Blog - Archive
Previous blog entries dating back to the beginning of the website. Ideal for catching up with news if you are a new visitor and a reminder of past events if you are one of my valued regular readers. For the latest news please see the "Blog - Latest" link.
I know, I know - it's been ages since I last updated my blog. There's no excuse, except that I have been incredibly busy this year and an operation on my right (painting) hand didn't help much. It all started toward the end of last year when the little finger on my right hand started getting stuck, either straight or bent. It was diagnosed as a classic case of Trigger Finger and an operation seemed the best way forward for a more permanent fix. The op went ahead in June, but the healing process took a lot longer than anyone suspected and, although not painful, it was just a damned nuisance as I was walking around with a large dressing for weeks. Anyway, all sorted now. The good old NHS did a fantastic job and everything is working as it should, once again.
As luck would have it, however, a painting that I had been commissioned to do became very urgent and I was forced to remove the dressing (all but a special plaster) to paint for a few hours and then replace the dressing to rest the hand. That particular painting was one of the most complicated and fiddly jobs I have done for a long time - the Enigma machine and its decoder! It couldn't have been a worse choice of painting to be doing with a cut-up hand. This is the finished thing...and I will remember doing this one for a long time to come.
No sooner was that one complete and despatched when the same client asked for a painting of Sir Frank Whittle tinkering with his pioneering jet engine, which you can see below. Both were required for magazine covers and deadlines were tight, as ever.
First of the Many
One week after the operation - and with a hand that looked like something from Frankenstein - I had the great pleasure to be involved in the Britten-Norman Islander's 50th anniversary celebrations at Bembridge airport where the first of these ubiquitous aircraft was built and flown by its designers, John Britten and Desmond Norman and where the Islander production line existed until recently. With around 1500 of the type completed and over 600 still in operation all over the world, this was something worth celebrating. A full report can be found in the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society's newsletter elsewhere on this website, but here are a few snaps from the day with the restored fuselage of airframe No.003 G-AVCN on show.
The event was graced by many ex-B-N employees and wives and relatives of some of the original design and development team. Roderick, Henry and Alex Norman, sons of the late Desmond, added much to the nostalgia of the day, Alex flying the lovely little Norman Aircraft Company Freelance in to join its forebear, the Britten-Norman Nymph which made the trip from Sandown airport in the hands of Jim Birnie Jnr, son of the company's original chief test pilot, himself an accomplished pilot. A three Islander flypast was a highlight of the day and, at precisely 2.18pm, an Islander took off from Bembridge to mark the exact moment of the first flight. A spirited display followed, to the delight of everyone present.
For my part, some new artworks were on display, not least First of the Many which depicts the very first Islander climbing out of Bembridge and Charlie Tango, which shows the same aircraft in its final guise, shortly before it was tragically lost in an accident in the Netherlands in 1966. Picture sales raised about £1200, the proceeds of which go to the restoration of BNAPS' Islander G-AVCN. Prints can be purchased through the Print Store on this website with a significant donation from each print going to the restoration project.
Life can be so strange. When I was a pupil at Sandown High School here on the Isle of Wight, I was very fortunate to have been taught history by a wonderful teacher called Mr Bawden. I won't embarrass him further other to say that he was one of those rare teachers that could bring the subject to life and inspire even us long-haired dropouts in the early 1970s. Little did any of us know that he had been a navigator who saw active service on Avro Lincolns, so it was with great pleasure that I met up again with him to produce a painting of his aircraft. He had changed little and his memory of both his service career and all of us erks was as pin-sharp as ever. We are now great friends and frequently meet for lunch. To be honest, I have very few happy memories of my school days, but this reunion has brought pleasant closure.
The Falcon of Feltre
Those of you that have read my book about Hauptmann Godwin von Brumowski will be aware of his great friend and fellow ace, Frank Linke-Crawford. It was, perhaps, remiss of me not to dedicate a painting to him in my book (although he does appear in the beckground in two or three illustrations), so I thought it time that the great man was pictured and put into print. He is seen here flying the recalcitrant Aviatik D.1 115.32, scoring his 21st victory over a Bristol F2.b of 139 Sqn on 10th May 1918 close to the Montello in northern Italy. Having served with Flik 41J under Hauptmann Godwin von Brumowski, Linke-Crawford was promoted to the command of Flik 60J where he was credited with a further 14 victories, bringing his total to 27 at the time of his unfortunate death in this same aircraft on 31st July 1918. Prints of this painting are now available via my print store.
The One and Only
It's been a while since I painted a Formula 1 picture, but a very dear friend of mine has just moved away and, being a fan of the late and great Ayrton Senna, it seemed a fitting gift to produce this small painting of the Brazilian World Champion for him. I hope he treasures it but, if not, you had better keep an eye on Ebay!
Loads more stuff coming along soon. I have some great commissions under way right now which I will post shortly - 29 Sqn Lightnings at their dispersal, Baltimore Clippers off Fort McHenry and a Knights Templar painting. Watch this space...
The Young Stallion
Italy's highest-scoring flying ace of WW1 was Francesco Baracca, seen here on the morning of 3rd June 1917, claiming his 13th victim, a Hansa-Brandenburg C.1 two-seater of the Austro-Hungarian Army Air Force above the Isonzo River, near to Plava. His yellow Spad S.VII was easily identifiable by the elegant prancing horse emblem that was painted on the fuselage sides of all his aircraft. Having achieved a total of 34 aerial victories, Baracca was killed in action during the Battle of the Piave, his Spad being shot down by an enemy Phönix C.1 close to the Montello. When his body was recovered from the burned-out remains of his aircraft, he was found to have a bullet hole in his skull and his pistol in his hand. Whether he committed suicide to avoid burning to death or was shot after crashing is unknown. In 1923, Baracca's mother, Countess Paolina, donated the prancing horse emblem to Enzo Ferrari, whose cars have carried this iconic symbol ever since. It's strange how things tend to come round again and again as this was the third time I have painted Baracca's Spad and was a special commission for a private collector. I have to admit that I had always had the impression that the Spad was a pretty substantial machine, but having visited the Musee de L'air in Paris last year I was able to get up close and personal with one and it was surprisingly small. This painting was an oil on canvas, 30 x 20 inches.
The Master of Them All
Staying with WW1, this new painting depicts arguably the best known of all World War 1 fighter aces, Mannfred von Richthofen, the 'Red Baron', seen here flying Fokker Dr.1, serial No 425/17, in its final livery following the introduction of the Balkenkreuze, early in 1918. Contrary to popular belief, this was the only Triplane flown by the Rittmeister that was painted all red and was also the aircraft in which he lost his life on 21st April 1918, the celebrated ace having scored a confirmed 80 victories against allied aircraft over France. His brother, Lothar von Richthofen, also flew with Jasta 11 and his aircraft can be seen close by with the all-yellow rear fuselage. Pilots of von Richthofen's 'Flying Circus' were permitted to paint their aircraft in their own personal colours, provided that they retained the red cowl, struts and wheel covers that denoted Jasta 11.
I have always had a fascination with von Richthofen, particularly as popular myth has painted a rather corrupt image of this quiet, thoughtful man. It is true that, in his early years as a fighter pilot, his aggressive and unforgiving approach to aerial combat did much to bring his exploits to the attention of the German public. He was a hero, a star of his day and his face appeared on postcards and memorabilia like a football star of today. The fact that he took to making his aircraft increasingly more visible and intimidating with the copious use of red paint only added to his image as a fearless, ruthless warrior. The truth is that Manfred von Richthofen became increasingly disenchanted with the war and very critical of the German High Command. He had visited the ground war and seen for himself the carnage that was going on there. He lost almost all of his peers, his friends and comrades in air combat and even his brother Lothar suffered terrible injuries in a crash. He almost died when a bullet grazed his head in one air battle, managing to land his aircraft before passing out at the controls. He apparently became a very depressed individual, disillusioned and weakened. He was intelligent enough to see that the war was not going Germany's way and his enthusiasm for continuing the fight was diminished. When told to have a toothache seen to he is alleged to have replied, "What's the point?". There is strong speculation that when he was eventually shot down and killed in April 1918, he had 'allowed' it to happen. On that fateful day, he had abandoned his own strict advice never to become separated from the main fight, to never allow himself to be singled out. When he began a pointless chase after William May's Sopwith Camel along the Somme River, hotly pursued by that of Captain Roy Brown, the writing was on the wall. Although Brown was credited with the 'kill', it is now thought more likely that von Richthofen was hit by ground fire, his little red Fokker Dr.1 Triplane plunging heavily into the ground. If it is possible to find any glory in war, it must only lay in the glory of the valour and greatness of those who rose to face the fight and take on the enemy with such vigour and dedication, not in the shame and abandonment of humanity of those responsible for starting it.
First Man Out
I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Tony Austin last month to discuss a painting of him taking the quick way down from a Britten-Norman Islander. As a member of the British Parachute Association, Tony was the first man ever to freefall from a BN-2, way back in 1965, proving the suitability of the Islander as a parachute aircraft. My resulting painting shows the moment shortly after jumping and keen observers might notice the many detail differences between this, the very first Islander (G-ATCT) and production examples. At a luncheon with Tony in February, this very spritely 70-something year-old expressed to me that he would very much like to reprise his jump as part of the Islander 50th celebrations in June this year. Watch this space!
Fast and Furious
I've always had a soft spot for the beautiful and mighty Hawker Sea Fury, but I had not painted one until last month when, having read about the sort of raids the Sea Furies carried out in Korea, the idea for this painting came to me. It sold pretty much immediately, so I can only offer prints of this painting to other enthusiasts. Which leads me to the following announcement:
Print Store and On-Line Shop Launches on This Website Soon
Yes, it's been an awfully long time in the making, but these things have to be created and thoroughly checked before launch, but we are within a week or two of going live with the Print Store which includes easy shopping and a simple, secure payment checkout. Final tests are being run to ensure that everything is working properly, but we are nearly there! I'll try not to leave it so long before the next blog.
2015 - and Beyond
First of all, a belated happy new year to everyone out there and I sincerely hope that it brings everything that you hoped for. Looking back at 2014, it was a strange year of mixed fortunes. The ever-changing art market became even more like walking on ice, trying to second-guess what would - or would not - be the right direction to take. As print sales took a bit of a tumble, the market for original paintings and commissions slightly improved. No doubt this is an indicator to the rather worrying economic trend that is seeing the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' widening with increasing speed. With this in mind, my website guru, Terry, and I are moving closer to opening the Print Store on this website early in 2015. With few exceptions, all the prints will be one price, with UK postage free, making the whole business of ordering prints from my extensive collection much easier and cheaper than ever before. Watch this space.
As I mentioned in my last blog, I was working on a commission for GKN Aerospace which was presented to their retiring CEO in November. The painting depicts his yacht 'Okey-Dokey' entering Cowes harbour with many of the buildings in which he worked (some now demolished) lining the waterfront and one of the mighty SRN-4 hovercraft being serviced on the apron of the iconic Columbine building. It is a mixture of the old and new and, I understand, was well received at the presentation. I could not reveal it in my last blog, but here it is now.
Gone, but never forgotten
With all the constraints imposed by the dreaded intellectual property laws, it is rare these days for me to paint a Formula 1 picture, but I have always wanted to pay a small tribute to the great Swedish driver, Ronnie Peterson who tragically lost his life at Monza in 1978. The painting depicts the Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring in 1978 which was conducted under heavy skies that threatened rain at some point during the race. Having qualified on pole, the Swede Ronnie Peterson made a textbook start in his Lotus Cosworth 79, but his team mate, Mario Andretti, did not get away so well and it was Carlos Reutemann's Ferrari that assumed second place on the run up the steep hill from the start. The cold conditions meant that grip was poor and several cars found themselves in the barrier before the race was finally stopped, due to a torrential downpour. At the restart, Peterson again assumed a dominant lead, claiming his last victory ahead of Patrick Depailler's Tyrrell Cosworth and Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari. Just one month later at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the great Ronnie Peterson was involved in an horrific crash at the race start that left him with terrible injuries from which he later died.
This was an unusual commission for me: To place three iconic images of Great Britain at war in a single painting. Produced for a magazine cover, this resulted in a portrait of Sir Winston Churchill with the white cliffs of southern England and a trio of Spitfires in the background. Cheesy, you might say, but all-embracing and quite fun to do.
Curiouser and curiouser
Those who follow my work and this website regularly will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for German aircraft of WW2, especially some of the rarer ones and experimental types. None were rarer than the Junkers Ju.287 V1, an extraordinary machine by any standards that featured forward swept wings and four jet engines, a wing concept that is only today being re-evaluated. Ungainly and somewhat awkward to look at, the 287's appearance was partly attributable to the way the aircraft was cobbled together from existing parts, due to the lack of raw materials and time available to the Germans at the end of the war. Essentially a Heinkel He177 fuselage, a Junkers 388 tail assembly, main wheels from a Ju 352 and a nose wheel from a captured B-24 Liberator, the fuselage was mated with new wings and a cluster of four Jumo 004B-1 Orkan axial flow turbojets, supplemented by a pair of Walter 501 rocket packs to aid take off. Intended only as a research aircraft, only one example ever flew before the end of the war put an end to development.
