Artist/Illustrator Recreates American Revolutionary Scenes | New
As an artist/illustrator with a background in architecture, Dale Watson has tackled a diverse assortment of portraits and renderings throughout his career. His latest major endeavor is to produce up to 30 paintings depicting scenes from the American Revolution in a venture called the “Liberty Trail Project”, with nine such depictions on canvas currently on display at the Berkeley County Museum at Moncks Corner.
The 63-year-old Mount Pleasant resident is commissioned by the American Battlefield Trust, which is partnering with the South Carolina Battlefield Preservation Trust to make these historic depictions a reality. A year into the process, Watson is continually consulting historians, such as Douglas Bostick, in his quest to achieve 100% accuracy in his drawings from the bygone era of our founding fathers.
Watson, whose earlier historical work can be seen at the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon in Charleston, takes no shortcuts in his quest for perfection. In his Liberty Trail effort, the veteran artist began by sending thumbnail sketches of his preliminary designs to the American Battlefield Trust before they collectively signed off on what a battlefield scene or landscape should look like.
“Once we get all the details, like what uniform and what soldiers would have been there, there’s a lot of back and forth with Doug and the team in Washington. [D.C.]“, described Watson. “Once we have all that, I will refine my line sketches. When we get to the point where everyone likes it, then I go into my color phase.”
In fact, bright colors are the hallmark of many of Watson’s historic framed pictures, such as his painting Fort Fair Lawn, which will be on display at the grand opening of the ancient fortress. the weekend of September 24.
In another of his works, titled “Battle of Kettle Creek”, the artist’s meticulous rigor is on full display as a viewer can grasp the essence and urgency of the soldiers depicted in action.
His original commissioned oil painting of the “Battle of Kettle Creek,” Watson says, was presented to former University of Georgia football head coach Vince Dooley. If one looks closely at the portrait, they might be able to identify the likeness of former Bulldog running back Herschel Walker dressed as one of the soldiers. The only African-American man in the real stalemate is believed to have been linked to the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner.
As for his other paintings and their connection to the role that Mocks Corner and Berkeley County played in the fight against the British Redcoats, Watson mentioned the heroism of “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion in thwarting the enemy. The military officer’s ability to keep the British from navigating through the woods after conquering Charleston, the sketch and color virtuoso noted, was critical to America’s success.
“Having been here for a long time, I think I was uniquely positioned for that,” Watson said. “I’ve been in a bunch of swamps. I’ve been through a lot of them. I really appreciate Francis Marion who snuck into these swamps in mid-August to attack the British camp with the snakes and the alligators outside Something is always stinging or biting or pulling you.
“I’ve often said that the idea of being a 20-year-old Brit from Yorkshire [County]England and landing here would be the equivalent of a poor kid from Washington State or Wisconsin landing in Vietnam in the 1960s. I mean, landing in such a hostile, alien, hot and humid environment, then have an enemy who knows the land and sneaks…”
As the son of an upstate South Carolina area minister and a former Army paratrooper, Watson is constantly on the lookout for new adventures and opportunities to learn more about the story. Recently, he shared the reading of “1776” by David McCullough to better understand the birth of our nation.
What many people may not know, Watson said, is how many American residents remained loyal to British rule at the start of the revolution. In fact, he estimated that a fairly equal number of Loyalists and Patriots lived in South Carolina in the late 1700s.
Painting battlefield portraits, however, is not all Watson does as he remains busy composing architectural renderings as an independent contractor.
When asked for some advice for illustrators, like himself, who want to take a walk on the wild side of painting and art, Watson simply recommends drawing every day.
“Just start doing it. Don’t think about it so much as getting up and doing it every day,” he continued, because that’s the only way for an individual to realize their flaws.
“You have to mess up a lot of paintings…just this struggle you have with this whole piece. Honestly, I haven’t done a painting yet that I’m completely happy with,” the self-proclaimed tough scorer said. .
Watson’s portfolio can be viewed by visiting www.dalewatsonart.com.