I've been in the studio last night and today and I've learned a lot. Namely, how much I've forgotten over the past few years about illustration. I keep reminding myself that it doesn't have to be good, it just has to get the point across. It helps.
Here's a couple sketches for ideas I'm working up.
I'm enjoying getting back into painting, but I still think watercolor and pen is the best way to portray action. Something jumpy and unsettling about it:
Well, back to the drawing board. If you have any feedback, let me know. I'm interested in hearing opinions or questions.
Where to begin with this project? Well, let's start with the basics.
One of the biggest challenges to be overcome is the fact that Nashville today no longer looks like it did in 1864. A century and a half of development has seen to that. Sometimes the changes are relatively minor. For example, here's a view taken sometime around 1885 by a cameraman at Glendale Park, standing near the center of the second day's battlefield (I'd love to know whose little cabin that is in the middle distance):
Now here's roughly the same scene, taken about a year ago:
As you can see, apart from being a bit more suburban, the landscape hasn't changed much. The cabins are bigger, however.
On the other hand, some changes are far more dramatic. Here's one of the few "on the spot" action sketches of the battle, made by an artist for Harper's Weekly in 1864. The scene shows the storming of Redoubt No. 3 on the first day of the battle:
Now here's the scene today at the corner of Hillsboro Road and Woodmont Boulevard. The angle isn't perfect -- the fort that was the center of everyone's attention was on the rise of ground to the left of the photograph:
I wonder how many people drive over that spot every day and have no idea what happened there 148 years ago. The aim of this project is to strip away some of this urban sprawl and allow their ghosts to speak once more. And speaking of ghosts, there are some remarkable reminders of this landscape still with us today. More on that to come.
Looking through old newspapers, it's funny to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. What was the must-see hit for the holiday season a century and a half ago? From the Nashville Daily Union, December 21, 1862:
Hard to believe that this was a "new release" at that time. The world would have to wait 102,106, and 120 years respectively for Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
Welcome to the new blog, make yourself at home. This blog is intended to help me gather information for a project intended for publication about the 1864 Battle of Nashville. The goal is to have everything ready for publication by the sesquicentennial of the battle in 2014. The purpose is to chronicle the process. And to keep me on task and focused, which is something I need to do. Along the way, we'll be going down whatever roads the research leads me down, with some probable side trips as well.
If all goes according to plan, it should be an interesting mishmash of history, art, archaeology, research, and some assorted lunacy. So stay tuned...