Blog - latest
The most recent news and gossip (typically the latest three dated entries) for a speedier service. Don't worry, the earlier blog entries haven't been lost. To catch up on previous events and stories please use the "Blog - Archive" link.
As you may have gathered, blogging isn't one of my strengths and it has been an unforgivably long time since I sat down and committed some words to this page, so here goes - after almost a year's silence!
It's been a year of highs and lows in so many respects. One commission that managed to embody both was a series of three paintings for No.4 Sqn RAAF who were celebrating their centenary at the end of 2016. After much too-ing and fro-ing of rough sketches, researches and other hold-ups, I finally managed to complete the commission, supply fifty prints of each painting and get them shipped to Australia within the deadline...only for Australian Customs and the local courier there to mess up completely and not get everything delivered to the squadron on time for the celebrations. It was, as I said, a high and a low, but I think it all turned out ok in the end.
The paintings depicted key points in No.4 Sqn's history, from WWI, to WW2 and the present day in Afghanistan.
More War at Sea
Excuse the pun, but marine paintings seem to come in waves - and very big waves, recently. I was commissioned to paint the Battle of the Nile again and this was to be an epic canvas, 5ft wide x 3ft tall. After some discussion with the client, we opted for a moment in the battle, shortly after nightfall, when all Hell was letting loose in Akubir Bay.
Next up (and requiring probably more research than I have ever had to do) was a depiction of the American Mediterranean Fleet bombarding Tripoli in 1804. This action involved the USS Constitution, some gunboats, some Brigs and some mortar boats, so there was quite a selection of types to research. Even Constitution, which is still afloat today, was a very different-looking ship in 1804, so using references of 'Old Ironsides' as she is today was of little help. This painting is also 5ft x 3ft and is still incomplete, but almost finished. In all, I produced three slightly different versions of the painting in black & white first, before settling on the final arrangement, which I will post here very soon.
Kiss of Death
One of the highest-scoring aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in WWI was Josef Kiss. Regular visitors to this site will know that I have dedicated quite a lot of my time to the war on the Italian Front between 1916 and 1918 and it would be remiss of me not to include the great Josef Kiss, depicted here over the Piave River in his Albatros D.III (Oef). As with almost everything that I produce, a limited edition print is available from my Print Store, elsewhere on this site.
Retracing the Lines
Many of you will know that another on-going project of mine is to, eventually, recreate all of the railway stations that once dotted my home, the Isle of Wight. Almost all are now gone, redeveloped or lying derelict, so it has been a happy distraction of mine to depict all these charming little stations as they were in their heyday. It was a project that I started way back in the 1990s and I am happy to announce that I am only about five paintings away from completing the whole set. All of them can be found on my Print Store page, with some of the originals on the Paintings for Sale page. Here are some of the most recent, namely Freshwater, Blackwater, Shanklin, Alverstone and MIll Hill. Four more are in progress - Merstone Junction, Whitwell, Shide and Calbourne. All will be revealed in due course.
For anyone interested, I have an exhibition of the entire collection of Isle of Wight Railway paintings at the Island's Steam Railway at Havenstreet over the bank holiday weekend of 27/28/29th May 2017 as part of their Gala Weekend. I will be there for all three days, so it would be great to meet you, if you can make it.
Finally, 2016 was a great year for escaping the confines of my studio and getting out to a couple of airshows. At Fairford, it was a great pleasure to meet up with David Bremner and the Bristol Scout that featured in my last blog. It was a pleasure to chat and have a good look at the real thing. And I did my very best not to spill my red wine on the pristine linen of the fuselage!
And then to sunny Duxford at the end of the season where I got burned to a crisp while watching a superb display of vintage aircraft from all eras of flight, including a rather spectacular airfield beat-up by no less than fourteen Spitfires.
I really should get out more, as they say...
I bet you all thought something terrible had happened to me as it's been so long since my last blog, but the reasons are many and varied - and here I am, back with you once more. My wife and I were delighted to be accepted as foster carers earlier this year and the immediate arrival of two delightful little boys into our care proved rewarding, but extremely time consuming! Whilst I managed to keep working on paintings at pretty much my usual pace, it became increasingly difficult to find the time for all the side issues like promotion and blogging. Apologies for this, but it was then compounded by quite a nasty illness from which I am only just starting to emerge. Quite a start to the year and a very mixed bag indeed.
