I was recently asked if I had ever painted aircraft. Two commissions from the 1980’s sprung to mind. One was from a friend who’s father was part of a Halifax Bomber crew during WW2. He was shot down and spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war.
The other commission was of a Hawker Sea Fury, the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy. It was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built. The painting was for a gentleman who’s father served on HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier from which the aircraft flew from.
These commissions were before the age of the internet, so there were very few photographs to work from that were easily accessible. In the case of the Halifax Bomber, I purchased an Airfix model, assembled it and photographed it from the angle I wanted. When it came to the finished painting I was able to add in the relevant squadron numbers to personalise the painting. My friend’s father passed away over 10 years ago but I know that he was very fond of the painting. It was proudly hung in his living room.
When it came to painting the Hawker Sea Fury I managed to find an old black and white photograph of HMS Illustrious, a number of drawings and photographs of the aircraft in various positions and some photographs of interesting cloud formations from the air. After experimenting with different compositions I decided that because the main subject was being viewed from the air, I would emphasis the airborne aspect of the Hawker Sea Fury by putting the horizon at a 45 degree angle.
Once again, I personalised the painting by giving the Hawker Sea Fury the appropriate markings. The client was delighted with his aviation painting and later commissioned another watercolour, this time a seascape depicting the Battle of Trafalgar.
If you have an idea for a painting commission then please visit our Studio and Gallery in Ponteland or website alanreed.com.