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Lightning After the Storm - Painting a Wet Runway/Shiny Metal

One summer holiday when I was 6 years old, I entered an Airfix model maker competition. My model of choice was the Airfix 1/72 scale English Electric Lightning - it was my absolute favourite aircraft. I made it with the gear up with an interesting unintentional asymmetric dihedral to the wings and tail that the designers at EE probably hadn't considered. Incredibly I won 2nd prize!

And so this particular jet was always going to be a candidate for the canvas. There are some spectacular paintings out there of the Lightning doing what it does best - blasting rocket-like into the heavens with both afterburners aglow. It was difficult to compose a scene that hadn't already been rendered by better artists than I.

XM135, the second production Lightning at Imperial War Museum, Duxford credit: Alan Wilson

I was reminded of some of the wet airshows and cadet camps I have been to in the past, when a fighter would roar down the wet runway, clouds of vapour clinging to the underside and the reflection of the afterburners in the wet concrete - the mood of the forboding weather adding to the already vivid scene.

So a take-off scene it is then. But sketching it out I found I needed to be higher up than a normal view from the ground, as I wanted to try and capture the Lightning's distinct wings and tail and see more of the reflection of the aircraft in the runway. Then I came across someone who displayed their corgi models on top of mirrors - an instant wet reflection reference! So with model in hand I got busy.

I felt I was painting with a little more energy behind the brush with this one. Despite the odd feline interuption, this was an enjoyable exercise playing with the reflections of both the bare metal and the wet runway. Will definitely have to paint another lightning sometime, maybe a QRA scene...


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