New Pictures So Far This Year

Hi everyone,

I usually save showing you my new model photographs for the end of the year. Let’s try something different. Here are my best new pictures from January and February 2019.

Seven model photographs have made the cut. As with all my best pictures, these were fun to stage, and then to process in Photoshop. These models are 1/72 scale and are part of my permanent collection of 600 tanks and 150 planes.

Thank you for looking and I hope you enjoy the scenes! Presented in the order they were made.

Corsair over the Solomon Islands, early 1943.

Corsair chases Zero over Guadalcanal island, 1943.

Jagdpanthers gather.


StuG III crosses a Soviet poppy field, 1943.



General Lee tank tackles the rough Tunisian terrain, 1943.

M3 and M7, with soldier and gun crew, Tunisia 1943.

Two M7s race through Italy, 1943.

Weren’t those pictures fun? Where else can we go this year? We’ll see! 🙂


Posted in History, The Literate War, WWII | 2 Comments

In The Dream

I had a dream I saw you. It had been several years since we’d last met up, and there you were, knocking at the back door to my house. We had a brief exchange in my porch.

You were making a simple delivery of some kind—in dreams these details reconcile themselves. Were you bringing a newspaper, or a flyer of some sort? I don’t remember, but you were at my door, we said hello for a second, you dropped off whatever it was and left.

For a moment I thought, “wow, he looks great!” And, “I wish I’d said something to him.”

But I hadn’t. And you were out the door.

Who’s controlling dreams? Who sets the scene, who recruits the characters and dresses the sets? What controls the action, the starts and stops? What’s the theme, the point, the purpose, and why are dreams written on those types of flimsy tissues that seem to float away to forgottenland?

Dreams are forgotten, but not this one.

I was left standing alone, like how I was left standing alone those years ago. When I last saw you, the real you, you didn’t say goodbye. Why would you? We had no bad blood. We were good friends. We didn’t know our end was coming.

If I had known we’d never see each other again, or never write nor call, I would have said something, at whatever gathering we’d last been at together. If I’d known that was going to be it for us, I wouldn’t have accepted it, face to face with you. I would not have let us fall out.

Because we were fine. We were friends. When I had a parting of the ways with someone mutual in our life, you too made a choice. And I burned for it. I was burned very, very badly, in losing you.

Last week’s dream had you walk away very fast, after your delivery. I stood alone on the porch, again missing you, again regretting you were gone. And then you came back.

The dream wasn’t quite over.

You came back into the porch for some little incidental thing, and that was it! I pounced. Not with actions but with words.

“I can’t let you just walk away,” I said.

“I know,” you said, and you used a nickname only my oldest friends knew.

I hugged you. I felt your ear against my cheek. I held you real tight. I blurted a bunch of things. I said, “You are one of the most important people in my life. You are very special to me.” I kept you close and said a lot more than that. Things only you could hear. Words that registered. Because I was right in your ear.

I blinked what I thought would be tears but didn’t feel any come out. I thought they should be coming out, but my eyes and face were dry. I felt betrayed by that, like my body was either faking my sadness or not acknowledging my loss.

“I couldn’t leave him,” you said.

“I know.”

That’s how the dream ended. I got to say my piece. I said a bit of the volume of love I still have for you.

I remember the handwritten note you once left for me, when you were commenting on an art piece. “You bring out something in me that is usually dormant,” you wrote.

I have to tell you. Thank you for coming back into my porch. Thank you for turning around and giving me the chance to hold you, and to gush out what I wanted to say. Because I know that was you, beyond the dream. It was your will that made it happen. The dream walked out. You came back.


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Accomplishments 2018

2018 was a difficult year for a few reasons and although the adversity didn’t keep me from working on creative projects, it did thwart progress on my 4th book. So THE WINNING KIND has been pushed out until 2019.

My 2018 published writing pieces were Touch and This Is What It Feels Like.

I wrote thousands of words for stories that will appear in the book, and although no one has read this material, I spent the winter and spring knocking out the pages.

My photography exhibit ISLE OF PALMS: 72 HOURS was produced and I’m very happy with the pictures, and the writing that went with it. This was my first three-camera exhibit.

I finished twenty-one scale models and developed a 4-stage weathering technique with my model work in the summer. No doubt about it, those models were bright spots in 2018.

I made forty diorama photographs in 2018. These pictures were set on my kitchen table and finished in Photoshop. Ten different sets were used for these photographs–diorama bases that I’ve made with various materials. For these forty final pictures, 4,000 photos were taken to net 110 finalists, of which these forty were selected as the best.

