Faces and People in Downing’s Town

Right now I’m in the process of painting the faces of the figures. One of the interesting elements of these figures is that all of the faces are being lit by different sources of light, so they all have slightly different coloration. Once the painting is complete, I’ll be able to fine tune this feature so that they all work together harmoniously, but still look notably different.


These figures in particular are Humphry and Moses Marshall, talking to Mrs. Downing, of Downingtown fame. At the time, it was common for Quakers to travel outside their communities and meet other Quakers from different areas to help preserve a sense of unity in a relatively  sparsely populated America.

Also depicted is Joseph Plum Martin, a revolutionary war soldier and author of a famous book about his life in the army during the revolution. He missed most of the terrible winter at Valley Forge because he was guarding Downingtown, (also known then as Milltown) an important supply depot for Washington’s army.

Phil and Francine Dague were the perfect models for my depiction of the revolutionary war soldier Joseph Plum Martin and Mrs. Downing. Phil, Francine, David Culp (Humphry) and Michael Alderfer (Moses) are all good friends and active residents of Downingtown today. Phil is a member of borough council and Francine is on the Board of the Downingtown Library  and very involved in raising money for the new library building – the point being this is another layer of inspiration for me in this work.

More than a year ago when I brought up my interest in doing a painting for this show that included Downingtown, Phil mentioned the intense activity in the area during the Revolutionary war and suggested we all visit the restored historic Anselma Mill for some ideas. I was spellbound, and immediately decided to feature parts of the mill from several viewpoints in this painting.

The people and places of Chester County –  inspiration is everywhere!

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