RAF Benevolent Fund Spitfire Painting
Each year I try to create a few paintings which can be auctioned to raise funds for charities. This year I decided to create a piece to support the great work conducted by the RAF Benevolent Fund as my father served in the RAF. This year marks 100 years of the RAF and I wanted to support their RAF 100 Appeal.
I’ve always been fascinated by the WWII aircraft, the Spitfire, and decided this would be the perfect project to paint one of these stunning planes. I approached one of the leading restorers of vintage aircraft, the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC), to see if they could help with the project by donating any Spitfire parts to paint on. They were really keen to get involved as the RAF Benevolent Fund charity is one they hold dear to their hearts. They invited me up to their impressive hangars based at The Duxford Air Museum near Cambridge. This in itself was a very special treat to have a guided tour around so many incredible iconic planes. There were lots of Spitfires at various stages of restoration. They also had the only flying example of a Bristol Blenheim and a Hispano Buchon which were both fresh from starring in the recent Dunkirk movie.
George Romain, Brand Manager at ARC, then kindly presented me with a complete wing skin section from a Mk IX Spitfire they had restored (SL633). Parts like this are super rare. You just can’t find a complete panel like this and they are extremely valuable so it was very generous of ARC to donate it…. not to mention showing a lot of faith in me! George very kindly let me sit in the only flying example of a Mk I Spitfire… the Spitfire that famously sunk in the sand on the beaches of Dunkirk and was recovered in 1980 for restoration. Incredible privilege to sit in this aircraft and it really brought home how cramped and cacooned the young pilots were in the war – very brave of those young lads to jump into the cockpit and fly off into the unknown not knowing if they would return.
Once back at my Studio I spent some time thinking/planning the painting to make the most of the surface area on the wing panel. I considered a composition of two planes but then settled on one larger one. I wanted to respect the history of the piece but also maximise the impact of the painting. First I cleaned up the panel with fine emery papers and keyed it to enable a few coats of primer paint. I ensured a lot of the patina on the wing was still visible. I then used spray paints to create the land, sky and cloud formations. The plane was painted using acrylic paint.
I contacted the RAF Benevolent Fund to let them know about the project and they were very excited at the possibility of auctioning it at a large fundraising event this year. They provided me with their logo as did ARC and I got some vinyl stickers produced. The painting has been framed by mounting it with a bit of space from the back panel to really show off the wing section. I utilised the existing rivet holes for this!
UPDATE – the piece was auctioned at the RAF Centenary Dinner at the British Museum and raised an excellent £5,000 for the RAF100 Appeal. Here are some photos from the evening: