- Firefighter Art by Dick Kramer
- Military and Tactical artist produces third of four Camp Perry prints
- A Piece of History: The Story of Dick Kramer's Berlin Airlift Mural
- Dick's Non-Tactical Art
- The Dick Kramer Story
- Dick Kramer Enters the Coast Guard Art Program's Annual Show
- Dick Kramer Signing Artwork at the NSSF SHOT Show, January 16-19, Las Vegas NV
- Monster Energy Chooses Dick Kramer's Artwork for their USO 75th Anniversary Commemorative Can
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 4/27/2017
They walk right into danger. They risk their lives to save others. They let nothing stop them, breaking down doors and climbing through windows. And many of them are volunteers. Who are they? Firefighters!
Dick Kramer, the world's foremost tactical artist, includes firefighters among his artistic repertoire. With his incredible skill, he is able to capture the strength, determination, and humanity of these brave responders. The realism and attention to detail make these drawings all the more powerful. For example, in "Firefighter with Mask" Dick brings to life not only the expression on the firefighter's face but also the rich details and textures of the safety gear and equipment. In all these drawings, you can feel the weight of the gear the firefighters have to wear just to stay alive in the conditions they willingly enter.
The furrowed brow of the "Fire Captain" suggests a man who has seen all kinds of disaster and would still leap into action without hesitation. The idea of quitting is just unimaginable when there are still lives that will need to be saved.
"Firefighter with Hose" depicts three firefighters in the process of putting out a nighttime blaze. The glow of the fire is seen at the right side; the rest of the background is dark. The three men look confident that they'll soon have the disaster under control, despite the ominous light from the flames.
Saving lives and property is hard work and this "Tired Firefighter" shows in his posture just how exhausting his job is. But he's a brave man and he's going to keep doing it again and again— after all, people are relying on him.
If you have a firefighter in your life, one of Dick Kramer's prints could be the perfect gift for them. Check out the Firefighters Gallery for more.
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 3/27/2017
Military and Tactical artist produces third of four Camp Perry prints
Dick Kramer has been blowing everyone away with his tactical art for over 50 years. No one else accomplishes the realism, attention to detail, and power he instills into every drawing. His subjects— whether SWAT, military, or anyone else— seem ready to leap off the page.
This made Dick the perfect artist to create some special artwork for the Competitive Shooting Division of the NRA. Every year, the NRA sponsors over 50 national championships and sanctions over 11,000. Enthusiasts from all over the country come to demonstrate their prowess and appreciation for firearms. The NRA approached Dick for a series of four pieces of art to represent the four stages of the National Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio. Recently, Dick completed the third out of the four art pieces: High Power Rifle.
The drawing includes four men in Dick's signature ultra-detailed style, each holding a different rifle. Two of the men are looking away, but the two whose faces are visible show the confident, yet relaxed expression of someone who is a good shot and knows it. The NRA logo adorns the background. Altogether, it's a perfect piece to capture the spirit of the National Championships.
Dennis Willing, NRA Competitive Shooting Director, reflects on Dick's artwork and how the series began. "We contacted Dick a few years ago about creating a series of the stages of our National Championships at Camp Perry. Pistol, Smallbore and High Power Rifle. The results have been astounding."
Below is a picture of Dick with NRA Pistol Manager Tom Hughes, who had met Dick a couple decades before. Hughes' introduction led to the current project in which Dick does a drawing every year for the NRA.
Dick's work for the NRA is available as prints at several NRA locations, as well as at the National Championships in Camp Perry.
To enjoy more of Dick's artwork and perhaps shop for a print yourself, check out his galleries at www.dickkramer.com.
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 3/24/2017
A Piece of History: The Story of Dick Kramer's Berlin Airlift Mural
On June 12, 1987, a vast crowd had assembled before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, to hear President Ronald Reagan challenge Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall in the name of peace and prosperity. The people cheered the President's words and the hope they brought for the future; a future in which Germany would be reunited.
That day was the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin in the 13th century, and also the 40th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift. Dick Kramer, his wife Ginny, and their youngest son Stephen were in attendance. It was a special occasion for everyone, but Dick had a very specific reason to be there: He had been commissioned by ITT to paint an 8 foot high, 16 feet wide mural commemorating the Berlin Airlift to be presented to President and Mrs. Reagan as a gift from the American people to the people of Berlin.
The Reagans listened as Dick gave them a quick explanation of all the various parts of the mural, some of which were symbolic, others of which were portraits of individuals who had made a difference.
The airplane at the top is a DC-3, the plane used in the airlift during a harrowing time in which a plane would take off and land every 30 seconds and have to fly perilously low during rough weather. The man seated at the radar screens at the bottom represents the first use of radar for bad-weather landings. The two men below the airplane represent the people of West Berlin who were helped by the vital supplies delivered by the fearless airlift pilots. These supplies included foods like flour, meat, potatoes, milk, sugar, coffee, and more, and fuels including coal and gasoline. The population of Berlin was over 2 million people and every day, 1,534 tons of food items and 3,475 tons of fuel had to be flown in to sustain them under the Soviet blockade.