The Young Stallion
Not for the first time, I was commissioned to paint the great Italian WW1 ace Francesco Baracca in action above the Isonzo river. I was returning to a subject I know very well, having written a book about the air war over the Italian Front, but this time seeing it from the perspective of the Italians, rather than the Austro-Hungarians, who had been the subject of my book. He was Italy's highest-scoring flying ace of WW1, seen here on the morning of 3rd June 1917, claiming his 13th victim, a Hansa-Brandenburg C.1 two-seater of the Austro-Hungarian Army Air Force above the Isonzo River, near to Plava. His yellow Spad S.VII was easily identifiable by the elegant prancing horse emblem that was painted on the fuselage sides of all his aircraft. Having achieved a total of 34 aerial victories, Baracca was killed in action during the Battle of the Piave, his Spad being shot down by an enemy Phönix C.1 close to the Montello. When his body was recovered from the burned-out remains of his aircraft, he was found to have a bullet hole in his skull and his pistol in his hand. Whether he committed suicide to avoid burning to death or was shot after crashing is unknown. In 1923, Baracca's mother, Countess Paolina, donated the prancing horse emblem to Enzo Ferrari, whose cars have carried this iconic symbol ever since.
Just getting started on a painting of a pair of Hawker Sea Furies of 802 Naval Air Squadron, based on HMS Ocean, taking part in a low-level attack in Korea in August 1952. I'll reveal it in my next blog - or watch out for it on my Paintings for Sale page on this website. Have a great start to 2015!
And so, exhibition over, some R&R in Paris and a rotten cold and chest infection, just to make the approach of winter absolutely clear, it's back to the drawing board for me. Big thanks to all those who took the trouble to brave some pretty inclement weather on the Saturday of my exhibition and to those who still attended on the Sunday, when the weather was fantastic. Both good reasons not to visit the venue, but many of you did anyway. It was great to gather so much of my work together in one place and show off some new material. The New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes was the venue and I have nothing but praise for the staff there who went out of their way to help make the whole thing a success.
Mr Hubertus V Sulkowski made Kathy and I very welcome in Paris and we enjoyed four days of bliss, staying within the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and being driven all over the city to take it all in. We also took the time to visit the excellent Musée de l'Air at Le Bourget which houses - among other things - some fine examples of WW1 aircraft. I was particularly drawn to the Spad S.VII. Having not seen one in the flesh before, I was struck by how small and neat it was. No wonder the great American ace Eddie Rickenbacker described it as the 'racing car of the skies'. They also have not one, but two Concordes there and I spotted this ex-Spanish Air Force Heinkel He.111 parked in the shadow of their Boeing 747.
In a special ceremony to commemorate the Berlin Airlift of 1948, my painting of Halifax G-AHDU at Tegel was presented to the Mayor of Berlin where it will hang in perpetuity on public display in the civic offices there. Captain Derek Hermiston, the pilot of 'HDU was there to make the presentation (extreme right of the photo). A giclee canvas copy of the painting is destined for the RAF Museum at Hendon later this year in support of their own tribute to those who served on the Berlin Airlift.
The Old and the New
As I write these words, I am just coming to the end of a major commissioned painting for GKN Aerospace. It's a sprawling canvas that has pretty much occupied all of October and early November. I can't reveal it to you now as it hasn't been presented to its lucky recipient yet, but I will display it in my next blog, together with a full explanation. As alluded to in the title, certain chronological liberties have had to be taken in order to include everything required, but it looks pretty neat and I think they'll be pleased.
News from the Exhibition!
Day one of my exhibition at the New Holmwood Hotel, Egypt Point, Cowes, went well with a steady flow of people visiting throughout the day. It has been great to catch up with old friends and meeting new people. Looking forward to Sunday, which is the second and last day of this exhibition. If you are in the neighbourhood pop in. You are of course always welcome to visit me in my studio at other times, just call to arrange a convenient time.
So.. here we go. My biggest exhibition for quite some time in terms of numbers of paintings and prints on display. It's just a two-day event, but I will be cramming everything into the weekend of 4th-5th October and I hope to see many of you there. Even if you don't know me, do come and introduce yourself. I will be there both days from 10.00am until it finishes. The plan is to close around 7.00pm, but if visitors are still coming, we'll just carry on. As mentioned in my previous blog, the venue is the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The easiest way to travel from the mainland (or North Island, as we call it on the Isle of Wight) is via Southampton, taking the fast Red Jet direct to Cowes, a crossing time of approximately 20 minutes. The venue is a short walk from the terminal. Everyone is welcome and there is no obligation to buy. There is a bar and restaurant (usual licensing hours apply) and Cowes has many good places to eat and drink, if you are visiting for the day. Above all, come along and have some fun. It will be great to see you.
My own Farewell
Regular readers of my blogs and biogs will know that I have been fascinated by the 98-gun HMS Temeraire ever since I was a child of about seven years old. A large print of JMW Turner's The Fighting Temeraire hung on the wall of my primary school's assembly hall and, each morning I would sit cross-legged on the floor with my class mates staring at this extraordinary, haunting painting while the head master or the local vicar droned endlessly on. That it evoked any emotion at all in a seven year old is a tribute to the artist and I can, to this day, remember every brush stroke and nuance of Turner's masterpiece. Many years later, I began to explore more of Turner's work and couldn't help but be influenced by his use of light and shade, his canvases often possessing every tone and shade from the purest white to the blackest black. I have painted Temeraire several times in the course of my own career now, mostly depicting her crucial role at the Battle of Trafalgar where Nelson's flagship, Victory, would almost certainly have been taken by the French had not the Temeraire come to her rescue. More recently, I have painted her twice = first as she was shortly after entering service, looking clean and magnificent as she departs Plymouth and then as she would have looked in her final days. This latter painting is one that I have wanted to paint for years, not to emulate in any way the work of JMW Turner (who would dare?), but to tell the story of her final journey from a historian's point of view, rather than a romantic. It is generally accepted that Turner probably never saw Temeraire make her final voyage from Sheerness to Rotherhithe and his painting was produced to capture a mood at a time when Nelson's triumph at Trafalgar was popular among the public, a renewed interest galvanising artists and poets to celebrate all that was good and great about Britain and it's navy. His painting is indeed wonderful, but it is fraught with historical inaccuracies and I have longed, for no commercial reason at all, to try to paint it the way it really was. For example, two tugs were employed to drag Temeraire's 2,000 ton carcass the fifty miles to John Beatson's yard for breaking up and Temeraire herself was just a hulk, stripped of her masts, bow sprit and rigging. All fittings and anything that could be re-used had been removed. Only her figurehead is believed to have remained, a strange irony, bearing in mind that this proud ship had no figurehead at Trafalgar, her crew commissioning one from the prize money earned at that great battle. And so I offer these two contrasting images. The first of a mighty warship, punching her way out of harbour. The second, a tired and forgotten hero. Both will be on show and for sale at the exhibition, but here is a sneak preview - although my photography doesn't do any justice to the originals. You really should come and see them.
Not much else to report this month as I have been busy with some commissioned work and preparing for the big show. Still loads to do, but it will all be sorted by the time you get there.
The Big Picture
I had an unusual request from a client here on the Isle of Wight who was restoring one of the Island's disused railway stations and converting it into a guest house and restaurant. I had painted this lovely old station many years ago, showing it in its heyday when still a functioning station. The request from the developers was for a canvas print of my painting, enlarged to epic proportions to adorn one of the walls of the renovated building. Although the original had only measured 20 x 14 inches, it still looked pretty good when blown up to over six feet wide!
I have been very active over the last month preparing some new paintings for my exhibition which will take place for just two days over the weekend of October 4th-5th at the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes, Isle of Wight. Aviation paintings will, of course, feature strongly at the show, but there will also be a big emphasis on the sea and, in particular, Nelson's navy and Trafalgar. A couple of the paintings have been snapped up before the exhibition (well, I have to eat, you know!), but there will still be a lot of new material as well as a great many Giclee prints on canvas of some of my best-known works. A Night Action off Cadiz is one of the most powerful and dramatic of my latest paintings and Becalmed shows HMS Victory in the doldrums, bathed in the glow of a warm summer evening.
Everyone is invited along and I would love to meet and chat with as many of you as I can over the two days. The exhibition is open from 10.00am each morning until 7.00pm - or later. Those travelling from Southampton would be advised to use the Red Jet high speed service to Cowes and take a taxi or enjoy the short walk to the venue from there. You don't need to book and there are crossings every half hour. There is a bar and restaurant and I will be on hand all day on both days to meet and greet. The exhibition will also serve as the launch for my book on Hauptmann Godwin von Brumowksi, which is now available, priced at £15, plus p+p.
Those of you who remember my alter ego Max Heller's paintings from the days when I had my gallery in Ryde might be interested to see that I revived him recently for a commissioned painting of a tramp. Theo and Layla was the first painting I have done under the Heller name for quite some time, but it was great to get into his skin again and just paint without any recourse to references or research. The painting below is an oil on canvas measuring just 16 x 12 inches and I enjoyed every minute of painting it!
Memories of my Mis-spent Youth
The sixties and seventies seem to be featuring heavily in my workload recently and these commissions have given me the opportunity to paint some of the most influential and innovative machinery to emerge in those highly-charged decades. What aviation enthusiast wouldn't swoon at the sight of a Lightning above the clouds at sunset? My father took me to Farnborough in the 1960s where I recall watching a formation of nine Lightnings, each with its tailfin painted in its squadron colours, perform in perfect formation. The noise was unbelievable and I still tingle at the memory of that experience. Those that remember the Lightning will recall that it approached, at great speed, in almost complete silence...until it drew level with you. The roar as it passed shook the ground and my ear drums would meet in the middle of my head! Wonderful!
I also recall being extremely excited by the little SRN.1 Hovercraft that was built and tested here on the Isle of Wight. It was an extraordinarily innovative time and new, futuristic, craft were appearing almost weekly. It was predicted that we would all be buzzing round in hover-cars and jet packs and the moon would be heavily colonised. I don't know quite what went wrong but, to a small boy, everything and anything seemed possible. I was pretty disappointed with those X-Ray glasses that all the comics seemed to be offering though.
I have two more commissioned paintings from the age of sail on my easel right now. To be painted as pair, one depicts HMS Victory departing Portsmouth, passing the famous round tower at the harbour entrance, and the other shows HMS Temeraire leaving Plymouth. This latter caused me more than a little concern as, surprisingly, no accurate records of Temeraire's decorations exist, so what to do about her figurehead, which would be prominent in my painting, was a bit of an issue. After a great deal of research, it transpires that poor old Temeraire was constructed at a time of great austerity in the Royal Navy and was very probably quite bereft of much decoration at all, this famous veteran of Trafalgar in fact not possessing a figurehead at all! In common with the style of the time, she most probably had a simple scroll at the tip of her stem, not unlike that of a cello or violin, and a few contemporary drawings would seem to confirm this. Post Trafalgar, it is possible that Temeraire was finally blessed with a crowned head figurehead that she kept almost until being finally towed away to be broken up, as depicted in Turner's celebrated painting (the figurehead apparently having been removed by the time that Turner painted her). I don't mean to be nerdy, but it is likely that Temeraire's crew, newly wealthy having delivered the prize ships taken at Trafalgar, may have paid for the figurehead themselves because not having a figurehead meant that, in naval superstition, the ship had no 'eyes' and was therefore cursed with bad luck. My painting, however, will show her as a relatively new ship, serving as part of the Channel Squadron during the Blockade of the Port of Brest, yet to receive her figurehead or the black and yellow stripes that adorned ships serving under Lord Nelson. All being well, these two paintings will be displayed together at my exhibition in October. Hope to see you there.
Another Year Older
As I write these words, I am preparing for a very pleasant evening involving a delicious home-made beef lasagne and a fine Merlot, followed by a comfy sofa and, well, more Merlot. It is the occasion of my 56th birthday and, these days, there is nothing I like more than just staying in for a quiet evening. My days of partying the night away are well behind me, although the cycle tends to start again with my children's birthdays and now my grand children's birthdays too, which usually involve singeing every follicle above my belt over a barbecue before being taunted onto a bouncy castle for that 'hilarious' photo of Grampa, upside down, legs akimbo and unable to get up. It is general practice now to become afflicted with a bad back just a week or so before the birthday season gets underway, which is around June in our family, to avoid any such humiliation. I can now, by feigning the odd twinge in the lumbar region, just sit quietly in a corner, flipping the burgers, whilst becoming quietly insensible with - you guessed it - a bottle or two of that same Merlot. Ah, Summer...
60 Years Ago
As mentioned in a previous blog, the month of June saw the 60th anniversary of the final flight of Saunders-Roe's beautiful SR.45 Princess flying boat. The occasion was commemorated with the opening of a small exhibition about this remarkable aircraft at the Classic Boat Museum in East Cowes, which is located in part of the enormous building in which the Princess was built on the banks of the River Medina. My new painting of the SR.45 was unveiled at the opening of the exhibition by organiser Bob Wealthy and a large number of ex-Saunders-Roe employees and Princess enthusiasts attended. Special guests were Bob Strath and Maurice Mabey who were involved in all the test flying of this graceful machine and who kindly signed 25 of the limited edition prints made from my painting, all of which sold out on the day. Ironically, Maurice Mabey was pretty much the only worker on the SR.45 project never to see her fly - because he was on every flight she ever made! All in all, a great success. Everyone involved was delighted to see such enthusiasm for another great British white elephant that, like TSR2, fell victim to a meddling government in the 1950s that squashed the British aviation industry to a point beyond recovery. The Princess was not perfect and may have been the wrong thing at the wrong time, but it was bold, technologically advanced and not without interest to potential customers. Although only one example ever flew, three of these giants were built, all of them mothballed and eventually broken up near Southampton. The following selection of photographs give a flavour of the day.
