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Winter 2011, Vol. 14, No. 2
Class Notes - Sidebars
 

 

 

  Kristopher Battles ('91) shown sketching at Combat Outpost Falcon in Ramadi, Iraq, in December 2006. Photo by Marine Lt. Col. Kurt Wheeler.
   
Sketchpad Warrior

For Kristopher Battles’ (’91) most recent deployment with the United States Marine Corps, his instructions were, “Go to war, do art.” As a combat artist, Battles’ duties vary from those of a typical Marine, although he served as a Marine Reservist in the late 1980s and re-enlisted in 2006 to join the art and military spheres of his life.

Battles remembers hearing about the Combat Art Program when he first enlisted. He had even met with a combat artist and seen the work of former Marine Artist in Residence at various bases and in offices. At the time, Battles thought it sounded like great position, but didn’t pursue it any further until 2005 when he came across a blog by a Marine Corps combat artist stationed in Iraq. He decided to go out on a limb by e-mailing the current combat artist to explain that he was a former Marine and a current artist. Battles exchanged photos of artwork with the combat artist, who asked if he could pass them on to his superiors.

Shortly thereafter, he was contacted about re-joining the ranks; this time as an artist. After talking with his wife Kelly and passing his physical, Battles re-enlisted in June 2006, was called to active duty in September and then deployed in October and was on his way to Iraq for a combat art tour.

While deployed, Battles experiences life as a Marine and makes art based on that experience. “The scenes are usually what we like to call “slice of life” images, and can depict anything that a Marine might do or experience over there,” Battle said. “From life in a Forward Operating Base to a combat patrol, to a flight in CH53 helicopter.”

Many of Battles’ deployment pieces are sketches and watercolors, while his studio pieces are more geared toward oils and even clay for larger “finished” pieces. One can find many of Kristopher Battles’ pieces in the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.

“It is really rewarding when family members of Marines deployed overseas write or call me and tell me they appreciate what I’m doing, and that their son or daughter was in a particular place I sketched, or maybe even the subject of one of my works,” Battles said.

He also has civilian pieces in the University Residence and various offices around campus.

While at Truman, Battles enjoyed his involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ and the Art Club, in addition to talking art in the Art Lounge or Student Union Building.

Today, the father of three spends free time with his children and reading on his Kindle. When time allows, he also enjoys shooting on the range and sketching and painting his landscape paintings in oil.

To learn more about Battles and his works, visit his blog, “Sketchpad Warrior,” at kjbattles.blogspot.com.― Amanda Goeser

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