2018’s output touched on four creative outlets:

Scenic photography in South Carolina was exhilarating.

Short fiction writing allowed me to express real and raw emotions that I would never have been able to write without adversity.

Scale model painting, building and detail work got my hands busy with files, drills, knives, metal picks, sandpaper, clay, paints, and many engineering challenges.

Diorama set design and photography allowed me to show how scale models exist in their natural settings.

To the visitors of this site, thank you for checking in. 2019 will bring new, wonderful things.

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Scale model photography 2018

I made several photographs of my scale models this year. These pictures include diorama scenes, with figures and set pieces. These scenes are in 1/72 scale.

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Thank you for looking!


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Scale models I finished in 2018

This year I produced twenty-one models in 1/72 scale. I found a creative outlet in repainting, detailing, and repairing tanks by ModelCollect, Zvezda, Panzerstahl, S-Model, Hobby Master, and DeAgostini.

I developed a 4-step process for producing models with a pleasing finish.

The steps are:

  1. Drybrush the model with a soft, flat 1/2″ wide brush and Testor Model Master white paint.
  2. Apply a black wash with crushed black pastel powder missed with odorless paint thinner.
  3. After a 12 hour drying period, I clean up the black residue, add brown pastel powder with a brush, and spray the entire model with Dullcote rattlecan spray.
  4. After a 4 hour drying period, I painted some fine details and applied a final white drybrushing.

That’s how I standardized my finishes this year.

Now for the models. I hope you enjoy how they look. Each is very special to me and kept me company during stressful times this year.

Panzerstahl Object 704. Completed February 2018.

I’ve added a mantlet cover, extra gear, tow cables and replaced the entire running gear.

ModelCollect E-75 w/ 105mm. Completed March 2018.

Repainted the camouflage pattern including the ambush scheme dots. Added gear and detailed the model front to back, as this was an early ModelCollect offering with crude finishing and sloppy details.

ModelCollect T-90MS. Completed May 2018.

Repainted green for Soviet service. Black Dog resin stowage.

ModelCollect T-90A. Completed June 2018.

She was the first of many precious MBTs to come this summer and fall. T-90A was the first model to feature the 4-step refinishing process.

ModelCollect T-72B3M. Completed June 2018.


Trumpeter IS-3 Special. This is a “What If?” tank of my imagination.

Turret is from an Easy Model IS-3, and the body is from a Trumpeter IS-7, which seemed undersized to me.

ModelCollect T-80U. July 2018.

Grimy and perfect.

ModelCollect T-72 BA(BM). Completed July 2018.

Another gem that makes me smile.

Zvezda T-14 Armata. Completed July 2018.

T-14 was a departure for me, she’s not one of the legacy Soviet MBTs that I was getting to know so well this summer.

ModelCollect T-80BV. Completed July 2018.

As I got to know these Soviet models, I took the time to learn what made each visually unique. The T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 look very similar. They are not the same. Take the time to study what makes each different and carry this thought over to other aspects of life; cultures, music, people, and food. Because when you stand afar, items in these categories can “all seem the same”. When you get close, you immerse yourself and see the nuances of the individual.

ModelCollect T-64B. Completed August 2018.

For this T-64B, we had a problem with the Dullcote and humidity, but with a non-acetone nail polish scrubbing I was able to eliminate the frosting and get the finish to a beautiful look.

Dragon Armor Porsche Tiger VK45.02. Completed August 2018.

Added much gear, fixed a bent barrel, heavy weathering, a lot of love and care to make her special.

S-Model ISU-152 130mm S-70. Completed September 2018.

This model has a simple replacement barrel, some basic gear, and weights added inside the hull. She was finished as a break and diversion from the Rheinherrin project, described below.

ModelCollect E-100 Rheinherrin (Rhine Mistress). Built and completed August 14 – September 14, 2018.

Rheinherrin is a “What If?” model of my concept and design. Simply put, out of forty+ years of model building, she is my most complex and accomplished build to date. Second only to my 1/35 British M3 Lee, built in 1999.

S-Model ISU-152 BL-10. Completed October 2018.

Replacement barrel and added gear. Get ready for my best month to date.

Hobby Master ISU-152. Completed October 2018.

Fixed the markings error by using decals to extend the hull numbers to proper size. Added gear.

ModelCollect T-80U. Completed October 2018.

This is a restoration of a badly broken model. Put back together with care.

