Sunday, June 5, 2016

P-51 Mustang 'In All its Glory' Painting, by Ron Cole

I love painting obscure historical subjects. As a professional artist, that can be a real vice. Anyone familiar with this aircraft from the early 1930s?

Yes! It's the vaunted Mitsubishi Type 10 giant carrier-based triplane torpedo bomber. The Japanese built a few of them in concert with Sopwith before realizing it was too big to operate from aircraft carriers. It's weird and ugly. I love it. I painted it. I've never sold a print. 

Thankfully, from a business point of view, I also love painting beautiful things. Somewhere along the line, after having painted over 100 compositions in 8 years, I realized that I'd never covered the most popular and historically significant subject within my genre' - the P-51D Mustang. It was hard to work it into my busy schedule between commissions, but I wanted to do it and do it right; with an unusual attention to detail. From the start I knew I wanted to focus on the natural beauty of the machine, without being distracted by unit markings and fancy nose art, so it would be a 'naked' bird as it would have appeared fresh from the factory in 1944, and with a bit more reflectivity across its aluminum skin than would have been common in reality (Maybe someone at North American had some time on their hands, and polishing compound). Put her in a beautiful environment and let it bounce off of her elegant lines. 

And that's what I did. 

I think it's wonderful that these aircraft were hastily built under pressure. They're imperfect. Too often artists paint them (and scale modelers construct them) displaying Swiss-watch-like precision. Panel lines wavered. Sheet metal wrinkled. Rivets didn't line up. And all of those quirks are magnified when everything is polished. It's also harder to render an imperfect surface than it is to pretend all was smooth and uniform. How do I get it right when I do get it right? By studying the real thing and photographs of the real thing. A fastener distorts the metal surrounding it in a very specific and predictable way. Two rivets close together will effect each other while two more distant rivets won't. For me it helps to have pieces of these aircraft lying around - but you get the idea. 90% of the process is observation. The remainder is painting what you saw.  
Having converted this composition into the digital realm, and since this aircraft was rendered without unit markings, I saw an opportunity to create variations based upon the original work. Very often I get requests for specific aircraft flown by specific pilots, or aircraft belonging to certain units. I can't always accommodate those requests, but I could here. Here are a few that have been born recently:

I hope you enjoy my work! Limited edition prints and open edition posters are still available for some of these renditions. Visit my web store: Cole's Aircraft

- Ron Cole

1 comment:

  1. My younger brother had so much interest in aviation that he was insisting mother to choose this field further for studying. When i came across this site it actually increased some interest for aviation in me too. it great.