View Full Version : Search & Rescue Sea King in oils

Chas McHugh
03-25-2017, 02:06 PM
Planning done - 36"x24" canvas primed - Time to roll....

RAF Sea King helicopter ascending Mount Snowdon in North Wales.

03-27-2017, 12:48 AM
Love the background Chas...
Make sure you put some effort into those cliffs..

Is it going to have the same lighting?

Chas McHugh
03-27-2017, 05:23 AM
The lighting and shadows on the mountain does work with the helicopter in providing highlight and shadow contrast in key areas; and therefore will be the master light source. I would like to have evidence of low cloud (albeit at 3500' amsl) but need the strong shadows for 3D. A darker background would increase the contrast with a bright(ish) yellow helicopter. So an exact reproduction of the colour and tone of the photograph is unlikely as I seek a compromise that enables the helicopter to pop whilst promoting depth of field and a feeling of altitude. For sure clouds make these colours change markedly, but I love the shadow of the cliff edge. Clouds also take the blue out of the lake and replace it with a Blue/Grey which is more appealing.

In summary; even though I have my composition nailed - the elements of 'light' and how best to optimise the painting using contrast is an ongoing consideration. ....and that is before you start on warm/cool colour recession.

For the rock - a palette knife is my friend.

03-27-2017, 12:23 PM
Going to be a very intriguing piece and as you mentioned, a lot of planning! While I like the color of the lakes below, you're correct in making them blue-grey, giving the feeling of distance. That's what I like about what we do.

Chas McHugh
03-28-2017, 09:16 AM

On the landscape, the slopes and scree will be painted using a palette knife - the lakes, clouds and helicopter normal brushes. The light source is top right which will see contrast in both highlight and shadow on the airframe. Shadow will be used to create form on the nearest slopes. The horizon line is correctly placed but I may well see visibility reduction lose them, as I want to introduce sunshine and showers as the ambient weather.

03-28-2017, 09:26 PM
Looks, really, really good! Even though the original photo, shows the rotor blades being invisible on the right, I'd still add them, subtly, even a hint would help the viewer. It almost looks like the nearly invisible blade is extending forward at a sharp angle to the air vehicle's left side.

The palette knife idea is a nice touch, making the rough terrain, look just like that.

Chas McHugh
03-29-2017, 05:03 AM
The RAF painted the upper surfaces of a single rotor blade yellow. The human eye may not be capable of slowing down four blades at the same time but it can most certainly follow a single yellow one on its 360' travels. I will probably exploit this fact much later in the process.

Chas McHugh
03-30-2017, 05:06 PM
The landscape is going to need several layers to complete. One unexpected issue is that there are many granite outcrops visible which I need to portray as rock and not 'snow'. The colour needed is much lighter in tint than I expected and is probably still a little too saturated. This is why I will continue as is and add elements that vary ever so slightly in tone. Once dry, glazing will lighten the overall effect, act as an adhesive to the tone and colour, and provide depth. I may also use glaze in a vertical effect to show distant showers. The lake is too blue - I was fair whacked when doing that and rushed it. I will adjust tomorrow.


It is important that I do not lose sight of the biggest impact which will come from a yellow helicopter against quite dark shadow in the bottom right corner.

03-30-2017, 08:51 PM
I know you are following the photograph but the lake under the Helo .... that line that is running along with the underside of the Helo ....

I would mist/fade it out so it doesn't distract the eye .... it is very distracting right now and slightly confuses the structure of the painting as you have one man made line running parallel to a natural line

Also don't forget to put an ever-so slight upward swoop on the main rotor blades .... it will help to make the SK look as though it is heavy and moving at a great rate of knots

Chas McHugh
03-31-2017, 04:19 AM
I appreciate your observations Len, and although I will let it run for the time being; I will reconsider the aspects of the far lake shoreline before starting the next phase.

Speed is not something that I want. A helicopter pilot climbing up the side of a mountain will always keep maximum power in his back pocket linked to his/her escape option. Mountain flying is unpredictable with some unique mannerisms and wind shear. Flight Safety and escape options are vital. This means that a climb of 60 kts is more realistic than 140 kts which is typically a helicopters maximum speed. Of course the act of climbing itself demands power which is reflected in the rotor blades. An interesting phenomena that few here will be aware of is that vortex streams from the rotor 'disc' in humid air and high angles of attack of the blades. This is rarely caught in photographs (Readers by all means prove me wrong) and rather than a streak back from the wing tip in the manner of a fixed wing, it is a short lived descending and wavy line from one side only (retreating blade) (depending upon direction of rotor travel).

The main reason that I am not acting upon Lens comments at this stage is that it is premature to do so before the dark of the helicopter undersides is taken into account. It is possible that tone will deem his relevant (and very much appreciated) comment unnecessary to act upon. Time will tell.

03-31-2017, 04:54 AM
I'm the rarity , AH64 shot at barton aerodrome .... as you say it starts at front on the retreating blade .....:lol:


03-31-2017, 05:00 AM
altho looking at the photo evidence it possibly starts about 60 degrees to starboard so covers the front area of the heli altho yes more distinct on the port side

Chas McHugh
03-31-2017, 05:47 AM
Looking at the exhaust efflux; the Apache is in the hover. In forward flight it is only noticeable abeam the cabin falling away from the 4 or 8 oclock depending upon helicopter type. Good catch though - must have been a very humid day.

03-31-2017, 09:08 AM
he was towards the end of transitioning from forwards flight to hover so yeah had pretty much gone into hover , he was at opposite side of airfield so at limits of my 300mm tele , but yeah also a bit moist that day ....


Chas McHugh
03-31-2017, 01:26 PM
I am one tired bunny now:- this landscaping stuff is draining. I am very happy with where it is at the moment as the foundation layer continues.

03-31-2017, 03:32 PM
That is very impressive :)

03-31-2017, 09:52 PM
I really like the mountain shadow on the right side. It adds depth and contrast at the same time. Looking really good (and yes, big paintings are a lot of work!).

04-01-2017, 01:41 AM
yep really liking the mountains on the right the contrasts are lovely

Chas McHugh
04-02-2017, 11:54 AM
Occasionally a painting takes on a persona of its own and enters a character challenge; and yesterday this oil painting did exactly that.

This is why the straight line edge is in place - the forward edge of the battle zone! But after many hours painting over the weekend, I am now on the attack and I will win the battle.

There must be millions of colours already within this painting - far more than in any painting that I have completed previously - shown by how many tubes of paint are involved in the process.

Chas McHugh
04-03-2017, 07:57 AM

Ready for battle. You can see on screen that the warm grey of the rock on the painting requires a beige tint. This will come from glaze - and leaving it until that stage has added benefits in eroding high contrast where required. This oil painting is akin to a game of chess in which I am playing several moves ahead of the brush, and when under threat:- Consolidation is my mantra.

04-03-2017, 08:35 AM
What is that thing above the painting on the Wall/Ceiling (square-ish thing) ?

04-03-2017, 08:39 AM
Painting looking good. Advice, keep away from Nobbly Knees Competitions!

Chas McHugh
04-03-2017, 09:43 AM

It is technology in action Len. An LED light box in which both brightness and colour temperature are controllable. I wish I had bought two now and will probably add a second one early next year after purchasing at the Photographic Show. It means that if a big black cloud parks overhead, or indeed the short winters day plays its hand, that work can go on. Traditional easel overhead lighting is good, but lacks control, and can potentially cause glare.

I shall take heed of you sage advice Jim ;-)

04-03-2017, 11:03 AM
Wife has an A3 size similar light box for her Quilting. Expensive, but worth it.
Re shorts. I once flew back from Malta, and had some of my tropical kit with me. Wife hadn't seen me in shorts so I put them on. I walked into the room. Both her mother and her just about wet them selves!

04-03-2017, 12:09 PM
What a wonderful work space! Yes, it is a battle and I'd bet, you lie awake in bed at night, planning and thinking of just how you're going to pull off, the next item on your painting. The LED light box is neat. Do you have a brand name for it?

PS: The million color approach is working really well on this piece!


Chas McHugh
04-03-2017, 12:40 PM
My light box is a Pixapro Glowpad 350D from:

Pixapro Ltd
Web: www.essentialphoto.co.uk

It is mains powered but will also accept 2xSony NP-F batteries for mobile use. It is available in both daylight only or Bi-Colour which mine is.


04-03-2017, 01:07 PM
£892.00 :eek:

You have to admire the Old Masters who painted by nothing more than candle light :)

Chas McHugh
04-03-2017, 03:00 PM
I think that is for a set of five units. Mine cost £140 including the stand from the Photo Show.


and the stand:


04-03-2017, 04:18 PM
yep that price is a 5 head studio kit with stands etc , not bad considering a pair of bowens speedlights are 500 quid upwards


Chas McHugh
04-04-2017, 09:43 AM
RAF Search and Rescue Sea King helicopter: (36"x24" oils)

I have entered a period of consolidation on this painting as I was unhappy with the standard of the progress thus far. The helicopter will be overall yellow and should therefore pop out; but the landscape is well known to a lot of people and therefore needs to be believable.

04-04-2017, 10:24 AM
I was unhappy [/B]with the standard of the progress thus far. The helicopter will be overall yellow and should therefore pop out; but the landscape is well known to a lot of people and therefore needs to be believable.

I believe that is a common ailment among us. Sometimes, that little niggling doubt will appear in one's head, but once you've completed the work, all of that is erased and true nirvana is achieved! (or at least, you're happy with how it came out!).

Looks very good to me and thanks for the clue on the brand.

04-05-2017, 06:04 AM
That landscape looks great Chas. How about making a video of you knifing the paint on sometime?

Chas McHugh
04-05-2017, 06:57 AM
I must catch up with the 21st Century when it comes to video; as I know that such things are very popular amongst followers on Facebook.
In lieu of such a video - the key process in this painting is 'little and often' maintaining balance of colour across the full width even if in very small marks. There has been a lot of brush work to lay down the paint so far with the real knife work to come at the lower part of the painting. Here I will be looking at creating texture as well as many tiny tonal variations as I can muster. Oh no! I said a seafaring word - Steady Jim & Len - it must be the 'Sea' of Sea King rubbing off :angel:

04-05-2017, 07:19 AM
Think Muster is a 'Pongo' if not tri-service word, even Ausie Cowboys use it.

