Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Left Hand

The Comanches - Lords of the South Plains - were one of the most feared of all Indian tribes. In the late 18th Century it was estimated there were around 45,000, one of the most numerous tribes, but numbers declined so that by 1870 only 8000 were left. The low point came in 1920 with census figures of only 1500. Present day numbers are around 15000.

Comanches were renowned as magnificent horsemen, more at home on a horse than on foot, and  had a reputation - in addition to that of ferocity and cruelty - as excellent horse breeders. Before the coming of the whites they waged war against the Spanish and later the Mexicans and took many captives, some treated as slaves others eventually adopted into the tribe.

At the high point they roamed an enormous area  which covered present New Mexico, Southern Colorado, North-Eastern Arizona, Southern Kansas, Oklahoma and most of North-West Texas. Their home territory was known as Comancheria and they resisted white encroachment - often described as the Comanche barrier to settlement - for many years. The Comanches and Texans especially hated each other and  dreadful hostilities continued between them until the final surrender of Quanah Parker in 1877. For a good history try Wikpedia. I have several books of which `Comanches' The Destruction of a People by T.R.Fehrenbach is excellent,and `The Comanches' Lords of the South Plains by Ernest Wallace and E.Adamson Hoebel another. Quanah Parker, son of a Comanche chief and a white captive woman is one of the most famous individuals, see `Empire of the Summer Moon' by S.C.Gwynne. He later became a wealthy cattleman and  celebrity.

Left Hand - Comanche Warrior circa 1900

Edward Curtis the famous photographer and author of the monumental `The North American Indian', took most of his photographs beginning around 1895. By this time the Indian wars were over but memories were still raw. Much resentment remains to this day, especially on the present day reservations. This photograph may have been taken around 1900 or a little later. I know nothing of this individual other than he was a tribal elder.

Left Hand -Waterford 16" x 12" 140lb (300gsm) Not

I first made a careful pencil drawing using a mechanical pencil  07 with a 3B lead. Beginning with the eyes I painted the features first. Skin colours were various mixes of Cadmium Red Pale (Rowney), Quinacridone Rust (Graham PO48), Raw Sienna, Cobalt Blue and a little Burnt Umber all (mainly) mixed on the paper.. The fur hat is mixtures of Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49), Raw Umber and Raw Sienna. The shirt is Cerulean Blue and Gold Ochre (W & N PY43). I wonder of Hap will approve of the skin colour?


Oscar Solis said...


You have captured the face wonderfully. This is where careful drawing pays off.

One thing I'e noticed is that with every painting you've posted, lately, you seem to be moving away from the Charles Reid. As much as I like Reid (and to me he's one of the best) I think that this is a great thing. It means, if I may be so bold, that you are finding your own voice.

I look forward to seeing more.


Oscar Solis said...

I meant to say "you seem to be moving away from the Charles Reid influence". Sorry, it's very early here.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Oscar. Maybe I am moving away from the CR influence, although another course next May beckons. Possibly this is because I realise I just can't emulate his methods OR it's the natural tendency to tighten up. Who knows? I've been painting in watercolour for 13 years. Unlucky for some? Seriously though I've come across several other fabulous portrait/figure artists, who aren't super realistic, which makes one realise there are other ways.

Oscar Solis said...

Influence is a two edged sword. It's a great starting point. I've seen many painters, artists who were able to move away from the initial influence or incorporate new influences and create a whole new style.

Myself, there is one painter I truly admire and that is Robert Andrew Parker (Charles Reid mentions him in one of his later books as someone he holds high up).
While he draws in a very loose style, more so than I ever would want to, I truly admire his adventuresome sense of coloring and am starting to see elements of that creep into my own work.

Because Mr. Reid's style is so unique, when I spot it, particularly the splashes and drips, in other's work it has a tendency to momentarily pull me away from contemplating on the work itself without flashing back to Mr. Reid's own work. I suppose that's the other edge of the sword.

Still we cannot wholly escape our influences and now that I think about it, even as I type this, it's not a bad thing. We are so inspired by something that we wish to reproduce it. How and why we do so is no one's business but our own.

Thinking about art can be a double edged sword too, I suppose. :)

Anns Art said...

I didn't realise there was so much history to these Indian's. You have done a grand job with your painting of this chap, you have his expression down very well....regards, ann.

Mick Carney said...

I like this one Peter and like the way you are breaking out into something a little different in stylistic terms.

Now as well as providing us with an equipment shopping list you are providing us with a book list. The damage that you are doing to my pension is immense, however a few recent sales might underwrite some of the financial leakage.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Oscar. I like many, many artists but no single one above the others. With CR's splashing style it is easy to overdo it or add them, later whereas he only does it during the painting when he feels he needs to loosen up a little. All art is subjective but like you I know what I like!

Peter Ward said...

Thank you for those kind comments Ann.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Mick. Selling a few then? You've been keeping that under your hat! After disappointments in the last two years I'm giving exhibiting a rest.
Wait until you see future postings on books - I've only just started!

Ray Maclachlan said...

I have to agree with Oscar, Peter. You are painting the way you paint, not like CR, but influenced by him. Keep it up, I like your style. The skin colour is great, was interested in the colours used.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Ray. Both you and Oscar have given me food for thought.

artist said...

In this new painting I can truly see skin coloring that reads "Red-man".

He appears more three dimensional than others that you've painted.

I like this new direction.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Delilah. I didn't consciously do anything different in this one so it just shows...