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The Aviation Art of Richard Louis Newman



Welcome to the studio as I begin yet another Eastern Airlines project. This is the DC-8-21. This painting will be a bit experimental for me, as usually the sky base colors are already applied to the canvas prior to beginning work on the aircraft, but in this painting I will be working right to left and gradually towards the top of the canvas. I can't tell you why I'm doing this, there isn't any particular reason from me to approach the painting this way, it is just how the mood hit me when it was time to begin.

As with the other studio projects, photos will be added as the painting progresses, so please check back for updates. I will also add in a bit of narrative to keep you up to speed on what I am painting and how I am doing it for all of you who want to give it a try at home ... just grab your canvas and brushes and paint right along with me!!!

Session Two:
What you are seeing now is underbrushing. These are the first layers of paint on the canvas, and they will be glazed over many, many times before the work is completed. Glazing will change the colors before our eyes as we progress. I hope you will enjoy watching as we move further and futher into the project.

Session Three:
More underbrushing and slowly creeping across the canvas. And thanks to Amy Keen with AutoPILOT magazine for all the nice things she said about me in the issue out today. I really enjoyed our chat!

Session Four:
There is nothing better to do on a rainy Sunday than paint. So I did. And I may paint some more before bedtime. Folks often ask me why it takes so long to do a painting ... so here is a good example. Take a look at the photo in Session Three, and compare it to the new photo in Session Four. There is two hours painting time between the two photos. So this gives you a good idea of what a turtle I am when I paint! Actually the time is consumed with layering paint. Glazing it is called. And it is continuous. While I may be edging forward with the stripes on the fuselage, I am also adding thin washes of almost water with a tiny bit of paint in it on top of areas previously underbrushed. And let's face facts ... I have a problem with clouds. I admit it! I have to work very hard on them where other artists just breeze through them. Chas McHugh says that I do one thing better than just about anyone and that is create the illusion of bare metal. So far you can see this at work on the #1 engine air intake. The wing is presently just the base colors, but hopefully as the painting progresses, I will work some bare metal magic on that too.
Another post will follow soon so I'll look forward to seeing you then ... Oh and, yes, we will be welcoming a very special guest to the studio next week. Captain Dave Vaughter who flew this bird on the day the number two engine blew will be sharing with us a few thoughts and you will get to see his history as a pilot and you will marvel at the number of aircraft this man has flown. So until then -- Rich

Session Five:
Continuing to move to the left at a snail's pace, and the Eastern lettering has begun. The sharp edges on the lettering are done using my magnifying lamp and a needle. It will take me a couple of hours work to get them into the proper shape. Meanwhile, glazing continues on the clouds below the aircraft and placement of the clouds is all important. Notice that dark clouds must backdrop the aircraft where the fuselage is all white, while lighter clouds must backdrop the darker areas such as the engines and the bottom of the aircraft. Otherwise the airplane would disappear! PBS artist Bill Alexander said something once that really stuck in my head, and for all of you painting at home along with me ... "You must have dark to show light." This is perhaps one major advantage the aviation artist has over the aerial photographer. I can put the clouds where I need them and the photographer is more or less stuck with what he gets.

Session Six:
I thought I would let you see this from my viewpoint this evening instead of photographing the painting flat as usual. Notice how the wing and engines are beginning to lift up off the canvas as though they are suspended in the air and not painted on a flat surface. I love watching this happen. Also, the clouds are starting to "billow up".

Well, it is quite late this evening, so I need to go and get some sleep. A decision was reached today that I will also begin a second painting which will mean two paintings in progress at once, so you will have twice as much to watch. A new "studio" page will be added over the weekend and you can visit then to see what the second painting is going to be... I would tell you now but that would ruin the surprise! Until next time ...

Session Seven:
More work on the clouds ... there is a lot of glazing going on. It is important to remember that with this sort of painting, "what you see is not what you get". Each layer of glaze deepens and alters color. It is a building process, where I am allowing the color beneath the glaze to show through, while the new color applied changes the color you see. Example, we all know that blue and yellow makes green. If I apply yellow paint onto the canvas and then glaze blue on top, we will in fact get green, even though I never applied green paint to the canvas. Therefore when I glaze blue into the sky, and then apply a red glaze, the result is a violet, purple shade. I can then adjust the color by applying other glazes and colors until I get it where I want it. Therefore, as we build the layers of paint, the colors will change and continue to change until I am finished with the painting. Compare this photo with the others above and you will see distinct color variations beginning to form.

I have been working on the windows along the rear section of the fuselage. It is hard to make out in the digital photo, but each of the black windows has a very fine silver frame around it. After all the windows are in place I will apply layers of gray atop the black so that the windows have depth rather than appearing flat black. The "Easter" Airlines will in fact become "Eastern" once the N is painted in, and I will be glad to get the fuselage lettering behind me, as it is mostly applied with a needle dipped in acrylic paint, and it requires a very steady hand! After painting a letter, I usually have to get up and walk around a bit because it does require a lot of concentration, and after about 30 minutes of that your eyes want to cross!

In studio B I have begun painting a Northwest Orient DC-10, and I am going to work on it for a while now, as the two paintings are in process at the same time. Put the blue and dark blue on the side burner and break out the red!

Hope you're enjoying the show and please feel free to drop me a line. Letters from viewers really help get me through the long process of creating one of these paintings! Just click on the Email link below and I'll be glad to hear from you.

Session Eight:
It's been a while since the last post and that is because I had some adjustments to do, and I didn't think you would enjoy watching me sand and scrape the word "Eastern" off the side of the fuselage so that I could prepare to do it again! After I finished the original paint through on the lettering, I decided it was just "a hair" to big, about 1/16 of an inch to be exact, so I took it off, have re-drawn it the size it ought to be, and as you can see, am in the process of painting it back on.

The underbrushing for the clouds on the left side of the canvas is in place, and I hope to rid the canvas of all "blank white" by next week. This should help drastically in getting better digital images, as the camera is going nuts trying to capture the proper colors with all of that white reflecting off the flash.

Notice that I have roughly painted in the nose of our aircraft, and I will be firing off a couple questions to our tech advisor, Dave Vaughter, in a couple days to clear up some questions I have about the windshield. So work continues at a steady pace and I hope to have another image posted for you in short order.

If anyone from MacDill Air Force Base in reading ... a BIG THANK YOU for the open house and all of your hospitality during AirFest. I got to check out the KC-10 up close and personal, and that will help me with the painting that is going on in Studio B, the DC-10. There is nothing like actually touching the aicraft with your hands and feeling the cool metal in the morning light.

Posted March 4, 2015:
Here is the latest image of the painting from the studio as work progresses on this project. Watch for regular updates as we head for completion and a print to follow, spring 2015. -- Rich

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