years ago this spring, our country was in a period of tremendous turmoil. In December of the previous year, South Carolina had seceded from the Union, prompting the headline seen in my colored pencil painting at the top, The Union is Dissolved! Other states would follow their lead in the coming months, and by mid-summer, eleven states had joined the Confederacy, demonstrated by the flag depicted in the painting. Preparations for war were begun in earnest, and the Confederate volunteer depicted is wearing a uniform typical of some of the early regiments that were formed in the South. In response to the attack on Fort Sumter, where an unusual version of the American flag as portrayed in my second painting, To Arms! had come under severe fire and was taken down by the Confederate victors, President Abraham Lincoln issued an immediate call for 75,000 troops from those states loyal to the Union, to put down the rebellion. The Union states were quick to respond and in fact offered many more volunteers than Lincoln had requested.

The two paintings were created to be companions to each other but reveal an important difference between the two armies: while the Confederacy had every bit as much passion for its cause as the Union, it lacked the numbers of available troops, a factor which would become critical as the War progressed. These two large paintings are prominently displayed in the entrance hallway to my gallery, Civil War Fine Art, located at 333 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, PA, and will greet visitors during the History Meets the Arts event this June 16 - 18.

To see more of my Civil War-related colored pencil paintings, please visit my website at

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And I Forgot to Mention...

My last post reminded me that I never mentioned that my colored pencil/mixed media painting featured previously on this blog, Departure, was accepted into Explore This! 7, an online exhibition of mixed media works which are 75% colored pencil, presented by the Colored Pencil Society of America through January 31, 2012. You may view the complete exhibition up until that date by visiting the CPSA website at

Great news!

I learned just yesterday that my recently-completed piece, Transformation/Liberation, was one of 117 works accepted into the Colored Pencil Society of America's 19th Annual International Exhibition, to be held June 29 - July 31 at the Charles W. Eisemann Center in Dallas, Texas. I'm very excited about this, particularly because the piece is so new and such a different approach for me that I hadn't quite concluded how I felt about it, and am extremely honored to have my newest work displayed in such a prestigious venue.

To see more of my colored pencil and mixed media Civil War-themed works, please visit

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Ohio Civil War Collectors Show

I spent this past weekend as a vendor at the Ohio Civil War Collectors Show in Mansfield, Ohio. If you're into Civil War memorabilia of any sort, I strongly suggest you check out this show for next year. It's traditionally held the first full weekend of May (they made it a week earlier this year for some reason but next year it's back to its usual weekend) and features something like three large buildings full of anything Civil War-related you can think of, plus a sutler area, displays of period items, CW scenarios of various types, and even some Revolutionary War encampments and scenarios. I've done this show for many years and no matter what the weather, it's very well-attended.

This year I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of a new book by Lois Lambert, Treasured Memories of a Civil War Widow, seen above. Lois' book features my artwork, A Promise to Return, on the cover and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. Lois is a very well-respected author of Ohio Civil War-related subjects, having won the 2009 Oliver Hazard Perry Award for best Ohio Related Military History. I've begun reading this new book and am very impressed. I'll be offering her books for sale in my Gettysburg gallery this summer.

To view more of my Civil War-related artwork, please visit

Monday, April 11, 2011

150th Anniversary of the Confederate Attack on Fort Sumter

Today -- or tonight, really -- marks the anniversary of the fateful day when Major Robert Anderson decided against evacuating from Fort Sumter, off the coast of Charleston, SC, as demanded by the newly-formed Confederate government, and the Confederates retaliated by shelling the fort at around 4:30 am on April 12, 1861. 

Mary Chesnut, seen in my painting above entitled Mary Chesnut: Witness to War, was the wife of former senator James Chesnut, who had recently resigned from his position as U.S. senator to join the Confederacy. Her husband was one of the men who had taken a rowboat out to the doomed fort in hopes of negotiating a settlement with Major Anderson. She realized that the nation was embarking on an odyssey that would figure significantly in history, and determined to keep a diary of events as they transpired throughout the war. Though thoroughly Southern, Mrs. Chesnut is often characterized as having managed to keep a relatively unbiased accounting of all that occurred during that war. The quote seen below her image, "Woe to those who began this war, if they were not in bitter earnest," comes from a diary post much later in the war when the civilian population had grown disillusioned and weary of the conflict.

To  read more about this particular painting, or to see more of the works I have produced for my personal Civil War 150 project, and the Women of Distinction series, please visit my website at

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

John Brown, Abolitionist: "The Prophet"

Another key player in the events that eventually led to the beginning of the Civil War was the abolitionist, John Brown. I created this image in 2009 after researching his life, and several of my sources contained photographs of him from various eras. I was immediately struck by the short period of time that separated the two images I eventually selected to create this painting: the first was taken in 1847, the second only TWELVE YEARS late, in 1859! To be fair, in the second photo, he had grown the long, flowing beard in hopes that it might help disguise his appearance. Still, that's a pretty dramatic change to have occur in one's appearance, in only twelve years; most likely indicative of the tremendous stress his life and abolitionist activities created for him.

I'm honored to report that in October of 2009, the U.S. Marine Corps selected this image for the cover of their history magazine, Fortitudine,  to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Brown's raid on the arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). To see this and more pieces of art in my Civil War 150 Project, please visit my website, .

Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 is the 150th Anniversary of the first year of the Civil War, 1861

As noted on the sidebar, this June I will be participating in History Meets the Arts, a part of The Gettysburg Festival. (For a full understanding of what this fabulous ten-day Festival has to offer, please read the sidebar and follow the link provided.) At my gallery, Civil War Fine Art, located at 333 Baltimore St. in Gettysburg, I will be featuring my Civil War 150 Project (full details also in sidebar). This year I will be showcasing more than twenty works which focus on the years leading up to, and including, the first year of the war, 1861.

For today's post I have included my painting of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. When Abraham Lincoln met her during the war, legend has it that he greeted her with, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." While that may be an exaggeration, there's no doubt that Ms. Stowe's publication of this novel in 1852 brought attention to the horrors of slavery in a more personal way than political speeches and newspapers could ever hope to accomplish, helping to galvanize the abolitionist cause, and thereby playing a significant role in shaping the attitudes that led to the war.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation/Liberation, FINAL

As I had hoped, I did manage to finish this piece yesterday afternoon and my photographer, Emily Puls, was able to photograph it for me so that now I really do have a professional photograph of it to post, where the colors and values are properly balanced! As is so often the case when I finish a long-term project, at the moment I really can't say how I feel about it -- one time I look at it, I'm very happy with it; the next time I look at it I have many, many doubts and misgivings. It will take some time, I'm sure, for me to see this one somewhat objectively.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Step 15, Sarah Emma Edmonds, II: Transformation/Liberation

Coming down the home stretch with this, now -- I'd like to be finished by Saturday so that I can have my photographer shoot it over the weekend, for entry into a couple of juried exhibitions. It's really gotten to be exciting to work on now, since the remaining areas have little to do with reality, and a lot to do with emotion, spontaneity and expression.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Step 14, Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation/Liberation

Starting to get more into the three inset panels at the bottom -- worked mostly on the far right. I'm fairly well pleased with that portion so I'll move over to the section of woods separating that panel from the middle panel.  I'll be glad when I have a professional photographer shoot this -- my photos come out unevenly lit, sometimes too light, sometimes too dark (like now). But at least I get a chance to see how the image works in a different size than the way I normally view it -- helps put some distance between me and the work and possibly allows me to see it with a more critical eye.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Step 13, Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation/Liberation

The woods may be mostly done, now. The center section seems to be showing some glare, despite the fact that I didn't use a flash when photographing it --- may have just been the way the light was striking it. I think it's far enough developed to permit me to work on some other portion. The most under-developed section at this point is the lower right, so that's where I'll turn my attention next. It's starting to feel like completion may be fairly close -- up to now I've just been working on it, without a clear vision for how much more needed to happen and how long that might take.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Step 12, Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation/Liberation

Closing in on that middle woods section and the lower three "inserts". This is not the best photographic image I could have gotten; I took it as the sun was close to setting so I wouldn't have to use a flash, and the left portion is darker than it should be while the right is lighter than it should be. But I'll be exhibiting and selling my prints at the Marketplace of the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860's Conference in Harrisburg (actually Camp Hill), PA this weekend so I didn't think I'd have any other time to post. If you're in the area, stop in and say hello: we're at the Radisson in Camp Hill from noon - 7 on Friday, 8 - 5 on Saturday and 8 - 2 on Sunday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Step 11, Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation/Liberation

Just a few additions to the righthand side, trying to give the righthand portion an inviting, peaceful, "beckoning" appearance. (Note my addition to the title of the word "Liberation" - it's a possibility I'm now considering.) I'm just about ready to start doing sometthing with that center woods section now -- I think I have determined a way to start into that portion.

I'm chuckling as I type this because one of my friends told me on Wednesday, after looking at the beginnings of the shrouded figure I have in the lower left hand section, that she thought it looked like a grub. I'm not sure that's all bad -- Sarah was at a pretty low point at that time in her life. How much lower could anyone get than a grub?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Step 10, Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation

Today's post is primarily a case of my wanting to add the image and see how it looked to me, presented in a different way. I guess I've been looking at it too long today. Since the theme of the piece is, after all, as its working title suggests - "Transformation" -- it's intentional on my part that the woods on the left looks quite different from the woods on the right. But while I like both sides individually, I'm still completely unclear as to how I want to make the needed transition in the middle of the composition. I guess it's a good thing that I won't be able to work on it again for at least a day or two! Maybe some time away will help me see it in a new light, just as seeing it in this posted, "mini" version might do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sarah Emma Edmonds II: Transformation, Step 9

I've reached the point where this is starting to get very exciting to work on. It's interesting to me that for so long, the idea that I didn't know every last detail of what I was doing in a given composition was terribly intimidating to me. But now, having a basic plan in mind but staying open to the possibilities, the twists and turns that may present themselves, is what I find really interesting about creating art. I'm still a bit vague about exactly what's going to happen in the middle section of this woods, but occasionally I stop and add color and step back to see if I like the additions. And I'm definitely OK with the "not knowing", for now. I find that phenomenon interesting, and wonder if there's a similarity there to how Sarah Emma may have felt as she worked on her new, untested identity.