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Spc. Phillip Adam Turner, 1st Cavalry Division
When a Soldier deploys for the first time, it can be an overwhelming experience which will draw on all the life lessons, personal accountability and integrity they have gained over the course of their life.
There is, however, an overwhelming need for favorite pastimes or hobbies -- to fill the angst less hours of missions, and the call of duty on a daily basis. The need for some reminder of home or an outlet to gain a fresh perspective with the ever-changing days is paramount.
For Pfc. Juan Franco, signal support systems maintainer, Company C, Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, of Sacramento Calif., art has been an outlet for him his entire life and will continue to be an inspiration throughout his first deployment to Iraq.
“I have been ‘doodling’ since elementary school; it is a purge of pure imagination. My own creations are like a diary or a reflective process, it puts me in a comfortable place; like home,” Franco said.
Since arriving at Kuwait’s Camp Buehring for a few days of training before moving on to Iraq, Franco changed his approach to the way he sees the world. The ever abundant sand and endless desert landscapes have made him rethink his approach when sitting down to sketch out a scene.
Growing up in California, Franco said he has become accustomed to the deep, rich colors of the southern California landscape, and that being in the desert has had an effect on his artwork.
“I am used to deep greens and blues; I love colors that bleed,” he said. “I have had to play around with different tones of tan and sand based colors, but it is good for me it just adds more depth to my portfolio.”
For Franco, this deployment is not just an opportunity to work on his collections of “doodling,” it is an opportunity, he said, to use his talent to bond with his comrades.
“Many of my buddies have approached me about drawing something for them. A lot of times it is a portrait of their girlfriend or family, but those are the things I enjoy drawing most. The detail involved in sketching a person’s face is consuming, there is a lot of depth, the emotion is not just skin deep … I like to look into the eyes. The eyes tell the story so I spend a lot of time on that feature,” said Franco.
With an explicit attention to detail and a carpenter’s care for his craft, Franco feels his art is a reflection of his place in the world and a model for other soldiers to follow and find their own creative outlet during this deployment.
“I am a pacifist by nature; you can tell in the way I sketch … the way I see the world …the colors I use. I know that given the nature of my job, there is that possibility that I may have [to fire my weapon in defense] of myself or my battle buddies, but those aren’t the kind of thoughts I want to consume the next 365. Instead I will focus on the colors of the moon and the skies here in Kuwait, find an outlet or template to give myself a stronger focus toward my job, my battle buddies, and the mission we are here to complete.”