FavoriteLeast Favorite Ken Marschall Titanic Painting


Dec 14, 2007
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The one person who I can honestly say has contributed the most to my Titanic fascination is Ken Marschall. When I received a copy of Ballard's "Exploring the Titanic" for my 7th birthday, I spent more time gawking at his paintings than I did actually reading the book. Pinning down a favorite has always been hard for me, so I'll narrow it down to four categories, using the Art of Titanic book as a guide.

In Port: Page 54-55. Love the sheer size of the ship, the rivet patterns, the people waving from the dock and promenade decks, and the historically accurate Southampton skyline. A very epic composition.

At Sea: Page 74-75. So many good ones to choose from, but this one stands out as just plain gorgeous to me. Similar to the T:AIH front cover, but I like the less-threatening sky and the finer detail better in this one.

Sinking: Page 86-87. This one gave me the chills when I first bought AOT, and still does on occasion. It's very calm and eerie at the same time, and the unnatural lighting and water reflections give it an atmospheric edge.

The Wreck: Page 128-129. Love the fact that the lighting is halfway between sharp-shadowed and diffuse. Again, super detailed and dramatic at the same time.

Non-Titanic: Page 143. What can I say besides "disturbingly realistic?"

My least favorite? Well, I'm not terribly fond of the changes made to the "breakup" painting for Ghosts of the Abyss. The inclusion of Boat 16 was a historically accurate touch, but I still think the actual breakup is a little over dramatic and I preferred the way the viewer was drawn in by Boat 4 in the "old" painting better.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Daryl, similar to you, I got a copy of Ballard's other book, Discovery of the Titanic, fairly early on in my life when I was 8 years old. I bought it for myself with money I had received for Christmas. Before actually owning the book, I had checked it out on almost a permanent basis (the librarians were very understanding) from my local library for about a year.

This book was my first exposure to Ken's paintings. His early paintings of the Titanic sinking, included in the book, were/are to me his best Titanic work. I thought they were photographs when I first saw them. His newer paintings I don't find as intriguing.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>but I still think the actual breakup is a little over dramatic <<

Or a more accurate reflection of reality perhaps? Ken is more then a commercial artist. He's an extremely accomplished researcher who's been directly involved in a lot of the forensics studies. If he shows something as happening a certain way, there's usually one helluva good reason for it which is based soundly in the history and the science.

If he drops in, you can ask him about it.
 
Nov 15, 2006
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For me, my favourite of all Kens work, and they are all good in there own right, is still and probably will always be DEATH OF A TITAN (not sure to the correct title) as seen on pages 124/125 in "Illustrated History". I adore that painting. It not only shows the beginning stages of the ships demise, but also her eligant design.
 
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David Bubb

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Jonathan, I know which painting you are referring to and I absolutely agree. That image is so beautiful, not only because it is so well executed, but also because, sadly, the image of TITANIC sinking has become such a familiar scene that it's almost as if that's all she could do. Also, and this may sound a little odd, but she "died" so well. To see her "down by the head" in that full profile does not diminish her in any way. That beautiful lady slowly sliding beneath the element she was designed to conquer, only adds to her grace, beauty, and strength. Perhaps mine is a romanticized view of an inanimate object giving in to the laws of physics, perhaps it's because I am also an artist and often associate emotion/feeling with the ship, but I said all that to say that it is also my favorite painting of Ken Marschalls'.
 

Jason Schultz

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May 13, 2008
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I think the 35 degree one is my least as its off the old version rather the new 15-20degree marks, the rest are alright.

Actually alot of his paintings are like an actual new color photo or 3d rendering. The 35 degree one also strangly looks the most like a normal painting also.
 
Aug 14, 2007
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One of my favorite paintings, and I don't know why, is on page 30 of "Art of the Titanic" (the largest one of the three on the top). It's so ominous and shows the calm before the storm. It shows her so majestic, proud, and completely unaware of the danger that lies ahead, but the ice is already there, waiting. . .

Also, from the same book, page 94-95. Everything about this painting speaks for itself.

If you ever read this Ken, thank you.
 

Erin Hopkins

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Apr 11, 2009
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For me I enjoy all of his paintings. They're hauntingly beautiful and amazingly done.
happy.gif


I wish I had that kind of talent.
 