Hobby Master M41A3 Walker Bulldog. Completed October 2018.

This is the perfect finish to my eyes.

Hobby Master M48A2 Patton. Completed October 2018.

Perfection +, with the nuance of painted stowage straps.

S-Model M551 Sheridan. Completed October 2018.

My final entry for October and she’s just as appealing as the Bulldog and Patton tanks that had come just before.

DeAgostini Flakpanzer Gepard. Completed November 2018.

My last completion of the year. She was an inferior mold with sparse detail, but with work she looks beautiful and is a popular favorite on Model Hangar III.

Thank you for looking at my 2018 output. These models eased my mind during a trying year.



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Partitionism and Social Law

Last week the Wakefield Memorial High School Class of 1983 Reunion Committee raffled a framed 41” x 29” print of my drawing titled Partitionism and Social Law. The fundraiser was a benefit to our town’s First Baptist Church after it was destroyed by lightning the previous month. The Massachusetts church had stood tall and beautiful for 150 years.

The raffled artwork was printed on metallic paper, which the print house mounted on rigid strata. The artwork will be wrinkle-free for its lifetime.

Ara Hagopian and raffle prize winner shake hands. Four Points Sheraton Hotel, Wakefield MA, 11/24/2018.

The drawing is detailed and symbolic, and I spent much of the raffle night discussing the artwork’s meaning with my classmates.

Partitionism and Social Law depicts a gathering of nine characters. Actually, there are eight individuals in this community, plus elements of law enforcement, and a visitor. The make-up of each individual, as well as how the community treats visitors, is the heart of the artwork’s theme.

Partitionism and Social Law (2011).

Let’s take a look at the top half of the picture. Here you can see some of the colors and patterns of the characters—the characters being the eight elongated, multi-colored forms. I wanted to make each of these “members of the community” their own shape, and as you can see, there are wonderful differences between them.

Some characters are thin, some have smooth edges, and some stay partially-hidden, while the others, like the bright green fellow at the top, reach out.

Each character has a color pattern that is unique, which partly has to do with their age and background, but also reflects their degree of willingness to expose themselves to risk.

Aside from patterns, each character has a color palette, again underscoring individual uniqueness. Together these eight make a close and friendly community. Defining each character by shape, pattern, attitude and palette helps clarify the story, in a complex rendering.

Detail view.

Between December 19, 2010 and January 4, 2011, I’d completed 73 drafts of Partitionism and Social Law. She started out as pen and ink on paper, and was finished in MS Paint, like all my abstracts in this century. Below are some of the early drafts. I had the title and theme from day 1. Every day I’d give my friend Jen an update on progress, and the thoughts behind the decisions.

Early drafts. These are the first 8 drafts out of 73 in total.

The early drafts were made when I was working on the picture and trying out different ideas. I’d stand back and see if there was something there, some hint at what could be interesting, or be made into something grand.

This is where judgment helps, and it’s crucial for the artist to be trained to say big yeses or big nos. Yes if the drawing checks the boxes: Interesting? Original? Beautiful? Entertaining? And an artist has to know “no”.  No, this isn’t working. No, it’s a re-hash of a previous work. No, it doesn’t move my portfolio forward. No, the picture (or a given element) is not so great.

Other questions I ask when making a drawing: Is it too busy? Too simple for its story?

While drawing, I evaluate each section with a critical eye. If a part of the drawing is strong, I’ll leave it alone, and let it sit for awhile. If I’m not liking what I’m seeing, I’ll refine the lines, adjusting the thickness to suit the area.

For me, making art is always a critical discussion. It needs to be a hard talk with myself; I’ll challenge every line, form and color.

When I challenge the in-process drawing, I say things like: You’re weak here– disguise this angle. Can I add dimension other than the typical way? How far can we (that is, me and the picture) exaggerate what’s working well? How can we make the best parts more obvious? Does each line serve the theme of this picture? If yes/ keep it. If no/ minimize it or remove it, or convert it into something that serves.

Why is this line here? Why this thickness, form, and color? How does it serve the structure and story? What’s the role of a given portion of the drawing?

The early drafts of this picture went through the big nos and yeses and stands all the better for it, as a completed work.

There has to be a viewer’s appeal in the drawing’s overall shape, and also, in the details of the components. The picture’s big themes and elements need to have a wow factor, and the close-up inspection needs to be worthy of the structure. This is how I want to engage the viewer.

