Gun Deck Cutaways -A Decorative and Definitive Art Form

  • April 30, 2014 11:40

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Woodsculpted cutaway showing action on both decks with the feature of 70 handcarved wood figurines.

It is not surprising that this subject matter has not been recognized in the arts. However, it is a subject that warrants appreciation for its unique form of symmetry and balance when being viewed as a concept.

Fine art is anything that is beyond the ordinary; a work which holds unprecedented merit at its finest level -regardless of medium. Money, nor an expert's opinion, cannot control it. What's factual is fine art is defined as "a form"..."a sculpture"...and/or "decorative piece". I can be further said by notables as "a knowledge made efficient by skill" (Genung) or "the expression of one soul talking to another" (Ruskin). These are a few of the qualifiers for fine art.

The Gun Deck Cutaway, especially the featured USS Constitution Gun Deck Cutaway, as a maritime collectible, fall in this genre of "soul" and "skill". It is a unique form that takes careful, effective planning -and a form that center around hours of focus, research, and concentration. If a collector were to GOOGLE this subject on the internet, only a few would be visible -evidence that these are rare.

Maritime artist and craftsman Rex Stewart working on USS CONSTITUTION gun deck cutaway at Albany studio.

To discern a great artpiece in this particular genre, one must look for all the qualifications associated with it, such as presentation, historical accuracy, craftsmanship and finally, the storyline. What is the piece saying? Does it speak to the heart and soul? Is it a work that constantly grabs the imagination upon viewing? Can it be enjoyed without being questioned? All answers are a resounding "yes". Now, it becomes fine art.

Over the years I was always fascinated with sailing ships and the men and women who sailed them -whether in peacetime or war. As a fine artist, I produced many paintings and drawings of these vessels which are in numerous collections both here in the United States and abroad. Today, as a craftsman of note, I continue to challenge myself to take this work to unprecedented levels. Meaning, to utilize the wood medium in defining my subject matter by combining both research and draftsmanship to bring about the final presentation -similiar to the process which I'm known to apply toward my much-respected steamboat models.

Detail closeup of wood figurines...Painstakingly researched with each having its own distinction of expression. All are 'antiqued' for realism.

By using the wood medium, it has defined my skill in setting these maritime pieces into another genre of the decorative arts.

In these creations I have worked patiently to avoid overlooking details. By taking a steady course toward acquiring existing facts (however scanty or generous), it provided the much needed findings for this completion. At 1:24 scale, this hand-carved rendition of USS CONSTITUTION Gun Deck illustrate the result of patience and three months of workmanship. This decorative artform is handcrafted in select pine, bass and China birch...which include 70 pine figurines poised in various positions. The scene depict a cannon-riddled hull expertly engineered to illustrate a broadside battle. Finally, deck cannons can be seen in different firing positions when viewed on either side of the work.

Decorative art has its place in the world of creative expression, and gun deck cutaways do, indeed, have a place there as well. 

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Steamboat Models -The Rare Investment

  • Rex Stewart
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The Hudson River steamboat model and other such works are highly sought after in the collectible market, primarily because of its rarity. Very few collectibles in this genre exist and there is a place where they can be realized and collected to enhance the Bard paintings that are now favored in the maritime.

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