04-05-2017, 04:52 PM
Muster ..... Oh that can be such a bad word in the RN .... it usually means work or an inspection of some sort :eek:

04-05-2017, 05:25 PM
How about when General Payment arrived on board with Miss Musters, looking for that guy from Holland, Naffi Van Driver. We had a bloke from Greece in the mess, never ever bought a round of drinks. Think his name was Titas Zaduxas

04-06-2017, 09:19 AM
How about when General Payment arrived on board with Miss Musters, looking for that guy from Holland, Naffi Van Driver. We had a bloke from Greece in the mess, never ever bought a round of drinks. Think his name was Titas Zaduxas
:lol: :lol: :lol: ROFL :)

04-06-2017, 12:30 PM
How about when General Payment arrived on board with Miss Musters

You could still wind up with a bollocking from the FMA while getting your pay

You were never safe in the RN & it was never the enemy who got you first :eek:

04-06-2017, 03:57 PM
Ok, enough. Give the thread back to Chas.
Sorry mate.

Chas McHugh
04-07-2017, 02:11 PM
'Yellow' may well be an Artists worst nightmare; but I am well up for the challenge, and I will enjoy painting this helicopter.


A few hours ago. Fresh palette to avoid contaminated paint as yellow will not forgive you for muddying.


04-07-2017, 07:00 PM
Looks really good! The lighting on the nose is spot on, with a hard glint on the outside and wrapping around quite nicely.

04-09-2017, 05:54 AM
the only problem with getting all the yellows in artist quality is the expense , lol ..... great work , gonna be awesome

Chas McHugh
04-10-2017, 12:48 PM

Painting the helicopter in his way is probably considered by many an artist as bizarre; but there is method in the madness:

I can reach all painted areas with a supported paintbrush, and there is no second effort when using yellow paint - you have to get it right first time or remove it or wait for it to dry.

04-10-2017, 03:58 PM
Yellow sucks .... the trouble is it is thin and translucent, the light goes strait through to the canvas and back out again .... so it will always look weak

*So something worth noting*

I have heard that many modellers use a powder pink undercoat as a good primer for yellow

The pink they use in the same as the one used on the photo recon Spitfires

Chas McHugh
04-10-2017, 04:12 PM
This is why I added a stained additional gesso layer. It didn't come out quite as deep as I had hoped but it is beige in colour that being compatable with yellow.
I am now working on a requirement for two layers of yellow in most areas. The primary yellow is Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, and Naples Yellow deep. All of which are quite opaque as yellows go. The real issue is the very high risk of muddying with adjacent colours. Glaze may come into play, but at this time I am optimistic of achieving my goals with several strong layers.

The Auster painting previously completed with the variations of 'orange' was a stepping stone to this painting (or at least an SAR helicopter).

Chas McHugh
04-11-2017, 11:23 AM
Two weeks work - whitch for me is progress of the like never seen before.


Happy days in the studio :wave:

04-11-2017, 01:52 PM
Happy days indeed! Looking great and I love spending time in the studio as well!

04-11-2017, 02:25 PM
That's really looking good after only two weeks Chas . The yellow looks on song and the landscape is building nicely .
Managed to get paint on canvas today myself - for the first time in over a year so looking forward to some happy studio days.

04-11-2017, 06:02 PM
Really nice recession for the landscape. Very effective.

04-11-2017, 11:20 PM
That's really looking good after only two weeks Chas . The yellow looks on song and the landscape is building nicely .
Managed to get paint on canvas today myself - for the first time in over a year so looking forward to some happy studio days.

Wow, a whole year! Heck, I'm even glad you're painting!


Chas McHugh
04-12-2017, 01:11 PM

RAF Sea King & Mount Snowdon (Oils on canvas 36"x24")
My strategy for managing the colour yellow appears to be working. I used cadmium colours and Naples Yellow deep; all yellows were tonally dark out of the tube and therefore required the addition of Titanium White (opaque) which reduced transparency significantly. The dark yellows were made with Cad Yellow Deep/ Red & the addition of a home made dark (Ultramarine blue / Burnt Umber and Magenta)

Chas McHugh
04-13-2017, 01:23 PM

Well it looks like a helicopter now.

Len:- I thing that previous adjustments to the far lake shore have alleviated the problem of parallel lines or tangents as an issue.

Prop or rotor blades normally create lots of argumentative debate on Social Media; but on this occasion everyone appears supportive - Everyone!

Just the starboard undercarriage nacelle to wrap up and the base layer of the helicopter is done. Looks like I am back into the mountains over the Easter weekend.

04-13-2017, 04:17 PM
Rotors look great.. But I can't get over the rock faces. They are the highlight of the painting for me.. Effin superb.. Pity you didn't video using the palette knife, I would've really liked to see that in action.

04-13-2017, 06:00 PM
It looks good all round ...............so far :evil:

04-13-2017, 09:54 PM
It looks good all round ...............so far :evil:

You know, what's going to be tough? Is matching the colors of the empty bottom third to the top two thirds!

04-13-2017, 10:29 PM
You know, what's going to be tough? Is matching the colors of the empty bottom third to the top two thirds!

For some unknown reason that doesn't seem to cause Chaz any problems, I would though & I usually use a limited palette of just five colours including white

I like the background, I would be tempted to tone down the green ... darken it to make the Sea King come to the forefront a bit more

Chas McHugh
04-14-2017, 04:32 AM
Colour matching is not a problem for me due in part to my daily routines.

1) I have a studio that I can walk out of and return without the need to clear everything away. i.e. Pick up where I left off always. This is key.

