Saturday, September 15, 2007

Air Force Artists Program

This summer I had a chance to go on an excursion with the Air Force via the Air Force Artists Program. This program is available through the Society Of Illustrators, and a few other groups. I had attended the christening of "The Spirit of Ronald Reagan", a C-17, at March AFB last year as part of this program. This trip was far more ambitious, involving a six day trip to Ramstein AFB in Germany. Another artist, Alex Bostic, and I were accompanied by Gene Vanderventer, an Air Force Historian, and Major Tom Carney. