EASTERN AIRLINES L-1011 Whisperliner!

Welcome to "In The Studio" with Eastern's L-1011 Tristar

A new project begins. The L-1011 is, next to the Boeing 727, my favorite aircraft and I am really looking forward to doing this painting. For our subject I wanted to put our aircraft close to the ground in a landing configuration. Flaps down. Gear down. Slow and Low. The particular airplane I am painting is Eastern's N336EA. In this painting she appears as she was delivered to Eastern, with the white fuselage and silver belly. Later, she was stripped and returned in the bare-metal livery and I believe she sported a bikini. As always, if you flew this aircraft, (or any of Eastern's L-1011 Fleet) please let me hear from you. As the painting progresses, I enjoy dropping in letters from viewers so that others can share your thoughts and experinces.

So, we are all flared and ready to land. I hope you will enjoy the show. And yes, before any one asks -- that is my watchful Dalmatian, Oreo, sitting in the lower right hand corner of the photo above. He keeps a close eye on my painting and doesn't hesitate to let me know if my wings aren't level! ;O)

Session 1

If you watched me paint the 727, you know that I begin a painting by applying the basic sky colors and sketching in the airplane. The canvas is 24" X 36" for this painting. I needed a slightly larger canvas for this painting as the Tristar is so huge. The larger canvas will allow me to capture a lot of detail on the aircraft. On the ground will be background buildings, a road, and the leading edge of the runway. New photos will be posted regularly, so please visit often and watch as our Tristar comes to life.

Session 2

Painting from the tail forward on this one, the port wing and flaps are beginning to take shape nicely. The shadows and sunglint on the wing is accomplished using thin translucent layers of paint, one on top of another, each layer allowing the color below it to show through. As I paint with acrylic, I am able to do this fairly rapidly, where as an artist working with oils would have to allow hours if not days of drying time before applying the next layer paint.

Session 3

In this shot we see more work on the aircraft, and I have begun to cut in the horizon, and some of the buildings there. What looks like it might be water between the buildings and the airport property will actually be painted over into more buildings, trees, and roads. In the next painting session I hope to have the port engine completed.

Session 4

Well, we are five days into the work now and making pretty good progress. As you can see from the last photo, the port engine now hangs in place, blades spinning. I could almost hear the whine of that Rolls-Royce engine as I painted it!

Session 5

The port side main gear is dropped in, and shadowing begins under the fuselage. There is also a lot of "glazing" going on around the tail section. Soon it will be time to start the starboard wing. I hope to get a lot of work done over the next couple of sessions.

Session 6

Much work occured over the weekend as the top of the fuselage begins to take shape and a little underbrushing begins on the background. A lot of glazing will be required to the shadow area of the Tristar to give it depth, and that will happen gradually as the painting progresses. Stay tuned. There is a lot more to come.

Session 7

Shadows are slowly creeping along the bottom of the aircraft, and 336 now has a nose. The paint around the cockpit windows was still a little wet when I took the photograph, and it gave it an interesting "sunglint" effect that I will probably transfer into the painting. Meanwhile, underbrushing for the background continues, and there is a lot more to come so please keep checking back!

Session 8

Back in the studio once again, work on 336 continues. Today I painted the shadows on the flaps of the starboard wing, dropped in the starboard mains, and did a little more shadowing on the nose. Also, I added a bit more into the background. Please keep checking back.

Session 15 - January 15, 2005

Above: Work continues on the back ground, painting right to left now across the canvas mid-section. Right Top: Fine detail wouldn't be possible without the help of my magnifying lamp! Right Bottom: The word "Whisperliner" is painted in place using a needle. For those who wonder about such things… that lone word took over two hours to paint. The "W" is approximately 1/8" tall.

For those of you who believed I had fallen off the planet ... no, and here's the proof! Work on our Tristar has resumed, and this time we will take it to the stretch!

A lot of work remains to be done, but after some major adjustments, I am ready to fly her home.

Trouble was encountered in my original composition, when it came time to add the approach lights. "Three Over the Fence" involves some very odd angles, and believe it or not, the original composition became "optically impossible" to produce. Models of both the approach lights and the L-1011 were set up in the studio to try and wrestle this problem to earth, but the same illusion appeared in the photographs as well! After many hours of effort and huge amounts of frustration, and many emails shooting back and forth across the Atlantic ocean to my friend British aviation artist, Chas McHugh, many ideas were discussed and it was Chas who saved the day with an ideal solution, one which I will incorporate now in the final stages of the painting.

So here we go ... let's take it home. Images will be posted regularly from this point out. I would like to see "Three Over the Fence" in print this June.

Thank you all for your patience and I hope you will enjoy the show!


So glad to see you back at work on the painting!

I check 2x daily for updates. Can't wait to see the final product.

I know we're all out in cyberspace to you, but there's a lot of us old Eastern folks watching your beautiful work.

Donnie Norton
Tuscaloosa, AL

Hi Richard,

Glad to see you back and you are only back a few days and already you have taught us something; the "Needle".

Prior to Christmas we put together a model of a Cessna 152 that our son-in law had soloed in. It was about six inches long and in addition to the "N" number, it had wavy stripes along the fuselage. Putting them on was a challenge we were not up to. Had we known of the "Needle" we might have succeeded.

Anxious for the completion of the L-1011.

Best regards,

Session 16

In today's photo, you can actually see how the "landscape" portion of our painting is being applied on top of the underbrushed colors. The grass colors are being "glazed" on, in thin washes, allowing a bit of the underbrushing to show through. This creates a "depth" to the painting, and is probably, when it is all said and done, the reason my work is often mistaken for a photograph. Different artists achieve this illusion using different styles and techniques. I have found the one that works for me, and if it works, then DO IT! Eventually, the tree line will cross most of the way to the left side of the painting. This photo also shows the makings of a hangar which we be developed over the next few sessions, and there will be an Eastern Airlines DC-9 parked in front of it. This is being done to better balance the image. I will concentrate on the background for a while now before returning to the aircraft. Once I am satisfied it will all pull together, then I will detail the Tristar. And I think it should be mentioned at this point ... wouldn't you agree with me that the Lockheed L-1011 has got to be one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built? Splash some Eastern colors and it's just eye candy!

See ya next time!

Session 18 - Image posted: February 27, 2005

Hi again everyone. First off, thanks for your letters. Always good to know that someone is watching!

In today's photo we see a windsock has appeared magically, and a DC-9 is taking shape in the background. I hope to get quite a bit of work done over the next few days. Soon, it will time to tackle the "shadows", and believe me, with a bird that big, there is a BIG shadow. Shadows must be perfect or the illusion of realism is destroyed, so pray for me! To assist me in getting it right, I will return to the L-1011 model, take it outside, place it over the driveway at just the right time of day, and then shoot digital images so that I can see exactly the way the shadow should appear on the canvas. This shadow will then be glazed on bit by bit, and should prove to be a lot of fun. So stay tuned, and let's see if I can pull it off!

Session 41 - Image posted: July 19th., 2007

Updated September 16th, 2007.

It's been a LONG time getting here, but the L-1011 is completed and in print production. For a sneak peak of the final painting, please CLICK HERE. For those of you on the Tristar mailing list, ordering information will be sent soon. The print should be just a little larger than the 727 print, and will be discounted for folks who purchased the 727 as well as REPA members. Final details will be on the website as soon as they are available. If you bought the 727 and are planning on purchasing the Tristar, the same print # you have on your 727 will be reserved for you on the L-1011, as print collections by an artist are more valuable if they are all the same number.

As previously mentioned, following the Tristar, next on the canvas will be Eastern's DC-8 - N8612, and retired EAL Captain David Vaughtner will be my techicnal advisor. Captian Vaughtner will also be co-signing the painting with me, and I am very honored that he has agreed to do so. I have begun DC-8 sketches for this painting, and as soon as the Tristar is published, a new page will be added to the website so you can see the DC-8 as it takes shape. More on this soon!

I appreciate your letters of support and encouragment during this project. Thank you so much!!!

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