“Just lean back and float, the water will hold you up.” The boy wanted to believe his grandfather, but his nose was still stinging from the salt water dousing of his last attempt.
His grandfather seemed to have no fear of the water. No fear of anything. “That’s France.” he said nodding to a grey blue smudge on the horizon. “I was there once on a beach like this.”
“What were you doing over there?” the boy asked. His grandfather didn’t seem to hear. “I ran up the beach and looked back,” he said, almost to himself. “Our padre was right behind me. He’d lost his head.”
The second of my grandad’s war stories…
“The Yanks had told us they had taken a village up ahead. I was driving at the head of the column as we got to the centre. There were Germans everywhere. I think they were as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Chad said ‘we’ve had it now Bom!’
‘Not yet we haven’t’ I said, swinging around the fountain in the village square with the whole column following. The Universal Carrier was supposed to have a maximum speed of 32 miles an hour. Reckon I got nearly 50 out of mine that day and the language over the radio was blue! I’ve never heard anything like it!’ Cyril Merrington, 8/4 (Ulster) LAA Regt, R.A.
A Postcard from Grandad. Part of a series of mixed media experiments as part of my MA Multi-discipliary Printmaking at UWE
The first in a series of war stories from my Grandfather. I was only a boy at the time, but for some reason he felt able to tell me things he had shared with no one since the war. It was really only after his death that I began to realise that I was the only one who carried these stories. This is my attempt at keeping them alive…
I drove a lorry full of infantry to the assembly point ready for the attack on the village. One of the first shots fired from our heavy guns ricocheted from the church steeple and landed in the field those boys were crossing.
The field had been mined.
Later that day I had the very same young men in the back of the lorry. They were covered in their blankets. The army issue blanket had two purposes: to keep you warm and to bury you in it.
I was glad to make it home in mine.
“We’d like you to do a colour profile of Howard Hughes’ Racer, the H-1.” The chap I’ve been working with at Aerospace Publishing was on the other end of the phone. Nice fella, an expert on aircraft with an endless supply of interesting flying-related stories. “Yep, no problem,” I replied. “When do you need it?”
“Well… the deadline for Issue 3 is the end of the month.” He casually replied. A FORTNIGHT!!! I thought, panic mounting. I’ve never built an aircraft profile in less than six weeks! “Sure , no problem,” I answered, trying to keep my voice from betraying the fear that was about to put a strain on my underwear. “I’ll get onto it now.” Mr. Hughes’ famous Racer, executed in a fraction of the time I’m used to AND it has one of those impossibly shiny, highly polished aluminium surfaces! I’ve never had to render polished aluminium before and that frankly is as scary to any artist as the blank stare of an unmarked sheet of paper. What’s more, the profile was to be executed on a white background, so I had no reflections or ambient colour hues to help me describe the shiny surface. Bugger.
So how did I do it? I had to cut so many corners I was in danger of making a circle. And to be honest, I did end up completely over-cooking the lens flare filter at one stage and making my Racer look like it was festooned in pink Christmas tree lights, but I got there in the end: Not much detail, but enough where it counts. At the end of the day, I was not asked for one of my show pieces, just a piece of art that describes sufficiently what the H-1 looks like from the side. The bonus is I did it despite my demons, not in a fortnight but in 3 days. You see, I’ve always believed that the struggle is never between me and my art, but always between me and myself.
The Hughes H-1 Racer appears by kind consent of Aerospace Publishing who now own the copyright on this one. Thanks chaps!
I promised on my last post that there would be a lot of progress made on my nose job P51 and not being the kinda guy to intentionally break my promises, here it is: not just a lot of progress, I’ve finished it!
She’s a P51A early Allison engined example, in fact it’s decked out in the colours of the second one produced for evaluation by the Air Ministry, with the specially commissioned nose art “Slick Chick”. Of course, what you are seeing is a physically small, screen resolution version and not the full print resolution 65cm long version. You will get a fair impression of what the real artwork is like, but according to those discerning individuals who now own Dreambird prints, the real thing is so much more impressive!
Prints are limited to a run of only 20, making each print a rare collectors piece. Please note, the Dreambird logo and remaining text does not appear in the limited edition print.
So, if you fancy ordering a limited edition print of XP51 “Slick Chick” it will be available from next week at £45 per print.
Some of you might want to commission your very own P51A Dreambird and that’s absolutely fine. Don’t forget, it’s a relatively simple matter to convert the P51A to an A36 Apache/Intruder , and you would not be charged for the additional artwork, only for the individual nose art, camouflage and markings.
Close-up of "Slick Chick" nose art and exhaust stubs.
As promised, some close-ups of my finished Spitfire. I say finished…. but I keep spotting little annoying bits that aren’t quite right, like the line of rivets that are too close to the edge of the cockpit door (see below). While I always enjoy looking at the finished artwork (it’s always a time for a small celebration after all the intensive work), I usually hold back from doing custom commissions for a week or so while I live with the artwork. It’s this time of reflection that invariably and annoyingly reveals errors not previously spotted. But this is all part of the process and ensures that customers get a truly considered piece of artwork.
Spot the 'deliberate' mistake. If any of you Spitfire experts out there have any suggestions for technical improvements, I'd be very grateful....
The beauty of working digitally is that while I still very much use traditional drawing and painting skills, editing mistakes is so much more effective than when working with paint! The rivet problem can be sorted cleanly and effectively in a matter of seconds due to the way my images are built.
Close up of 222 Squadron badge and a brief history of AD233
Limited edition prints of ‘West Borneo I’ will be available from next week. As usual, each signed print is 65 cm long, and limited to 20 prints. Each print retails at £60.
Of course, a custom version of this artwork is also available. Please contact me for a no obligation quote.
Thought I’d share the finished artwork of the P51 B Mustang. There’s an interesting story with this one: The Clients’ name is Chris Brown and he is a photographer by trade. He particularly wanted a P51 B and liked the idea of a recon squad and the parallels with his own trade as a photographer. We discussed various names and in the end “Box Brownie” was chosen – it’s a play on his name, but it’s also the name of a simple camera from the WW2 era.
Close-up of nose art.
Fully framed P51. What would you call YOURS?
My client ordered this for himself, but it would also make perfect gift for the man who has everything!
The latest commissioned P51 Mustang “Daring Miss Dee”, named after my clients’ fiancé: He wanted a Mustang from the 99th Fighter squadron – the famed Tuskegee Airmen or ‘Red Tails’. I understand George Lucas is currently involved with a movie of the same title. Here is a detail of the finished art:
Red tailed Mustang "Daring Miss Dee"
I changed the background for this particular aircraft. The standard gun metal grey tended to drain some of the colours employed in this piece. I wanted something to enhance and work with the huge variety of colours in this particular painting. I also chose to use a faint suggestion of an airfield (its actually based on Duxford, where some of the scenes for “The Battle of Britain” were filmed.) It took a while resolve this – blues, reds, yellows are very challenging and demanding colours to work with, especially when the subtle colours used in the aliminuim panels can be so easily overpowered by them. The gentle coloured tones of the background help to soften and balance the use of colour throughout, I hope!
That was “Daring Miss Dee”. What would you call yours?
If I had a P51 Mustang, what would I call it? The ‘Dreambird’ artwork was my response to this particular fantasy. It has become the basis to the whole Dreambird concept: bespoke alterations and additions to my existing artwork, resulting in truly unique and individual art. What would you call yours?
Matt and Ben at Ninetyfive Creative wanted a P51 mocked up with their company logo and colours! The version you see here on my website has my DreamBird logo plastered over the tail in an attempt to prevent copyright theft!