My dear old mum, bless her, has been having a bit of a clear-out at her home and I was surprised to receive all sorts of goodies that she has been keeping safe for about forty years. Some more school reports, drawings and this original oil painting of an alighting swan which I did when I was 14 years old. It was amazing to see this again as I only had a very vague memory of it and had no idea that it still existed. We all have to start somewhere and I guess this was a reasonably good portent of what was to come. Funny thing is, I have never painted another swan ever since!
More WW1 Heroes
I accepted a wonderful commission to paint a Bristol Scout in action in the skies above Galipoli. Whilst escorting a two-seat Nieuport Gunbus in the skies above Gallipoli in company with the Nieuport 11 of Flight Lt K S Savory on 25th March 1916, Flight Sub Lieutenant 'Bunnie' Bremner's Bristol Scout 1264 of No 2 Wing, RNAS came under attack from a Fokker E.III of Ottoman Fliegerabteilung 6. After a head-on engagement at 9,000ft, the combatants descended to 4,000ft. Savory's aircraft swept past the Scout and fired a short burst at the Eindekker as 'Bunnie' gathered speed to press home his own attack. Sensing that the Eindekker was making a run for home at Chanak on the Asian mainland, the engagement was abandoned and all aircraft returned safely to their bases.
The wonderful thing about this is that 'Bunnie's' grandson, David, has been instrumental in rebuilding his grandfather's aircraft to flying condition and it can be seen flying today at air shows throughout the UK.
I was fortunate to have Bunnie's own flight logs to help put together how the action unfolded that day, but it took several attempts to refine the composition into the final piece, as you can see below. I started with the head-on attack (which did actually happen), but we thought this may give a misleading impression of the action and, besides, I had the altitude completely wrong. The ideas progressed to 'the chase' but, again, I was still much too low. The final version is believed to be about as accurate a representation as we could make, complete with changes to the Eindekker's markings and the unusual colours of the Nieuport 11.
For the keen-eyed among you (and I know there are many), you may notice that Bunnie's gun is not angled outside of the propeller arc, as with many Bristol Scouts at the time, but actually firing through the propeller without interruptor gear! Health and Safety might have something to say about that today.
Back to the Ruhr
The Dambusters continue to enthuse and I was delighted to meet and accept a commission from Mr Andrew Wangler in Australia to depict Fl Lt Maltby in AJ-J "Johnny" having just released his Upkeep mine toward the Möhne dam as Fl Lt Martin in AJ-P "Popsie" attempts to draw enemy fire by flying alongside him. Wg Cdr Guy Gibson can be seen in the distance, circling in readiness to order the next attack, although none was necessary, as Maltby's mine was perfectly placed. Its massive charge ruptured the dam wall causing a breach 77m wide and 28m deep.
Here again, several ideas were floated before we hit the 'sweet spot' and I have included the progressions here, all of which depict - more or less - the same moment, but viewed from different angles. An interesting exercise, but I think we agreed on the best view for the final piece. You may not agree!
A Little Self-Indulgence
I have spoken of my father several times before and the huge part that he played in the design of a number of Britten-Norman aircraft. Originally drafted in from Miles Aircraft in Shoreham to work on detail design for the Islander in about 1963, Denis Berryman soon found himself promoted to Chief Designer whereupon he was charged with the somewhat unorthodox job of stretching the Islander from 10 to 18 seats and adding a third engine on the tail fin, thus becoming the Trislander. A fin-mounted piston engine was a whole new concept but, despite a slightly ungainly look, the new aircraft was a massive success and many are still flying all over the world even today.
But my father was most proud of this little tourer, the BN-3 Nymph, which was almost all his own design, conceived to compete with the market that was then dominated by Cessna and Piper. It featured all the classic Britten-Norman lines, but had the added advantage of folding wings for economic hangarage, a variety of powerplants and the option to buy the aircraft as a kit. Despite showing great promise and generating a full order book, the lovely little Nymph fell victim to the company's financial troubles and was shelved. Many years later, a new version of this aircraft emerged as the Freelance and several were constructed. A small number of Freelances are still in existence today and even the original Nymph is regularly flown privately. It is depicted here in its original - and unloved - paint scheme, which was quickly replaced by something much more aesthetic, climbing out of Bembridge, where it was conceived and constructed. Prints are, of course available via my Print Store on this website.
