Painting a Helio Courier in Oils | PART ONE

I've always loved the Helio Courier. You can read about this airplane here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helio_Courier

I got to fly in the Helio Courier while visiting JAARS in North Carolina in the early 1990s. What I especially loved, and what I studied and earned my wings for was to be a pilot in such an airplane.

I really love nap-of-the-earth, visual flying. I also wanted to be a missionary pilot and I succeeded in earning my wings in a very short time and even soloed on a very short, narrow grass field on top of the hills of Kentucky. Praise God!  Unfortunately, I just didn't have enough funds to keep up the training, and there just weren't a lot of high paying jobs I could do to really continue advancing my education as a pilot. I graduated with a BA degree in Bible and Missions with an emphasis on aviation. When push came to shove, I enlisted in the USAF, an area I was quite familiar with since I was a military brat for most of my life with my Dad serving in the USAF till retirement. I was a KC-135 crew chief in hopes that I could gain learning experience as an aircraft mechanic. However, I think God had other plans - and eventually - I became what I always was underneath it all - an artist, and I do this professionally now. Praise God!

This painting is based on a real event of a JAARS pilot named Bob Griffin. My wife and I contacted JAARS to see if we could get a story to base a painting on and we were told the story where Bob had to get to a location to pick up a missionary who was in fear for his life. However upon arrival, the destination was shrouded with dense clouds. After much praying, Bob noticed a hole had opened up in the clouds and he managed to get the aircraft on the ground, pick up the passenger and take off again before the clouds threatened to close in again.

That is the inspiration for this painting, and in this and the following posts, I'll show my walk-through of this painting.

My first "sketch" was a digital composition that I created quickly in Photoshop using an old 3D model of an incomplete Helio Courier. I actually modeled this a long time ago for use to fly in Flight Simulator but never finished it. I only used the fuselage of the model, but had to create the wings within Photoshop. Digital models as well as plastic scale models help me to see the aircraft better by rotating it, adjusting angles and getting the composition just right for my scene.

I paid attention to values around the aircraft and the background in the scene. The abbreviations seen in the image above show a "windmill" effect of values.  Light against Dark, Dark against Light, Light against Light, and Dark against Light.

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