2) Although I have an extensive choice of colour, I use a relatively small palette of active ingredients.

3) Paints not being actively used are stored away out of sight.

4) Paints in use on my present project are kept out of storage until the painting is completed, at which stage all are stored away pending a new choice of palette.

5) I note down the ingredients of colour cocktails that work and cross refer to this 'guide' often.

6) I do not clean my palette, and am able to colour match on the palette most of the time. I used a new palette for the helicopter and am able to return to my 'landscape' palette when I return to the ground.

7) This means that I often purchase new palettes rather than having an old favourite as some artists do.


With regard to the green on this painting, I will be looking for the foreground to aid and abet recession by tonal change. You only really evaluate the tone correctly once the canvas has total coverage. I guess this is why so many artists traditionally go for 100% coverage as a first step.

04-14-2017, 10:52 AM
A lot of great advice there, Chas! I like the list and yes, you're right, I should be documenting the mixes. Often, I rely on memory and we all know how that works! Thanks for the thoughts on this (and the painting is looking great!).

Chas McHugh
04-17-2017, 05:28 AM
Faminz asked me for a video of the palette knife element in my painting. I do not yet have the facility (or assistant) to create a video (& I have never seen one embedded into a Wetcanvas post) - but I can show the phases involved.

As a lead in I will show the bottom right corner. This will consist of the mountainside with lots of rocks and shale (scree) and few areas of pure grass. This will be seen both in and out of shadow within the scope of the painting area. The first phase is preparation in planning the various areas in a 'paint by numbers' fashion - the reason is because eventually I will be painting wet-on-wet and do not wish to be considering perspective and accuracy of layout/positioning at that stage.
I will now lay down a base layer, or blocking in, roughly with a large brush. During this phase my only considerations will be colour and tone. Detail will be minimalistic. Tomorrow I will start working up the detail with the knife. Many types of knives are available; you will see in following posts that I use a small diamond shaped knife - and I will exploit the rise and fall of the weave in the canvas to create 'stones/rocks':- stay tuned....

04-17-2017, 09:36 AM
(& I have never seen one embedded into a Wetcanvas post)'''''''''

look in the latter posts in the off piste thread .. I upload to you tube . then I can link to wherever ,, as you said some you tube exposure won't do you any harm put a shed load of tag words on so it appears in many varied searches

Chas McHugh
04-17-2017, 01:59 PM
A few hours with a palette knife after the last photograph and you can see that there are rocks everywhere on the slopes of Mount Snowdon. To do this to the standard that I seek is never achieved in the first layer which you may recall is why the lower portion was suspended first time round. I will now push for total coverage of the canvas in the sure knowledge that many more layers will follow.
'Sunlight & Shadows'

04-17-2017, 02:59 PM
Agree the terrain is looking first class.

Chas McHugh
04-18-2017, 05:38 AM
I got a bit carried away once I picked up the palette knife yesterday; so todays photograph shows the bottom right corner blocked in. I have used a 3mm chisel brush and there is no detail whatsoever.
The reason that I advocate a knife for the near ground landscape is because the final result is loose, and consists of millions of colours as opposed to 'paint by number' blocks. With the knife you can apply paint - scrape it off - push it - pull it - and blend it. Hard straight edges are also possible but subtle blending is the reserve of the brush. Once left overnight; I will revisit the now tacky paint with my 3mm brush to erase ridgelines which for me are troublesome (due to shadows) when reproducing paintings into limited edition prints. If I was not creating prints, I would leave the textures in place.

For real time - timings. I will now leave this paint to partially cure (liquin was used as a medium in places) whilst I conduct some mandatory external admin, and return armed with the knife in a few hours. The paint will not be dry then but it will have partially cured and hopefully very receptive to additional paint as the detail is worked up.

When blocking in; you have the choice of mean colour. Dark now and detail with light - vice versa - or a bit of both. In this instance; the whole shadow area needs to be a touch darker, but I intend to address that collectively with a glaze at a later date.

04-18-2017, 06:17 AM
Chas you could probably link any videos via your facebook page if you wanted to.The painting is looking good and i am enjoying seeing the W I P. :)

04-18-2017, 08:40 AM
I got a bit carried away once I picked up the palette knife yesterday; so todays photograph shows the bottom right corner blocked in. I have used a 3mm chisel brush and there is no detail whatsoever.

The reason that I advocate a knife for the near ground landscape is because the final result is loose, and consists of millions of colours as opposed to 'paint by number' blocks. With the knife you can apply paint - scrape it off - push it - pull it - and blend it. Hard straight edges are also possible but subtle blending is the reserve of the brush. Once left overnight; I will revisit the now tacky paint with my 3mm brush to erase ridgelines which for me are troublesome (due to shadows) when reproducing paintings into limited edition prints. If I was not creating prints, I would leave the textures in place.

For real time - timings. I will now leave this paint to partially cure (liquin was used as a medium in places) whilst I conduct some mandatory external admin, and return armed with the knife in a few hours. The paint will not be dry then but it will have partially cured and hopefully very receptive to additional paint as the detail is worked up.

When blocking in; you have the choice of mean colour. Dark now and detail with light - vice versa - or a bit of both. In this instance; the whole shadow area needs to be a touch darker, but I intend to address that collectively with a glaze at a later date.