I have quite a close association with Bembridge Airport and all its history, so here it is again. Operated by Portsmouth Electricity Group from 1964 to 1968, Auster G-AJEM was a frequent visitor to Bembridge where Britten-Norman's Islander Flying Group members could use the aircraft either for solo flying or under training by a PEG instructor. Pilot Tony Austin is depicted here on finals into Bembridge for his first solo landing on 22nd October 1967. Originally built in 1947, this same aircraft is still in regular use today.
The second and final member of the Dresden class of light cruisers built for the Imperial German Navy, SMS Emden was laid down at the Kaiserliche Werft (Imperial Dockyard) in Danzig in 1906 and launched in May 1908. Emden spent the majority of her career overseas in the German East Asia Squadron under the command of Karl von Müller. She was detached for independent raiding in the Indian Ocean, spending nearly two months operating in the region, capturing nearly two dozen ships. At the Cocos Islands in 1914, Emden was attacked by the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and Müller was forced to run his ship aground to prevent her from sinking. Emden's wreck was quickly destroyed by wave action and was finally broken up in the 1950s.
This was an interesting commission from a customer of mine in the USA. I had wanted to paint a German ship in these wonderful East Asia Squadron colours for a long time, so I jumped at the chance to do this one. As with so many vessels of this time, Emden's was a story of triumph and tragedy, but I hope that I have captured her looking her best here.
Blue on Blue
Magazine covers occupy quite a lot of my work time these days and it was interesting to receive a commission for two paintings depicting the late Donald Campbell's World Speed Record - breaking machines.
Following an horrific crash during a high speed run at Bonneville in 1960, Bluebird CN7 was completely rebuilt for a further attempt at the Land Speed Record in 1963. The salt flats of Lake Eyre had not experienced rain in over 20 years and yet, as Campbell prepared for his record breaking attempt, rain began to fall so hard that the car had to be rescued from the rising floods and the attempt was abandoned. Returning again in 1964, Donald Campbell at last set a new Land Speed Record of 403.1 mph, although Campbell himself was disappointed with the result. With the salt flats no longer as hard as they had been before the rains of 1963, Bluebird did not live up to its anticipated maximum speed of 500mph.
Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7 is depicted at high speed during a record-breaking run on Coniston Water on 4th January 1967. This remarkable, turbo jet powered hydroplane set seven world water speed records during the late 1950s and early 1960s, reaching speeds just over 276 mph adding almost 100mph to the existing record. Sadly, whilst making a bid for his eighth water speed record, K7 became airborne, flipped and crashed, killing Campbell instantly. After a 34 year search, the shattered remains of this iconic hydroplane were recovered from the waters of Coniston on 8th March 2001. Donald Campbell himself was finally laid to rest in September of that year.
Both are available as prints via my Print Store, elsewhere on this website, price £40.
2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire and I have produced this small painting as a tribute to one of the great moments of history, depicting prototype K5054, seen taking to the air for a test flight in June 1936 from Eastleigh Airport in Southampton. Few, at the time, could have known what an iconic aircraft R J Mitchell had designed, yet the beautiful, classic lines were there to see in the very first example. Prints are now available.
I'll try not to leave it too long before the next blog, but you can follow me now on Facebook.
It's been a massively busy few months for me and it looks like the start at least of 2016 is going to be pretty mad, too. The number of private customers taking me up on my deal on commissioned paintings whereby they get 50 free limited edition prints of their picture has increased my workload considerably and this is a wonderful thing as it works for everyone. In the long term, you could potentially earn back the total cost of your original painting through print sales of your own and one or two clients have reported that they have indeed almost redeemed the full amount (and, perhaps, prevented imminent divorce proceedings in the process). Sadly though, very few museums and restoration projects have taken me up on this offer, despite some quite vigorous canvassing, which is a great shame as the scheme is a proven success and struggling restoration projects could find themselves with a very good source of additional income if they could just persuade their committees to provide the initial investment. Maybe it will be a slow-burner within the aviation heritage industry, but a great many individuals have taken advantage and, by all accounts, been very happy.
