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A Cloud to Hide Us, the Moon Beside Us

Composite painting

The Super Blood Moon photo over LA posted in February was less for the landscape than as a resource for one of my composite paintings. Here it makes an appearance in an imaginary summer sky. An airplane needs someplace to be heading and the left wingtip needs a design anchor. This type of work is the larger part of my business creating custom portraits and paintings. The airplane was actually sitting on the ramp outside the hangar and it seems to me that airplanes belong in the sky.

How it’s done

Just the moon and the airplane began as photographs, I first paint the background from my imagination then add sketches initially made from those photos as layers, before painting them with custom Photoshop brushes, digital ones that is. Brush-stroke by brush-stroke there’s no photo left. Neither pilot nor passenger were present in the cockpit, no headsets either, nor was the prop turning. It’s all created from imagination in digital paint then printed on heavy archival canvas with pigmented color.

clouds and moon

Shadows and perspective, flaps and ailerons

Over the past ten years I’ve done many airplanes in various imagined scenes. Looking real in this case requires knowledge of flaps and ailerons, and what kind of summer sky is beautiful, yet reasonably safe to transit. I know this isn’t the usual thing photographers do but it’s my special craft (literally and figuratively).

So what’s with the title?

In 1967 Jimmy Webb wrote a song that was released by the Fifth Dimension. It quickly became an iconic pop hit. Anyone of a certain age can hum the melody and most know the words at least to the refrain, “Up, Up and Away in my beautiful balloon!”

Romantic flight

Though it’s about a “beautiful balloon” rather than an airplane, Up Up and Away conveys the romance of flight that I attempt to show in this painting. Flying seems like magic, seeming to defy gravity though it’s just physics. Pilots learn rules and procedures and are at their best when they are so in sync with the airplane that it seems like ballet. That’s romance!

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