Only with oils, can you do this. Thus, I will be trying out oils on my next painting, at the suggestion of a fellow artist at the gallery opening, I attended last Saturday. Acrylics dry too fast for the creative techniques and I can now see the limitations, because of this. Thanks for sharing these tips and techniques. I will start with a small work, probably 18x24, just to get a feel for it, after I'm done with the large one, I'm working on.

Chas McHugh
04-18-2017, 12:23 PM
I tried to make a video - but taken with my iPhone it just pixelated on playback.
Update 18 April 2017; and just three weeks has be invested in this oil painting so far. I am very happy with where it is at though mindful of just how much work there is yet to do.
The foreground landscape is being constructed with a palette knife.

Chas McHugh
04-19-2017, 03:15 AM
I know that Don is venturing into the 'Dark side' with glazing at the moment, which is advanced painting techniques that very much requires one to keep the faith.
I thought that I would share my own mind-set having reviewed the painting this morning.

1) There is an almost white cloud like area just right of the rotor head that photographs badly and therefore has to go. This will delay glazing the distance due to drying time.

2) Using the nearest shoreline of the middle lake and extending the associated horizon line up both sides - I will be glazing that entire area with a Raw Umber based glaze.

3) The ridgeline that appears to sprout from the helicopter engine intakes and its nominal equivalent left of the 'Danger' sign by the helicopter tail, everything above that on the canvas will receive a blue/grey based glaze, including the clouds.

4) This leaves the area downhill of the strong shadow. I am yet to decide if there needs to be more detail in this area - but intuition says "yes", to be followed in due course by a glaze that will probably be a cocktail of both blue/grey and either burnt or raw umber. I may need to experiment on canvas.

5) The helicopter is a base layer and will be repainted to include detail and weathering. Sea Kings suffer badly from exhaust soot staining on the rear fuselage; and so will mine.

So what do I get from the glaze? It ties in a common hue without losing too much individuality of the different tones and colours. It leaves a lustre akin to that of varnish that will come six months later. (oil paint dries by oxidisation) It will, or rather can, soften sharp edging if required. The application can range from a dilute skim to transparent painting and layering glaze itself has good consequences particularly on the concrete of ground based subjects. If you want to depict 'speed' than blurring objects with a transparent layer once the 'static' layer is dry, is a good way to achieve the effect of speed.

A good reference:
Glazing by Michael Wilcox - ISBN 978-0-646-91320-9
Book published 2014
This book is a 'bible' for artists wishing to step up their work - whilst a softback book, it is also about an inch thick and is not light reading - however it is well illustrated and you can cherry pick advice according to your requirements. I had to import a copy from the USA as UK stockists charge a premium price for the book. Import (UK) Tax is not applicable to books as long as the vendor states on the Customs bill that it is a book not 'glazing' - there is a story there - but I got my tax back!

Have a great day everyone.

04-19-2017, 08:35 AM
I really learned a lot, just from your post, but wonder, if you can use glazing in a heavy manner, like to add fog or mist for example? Also, (please excuse my ignorance about oils), is there a 'flat' glaze or is it all glossy? Because the gloss will come into play, for example, when one decides to make prints and the painting has to be scanned.

Chas McHugh
04-19-2017, 09:39 AM
Glazing and fog - mist - cloud - dust - smoke - haze - go together like fish and chips.

As it is as transparent as you want it to be you can get 'water vapour' of any description without hard edges = very realistic.

I have had problems with varying degrees of reflection, but usually caused by mediums used in the base layer rather then glazing medium.

A matt varnish = level playing field.

04-19-2017, 02:20 PM
:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

04-19-2017, 04:38 PM
acrylics need a slightly different approach as oils as well as using traditional glazing methods effects can be had by scrubbing in colour from a very lightly loaded brush

04-19-2017, 05:44 PM
Regis - make sure you pick up a fast drying medium for your oils. It isn't as quick as acrylic, but it does make it possible to work much faster than without. Once you get used to it you probably won't go back unless you have a really pressing deadline.

04-19-2017, 09:29 PM
Thanks all. Yes, the 'glazing' effect can be done with a very lightly loaded brush (but it better be very lightly loaded and pre-brushed first!). Otherwise, you may get that solid (and very undesirable) streak of color. I think the flexibility of the oils would be an interesting aspect to explore.

Thanks for the drying medium tip. I am going to order a starter set in a bit. I still have a ton of work on my Amtrak night painting and it will be at least a month or more, till I get around to ordering it. Worked two hours on it today.

Chas McHugh
04-20-2017, 10:25 AM
The first layer of this oil painting is complete. The next layer will consist of added detail and tonal adjustment where required. The only part I am not happy with at this stage is the apparent cloud just right of the rotor hub; which will disappear with glazing over the entire far distance.
In the fullness of time the dark triangle bottom right will be glazed darker and the remaining lower left area glazed with Burnt Umber stain.

Chas McHugh
04-24-2017, 07:43 AM
Glazing oil paintings is scary - especially when the paintings looks good already. A blanket covering of paint that is then worked - removed - added to - to create adhesion or uniformity across the canvas. Today the far distance and right side of the canvas have received their first layer of glaze, and whilst detail should not have been lost, the painting should appear quite different. This is how the 'Old Masters' painted, and it is a skill generally lost in contemporary art - - It is also a skill that I embrace regardless of how terrifying it is do complete. The helicopter itself will receive layers of detail and in turn glaze to ensure that the helicopter is embedded into the painting rather then looking like a cut-out photograph stuck on for effect.

