Jack Lee Art – WW1 Plane and Balloon

First, a big thank you to Joe, Peggy, Pie, Hal, Chris, Libby, CJ, JS, DHB, Tina, Bud, Hank, everyone…. for your comments, helpful criticisms and encouragement on my art.  You all played a very important part in helping me bring my art to the current level.

The one below is my latest painting.  It is based off two black and white photographs.  Then I did some research and found out the most likely colors.  The airplane photo did not list it’s type, we think its an S.E. 5  (thanks to RHT) probably a 1915 model.  I  also believe that’s a V8 engine with the heads sticking out of the cowling.

What I tried to achieve in this painting:   A sense of altitude (2000′) with believable clouds.  I wanted the airplane wings to reflect light through them.  See the shadow of the machine gun?   Light direction and shadows in a painting are critical.  Tried to achieve a sense of motion, did it work?  I also wanted a balanced painting, weighted between clouds, plane and balloon and the last thing was loitering time.  This is where your eyes go from one small object to the next and you start noticing all the little things.  When you start doing that I know I did a good painting.

Ok, Pie I did what I could on the drag stick and I also added more support wires and louvers on the lower portion of the cowling.  Tried to make the balloon more authentic too.


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9 Responses to Jack Lee Art – WW1 Plane and Balloon

  1. Pie Guevara says:

    The clouds are excellent and so is the most of rest of the rendering. The barrage balloon looks weird and out of place without the lines attached. The plane drag stick ruins it. It is a unnecessary distraction and y eyes go directly to it. Either get rid of it or make it nearly invisible. Compete detail such as this is unnecessary and in this case wrecks the composition imho.

    The painting could stand wonderfully without the barrage balloon and the drag stick. The barrage balloon without the lines is out of place, makes no sense and unbalances the composition. Put in the hanging lines or get rid of it.

  2. RHT447 says:

    Alrighty then. First off, I admit that I am a stickler for historical accuracy, so weight my remarks as you see fit. Second, I pretty much agree with Pie’s observations.

    I don’t think that’s a DH.9–


    From the way you painted the exhaust stack, maybe a DH.15?–


    “A sense of really high altitude with believable clouds.”. I think you got that. However there is no way you would encounter a tethered balloon up that high. To add to the effect, I would put in a low horizon fading to distance, and shrink the balloon way down to show it at a lower altitude. Don’t get carried away. Remember, these guys were flying without oxygen masks.

    “Tried to achieve a sense of motion, did it work?” Not for me. This one does–


    Press on, sir.

  3. RHT447 says:

    2nd comment.

    I think you’re on the right track. I guess the problem I’m having is that the scene seems to be working at cross purposes. The “sense of altitude” I get is 10,000 ft., not 2000 ft. The DH.9 was a light bomber. The primary bomb aiming device in WWI was the MK-1 eyeball, so bombing altitudes were not very high.

    Every photo I’ve ever seen of a balloon in normal operation showed them “flying” level with the ground. Yours seems to be nose down. The balloon tethers converge at a point just off the canvas. Without a horizon, this just looks weird. Many observation balloons were run off a single cable attached to a winch on the ground. A single line might work better. You could try shrinking the balloon a bit more to put it more in the background and see how it looks.

    If you do add a horizon, I’d make sure that the attitude of the horizon, the balloon, and the tether all agree. The plane looks great.

    Again, I am a stickler for accuracy and realism. Don’t get wrapped around the axel over my comments.

  4. RHT447 says:

    3rd comment.

    Silly me. Don’t know how, but I missed what appears to be a Lewis gun–


    — mounted above the wing. I wonder if the plane is an S.E.5–


    • Post Scripts says:

      I thought it might be an SE 5 too, and that is a Lewis gun on the top wing. We might be on to something now.

    • Post Scripts says:

      RHT, after a very close look at the S.E. 5 I think you nailed it. The cut of the fuselage is unique to that plane, also the rudder tail section was remarkable too. I’m 99% sure you found it. It’s the right vintage for the Lewis gun too.

  5. Harold says:

    Fascinating, A post about a vintage war time scenario, and the knowledge some carry with them.

    Contributing one’s insight to a painting’s appearance and presentation, and all done with constructive and polite critique.

    Me, I am just wondering when you are going to put ‘GOODYEAR’ on the balloon and color it gray. That’s all I got 🙂

  6. RHT447 says:

    As long as we’re talking aerial history, this one is very good.



    Go Navy.

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