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Capturing Concorde

Many, many years back when I studied for my BA degree, the title of my thesis was Concorde - a Design Icon. Around that time Concorde was being retired from service and this very popular supersonic airliner was very much across the media in the UK. The public had a fond relationship with Concorde and it felt like something as British as the Royal Family was disappearing forever from our skies.

My thesis looked at how this icon of British and French culture literally took shape, and how the beauty in its aesthetics were an outcome dictated by the forces of nature. Its distinctive shape was designed to pierce the sky at Mach 2 in the most efficient way possible with its shock wave snugly passing around the wings. This relationship between aeronautical design and the percieved beauty in natural forms has of course been quipped by aeroengineers for generations - 'if it looks right it will fly right'.

With Concorde being several months and thousands and thousands of words of my education, when I began painting aviation art there was a certain inevitability that Concorde would find her way onto a canvas.

I am taken by the dramatic head-on photos out there of Concorde taking-off. Here it looks almost like a great bird of prey - the long talon-like undercarriage grasping the runway and the nose bent down like a curved beak.

Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA

But personally, I think Concorde looks best in supersonic configuration - nose and gear tucked up. A beautful paper dart flitting effortlessly across the atlantic, high above the clouds. And that's what I went with...



The simplistic challenge of this painting would be quite refreshing - no props, turrets, carriers on a raging sea, aircrew/groundcrew or undercarriage to speak of.

During research I had come across someone flying Concorde on a flight simulator. What I found interesting were the moments the camera swung around to backlight Concorde against the sun. At certain angles the unmistakable silhouette was still illuminated by enough to make out the airframe details and British Airways livery. Concorde looked particularly moody here and perhaps presented a little different aspect to, let's face it, an aircraft that has certainly been painted once or twice by other artists.





The colour tonal range of the sky was picked up in the aircraft. Here is an aircraft that is famously white in our minds, but interestingly I used only very minimal amounts of white in the backlit edges. Curiously, an almost entirely a purple/blue rendering, yet still somehow a painting of a white supersonic airliner.






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