A Busy Day at Wattisham
The beautiful Lightning was the subject of a recent commission, this time depicted on the ground, receiving some attention during training whilst 29 Sqn was based at RAF Wattisham. I had some excellent advice and inside information from the customer, Mr Rob Fulford, who can be seen atop the wing. Formed at Gosport on 7th November 1915, 29 Sqn operated a vast number of aircraft types, both piston and jet-engined. Metors and Javelins were among the latter, but when the squadron arrived at Wattisham in 1967, it re-equipped with the lightning FMk.3 where its main role was that of defence of the United Kingdom, a task that continued after the Lightnings were replaced in the interceptor role by the McDonnell Phantom FGR.Mk.2.
2015 was a year in which I was commissioned to produce an ever more eclectic bunch of paintings for an agency in London who use my paintings for their magazine and catalogue covers. One of the most successful for me was my painting of Canterbury Cathedral - one of those where the original painting had a magical glow about it. I was sorry to see that one go as I had just got used to having it on my studio wall. This was followed by a painting of the Pantiles at Tunbridge Wells, the Houses of Parliament in the snow and then, most recently, a return to aviation with a painting called The Chain, depicting a Spitfire Mk1 over a trio of Chain radar masts on the south coast of England. All are available as prints and will shortly appear in the Print Shop elsewhere on this website.
My reputation as a painter of night scenes led to a commission from an American client for a scene depicting a pair of beautiful period sailing ships, cutting their way through moonlit waters. Few sailing ships of the early 1800s were as elegant and graceful as the Baltimore Clippers and here, Vixen leads Lynx into Baltimore Harbour, passing the impressive walls of Fort McHenry as they prepare to shorten sail and make landfall. This was a 24 x 30 inch oil on canvas and it is another that I have enjoyed looking at in my studio for the past month or so. Sadly for me, it will be on its way to the USA in the next week. I shall miss it!
A Concorde Celebration
Unbelievable to think that 2016 will see the 50th anniversary of the first passenger services by Concorde. The culmination of a twelve-year technical collaboration between Britain and France was witnessed on 21st January 1976 when British Airways Concorde G-BOAA and Air France Concorde F-BVFA took off simultaneously from London's Heathrow and Orly Airport, Paris, at 11.40am, heralding the first scheduled supersonic passenger flights anywhere in the World. G-BOAA is shown here leaving the Heathrow tarmac with the old control tower forming an iconic background to this historic moment. Partnered with this is another painting, The End of an Era, depicting the final touchdown of the last ever passenger flight. Twenty seven years of continuous supersonic airline service came to a sad end when Captain Mike Bannister brought British Airways Concorde G-BOAG in to land at London's Heathrow Airport at 16.05 BST on 24th October 2003. These elegant machines, also operated by Air France, are to this day, the only commercial aircraft ever to have regularly conveyed passengers at speeds almost twice the speed of sound - a remarkable achievement even today, but all the more so given that the design dated back to the 1960s. A limited edition commemorative print of each painting is available from Chaucer Covers.
Fly by Night
Yet another 'night' painting came to fruition during November when I completed this painting of a Boeing 747-400 touching down on runway 27L at London's Heathrow Airport. The customer was the aircraft's pilot and the painting was produced to celebrate his final commercial landing in 2009. Other types that he had flown are also included in the scene, among them a Boeing 757, Boeing 767 and a Trident IIIb. I am just beginning work on a second potential commission for him depicting his first ever solo flight from Goodwood in a Piper Cherokee. Should be fun.
