It’s not often you get to meet a living legend, but last year ended in a way I’d never have imagined.
My last personal project of 2014 was a portrait of the Last British Dambuster, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson.
I’d always carried an interest in the aviation history of Lincolnshire thanks to my Mother, Di, who has included me in many of her projects. Her first research project lasted 11 years, having found just one small piece of aircraft debris in a local field one day. The scope of her findings are summed up in this video: Click for video
Researching online and joining multiple forums, she has befriended many other enthusiasts and VIP’s, going to events and locations that hold important parts of history. Thanks to her, some of my personal experiences include an exclusive tour inside the Lancaster “Just Jane”, visiting RAF bases and multiple celebrations with stunning flypasts.
It was after she met Johnny that my Mother suggested I draw him to celebrate this wonderful man and what he has done. Between us we decided that I should combine two images: the face of Johnny as we know now, as well as the face recognised from all those years ago. I was eager to start, hoping I’d create something original that many people would enjoy.
I was very pleased with the result as I was working from very small images to create quite a large study of him. After posting it online, I was asked to make prints to raise money for the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial. Johnny’s friends who requested the prints invited me to meet him and present him the original, myself, which was fantastic!
On the success of this piece, I had several more commissions of a similar nature. Included here are some progress and detail shots of drawings I’ve worked on so far:
With more originals, prints and cards on the way, there’s a great feeling of pride in celebrating these brave individuals along with their families and supporters. Hearing their stories, learning about their unique machines, uniforms and achievements, I’ll certainly be happy to continue to do so.