The Final Flight   Princess Being Broken Up At Calshot   Bob Strath & Maurice Mabey   George Dexter & Bob Strath     Ivan & Bob Wealthy   Maurice Mabey & Philip Jewell
Major Exhibition in October 2014
I have also today finalised the details for an exhibition of new paintings and prints scheduled for October 2014. It will be just a two-day event over the weekend of 4th-5th at the New Holmwood Hotel, Egypt Point, Cowes. This excellent venue will be host to my exclusive exhibition which will be held in their conference room (next to the bar!). The New Holmwood Hotel is situated right on the seafront, with excellent views across the Solent and easy access via the Red Jet ferry from Southampton. As mentioned, there is a bar and restaurant with a superb carvery on the Sunday. Many new paintings and prints will be on show embracing Aviation subjects from WW1 to the present day and Marine subjects from the Mary Rose to Trafalgar and beyond. Most will be for sale and I will be there throughout both days from 10.00am to 8.00pm. More details will be posted on this website nearer the time, but make a note in your diary. I'd love to see you there.
New Trafalgar Painting is Released
Visitors to my Paintings for Sale page on this website will notice an epic new oil painting of the battle of Trafalgar. Unusually, I have opted for a slightly different view in which some of the major players in the battle (Victory, Redoutable and Temeraire) are very much in the background, with the British 74 Leviathan dominating the centre of the composition. The 40 inch wide canvas will be on show at the exhibition in October (unless I sell it first!) and will be one of several paintings of this genre. Further information is available direct from me via my website or by calling 01983 882648.
Now You See Me...Now You Don't
Speaking of unusual views, the painting below was recently commissioned not only because the customer has a soft spot for the dear old Junkers Ju.52, but also because he was very keen to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe's winter camouflage. Reminiscent of the opening titles of Where Eagles Dare, it was an interesting painting to do, trying to find the right balance between the lines of this graceful aircraft and the highly effective camouflage. Viewed from a distance, the aircraft is quite hard to pick out but, close up, it becomes very obvious. Just thought I'd share it with you.
I have had a couple of enquiries about my book about Godwin von Brumowski. After a minor hitch, I can now confirm that it is with the printer and will be published within the next couple of weeks. I notice that it is already being advertised on Amazon, so it must be imminent. Anyone attending the October exhibition will have the opportunity to buy a copy and have it signed by my good self on the day. More soon!
Glad That's Over
March 2014 was a month I will be happy to forget as it turned out to be the quietest month, work-wise, that I have experienced in over thirty years of painting. And it seems that it wasn't just me that found it slow. Having spoken to other artists, two publishers and a printer, they all expressed the same bewilderment. None of us can find a reason for it but, just as quickly, as March turned to April, things got going again and we all sighed with relief. It was a pretty sobering reminder of how fragile the art market can be, especially for those of us at the sharp end where the 'products' are born. All of those in our industry are all too aware that we deal in luxury goods. No one needs art and a new painting, print or sculpture is probably the first thing that gets crossed off the shopping list when things get a bit tight in the family budget. Still, 'twas ever thus. I have only ever met one rich artist...and he was poor for most of his life!
Farewell to an Old Friend
It is possible that some of you may have known Peter Ward, a pilot who, among other things, flew with Britten-Norman for many years. I have just learned that Peter sadly passed away on 8th May after a long illness so, if you will allow me this indulgence, I would like to share my own small tribute with you. I flew many times with Peter and have many happy memories. When I was a boy, Peter used to telephone me during the school holidays if he had a ferry flight or pick-up to do in the UK. I would pedal down to Bembridge airfield on my bike and jump in whatever aircraft Peter was flying that day and he often let me 'fly' it home from somewhere like Blackbushe or Gloucester. Later in life, when working as a photographer, I was re-acquainted with Peter who often flew the camera ship on air-to-air photographic sorties for Britten-Norman. I never stopped pulling his leg about one landing he made in a Cessna, with me on board, before the concrete runway was built at Bembridge. Peter was determined to avoid the 'bog' that often appeared at the eastern end of the grass airstrip after a lot of rain in the 1970s. He beautifully wafted the aircraft over the Whitecliff Bay holiday camp and plopped us just over the hedge of the airfield where we came to a very abrupt stop in the boggy grass in about 10 feet. All I remember is being hit in the back of the head by a loose fire extinguisher in the almost dead-stop. We always laughed about this incident whenever I saw Peter and the memory of it will stay with me forever. Our usual mount was a Cessna with the registration G-AYNN, which became known as 'Nasty-Nasty' on account of the aircraft's engine having a tendency to cut out without warning. On more than one occasion, it was recovered from St Helens laundry, having failed to achieve climb-out from Bembridge. I remember arriving for a photo sortie one morning to find 'NN' being tended to by the fire brigade because it had burst into flames whilst standing unattended. Nevertheless, this was the aircraft that Peter and I spent many happy hours in - thankfully without incident! I owe a great deal of my knowledge about flying and almost all of my experience of taking the controls to this kind, quiet man and I will miss him terribly. Sadly, I learned of his funeral too late to attend, but I am sure that all who knew Peter will be downcast by his passing and I hope that you will share with me in sending our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.
And Farewell Godwin
Regular visitors to my site and blog will be aware that I have been working for almost two years writing and illustrating the life of Hauptmann Godwin von Brumowski. With the book now finished and in the hands of the publisher (due out in June 2014) and all paintings completed, it is time for me to say farewell to this great aviator for now and move on to other things. I did, however, complete one final painting as a tribute to him - a large 40 x 30 inch canvas depicting him in formation with just some of the other great aces that flew with Flik 41J in 1917 / 18. I have reproduced it here and it is being offered for sale on my new-look Paintings for Sale page.
Speaking of the new-look website, I would like to say a huge thank you to Terry Sullivan who creates and looks after this website. Without him, I would be silent and my paintings would be hard to come by. Terry has been hard at work giving this website a make-over and he is currently designing a new gallery where you will be able to view and buy a huge range of my prints using the tried and tested 'shopping cart' method. You will shortly be able to use most leading credit and debit cards to make your purchase using our secure payment system. I take my hat off to Terry who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make me look good. Not an easy task, as my wife will testify.
A Tudor Rose
One of those moments in my life when I know where I was and what I was doing when a certain momentous event took place was the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982. I can remember the TV being on all day as Henry VIII's warship emerged from the waters of the Solent to be seen for the first time in over 400 years. It was an event that completely captivated me and yet it has taken me thirty two years to get around to painting this wonderful ship. My painting depicts her at sea, around 1520 (that's the year, not twenty past three) with her original forecastle and flush planking. Often reported to have had a brief and tragic career, Henry VIII's warship Mary Rose in fact enjoyed 34 years of service in what was then known as the Navy Royal. There is uncertainty about the date and whereabouts of her original construction but, having being bought into the King's Navy, she first saw action in 1512, the first of many skirmishes with the French. In 1522, she was put into reserve and was eventually refitted between 1535 / 36. Exactly how much her appearance changed during her refit is not known but she was back on front-line duty for the Battle of the Solent - again against the French fleet - in 1545. It was during this action that she mysteriously heeled over and sank, although no one knows for sure exactly why. The Mary Rose lay on the seabed until 1982, when her substantial remains were raised and preserved for all time at Portsmouth, where she can be viewed today.
And so to Berlin...
My dear friend Derek Hermiston attended the very last gathering of Berlin Airlift survivors at a special function in Berlin earlier in May. Derek, one of only two veteran pilots able to attend, was the captain of Halifax Mk.VIII G-ADHU and he presented my painting of his aircraft to the Mayor of Berlin at a special presentation attended by many hundreds of dignitaries. The painting will remain there, on loan, for at least a year before returning to the UK to hang in the RAF Museum at Hendon.
The painting shows Derek and his crew at Tegel, during the airlift. Prints are available via this website. I took the opportunity, during my quiet spell, to paint Derek's aircraft again in a small oil on board called Destination Berlin, 1948, which he quickly snapped up for himself.
Following on from Dora - 9 that I unveiled in my last blog, I went on to paint the lovely FW.190 D-13 in a painting called Yellow 10. I followed this with Zerstörer Break, the view from a Bf.110 cockpit during the Battle of France in 1940. Both have now been sold privately, but prints will be available soon.
Some Past Beauties...
I am asked from time to time to depict some classic airliners and they do make a pleasant distraction from all the wartime stuff. In have the great pleasure of knowing quite a few ex-airline pilots who flew a broad range of types through the 1950s, 60s and 70s - an era that must surely have been the most glamorous age of air travel. In tribute to them and the inspired designers and constructors that brought us these magnificent workhorses, I have commenced a series of paintings of classic airliners. First up was the VC.10 - the 'Queen of the Skies' - depicted as I will always picture this graceful machine in the colours of BOAC. Next was the graceful Viscount, wearing that classic Redwing BEA colour scheme, set against a moody sunset. Latest, completed today, as I write these words in fact, is Bristol's 'Whispering Giant', the elegant Britannia, again shown in an early BOAC livery. All these original paintings are available for sale elsewhere on this site and prints will be available soon too.
Joni Gets Her Wings
Some of you will know that my eldest daughter, Joni, reached her 30th birthday last September and I thought it would be fun to buy her a trial flying lesson. After several delayed attempts, due to severe flooding at Sandown Airport, she finally got airborne on 12th April and enjoyed some glorious weather for her first taste of flying in a light aircraft, courtesy of Birnie Air Services. She admitted to being a "little nervous" - and bottled out of landing the Cessna - but she returned to the ground smiling from ear to ear. Her sister Lora joined her in the back seat to record the entire event on camera.
A New Concept in Commissioning a Painting from Ivan Berryman
1st April 2014 sees the launch of a new scheme conceived to help you, dear customer, to cover the costs of any painting that you commission from me. It's quite an exciting concept that has been enthusiastically received by all those that have been previewed and is currently unique to Ivan Berryman Fine Art. Any customer who commissions a 20 x 30 inch original painting from me at the current price of £1,850 will automatically receive 50 A3-size limited edition prints of their painting, personally hand signed and numbered by the artist absolutely free. These prints are yours to sell or give away and, with a suggested selling price of £40 each, you have the opportunity to earn back all of your investment, plus a small profit. For more details, telephone 01983 882648 or email email@example.com
This month I had the opportunity to paint one of my favourite WW2 fighters, the gorgeous Focke-Wulf 190 D-9. Without doubt one of the finest fighters ever, the Jumo-Powered D-9 evolved from the BMW-engined 'A' series, proving superior to its predecessors in almost every respect. Here, a pair of D-9s of IV./JG3 based at Prenzlau in Eastern Germany, roll through a glorious late afternoon sky in March 1945. Painted for the centre-spread of an American aviation magazine, this oil painting is now available for sale. Size is 30 x 18 inches and is priced at £1,400. Delivery to anywhere in the world is free. Anyone interested should contact the artist via this website.
The Final Flight
The 31st May will see the 60th anniversary of the final flight of Saunders-Roe's beautiful SR.45 Princess flying boat. To commemorate this, Bob Wealthy of Solent Aeromarine has commissioned this new painting depicting the only example ever to fly, G-ALUN, about to alight from the water off Cowes. A commemorative event is being planned at the Classic Boat Museum in East Cowes, a suitable venue as it occupies part of the massive Columbine Works where the Princess was built (the building is visible just behind the fin of the Princess in my painting). It is hoped to gather together as many Princess veterans as possible for the event where a display of photographs, paintings and surviving artefacts will tell the story of this magnificent - but ill-fated - aircraft. An edition of 60 limited edition prints of my painting will be available for general sale, plus a special edition of just 25 signed by some of those who worked on and flew in G-ALUN. More details can be obtained from Bob Wealthy at firstname.lastname@example.org and those interested in reading Bob's excellent story of the Princess flying boat can do so at http://www.fzt.haw-hamburg.de/pers/Scholz/dglr/hh/text_2010_06_03_SR_Princess.pdf
Not a Trace Survives...
One of the joys of my job is the fascinating prospect of showing something the way it once was, even though not a trace of it remains today. The latest painting in my series of Isle of Wight Steam Railway paintings shows the Terrier W8 'Freshwater' passing over Town Gate Bridge in Newport, here on the Isle of Wight. Of course, this will only mean something to Isle of Wight residents (of a certain age, of course), but pretty much everything in my painting is now gone, except for the locomotive itself, which still runs regularly on the Island's preserved section of steam railway at Havenstreet. For those who may know the location, the view is looking east where, in distance on the left of the painting, Newport station can be seen. Breaking the skyline in the centre is the edifice of the old gas works and, to the right the back of Mew Langton's brewery. The bridge depicted itself crossed to road exactly where the entrance to Sainsbury's now is, the line continuing then to the West Wight, terminating at Freshwater. Some photographs from my own archive collection show the bridge in situ in the 1950s and during its demolition after the closure of the line. Prints of this painting in the usual format are available immediately. Contact me via all the usual ways for details and prices.
Where Does the Time Go?
