You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.

What inspired me to paint the Civil War Series

I've always been a history buff.  So, through many discussions with friends and family about the civil divide that has been going on in our country, I thought I would venture into a new arena.

I began my journey the summer of 2018, in between the many art shows that I was exhibiting in throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania & Michigan.  I decided to make some stops at Gettysburg, Antietam, Fort Sumter, Atlanta and Harpers Ferry to do some research.  I walked the battlefields, studied through lectures, read books, tours, even meditated in the fields - spending a week or more at each stop.  I wanted to feel it in my soul before putting it on canvas.

Then, once I got home, I decided to commit to painting the series.  The battlefields had overwhelmed me with immense sorrow and even grief.  While at Gettysburg, I found a cross that a soldier wore at Devils Den.  It was a museum piece that was offered for sale.  I was drawn to it.  I actually wore that cross while painting the entire series as inspiration.

I feel like we have a tendency to romanticize wars, so I wanted to paint the series as abstract with some realism.  I wanted to ground the paintings with existing landmarks at each battlefield.  We've all seen the magnificent Civil War paintings in museums, so I felt that painting them as abstracts would more emulate the fierceness of war.  I wanted people to look at the paintings and really feel the emotion - deep down.  I decided to paint the soldiers as abstract so when you look upon them, you could put a face on it - Fathers, Brothers, Uncles. Friends, young and old - blindly fighting each other.

I've seen many folks, both men and women, look at this series and literally cry.  Military men tell me that I've captured exactly what it feels like to go to battle.  I wanted a reminder of the 620,000 lives lost and can't bear the thought of another Civil War in America.

Currently, I am working on getting them on display at museums around the country.  In the meantime, I have them on display in my studio.  Come by the next Sawyer Yards Open Studio Event (, 2nd Saturdays of every month, or by appointment.  They always seem to bring in a crowd when my doors are open.

Dar Schafer