My latest project was creating two artworks for an aerospace consulting firm here in Boston. Fairmont Consulting Group had just moved into their new downtown office space. Their managing director Jay Wynn told me it was not unusual when visiting offices in his industry to see framed photographs on display. He wanted something more unique than that for their offices, though—he envisioned colorful images with artistic flair.
He’d been to one of my First Friday studio events and saw my painted photographs of city streets and buildings, and that style appealed to him.
He knew of a photograph of an F-35 jet taken at the 2017 Paris Air Show by Roelof-Jan Gort that he really liked, so he contacted him about licensing the photograph for me to paint. The photographer (thank you, Roelof-Jan!) was willing to do that.
I had visited Fairmont’s new offices and saw there was a dominant color scheme already in place. There were accent walls of chocolate brown and other accent walls of an orangish-red (a cross between “brick red” and “tomato soup red”). The carpets were patterned in shades of dark brown and red. There was even a deep red tile wall in the kitchen. All around, the color mood was earthy and deep. That gave a definite structure to the painting process from the beginning. My challenge was to complement, not clash, with the environment!
The first piece I made was “Afterburner,” above, which was vertically-oriented using the entire jet’s image in flight. I opted for a slightly retro and graphic look for the background. It will go on a narrow section of wall that juts out from the main wall.
At our first meeting, we had discussed how to approach the second piece. I suggested zooming in on a section of the aircraft—an interesting angle or intersection. We agreed that not everyone would necessarily know what it was, but it would be recognizable to people in the industry. It was going to be in the same conference room with the vertical piece. Piece #2 had a wider section of wall, so it would be horizontally-oriented.
For Piece #2 (above), I didn’t want to use all the same colors for the jet as in the first piece. I wanted it to stand on its own as a separate artwork, but for the colors in each artwork to speak to each other. The horizontal lines I used for the sky lent a graphic element, but initially they felt a little too clean and crisp, so over time I worked on softening them.
My printer Mark Peterson ran some proof sections of the prints with me the week before we printed the pieces in their entirety. These were somewhat larger pieces than I usually work with, so that was very helpful in clarifying where color and lines might need adjusting.
This project was a wonderful creative adventure. I was surprised how much fun I had working on it. Except for one humorous illustration I’d painted a few years ago of a cat flying a glider plane, I’d never given much thought to painting aircraft! Just as I appreciate the structure and lines of buildings, I realized while working on these images how much I could appreciate the beauty of machinery.
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.