It’s a shame there’s no record of the daily and sometimes hourly discussions and emails I had with my friend Jen, during the three weeks this drawing was being created. I didn’t show her the work but told her of my excitement with the project, and my color choices. The colors were changing until the last day. There is weight to color value, and there is weight to overall design too. The two elements need to be in focus with each other. These are not easy choices. A light-colored Partitionism and Social Law didn’t quite work with the density of content. As much as I hated giving up on many beautiful pastel colors, she needed darker grounding. These were the discussions I had with Jen, who knew my artwork better than anyone on the planet.

I’ve talked about how I made the artwork, what I was thinking while I drew, and of the drafts I went through as I worked to get it right. Next I want to talk about the artwork’s title, “Partitionism and Social Law.”

What’s it all about?

Partitionism is a term I coined in 2010, to describe the drawing style I was developing that summer, fall and winter. I was completing a new drawing every 2-3 weeks and was excited as this new style began to work into my art pieces. Palnita, Art of The Ancient Americas had a great Partitionism pattern. There is some Partitionism in the palm fronds in Tree of Doubt Threatens Sandcastle City as well. Later on, Jazz Music (2011) and The Carney (2013) followed suit.

Early Partitionism drawing style. LEFT: Palnita, Art of the Ancient Americas (summer 2010) and RIGHT: Tree of Doubt Threatens Sandcastle City (December 2010).

Partitionism applies to an overlapping and interlocking drawing pattern. Partitionism is not a depiction of stained-glass, although at first-look that’s exactly what it appears to be. Unlike Tiffany-style panels, Partitionism is a structural—not decorative—element that adds strength and texture to the surfaces on which it appears.

The partition sizes equal the amount of risk a character’s willing to accept. Smaller partitions indicate a more conservative approach, with less vulnerability. Larger partitions require less concentration; in essence, the individual is managing fewer parts. Other than that, there are no costs or trade offs associated with partition sizes. For the individuals in the group, composition is a personal choice, and is ever-changing.

Now I’ll define Social Law, in the strict context of this work’s story.

Social Law is a polite courtesy that well-mannered people cannot help but offer to strangers and friends alike. Social Law exists because those who are thriving tend to extend niceties to all manners of people they encounter.

Again, this definition applies to the community I’ve created in the artwork.

When we live within Social Law, we allow people to get close to us—this is a demonstration of goodwill. It is also good for community relations, personal growth and business.

The artwork asks a question: What personal and professional risks are present with Social Law? How can these risks be mitigated if Partitionism is embraced, and what are the consequences if it’s ignored?

To read about the final reveal, and what’s ultimately happening in this picture, refer to pages 50-54 in my first book, WHAT HAPPENED TO VICKY LEE? A COLLECTION OF STORIES (The Literate Show Press, 2013).


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The Tears of Siva

Essay for The Tears of Siva drawing.

The efforts you make to obtain precious items will work against your personal relationships. Or so asserts The Tears of Siva, a pen and ink on watercolor paper drawing.

If you’re familiar with the 1950’s Bold Venture radio play The Tears of Siva, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, then you know Julius Cordovan’s folly was his obsession with two gorgeous star sapphires that were “without fleck or flaw, the treasure of the Far Indies, Genghis Khan laid a city to waste for these.”

Cordovan destroyed many people, including a friend, in pursuit of his treasure.

I’ve drawn what I imagine one of these sapphires might look like, in the form of a teardrop near the drawing’s top. The base monolith is the face of humanity, and the tear represents our attempt to own, or restrict, precious items.

The drop’s color is unique to the drawing—it’s only used in this one spot. Yet on the monolith itself, each color that symbolizes a personal relationship is also unique. Each shade of blue is one of a kind.

That’s key. None of the drawing’s thirteen blues are repeated, which indicates that no object of desire is more precious than life itself—specifically, human relationships.

Our personal connections exceed our precious gems. Why are we hunting commodities, when valuables are already on hand—our loved ones? Our labors absorb our attentions and erode what we already possess.

You want “this,” but you have something already. Time and energy away from your people begs the questions: What is more important to you? What is really most precious here?

This picture was drawn in the summer of 2009, during two mini-vacations in seaside Ogunquit, Maine. I’d bought several blue Prismacolor Premier art markers in New York City just prior to my trip to Maine, and as I selected the pens from the large turnstile carousels, I liked how the colors “talked” to each other in my hands—the hues looked great together. If they talked so well in a busy West 57th Street art store, I wondered how they might get along on paper, given an Atlantic Ocean breeze, a private Perkins Cove vantage point and hours upon hours of un-interrupted drawing.

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