March already! Every year seems to pass even quicker than the last - which means I must be ageing at an alarming rate and will soon be ready for the bath chair and tartan blanket on the seafront. But no time for all that now. I really am so incredibly busy which, I guess, is why the time seems to be rushing by. December and January of this year saw the completion of three commissions for an excellent client in Jersey, the first of which was aired in my last blog of 2013 - A Spot of Gardening. The other two feature the Spifire MkVb of Irish ace Wing Commander Brendan 'Paddy' Finucane and the B-17G Hikin' for Home being escorted by the P-51 Cripes a' Mighty, flown by the top P-51 American ace George Preddy. All three were 36 x 24 inch canvases and were a joy to paint as they were all so very different.
Not Something you See Every Day...
I was commissioned in January to depict another episode in the incredible flying career of the late, great Alex Henshaw. Somewhat annoyed by the insistence of the managing director of the Spitfire factory at Castle Bromwich that he perform a demonstration over Birmingham city centre, test pilot Alex Henshaw decided to treat the Lord Mayor and the other assembled dignitaries to a display of the Spitfire that they would never forget. Just fifty feet above the busy shops and businesses, Henshaw flew the length of Broad Street fully inverted, before rolling out over the Civic Centre to the dismay of those on the ground. As daring and inspired as it was, Henshaw had harboured misgivings about displaying an aircraft over so crowded an area and this inspired piece of airmanship was as much a protest by Henshaw as a flag-waving event. Nothing of the kind has ever been repeated. The painting presented me with the problem of sourcing images of Broad Street as it was in the 1940s, as it is changed beyond recognition now. No doubt there will some out there who will know the area far better than I, but I have tried to get my painting as close to reality as possible. The other problem I encountered was that it just didn't look right! Whatever I did and however I placed the aircraft, it looked completely awkward. The fact is that this just isn't something any of us have witnessed but, believe it or not, this is a pretty accurate depiction. Can you imagine being out shopping and witnessing a Spitfire, fully inverted, it's Merlin engine roaring, at just 50ft above your head?
All at Sea2014 has also seen a rush of marine paintings for publisher Cranston Fine Arts. First out of the blocks was Cutty Sark, followed by the Queen Mary 2 and then the frigate Euryalus, depicted by moonlight (not all in the same painting, you understand!). Last to be completed was a companion piece to Cutty Sark, her great rival, the beautiful Thermopylae, shown below. I never tire of painting the great tea clippers and I only hope that I do these wonderful ships some justice with my paintings.
And This Month's Unusual Painting is...
It just seems to work out each month that there is always one thing I am asked to paint that is completely out of my comfort zone. In February, I completed the painting below as a gift for a very dear friend of mine who is very much into the Wild West and is extremely knowledgeable about the subject, so it was with some trepidation that I embarked on producing the picture. It was only ever intended as a 'mood' painting, rather than a detailed depiction of a cowboy and his horses (thank goodness!) and the recipient was extremely pleased with his acquisition, to my great relief.
As I may have mentioned elsewhere and, I think, in my video on this website, one should never be afraid to attempt something new. I relish the chance to tackle a subject that I have never attempted before. What is the worst that can happen, after all?
I mentioned in my last blog that I had bought my eldest daughter a flying lesson as part of her birthday present. Nothing to report, so far, I'm afraid, as Sandown Airport has been pretty much underwater since December with little or no flying taking place at all. Seaplanes and flying boats are welcome, apparently. I will keep you posted. More soon.
And so to print...
Sorry it's been so long since I last updated you, but the move to the new house / studio seems to have triggered some sort of avalanche of work and, me being me, I do like to get stuck in and get on with it. The biggest project has been my book, which is now pretty much complete and just about to go to publication. Essentially a much-expanded version of my feature about Godwin von Brumowski, the book is an account of the war on the Italian Front in WW1, not just in the air, but also on the ground where some of the most dreadful and costly battles of WW1 took place. It is illustrated throughout with my own paintings and drawings, plus a great many rare and interesting photographs. The book has been assembled with the invaluable help of Mr Hubertus V Sulkowski, the grandson of the great Austro-Hungarian ace, who has also kindly provided the foreword. On Tuesday 3rd December, Mr Sulkowski flew into Southampton from his home in Paris and we made the journey up to Old Warden Aerodrome to meet with Mr Colin Huston and his wife Barbara of publisher Cross & Cockade, who delighted us by unveiling a mock-up of the finished book. It would be hard to think of a better location for our meeting and Mr Sulkowski very kindly brought along some of Brumowski's personal effects including his medals and a cigarette case inscribed by many of the pilots who had flown with him. I have to say that it was quite moving to be in such close company not just with these wonderful artefacts, but with so close a descendent of the great ace himself. Having spent the best part of fifteen months researching and, in some ways, re-living the life of Hauptmann Brumowski, it was a very rewarding day. The book, Hauptmann Godwin von Brumowski, Austria-Hungary's Ace of Aces will be on general sale through CCI in the Spring of 2014. A small bonus took the form of the roll-out of Shuttleworth's beautiful Westland Lysander V9367, which promptly fired up and took to the sky.
Our meeting in the restaurant at Old Warden on 3rd December. Left to right: Hubertus V Sulkowski, Colin Huston and Barbara Huston of CCI
Lysander V9367 is prepped for take-off at Old Warden
Quite a few of the paintings included in the book can be found elsewhere on this website, but here are a few of the more recent ones to give you a flavour of just how Brumowski amassed his 35 confirmed aerial victories, plus several more unconfirmed in the space of some thirty months of combat flying.
A Tribute to the RFC & RNAS
With the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 just around the corner in 2014, I suppose I should not be surprised by the amount of First World War work that I have been producing, but it is a subject that has always been very close to my heart, as evidenced by the 130 paintings of WW1 aircraft already in my portfolio! It was no hardship then to produce a painting for my local branch of the RFC & RNAS Association who very kindly invited me to join as an honourary member last year. After two aborted attempts to present the painting to them at previous luncheons (both quite unavoidable) I was finally able to do so in October, the painting being very warmly received by all in attendance. It depicts a Short 184, representing the Royal Naval Air Service and a Sopwith Camel, representing the RFC, in formation just off Cowes, where we all meet once a month. The intention is to hang the painting in the luncheon suite. I could not share it with you on the internet until it had been officially handed over, so - at last - here it is.
A Spot of Gardening
I have painted the lovely Vickers Wellington several times, but never dropping mines at night and, being lover of night paintings, this was a commission I was not going to turn down (not that I ever do, of course). My client very much liked what I had done with the Lancaster in my painting Moonlight Run, so we thought we'd try something similar for the Wimpy. The painting, which measures 36 x 24 inches, depicts Wellington Mk.III X3671 low over the water just south of St Nazaire on the night of 16th April 1942, her mines (or 'Veg', as they are listed in the operational log) having just been released. In the distance, searchlights on the headland of La Plaine-sur-mer, rake the sky as the drone of engines disturbs an otherwise quiet night. The same client has one or two other ideas to keep me occupied over the coming months, so I will keep you posted.
Up and Away
My eldest daughter, Joni, has just celebrated her 30th birthday and I bought her all the usual girlie stuff. I also bought her a flying lesson (just for the heck of it) and I have no idea whether I have done the right thing or not! I mean, is it normal for a dad to strap his precious children into an aeroplane and send them off into the blue yonder? I'll let you know how she got on next time. Finally, if you don't hear from me before the festive season, have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
On the Move... Again
It seems like an age since my last blog, but an awful lot has happened, not least moving house and studio to a new location in Wootton, here on the Isle of Wight. It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff one accumulates over a period and, despite having three rooms to my old studio in Ryde, I got to the point where I could barely move! I found myself opening boxes that hadn't seen the light of day for years and wondering why on Earth I had kept this stuff at all! A couple of very liberating trips to the local council tip and one to a charity shop reduced the load considerably and I know I'm not going to miss any of that junk because I had forgotten I had most of it. Moving isn't so bad if you're fairly organised (and I'm getting quite good at it now), but the worst bit is when you get down to those last fiddly bits that didn't really have a home at the old address and can't find a home at the new one either. That's where a garage comes in handy. So, I have ended up with a lovely new, clutter-free studio... and a garage that is crammed to the ceiling.
Visitors are welcome by prior appointment and I now have a comfortable reception room where we can chat over a coffee. There is a new landline telephone number too which is 01983 882648. The trick with moving the studio is trying to do it with the minimum disruption to my work schedule and even with the most careful planning, I was out of action for six days, which is quite a long time, by my standards. It's up and running now though and the first painting to come out of the new studio was completed on 5th October.
Despite the move, I still managed to maintain a high level of productivity throughout August and September, producing no less than thirteen new paintings for various clients, but much of my time has been taken up researching and writing my book about the life and career of WW1 ace Godwin von Brumowski, which came about as a result of the feature that is posted elsewhere on this website. The book not only describes Brumowski's early life, but also all of Brumowski's 35 confirmed victories and documents the ground war on the Italian Front via the eleven Battles of the Isonzo, the Battle of Caporetto and the Battle of the Piave River that led directly to the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It would be impossible to write a book about the air war in northern Italy without describing in some detail what was happening on the ground, so it is going to be quite a comprehensive account of this forgotten part of World War 1. The book will be illustrated with a number of photographs together with my own paintings, many of which are still only in the planning stage, and our aim is to have the book on sale in time for the commemorations of the start of WW1 in 2014. There is the possibility of an e-version of the book for Tablet and Kindle users, but this is still in the discussion stage. Below are two recently completed paintings for the book, plus a black & white sketch of Brumowski's very first victory. Keep an eye open here for more news on the forthcoming book.
Viewers to the BNAPS news annexe on this website (click on my home page to see the latest) will notice that progress on the fuselage of Islander 003 G-AVCN is racing ahead, the restored fuselage now having its interior re-fitted after all corrosion and re-skinning has been completed to a very high standard. Work will start soon on the wing, which is in very poor condition, but some most welcome donations of parts from a number of generous sources will ease the workload on the small, dedicated team of restorers at Bembridge. Any donations of parts or money - large or small - would be gratefully received by BNAPS.
RFC & RNAS Painting
I reported in my last blog that I would be presenting a painting to my local RFC & RNAS Association at their September luncheon in Cowes. Unfortunately, due to a number of conflicting circumstances, we had to postpone the presentation until the next luncheon on October 17th. I will let you know how it all went in my next posting and will publish the painting for the first time here. More soon.
Busy, busy, busy...
July has been a crazy month for me and it so happened to coincide with Mercurian temperatures that had everyone wilting in the heat and ending up stuck to everything they touched. The BNAPS Vintage Aircraft Fly-In on the weekend of 20th / 21st was blessed with lots of sunshine and a merciful breeze that generated a strong cross wind on Bembridge airfield that might have prevented some of the aircraft from visiting on the Saturday, but Sunday saw a wealth of vintage types arrive and a great day was had by all. A bluegrass band played on the veranda outside the Propeller Inn and there were plenty of visitors to the BNAPS marquee where we were raising funds for the restoration of our Islander, G-AVCN.
On the Saturday afternoon, John Kenyon (dressed for the occasion!) picked up his auctioneer's gavel and conducted the charity auction in fine style where my painting of G-AVCN sold for a very worthwhile sum, thus ensuring a bit more 'tin' and a bucket of rivets for the restoration project. Great fun, despite the soaring temperatures. Other aviation memorabilia also sold vigorously, all of it kindly donated by members of the public and other BNAPS members. Thank you to all those who supported the occasion. We will definitely be doing it all again next year. The latest BNAPS news is available elsewhere on this website where you can see photographs of the excellent progress on the fuselage of VCN.
And thence to London on the Monday morning for the opening day of the Guild of Aviation Artists' annual exhibition in the Mall Galleries. More than four hundred invited guests packed into the exhibition which quickly became something of an oven on the hottest day of the year. The standard of all the paintings was quite outstanding and it was a great pleasure to hook up with so many other like-minded artists. I was not exhibiting myself, as I am a new member, but I hope to be there next year. To all of you who took the time and trouble to talk to me, thank you. It was great to put faces to so many well-known names.
That Red Albatros Again!
My project to document the First World War exploits of the Austro-Hungarian ace Godwin von Brumowski continues apace with these three new works that are to be included in a forthcoming book about the great man. A Pair of Aces depicts Brumowski in formation with his friend and wingman Frank Linke-Crawford, also an ace with 27 victories to his credit. These two pilots, each in their distinctively liveried Albatros D.IIIs, shared many victories together before Linke-Crawford was posted to Flik 60J at the end of 1917.
The portrait of Hauptmann Godwin von Brumowski depicts him standing beside Albatros 153.45 and clearly shows the 'tressed' pattern that he adopted on at least two of his machines. This involved the painting of thousands of tiny yellow swirls on the base coat of red. His skull motif is clearly visible too, as is the yellow and black outer wheel covers that denoted Flik 41J.
The Last Victory depicts his dramatic defence of the retreating Austro-Hungarian troops as the swollen Piave river swept away bridges, men and equipment alike under a hail of fire from the Italian army. An Italian SIA 7b attempted to bomb the last remaining bridge, Brumowski shooting it down to claim his final victory of the war.
More paintings are on the way, so I will reveal these as they are completed in the next blogs.
Eastern Front MarauderMany of you will know already that I have a soft spot for WW2 Luftwaffe aircraft, especially some of the rarer types. I was delighted therefore when I was asked to paint the Henschel Hs.129 for an American magazine.
