Battle Creek, MI
Standing at my easel in an aircraft hangar listening to the Harry James Orchestra in the midst of a collection of vintage biplanes seemed fitting. I had learned about Waco when I began working with Duncan Aviation several years ago. Located just next door, the business specializes in the manufacture and maintenance of replica of 1930’s era aircraft. Seeing these planes up close you can begin to understand why someone could fall in love with them. The open cockpit designs allows for one or two people and its range is around 400 miles. They are not terribly practical but their shape and color evoke a sensibility from a different time.
Parked in the center of the hangar and surrounded by models of every other color, the cadmium yellow plane was irresistible. Its tail would provide the primary compositional element for this painting. This semi-abstract composition gave me a starting point to explore nuances of form, color and light in the context of a recognizable subject. As I began to draw and paint, I analyzed how the aircraft is constructed. This exercise (like others in the past) was as much educational, as it was an artistic exploration.
As I began to block in large fields of yellow, on the second day the president of Waco approached me and asked if he could take a photo of me working. I told him of course and that I viewed photography as a natural part of the exchange. The following morning I received a call from the owner of the plane that was the centerpiece of the painting I had begun. Several minutes into the discussion we discovered that we live in neighboring Connecticut towns and that we belong to the same shooting club.
I am not sure how this happens: I go back to my small hometown in Michigan only to discover that the airplane I have chosen to paint belongs to a neighbor and fellow club member 750 miles away back in Connecticut!? The coincidence to me seems striking but maybe it is just a case of people with similar interests being drawn together… birds of a feather flock together.