The smiling man in the lower left of the mural is Colonel Gail Halvorsen of the USAF. During one of his trips to Berlin, he met some children that, although they were on the verge of starvation and had nothing, inspired him with their bravery and selflessness. The children told him not to worry if he could not land sometime because they could survive on very little and their freedom was more important to them. The very next day, Halvorsen dropped candy from his plane, attached to tiny parachutes, which soon grew into an official program called Operation Little Vittles. He became known as the Candy Bomber and the top right of the mural depicts his plane while dropping candy to the children. He told them he would "wiggle his wings" so they could recognize his plane.
Colonel Halvorsen was present during Dick's presentation of the mural to President and Mrs. Reagan and was delighted to see himself immortalized in the mural. Dick met him again years later, at a reunion.
40% of the airlift was handled by the British, and Dick wanted to make sure history remembered their contribution. The man depicted in the lower right of the mural is a British soldier making repairs to a DC-3 engine. Directly above him are British 4-engine seaplanes on Lake Wannsee. These British planes had become a lifesaver because, as seaplanes, they were not damaged by salt and could transport salt during the airlift, while the American planes could not.
To the right of the British soldier are German mechanics taking a much-needed coffee break, and above them is a man stenciling the symbol of the Airlift, the Berlin Bear breaking chains. This symbol was put on all the boxes that left the city. The central figures in the mural are a little girl giving flowers to an American pilot, based on a photo Dick found at the Royal Air Force Archives in London. Dick met both the pilot and the little girl years later.
The mural is now on permanent display at the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, which was the hub for all incoming air traffic. In March 2007, Dick and Ginny went to re-visit it and discovered that 8 to 10 groups of school children were brought every day to see the mural and learn the history of the Airlift. Dick and his family are enormously proud that he had a role in preserving this piece of history and proud of the part America played in helping the German people.
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 3/8/2017
Dick's Non-Tactical Art
Dick Kramer's tactical artwork is legendary, and his drawings are in high demand in the fields of military and law enforcement all over the world. He wasn't always a tactical artist, though, and in fact, to this day he can draw anything in front of him. He says, "If you hold it still, I can draw it!"
In the above pen and ink drawing, Dick perfectly captures the expression of a football player intensely focused on victory. The bright highlights and subtle shadows on the helmet are no mean feat using pen and ink, and the Redskins logo is flawlessly executed. Dick uses a variety of pen techniques including crosshatching and stippling to go beyond the light and shadow on the subject and achieve further detail, such as different textures and values. The ability to realize these details is the mark of a true artist.
Dick primarily used stippling for this intensely-lit rhinoceros, another pen and ink drawing. He reserved his linework for smaller details, like the wrinkles of the skin, and only subtly defined the edges especially on the rhino's back. All levels of shadow come together for stunning realism.
The Big Horn Sheep above were drawn with a different approach: scratchboard. Scratchboard is like "drawing in reverse" as the artist uses a sharp tool to scratch black India ink away from the white surface underneath. It presents unique challenges as the artist must switch from drawing the shadows to drawing the light itself. Dick's scratchboard technique is excellent, and he brought these Big Horn Sheep to life. Notice the strong lighting and variety of textures he accomplished in this uncommon medium.
Dick's Florida Panther above is another of his pen and ink drawings. The spirit of this powerful yet endangered predator shines through Dick's intricate pen work. The shiny fur hugging the cat's muscles, the paws at rest, and the pensive eyes are all details that bring life to the subject. Dick has also achieved a complex mix of textures in the ground, rocks, and foliage surrounding the panther. A print is available of this stunning cat, found here.
The Canada Goose could not be a more different subject than the Florida Panther, and Dick's expertise with pencil manifests in different ways. Birds pose unique challenges due to the complex patterns and textures that feathers can present. Dick has also conquered a subject that many artists find nearly impossible: water. Water is very easy for an artist to mishandle, resulting in the appearance of a hard, bumpy surface rather than wet, rippling waves. Dick's pencil work focuses on the goose's distorted reflection, only suggesting the rest of the surface through light and shadow (artists, take note). The Canada Goose is also available as a print, here.
We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into Dick's artwork from before his tactical days! A few of his non-tactical drawings can also be seen on his website in the Portraits Gallery among some of his military and law enforcement portraits. You can learn more about Dick here and browse his gallery at http://www.dickkramer.com/.
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 3/2/2017
The Dick Kramer Story
Dick Kramer is known today as the premier tactical artist in the United States, lending his incredible skills to the world of law enforcement by bringing their strength and struggles to life on his drawing board. But who is Dick and what's his story? How did he get into drawing, and how did he reach the pinnacle of skill he sits at today?
All stories have a beginning, and Dick's story begins in New Jersey. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1938, Dick spent his early childhood in the small town of Nutley, New Jersey. His taste for drawing dates back to his youngest years; as a child, he gained a reputation in school for putting off his work in favor of his art. This went over badly with his teachers and his family, and he was constantly in trouble for not doing his work. But in Dick's mind, drawing was his true calling!
