COMPLETED! The final traditional watercolor has been completed for N2 publication's commission and the Long Grove Historical Societies' "Save the bridge" campaign.
A year in the making, this 16" x 20" painting was developed in stages for not only my purposes (i.e.; rough sketches,tonal studies,etc.), but to share with the publisher of Long Grove Living Magazine/N2 publications as to the paintings progression. The 11" x 14" tonal study was created on colored paper and rendered in markers, ink and Prismacolor pencils. This image was given to one of the main supporters of the "Save the historic bridge" campaign.
"Hopefully" I will be posting a complete tutorial on the making of this painting soon.
Long Grove Bridge
Out on a beautiful, and unusually warm, December day, sketching the iconic bridge in downtown Long Grove, IL. There was/is talk of removing this treasure to gain "state" funding to modernize the road and bridge.
Stay tuned, more to come on this project.
"Long Grove Bridge"
I was commissioned to paint the image of the Long Grove (IL) Historical Covered Bridge by Long Grove Living Magazine. The painting was raffled off to support preservation of this historic landmark in our quaint downtown.
I am pleased to say, my dear friend, Dr. Taylor Mack, PhD from Mississippi State University won the painting with his purchase of 3 tickets!
16" x 20" transparent watercolors on 300# CP Arches paper.
STUDY - monochrome/ Long Grove Historical Covered Bridge
Prior to painting the Long Grove Covered Bridge, I created a monochrome study with grey markers and colored pencils on toned paper, a technique that has been employed for hundreds of years. I do this to determine "values". Without values, you haven't a painting.
This study was presented to Ryan Messner, President of the Historic Downtown Business Association. This was presented by Mr. Harvey Stein, Publisher of Long Grove Living Magazine.
Closed for the season
This my homage' to Edward Hopper. Though not in oils, this painting was painted in "caseins", a paint as old as the Egyptians, but often associated with the 1920's-50's in commercial illustration. I wanted to capture the flavor of the 1930's by using this type of paint and imagery indicative of this period of time. I used the classic Modjeska Theater on Mitchell St. in Milwaukee, WI as my reference.
The painting is 30" x 30", painted in casein on archival watercolor board. It was a Finalist in the 26th Annual The Artist's Magazine Art Competition in the Architectural/Interior category.
"No more riders"
Inspired by a scene I stumbled upon in an abandoned farmstead in Wisconsin. The location was a "painting-rich" environment, filled with relics of the past, all of which had a story. I snapped as many reference photos as I could that frigid day, and even sketched out a few thumbnail drawings with notes so the moment and INSPIRATION wouldn't be forgotten by the time I got home.
15" x 30" acrylic on stretched art canvas. In the private collection of Dr. Taylor Mack, Phd. Mississippi State University.
"End of the road"
I found this old Buick, along with six more abandoned cars on the same farm as I found the bike (see above). This was 15 years ago, and this past summer I happened upon the same location. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, everything had been cleared away, and only the sad old dairy barn remained. As they say; "you can never go home again..."
15" x 30" acrylic on gessoed hardboard.
Sweet dreams Alex
When my middle boy, Alex was 3, I was able to get a picture of him to paint from.
This is one of my favorite paintings I've ever done, because it was painted out of pure love.
9" x 12" on 300# HP watercolor paper.
Pentagon - Military Art Show 2014
I am honored and privileged to have been selected as one of the military artists displaying my work in the Military Art Exhibit 2014. This exhibit represents individuals who have demonstrated a commitment and dedication to the United States Military and it's service members.
I was deployed-embedded as a civilian artist with the United States Air Force Art Program in 2005. I was assigned to document, through my art, an Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment (AFOSI) which was based out of Bahgram Air Field, Afghanistan. Bahgram (OAIX) is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. It is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) southeast of Charikar in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan.
My assignment was to document, through my art, what the AFOSI Det. was providing in Afghanistan. I saw things, heard things, smelled things, that I will never be able to explain, unless you were there. OEF Vets will know automatically what it was like. Keeping eyes in the back of your head always open, listening for sounds you hope to God you won't hear, always scanning the hills for a puff of smoke, or worse. Maybe because I'm an artist or a "former" soldier, I don't know, I took all of this in visually as well as tactically. What you will see on this page are the images that are indelibly etched into my psyche. Images that are linked with all 5 senses. This is my story through images.
The OSI mission is to Identify, exploit and neutralize criminal, terrorist and intelligence threats to the Air Force, Department of Defense and U.S. Government. Consequently, I was honored and privlaged to be able to “join” them in their mission, “down-range” or “out side of the wire”. We were teamed up with U.S. Army and Marine Corps personnel, who worked hand in glove with the AFOSI to detect and eliminate old munitions left over from the former Soviet forces occupation of Afghanistan.
With my sketchbook, camera and 60 lbs. of “battle-rattle” (flax vest), I did my best to stay out of their way, sketching and photographing, but was made to feel I was part of this team. I will never,ever, be able to express my appreciation enough to these Warriors. My paintings were donated to the United States Air Force’s permanent art collection, where they reside now in the Pentagon.