A Moment's Peace
There are times when I just have to paint something that I want to paint. I am busy almost continuously throughout the year with commissioned work and it is rarely that I have a moment to work on something of my own choice. Hence the title of this painting - A Moment's Peace - which holds a double meaning for me. On the one hand, the subject matter depicts just such a moment for the subjects of my composition and on the other, it represented a small window of opportunity for me to relax a little and 'play' for a while with an idea of my own. Much has been written of the great friendship shared by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and Captain Thomas Hardy. They had served together at most of Nelson's major battles including the Nile, Copenhagen, Cape St Vincent and, most notably, at Trafalgar where Hardy comforted his dying companion in the cockpit of HMS Victory. Many portraits have been painted of both, but none showing them together. They are depicted here for the first time on the quarter deck of HMS Victory, sharing a light hearted moment before the last great battle. Nelson is dressed in the full Admiral's uniform and decorations that he insisted he wear at Trafalgar, together with his unique bicorn hat with the green sunshade stitched into its rim to protect his damaged right eye from the glare of the sun. The painting highlights the great difference in the physical stature of each man - Lord Nelson standing just 5ft 5in tall, compared to Hardy, who was over 6ft. Whilst Nelson lost his life at Trafalgar in 1805, Hardy lived a long and full life until his final passing in 1839, aged 70 years. The original is available for sale (see my Paintings for Sale page) and prints will be available shortly.
Another 'Knight' Painting
Finally for this year, I have just completed this painting for a dear friend of mine, created to his very specific instructions, of a knight of the Knights Templar, entitled Non Nobis Domine. When he first suggested this painting to me, I jumped at the chance and couldn't wait to get started on it. Unfortunately for both him and me, getting started was all I managed to do and the painting langished unfinished for a few months while other, more time-sensitive commissions were dealt with. As Christmas and the end of the year approached - alarmingly quickly - I decided to throw everything at this and get it finished. I am so glad that I didn't try to dabble with this between all the other work, because it was a painting that required my full and undivided attention. Terry, I hope it was worth the wait!
And finally, finally, may I take this somewhat late opportinty to wish everyone who is reading this a very happy Christmas and healthy and prosperous new year. I'll try to blog a bit more often in 2016 - I promise!
Intellectual Property and the RAF
By Ivan Berryman
Since being brought to my attention a few weeks ago, I have been busily trying to fathom the full extent of the Ministry of Defence's new trade marking policy and its effect on the art and publishing industries. What started as a curious peep into this labyrinthine issue, soon turned into something of a mission and the following are my conclusions.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of this, let me make very clear that I have received no help from the Ministry of Defence whatsoever - in fact, I would go further and say that their apparent refusal to even acknowledge my letters and emails, much less provide me with a comprehensive reply, suggests that they either do not know what the situation is themselves, or they would rather leave us all guessing with the 'Sword of Damocles' hanging over us. In other words, by not making clear the limits of their intellectual property portfolio, we will all be forced to seek licences 'just to be on the safe side'.
A colleague of mine was a little luckier, receiving a somewhat nebulous reply from the Central Legal Services Department at the MoD. In this, Mr Christopher O'Shea very helpfully informs us that"…the limits of our protection can be ascertained from general reference sources about intellectual property law". In other words, go and find out for yourself – which is precisely what I have endeavoured to do.
So what is this all about? Well, according to the MoD, all squadron badges, the words 'Royal Air Force', the name 'Dambusters' and most squadron numbers and even the RAF roundel have now been trade marked by the MoD, together with a huge swathe of other RAF-related material, much of which I have found, fully protected, on the internet. However, as if to tease us further, reference is also made to aircraft 'surface decoration', which has far more wide-reaching implications as this could be interpreted to include camouflage patterns or even the all white anti-flash livery of our V-bombers in the 1950s and 60s
This means that the MoD would like us all to seek a licensing agreement on everything that we artists produceif it is going to be copied, published or reproduced in any form. This immediately makes safe the amateur painter who is not having his work published but, for the rest of us professionals, this is very serious indeed.
The MoD and RAF insist that this is not about the money. Rather, it is to 'protect the brand', which I have no problem with. We all need to protect what we do to avoid misuse or misrepresentation. However, a visit to the British government's Intellectual Property website reveals that Lord Younger has been tasked with raising £7.4 billion from intellectual property so, given that I have been left to ascertain my own conclusions, I conclude that it is very much about the money and that this represents yet another stealth tax on an already crippled industry
At this point, we start to become mired in the interpretation of the law. To get the ball rolling, we need first to disentangle 'Copyright' from 'Trade mark', so let's see what the MoD have to say about this
Copyright in surface decoration, such as aircraft livery, is currently capped at 25 years, although this term is about to be increased. Nevertheless, RAF livery dating to 1962 or earlier will be out of copyright even under the new law, and so free to reproduce.
