No Man's Land, first painting of the series
During the recent World Cup Series, Anheuser Busch ran a series of TV ads during breaks in the action. Entitled, “Rise As One,” it retold the story of the 1914 Christmas Day Truce that happened in the first months of WW1. If you’re not familiar with the history, it’s a touching story of how the soldiers in both the German and British trenches established a brief peace all on their own, and ventured out into No Man’s Land on Christmas morning, to play a friendly game of football. Soccer.
The British trenches
The German Trenches
Part of an actual trench maintained in Europe
They always say that. I figured I’d lost the job.
Photo of the real Capt. Hamilton
“I’ll get back to you.”
That’s what sold them and they showed it to Anheuser Busch. The job was mine.
Photo of the real Lt. Zemisch
“We’ll get back to you.”
“That’s two paintings a day.” But it didn’t matter, the deadline was set. I wasn’t sure how I’d do it, but I figured I just might make it, if they allowed me to send thumbnails and they’d ok each painting based on those. They were happy to hear that, and agreed. Then they mentioned the gallery shoot.
Stray shell that landed in Hamilton's dugout, but didn't detonate...
“Wait, wait--how big do you think these are gonna to be?”
They loved that one. After conference calls, technical talk, budget clearance, and much concept discussion later, I was good-to-go. Huzza!
Signalman Brookes in his dugout...
The thumbnails shown throughout the post are what I drew while looking at tons of WW1 trench reference. The art director signed off on them and I went from there. First step was to shoot reference of my model: me. I posed for every single figure in the series. I had to. There was no time to line up models.
Starting Friday, March 14th, I had to hit two paintings a day. I figured as I went along, I could adjust earlier paintings while working on the latest ones. My daily schedule was this: Up at 8 am, sketching by 9, getting ok’s by noon, shooting reference and drawing directly to canvas and getting one painting done by 6-ish. Drive to Starbucks, sit and stare over a mocha for one hour. Back to painting until midnight. Watch something until tired by 1am. Back up by 8 am.
But one week in, it all started to unravel.
First, the client had multiple changes to several of the pieces. Not bad, but time-consuming. Second, I was nearly half-way through the paintings when I started losing energy. I slowed down, finding it more difficult to stay focused, and my output dwindled.
I made all the changes, though, packed the first five paintings and shipped them to Gamma One for high rez scans, allowing just enough time for them to get the shots.
That’s when Fedex lost the package.
Next post: trying to find the package while finishing up the next set...with twelve to go.
Signalman Brookes running a message across No Man's Land