On his 17th birthday, Dick quit school and joined the Navy. "It was one of the best things that ever happened to me," he says. "I owe the Navy my life." Dick realized the mistake he had made in pushing aside his schooling and finished his education in the Navy. At 19 years old he became the youngest in the Pacific Fleet to achieve the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class. He received an honorable discharge after 4 years and returned home to Nutley, New Jersey with a new focus.
When he came home, Dick proposed marriage to the love of his life, Ginny. She said yes and the two embarked on their life together. "We have been married for 57 years and she is still my girlfriend," Dick says. "I am a blessed man."
Dick began attending the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art and later transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City to complete his art education. He worked for a while at a chain store doing pen and ink illustrations for their advertising and later decided to freelance. He knew he was taking a big risk and money became very tight, but Ginny was very supportive. "We had $78 in the bank, four kids, and I quit my full-time job… Ginny has always been behind me, no matter what was happening," Dick remembers.
After some tough times, Dick found a new opportunity at ITT Avionics Division, a defense contractor. He spent 8 years as Art Director there but began to feel out of place in the corporate world. It just wasn't for him, and he returned to freelancing. The Kramer family moved to Florida for 8 years, and then out of nowhere, a new chapter opened. "That's where my entire life changed," Dick says.
A Dream Come True
Dick was approached by John Meyer, then the head of Heckler & Koch Training Division. He commissioned Dick for some artwork for a new poster advertising H&K's training facility in Sterling, Virginia. For the commission, Dick drew a series of seven vignette drawings of SWAT Officers in action. H&K paid him for his drawings and he moved on to other work, unaware of the new direction his life was suddenly about to take.
The H&K poster was distributed worldwide, and with it, Dick's career launched to new heights. "…The receptionist at H&K threatened to quit," he says. "The telephone lines lit up with SWAT Officers from around the world wanting to know who was doing these drawings and how could they get copies. That was the beginning of our fabulous life." Dick drew the first four of several hundreds of sketches, and as he puts it, "The rest is history."
Now, Dick and Ginny have traveled all over the world and made lifelong friends in the SWAT community and corporate world through commissions. The Kramers' business is split halfway between corporate commissions and online print sales. Dick makes regular appearances at tactical tradeshows such as the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas, NV at which he recently signed hundreds of prints for enthusiastic fans.
A Future Filled with Art
Dick was right all along: drawing is what he was born to do, and he loves every minute of it. The military and SWAT worlds are his favorite subjects, and he and Ginny have a deep appreciation for the dedication of these officers. "Ginny and I admire and pray for all of the fabulous people we meet in our business," he says. "They are the brightest, bravest and best that our Nation has to offer. Our hearts break when a Police Officer or young Warrior dies in battle. We are all poorer for the loss of such wonderful young men and women. I feel honored to be so close to them and what they do. Every day they place their lives on the line so that we can enjoy the lives and freedoms we have. God bless each and every one of them and their families."
When asked when he will stop drawing, Dick replies that he wants to die at the drawing board. Life without his art is unfathomable to him. "I hope God will grant me many more years of drawing the people that Ginny and I love so much," Dick says. The SWAT and military communities hope for the same, as no one captures them as well as Dick Kramer.
To buy a print of Dick's work, or commission work from him, please visit http://www.dickkramer.com/.
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 2/9/2017
Dick Kramer Enters the Coast Guard Art Program's Annual Show
Every year, the Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP) holds a show at the Salmagundi Club, a respected cultural center in New York City. 2017 marks the 35th anniversary of the partnership between the Coast Guard and the Salmagundi Club, and this year the annual show will be held from July 16th to 18th.
Dick Kramer is a member of the Coast Guard Art Program and this year he has entered two of his exceptional pieces. The first, "Smoke Eater," depicts a Coast Guard firefighter. Dick is an absolute master with pencils and loves the challenge of capturing the appearance of glass and reflections the way he has done with the facemask and tank worn by the firefighter in this drawing. "Smoke Eater" measures 15" x 20" on cold press illustration board. Dick used several grades of pencil ranging from 6H to B.
The second piece is entitled "Fire Drill on Eagle" and is also in pencil, measuring 20" x 30". Dick invested approximately four to five weeks on these two drawings combined and achieved his usual extreme levels of accuracy and detail. The two new pieces are a fine addition to the Coast Guard Art Program's collection.
Dick and the COGAP have been good friends for years. He already has other pieces in the collection including "Beware of the Dog," "Semper Paratus," "Precision Marksman," and "Dog Fight." In 2014, he entered his watercolor "Squeeze" into the show and received a Public Service Commendation for the work. He is renowned for being able to capture the spirit of America's law enforcement and armed forces like no one else.
Dick is also involved in other programs besides the COGAP; he has been a member of the United States Air Force Art Program for over 40 years and more than 60 of his pieces reside in the collection, to be exhibited on Air Force bases worldwide. He was also selected by NASA to help document the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope from Cape Canaveral in 1990.
Please feel free to browse the gallery for more of Dick's artwork!
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 1/4/2017
Posted by Virginia Kramer on 12/28/2016