1877 Born Everett Longley Warner on July 16, in Vinton, Iowa, where his father was a lawyer. His maternal grandfather was Stephen Return Riggs, an ardent missionary with the Dakota Sioux Native Americans, and a linguist who is credited with documenting, preserving and translating the Dakota language.

1894 After moving to Washington, DC, where his father had become an Examiner for the Bureau of Pensions, Warner attended art classes, while still in high school, at the Corcoran Museum and the Washington Art Students League.

1895 Having graduated from high school, he was hired as an art critic for The [Washington] Evening Star.

1900 After moving to New York, he studied life drawing with George Bridgeman and others at the Art Students League.

1903 Moved to Paris to study at the Académie Julien. Lived in Europe and the US off and on for the next four years, and traveled on numerous excursions to paint in such settings as the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Sicily, and Gibraltar, and, in North America, to Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador.

1908 Engaged in painting landscapes of various urban settings in lower Manhattan. With these and other work in the next decade, began to win prestigious awards, including exhibitions at the National Academy of Design, Wadsworth Atheneum, Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design, Dartmouth College, and St. Louis Art Museum.

1917 During the summer, he participated in experiments in trying to make a ship invisible (the USS Ockenfels), using surface and structural camouflage plans proposed by Thomas Edison. “I painted her,” Warner later recalled (as pictured at right), “but it was not a success. The ‘Hawaiian skirt’ on the bow, as the longshoremen called it, was carried away before she got out of New York harbor” [from his lecture notes].  

On September 29, Warner presented his own proposals for ship camouflage to the Bureau of Construction and Repair in Washington, DC. According to government records, he argued that it is “practically impossible to make a ship invisible from a submarine, because she was almost invariably outlined against the sky and consequently would show up in silhouette. His proposal, therefore, was to break up the silhouette in such as way as to make it very difficult for the enemy to obtain the range.” Known as the Warner System, his method was one of six camouflage measures that were officially sanctioned by the US Shipping Board, along with others by Gerome Brush, William Andrew Mackay, Lewis Herzog, Maximilian Toch and a person named Watson.

1918 Commissioned a lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve Force, in order to organize and supervise a Design Subsection (in Washington, DC), within a newly formed Camouflage Section, headed by Harold Van Buskirk. Among his team of designers were Frederic Waugh (marine painter), Gordon Stevenson (portrait painter), John Gregory (sculptor), Kenneth MacIntire, M. O’Connell (advertising artist), M. Nash, and a person named Richardson. Concurrently, a Research Subsection was set up at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, under the direction of Lieutenant Loyd A. Jones, that company’s leading physicist.

During the previous year, a comparable unit had been formed at the Royal College of Art in London, under the supervision of British marine painter Norman Wilkinson, who is invariably said to have been the originator of “dazzle painting” in ship camouflage. 

In March 1918, Wilkinson traveled to the US (on the USS Leviathan), to serve as a short-term advisor to the US naval camouflage team. Throughout his visit, Warner was Wilkinson’s escort as he lectured on dazzle painting at various ports. Like their British predecessors, the American camouflage artists applied disruptive patterns to miniature wooden ship models, tested the painted models in labs equipped with periscopes, and prepared detailed construction plans for painting the ships.

It was during World War I that Warner made a serendipitous discovery that (had the war continued) would have enabled him to produce new, one-of-a-kind dazzle schemes, in almost unlimited number. While conducting a seminar for dock painters on course deception, Warner cut an already dazzle-painted ship model into five or so sections. He then arranged these sections in a curved or oblique angle (see his drawing on the right) in front of a plain gray ship model. It was at that moment, he later explained, that he realized that, when the gray model "was placed at any angle behind one of those rows of blocks, it invariably appeared to take the same direction as the blocks." 

In other words, he had discovered that to create a new unique dazzle pattern, one could simply position the blocks in a way that contradicted the actual orientation (the course) of the gray ship model, convert that arrangement to a flat diagram (through drawing or photography), and apply the resulting design to the ship. The astonishing effects are evident in photographs that still survive of his experiments with this method.