Aug 15, 2005
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I've been trying to get Marschall's quality of work for ages, now.
I can just about manage it with watercolours, but oils are my preferred medium. I've just about managed to get convincing anchors in oil, but platework is ahead or me yet.
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi Ryan,

IMHO, and from memory, most of the earlier K.M. works we know of in books and the ones I have seen myself appear to be acrylic (straight or not I don't know)- with the very different (significantly lower) pigment load and vehicle resulting in less saturated color you may be going about it wrong using another medium. Try drybrush acrylic over broad areas of color blocked in with applications of general color on illustration board with a thick coat of (likely) acrylic resin varnish applied with a wide brush side to side over the finished work. Oils will never look like acrylics and the reverse is even more true. Oils are known for richness and saturated color - acrylics can never compete in quite the same way because they require such vast amounts of vehicle/binder with water and anti-foaming agents among other things which account for the loss of volume during drying and the lack of rich color saturation. Oils have a much higher pigment/vehicle ratio resulting in richer color saturation and do not dry but oxidise - although oil films also undergo a volume change it is quite different in comparison to acrylics as the oil becomes linoxyn Iit loses and then gains volume but to a lesser degree if memory serves).

Best,
Eric
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi Ryan,

what I really getting at is the drybrush technique. Not easy at all to emulate Mr. Marschall's quality/style or textures achieved (I believe) with drybrush when using "slimy" oils - at least regarding his acrylic works.
Anyway, I am far more interested in seeing your style/qualities!
I prefer virgin Baltic flax oil myself (for its high iodine value), cold pressed and purified with natural earth pigments stiffly ground in small batches on Egyptian porphyry with the absolute minimum of oil - straight paint with no romantic/nonsense mediums, resins or oils added as they only lead to yellowing and/or cracking of the linoxyn films. All manipulation can be achieved with pure oil paint - with experience. Any added oil, even poppy for the blue, will add yellowing. I don't even use turpentine (especially to "thin" the Lead ground for application) as the acidity of that substance will actually jumpstart the degradation of the Belgian linen you are probably painting on - right through the lead white ground/hide glue size, and even if triple distilled some amount of gummy undesirable impurities remain. The size ought to be as thin as possible - not a coat of any sort - applied hot at about 4% by weight in distilled water depending on the weight of the linen. I use both handmade mongoose and bristle brushes - all rounds. Simple is always best. If you are priming your own linen be sure to double rinse to remove fabric sizings applied when woven. Stretch, rinse, dry, restretch, rinse, dry and then stretch on an oversized temporary chassis for sizing and grounding, then dry, age, cut off and stretch on a proper heavyweight chassis of properly seasoned (not kiln dried pine) wood for the final work.

My palette:
1) Chamber Process White Lead (also as ground)
2) Calcined African Ivory Black
3) Vaucluse Red Earth
4) Vaucluse Yellow Earth
5) Vaucluse Green Earth
6) Sar-E-Sang Lapis Lazuli
7) Vaucluse Raw Umber
Mordant: Cold Pressed Baltic flax oil with Yellow Ochre and White Lead (as siccative)
Leaf - Florentine 24 Kt. Gold Leaf
Varnish - Khios Mastic Resin
Wax Paste Finish - Sunbleached Beeswax

Best,
Eric
 
Aug 15, 2005
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I had this conversation with a marine artist called Steve in Colne t'other week. I can't remember his surname, but we've all seen at least one of his paintings in various books.
I tried acrylic once or twice, but the paint seems to dry as soon as it hits the canvas, which is a pain in the behind, to put it bluntly.
The technique you are describing in the first post is very similar to that which I use with both watercolour and oil - filling in blocks of base colour and building layers to replicate the texture of the subject. However, layers require different levels of thinning in areas and the only thinner I have for my oils is turpentine substitute, as my local art shop never seems to stock linseed oil, and turps reduces the quality of finish by giving the paint a matted texture which reflects light very poorly.


After my conversation with Steve, though, I did decide to invest in some more Acrylics and try again. But that doesn't mean I shan't persist with oils. I like the fact that it takes a few days to go off, as it gives you the opportunity to fiddle about with brushstrokes and to apply varying levels of depth.
 
Aug 29, 2009
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My favorite is the first painting he drew of the Titanic's final moments when the Titanic was 30 degrees in the air, just before the breakup.
 
May 1, 2010
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Hate to break with the rest of you, but his painting of the Lusitania is my favorite. The bow is just going under, there is a huge starboard list, the funnels are black, a few boats are hanging by one davit. Although there was carnage everywhere at that moment in the sinking, he didn't show a lot in the painting. You just know it is there. Very tasteful, and looks like a photograph.
 
May 3, 2002
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Steve that painting is known as Death of Innocents andstill stands as one of his best

When I was 7 & 8 I did not have the benefit of Ken Marschalls' fine work, only a grandmother from Belfast with her story of seeing the Titanic before it went to England. With my imagination I read Beesley and Lord and had images in my head. In my early 20s I discovered Marschall and was bowled over to see in colour and print what I had seen in my mind already.

I would love to see him do more Lusitania paintings. I know he was considering the 1910 rogue wave strike when doing work for Exploring the Lusitania.
 

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