04-24-2017, 11:55 AM
I still hate that nearest lake

What would look really good and take away the starkness of it would to be able to see through the surface >>>> over to you with that one :thumbsup: :music: :evil:

Chas McHugh
04-24-2017, 12:20 PM
It is 200' deep Len, and folk law says it is 'bottomless'.

A potential solution is to reflect the far shoreline which I may look at. My wife does not like it either (are you in collusion?) and as the sun is over your right shoulder and high, I cannot even use reflected sunlight. This leave just two options:
1) Reflection
2) Wind action i.e. waves.

The colour is due to the proximity of copper. There is a disused mine in the area, and so applying 'normal' thoughts towards the water colouring is the wrong thing to due.

04-24-2017, 03:12 PM
Problem solved


04-24-2017, 04:00 PM
^^^^^^ Just spat my drink out ROFL :)

Chas McHugh
04-25-2017, 03:15 AM

That was just what it needed :angel:

04-25-2017, 04:49 AM
:lol: :lol: :thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
04-25-2017, 10:52 AM
The palette knife returns to the studio today as the left shore of the nearest lake receives its second layer prior to glazing in a few days time. I find that the knife can achieve effects that I cannot get with a paintbrush; due in part to the lack of micro detail that I often default to.
The knife itself is held very lightly - pretty much index finger and thumb.
If I maybe permitted a moments arrogance - the reason the knifework ends up looking so good (aside from glazing) is because by scooping paint of the palate that has been only partially mixed, you get lots of colour and tonal variations onto the canvas which in turn I try not to blend much.

04-25-2017, 12:28 PM
Have you deepened the yellow of the SK or is it just a better photograph ?

Chas McHugh
04-25-2017, 01:30 PM
At this time the Sea King has not received any second layer - It will appear visually more vibrant due to increased contrast with all around it. More so once I have brightened the nose area due to direct sunlight. I suspect it will be several days before I can get back to the Sea King without smudging the paint to its left. The painting is a month old today; and was not expected to be finished until June. It could be finished before May Day - ironic for an SAR subject :wink2:

04-25-2017, 03:32 PM
joking apart ( don't know who's the worst lol ) could you not have a mountain rescue or police team with land rover and trailer on the shore with a dinghy on the lake looking like the sea king had purpose there leaving the scene of an exercise ,, or is it inaccessible or not used for that ??

Chas McHugh
04-25-2017, 04:09 PM
This is my son on one of the better parts of the track.
It is possble to get vehicles (4x4) as far as the larger lake but not the nearest lake. MRT use either helicopters or the Mountain Railway to deploy. They typically respond to a half dozen 'shouts' a day at weekends as folks unused to any exercise at all believe they are mountain goats.

MRT usually set up shop at either the Llanberis café or in Llanberis itself at the mountain railway station. The helicopters these days are Coastguard Sikorsky S-92 based at nearby Caernarfon airport.

This helicopter may well have had HRH Prince William flying it.

Chas McHugh
04-26-2017, 10:54 AM
The effect of glaze can be seen clearly on this photograph. The right landscape has been glazed with a single layer of glaze, whereas the left side has not. Eventually all will appear the same.


The tail wheel has appeared for the first time as I begin to repaint the helicopter adding thus far missing detail.

Chas McHugh
04-28-2017, 01:19 PM

I resisted the temptation to glaze the left side today, as although now touch dry, I would rather be certain that it is dry enough to take a layer of glaze. In the interim; focus is on the helicopter, and the many, many, small accessories that are found on a helicopter airframe. If you found that your attention today went straight to the nose of the helicopter - lightening that area has worked - and taken primacy from the hill top which thus far has attracted the eye. Hope everyone has a great weekend - I will be reading books in anticipation of a CAA (Civil Aviation Authority Course (& exam)) next weekend.

Chas McHugh
05-01-2017, 03:56 AM
I applied the glazing layer to the left side of the landscaping yesterday in addition to some of the colouring caused by daylight on exposed copper in the nearest lake. Any changes to the landscaping now will be very minor in nature. It is a bank Holiday in the UK today and sadly the weather is being unkind - but I hope that where ever you are today and whatever you are doing, you have a great day.


05-01-2017, 06:02 AM
The chopper is good, the landscape is outstanding ...... the lakes still suck

Personally I would (drain) the lakes :)

05-01-2017, 06:21 AM
It's tricky Len. I will probably encounter the same issues with the Dubh Loch in my Tornado painting but sometimes that's just how they look from height . It's always tempting to add highlights or details but if they ain't there they ain't there .
Wind ruffles and foam streaks are a way out of the problem for me .

Chas McHugh
05-01-2017, 12:28 PM
I have spent the day looking for realistic options; and the bottom line is that it is a deep and dark lake coloured by copper and lacking in wave action of any significance. Artistic license is one thing; but these are lakes that are very well known by hill climbers and train passengers who have visited the summit of Snowdon.


A tonal study now that the background is complete.