1918-19 Following WWI, Warner returned to landscape painting and renewed his earlier affiliation with the Lyme Art Colony, one of the best-known artist colonies of the time, located on the mansion grounds of the estate of Florence Griswold at Old Lyme, Connecticut. That colony flourished from 1899 to 1937, and was initially referred to as the center for an American branch of the Barbizon School and, later, the Impressionists. During this period, he lectured and wrote about marine camouflage, and completed a series of aerial view paintings, made from an airplane.

1923 At age 46, Warner married Katharine Jordan Thomas. During their marriage, they raised three sons, Stephen, James and Thomas.

1924 He moved with his wife to Pittsburgh, where he accepted an art teaching position at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. His department head was Homer Saint-Gaudens, whose father was the celebrated American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and who had served in WWI as the head of the US Army Camouflage Corps.

1941 In December, when the US entered World War II, Warner took leave from Carnegie in order to resume his role as Chief Civilian Aid in charge of camouflaging ships for the US Navy.

Above are not photographs of the blocks that Warner used. His were irregular sections of dazzle-painted wooden ship models, cut into slices, and arranged in a somewhat irregular way (see pencil drawing and ship model photos at above right). All I’ve done here (as a crude approximation of Warner’s method) is to cover wooden cubes with adhesive printed patterns (a), and then, borrowing a method from Abbott H. Thayer, to frame a detail of that plan by superimposing on it a cut-out silhouette of a ship (b). Warner’s ingenious method, as if clear from the photographs of his models, was substantially different from this, in the sense that he placed his blocks in a row that stood in front of a monochrome wooden ship model. “The problem confronting a submarine, once his prey has been sighted, resolves itself solely into estimating course and speed of the target, in order to determine how the approach to torpedo fire position should be made. The “dazzle” system of painting is based on this one consideration and that is, of rendering the problem confronting a submarine more difficult, confusing him as to how his approach shall be made and thereby adding in some degree to the safety of the vessel attacked.”

U.S. Admiral William S. Sims (1917) Above Prototype drawing for the Warner System of camouflage (1917). Above USS Ockenfels before camouflage (above) and after (below), based on Thomas Edison’s plan (1917), as carried out by Everett Warner [see comments by Warner at left and far left].
Above One of the earliest ship camouflage proposals was that of American artists Abbott H. Thayer and George de Forest Brush. These are two of their drawings for US Patent No. 715,013, filed in 1910, in which a ship is countershaded in a manner not dissimilar from the coloration of a seagull. It was Brush’s son, the sculptor Gerome Brush, who actually worked with Thayer in applying for the patent, and who also later filed for other patents that pertained to camouflage.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_Thayerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_de_forest_brushhttp://www.google.com/patents?id=qLhBAAAAEBAJ&dq=715013shapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2
Above Prototype drawing for the Brush System of camouflage (1917), as proposed for the USS Mount Vernon  by American sculptor Gerome Brush. Above Everett Warner, in a photograph probably taken in the years between the World Wars, while he was a teacher at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. 1945 At the war’s end, Warner was discharged from the Navy. At age 68, he then retired from teaching, and settled with his family in Westmoreland, New Hampshire.

1963 Everett Warner died of a heart attack on October 20, at age 86.

1972 Warner’s studio was destroyed in a major fire, resulting in the loss of many of his drawings, paintings, letters, notes and ship models. Above (left) is Robert R. Hays, painting ship models. Above (right) Five of Warner’s camouflage co-workers, in the early years of World War II, including (in the foreground) Robert R. Hays, and (in the background) Bennet Buck (center, wearing uniform), William Walters (on left, facing away), Arthur Conrad (at rear desk, in suit and tie) and one other person. They are shown painting ship models, and transferring those patterns to blueprints for each class of ship. Below (right) is another photograph of members of the same team, in another work area. Hays is in the left foreground, and Sheffield Kagy is wearing the black uniform on the right. Above Various government photographs of camouflage schemes designed under Warner’s direction. Left In this photograph (courtesy of Robert R. Hays), Warner is surrounded by his WWII American naval camouflage team, including (left to right) Bennet Buck, Sheffield Kagy, William Walters, Warner (holding ship model), Arthur Conrad, and Robert R. Hays. The remaining person (back row, far left) is unidentified. “[Abbott H.] Thayer’s contribution to marine camouflage was wholly inspirational. His ideas as far as he had formulated them, were wholly impractical, but he was never given the change to work on ships and learn what was practical and what was not. Thayer’s model painted to represent a cloud on the distant horizon, would have involved covering the ship with a vast spread of canvas, and apart from the great cost and labor involved, it would have hampered the ship’s operation. It was however no more visionary than Thomas Edison’s scheme involving a big spread of canvas. But Edison was an inventor, so they let him try out his idea, and a very wild idea it turned out to be. I know because I had the job of doing the painting work on the vessel. Part of the added camouflage structural work was so unseaworthy that it got carried away before the vessel got out of New York harbor.”

