Reference Photograph for “Civil War”

Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bartlett utilized film photography stills to help with the positioning of models for his paintings. In the preparatory stages of a painting, work began by completing compositional studies. Then the artist would have the models pose while he drew finished charcoal and graphite studies from life. A preliminary color study in gouache or oil was usually completed as a template prior to starting the larger canvas.

To have the forms look as if they are being reflected in the melting snow in the painting, Bartlett cut and taped two black and white photographs together positioning one upside down below the other to create a mirror image. This image is telling in many ways since his first painting after winning a PEW Fellowship grant, “Hiroshima,” is used as a backdrop and it reveals that the artist himself had initially posed for the central figure of the dying soldier. Both paintings from his 1993-1994 PEW grant are currently on view in the Scarborough Gallery of The Bo Bartlett Center.