Wednesday 1 July 2009

Major Billy Barker & his Pterosaur Squadron

Major Billy Barker & his Pterosaur Squadron
(click to enlarge, or visit my gallery for a larger view)

The paint is still wet, thus, the photo at a weird angle to prevent glare. I'll see if I can get a better shot up for my next Art Monday. Oil paint on canvas. This is my submission to the third Art Evolved group gallery, which happens to be launching July 1st, Canada Day.

In my generation, a lot of history learned in school was rote memorization. Dates, names, places. My high school had a vast amount of letters from former students to their teachers in the World Wars that we read each Remembrance Day. Perhaps the advantage of the internet is the ease at which you can learn now. No trip to the library, not knowing what you are looking for. Click, click, and there it is. Perhaps this is Gen X apathy, I'm not sure.

Sometimes as an artist, rarely, I get an image full-blown in my mind. That was the case here. Composition, lighting, hues. I needed some details for the biplanes.

So I did a bit of online poking to look up biplanes, and found the story of a true Canadian adventurer, perfect to add to my (perhaps audacious) idea. Major William George "Billy" Barker was a World War 1 flying ace and Victoria Cross recipient who flew Sopwith Camels against German Fokkers. Although I could not find any information indicating he fought against the infamous Red Baron, Manfred Von Richtofen, I thought the drama of these two excellent pilots would heighten the alternate history in this concept painting. Of course, our Canadian hero Major Billy Barker has a trick up those RAF sleeves: his fighting pterosaur squadron, made up of Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

The Red Baron will live to fight another day. Some theories have it that he was shot and wounded by other Canadian pilots though that remains controversial. Whatever the case, I love that the idea that popped into my mind led me to reading about Major Barker in time for Canada Day, and Art Evolved.

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Art Evolved Pterosaur Gallery
Major Billy Barker on Wikipedia
Major Billy Barker & his Sopwith Camel at Ace Pilots
The Red Baron on Wikipedia
The Red Baron & his Fokker at Ace Pilots

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Sean Craven said...

Oh, man, this is sweet -- but the people need a larger image! There's so much going on here...

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Sean!

I'll see what I can do for my next Art Monday and get a bigger and better pic up.

Anonymous said...

Quite an interesting piece, Glendon. I think it's amazing what goes on through people's heads when they create something like that painting. Personally, I find it amazing what goes on in MY mind when I create my pieces, lol. I'm working on a drawing of a mural in one of my favorite dinosaur books, called The Book of Dinosaurs: The Natural History Museum Guide (The London museum is the one this is from.) and, so far, it's decent. I'll show you sometime.

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