Friday, March 26, 2010
Unveiling day. Thanks to the support and willingness of the members of the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Camarillo, the Unveiling went off without a hitch. They painted the walls a sky blue color with clouds, and hung three other paintings of mine up that were aviation related. (They are seen in the back ground)
Five months ago when I had finished the painting I made contact with the Wings of Fame Museum in Chino California, and asked if they would be willing to fly their P-40 up to Camarillo to be present for the unveiling of my painting, "Tigers Over Kweilin". They responded with an enthusiastic "YES!!".
Spring forward to May 7, 2009, an hour before the ceremony, Chino's P-40 arrived right on time and taxied in to the ramp area of the CAF. She was a beautiful bird, in immaculate condition!
When the time arrived and the guests were seated, a few speeches were made about the history of the America's involvement in the Fight for China, in the lead-up to WWII.
Then it was my turn to speak about the process of what went in to the manifestation of this painting, and what motivated me. I am wearing my Flying Tiger's Association cap signed by Flying Tiger Ace, Dick Rossi.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
All the show and tell is over(for now). The painting is framed, signed, photographed, and ready to move. I had arranged to rent a U-Haul Panel Truck for the purpose of taking the painting down to Camarillo Airport, to the Commemorative Air force Museum.
I remember it was an unseasonably cold day, and when it's cold, my studio freezes. Thus I am wearing full thermal underwear and a muffler.
(My studio was a converted barn, built without insulation, but with occasional mice...)
(Nothing worse than being cold when trying to create).
After this picture was taken, I covered the painting with a blue sheet, loaded it up into the truck, and drove it 50 miles to it's final destination. There, I was assisted by Dan Newcomb, and Ken Barger, (fellow CAF Colonels), in hanging the painting next to two other aviation paintings of mine already on exhibit.
The Blue sheet remained on the painting for almost three weeks until the unveiling.
The excitement was building!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Well, once the painting was finished, It was time to make the frame. Because the stretchers were completely square, I decided to make what is known as a "Floating Frame". This would allow for a three quarters inch gap between the canvas and the frame, and give the impression the canvas was 'floating'. The material I would use would be that of bass wood. This was another monster of a project mostly because of the scale.
I made the frame next door in my former wood shop-- (now belonging to Silas Dunlap} and spent a solid week in production. My intention was to paint it black, insert the painting into the floating frame, and place a brass placard with the title and my name on it. However I couldn't wait for the frame to be finished as I needed reference for advertising. I called my colleague, noted fine art (aerial photographer) Bill Dewey, to come and photograph it out side my studio.
On the day Bill came to take pictures, I took the painting out out my studio and hung it, unframed, on one of the Barn walls of the Old International Dairy. Bill snapped away digital pictures for my records. I invited my friend Cyndi Burt to come and photograph me standing in front of the piece, for my web site.
Over the next two months I continued to plan for the relocation of the painting: shipping/transportation, and throwing the celebratory event that would be it's launch into the public domain. I realized that similar to painting, production work is all about priorities; prioritizing, shifting priorities, and re-prioritizing, in order to manifest the new idea.
I also invited as many people to come to my studio to view it, generating as much excitement and enthusiasm around the birth of this Master piece.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I like these "show and tell" art parties!!
As I had mentioned, all the planning for the unveiling event in Camarillo, took about five months to organize. The title for the event would be the, "Fight for China." It would be slated for May 7, 2007 and I was hoping to organize the logistics around a mini air show as part of the unveiling.
In the mean time, my fellow artists at the Old International Dairy Cooperative in Santa Barbara, (where I've had my studio since 1993) had an art show/event under the full moon in April 2007. (I just found this image taken of me in my studio during the event, which someone posted on the internet!)
This photo gives a pretty good indication of what the public would have seen as they were entering into my studio that evening. My large canvas looms like a mural; dwarfing all other works of art visible in the shot.
One can see the two models I hung from the ceiling lights; which, when facing the painting from the back of my studio, the planes were in the same alignment as the larger P-40, and the Zero it had just shot down.
Critical Feedback is so important, regardless of whom is giving it. Although I admit it is important to me to hear a critique from another seasoned artist who may have a deeper understanding of the creative path, and life of an artist, more than someone who has yet to live their life to the fullest.
Photo Credit: K. Johanson
Sunday, March 21, 2010
This didn't just happen over night.
One can see I've added the sky, and the light and shadow patterns of the Karst Formations in the background, as well as the light on the rice paddys in the middle ground.
There was a dance of "push-pull" light to dark, defining, simplifying, glazing to warm up, or cool down, intensify, or gray down.
I could walk to the back of my studio (Approximately 20 feet away) while developing the painting. This helped me to see it come together. I also used a reduction glass, (a convex magnifying glass), which enabled me to move only a few feet away, look through it and see the entire picture as a whole.
During the process of the painting, I wanted to maintain an effect of light; the light source coming from right to left across the landscape, and keep it consistent on the aircraft.
The Landscape was definitely a challenge, however once it was near completion, the attention would turn to the most obvious element of the painting; the aircraft.
However, it would stay in this present condition for another couple of months. I was dealing with a lack of flow in the Art Market, rough seas in my marriage, my car breaking down, etc; all the required ingredients for a bad country western song.
Then one day I decided I was tired of feeling incomplete with the painting. I gave myself four months to finish it, and get it out of my studio. Finally, I got to work and started the process of painting the aircraft.
One can almost hear the sound of the engines.
When painting this painting I would listen to the sounds of WWII Aircraft digitally recorded: Taxiing, Flying etc. all to heighten the intensity of the moment when this scene would have taken place.
Basically, it is a moment in time; an instant glimpse of the drama and horrors of war, in contrast with the tranquil, timeless landscape. It is ironic: how nature can be so beautiful, and humans so destructive. How humans can be so beautiful and Nature so destructive.
It's a dichotomy.
To get to this level of finish the process took me almost two years. From this point on my goal was to call people over to my studio in order to 'show it off', and to plan the transition to the Commemorative Air Force Museum, and the 'unveiling'.
Once again logistics played a large determining factor in my life. All the Who's, What's, Whens, Wheres, Whys, and How's, became my concern as I moved into production mode.
This took some time. I actually did the 'Flaming Meatball', (Zero) first. I laid the tones in, keeping in mind the direction of the light source. Once it was laid in I moved on to the large P-40, working on the camouflage first, then moving to the areas of the plane not directly receiving sunlight. The challenge: stay in the middle key with the aircraft so the highlights will have "pop", yet the darker areas of the aircraft will fall relatively into place so they have depth and correct dimension, not only to each other, but to the parts of the landscape which the aircraft are immediately flying over.
Once again, everything is just "laid in". The propellers are still not painted in motion, (the under painting color is still visible).
From this point on I am going to work pushing and pulling the contrast of not only the aircraft, but the light/dark patterns in the landscape in the foreground and background. In seeing the picture as a whole I keep asking myself, What's next, what's wrong with the painting, and how can I get it to pop, or be more exciting?
How can I bring it all together, and keep it moving and dynamic?