Much maligned by its pilots for its cramped cockpit and difficult handling qualities, Henschel's Hs.129 was to prove a useful and potent weapon in the Ground Attack role, especially on the Eastern Front where the Russian Sturmoviks had ably demonstrated the importance of a purpose-built aircraft to fulfil this vital capability. This Hs 129 B-2/R2 is typical of those engaged against the Soviets in 1943, depicted here attacking a pair of T-34 tanks with its potent combination of Mk 101 30mm cannon and four MG17 machine guns. The Infantry Attack badge of the Schlacht units can be seen on the nose.
I have just completed a painting that I am going to present to my local RFC & RNAS Association. As an honourary member, we meet each month for a luncheon and a convivial get-together. The painting will be revealed and handed over at the September luncheon, so I can't show it to you now, but suffice to say it is a painting that pays tribute to both services. I only hope I have done them justice! Until next time...
A Tribute to Alex Henshaw
I was delighted to receive a commission as part of my ArtWorks fundraising scheme in association with the British Aircraft Preservation Council to paint the great aviation pioneer and Vickers-Armstrong chief test pilot Alex Henshaw MBE in a Spitfire above the Castle Bromwich factory. The finished painting below was delivered earlier in May in readiness for it to be auctioned at a gala evening at the Royal Air Force Club in London in June to raise funds for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. A number of Battle of Britain pilots are expected to attend and sign prints of the painting which have been published by Mr Tony Edwards of the BAPC. Interested customers can obtain prints by emailing to email@example.com.The prices for signed and un-signed prints vary, so please contact Mr Edwards for advice.
Also part of the ArtWorks scheme, I was asked to paint the picture below of Islander G-AXXJ climbing away from Shoreham airport in the late 1970s. The painting was presented to Mr Peter Saywell, managing director of Saywell International, one of the biggest suppliers of aircraft spares, at their headquarters in Worthing, West Sussex. Saywell International acquired Haywards Aviation in the 1970s, operating their Islander between Shoreham, Dieppe and the Channel Islands. For me, it was a trip 'home' as I was born in Shoreham and frequently visited the airport there with my father, who was then working for Miles and, latterly, Beagle in the early 1960s. It was one of the few warm, sunny days we have had this year and I enjoyed an excellent lunch in the shadow of the wonderful art-deco terminal building. A good day all round.
Hungarian Ace of Aces
Regular visitors to this website will have seen the feature on Godwin von Brumowski that I have produced in association with the great man's grandson, Mr Hubertus V Sulkowski. We are hatching plans to expand this into a book as his life has never been covered in great detail and is only documented in other publications dealing with the Austro-Hungarian Air Force in WW1 in general. I will be producing further paintings over the coming months which, it is hoped, will be included in the forthcoming publication. The feature on this website will be a permanent fixture, so please take the time to read it and learn more about this extraordinary airman.
Bat-Boat 100th Anniversary Exhibition
As mentioned in my last blog, 2013 sees the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Sopwith Bat-Boat and I was commissioned to produce a painting in celebration. The painting below shows 118 turning above the River Medina with East Cowes in the background. The painting will form part of a major exhibition at the Classic Boat Museum in East Cowes where a specially-commissioned 1/8th scale model of this important aircraft will be the centrepiece. The exhibition opens on 8th June and will continue until 28th September 2013. More information and a special donation pack commemorating this event can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org
From Bats to Dragons
It might all be down to HBO's massively successful TV series Game of Thrones, but there seems to be a sudden resurgence in interest of dragons recently. I have just picked up my third commission for a dragon painting within the space of two months, the first of which, called Swoop, can be seen below. I love doing these as I can just let my imagination roam, for once - and there's no research to do! Mind you, I still get the odd (very odd) email from those who are quick to point out what is 'wrong' with my dragons (too many legs, wrong coloured wings, no horns, etc). I would just like to point out - at the risk of ruining some dreams - DRAGONS DO NOT EXIST. They are made-up. Sorry. In fact, while we're on it, there are no fairies, elves or pixies either. Still not sure about Santa though.
It is strange how often I find myself engaged in work that seems to come in batches. I seem to have spent much of 2013 painting De Havilland Mosquitoes of all types and for a variety of customers, the latest of which can be seen below. Day Ranger to Grove depicts two FB.VIs of 23 Sqn, the caption for which I attach here with thanks to Mr P Smith and the pilot of HR201 (YP-T), F/O George Stewart.
On 26th September 1944, F/O George Stewart, and his navigator F/O Paul Beaudet flew a Day Ranger with fellow 23 Squadron Pilot F/O D.L,'Bud' Badley, and his navigator Sgt AA Wilson, to Grove Aerodrome in Denmark, in their FB.VI Mosquito fighter bombers. Arriving abruptly over their target, George spotted a Ju.88 sitting by the perimeter track and at once strafed it with his four 20mm cannons. He is flying YP-T (HR 201), and Bud, YP-Z (HR 216), seen in the background. Their sudden appearance and departure drew no return fire and, as they raced back to the coast, George couldn't resist a departing shot at a Freya Radar tower, but got hit by a .303 round in his instrument panel as he flew overhead. Bud, however, received numerous hits on his pass, losing one engine, plus rudder, elevator control and R/T. In a superb display of airmanship, at zero feet Bud regained control and flew back home to land safely at the emergency airstrip at Woodbridge. George, having plunged into low cloud and therefore lost sight of Bud, was unable to raise him on the R/T and flew on to Little Snoring. George and Paul were awarded DFCs, following their extended operational tour, and Bud an 'Immediate' DFC, by W/C 'Sticky' Murphy DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, Croixe de Guerre and Palm, Commanding Officer of 23 Squadron, RAF.
This was immediately followed by a second Mosquito painting, Tribute to 488 Sqn RNZAF, for Cranston Fine Arts, this time depicting a pair of NF.XIIIs over the Normandy beaches in July 1944. Prints of this painting are available from Cranston Fine Arts.
Immediately following the Allied invasion of northern France in June 1944, 488 Sqn RNZAF found themselves in the thick of the fighting, keeping enemy intruders at bay, flying mainly at night, a role to which their young pilots aspired and excelled. Among those was Flt Lt G E 'Jamie' Jameson who, together with his navigator Norman Crookes, shot down no fewer than eight enemy aircraft in Mosquito NF.XIII MM466, this particular machine becoming the most successful Mosquito of WWII in terms of aerial victories. Jameson was to be credited with a final total of eleven victories before being repatriated home.
Ace of the Isonzo
I was delighted to take on a second commission from the Grandson of the great Austro-Hungarian WW1 ace Godwin Brumowski, this time depicting the great man in his favourite Hansa-Brandenburg D.1 Starstrutter in action above the town of Plava on the banks of the Isonzo river. I have included the full caption for this painting here, too, as it illustrates what a formidable opponent he was during this period of the Great War.
Scoring a handful of victories in May and June of 1917, Austro-Hungarian ace Godwin von Brumowski added steadily to his ever-increasing score on the Italian Front. But in August, with the increased Italian activity in the air in preparation for and during the 11th Battle of the Isonzo, he entered a period of extraordinary success, scoring 18 victories between 10th and 28th, most of these being scored in his favorite Hansa Brandenburg D.1 (KD) 28.69 Star-Strutter, depicted here above Plava on the banks of the Isonzo river, sending a Caudron C.IV down in flames on the early evening of the 11th, his second for the day. Brumowski's aircraft was notable for its camouflaged upper wing surfaces, a swirl pattern in olive greens that he had designed himself and which blended his plane into the green wooded foothills of the Southern Austrian Alps, North of his base at Sesana, outside of Trieste. A third painting, depicting Brumoski in Oeffag Albatros 135.45 in combat against eight Sopwith Camels (a fight in which he came off the worst this time), has also been commissioned and I will post a copy of this painting as soon as it is available to view in my next blog. Look out also for a special illustrated feature that I am writing about Godwin von Brumowski which I will be posting on this site very soon.
Bat Boat 100
No, nothing to do with the Caped Crusader of comic book fame, but everything to do with the Sopwith Bat Boat which took to the air for the first time exactly 100 years ago and which became the first aircraft type to enter service with the Royal Naval Air Service. It was also the first successful seaplane designed on this side of the Atlantic and the first true amphibian. In celebration of this, I have been asked to produce a painting of the Bat Boat in flight over Cowes on the Isle of Wight where the prototype was constructed by Sam Saunders in his sheds on the River Medina. The commission calls for the painting to be a companion to an earlier work that I completed of the mighty Saunders Roe SR.45 Princess flying boat that was designed and built on the same site some 36 years later. The painting is currently in progress and I will post it in a later blog as soon as it is finished. Anyone interested in this significant aircraft might be pleased to know that a special exhibition is being held at the Classic Boat Museum Gallery in East Cowes which opens on Saturday 8th June and will run until 28th September, where my painting and a specially-commissioned 1/8 scale model of the Bat Boat will form the centrepiece of the exhibition. All are welcome. Further details are available by emailing email@example.com More news soon.
And so to the gorgeous WW1 airfield of Old Sarum, set in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside for the February meeting of the British Aircraft Preservation Council (BAPC) to present the launch of a scheme that my BNAPS colleagues and myself have formulated to help museums and restoration projects raise much needed funds through the medium of aviation art. Our hosts for the day were the Boscombe Down Aircraft Collection, now based in a WW1 hangar at Old Sarum, the most interactive aviation museum I have ever visited by virtue of the fact that almost every aircraft is literally open to the public. You can climb into the cockpit of a Canberra, Jaguar or Avro 748, for example and really get a feel for what it might be like to operate one of these fine aircraft. Many switches and instruments work and respond to your input, making the whole experience a memorable one. Highly recommended. Apart from the fact that it felt like about -20 degrees outside, the welcome in the conference room was warm and it was a great pleasure to meet so many influential people, all connected through their passion for the preservation of our aviation heritage. Over 55 delegates attended and our presentation was generally well received, resulting in some museums and private projects signing up for immediate inclusion in the ARTworks initiative. A great day all round - and nice to escape the studio for a day!
Pictured with my original painting of Islander G-AVCN at Old Sarum are, left to right: Peter Graham, Chairman of the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society, myself and Steve Hague, Chairman of the British Aircraft Preservation Council.
Never Say Die
This is the title of a new painting completed earlier this month for Mr Pete Smith of Northampton. It depicts an heroic action in Mosquito FB.VI RS507, flown by his father In January 1945. My caption for the painting gives just a glimpse of what happened that night What must surely be one of WWII's most extraordinary acts of bravery occurred on the night of 16th/17th January 1945 when F/L T A Smith and F/O A C Cockayne were on an ASH patrol over Stendal. Flying Mosquito FB.VI RS507 (YP-C), they inadvertently stumbled upon the German airfield of Fassberg on their return trip, fully lit up with aircraft taxiing. Taking full advantage of this situation, F/L Smith went straight in to attack, destroying one Bf.109 on the taxiway and another two as they attempted to take off. RS507 received ground fire hits to its starboard engine during the chase down the runway, Smith feathering the prop, but continuing to press home his attack. Knowing that there was no way of saving their aircraft, Cockayne was ordered to bale out, but sadly lost his life in the attempt. F/L Smith fought gallantly to bring his Mosquito down into snow with minimum damage, but the aircraft hit trees before striking the frozen ground and a furious fire broke out, Smith trapped in the wreckage. Against all the odds, he survived the crash, albeit with terrible burns, and saw out the war as a prisoner of the Germans.
It will never cease to amaze me what incredible people these young men were. Mr Smith very kindly provided me with a very comprehensive file of the squadron’s activities before and after this incident which offers an uncompromising insight into the daily - and nightly - rigours of a front line Mosquito squadron and its young crews in 1945. I am indebted. There is a footnote to the story of this painting. Having completed the original, which measured 36 x 24 inches, it was crated up in a sturdy plywood box for transit to the eager customer. A certain well-known courier company (who shall remain nameless, but let’s just say that their name begins and ends with a 'T') promptly lost it! After much ado at my end and head-scratching at theirs, it finally turned up not more than six miles from where it left me - and still my side of the Solent. It was eventually delivered to a very relieved customer, three days late. Fresh underwear please… On the other hand, another well known courier (who also shall be nameless, but whose name begins with 'F' and ends in 'X' shipped an even bigger crate with another painting from my door to Perth in Australia in under 72 hours. Cue the fanfare and confetti.
A Proud Two Weeks
I have enjoyed two completely unrelated and remarkable gestures of kindness in the last couple of weeks and I have been very moved by them both. At a Trustees meeting at the Propeller Inn at Bembridge airport (aren't pubs so much cosier than conference rooms?) I was made an honourary life long member of BNAPS in recognition of my support for the restoration of Islander G-AVCN. Then, on 21st February, I was gifted honourary membership of the RFC & RNAES Association at a formal luncheon in Cowes. To all those who nominated me for these honours, I am eternally grateful and hope that I can continue to lend my support and enthusiasm wherever I can. I have met some truly wonderful and remarkable people along the way and I am humbled by their kind gestures. My warm thanks go to you all.
