Brian Bateman: Aviation Art at its bestInterviews
By Pierre Kosmidis
Aviation Art by Brian Bateman
Aviation Artist Brian Bateman is considered to be among the greatest of his generation. His works of art are well-received by critics, aviation enthusiasts, the general public and the attention to detail and historical accuracy make them stand out.
www.ww2wrecks.com has reached out to Brian Bateman and has asked him some questions on his background and works. Here’s what Brian Bateman said:
Please tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in the midwest of the United States in Dayton Ohio, near WPAFB (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) where Steve Pisanos was based during his flight testing days along with Don Gentile, and where he met his lovely wife Sophie as she was sweeping the front porch of her fathers home near downtown Dayton as he was invited for dinner. I went to that museum as a kid almost once a month for years until I moved away to California, but even now when I go back I make it a point to go visit the museum. There is none better, though I may be a bit biased…
CLICK THE LINK BELOW IN RED TO READ:
Steve Pisanos, the amazing career of “the flying Greek” who fought with both the RAF and USAF during WW2
It all started for me when I was in fifth grade – I remember it distinctly. My best friend was an avid model builder and an artist in his own right and was quite good, and he would draw the aircraft art that was on the boxes. I saw those and a switch went off – I just had to do this!
So, I did, and I started model building during the Monogram Model/Sheperd Paine era and drawing the aircraft on the boxes with markers and crayons. Hasegawa, Revell, and Tamiya to name a few were the mainstays. We were in the mid 1970s mind you so there was no computer generated artwork on boxes as one sees today.
How did it all start for you? What was your inspiration?
There were some really great artists back then doing box art, most notably Nixon Galloway, so from that moment on I was hooked. From there Robert Taylor started his rise to fame and his work along with many of my contemporaries such as Nick Trudgian, Gil Cohen, Roy Grinnell, Jim Dietz, etc. were an absolute reason on why I chose this particular art form,though I also do western art also as I do enjoy history. Most anything history is my passion.
Why do you focus on historic aircraft?
I focus on historic aircraft mostly because that is where my passion lies. I found that painting something that you are not quite passionate about will inevitably show within the work, so I have tried to stick with what I know and love, primarily the aircraft of the Second World War, though lately my interest has been peaked by the Vietnam conflict as I get older.
What are the “secrets” of an aviation artist?
As for secrets of an aviation artist – well, I hate to burst bubbles out there but there is really no secret other than dedication and hard work as it is for every artist who wants to be successful at whatever genre they choose.
We are first and foremost artists. We all learn about the basics of light, form, composition, color, mediums, etc, like any artist does. We just choose to do historical art that happens to be aircraft in subject matter. We do however need to learn to plot the angles from a certain height and distance from the viewer using Descriptive Geometry which I had a tough time learning, and the study of your subject matter is absolutely imperative.
Keep in mind for those rivet counters out there, from certain distances details of rivets and edges soften considerably so this has to be kept in mind. Light plays a large bearing on an aircraft in flight with this bouncing all around the aircraft from all angles.
Clouds, weather, proximity to the ground, etc, all have there place in the final rendering of how the aircraft handles the light around it. One of the best things I did was join ASAA here in the states, as Keith Ferris is one of the legends still around that one can learn from and he has a wealth of information which he shares at every forum one attends. usually held once a year and this years is fast approaching.
I suppose the best thing to do if you are serious about it is to join groups relating to your interests, learn all you can from those who have been there and can help you learn, and draw and paint over and over and over again. I’m still not where I want to be and I will probably never feel that I will get there. I suppose that is the beauty of the chase one could say.
Never be satisfied or think you are that good to not push yourself – that’s malarky. There is always new fresh faces out there coming up with nart that just blows the doors out. Learn to draw first and foremost and keep at it every day in every way that you can.
Which one(s) is (are) your favourite works of art and why?
Some of my favorite work is the one I have not done yet!
Seriously, I think my latest one, “Dawn of the Kamikaze” is my favorite at the moment. I tried something a bit different and also made it a smaller size original. That thing sold in less than 24 hours once I posted it on my website. I’ll be doing a few more within that size and composition and have some creative fun with these.
One thing you have to do is catch the collectors eye as they have so much to see and choose from with so much fantastic talent out there, and the ever present problems of wall space and the wifes/significant others approval! Another favorite is my first one which was “Shadow of the Moon”, a depiction of Friedrich-Karl Mullers Fw-190 A-6, “Green 3”.
I really enjoyed this piece as I tend to move towards the night fighter arena – I just find that whole thing fascinating, brave and daring, flying by sight with very little in the way of navigation as we have today.
My next piece is of a German night fighter based out of Flugpatz Grove in Denmark, now called Karup air base.
I have much coming down the pike with a B-24H commission later this year along with a B-52G involved with Linebacker II, and a large piece for an AFB in Michigan that is going to take some time rendering as it is very complex, showing their 100 year history.
What is the best thing you’ve ever heard on your works?
The best thing that one can hear from others is two fold-one from the pilots who were in the action and they tell you that you got it right, and the other is from your peers whom you admire as these are not only friends but artists you look up to.
I remember recently I did a piece called “Unscheduled Delivery”, about the fledgling US air mail service as they expanded west. Gil Cohen, one of my favorites all time as he is one of the masters of the figure within aviation, him and Jim Dietz who are the best at this integration of the figure and aircraft – period.
Anyway, we were talking on the phone as I am on the board of the ASAA and I had a few questions for him, and he stopped me and told me that he saw my piece at the show in Michigan and that he really liked it and that it was one of the better pieces he saw there.
That was too cool, and an honor for him to not only say such a nice comment but to offer his time should I ever have a question. As an artist to have these moments, it gets no better than that…
CLICK THE LINKS IN RED BELOW FOR MORE STORIES ON AVIATION ART
Aviation Art: The Artwork of David J. Gray – WW2 Aircraft and more
Aviation Art: Γιώργος Μώρης, με το πενάκι του “ζωντανεύει” ιστορικά αεροσκάφη
Kostas Kavvathias, the Greek master of Aviation Art