Home sweet home
The accommodations at Hotel Bahgram - could've been tents.
The Taliban came into this village, killed the teacher and proceeded to riddle this school, which was new, with every weapon they had. For what? Oppression.
UN provided aide. Unfortunately this landmark makes a great target identifier for the Taliban.
Afghan School Kids
It's amazing what "our" kids take for granted. Their previous school was destroyed by the Taliban.
I was struck by the color, even in this desolate and primitive environment. Purples in the mountains (Taliban too), reds of the earth and the fabrics of the local children - splendid.
Seen too much...
They told me this fella was maybe 50...damn.
The future of Afghanistan
USAF Art Program turnover. With my donated painting. The end of an era.
The Faces of Hurricane Katrina
I was flown down to Biloxi, MS a day after Hurricane Katrina hit to cover the USAF response to this disaster. When I arrived at the Biloxi airport I had orders to get a taxi and drive to Keesler AFB. Unfortunately, there were no taxis or rental cars, so I had to figure out a way to get to the base. As luck would have it, a wonderful older lady saw me standing with my bags and asked in her deep southern drawl "Where you all be headed to honey?". When I told her my story she said, "hell, the roads are hardly passable, too much destruction, but if you all will git in, I'll drive ya there!". I thanked her profusely, and proceeded to have a ride in a half to Keesler AFB.
I arrived, in tack, at the gate and presented my orders. The Security Guard thought I was nuts and I don't think he knew what an Air Force Artist was or why I would even come down, which was the running feelings on most of my Air Force trips. I found my way to the OPS center, got situated, and met up with the other artists from the program. We each were given our choice of assignments and had full access to the base and the personnel.
This was a Joint Operation, with all the branches of the military involved, so myself and another artist jumped on a USMC helicopter and took off to distribute aide to the surrounding areas. From the air, I could not believe the complete and utter devastation. Keesler AFB had sustained 90% infrastructure damage and as a training base, had flown out all of the students the night prior to Katrina hitting. They were loaded on every available cargo aircraft and flown to a base in Texas.
Flying with USMC pilots proved to be an experience. I believe they are partially insane and revel in this fact. Our pilot and crew were very accommodating, asking what we wanted to see. We told them we wanted to get the "big picture" from this vantage point, and they smiled and said;"sure". Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves tethered to the ramp of this helo, ramp down, with our cameras clicking away. What we didn't see was the pilot hovering over a very old cemetery, completely submerged in water teaming with alligators and blow flies. The next thing we knew, we were getting prop wash with this rancid water, and because we each had flight helmets on, could hear the crew whooping it up. Later that evening when we landed (flew all the way to New Orleans), we went to our rooms and scrubbed ourselves raw...
The next day we were driven to Biloxi to observe the joint military aide operations. We toured the areas that were the worst hit. These area were the poor sections of the city and really sustained the most damage. I saw the tremendous out pouring of support by the military to these residents and again was amazed at their determination to preserver.
My interest in aviation, and specifically, military aviation, comes from listening to my Dad, a former J-3 Piper Cub pilot and a USN Crash Crew member during the Korean War. Dad and I would talk airplanes,draw airplanes and when on TV, watch airplanes.
This interest lead me to the American Society of Aviation Artists, which I joined and now am an Artist member of, and then it was through this organization I was invited to become a member of the United States Air Force Art Program. This experience was life changing, and took me from Hurricane Katrina to Afghanistan, documenting the mission of the USAF.
"You're Cleared In HOT!"
02A USAF FAC flying a mission in Vietnam, locating target with "Willie Pete" white phosphorous rockets for the the F4 Phantom squadron, tasked to eradicate said targets.
Original in the USAF Art Collection.
"Major Meyers and the 128th OBS Sqd."
Countless hours of research and interviews went into this painting of Major Meyers and his pre-war (and very obsolete) 0-47A North American observation plane and Squadron based out of the old Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, WI. At this time (1940) the 128th Observation Squadron was part of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Major Paul Meyers was the Commanding Officer, and was tasked to develop an Observation Squadron.
The Squadron was called to active duty in 1941 and was tasked to provide aerial observation for the War Games held in Louisiana. This 047B and others like it (052 Owl, 046,etc) were deemed slow and impractical, and eventually replaced by Light aircraft (L-planes). After the War Games, these "O" aircraft were given to the National Guard units to be used as tow targets and for limited anti-submarine patrols.
I am in the process of developing more paintings of these obscure and rather ugly "O" planes for no other reason than I find them fascinating and worth recording. Lord knows there is no commercial value as limited edition prints of these planes, but heck, I'm painting them regardless!
"Great Lakes Air Repair"
This traditional watercolor painting was dedicated to the U.S. Navy's Air Wing that was once stationed at the Glenview Naval Air Station, in Glenview IL. It features 2 aircrew personnel, repairing a PBY engine.
This painting was donated to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola , FL.
"Lakehurst Naval Air Station"
Traditional watercolor of the the U.S. Navy's L-3 dirigible based out of Lakehurst NAS, circa 1942.
This image was donated to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, FL.
