Gaines’ Mill Battlefield / oil

A field once drenched in blood now has a nice crop of tall red grass.

A field once drenched in blood now has a nice crop of tall red grass.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gretchen Getsinger
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 20:07:53

    Hard to imagine the field drenched in blood. I think you did a great job showing it drenched in sun!


    • chris ludke
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:01:56

      hi Gretchen, Thanks. OMG this place. It’s beautiful but very dark subject matter. It’s almost overwhelming. I could write so much about it I didn’t know where to start. And it might be too sad and scary for the blog. If not for my deep reverence for the place Confederates would have run me off. This is not my imagination.


      • Gretchen Getsinger
        Sep 28, 2013 @ 18:44:08

        I’ve never painted on or near a battlefield but from my experience of painting in cemeteries and grave yards I feel that I can validate that it’s not just your imagination that you’re picking up on a dark, deep vibe. We’re artists, sensitive to that kind of energy….

      • chris ludke
        Sep 29, 2013 @ 00:02:15

        You painted in a cemetery?! We do have something in common!! Do you think it would be ok to talk about it on the blog or do you think it would scare away our readers? People ask me stupid questions sometimes because they’re afraid I’ll sell a painting on sacred ground. When I talk to someone who seems intelligent but they ask a lot of annoying questions I know what’s really on their mind. Then I just come out and say I’m not selling this to you here. Then they think I’m psychic. hahaha 😉 Did you ever have that experience?

      • Gretchen Getsinger
        Sep 29, 2013 @ 08:42:48

        I’ve painted in several local cemeteries for many years and part of the reason is that, for the most part, I don’t enjoy people or their questions when I paint in public places. I also love cemeteries and have no fear. I learned to love cemeteries & respect my ancestors from my Southern grandmother. I often went with her to clean grave sites and plant more flowers. I once wrote a paper for a class on why I love painting in cemeteries and got an A, so I think that people on blogs might find it interesting why cemeteries are an interesting subject for painters.

        I haven’t had an experience quite like the one you mentioned but I have had experience with people who think it’s ok to interrupt me when I’m working to ask what I think are dumb/irrelevelant questions. One of the worst was when I was painting on a roadside and a woman driving a van parked so that her van blocked the sun and light I was after and let 3 children out of the van to ply me with questions. I told her I wasn’t there to answer Career Day questions and I’d appreciate it if she’d move her van out of my light. She was most offended.

        Sometimes, when I’m working in public, people ask to buy the painting I’m working on but I tell them they’ll have to come to a show when it’s for sale and ask for their address so I can mail them a card. I’ve never been asked to sell a painting in a cemetery because hardly ever does anyone stop by to talk, which is one reason I’m working there. I enjoy working in the sacred atmosphere, as well, which I think a battlefield is also sacred ground. Another reason I spent so much time working in local cemeteries is that it was a good place to be working while I was inwardly working on my grief for persons who’d recently passed. Often that person’s name is on one of the gravestones in the final painting.

      • chris ludke
        Sep 29, 2013 @ 17:39:03

        Thanks for sharing !! I got inspired to draw the angels in Hollywood Cemetery about 6 weeks before an x boyfriend of mine died a horrible scary death. He saw my 1st drawings and thought it was so cool. Then I was so messed up by the way he died I hid in the cemetery for a couple years drawing. A lot of people visit Hollywood Cemetery and talk to me. That’s where I got used to working in plein air and dealing with the public. Usually I enjoy talking to people even kids. I explain what I’m doing. But sometimes a person asks me “What else do you do?” And I don’t know what they mean. I have a couple answers lined up for that one depending on if I like the person or not! haha Once I told a guy I always do what the voice in my head tells me to do. But when the dumb questions go on too long I get tired of it. I do take frequent breaks any way and I’m not in a hurry to finish the painting, so what the h–l , I’ll talk.

      • Gretchen Getsinger
        Sep 29, 2013 @ 23:11:03

        I’m so sorry for the loss of your ex-boyfriend.

        Hanging in a cemetery, working on a painting, has been a healing process for me in many ways. There are 4 or 5 where I used to go often and mainly for the privacy but also to deal with grief and loss and eventually coming to a place of closure. It seems to me that your Hollywood Cemetery was a place for you to connect to your ex-boyfriend and come to terms with his tragic loss.

        The places I’ve gone where people bother me the most is a few local State Parks, a Nature Center and the Town Green in a nearby town. I’ve had some wonderful, serendipitous encounters with people and I’ve met some that are totally awful, some so awful I’ve been afraid. It seems that the best thing in dealing with people is to rely on your intuition & be assertive. Or consider the interruption as part of the Art. I’d rather have people asking dumb questions than have a person hitting on me. The cemeteries I go to aren’t well-populated by the living, so a place of refuge.

      • chris ludke
        Sep 30, 2013 @ 15:26:13

        I’m sorry to hear about your loss too. And ironic that you also took refuge in a cemetery. It helped me get through a bad time and improved my drawing at the same time. I thought God gave me comfort in advance. Hollywood Cemetery still buries people every week but it’s also a tourist spot because of the dead presidents and war heroes. They have big ceremonies for the Civil War at Jeff Davis’ monument and the confederate monument where the dead Confederate soldiers are buried. Tour busses come in and people on segways. most of the time I was alone but a lot of people told me historical things and crazy stories. Some of the grave diggers talked to me. Those guys have stories I can’t put on the computer. I felt like I was in God’s little fishbowl the whole time , so I was surprised at the mischief I heard about! No one hits on me. haha I ain’t all that good looking, but maybe they’re superstitious and are scared of me because I’m left handed.
        And places that are unsafe like the James River rapids because every miscreant in town goes down there. when I see the 1st sign a crazy person is around I pack up and go. Also I go there in the morning before the criminals are out or when the weather is great so more people are around.

  2. Shelby Pizzarro
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 14:31:56

    Please do keep the conversation going! It’s interesting for me to hear about the experiences of working en plein aire, since I really am a studio artist.


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