November 2001
Last time on this page, I showed the early pencil sketch, color sketch and final pencil drawing for the painting I have been working on. The painting is finished and was shipped to the client just the other day. Here is a photo of the final work. The painting was almost finished when I left for a trip to France on August 30, but when I got home almost a month later, I saw all kinds of things that I wanted to change. I had just flown over almost the very spot on the French coast my painting is depicts, and having seen it, felt I had to make some changes. I don't know what the title will be, but I call it "Ole 33" after the name of the B-26 featured in the painting.
August 2001


I was recently commissioned to do a painting depicting the return flight of a squadron of B-26s from a mission over France shortly after D-Day. The client flew many missions in the 456th BS, of the 323rd BG. He had a terrific B&W; photograph that he wanted the painting based upon. It showed his plane in close-up, with echelons of B-26s below just crossing the coastline of France.

Here are some of the stages we have been through so far in creating this painting. At this writing, the final painting hasn't been started yet, but thought it might be interesting to show some of the preliminary work that goes into a painting such as this.

Pencil concept sketches

After discussing the idea for the painting with the client through E-mail, these four rough pencil concept sketches were done. They are all variations on the photograph they supplied me with. Note that one of them is in a vertical format. They liked #2, but also like my idea of adding a P-47 that is indicated in sketches #1 & 3. After much discussion as to which specific B-26 to use, (He flew many different ones) we arrived at "Ole 33", an olive drab B-26C #41-35033.

Color sketch

The next step was to do a little color painting of the scene. This is done mainly to show the ambiance and general feeling of the painting, and incorporate any changes made on the pencil sketch. Detail is not a big factor, but I try to make everything as accurate as I can at this stage. This sketch is 11x14 and in this case done in gouache using just the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue. The client liked the sketch, but thought the P-47 was too large and too close, and suggested that it should be above and much further behind.

Final pencil drawing

While the client was reviewing the color sketch, the final pencil drawing was started. I moved the P-47 as suggested and added another one for good measure! When this drawing was finished, it wound up being 17 x 211/2. I went to Kinkos today and had it enlarged 140% to bring it up to the actual size the painting will be, 24 x 30. This afternoon the enlarged copy of the final pencil drawing was mailed to the client. Tonight will be spent stretching a canvas (Belgian Linen) and priming it with three coats of Gesso. I'll be ready to start painting as soon as he gives his final approval on the pencil drawing. So far, our correspondence has included 37 E-mails and several letters to get it this far. E-mail is such a great and quick way to communicate, especially when you can send pictures instantly.
July 2001
Altitude Record

Here is a painting that I am just wrapping up. At this stage it is about 85% finished. It is a commission from NASA depicting the Lockheed ER-2 setting an altitude record, that resulted in NASA winning the Collier Trophy in 1998. I still have to add more details on the ER-2 such as the ailerons, elevators, some textures and seams on the wings and fuselage. The pilot also needs a little more work.

There are still more buildings to put in way down below at Edwards Air Force Base, Even though very little detail is visible on the ground at that altitude, it should convey the character of the place. I also plan to ad more variety of color in the clouds. The frame has been ordered and hopefully, it will be delivered early in August. We haven't come up with a title yet, and I'll get the client involved in that decision.
Norway Arrival

Here is a photo of the final version of the painting shown on this page last month. NORWAY ARRIVAL depicts Charles and Ann Lindbergh arriving at a village in Norway during their epic flight around the Atlantic Ocean in 1933. Since this appeared on this page of my web site last month, I have added a number of houses on the green hill in the background, broken the strong horizontal shape of the hill by bisecting it with trees. I also lightened the patch of fog near their plane, and put a little more contrast in the foreground buildings.

I decided not to include the man and boy in the foreground, as they would take some of the attention away from the center of interest, which is the airplane. The secondary center of interest is the group of buildings and people in the foreground, so adding yet another one didn't seem to make sense!