Hurricanes into Battle – Work in Progress

Welcome to a new ‘work in progress’ depicting the development of the second painting in my Battle of Britain Trilogy.  The concept behind ‘Hurricanes into Battle’ was to show the uneven odds that the RAF fighters faced in September 1940 as huge formations of German bombers and fighter were launched against London.   As this was a non-commissioned work, I only produced some very small thumbnail sketches to get a feel of how the composition might look, the rest of the painting would develop on the canvas itself.


WorkingthumbnailsketchSo this was the rough sketch, I chose a rear three quarter view on the Hurricane as it looks quite good from that angle and it would help to show the massed formations of German aircraft.




This is after a few days’ work, applying several layers of paint to get a smooth sky and blocking in the main Hurricane to get a feel for the comparative tones between the aircraft and the background.




After a few more days, I became less happy with the entire background, mainly the horizon, so I repainted it, losing half the aircraft in the process!




This was more like it, Essentially, the difference was having a light and indistinct horizon which allowed me to add more depth to the far distance.





Now was the time to add a few other elements, ground detail, aircraft codes, other aircraft to try to see how the movement in the painting would work.  You’ll notice that I’ve changed the direction of flight of the Luftwaffe aircraft from across the picture to out of the picture.  I just felt that this was slightly more dynamic, although from a technical point of view it would be harder to introduce movement with the two formations’ vanishing points being so close.  I was happy with the movement lines in the far left cloud, you’ll notice these come and go in the next few stages!




Here I’ve been building up the cloud layers, (losing those nice movement lines!) and adding warmth to the main Hurricane and Do17.  I’ve also added a bit of cloud behind the Dornier to help it stand out.




Here I’ve spent some time working on the detail of the main Hurricane.  I’ve also added more cloud behind the Do17 although it’s starting to look a bit obvious!  By this stage I’d decided that I wanted to depict Tom Neil of 249 Squadron in action as we’ve known him for years as a family and it would be nice for the children to have a keepsake in memory of him.  249 were still flying 56 Squadron’s US coded Hurricanes in early September but I thought it would be better to show his aircraft after his squadron’s codes were applied in mid-September.




This photo was taken in early morning light so the glow on the left of the picture is rather over-emphasised, but as you can see, I’ve added light to the rear fuselage of the main Hurricane, detailed it,  and introduced more aircraft.  I’ve also added detail to the distant clouds and worked on the landscape which is a view east over the Thames Estuary.


STAGE 8, the final result;


It’s always in the final stages that a painting really comes together.  All aircraft are detailed, those movement lines are reintroduced, along with a few more!  Ground is detailed, cloud shadows added and that obvious cloud behind the main Do17 has been extended to make it less obvious!  The Hurricane trailing smoke in the centre is very important as it visually takes the eye from the flightpath of the Hurricanes to the vanishing point of the Dorniers.

So there it is!  A slightly more complex project than Spitfires into Battle but very interesting to work on.  If you would like to buy a copy of this print, please click on this link   HURRICANES INTO BATTLE PRINT


And the final, final stage.   Last night we drove down to Suffolk to spend the evening with Tom Neil and he duly dedicated a couple of prints for the children.  It made it all worthwhile for me and I know they’ll take very good care of them in the future.


And if you still want to see a bit more, here’s a video ‘work in progress’ of the same painting!