05-01-2017, 07:48 PM
Looking at the grey scale picture I have an idea

Look at the far edge of the main lake .... it's very light - which brings it forwards, how's about darkening that edge to push it back .... something so simple could be the answer (or) at least a partial solution

and maybe reverse the lighting on the lake ..... light at the front bark at the rear

05-04-2017, 04:45 AM
would some shafts of sunlight coming through the clouds and a sun reflection off the lake work to tie in yellows more

Chas McHugh
05-09-2017, 07:16 AM
The 'office' today as the Sea King helicopter receives it surface detailing. Lots of reference material all around to ensure that accuracy prevails.

05-09-2017, 07:53 AM
Really nice seeing your office. That is a very unique table and the wood is amazingly stain free. I have to cover mine with craft paper and wear an apron!


Chas McHugh
05-09-2017, 12:19 PM
The Drawing Board is a Swedish made example by the manufacturer Nike. It has a pneumatic monopod that is controlled by a foot-pump. It is ridiculously heavy and suitable for static use only.


Etiquette states that an oil painting should be viewed from about 3 metres. Reality is that viewers will view paintings with their nose within inches. Therefore I paint my paintings in such a way that will appeal to both parties and accept any criticism about counting rivets!. I do not know how different this photograph will appear from the last one; but I can tell you that some major surgery has been taking place with the helicopter, and will continue to do so for a few days yet. The ‘finish line’ will be some walkers / hikers seen walking on the footpaths below.

Chas McHugh
05-11-2017, 12:39 PM
The tail section of the Sea King was repainted today and now shows the stress folds within the rear fuselage. The RAF roundel can also be seen through the bubble window. I think tomorrow will see detail added to the lower fuselage; at which point I will be looking for the finishing line. I am in two minds whether to add a crewmember in the cabin - this would be appropriate - but I have done such a thing badly in the past and do not want to ruin this now.

05-11-2017, 04:18 PM
The only thing I would check is the "port" landing gear and floatation housing, the very dark almost black aft end just doesn't look right, I think the colour is making it look strange ... it's the right shape but that little bit just doesn't look good, also that gear assembly still needs highlighting and defining

Part from that it is one of ... if not the best you have painted in the past 3/4 years

The backdrop is just simply stunning :cool:

It's a pure case of less is much much more ... no clutter ... just a typical realistic scene

Chas McHugh
05-11-2017, 05:35 PM
I agree with you on all counts Len; however the rear of the port sponson is actually a (black) IR camera housing. The left wheels need attention to provide symmetry with the right as although the effect of light is different - I feel that the difference should be less than is presently the case. It maybe that the starboard gets lightened slightly and the port darkened slightly. I will do the underneath and then check a tonal (black & white) image before applying the final layers. The camera has a circular lens that I will place in clear view.

I have pushed the boundaries on this painting insofar as use of a palette knife and different levels of glazing. It has gone well for which I am very thankful, and the lesson that I hope everyone here takes away is to take risks and venture out of your comfort zone. Had it been a disaster; I would have treated it as a learning curve and not regretted going off-piste at all.

Chas McHugh
05-12-2017, 02:08 PM

An insight into the level of detail being applied to the helicopter. I think a few laps of the airframe will take place before the finishing post.

05-12-2017, 05:45 PM
I see you have correctly depicted (the red bits) on the rotor head

Q) for an extra point ....You know what they are ? (or) don't you ?

Chas McHugh
05-13-2017, 12:42 AM
I am a CFS A2 flying instructor with 6000 rotary flying hours, and a tour as instructors examiner on my CV - I know exactly what the rotor head components are and how they work.

The 'red bits' are quite uncommon nowadays with rigid rotor heads; but I flew the Wessex for its final year and have used my thumbs outside many times. All of which will be goblygook to anyone who does not know what droop stops are for or what the flight characteristics of them are. On the Puma it has a spring loaded hinge which did not attract the same attention during engine close down; neither was it painted in a high vis colour. I have known droop stop failure on Chinook that concluded with a rotor blade slicing into the fuselage on more than one occasion in the RAF.

05-13-2017, 11:51 AM
Yep that's them .... We always watched them slowly go back into position during the slowdown and braking of the rotor head .... unlocked blades can really cause a lot of grief to chock-mens heads

The Sea king one's were centrifuge activated so you watched them very closely to make sure the rotor head was behaving it's self

Ground resonance & Blade sail or swoop were the worst helo landing events, we saw quite a few of those :eek:

Ps: Windscreen wipers are not done yet :)

Chas McHugh
05-13-2017, 12:20 PM
Windscreen wipers are not done yet

.... and that is precisely the sort of thing that will be missed as I shout "Its finished". As it happens; the centre screen needs some magenta glaze and I am going to paint the pilots faces and then glaze over the top of them - so the wipers not being done yet is within plans.

For everybody else that has no idea what we have been talking about:

Helicopter droop stops are what stops the blade falling to the ground - locking pins if you like. They 'fly out' when the rotors are started either by spring and/or centrifugal force; the latter are coloured red in order that their position maybe monitored from outside. On aircraft such as the Wessex; the rotors are kept under power when closing down the engines until such time as the droop stops are confirmed in place. If not the rotor speed is increased and reduced in the hope of activating the system - and they can get 'sticky'. If all fails; the inevitable consequence is that a blade is going to drop and bury itself into the fuselage causing significant damage. Modern rigid rotor helicopters such as Lynx or Griffin do not have them.

