The War Artist

Tomorrow is ANZAC day, where we honor the Australian and NZ soldiers who fought for our countries.

It was so named in WWI after what can be described as ‘heavy casualties’ at Gallopoli.   Tomorrow is earmarked by the dawn service, a football game, a public holiday, and the shops not being open till the afternoon.   We also mark Remembrance day on November 11 (also known as Armistice Day but not here) – everyone stops at 11am for a minute’s silence.

Both my grandfathers were in WWII. Lou (Papa) was in the northern territory, I rather think he drove supply trucks. Norm (Grandy) was in Bougainville and served as an electrician in the engineering section. I don’t know a lot about their time, other than neither of them spoke of it when they got back, and Grandy suffered ill health pretty much from his return. I know Grandy was in a theatrical group in the Solomon Islands at one point cause my mum has a booklet. Sounds very like ‘South Pacific’ at this point.

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to be visiting our nation’s capital city, Canberra, the War Memorial is worth a visit, very sobering, incredibly informative, and ALMOST makes a visit there worth while (to Canberra I mean. Yes, I am bagging out Canberra).  I went last year to visit an art exhibition and ended up at the memorial. One of the things that struck me about being there was that every war has a number of war artists, commissioned artists paid to paint what was going on.

I wondered if any of them didn’t make it cause they really just didn’t get what they were there for. I did the following painting : the war artist, after this visit, with just that in mind.


It’s basically a fop Edwardian artist looking to see where he should set up his easel, oblivious to the exploded ruins of people and the medics around him.  He is not going to last long. There is active fighting in the middle ground.

There is also an enormous out of proportion bird in the tree in the distance. I noticed on the pencil sketch that I’d totally made it not to scale and then decided that giant birds needed to rest too.

The setting is very Great War, probably in France, where it was just grey mud and shelled out trees, according to the paintings by the actual war artists.

They still commission war artists.  That would be a job that I don’t think I could do.

2 responses to “The War Artist

  1. Very informative – I also like a big bird in the tree 🙂 Thought you may find some value in a song I recently wrote called “Watercolor.” You may listen and download off my blog: Hope you enjoy.

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