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 http://www.civilwarfineart.com/. 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 http://www.civilwarfineart.com/.

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 http://www.cpsa.org/.

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 http://www.civilwarfineart.com/.

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 http://www.civilwarfineart.com/.