View Full Version : USAAF in WWII WIP Xpost

Chas McHugh
01-25-2012, 04:37 PM
This is the start of an oil on stretched canvas painting depicting a US B24 Liberator bomber landing in England in the latter days of WWII. It is 36"x24" and shown here is the ink drawing drawn in preparation for the paint. With regard to the composition; it is customary when depicting an aircraft in flight to give it some canvas ahead of the nose for it to 'fly into', and positioning in centrally is always a mistake, yet a very common one. I visited the site and the hardcore consists of concrete, so my secondary image of a steam roller is seen on an evening transit home rather then the airrfield construction party that I would have liked.
Comments & crit welcome; every day is a learning day.

Alan P. in OC
01-25-2012, 07:22 PM
Looking forward to seeing this come along, the pen drawing looks good and the perspective and composition are well thought out.

01-25-2012, 10:46 PM
It will be interesting to see how you progress with this one.

01-26-2012, 05:26 AM
great work chas !! already commented in the aviation art thread , but i'm keeping a good eye on this one !!

01-26-2012, 08:15 AM
Superb drawing Chas.

You know, I often paint aircraft also and have found one major challenge in it- that is painting aircraft in flight. The dark-mid-light values depicting the shapes can often lead to boring compositions with the aircraft (dark value) suspended in a mass of light or mid value (sky). Like a fly in a bowl of soup. It's a common issue I've dealt with that has made my brilliant drawing efforts result in a mediocre finished work. I see this as a common issue with flying aircraft paintings IMO.

One could introduce an interesting horizon or skyline of the same value as the aircraft and at some point touch the aircraft. Or integrate weather/cloud elements into the picture that do the same but the trick is to do this without distracting from your main character, the airplane.

I mention this as a consideration because it's a great drawing. Your challenge won't be getting the B24 looking right. It will be making the composition look interesting by how you integrate the ground and sky into this.

Below is a DHC-3 Otter, 11x14 oil on panel (I posted this a while back) I like doing these portraits with the wings running off the page because I find the comps pleasing. A pattern I follow often.

Looking forward to seeing yours unfold.


Chas McHugh
01-27-2012, 10:52 AM
An update after the sky base colour is complete: (Apologies for the flash bounce! ..the paint remains wet!)
The (setting) sun is about 90` right of the viewer meaning that light is indirect reducing the effect of shadow and enabling detailed work underneath the wings and fuselage. Whilst there is a danger of the aircraft being flat (as shadows and highlights emphasize shape), I am confident that this will not be an issue.

01-27-2012, 02:09 PM
i'm seeing where you're going with the sky chas !! that is going to be superbly dramatic !!

if as usual all your other ellements tie in it will be another superb work !!:thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
02-01-2012, 05:28 PM
Add to the timeline; (1 Feb 12) a visit to London to get up-close and personnel with a B24 Liberator bomber. Lots of reference photographs and close study to overcome some reference issues that had popped up. Hopefully the time taken to absorb myself into the scene will pay dividends as I progress.

Auntie Vera
02-01-2012, 06:53 PM
Looking good Chas. Funnily enough, I shot down a B24 during the war. No I'm not a Nazi! I was in a Spitfire. I had terrible eye-sight but the RAF needed the numbers. This was 1944, spectacles hadn't been invented. A terrible mistake on my part, luckily fate intervened and shortly afterwards I crashed old Spitty into a clothes line whilst trying to land in my nan's back garden. Good luck with the painting.

02-01-2012, 07:27 PM
You do a great job on these airplanes !

Chas McHugh
02-03-2012, 04:43 PM
Now I have the frustration of being separated from my work for two weeks whilst work that pays the bills takes priority. However I managed to get in my tonal baseline for the aircraft void of any real detail. The colouring of red (warm) against drab (cooler) made 3D fairly easy to achieve and as colour spectrum opposites, the contrast is vivid.
I photograph every step of the way on all my work and use the photographs to study the next phase of the painting process. I was tempted to fill in the outer portion of the wings knowing that it would be dry in two weeks, but I was not in the mood to take appropriate care so I shelved the idea.

