Hot off the easel! The Greatest Generation: Part ll

This, a work in progress, is arguably the largest commission of my career. These are the first 2 of  5  large pastel portrait montages (17″x 23″) of the four Winship girls of Atlanta and their husbands, all married in late 1940s post WW2. The goal is to capture their post war zeitgeist through selected photos from the 1940s through the 1970s. I will be adjusting their expressions, based on feedback from their children, over the next few months so stay tuned!

Below that are the first 5 wildflowers of the Chattahoochee for my other project: a 50 mile canoe trip, sketching scenes of Atlanta’s urban Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek. Also, a correction: the TV reporter who interviewed me for TV5 is Andi Larner. Below is link to her interview.

Pem and Margaret detail

Lane and Lat 72 dpi2Wildflowers

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Shocking live sketches from the Chattahoochee

Yesterday, Tanook and I continued our scouting of the Chattahoochee River for our 5o mile exploration of  the metro Chattahoochee from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek. Chattahoochee sketch 1 Much to our chagrin, after driving past rainy miles of nonstop strip malls, restaurants, gas stations, and gated communities on Abbots Bridge road, we crossed the bridge and took our first right into what was supposed to be the National Park entrance. “Where’s the Chattahoochee National park?!” I shouted to a large security guard at a gate. “Not here.” he motioned me to take a U-turn. ” I’m new here, don’t know where the park is. This is a private community” Medlock Bridge sketch2 We ended up turning around and driving downriver to the next National Park unit, Medlock Bridge which was not much more encouraging than the strip malls. The river was low with tan, slim covered deadfall, a sole fisherman in a rain soaked sweatshirt cast his lure hopefully into the turquoise green stagnant water. A Gwinnett police car rolled into the empty parking lot and parked by the boat ramp. “Let’s go home Tanook, and finish these sketches out of the rain. ” Stay tuned for more exploring of this quest for unfound Chattahoochee. MacMansions on the riverbank

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INTERVIEW: Joe Cumming on Claude Sitton

Claude Sitton sketch

“Claude was like a heat seeking missile!”

-Bill Emerson


Following is a brief interview today with my father, a civil rights journalist for Newsweek when Claude Sitton was at the New York Times. After our interview, I read Hank Klibanoff’s obituary in USA today and found some striking consistencies in how journalists remember Claude. For example Klibanoff quoted Bill Emerson: “Some people pursued don’t travel as fast as Claude does when he walks” confirmed my father’s Bill Emerson quote “Claude is like a heat seeking missile”. There were so many details that confirmed what an iconic, important yet humble southern journalist Claude Sitton was.

WALTER: So daddy, where and when did you first meet Claude?

JOE: Well, I think it was a party at Bill Emerson’s in Ansley Park. See he was a little late on the civil rights scene (1958) but he hit the ground running. The New York crowd were a little bit put off by him , that he was a country boy.

WALTER: You mean he was kind of snubbed because he was a southerner?

JOE: Well, that’s not important.. don’t quote that. .See he should have gotten the Pulitzer for his civil rights coverage, but instead, and this reflects that indifference they had, they waited until he was at Raleigh years later and gave him te Pulitzer for general editing when he should have gotten it specifically for the civil rights coverage.

Joe Cumming sketch2_edited-1

WALTER: Did you ever compete with him to out scoop him on a story?

JOE: Hell no. You could just see him early in the morning, like in Little Rock where they were integrating the schools, and he was buzzing around, talking to people  before I had my second cup of coffee…

EMILY: Wasn’t Bill Emerson there? (Little Rock) and the two of you couldn’t keep up with Claude?

WALTER: Daddy, to you, what was Claude’s most important role that no other journalists of his time fulfilled?

JOE: Well, of course, I was always justifying my laggardness by saying I was in a weekly situation (with Newsweek) and I was sending my material up to writers who would write it, and Claude was writing it on the scene. So we were at different tempos. But you couldn’t brush him off  ’cause he was a born reporter.

EMILY: Walter, did Doug tell you about when he (Doug) was working for the News and Observer, that, at that time, he was courting that girl artist and Doug put up one of her large abstract paintings in the newsroom and Claude said “Get that thing out of here”.

JOE: I went hiking in the smokies with him and his son Clint, and he was a good companion. He has this great stride that he could get places faster!


Above is an early 1960s Newsweek poster of my dad (left)


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Claude Sitton Remembered: a live interview with my father

This is a quote from my brother’s email today…

“I began the news business in Raleigh, at the smaller afternoon paper, the Raleigh Times. But by the end of the summer, Claude brought me upstairs to the N&O. So I’m proud to say he was my first great editor. And of course, now I teach students about him, by using the Race Beat in a course on the press and civil rights movement. He was the real deal.”

-Douglas Cumming, Phd. professor of journalism W&L University.

“I admired him as much as anyone, he was spiritually together, he was tough but never mean. I learned from him what a good reporter could be”

-Joseph B. Cumming, retired journalist, professor , former Newsweek Atlanta bureau chief.

Below is a 1o minute sketch of Claude from a photo by the Atlanta Constitution in 1961.

Stay tuned for interview with my father tomorrow.

Claude Sitton sketch

PaJoe sketch

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The Greatest Generation: first in a series

This is the start of a series of 4 big portrait commissions. (please do not share on Facebook yet because I’m meeting my good friend and and Time art director next month and I’d rather he not see my playing around with his cover)

This is a really fun project, researching old photos and learning the legacies of the four Winship girls and their husbands (Mongold, Cooley, Latimer, and Hankey). Any feedback from Winship family is welcome because each portrait is a work in progress. Stay tuned!

Time Cover

The portrait below is still being tweaked and is a very blurry shot. I’ll scan the final.

Lane and Lat Latimer


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Facebook art challenge day 3

Here are three paintings published in the AJC some may remember, More live reportage of historic events: Coretta King’s funeral, celebrities who lived in Atlanta in 2001, and the final episode of Seinfeld.

Coretta page and sketch150dpi_edited-1

Below is the largest painting I’ve ever done for publication. The original is a pastel on paper 20″x 25″ . The AJC printed it as a full page, double-truck wrap-around the Sunday section then called “Dixie Living”.

Know your neighbors 150dpi

For the final episode of Seinfeld in 1998, the gifted and knowledgeable art director D.W. Pine (now at Time Magazine) advised me on the characters since I was a virtual illiterate on Seinfeld.


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Facebook art challenge – day 2

Yesterday was day 1 of this Facebook art challenge: post 3 paintings per day for 5 days . So this is day 2. These sketches and paintings were all published in the AJC since 1980 and I picked them for their news value. Also, the France travel story is my first published story written and illustrated by me in 1995.

4. WayneWilliams copy

When I travel abroad and tell foreigners that I’m an artist and sketched the Wayne Williams trial, I get a blank look. When I mention the Gold Club trial, most people have heard of it. Above is a live sketch of accused child murderer Wayne Williams on the witness stand in 1981.

Gold Club trial

Below is a photo of my journal that I carried with me on 21 day solo bike trek exploring Southern France in October 1994. My story was edited by Scott Thurston and designed by the gifted D.W. Pine (art director for Time Magazine since then)

France sketch by sketch

Stay tuned for day 3 tomorrow!


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