Painting the Vulcan

For aviation artists, certain aircraft are overwhelmingly popular as subjects. The clear winner is the Spitfire. Just about everyone produces a Spitfire painting at some point – the Guild of Aviation Artists features about 900 Spitfires in its on-line gallery. Another hugely popular subject is, of course, Concorde, with almost 100 paintings shown on the Guild site.

This year I decided to have a go at a third perennial favourite – the Vulcan. I began this painting in late 2013. I chose a marine format to complement the broad wingspan. I set the aircraft against a stormy background, and showed it looming against a moody sky, and discharging its own clouds of smoke and steam. I set it at an odd angle – with the Vulcan taxying and the nose wheel pivoted, so the aircraft is just about to swing round and come directly at the viewer.

This was a mash-up of various actual aircraft, including the Vulcan at Southend, as well as photos of XH558 at Farnborough. In addition, when I was up at East Fortune in November, I did some sketches from life of the Vulcan there (although my fingers nearly froze in the process!). I finally finished the painting around March. To echo the sound of the famous engines, I named it “Howl”.


Vulcan taxying and revving up engines

Howl (oil on canvas), 2014


I had this painting beautifully framed, by David Lloyd of Greenwich, and entered it for the 2014 GAvA exhibition. I took a gamble, putting this one forward as my only submission. Sadly, it was rejected (by a small margin, I was told) – but I still enjoyed my encounter with the mysterious Delta Lady.

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