Painting Blog

Painting Blog

On this page, you can follow progress with the latest painting on the artist's easel. Please return regularly to watch progress with the latest painting and see how it develops.







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"On to Schweinfurt Alone"


28th September

In a tribute to the brave men of the 8th Air Force who flew for four hours over intensely guarded enemy territory without the protection of escorting fighters, I have started a new oil painting and blog.

It will feature a formation of B17 bombers high over occupied Europe on their way to bomb the factories of Schweinfurt in October 1943. It's the biggest canvas that I have done in several years measuring some 80x60cm.

Today I prepared the canvas and have painted out the background sky and foreground with a combination of French Ultramarine and Prussian Blue. It doesn't look much at the moment but it took some time to seamlessly blend the colours. There is an indication of some ground features which I will work on more, once the paint has dried sufficiently.




5th October

Had a really enjoyable painting session today working quite late. As you can see below, I have added the foreground mountain detail and clouds. Really pleased with the result, which could almost stand on its own as a cloud study!

Have been conducting more research on the Schweinfurt raids to inform the detail of my painting and learned of the appalling losses the 1st and 4th Bombardment group suffered at the hands of the Luftwaffe and flak - 60 bombers and 650 men lost in all.

I aim to continue with the cloud detail in the foreground next time and will be looking to sketch out the positions of the bombers.




19th October

Having been very busy with the exhibition at Shoreham and been away, there's not been much time for painting. However, I did have a few hours the other evening. As you will see below, I have added the first B17 and roughly added some colour and tone. I generally build up colour and detail in many layers, so over the coming weeks you will see this and the other aircraft hopefully come to life. Already, I hope you get a feel for what the finished painting might look like.




26th October

I have added a couple more B17's to the formation this week. Once again, it is just the basic colours and tones at this stage, just so that I can be sure that the composition is correct before spending too much time on the detail.




8th November

Had a few more hours for painting this afternoon, so spent some time adding detail to the existing bombers and then adding in some more. I am trying to convey a sense of the close proximity in which these defensive formation were flown, often for 6-8 hours at a time. One can only imagine the concentration required to fly in close formation for such an extended period, as well as contending with everything else that was going on. These are now all the main feature bombers added. Next time, I hope to add other squadrons of bombers further in the distance to give the painting a feel of greater depth.



30th November

Unfortunately, there hasn't been much time for painting of late so, not much progress made. However, I did manage to pick up the brushes for a few hours this week. As you will see below, I have added a few bombers in the distance to add some depth to the painting. There are still more that I hope to add, even further in the distance. Then I shall concentrate on adding detail to the bombers in the foreground.




14th December

Once again, it's been difficult to find time for paintings - especially in the run up to Christmas. However, I did manage to spend a couple of evenings this week on it. You may notice from the picture below that one of the B17's is missing. Well, having given it quite a bit of thought, I felt that the composition wasn't quite right and put it down to the B17 on the far right hand side - everything seemed to be concentrated in the top right hand corner of the painting. Now that it has been painted over, I feel a lot happier that the balance has been brought back to the centre.

Work this week has now concentrated on adding the detail to the aircraft. In particular the highest B17 in the foreground and the lower one in the middle distance.

I have spent a considerable amount of time continuing with my research over the last few weeks. The Bombardment Squadron aircraft portrayed in my painting have now been finalised along with the individual aircraft depicted. They belong to the 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 359th BS. I now know much more about this squadron, the pilots and individual crew of the aircraft featured in my painting. So, as well as hoping to finish the painting over Christmas, I will also write up my research, providing a fascinating insight into the mission and extraordinary bravery of the aircrews involved; which will accompany the completed painting and limited edition prints.




Finally finished the painting after a few marathon sessions to get it finished in time for my exhibition next month. As you may have noticed the two high level bombers were painted out in the end as they really didn't contribute anything to the overall composition. I have also added in a couple of formations of B17 in the background to add some depth and provide a sense of the numbers of bombers that were involved in the mission that day.

In the top right hand corner I have added the contrails of the approaching German fighters who are about to press home their attack on the unescorted bombers.

I am very happy with the finished painting overall and found it fascinating to research the events of that day and the aircraft and brave crews who took part in 'Black Thursday'.




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