Six Panel with Lapis Lazuli

Back to canvass and experimentation with texture. I grounded up my Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan into a fine powder. Then I composed a non objective design onto six canvasses. I used clear stand oil and saturated the work, and spread the Lapis across the surface.
The images randomly appeared with a slightly raised texture. Completely free from the use of a brush the powder collected in abstract forms of soft unhindered clumps. I enjoyed watching the powder melt into the pigment. The almost eerie faces appeared as if the painting was looking back at me.






VA Addition

A new home for the large canvas.
The fine folks at the Milwaukee Veterans Hospital welcomed one of my canvasses to aid in healing through art as an addition to the group therapy room. I am honored to have my work inspire other veterans as we learn to cope with the conflicts that remain within and learn how to heal in this ever changing world. Peace surrounds the painting as colors swirl in soothing tones and textures.
Peace to all on this somber Veterans Day weekend.





Happy Halloween


New Non Objective

Going big today with a 3×5 foot canvass. I wanted to paint a non objective and see where the night would take me. I wound up with broad strokes and organic lines. I am pleased with the results and I hope you enjoy the piece from all four sides.








Alive Day

I have tried to live deliberately, taking on the world with a keen sense of discovery. The creative side yearns to see beauty in all things living, and as the radius of my world view expands I do find beauty in most everything.
I thought going into combat would be yet another needed experience to be fulfilled as a warriors rights of passage. I trained for war, I put my self in the mentality that aggressive reactions and actions will save lives. I do believe that there are bad and purely evil forces in this world, and we should take every effort to eliminate those elements. I thought I was physically and mentally ready for our deployment.
I was exposed to IED’s, firefights, in the remote deserts and mountains. I was scared but the adrenaline rush was fantastic, the scenery was raw and beautiful in a primal un touched way. For my mentality the one unexpected element that haunts me to this day were the children. While in a compound along the Helmand River we received small arms fire from from a man by a motorcycle. As the crescendo of automatic weapons increased I was completely saddened by the sound of small children screaming. I never imagined in all of my training that there would be kids on the field of battle. Their screams are like sharp claws that scratch at my soul. We did capture the gunman named Abdul Walley in a field hiding in a woman’s Burka. He tested positive for gunshot residue on his cheek. He was interviews by MI, then sent to Kandahar.

I awoke one day with the feeling like I could handle what ever this deployment thrust in front of me and my unit. The heavy ness of leaving the wire every day pushed down on my shoulders but I finally felt that I would make it out. It was the September 7th 2005 0900 Zulu! I was finally in the lead vehicle up in the gun. Before leaving Firebase Price near Gereshk in Helmand Province I said s little prayer and kissed my small St. Joseph Coopertino medallion. I was elated for being the first vehicle; which meant that there would be no dust to choke on as we ripped through the desert.
We rallied out to hwy one and jumped onto the hard ball/pavement. I felt good. As we entered the market area of Gereshk we slowed down to avoid the bustling street. I watched very intently to possible threats yet was distracted by a young boy maybe 12 years old on a bike in the middle of the street and I thought how peculiar he is and unsafe to be amongst all if these zooming vehicles with out a helmet on. As he was right next to my vehicle I looked into his eyes and the last thing I saw was his entire body disappear in a horrific blast. Just behind him was a suicide bomber driving a vehicle borne IED (VBIED) that detonated enough c-4 and Propane tanks filled with explosives to kill 8 Afghans the suicide bomber the boy, and wound 26 others. I was knocked unconscious by the blast and fire ball. Being covered in blood and burnt flesh with shrapnel imbedded in my ballistic vest added to the gore. I woke up to the Medic -Doc Li from California, who was working on my vital signs, the vertebrae in my neck were fractured and my internal organs collapsed. My mouth was full of blood and grit. The medic said Jokingly that I had all of my arms and legs and that I would be ok. I told my team
Leader SGT Gattling the we needed to get the fuck out of here!
There was more gunfire in the distance as our squad was shooting their way to our location. Our radio had been knocked out by the blast but the driver SPC Adkins from Minnesota pushed through the kill zone and got us to a safe place. We gathered our gear and made it back to the Fire Base where the SF Medic checked me out, shortly after I was on a Blackhawk med evac Helicopter back to Kandahar. It took Only 30 minutes, which would of taken us 10 hours. I finally felt really safe. I had the option to go back to Landhstuhl in Germany or stay in Afghanistan with my unit. I staid with my guys!
After further evaluations I was sent back on the advanced party called Advon. To start the long road to recovery. The Army medically retired me on Sept 9 2007.
I now at 7 years later still hear the children’s screams and see the boy on his bike being vaporized every day.
You can see their image show up once in a while unintentionally in my paintings. I am celebrating my alive day by thanking and remembering the Heros who never made it home. I will thank my fellow veterans from a sincere hand shake and hug. I will continue to
Live a life with purpose, with passion, and as a precious gift as I live on borrowed time.

SPC Mark D. Duran US Army Retired










Working Small

Working Small is part of the Artful Army Veteran painting group sponsored by the Dry Hootch coffee house in Milwaukee and Facilitated by Air force vet Vera Roddy.

SpeakPeace Milwaukee

The six by six inch canvasses were part of the “Speak Peace” project where the children of Vietnam spoke out against war through literature and art. Local vets, artists and writers joined together in Milwaukee to add to the international movement with their inspirational work. The exhibit was held in June and July in Milwaukee then it will join the main event in Ireland.
Below are my few additions to the








Stars and Stripes

Below is an article written in Stars and Stripes in 2006 about my exhibition in Hanau Germany. Enjoy!

Post War Peace

My last large canvass was a 9 by 5 foot oil I painted in the fruit cellar of my basement. The space was so tight that I was never more than two feet from the images I portrayed. It wasn’t until six months later that I pulled the sheet from the dark walls to reveal the work in its entirety.  The journey from the start was a  therapeutic exercise of my reactions to the effects of war.  I was dealing with PTSD in an isolated confined space where I felt safe.  When asked how I felt when I finished it, my response was:

“I don’t know if the painting will ever be done”


Painting progress