Friday, 14 September 2012

The Last Hostile Apaches

On 4 September 1886 Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua  Apaches finally surrendered to the US Army - mainly infantry - commanded by  Brigadier General Nelson  Miles. This is generally considered the end of the Indian wars, although further localised trouble took place with the Crows in 1887 and Sioux in 1890. A few recalcitrant Apaches never surrendered hiding away in the wild Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. There were occasional reports, up to the early 1920s, of minor depredations, such as cattle stealing. Some may still be there. 

The Historic photograph of the hostile Apaches.

Geronimo left, mounted on the horse with Naiche (son of Cochise) mounted next to him. Geronimo's son is holding a baby. This was taken in March 1886 when Geronimo was in negotiation with General Crook before surrendering. Subsequently the US government, as frequently happened in it's dealing with the Indians, reneged on the deal and the Apaches fled. Crook was so disgusted he tendered his resignation, which was accepted, replaced by General Miles, a more ruthless and ambitious individual. Miles using 5000 troops and numerous `friendly' Apache scouts  finally cornered Geronimo and his band of less than thirty the following September.

 Geronimo (centre bottom), and the remnants of his band on the way to prison in Florida. a single woman is part of the group shown here. On the way to Florida one warrior somehow escaped and made his way back to Arizona or New Mexico, hundreds of miles, without being seen let alone captured. This episode was made into a film with Burt Lancaster as the warrior, but in usual Hollywood fashion bore  little relation to the facts.

The top photograph was my entry into the AVA subject of `Transport'. We are allowed considerable flexibility (!) and as the horse was the principal Indian mode of transport I  selected the first photograph. The second could well have been considered as it depicts the captives train but too complicated by far for me to attempt.

I began by making as accurate a drawing as possible given the difficulty of interpreting the photograph, then started painting Naiche, beginning at his hat and working downwards.

Further progression with three of the four figures and horses completed except for final touches.

Geronimo - "16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb (300gsm) Not

I had to use my imagination for the colours plus my knowledge of the Apaches dress sense. A useful reference was a small booklet in the Osprey Men-At-Arms Series `The Apaches' Paperback 48 pages 1989.

Although this painting is 16" x 12" the actual figures are quite small with a lot of detail, much of it impossible to see clearly if at all. I used only two brushes the Isabey 6201 retractable Kolinsky sables sizes 4 and 6. This is against the trend recently where I have been resisting small brushes, but using larger brushes would have stretched my capabilities too far. Despite using small brushes - and these Isabeys are small compared to most other makes - I resisted fussy detail and tried very hard to create an impressionistic result that did justice to the subject.

Colours were varied but Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Quinacridone Rust (Graham PO48) and Raw Sienna were the principle ones. The darks were mainly various mixes of Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber and Quinacridone Rust. I also used small amounts of Gold Ochre (W & N PY43) and Raw Umber. The headbands were Viridian and Quinacridone Rose. There is also some Cerulean and Cobalt Blue. I think that's it. The pencil drawing was completed using a Pentel mechanical pencil 07 2B. 

I finished rather pleased with the result because it brings together two of my main interests, watercolour painting and the history of the Indian wars.


Mick Carney said...

Really interesting subject and you've produced an interesting approach that is loose and impressionistic. Those are small brushes, do you not find it a bit of a chore to produce a large wash with them?

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Mick. I'm trying to think if I actually used a slightly larger brush in part but can't recall!
The Isabey No6 was the main one and although small for a 6 is longer and being a Kolinsky holds a fair amount of paint. Apart from the sky bit there weren't any large washes so it wasn't a problem. I wouldn't want to paint like this on a regular basis.

artist said...

I would also be pleased, the colors you've chosen for the Apaches "Transport" is believable, given that you are working with a black and white photo.

I too think that it is hard to paint with small brushes, but in this case your painting is not reflective of using them as it is quite loose.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Delilah. It isn't wonderful but was completed in less than 2 hours including several breaks, although I did the drawing the previous day.