A Great Man
I was delighted to accept a commission at the end of last year from Mr Hubertus Sulkowski, the Grandson of the great WW1 fighter ace Godwin von Brumowski, the highest-scoring pilot in the Austro-Hungarian Air Force. Mr Sulkowski provided me with some excellent references to complete the painting below, entitled Duel Above the Piave which depicts an action on 23rd November 1917 when, flying in company with Frank Linke-Crawford, Oblt Brumowski shared in the destruction of two Italian Nieuport scouts near the mouth of the Piave River, flying Albatros D.III (Oeffag)153.45 of Flik 41J, bearing his personalized skull motif and all-red colour scheme applied over the original mottled factory finish. Frank Linke Crawford's Albatros can be seen circling in the distance as the wounded Nieuport begins to falter.
Credited with 35 confirmed victories and a further 12 unconfirmed (as they fell behind enemy lines and could not be officially verified), Brumowski flew no fewer than 439 operational sorties and was eventually promoted to command all the fighter squadrons in the Isonzo region, receiving numerous decorations along the way. He survived the Great War, but could not adjust to life during peacetime on the ground and started his own flying school in Aspern. Sadly, he was to be fatally injured in a flying accident at Schiphol in June 1936 and the world lost one of its truly great aces. It was an enormous pleasure and privilege to produce this painting and I feel especially honoured to be asked to paint a second one, this time featuring his Brandenburg D.1 in action over Plava on the banks of the Isonzo River. I will be certain to post this new image as soon as it is complete and has been approved by Mr Sulkowski, to whom I am endebted for all his help and support.
Unaccustomed as I am...
I am currently bracing myself for a presentation that I am making to the BAPC (British Aircraft Preservation Council) later this month (February) regarding the part that art can play in helping to raise funds for aircraft restoration projects around the country. It's part of a concept that has been conceived by my BAPC colleague, John Kenyon, and myself purely as a way of giving a helping hand to aviation museums and conservation projects around the UK that are feeling the pinch as global austerity sets in. I cannot reveal too much at this stage as it would be wrong to pre-empt the presentation, but I will be creating a separate annexe to this website during the coming months to outline how the scheme works and to keep you updated with those projects that we have helped to fund. It is an exciting concept and I look forward to being a part of it, but public speaking has never been my forte, so expect lots of 'errs' and 'umms'! Sorry it's such a brief blog this month - loads to do!
Britten-Norman BN-1F Print Launch
On Saturday 10th November, I was a guest at Bembridge Airport, home of the Britten-Norman Islander, here on the Isle of Wight to sign two new limited edition prints of the Islander's precursor, BN-1F Finibee (see my blog for 13th August 2012, below).
Ivan Berryman (left) and Peter Gatrell signing the new BN-1F prints Rita Edgcumbe (left) and John Kenyon (centre) manning the BNAPS sales stand with ex-Britten-Norman employee Ernie Farrow in attendance An exchange of memories and anecdotes. Author and BNAPS trustee Bob Wealthy (right), Peter Gatrell (centre) and John Kenyon
On hand to co-sign the prints with me was Peter Gatrell, Britten-Norman's first ever (and only, at that time) employee. Whilst John Britten and Desmond Norman were busy with the design and marketing of their first foray into aviation, Peter was charged with the actual construction of the airframe, way back on 1949, working with wood and metal in a small hangar that had no electrical supply! Peter's own photograph album demonstrates the beautiful craftsmanship that he brought to the project and it was a pleasure to chat with him on the day about the formative years of what would become one of the UK's most prolific aircraft companies. The day brought in a great many ex-Britten-Norman employees and sales of the prints got off to a brisk start, the proceeds going to the restoration of Islander G-AVCN by the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society (BNAPS). This islander was only the third ever built and is the oldest surviving BN-2 in the world, the first (G-ATCT) being lost in an accident in the late 1960s and the second (G-ATWU) becoming first the stretched Islander and then the prototype Trislander before being scrapped at Bembridge. VCN - or Charlie November - as she is now known, was discovered in a derelict state in Puerto Rico and was rescued and brought back to the UK some years ago. It has taken a great deal of effort, expense and good will to save this important and significant aircraft and credit is entirely due to the trustees and members of BNAPS for their perseverance. VCN is now in a private workshop, close to its birthplace, where conservation and repair of the airframe is underway. It is hoped to have the aircraft restored to pristine static condition for the 50th anniversary of the BN-2 Islander's first flight in 2015. A permanent home for the aircraft has yet to be established and a great deal of money and spares have yet to be sourced before this can become a reality. For my part, I have produced the painting below of VCN flying out of Bembridge in the late 1960s wearing the livery of Aurigny Air Services, the first customer for the Islander and who operated VCN for many years between the Channel Islands and Southampton. I have gifted the painting to BNAPS who will be producing a limited edition print from this painting to help with the fundraising for the restoration project. Watch this space as a launch date for the prints has yet to be announced.
If anyone out there would like to become involved in any way with this project or would like to become a member of BNAPS, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to BNAPS (Dept NL), c/o The Propeller Inn, Bembridge Airport, Sandown Road, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, PO35 5PW. You will receive the BNAPS Newsletter and will be welcomed at regular social meetings to be updated on progress.
Finally, on the subject of Britten-Norman, my previous blogs show some paintings of a few projects that never made it further than the drawing board. This one, the Counter Insurgency Defender, was another that was not progressed, but I am sure you will agree it would have been a handsome beast. With a fully retracting undercarriage, raised cockpit, new cabin roofline and formidable array of ordnance, it would have been a striking departure from the traditional Islander / Defender.
As with the BN-1F, prints of any of these paintings are available with all proceeds going to the restoration of Charlie November. All the original paintings are available for sale too, via this website. Phone or email for details.
Heinkel's distinctive 219 Uhu (Owl) has always been a favourite aircraft of mine, as have a lot of Germany's WWII creations. My last blog featured the elegant Focke-Wulf Ta.152 and this month's contribution, entitled Menace, is a 219-7/R2 of Stab I/NJG1 in 1944. This was painted for an American military aircraft magazine feature about night fighters. Equipped with the very latest in radar technology and heavily armed, the 219s were the scourge of the night skies, locating and picking out Allied bombers heading to - or home from - night raids over the continent. It was not until the night fighter Mosquito entered service, similarly equipped that the balance was redressed. A lovely aircraft aesthetically, but not such a doddle to fly, apparently.
Lovely Curves of Another Kind
Commissioned by a returning customer of mine, I had the pleasure last month of producing the painting below (oh, I hate my job sometimes!). Entitled Three Sisters, it formed the third and final part of a series of paintings that I had been commissioned to paint for him over the last couple of years. All three were produced in monochrome and all were dark and slightly alluring. Just thought I'd share it with you. And, no, you can't have their phone numbers.
Things That Never Were
Those of you that read last month's blog (see below if you didn't) will know that I took it upon myself to produce a couple of small paintings of the Britten-Norman BN1F 'Finibee', the first foray into aircraft design by John Britten and Desmond Norman who, as many will know, went on to produce the world-beating BN-2 Islander and Trislander. What you may not know, is that my own father - Denis Berryman - was Chief designer for Britten-Norman and was largely responsible for what became the Trislander. Proud as he was of this, his 'baby' was really the BN-3 Nymph, photographed here on test flight around May 1969 (apologies for that paint scheme - nothing to do with me or my father!).
Perhaps most impressive of all, the Nymph was constructed and flown in a breathtaking 53 days by a dedicated team that never totalled more than twenty people. With all the detail design work completed and possible construction problems identified, the team got to work on the prototype. Their target was to have the first aircraft on display at the 1969 Paris Airshow in May, this despite the fact that the first detailed drawings did not come out of the design office until the Autumn of 1968! Despite a healthy order book, financial problems within the company led to the Nymph being shelved and all efforts were subsequently directed to the Islander production lines. The original Nymph still survives and is regularly flown today and now has a stablemate in the form of the NAC1 Freelance - a later development of the Nymph that was brought back to life by the late Desmond Norman in the 1980s. The fertile minds of the innovative design team back in the late 1960s would eventually produce the extraordinary Trislander by adding a third engine to the tailfin of a stretched Islander, thus increasing its seating capacity from 10 to 18. But this somewhat odd engine configuration had already been considered to increase the Nymph's overall payload, an idea which only ever existed in concept form. Another stillborn idea was for a much larger aircraft, the four-engined BN-4 Mainlander, essentially a much scaled-up Islander which, by virtue of its large twin doors on the port side of the rear of the cabin, could carry a considerable cargo as well as a greatly increased passenger capacity. Again, this was all to come to nothing. Why do I mention all this now? After discussions with author and aviation historian Bob Wealthy of Solent Aero Marine, I thought it might be fun to paint some of these 'might-have-beens' and show just what they could have looked like, if only History - and finances - had been different. The upper painting shows the Nymph Twin, a stretched, twin engined version of the original design. The lower one shows the BN-4 Mainlander. Anyone who is familiar with the Islander will immediately spot the family resemblance.
There are others to come, such as the twin turbine Britten-Norman 21-seater and the purposeful-looking Turbo Defender COIN, so watch this space for more Things That Never Were.
Something That Was - But Only Just
Whilst on the subject of aircraft that staggered out of the blocks, I have just completed this painting of the mighty TSR.2. It needs little explaining as the sad history of what might have been the greatest all-round jet aircraft in history is well known to aviation enthusiasts (yes, the British government were asses even back in the 1960s). XR219 is shown having just negotiated the 'hump' in Boscombe Down's runway. The original oil painting and a limited edition print is available from Cranston Fine Arts and this painting is reproduced here with their kind permission.
And finally…Something That Was, But Only For A Short Time
I have had the pleasure of painting some of the World's most amazing aircraft recently and it is sad that so many of them passed into obscurity so quickly for a variety of reasons. One such hybrid was Focke-Wulf's incredible Ta.152, the example shown here being 'Black 13', flown by Willi Reschke of Stab / JG301. The original, entitled No Contest , is now sold, but a limited edition print and canvas giclee is available via this website. Please contact me for details.
At the time of writing this, we are all up to our armpits in rain. It may sound selfish, but I find this sort of weather certainly focuses the mind on whatever task is in hand - provided, like me, you are indoors. I can’t remember a more productive few weeks.
Most of you will be familiar with the Britten-Norman Islander family of aircraft that embrace the BN-2 Islander and Trislander, the Defender and the lesser-known BN-3 Nymph. But it all began way back in 1949 when the founders, John Britten and Desmond Norman - two De Havilland refugees - decided to design and build a light, single-seat parasol monoplane for the home-build market. The result was the BN-1F 'Finibee' and it has been my pleasure to produce a couple of small paintings of this diminutive little aircraft because, as far as I know, no one has painted it before. I have reproduced the two paintings here.
The first - Tentative Steps - depicts the BN-1F as it was originally flown with the shorter span wing, smaller tail surfaces, single-strut undercarriage and JAP 36 engine. Unfortunately, in this guise, it suffered serious damage to the fuselage when the engine cut shortly after take-off in the hands of Desmond Norman. The resulting impact not only tore away the undercarriage, but also ripped most of the underside of the fuselage away. A very different BN-1F emerged from the repair shop and this is featured in my second painting, Finibee over Bembridge. Relatively few hours were flown, however, and the aircraft was retired in 1953 to languish in store for many years. Today, it can be seen on display in the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton.
First Across The Pond
I was commissioned in July to produce this painting of Alcock and Brown's epic first crossing of the Atlantic for a magazine cover. I had never painted the Vimy before, but had often thought of doing so - and this is exactly how I always visualised the picture, so it was a real pleasure to be asked (and paid!) to do something that I had always intended. Of course, for a cover, it had to be painted in upright format, but I don't think anything has been lost. Indeed, I rather think it adds something.
I am very fortunate to live and work just a few miles from Airframe Assemblies Ltd at Sandown Airport, here on the Isle of Wight. I have had cause to visit a couple of times recently – and what a pleasure it is. This company specialise in the refurbishment and rebuilding of Spitfires, mainly, and their current workshops are at bursting point with fuselages and wings in various states. My thanks are due to Workshop Manager Chris Michell for his time and expertise and for letting me wander freely with my camera - a priceless source of reference for the specialist artist!
A visit to my Paintings for Sale page will reveal that the painting below is up for re-sale. It depicts a Short Sunderland in all its glory, but be warned - at four feet wide, this is a BIG painting and will dominate any room. It is framed and in excellent condition. Interested parties may make enquiries via this website.
In the Movies
Thank you to everyone that has responded so enthusiastically to the short film about my work that can be found elsewhere on this site. It was only ever intended as an insight to my world, but I have received a lot of messages from those of you that found it interesting. I try to be open about my life and work and would hope that you find me to be approachable and - wherever possible - helpful. I thought a short video might serve as an introduction to anyone who doesn't know me. I'm planning a Western next.
Workhorses of the Early Jet Era
My thanks are due to Mr Dick Dawnay for supplying me with a selection of his own beautiful black & white photographs of a Vampire T.11, which formed the inspiration for the small acrylic painting now on display on my Paintings for Sale page. This is the first of a series of paintings that I will be completing over the next year, depicting aircraft of that much-forgotten era, the 1950s and early 60's. This series will include early jets such as the Gloster Meteor, the Gloster Javelin, De Havilland Venom, Vickers Valiant and several more. The inspiration for this has come from a kind invitation to join members of the local RFC & RNAS Association for their monthly luncheons, held here in Cowes. Sadly, only a handful of WW2 veterans still attend, but there is a healthy representation of pilots and crew from squadron service in the 1950s, serving all over the world in a rich variety of theatres. My forthcoming Venom painting depicts a pair of FB.4s sweeping above Khormaksar, Aden. This painting will available to view on this site before the end of June. I have also been commissioned to paint a trio of 222 Sqn Meteors over the Forth Bridge and this painting should be completed early in July. As an aside, I have painted the Forth Bridge on a number of occasions - not an easy task, given the complexity of its construction. I took a telephone call once, whilst painting HMS Hood passing beneath the mighty spans on its way to Rosyth. "what are you working on now?" enquired the caller. "I’m painting the Forth Bridge," I replied innocently. "Well, if you’re going to take the p**s, I won’t bother asking again!" came the reply.