05-13-2017, 12:32 PM
Some interesting vids

Ground Resonance - Side View


Ground Resonance - Rear View


Chas McHugh
05-13-2017, 03:02 PM
I revisited the port undercarriage today using a combination of (layer) painting and glazing. This is a technique I have not done before; and it was an enjoyable experience. Obeying the fat over lean rule the paint included a little linseed oil and the glaze off the shelf glazing medium. The photograph is disappointing as the yellow on the port wheel is not as prominent as the photograph would have you believe.


05-13-2017, 04:44 PM
Tidying up very nicely!

05-13-2017, 05:25 PM
Each little tweak is working well :)

Chas McHugh
05-16-2017, 12:20 PM
If I am going to entitle this painting "Royal Ascent" I suppose that I need Prince William to be flying it. I am unsure as to the protocol of an impromptu royal portrait, but armed with a magnifying glass and a very small brush, that is what is happening at the moment. Other than the pilots, i will be putting a crewman in the door and very soon the oil painting will be finished.

05-16-2017, 12:34 PM
You haven't managed to mess it up yet and I have given you plenty of time .....

Soooo .... it's still the best one you have done for years :thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
05-16-2017, 12:42 PM
I was thinking of you today Len when the Captains windscreen wiper was applied :angel:

Thank you for the kind comment.

Chas McHugh
05-19-2017, 01:13 PM
'Royal Ascent' depicting an RAF Search & Rescue Sea King helicopter as flown by Prince William during his RAF service. The crew are now done and so now the only missing element to this painting is a few walkers on the pathway below. A productive weekend will see it finished although there is also a little glazing outstanding on the windscreens that I cannot do until todays layers are touch dry. Oil paint on canvas 36" x 24".

Chas McHugh
05-19-2017, 01:31 PM

A close up of the helicopter. (iPhone photograph)

05-19-2017, 03:05 PM
Best yet Chas!
The pilots look like they're saying "I thought you were flying it" :)

05-20-2017, 05:41 AM
That is terrific and a great W I P Thank you :)

05-21-2017, 03:43 AM
awesome work . it will appeal to many markets , royalists , aviation fans , and people who have visited that area

Chas McHugh
05-23-2017, 06:31 AM

'Royal Ascent'
RAF Search & Rescue Sea King helicopter as flown by Prince William during his RAF service. I increased the contrast within the helicopter with glaze on all shadows which has increased form or 3D effect. I also restored my camera to its factory settings in the hope of getting a photograph more in keeping with reality. Oil paint on canvas 36" x 24".

05-23-2017, 07:14 AM
Excellent painting Chas. Should sell like hot cakes.

05-23-2017, 09:06 AM
Truly masterful work Chas! The detailing on the helicopter is excellent and the landscape provides the perfect backdrop for it. Thank you for posting the WIP it's been really interesting to watch it develop. I appreciate you taking the time to share it with us.

05-23-2017, 10:00 PM
Dude, you rocked it!


05-24-2017, 09:05 AM
If your last photograph is a true representation (colour & tone)

Then this is the best you have ever done by a clear mile :thumbsup:

Chas McHugh
05-25-2017, 05:37 PM
I sold the Sea King painting today :clap:
....and it is not yet finished.

I appreciate all the comments - thank you. :thumbsup:

I take forward to my next painting confidence in use of the palette knife, and the extensive use of both glaze and transparent paint. Yellow will never again be the unsurmountable hurdle it tries to be. Reading back through the WIP and not losing sight of the time I thought I was losing the painting and the consolidation phase that proved essential. Morale is/was 'Keep the faith'.

There was also some new colour cocktail of paint never before used particulary to create a 'dark' for tonal purposes. The mixture is majenta blue and brown. Cobalt and Raw Umber for a cold dark and Ultramarine and Burnt Umber for a warm dark. Quinacridone Majenta for both. The previous 'Paynes Grey' is too blue to achieve the same effect.

Chas McHugh
05-26-2017, 11:11 AM
Windscreen wipers are in - and still it is not finished!

05-26-2017, 12:25 PM
:) Very nice ,the new owner is a lucky person ,well done on the sale :)

Chas McHugh
05-30-2017, 09:34 AM

The Sea King painting WILL be finished today :clap: :wave:

A quick cup of tea and a couple of hill walkers to come .... Buzzing :thumbsup:

05-30-2017, 10:27 AM
:) Well done

Chas McHugh
05-30-2017, 11:56 AM

Finished - Signed and Sold - and one very happy Artist. I expected this painting to grace my own walls, but it was not meant to be. Unusually; I will miss it.

05-30-2017, 12:40 PM
Credit where credit is due ... you nailed it :cool:

BTW ... look at the photograph where there is a SK on the monitor ... look at the yellow from the windscreen down to the strobe light .... There is a face there just like the one on mars :eek:

Chas McHugh
05-30-2017, 12:57 PM
I appreciate the comment Len - Thank you. This painting is a big stepping stone for me in facing challenges and embracing new techniques. My mission now of course is to ensure that the standard set is maintained or bettered; which hopefully I can do in a consolidation painting.

Now to face a big blank canvas - or shall I treat myself to a day out on the motorcycle instead?

I can see the 'face' to which you refer - and hadn't noticed it before despite viewing it many times. Indicative of viewing specifics rather than the whole - I think there is a lesson in there somewhere.

01-29-2018, 09:02 AM
Thanks for progression photos and close ups of the helicopter. Great thread, beautiful piece