02-04-2012, 02:51 PM
nice work so far chas the green and red is working well together :thumbsup:

02-17-2012, 12:34 PM
I'm thinking this will be a truly stunning piece!

Chas McHugh
02-22-2012, 03:21 PM

Three days back with my canvas and loving every minute of working on it. I am clinically crossing the canvas left to right focusing on blocking in colour rather then fine detail which will come later. My camera is a little too good at catching differences in clour tone and the apparent blotches of colour on the forward fuselage are not as dramatic as the photo would have you believe.

02-22-2012, 03:49 PM
realy nice work chas !! i may have been too harsh on facebook it seems it may have been my error as i had not ticked the remember me box on the signing in page ,
it is od that your camera does that !! never seemed to have got that on my nikons or fujis

Chas McHugh
03-11-2012, 02:57 PM
It has been a bit quiet around here, so I thought I would share an update on my B24. A lot of travel has impeded quick progress, but in turn allows sections to dry before continuation. I am studying the effects of battle and weather on wartime photographs in order to avoid model box appearance and demonstrate some wartime reality. Sooty engines appear to be the order of the day as opposed to the white staining on RAF bombers. No idea why though I undertstand that the white was something to do with quality (or not) of the fuel at that time. The working area is quite small to avoid getting paint where it is not wanted and being right handed, I find it easier to work from left to right. (The aft fuselage was painted in isolation and is long since dry. This means that some of the problems that are popping up need to wait for solutions. I particular the common tone around the nose wheel that effectively camouflages the wheel out of sight. I am not in the least worried about this but patience is necessary.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Mar-2012/984204-B2411MAR12.jpg The soot from the engines will eventually discolour the tail fin/rudders and some battle damage repairs would be nice but little photographic evidence of this particular aircraft exist; not helped by a change of identity during its wartime service.

03-12-2012, 06:56 AM
nice work so far chas , the lighting is going good particularly on the front section of the aircraft , it is superb in that area and is already bringing the aircraft to life !!

Chas McHugh
03-18-2012, 02:37 PM
Steady progress continues although for more work has been done than is immediately obvious.
The detail found in the engines need to be literally carried across the board. Much background research has been done into weathering and staining of the wartime aircraft and oily engines is the order of the day.

Chas McHugh
03-18-2012, 08:15 PM

03-19-2012, 01:53 PM
nice progress chas !!! could the fuel burn stains not be such a simple answer as white deposits signifying a lean burning engine set up and black deposits simply meaning a rich burning engine set up

lean and rich burn would also be determined by the altitudes flown at by different aircraft presumably

Chas McHugh
03-24-2012, 02:23 PM
Update 24 March 12
I really enjoy seeing the final elements of white canvas disappear and I hope to have completed the base aircraft colour tomorrow. There is a fair ammount of detail already but there will be much more before 'finished'.

Today I used a technique never used before: (Do we ever stop learning) in which I used a craftmaster frawing table on a slight tilt, using G clamps carefully positioned on the corner to hold the canvas in place, but here is the new bit; I placed two table top books (Robert Taylors as it happens) under the canvas which gave me a firm canvas that I could lean on without damaging the canvas. It worked a treat:

I usually use a Mabef easel that tilts to the horizontal, but for close up detail, this was a lot easier and enabled me to sit rather then stand.

Chas McHugh
03-24-2012, 03:33 PM
After finishing stage one of the aircraft tomorrow, I will import this image into Coral Draw and superimpose vertical arrows from the wingtip down to the surface to confirm exactly where in the painting the aeroplane is. This is to ensure that the Steam Roller fits in with the bigger picture.

Chas McHugh
03-31-2012, 03:59 PM
31 Mar 12:
Just the rear turret and "Scrapper" wording on the nose for completion of the first phase of the aircraft. Further detailing will follow late, but I am about ready to move on to other areas of the canvas now.


Chas McHugh
04-08-2012, 02:39 PM
Now the real fun starts; turning a two dmensional canvas into a three dimensional image. Low light levels mean that shadow is hard come by and warm/cool colours are the way ahead.

