Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"The Heart, Mind and Soul of an Arctic Warrior"

 Here's some closeups of the Tuskegee B-25 crew which I drew and painted from a picture I took in the lobby of the 477th Squadron building at Elmendorf. It was a strange combination of sepia and aged yellow paper which kind of inspired me to paint with this palette.

Center image here depicts best the title of the painting, that is, the heart, mind and soul of the Arctic Warrior. There wasn't much Inuit displays or monuments in Elmendorf, AFB or the city of Anchorage, but the Anchorage airport had a wonderful and educational gallery of images that inspired my use of totem pole images to quickly say Alaska. We did attempt to visit the local native museum just full of displays, but the day we had some time of our own, the museum was closed.

 Sketches for the final "approved" in my head after five or six tries. It would be a sign of real dedication to say that I sketched out a bunch of ideas on the plane, but these sketches are the ones I centered on for the final and they were done while waiting to give blood at a local blood bank.

 And here is the final piece completed over the Labor Day weekend and first started sometime in early May. It turned out to be almost exactly what I wanted it to be which is very rare for me. I was constantly trying to not pull out the airbrush to create a more ethereal, airy feel. I wanted the painting to be a bit more graphic and yet gritty. The spray painted "477th" logo to left was originally painted but because I wanted to stay true to how it might have looked in World War II, I actually cut a stencil and then used an old spray can of white.

For those that care,
This is the painting I have started that represents all that my visit to Elmendorf, AFB entails. In a way, it is the culmination of our trip, that is, to take the information and pics of the 477th Fighter Group and depict what the Air Reserve Unit at the base is all about. For further information and actual pics, you can go to: http://www.gumboben-elmendorf.blogspot.com You can read an article about our trip to Alaska at: http://www.jber.army.mil/aw/2010/100416/Story8.htm

The painting depicts the old WWII world of the 302nd and the 477th on the left and the new, high tech world of today's warrior. A laser beam runs from the heart of the airmen to the black bomber crew of the Tuskegee group. Included with the six crew members are the five aircraft the group used for training and battle. The large red empennage (the stabilizing surfaces at the tail of an aircraft. ) represents the squadron's painted red tail so the American bomber crews would recognize them as "little friends" in their P-51 fighters. In front of the red tail is an angel's wing with a white glow that surrounds the wing, the pilot and the totem pole wing of Elmendorf. I am hoping this will read as the soul of the warrior.

To the right of the pilot, is a greenish yellow laser beam running from the top of the helmet, housing the human and eskimo eagle head, through and around the totem pole wing, the F-22 empennage with the new squad numbers down and across to the mountainous background of Elmendorf's main runway. The beam stops and sort of surrounds the aircraft as it takes off, representing the mind, human and computerized, needed to perform the task of defending our nation's interest.

The Heart, Mind and Soul of an Arctic Warrior!


  1. Pretty Cool! The explanation helped me to understand it. Thanks. I really like the totem pole eye peering out of the mask.

  2. Yes, it will be interesting to see whether others are visually into this piece enough to investigate further why I designed the way I did.

  3. Yes, it will be interesting to see whether others are visually into this piece enough to investigate further why I designed it the way I did.

  4. WOW! No seriously..WOW Ben! I love the idea and the execution. Well Done!