Author Topic: Finished work - "God of the North Wind"  (Read 7176 times)

Offline RussellSmith

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Finished work - "God of the North Wind"
« on: June 21, 2013, 04:56:26 AM »
This is a side project that I have been wanting to get to for several months now. This painting will depict Fokker triplane 450/17, one of several flown by Ltn. Josef Jacobs, Staffelführer of Jasta 7. Jacobs was perhaps the biggest proponent of the Fokker triplane, and he flew it operationally longer than any other pilot, including Manfred von Richthofen. Although he is known to have flown at least two, and perhaps three black triplanes while serving with Jasta 7, 450/17 is his best known due to the description given in his wartime diary.



My inspiration behind this painting began back in Oct. of 2012 with a visit to the Vintage Aero Flying Museum in Colorado. In his later years Josef Jacobs became good friends with the museum's founder, James Parks. He bequeathed many of his personal wartime artifacts to the museum prior to his death, including his personal wartime diary and 2 of his Pour le Merite ("Blue Max") medals. During my visit, I had the great opportunity to browse through Jacobs' diary. Here is a page from the diary. He even included photos.



I also was given the opportunity to hold both of Blue Max medals. Here are two of Jacobs' Pour le Merite (Blue Max) awards. The one in my right hand was Josef Jacobs' "wearer's copy". The one in my left hand was a commemorative medal presented to Jacobs' on the 50th anniversary of his award.



This photo shows Jacobs' wearing his Pour le Merite "wearer's copy" while standing in front of his black Fokker triplane.



For months after my visit I pondered over ideas for a Josef Jacobs painting. I knew that whatever I did, I wanted to depict 450/17 with its colorful personal markings. In his journal Jacobs described this aircraft as a "black triplane with a devil's head on both sides of the fuselage behind the pilot's seat." 450/17 also carried additional wing crosses on the upper surfaces of the lower wings. According to Jacobs, this was so that over-eager German pilots would not mistake his aircraft for a Sopwith triplane. A couple of photos are know to exist of this aircraft, but this is by far the best. Unfortunately, even this photo doesn't give a clear view of the Devil's Head, which Jacobs also sometimes described as the God of the North Wind. The best color interpretations for the marking came from a description which Jacobs gave to historian Neil O'Connor in his later years.

My first step in this project was to choose an event to depict. Fortunately I had an english translation of Jacobs' war diary on hand. Jacobs was relatively thorough in his descriptions of events and aircraft that he flew, but he only definitively attached 450/17 to one event - a balloon claim for May 14,1918. His combat report for that day reads as follows: Fok. Dr I 450/17: black triplane with a devil's head on both sides of the fuselage behind the pilot's seat.

At 0410 hours I started with my Staffel for a patrol to the front - because there was little aerial activity, and I noticed some English balloons through the clouds,I decided for a balloon attack. With my whole Staffel I raced down through the clouds, immediately opening fire at the first which ignited at once, burning fiercely.




The next step is to choose a good composition. After several thumbnail sketches I came up with a composition which would highlight the three wing design of the Fokker Dr. I as well as the beautiful semicircular cowling, would give us a view of Jacobs' head, and would give us a glimpse os the devil's head. The scene I have in mind depicts Jacobs in 450/17 leading his Staffel on patrol. As they descend through a layer of clouds Jacobs spots a balloon back on his right and indicates it to the rest of the Staffel. I chose a sun angle coming in from Jacobs' 7 o'clock high position. This would give an interesting mix of shadow and sunlight on the triplane. Even better, the sun coming from this position would wash out enough of the devil's head so that I wouldn't have to worry about being too detailed with markings which are speculative at best. In other words, I could reasonably indicate the devil's head without having to detail it too much.



The perspective drawing for 450/17.



I finished the pencil study for this morning. I may adjust the position of the balloon slightly, but overall I'm pretty pleased with it. I'll try to get a color study done for it in a few weeks.

pencil study for unnamed Josef Jacobs painting
16" x 10"
pencil on bristol paper

« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 12:57:00 AM by RussellSmith »
"Art is about creating a feeling, an emotion, not about creating a pictorial catalog of the artist's knowledge and research" - Gil Cohen.
Russell Smith
site: www.russellsmithart.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russel...s/103226508613

Offline BLOWHARD

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2013, 05:22:35 AM »
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    :)  :)  :)   GREAT STUFF Russell!
DAVE IPMS 16124

Offline uncletony

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2013, 06:25:03 AM »
Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your research; this particular aircraft (450/17) has intrigued me for some time...