The aeroplane is nowhere near as finished as it appears to be, and the props are going to be fun!!

04-08-2012, 05:28 PM
terrific !! i'll risk a guess we're in for a wet road scene ?? this is becomming a superb work !!

Chas McHugh
04-08-2012, 05:35 PM
You know me too well :wink2:

However why is important to the inexperienced visitors, so I will explain. A composition needs balance, which is best achieved with a common colour across the piste. For aviation works, this can be a challenge as good balance has common colours in both skyscape and landscape; clearly not an easy thing to do. By having a wet/damp road, I can bring the sky colour down and also reflections add interest. The downside is that there is no quick fix for a good wet road; it takes time, patience, and layers. We are already 4 months down the road from inception, and other would have painted many paintings in that same time. I cannot afford a Robert Taylor original, so I do my own and take my time. Frank Wootton used to apply a brown glaze over the entire canvas, sky included, but I am not that brave.

04-09-2012, 05:36 AM
i recently tried this theory in acrylics it is amazing how much life it breathes into a painting even by just adding a few puddles to add sky coloured reflections it makes the scene so much more vivid !!:thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
04-15-2012, 12:20 PM
Slowly plodding across the landscape having used glaze to the right of the road and raw paint to the left. The glazed bit looks far nicer on the real thing as it takes harsh edges out as would be the case with distance.

I now have to decide whether to stick to reality and simply have an open field or use some artistic licence and include airfield buildings. I also have the option in both scenarios to have aircraft on the ground but do not wish to overcomplicate the overall composition. Decisions.. Decisions..

04-15-2012, 03:18 PM
Love these aircraft.


Chas McHugh
04-22-2012, 11:06 AM
Paint now covers almost all of the canvas and it appears finished. A long way short of the truth as the lower left corner is undercoat for me to work on when dry to get a texture and realistic grass effect.

I would like to move onto new works but the patience needed is within the scope of my own self-dicipline not to ruin it in the final straight.

04-22-2012, 12:59 PM
i know from old how you work chas !! looking forwards to the detail building up

Chas McHugh
04-29-2012, 11:39 AM
Signed and ready for the final round:
There are still some points of detail that need to be addressed, but I am certainly on the home straight with this one. The cloud confliction with the starboard wing has been addressed by making it quite clear it is a cloud and not engine smoke, and the aircraft has had a glaze layer making it appear a little darker then before. I think the tree may get a few crows and nests which worked well in my previous Normandy Typhoons work.

04-29-2012, 11:45 PM
Nice work!..:clap: :clap: :thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
05-06-2012, 10:52 AM
"Life goes on" an oil painting on stretched canvas measuring 36" x 24" depicting B24 Liberator 42-52394 of the 96th CBW 467th Bomber Group, 790th BS in early 1945.

....and very happy I am with it. I have no idea why I did it but I do know that I have a one-man exhibition booked in Dec 2014 and I need a lot of paintings just like this one.

05-07-2012, 07:27 AM
love it !! your contrasts and colour is improving with each work ( an area i'm working on presently ) the atmosphere is superb in this one !!

05-07-2012, 07:30 AM
I have a one-man exhibition booked in Dec 2014 and I need a lot of paintings just like this one.

when and where ?? i'd be intrested in attending !!

Chas McHugh
05-07-2012, 05:59 PM
The Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury, Shropshire; UK. I retire from the military in Nov 14 & therefore have at last time on my hands to be an Artist. An opportunity I intend to exploit and I propose to diversify my work to appeal for a wide scope of artistic interest. I also firmly believe that we learn mountains when painting off the comfort zone piste.

05-08-2012, 01:37 PM
Beautiful work!

Chas McHugh
05-08-2012, 01:46 PM
Very kind of you to say so; Thank you.

I try my best and you are only as good as your last painting.

Red 9
05-08-2012, 08:03 PM
I love it all. The ground, the sky {great colors in there}, and of course the plane itself! My grandpa was in one of these over Burma in WW2:)

05-08-2012, 09:25 PM
Bravo Zulu! As a Canadian Airforce mechanic I appreciate the war birds and the heritage that goes with them.