Bob’s adventurous summer consists of: …finish illustrations for a web site on women’s history (Clio History) but as I mentioned, I’m going to the Arctic on assignment. I used to go on assignment when I was a newspaper illustrator and I have done commissions for the Coast Guard in the past. This assignment is a result of my connection to COGAP, the Coast Guard Art program. The creation of original art has been a long standing tradition in all of the military services, but some services like the Coast Guard and Air Force rely upon civilian artists instead of in-service personnel like the other branches.
On this assignment, I will fly to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian chain, Alaska to meet the USCGC Healy a Coast Guard Ice Breaker. It’s new and the biggest cutter in the fleet. We will cast off bound for the Arctic during the relatively warm month of August (average temps ought to hover at about freezing where we’ll be). The Healy is basically a research vessel that houses on-board laboratories and cranes, etc. for gathering materials. They normally carry 50 scientists per voyage to conduct Arctic research in climate change, Oceanography, Meteorology and more, in addition to conducting more traditional missions like channel maintenance, rescue and oil spill mitigation. My assignment will be threefold:
1. To submit real time sketches and commentary in an “artist’s journal” to the Coast Guard Blog (the public interface for the service).
2. To capture CG personnel working in support of scientific research in the polar region in paintings that I will do when I return.
3. To participate in Coast Guard outreach to Inuit communities in the region (I’ll go off in a helicopter to observe CG personnel bring aid and services to outlying communities, including vaccination for sled dogs!)
I expect to see polar bears, walrus, the midnight sun and many wondrous things. They’ll bring me off in Barrow and I will make my way back across Alaska to return in time for school, a bit jet lagged, but very excited. Thanks for your interest.