Sunday, 17 February 2019

Distant Horizons.

In talking with Keith Ferris at the 2007 American Society of Aviation Artists forum in Baltimore, I was asking him for solutions to life, the universe and how to paint aviation art. Keith, who I sense has been asked that question more times than I’ve stopped and watched an aircraft fly over, answered by telling me that I need to consider the issue, understand the problem and then solve it myself. At the time I was pretty miffed that Keith was not giving away his hard earned knowledge to a mere upstart who had only been painting aviation art for a year or so at this time. However after a little reflection I understood how important a lesson that Keith imparted that day.

As a result I now give a lot of thought to the components of a picture in the planning stage with the aim to solve as many problems as I can before I start to paint. And so here are a few thoughts on the impact and issues the horizon might have on a painting.

Horizon according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary is defined as “ the line at which the earth and sky appear to meet”. OK so you don’t need the Oxford English Dictionary or me to tell you this!

What else do we know about the horizon ? Well to tell you the truth I’d never really thought about it until I started painting aviation art.

A few basic rules of perspective immediately come to mind but perhaps more interestingly from the aviation artist’s point of view is the relationship between the distance to the horizon and the height above ground level from which it is seen.

The distance to the horizon (in miles) is the square root of 1.5 times the height above ground or sea level (in feet) of the eye of the observer.

Now imagine we are flying over Berlin in a B-17 on the 6th March 1944 and Berlin, the target, is clear of all clouds. Normal bombing height for a B-17 raid was 26-28000 ft. From that height the distance to the horizon is 217-225 miles. At the lower height of 16500 ft from which bombs were sometimes dropped the horizon is still 172 miles distant.

And so one of the challenges of aviation art is dealing with distances that have to be portrayed when aircraft are depicted at altitude. Given the distance to the horizon at 20000 feet is around 200 miles this must be taken into account if the composition of a picture includes the horizon. The main task is to identify any key landmarks such as a coastline, large towns or cities or mountain ranges that might be visible, and their position and size within the picture. At the same time the effect of atmospheric recession must be taken into account and it fully understood that cloud and atmospheric conditions most likely will reduce the distant horizon to a blue/grey band of indistinct detail. However somewhere between the viewpoint and the horizon a level of ground detail will need to be shown, and at the very least make some attempt to accurately reflect the geography of the

Atmospheric recession – well that’s for next time.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

How small can you go

When I think of aviation art I think of planes in flight, skies, of cloudscapes, of sweeping vistas - not always but mostly. While aviation art is obviously air craft themed it is also very much about  light and the skyscapes created. In consequence if a canvas is too small it becomes difficult to catch the essence of light and flight.

So how small can you go ? - for me it's a canvas size of 9" x 6" (23cm x 15cm) 

R for Roger 9"x6"

Working small has several significant benefits for me

  1. It forces me to work looser than is my natural style and inclination.

2. It does not take long to block in and then complete a piece when working small

3. It is an elegant way to test concepts and colour palettes, a more refined thumbnail sketch if you will.

Perhaps the most significant benefit to me however, is that with less time and effort being invested in the piece, I am far more willing to take risks with it, to experiment and to potentially ruin it as I try new ideas. It is liberating to be able to  commit paint to canvas without being overly concerned as to what the end result may look like, and this undoubtedly leads to better art.

Finally the last advantage of working small is that the price of these small pieces reflects their size, and so offers something for the collector working to a budget. 

F-4 colour study for By the Dawn's Early Light, 12"x8"

Let me know your thoughts and please sign up for my newsletter  if you have not already done so.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Navairart has a new home.

I'm excited to be able to announce that has a new home. Please have a look and let me know what you think. And to celebrate I've reduced prices on some of the art available.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Estuary Foes

A pair of paintings showing the Short-184 and Hansa-Brandenburg W.12. Both these float planes operated in the area of the Thames Estuary, English Channel and North Sea during 1917/1918. In this instance the Short-184 was based at Westgate on Sea, while the W.12 operated out of Zeebrugge.

Both pieces are 12" x 6" Oil on panel and are available.

 Drop me an email if interested.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Warparty Rocks

I've recently finished this small oil painting which shows the scene moments before Party 302 scores the aerial kill of a Syrian Su-22 over Raqqa, 18th June 2017

Oil on panel
18" x 9"

Warparty is the nickname of VFA-87 who currently fly the F-18E

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Fighting Snakes

I'm delighted to announce that "Fighting Snakes" has been accepted into the 2017 American Society of Aviation Artists International Aerospace Art Exhibition. This year's exhibition will hang at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, VA., and will run from May 22nd to Sept 3rd

 Fighting Snakes - A pilot with VT-7 makes his first solo carrier landing in a T-45C Goshawk.
Oil on board 18" x 9"

 This painting is available for purchase, - drop me an email if interested (it of course won't be available until after the exhibition ends.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

In Happier Times

Having not posted for too long here is my latest piece. A small colour study of two TBD-1 Devastators from Torpedo Squadron Six.

Oil on panel
12" x 8"
In Happier Times

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Patriotic Art Program

I'm delighted to be able to announce that a selection of my art is currently on display at the Pentagon as part of the current Pentagon Patriotic Art Program.

Needless to say this is a great honour and its humbling for my art to be on display alongside the other internationally renowned artists

Sunday, 4 August 2013

F-18 Colour Study

A quick piece worked up over the last few days, primarily worked alla prima.

18" x 9 "
Oil on board
Not quite complete, but available for purchase. Drop me an email if interested.