Offline Todd Holaday

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2013, 06:31:15 AM »
I think it is very cool to get to hold the medals.  I know this isn't the same thing exactly, but I used to do a lot of walking in the fields looking for Indian artifacts (live in Indiana farm country).  Whenever I would find something cool, like a complete point or a partial uniquely shaped point I would get a thrill and wonder as I turned it around in my hands about the person who made/lost it.  The object sort of connects you with the person/time it was assocated with.  Thanks for sharing your experience.

Offline pepperman42

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2013, 12:00:46 PM »
Looking forward to this tripe project!!

Steve

Offline LindsayT

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2013, 11:13:26 PM »
I'm excited about this one, Russell. Keep the updates coming!

Lindsay

Offline Zabu

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2013, 04:18:52 AM »
I'm a fan of your work.

Your artwork it's fabulous. You know... a reporter once said about about Ayton Senna: When God comes to earth He drives by the hand of Ayrton Senna.

Allow me to say that, When God comes to earth He paints by your hands.

Your art and skill knocks me out... thank you for that! ;D

Cheers

Offline RussellSmith

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2013, 10:19:22 PM »
I took time yesterday to move my Josef Jacobs project along by working on a grisaille for the color study. I made a few changes from the pencil study, most notably to the balloon and the clouds. The balloon felt unrealistically close in the pencil version, so I moved it farther away. In doing so, however, I had to adjust the background aircraft and the clouds so that the smaller balloon didn't get lost.

I still see a couple of small adjustments I need to make. The top aircraft are spaced a little too evenly. Moving the top left Albatros in slightly will remedy that, and will help the visual flow to the balloon as well.

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"Art is about creating a feeling, an emotion, not about creating a pictorial catalog of the artist's knowledge and research" - Gil Cohen.
Russell Smith
site: www.russellsmithart.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russel...s/103226508613

Offline RussellSmith

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 09:50:53 PM »
Here is a shot of the finished Jacobs color study. I'm much happier with the flow of the secondary elements now.

15" x 9.5"
oil on linen on hardboard

"Art is about creating a feeling, an emotion, not about creating a pictorial catalog of the artist's knowledge and research" - Gil Cohen.
Russell Smith
site: www.russellsmithart.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russel...s/103226508613

Offline Ernie

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 12:25:45 AM »
Absolutely beautiful artwork, Russell.  Thank you for including
the history behind your work.  Wonderful!

Cheers,
Ernie :)
The new old guy, take two...

Offline Zabu

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2013, 11:16:23 AM »
Splendid!

Cheers

Offline pepperman42

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 11:59:20 AM »
Great looking composition!!

Steve

Offline uncletony

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 12:28:13 PM »
I love it, however to my eyes the shadowed area of the Dr.1 nose looks slighty too harsh? Like I would expect the light to modulate over those curves...

Just my Internet 2 cents, worth exactly zero. Anyway, I love it :)

Offline LindsayT

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 01:19:39 PM »
Beautiful! Keep it coming!

Offline RussellSmith

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Re: Josef Jacobs WIP
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2013, 03:22:41 AM »
Somehow I've been remiss in posting the most recent updates. No worries. Here's a quick rundown:

The grisaille underpainting is now complete. The painting measures in at 42" x 26" - a perfect golden ration proportion.



Now the first color underpainting. In this initial layer of color, the color is applied in more muted, neutral tones which I will enhance with subsequent glazes. You'll probably notice how rough the image still is and also that I'm not afraid to let my background spill into the lines of the aircraft a little at this stage. The forms and details will be tightened up later wherever necessary, and the background colors which I have allowed to spill into my airplane will later add a sense of ambient light to the scene.

The painting will be entitled God of the North Wind.



Now the first glaze layer, which I just completed this morning. One of the fun things about painting a black aircraft is that you're never really actually painting black per se. A variety of factors can influence a color, especially a neutral such as black, white or grey. Things such as direct sunlight, shadow lighting angle, ambient light, surface texture and even material (i.e. metal vs fabric) must be taken into consideration. This "black" triplane contains everything from a warm brownish grey to a very dark neutral blue. All of these factors, if executed successfully, can come together to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional black aircraft in sunlight.

"Art is about creating a feeling, an emotion, not about creating a pictorial catalog of the artist's knowledge and research" - Gil Cohen.
Russell Smith
site: www.russellsmithart.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russel...s/103226508613