Trade mark rights exist in most current military unit insignia. Nevertheless, it is not an infringement of our intellectual property rights to use insignia dating to 1956 or earlier in order to create an accurate reproduction of a vehicle, such as an aircraft, in picture or model form. It is also not an infringement to use trade marked words such as 'Royal Air Force' within descriptive text.
This latter paragraph seems to confirm what I have suspected to be the case all along which is this: If I were to use the RAF roundel as part of a logo or design, I would have infringed the RAF copyright. However, if I depict an RAF roundel on an aircraft in a painting, I am not so much plagiarising a registered mark as accurately depicting that registered mark in situ and in its correct context.
Don't forget that copyright can expire after a set period, whilst a trade mark can be renewed indefinitely. However, the current Trade mark Act itself says this:
3.-(1) The following shall not be registered -
(d) Trade marks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practices of the trade.
This implies that a logo, motif or slogan that has not only been in the public domain for a long time, but has become part of the public domain cannot be trade marked. It would be plausible to argue that the RAF roundel is an intrinsic part of the British identity and cannot therefore be protected.
Not so, as one or two unfortunate companies have found out by reproducing the RAF roundel on items such as bed linen and clothing to their cost!
Just as the aviation art world might begin to sigh in relief, however, the Trade mark Act then goes on to say:
Provided that a trade mark should not be refused registration by virtue of paragraph (d) above if, before the date of application for registration, it has, in fact, acquired a distinctive character as a result of the use made of it.
In other words, this immediately doubles back on itself to state that, since the RAF have made this their official method of identification since the First World War, it can indeed be trade marked and protected.
There is, of course, the open ended question of what are identical and similar marks, but this argument could rage for ever. After all, there are many types of RAF roundel that have been used over the decades, some with yellow external rings some with no white inner rings. I have no idea whether they are all registered as trade marks – and no one at the MoD seems to want to help me find out.
So this leads me to pose the following: If there is no clear single document and no listing of RAF trade marked and copyrighted material, then how were the trade marks granted to the MoD in the first place - verbally? A friendly handshake between civil servants? How on earth could a judge rule on a case against an artist, publisher or model manufacturer if he has no written guidelines? Would you ask Andy Murray to step out onto Centre Court at Wimbledon with no lines painted on the grass and no net? If these written guidelines do exist, as they surely must, why can't I obtain a copy? Is it really too much trouble for someone to press the 'print' button on their computer or attach the document to an email?
Clearly, it is much easier - or more lucrative to the MoD - to have scores of scouts looking out for unlicensed material and employing squadrons of lawyers to force us into ruin and close us all down.
Where the MoD has prosecuted already in the courts, bear in mind that the MoD are using our money to sue us for the use of something that we, as tax payers, already own and pay for. And, should the MoD not win in the courts, as in the case against the Arcadia Group who own Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, the MoD will use our money to pay compensation to the victorious party. Such is the litigious world in which we live.
And don't go bumbling on in the belief that 'ignorance is bliss'. It isn't, in the eyes of the law. The very existence of laws means that we are expected to abide by them, however aware or unaware we are of them.
To conclude, my findings are - and this is only based on my own interpretation of what I have been able to find out - that it is fine for an artist to paint a Royal Air Force aircraft in full livery provided that the scene depicted is not set later than 1962. The words 'Royal Air Force' can be used in the caption for the painting, but not to promote that painting in any literary or promotional work. Neither can an RAF roundel or squadron badge appear anywhere other than as part of the original artwork. They cannot be used or reproduced in the borders of a print, for example, or on a box or website promoting that artist's work. The restrictions cover just about everything except the original artwork or the appearance of the trade marked items in consequent prints, but publishers would be well advised to check this before running any limited edition of prints and promoting them publicly.
Big Brother really is watching over us and the threat of litigation seems to be all the MoD needs to keep every one of us in line and contributing to the cash-strapped government coffers. I don’t know if Lord Younger will attain his goal of raising the £7.4 billion he has promised, but I suspect that what I have outlined here is just the beginning, just the tip of the iceberg, and the first £7.4 billion might just be the foundations for some far-reaching, even more lucrative schemes that have yet to be revealed.
You have been warned!