A surviver of Nazi-occupied France tells her story

A live interview (yesterday) with a 94-year-old French-American in Atlanta.

Marcelle sketch1In 1947 at age 27, Marcelle Consigney left her Alsace Loraine region of newly liberated France to follow her passion: To become an American citizen and to meet “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell . By 1950, she had married an Atlanta native, become a U.S. citizen and met Margaret Mitchell at the Piedmont Driving Club.

Yesterday, I met her at my parent’s apartment and had a one hour conversation in french  and recorded the conversation while I sketched. My french was awful, but Marcelle’s patience and sharp intelligence was twice mine. She switched comfortably back and forth from french to a heavily accented english, correcting my french. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

Marcell sketch detail

WALTER: Marcelle, where did you grow up in France? What village?

MARCELLE: Not a village, a region in Alsace Loraine called Station Dhermal near Nancy.

WALTER: Do you have any family here in the U.S.? And when did you move to the U.S.?

MARCELLE:  Nobody. Everyone’s dead. In 1947 I quit France  to become a U.S. citizen.

WALTER: During the war, was your area occupied by Nazi soldiers?

MARCELLE: Oh yes, all of France was occupied!

WALTER: Did you see the Nazi soldiers? Did you see any combat, violence?

MARCELLE: The German soldiers had set up in the hotels, they used one hotel for a hospital. but no, I never saw conflicts or violence.

Marcelle sketch2

WALTER: Have you seen the film “Saving Private Ryan”? What did you think?

MARCELLE: Oh yes, It was  very good film. but it ended badly. (she said “il fini mal”. and  I wasn’t clear if she meant the ending was sad or the ending was poorly crafted. I didn’t pursue it)

WALTER: Where do you get your news from today? CNN? NPR? FOX news?

MARCELLE: Not FOX news! Monsenges! (lies!). NPR yes. “All Sings Considered”.

Tanook PaJoe Marcelle

Here is my Dad saying goodbye to Tanook after our visit. (Marcelle in background)

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The thrill is gone.

In tribute to the great B.B. King’s passing today, I did this qu1ck sketch from a youtube of his 1993 Montreux performance. I remember seeing him live at the Atlanta Jazz festival (mid 1970s? Sonny Stitt alto sax , Blood Sweat and Tears, among others)

BB King sketch

Also, stay tuned for live sketches from the Appalachian Trail next week with 8 reporters and photographers from The Pittsburg Gazette, The Hartford Courant, and The AJC celebrating the 20 year reunion of the Appalachian Adventure . (reporters be warned, I just learned from a receptionist at the Harpers Ferry international hostel that she “hates reporters”.

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72 Marietta Street: then and now

This is a surprise portrait commission: a 20″ x 16″ pastel for a new client. The mystery portrait will be presented and unveiled on my blog on May 27th. In researching the project I drove by 72 Marietta Street this week, formerly the AJC building, and sketched and shot reference photos with mixed emotions: sad, relief, freedom, bitter-sweet end of an era for print journalism, and, for that matter, the end of an active downtown Atlanta.

I barely recognized anything. The AJC awning was gone. Celestine Sibley and Furman Bisher Shining light lamps gone. Despite the lunch hour time of day, Marietta street was nearly empty. A few homeless people shuffled about listlessly in the noonday sun.

Since I now have time and freedom to move forward with my illustration career (going to D.C., New York City, and Montreal next month), I felt more hopeful than sad. Still, does anybody know where the Furman Bisher and Celestine Cibley Shining Light Award street lamps are?

Stay tuned for the portrait mystery, Appalachian Trail live report, and reports from D.C. New York, and Montreal.

Pastel sans portrai

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Appalachian Adventure 1995: a sketchbook

In 1995, five newspapers, including the AJC, collaborated to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in five relay sections . As the one of only two artists on the trail with our sketchbooks (Page Braddock the second), that assignment was the most fun and memorable of all of my AJC assignments (many thanks to my editor at the time, Susan Soper.).

Since then, our joints have aged 20 years, the newsrooms are a shell of what they were then (Bo Emerson may be the sole participant still employed by the AJC?),  legendary mountain reporter John Harmon passed away from cancer in 1998, but the memories of those of us who participated, remain vivid, and priceless.

In about two weeks from today, some of the reporters and photojournalists who participated in that glorious hike will attempt to reunite for a 20 year anniversary hike from Harpers Ferry for 3 days. Stay tuned for details.

Below are sketches live from the trail in 1995 some that were published in the AJC and later in the book  “Appalachian Adventure”

Bo filing story (day 10)

Bo at Wayah Gap

Glassmine Gap sketch_edited-1

Nantahala River at Rainbow Springs

Chinook and chestnut _edited-1

Chinook sketch

Bo and Walter Nantahala

The final day of my 100 mile stretch with reporter Bo Emerson, we ran Nantahala falls in a canoe loaned to us by Nantahala Outdoor Center. Photo by Chris Hunt

Rainbow Springs store

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Breaking news! Live from Savannah!

This just in! My son Alston asked. Julie said “yes!”

Alston and Julie


Savannah sketch

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Live Boston Marathon sketches

I ran my 10th and last Boston marathon in 2007. During that race I carried a disposable camera with me and later sketched from shots I took during the race. (Runners World actually published one of my images) The weather conditions then were almost identical to today’s marathon so I included one of the 2007 color sketches.

Today, I sketched live from the comfort of my studio a chronological report from an internist stream.

Also, today I got an email that my Chattahoochee River paintings were accepted for an exhibit at the University of West England for Reportage an Documentary Drawing Award 2015. Cool! This gives more credence to my sketchbook reporting . Stay tuned.

Wellesley girlsT

This is my “runners eye view”watercolor of the Wellesley girls at mile 13 from my 2007 run

Boston page1

Boston page2

Boston page3

Boston page 4

Boston page 5

Boston page 6

Here are 2 of my 10 Boston medals, 1987 (my best time) and 2007 (my worst time)

Boston medqls

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Just finished this detail of Margaret Winship (ca. 1945) for the Cooley portrait. Also, a few more paintings available for the upcoming preview show at the Cumming / Preston house. Stay tuned!

Margaret Winship ca. 1940s

Coopers hawk poster

“Coopers Hawk”, 14″x11″, pencil and watercolor on illustration board

Wildcat Road in October

“Wildcat Road in October”, 11″x14″, pastel on paper

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