A Rare Gem
Have a look at the Paintings for Sale page on this site and you will spot a painting that was commissioned several years ago now of a B1 locomotive departing from Leicester station. This is being offered for re-sale by its owner, now resident in the USA, the painting being disposed of for personal reasons. All the details are supplied on the Paintings for Sale page.
Sincere apologies, but the gremlins crept into my last update and the painting of the Victor tanker was wrongly priced. It has been put right now.
Coming Soon - I promise!
For those of you wondering what happened to the mini-documentary about my work, it is gradually coming along, but I had under-estimated how long these things take to film, edit and finalise. I will keep you posted and, hopefully, it will be available to view online soon.
I'm quite often asked about my studio, so I've taken a few photos and posted them in a Studio Tour page on this site. When I say 'tour', I mean some photos of the room where I work. There are other rooms, but they comprise mainly a store room, a wash room and a camera room where all the paintings are digitally photographed for repro - not awfully interesting. Sorry about the mess that the studio appears to be in, but it is the site of some intense work... and this is it after I’ve tidied it up a bit!
Aviation Day - A Roaring Success
Saturday 14th April saw the launch of a new print commemorating the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and we certainly did it in style with an entertaining day at a local arts centre here on the Isle of Wight. Captain Derek Hermiston, the pilot of Halifax G-AHDU which is the aircraft featured in my painting, did an outstanding job of organising the day and brought along many members of the RFC and RNAS Association to lend their support and to chat informally with the public. It was fantastic fun and I had the great pleasure of re-acquainting myself with some friends and former customers that I hadn't seen for a long time. I was in illustrious company indeed and I was humbled by their kindness and enthusiasm - not to mention some fascinating personal stories. A short documentary about the Berlin Airlift ran throughout the day on the big screen and there were some very lively (and highly amusing) conversations between the wonderful retired aircrew who attended. I met no fewer than three Halifax pilots and it was a joy to see them together, sharing their experiences. My thanks go out to Derek and his lovely wife, Veronica, for all their efforts and to all those that supported the event so enthusiastically. I couldn't have wished for a better day. Thanks are also due to my very good friend Terry Sullivan for all his help and for assuming the duties of official photographer for the day (among other things!). Guests and visitors from all aspects of aviation were in attendance, aircrew, ground crew, authors and enthusiasts alike mingled in the informal atmosphere and, with the venue adjoined to the bar and restaurant, a very convivial and pleasant day unfolded. The photo gallery here shows the event in full swing, with a shot of Derek and myself signing the edition of prints. Sales were healthy on the day and, if nothing else, it would be nice to think that we have raised awareness of the tremendous efforts and sacrifice that was made by all those involved in the Airlift in the dark and difficult days that the people of Berlin suffered in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Thanks to everyone for making it such a special and memorable day.
Own a Piece of History
Limited editon prints, numbered and signed by the artist and the pilot Captain Derek Hermiston, are available now via this website at just £35 each + £5.00 post and packing. Just email or telephone me direct on 07990 758706 for details on how to pay. Your print will be despatched within 48 hours of receipt of your order. Just 250 copies have been produced, so be sure to place your order now.
The incredible 40 year service given by the mighty Handley Page Victor is being celebrated with this original painting and a new limited edition print available now via this website. Big Vic depicts the tanker variant that was so vital to the successful bombing of Port Stanley during the Falklands conflict of 1982, a feat that remains to this day the longest bombing mission in history. Prints are £45 each and are limited to an edition of just 250 worldwide and each one is personally signed and numbered by myself. Postage is free within the UK, international air mail rates apply outside of the UK. The original painting, measuring 24 x 18 inches on canvas, is available for sale, price £850. Freight of the original painting worldwide is free.
Signing Day at Quay Arts
On Saturday 14th April 2012, I will be co-hosting a one day event at the Quay Arts Centre in Newport, Isle of Wight, for the first of a series of events to commemorate the tremendous efforts of the aircrews involved in the Berlin Airlift in 1948. Co-hosting with me will be the pilot of Halifax G-AHDU, Captain Derek Hermiston who flew 363 sorties during the airlift, transporting over 2,500 tons of vital supplies to the beleaguered city. This will be the launch of a limited edition print of the painting that can be seen in my previous blog and Derek and I will be signing the prints at the venue on the day. Everyone is welcome and we would be delighted to meet you. A small exhibition of my work will be on show and, it is hoped, a number of distinguished aircrew will be dropping by during the course of the day. The order of the day is informality. It should be great fun, so come along and say hello. I'll post some photographs of the event on this website in April.
One for Hendon
I have just completed the commission of Handley Page Halifax C.Mk VIII G-AHDU (formerly PP310) depicted on the apron at Tegel during the Berlin airlift of 1948. Named 'Falkirk', she was engaged in the transport of vital Gasolene to the beleaguered German capital city of Berlin. Enjoying a warming beverage from the mobile canteen are her crew, (l-r) Pilot, Captain Derek Hermiston, Navigator First Officer Henry Charles Bowker, Flight Engineer 2nd Officer Stanley Banfield and Radio Operator Leonard Hurst. The painting is going to do a tour of European museums throughout the summer, before finally going on permanent display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, London. An edition of limited edition prints is expected to be available from February 2012, each one numbered and signed by the artist and pilot Captain Derek Hermiston. Please apply via this website for more details.
Since appearing on the cover of Contact, my painting of a 3-litre Bentley has stirred up considerable demand for a limited edition print. I am delighted to announce that these prints are now available via this website. The edition is limited to just 100 copies worldwide, is approximately A3 size and is signed by the artist. Price is £30 each + £5.00 postage.
The Italians Are Coming
I have spent much of the last few months working on a series of commissions for military print publisher Cranston Fine Arts depicting aspects of the Italian involvement in World War II - and quite fascinating it has been to do the research for these paintings. Aside from a number of Italian aces from both world wars, I have depicted shipping attacks in the Med by Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and Caproni Ca.3s in combat over the Alps in WW1. But perhaps most interesting of all has been my depictions of the Italian manned torpedoes of the type used to attack and sink two of our mightiest battleships in Alexandria harbour. I won't go into all the details here but, suffice it to say, these guys had some guts. You can view all these paintings via the Cranston Fine Arts website and I have reproduced one here as an appetiser, courtesy of Cranston Fine Arts, this one depicting three 'Maiali' (Pigs) departing their 'mother' submarine, the Sciré at the start of the Alexandria attack. A full explanation of the attack is detailed on the Cranston Fine Arts website.
Another interesting subject was the Italian involvement in the Battle of Britain in 1940. Although, strictly speaking, the Battle of Britain was over, it was now the Italian's turn to bomb the British mainland in October and November of 1940. The Corpo Aereo Italiano (an expeditionary force, part of the Regia Aeronautica) was based in Belgium and its aircraft flew over 100 missions, bombing such towns as Harwich and Ramsgate, usually with little success. Their somewhat obsolete aircraft were no match for the Hurricanes and Spitfires that intercepted them and their losses were quite catastrophic. By January of 1941, the CAI was withdrawn and its aircraft re-deployed to other theatres. I have painted a few scenes of this brief, but significant episode, depicting the Fiat BR.20 bombers and Fiat CR.42 fighter escorts that were used against the UK. See these paintings at the Cranston Fine Arts website.
I had to 're-visit' an old friend before Christmas for a commission for a customer who had been a fan of my Heller paintings, back in the day. Yes, I had to put on the old Dutch hat and get into Heller mode for the first time in about five years - and very refreshing it was, too - a welcome change from the military stuff that occupies 99% of my time. Coincidentally, a local arts magazine published an excellent article about me and my work in their January issue, the interviewer being particularly fascinated by my alter ego and my need - at the time - to paint these dark and sometimes disturbing paintings under another name. Whilst it's nice to be free of Mr Heller now (and all that pretending!), I have to confess that I do miss him. The pseudonym did allow me to paint much more freely and expressively than my military stuff does, with all the constraints of research and technical accuracy, without having to answer questions about where did all this weird stuff come from? By the way, my bank manager has never thanked me for the portrait that Mr Heller did of him. I can't think why…
The Spice of Life
There has certainly been some variety to my work in the last couple of months. Everything from life studies to the star ship Enterprise, as the following will show. Not to mention, of course, all the usual aviation stuff for Cranston Fine Arts, which is a constant in every working week.
I was delighted to meet Lili last month, on a visit from Switzerland, who decided that she would like to be painted with Angel wings and she had been particularly struck by some black and white studies that I had on my studio wall - one of which can be seen in the Paintings for Sale gallery elsewhere on this site. I had never painted an angel before, so it seemed like a great opportunity to take on the challenge. After some discussion about how she would like to be depicted, we settled on the idea that you can see below. The finished painting is an oil on canvas, 24 inches tall. I know - It's tough work, but somebody has to do it.
I'm a bit nervous about being the subject of a short documentary about my work, but Mark Wilkinson, a documentary maker, has assured me there's nothing to panic about. The idea is just to follow me around and film me at work, whilst chatting informally. Filming starts quite soon, but it'll be a while before it's all edited and ready to roll. I'll let you know when it's available and provide a link via this website for those that want to watch it.
I have received a commission to paint one of the many Handley Page Halifax (Halton?) transport aircraft that took part in the Berlin Airlift in 1948. It's pilot, my very dear friend, Derek Hermiston, is overseeing the whole project which will depict PP310 (G-AHDU) on the ground at Tegen. When finished, the original painting is going to do a 'tour' of museums, before going on permanent display at the RAF Museum at Hendon.
The joy of not knowing what I'm going to be painting next makes life a bit of a lucky dip sometimes. I have just finished this commissioned painting of the Enterprise, NCC 1701-D, which appears in the Next Generation TV series. Intellectual Property restrictions mean that this will never be published in any form, but it was another interesting project that was a bit of fun to do.
For Those in Peril
The RNLI, as many of you will know, is a charity - and one more worthy of vital donations is hard to imagine. Having been approached by a representative of my local lifeboat station to produce a small painting of their new boathouse and lifeboat, I thought this was something I could contribute free of charge. The painting below shows the new Bembridge lifeboat, the Alfred Albert Williams, setting off on yet another rescue. The plan is to produce postcards and other items to be sold in the adjoining shop to help raise funds.
Prints for Sale
After a few technical hiccoughs, and false starts, work is underway at last in preparing the gallery of prints and canvas giclees that will be available on this website quite soon. Watch this space, as they say.
Speak to me personally
Email is great for many things but sometimes a simple conversation is best so now it's possible to contact me personally at my studio on 07990 758706.
Had we but time enough...
I really don't know where this year is going. The weeks seem to rattle by at an alarming pace and I just seem to muddle along in a kind of machine-like rhythm, rarely escaping from my studio to do something different. I mean, if you paint pictures for a living, what are you supposed to do for a hobby? Paint something you don't usually paint seems to be the answer. So I've just embarked on a whole series of new projects that I hope will enable me to expand my portfolio beyond all the usual stuff that I have become known for and which should challenge me as an artist. Painting is not that much different to cooking, after all: Once you know how to do it, you just get on and do it. Top chefs rarely have to bin the meal they've been preparing and they become known for their consistency and their ability to deliver the good stuff on demand and in an acceptable time. I have picked up the odd criticism regarding how fast I paint and how quickly I put out new material and, to those critics, I offer the above defence. I know what I'm going to do before I start, I know how to do it and I very rarely muck it up. I've been painting professionally for over thirty years, so I figure I ought to know how to do it by now. Well, you can't please 'em all...
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Those that know me personally will know that I am unusually accident-prone. Getting my thumb stuck in a radiator and nearly blinding myself with an exploding chestnut are just two of the stories that regularly circulate among my friends, but last week I added a new 'first' when I set fire to my head whilst photographing some paintings. It seems that 500 watt photoflood lamps and human hair are a volatile combination when they come into close proximity with each other, so I'm now sporting a particularly short hairstyle (delete hair and style where appropriate). You would think that someone aged 53 would be able to tie his own shoelaces without falling over, wouldn't you? Mind you - I am the guy who fell out of the crew door of an Avro Shackleton at the Manchester Science Museum during a prestigious book launch some years ago. Yes, that was me.
An Unfortunate Change of Mind
I'm feeling a little bit sorry for GKN Aerospace at Cowes by whom I was commissioned last year to paint the new Joint Strike Fighter over their factory. The painting was duly produced, as were a number of Giclee prints on canvas and a run of limited edition prints, one of which was duly presented to HRH at a reception in the Spring. Unfortunately, a change of government has brought with it a change of mind on the whole JFS / aircraft carrier project and the particular model of F-35 that I depicted (after much checking and research with the MOD) has now been dropped in favour of the cheaper non-VTOL variant. It seems they've opted for some big elastic bands at the front of the carriers to fling them off and a big butterfly net at the back to catch them again. There's progress for you.
