Pacific Sketchbook


Now seventy-four, my father works in his studio five days a week. Prince Valiant , though it appears only on Sundays, is a realistic strip with roots that go back to those of the great story strips of the 1930s, which were created by illustrators; drawing it takes a great deal of time. My father continues to travel and paint. The bowl he uses for water in which to dip his brushes is a rice bowl he bought in Japan in 1945—encrusted now with five decades of ink and pigment.

I mentioned at the outset that my father’s work done in the Pacific during World War II marks something of a turning point. Let me explain. When he recently pulled together everything he could find that he had drawn and painted during the war years, he and I looked through it piece by piece, for the most part chronologically. I couldn’t, of course, know everything he was thinking as we did so, but I imagine that his memory must have been deflected in countless directions. Some of this material he certainly had not seen since shortly after he created it.

I do remember clearly my own reaction. As we moved from the tight renderings of 1940 to the controlled but brasher ones of 1945,1 saw the effect that five momentous years had brought about. I saw the emergence of an artist with confidence, maturity, and grace.