In 1990 I was looking for fresh subject matter to use in my paintings and
photographs. I saw some aircraft markings on a helicopter in a war movie
and became intrigued with the subject. My interest in the aesthetic led me
to rare out of print books, mostly used by model airplaine enthusiasts, that
went into great detail about how exactly to paint airplanes in a variety of
The airplanes of Great Britain that flew in WWII were particularly
intriguing not only for the beautiful design of the aircraft, but also for the
elaborate paint schemes that were applied to them that were specifically
designed for the missions they flew. These considerations would include
climate, the time of day or night of the mission, and the type of terrain the
airplanes flew over, such as water, earth, forest or desert.
A separate scheme was used for the under and upper surfaces of the
aircraft. A 1940-41 example of a "temperate land scheme" for an
operational aircraft would be a disruptive pattern of "Dark Earth"
(dark brown) and "Dark Green" (olive drab) applied to the upper
surfaces. The familiar camouflage pattern that we have all come to know so
well was born. In order to blend into a daytime atmosphere when viewed
from below, the undersurfaces of the aircraft were painted in a light blue or
greenish color aptly called "Sky." If a bomber was flying night
missions, it would be painted all black on both upper and under surfaces.
Along the sides of the fuselage, boldly emblazoned on these atmospheric schemes
were a brief string of alpha-geometric code letters that would indicate
the squadron and the identity of individual aircraft. The two letter
prefix keyed to a squadron number or group followed by the national emblem,
followed with a single letter, such as S, T, U. etc. representing the
individual aircraft within the group.
A component of this string
always included the concentric circles of the British roundel in varying
shades of red and blue, sometimes surrounded with a white or yellow
ring. Red was always the color of the center circle. The
roundel would also appear on the upper and (sometimes) the lower surfaces
of the wings.
The squadron codes, camouflage schemes, colors, and the British
Roundel by itself, all became subject matter for the paintings I created
between 1991 and 1993. This body of work was shown at the Paterson
Museum, in Paterson, New Jersey during the summer of 1993. Click on
the Paterson Museum link at left to view the
Paterson, New Jersey was known for it's silk mills and textile
production. A small edition of "woven label" bookmarks was
created especially for my exhibition by Paxar Woven Label Group of
Paterson, NJ at the request of The Paterson Museum.
I remember working out the colors with Paxar on a conference call over a
Want to design your own woven label by Paxar?
Call (888) 44-PAXAR or visit the company's website at www.paxar.com. Note: the Paterson,
NJ branch of Paxar made my label. Their address & phone is:
Paxar Woven Label Group
500 E. 35th St.
P.O. Box 2178
Paterson NJ 07509
To see more art & photography with military themes
click on the other links at left.
You are number
to visit this page.