Finally, look out for lots more to visit on this website in the coming weeks. There will be a Special Feature each month, a Guest Artist Gallery and a new Prints section with all the latest self-published limited editions and giclee prints on canvas, as well as many new original paintings for the connoisseur. More soon…
Paintings from the Past
I have just become re-acquainted with some paintings from my past - a couple of them nearly twenty years old now. They are being offered for re-sale through this website, so have a look at the Paintings for Sale page and see if anything takes your fancy. There are a couple of quite special items there, not the least of which are two big originals, one signed by Nigel Mansell in his F1 World Championship-winning year and one signed by Michael Schumacher. The signatures have faded ever-so-slightly over the 20 years, but they are there and they are both quite collectable. It is strange to see a painting that was done so long ago. I can look at the prints, of course, but there is nothing like being confronted with a 48 inch wide original for that wow factor. I have all the originals at my studio until they are sold, so please contact me through this site if you would like to view them. Busy, busy time for me at the moment, so not much time for blogging - or anything else, for that matter. I'll be posting more as soon as I can find a few moments. Enjoy the Summer!
Sorry to have been so long in posting anything new lately, but you know how it is - you get busy, you hunker down and get on with it and, the next thing you know, two months have ticked by! I really have been slogging away since Christmas, mostly working on the usual aviation and marine stuff for Cranston Fine Arts. In fact, I have just counted that I have produced over 20 small 16 inch paintings for them in just two months! It was quite nice then to take a short break and produce a new Formula 1 painting, something that I haven't done for a number of years now. At one time, I couldn't paint them quick enough to keep the market supplied, but interest in Formula 1 art trailed off around 2006 / 07 for some reason and I stopped producing new paintings, unless as a private commission. But interest is certainly back and World Championships for Lewis Hamilton and then Jenson Button have certainly rekindled the art market. For me, Ferrari is the very embodiment of motor racing and I never turn away an opportunity to paint the red cars. When greeting card company Noel Tatt asked me to produce a new Ferrari image, I needed little persuading and the result can be seen on the Paintings For Sale page on this website. Buyers, please form an orderly queue.
I'm really looking forward to the better weather as I've been promised a ride in the front seat of a vintage N3N in the Spring. The aircraft, currently based at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight is part-owned by flying instructor Jim Birnie. I have known Jim since we were both kids, so it was really great to hook up with him again recently when he flew me in his Cessna for an aerial photography trip. He kindly showed me around the N3N and let me get acquainted with its cockpit before it was hangared for the Winter (see photo).
We hope to get airborne for my first experience of open-cockpit, bi-plane flying quite soon. I know I'll be in good hands. I'll keep you posted.
Anyone wondering what happened to the London paintings that I was working on might like to know that pressures of work have meant that they have been put on hold for the time being, but will be completed and put on this website quite soon. They are being produced as a matching pair, one depicting the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, the other of Tower Bridge, and both are being painted in the style of my painting 'Old Father Thames', which can be seen on the Gallery page of this website. I should have them completed by the end of March and they will, of course, be posted here first. That's it for now. More soon!
Apologies for this somewhat belated update, but I have been a very busy boy, trying to fulfil all my commitments before the Christmas break. Most pressing of these commitments was the major commissioned painting for GKN Aerospace, reproduced here with their kind permission. It depicts the F.35 Joint Strike Fighter making a low pass over GKN Aerospace's East Cowes plant on the Isle of Wight. Of course, the F.35 is not yet in RAF service, so this is a glimpse into the future.
The UK has opted for the VSTOL variant of this advanced aircraft as an eventual replacement for the Harrier and Sea Harrier, both of which have now been prematurely retired. GKN Aerospace will be instrumental in the construction of the F.35 and are in the process of constructing a new state of the art facility to manufacture components for the JSF. As you can see, the painting was something of an epic!
Out of Africa
As an indication of just how contrasting my job can be, compare the F.35 painting with this one - another commissioned piece that was required in time for Christmas. Simply called 'The End of the Day', it necessitated an entirely different approach and afforded me a lot more artistic licence! Both paintings were a pleasure to produce, but couldn't have been more opposite in so many ways.
My last message of 2010 to you all is simply to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and a healthy, safe and prosperous new year and I would like to thank everyone that has contacted me and supported me over the last twelve months. Let's all hope that 2011 proves to be a year of happiness and contentment. Enjoy the holiday. Happy Christmas!
As part of an end-of-year promotion, I am today launching my WINTER SALE on all original paintings in the Paintings for Sale Gallery on this website. The price of every original painting has been slashed by ONE THIRD of the original price, so don't delay if you fancy grabbing a bargain. This offer will only last until Christmas Eve 2010 and may never be repeated. Plus postage and packing is still FREE to anywhere within the United Kingdom (please place your order early to ensure delivery in time for Christmas). Contact me today through any of the usual channels to place your order. And remember - there's only ever one original!
My joint exhibition closed on Saturday 16th October, having run for just two weeks at a local library. Given the current climate and the low-key nature of the show, it was a great success and it was so nice to make contact with all those people that I had lost touch with over the last few years. My co-exhibitor, Vikkie Warne, enjoyed much acclaim too - deservedly so, as her paintings really are quite stunning. This was her first true exhibition and the first time that many people have been able to see her vibrant paintings at close quarters. Back to work for both of now. Playtime's over.
A Glimpse of the Future
I have been commissioned by GKN Aerospace at Cowes to produce a painting of the Joint Strike Fighter flying over the East Cowes works. This will be a speculative work as the JSF is not expected to enter service with the UK armed forces for some time yet, but GKN will be making a major contribution to the design, construction and development of this next-generation fighter and I am delighted to accept this prestigious commission. Watch this space to see the completed painting some time before Christmas.
I unveiled a new painting during my recent exhibition depicting Short Stirling RF325 limping home from a raid over the Ardennes, having been attacked and mortally wounded by a Bf.110. The painting prompted much comment, not least from a dear old gentleman who was a navigator on Stirlings during WW2. He was delighted that this much-maligned aircraft had been depicted, commenting that it is always the Lancaster and Halifax that get all the glory whilst the Stirling's massive contribution to Bomber Command's offensive is largely overlooked. He waxed lyrical about the fact that the Stirling's Navigator's 'office' boasted a large chart table on which he could spread out his maps - a luxury that he could not enjoy when transferred to Lancasters, where the table was tiny and cramped. He had much to say about the venerable old Stirling, all of it favourable, so let's hope that this at least goes some way to redressing the balance. As for RF325 itself, Sqn Ldr G R Watt nursed his stricken aircraft home across the Channel, but a lack of fuel necessitated a forced landing at Broadstairs in Kent, where he quite neatly parked this massive bomber in someone's garden, the front turret just nudging the house. Can you imagine throwing open your upstairs bedroom window and being confronted by the windshield and cockpit of a Stirling Bomber? I've attached a wartime photograph of RF325 in its final resting place.
If you would like to see the painting, go to Paintings for Sale on this website.
More Red Baron
Also available now on the same page is my new painting of Manfred von Richthofen's Albatros D.III (2253/17) called Red for Danger. This, too, prompted a few comments at my exhibition as most people expect to see the great man in the more familiar Fokker DR.1 Triplane, but it is a fact that 56 of his 80 victories were scored whilst flying an Albatros. Regarding the paint job, von Richthofen ordered that the natural wood fuselage of his machine be painted red, but this colour was in very short supply at the front, so the paint was thinned down and applied over the entire fuselage - including the crosses - giving the overall appearance of a very hurried job indeed. The upper surfaces of the wings retained their green / purple pattern and the undersides of the aircraft were left in the grey-blue of the original factory paint scheme. For the record, only one of his Fokker Triplanes was painted all-over red and this aircraft actually saw relatively little combat, but that aircraft (425/17) was the one in which he was shot down and killed in April 1918, so maybe this is where the 'all-red' myth comes from. More news soon.
Saturday saw the opening of my joint exhibition with my dear friend Vikkie Warne and we enjoyed a fairly brisk day in the intimate surroundings of the exhibition room of Bembridge library. Not the grandest of venues, but the intention was to keep this a small, low-key affair where I could publicly display a selection of my non-military paintings for the first time and where Vikkie could show her work for the first time since turning professional last year. A number of friends and customers visited in the afternoon and were, I hope, made most welcome. It's always such a pleasure to meet you all in person. In these days of email and SMS texting, I do feel a loss of 'connection' sometimes, even though all these wonders are designed to make us even more connected. Call me old fashioned, but you can't beat a warm handshake and an informal chat, so I think I'll try to make this an annual event.
Here's some photos from the opening day, straight after setting up and raring to go!
I was chatting to an old friend of mine the other day and we were joking about the amount of money that agents and middle men pocket from the hard-earned cash of their clients, the artists themselves. In his case, I should say 'Artistes' as his son is heavily involved in the music business. The fact is that art and music are not so very far apart when it comes to making a living. Both are notoriously difficult to break into and survive in, both require huge amounts of the right sort of marketing and both - unless you're very lucky indeed - yield tiny returns for all the years of effort expended. "Ok," he said to me, "If you were given a million pounds today, what would you do?" I said, "I'd keep painting until it was all gone". You get the picture.
As I write these words, it is the eve of the opening day of a small exhibition that I am staging here on the Isle of Wight with another artist whom I admire greatly, my good friend Vikkie Warne. Those of you that have received my newsletters over the last year will be familiar with some of Vikkie's work and this will be her first public exhibition. She has a unique and perceptive quality to her paintings that needs to be seen in the flesh, so to speak, rather than flat on a screen or in a booklet. This website will feature a separate gallery for Vikkie's paintings soon, but if any of you are in the vicinity of Bembridge Library over the next two weeks to the 16th October, please pop in and say hello. All of Vikkie's latest works are going to be on show there as are most of my original paintings that are for sale on this website (go to Paintings for Sale to view what's on show). For opening times and artist availability, just give me a call on 07771 544557. I'll post some photos from the exhibition in the next blog. Hope to see you there!
This new website has been created to give my fans and customers alike a direct route to me and to give me the opportunity to share with you a more diverse range of paintings and drawings than many of you may associate with me. Those familiar with my work will know me primarily for my aviation paintings, for my depictions of marine subjects and for, perhaps, Formula 1. I have dabbled in railway art - particularly with regard to the Isle of Wight railways in the days of steam - plus a little bit of natural history. I have no idea exactly how many paintings I have completed during the thirty-odd years since I sold my first canvases as, foolishly, I have only kept a record for about the last fifteen years, but I currently have 834 paintings on file and I think there must have been at least another 500 before that! Where are they now? What were they of? Lost treasures or formative scribbles? There is a danger that artists, like actors, can become typecast. This sort of happened to me when I began selling paintings depicting wartime aircraft like Spitfires and Lancasters. The first prints ever produced from my paintings were WW2 aviation subjects and, as my profile and portfolio grew, it became assumed that these were the only subjects I painted - which is, of course, nonsense. So I have created this website to establish a direct and personal connection with anyone interested in my work where you can view a cross-section of my past portfolio to get some idea of the diversity of the paintings that I produce when not constrained by the demands of my military customer base. Visitors to IvanBerrymanDirect may be surprised to find so little militaria and this is quite deliberate as this site is intended as an annexe, not a dedicated military art gallery. Those who wish to see the full range of my military, aviation and naval art should visit the Cranston Fine Arts website and type in Ivan Berryman. Cranston Fine Arts have been the sole publisher of my military art for the last fifteen years and they carry a vast stock of my work, both as original drawings and paintings and limited edition prints.
Whilst launching this new site, I have something of a confession to make as now is as good a time as any to wipe the slate clean and clear an ever-burgeoning conscience. But first, a little explanation: During the time that I owned my own gallery, I found it increasingly difficult to sell non-military subjects to visiting customers. They almost all felt that, if they were going to invest in one of my paintings, it had better be a Spitfire, or something similar - all of which only served to perpetuate the impression that Spitfires were the only thing I painted. No matter how I tried to promote the many other subjects that I so enjoyed painting, very few customers were interested in breaking the mould. The idea came to me eventually that I should paint these other subjects under another name, much as an author might do the same to sell a different genre of novel. Thus it was that I began to produce paintings under the name of Max Heller. Many of these were dark, sometimes disturbing, paintings that came from the heart, not from reference books. There were dragons, fairies, landscapes, nudes and some very weird stuff that seemed suddenly to appeal to a lot of people. And - presto! - they sold like hot cakes. For me, however, the whole Heller disguise became something of a monster that I couldn't control. Heller's popularity almost outgrew my own at one stage and customers were demanding to know more about the enigmatic and ever-absent Mr Heller. The closure of my gallery in 2007 came as a blessed relief in this respect and I was able to lay Max to rest. I have since renamed the few Heller paintings that I still own in my own name and Max Heller is no more. To those of you who feel deceived, I can only offer my sincere apologies. It was a ruse that got out of hand, fuelled by its own success. But many of you that I have spoken to and confessed to are amused by the whole thing and think no less of their purchases. Some actually like the idea of being part of the whole mysterious Heller persona whilst others actually had the whole thing sussed right from the start - which makes me feel a bit of a fool in the end. So, hopefully, no harm done. And I have the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders for confessing, at last, to something that has bothered me for the last ten years as the Heller juggernaut began to race uncontrollably out of my hands. R.I.P. Max Heller. Was he any good? I thought so, but it's not really for me to judge, is it? Enjoy the paintings on this site and feel free to contact me.