Everett Warner, in a statement published in Nelson C. White, Abbott H. Thayer (Hartford CT: Connecticut Printers, 1951), p. 138.
everett warner (1877-1963)
Ship Camouflage Artist

compiled by Roy R. Behrens
copyright © 2009http://www.uni.edu/artdept/behrens.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0
Click here  to download book info as printable pdfEverettWarner_files/CAMOUPEDIAad.pdfshapeimage_14_link_0
A chronology of his life, with particular emphasis 
on his contributions to US naval camouflage during World Wars I and II
Right (left and center) Two photographs of Everett Warner, during World War I, at which time he was serving as head of the Design Subsection of the US Navy Camouflage Section in Washington DC. He is shown here in the model painting room, with painted ship models in the background. He was also a leading contributor to naval camouflage in World War II. (far right) A painting by Everett Warner titled Interlacements (1952). Click here to see more examples of his artworks.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett_Warnerhttp://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/twarner/artwork.htmlshapeimage_16_link_0shapeimage_16_link_1
Above The Mackay System as applied to the USS Dekalb (c1918). Above The Toch System as applied to the USS Warren J. Courtney (c1918). Above The Watson-Norfolk System as applied to the USS Nebraska (c1918). Watson (full name undetermined) was the chief ship painter at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Above A group photograph of staff members at the Design Subsection of the US Bureau of Construction and Repair, c1918. Among those who can be identified in the photo are Harold Van Buskirk (third from left), Everett Warner (far right), and Frederick Waugh (rear right center, wearing dress hat). “On day nine at sea, [Ernest] Peixotto and [Wallace] Morgan’s convoy was met by a dozen destroyers that were to escort them into port. The coloring of these warships caught Peixotto’s eye; they were ‘brilliantly camouflaged like wasps, queerly striped with black and white, with spots between of yellow, gray-blue, and water-green’—the softened tones of Monet’s paintings. ‘Like wasps too they darted around us,’ he wrote, ‘zigzagging across our bows, dropping astern, watchful, then, with a burst of speed, forging up ahead again.’”

Peter Krass in Portrait of War: The US Army’s First Combat Artists and the Doughboys’ Experience in WWI. NY: John Wiley, 2006, p. 16.
Above Simple demonstration by Abbott H. Thayer from his book on Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (1909/18), showing that even brightly colored butterflies are more difficult to “read” (as a coherent, continuous shape) than are those of a single color. He went on to argue against the use of monochrome khaki (sand-colored) for field service uniforms. For more information about the life and ideas of Thayer (sometimes called the “father of camouflage”), there is a new documentary film that premiered in 2008 at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Titled INVISIBLE: Abbott Thayer and the Art of Camouflage, it can now be purchased online for about $20. morehttp://www.prpproductions.comshapeimage_25_link_0
block system
Above Everett Warner in later life.
Click here to download book info as printable pdfEverettWarner_files/BobolinkAd.pdfshapeimage_30_link_0
pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4DazzleCamouflage.htmlDazzleShips.htmlDazzleThayer.htmlshapeimage_31_link_0shapeimage_31_link_1shapeimage_31_link_2
contact OUR BLOG we also publish a camouflage blog new SHIP SHAPE: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook (an anthology of writings about ship camouflage during WWI) (2012). Quick international shipping.
Bobolink Books  |  Iowa Home Page  |  CAMOUPEDIA  |  How Ballast Began  |  How Form Functions  |  WPA http://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Index/Home.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Iowa/Home.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Camoupedia/DazzleCamouflage.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/BALLAST/HowBallastBegan.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Gestalt/HowFormFunctions.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/BALLAST/WPA.htmlshapeimage_40_link_0shapeimage_40_link_1shapeimage_40_link_2shapeimage_40_link_3shapeimage_40_link_4shapeimage_40_link_5