"Hats Off To The Navy"
Acrylic and gouache painting of the chronological evolution of Naval Aviation helmets.
This painting won 3rd place in the National Museum of Naval Aviation's art contest and was the "Purchase Award", sold to a Naval Flight Surgeon,Ret.
"Hats Off To The United States Air Force"
Acrylic painting dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the USAF (2007). This painting represents the evolution of helmets from the early days of the Army Air Corp to todays modern Air Force.
This painting is in the permanent collection of the United States Air Force Art Collection.
"OSI Bucket Brigade"
Acrylic painting of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment and Explosive Ordinance Disposal team removing hidden Soviet munitions from CONEX boxes, disguised as buildings. These munitions were being used by Taliban forces to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) against coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom.
When this painting was presented at the bi-annual "Turnover" for the Air Force Art Program, and presented to the Secretary of The Air Force, the lead Special Agent was present and stated; "Tony is now part of the rare individuals who have earned the title of Combat Artist".
This 30" x 50" painting resides in the Permanent Collection of the United States Air Force Art Collection.
Press & Awards
Recent article in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel: https://www.jsonline.com/story/travel/wisconsin/weekend-getaway/2018/03/30/tony-stencel-artist-finds-solace-and-inspiration-wandering-wisconsins-backroads/452654002/
I use photography as a means to an end. My photos are used as reference for my paintings, and thus, are not art-photography. I have shot most of the images with either my Nikon D60 with a 70-300mm lens, or as of late, using my iPhone6S+ and an HDR app.
Hyde's Mill - 1856
If there ever was a spot that was so photogenic that no one could EVER take a bad photo, this place would be it. Nestled in the rolling hills of Iowa Co.,WI, this old mill sits a the end of a winding road that has almost zero traffic on it.
This place is over 230 mi from where I live now, so it has to be a planned trip, juggling weather and responsibilities when I get the chance. This will be a "seasonal series" eventually.
Taken with my iPhone6s+ and the HDR Pro App.
Hyde's Mill - Spring
Little Church on the hill
Up the road from Hyde's Mill is this quaint, 150 year old church and cemetery. Well maintained and active it seems, these types of "holy" places only reinforce my belief in God and his miraculous ways.
Nobody was home
Danville Dam #1
An old (ca. 1847) waterwheel dam, alibi, missing the waterwheel. These types of mills were the hub of small, rural towns, that for some reason, were eventually by-passed and forgotten. Which, in a way, is very fortunate for artists like myself.
This is on the way to Columbus, WI, my maternal Grandparent's home, which we drove back and forth for years. When things need to be sorted out, and I am too distracted to be able to find an answer, I seem to always end up here, traveling this highway, back to a time when things were less complicated.
Danville Dam #2
"Winds of November came early"
Stealing a line from Golden Lightfoot's song "The Legend of the Edmond Fitzgerald", this photo was taken off of the Windpoint Lighthouse on Lake Michigan.
If I had the means, I'd build my "dream" studio on this spot...
These roadside "finds" are what keep me going. It's likened to a treasure hunt if you will, always looking for that next image that has a story to tell - "IF" you only listen.
When status and STYLE meant elegance.
Farmers & Merchants
This bank in downtown Columbus, WI was designed by the great architect Louis Sullivan, but the his young apprentice, Frank Lloyd Wright's hand and deft drafting skills are evident in the details.
As I've said before, Columbus, WI holds a special spot in my heart, I guess it's my "Brigadoon", and every so often I travel back in time and go to these landmarks I remember as a little boy.
Another roadside find, if you slow down enough to see it...physically and metaphorically speaking.
Caboose - End of the line
I was SO lucky to stumble upon this shot. This old caboose was being used evidently as a line office for the railroad, and was just sitting here, on a siding, in the middle of No-where, WI. I must of snapped 100 photos with both my Nikon and my iPone6s+. My mind was racing, thinking of all the compositional and textural possibility this spot held. It was overwhelming.
This image haunts me every time I look at it. I took this photo on vacation in New Orleans, off of Bourbon St. Having two sons of my own, I can only imagine what his parents must be feeling. He is still one of God's children, and I pray he finds the help he needs and deserves.
Slave quarters on the Laura Plantation, LA.
A Southern Christmas
Paperweights & Marbles
I have always found paperweights beautiful. I really first discovered them in the collection of the House On The Rock in Wisconsin as a small boy.
The fascination continues to this day, and this photo was taken at the Moon Marble Co., outside of St. Louis, MO. Just a fun, off the beaten trail kind of place to visit, but worth the stop. I do believe having a sense of humor would help given the content of the place!
I was out sketching the Windpoint Light house when a Racine News photographer snapped this photo the paper.
Lake Michigan Shoreline
The ride home...
The Amish of Green, Co., Wisconsin.
End of the road
This farm on HWY E in Jefferson Co. WI, was one of my "go to" places to sketch and paint when I lived in Oconomowoc, WI. Any season, this abandoned house held some kind of power over me, trying to whisper it's story. Sadly, I went back this past winter and she was gone...you can never go home.
House on E #2
Gone, but not forgotten.
The road home
Compositional study and reference for a future painting.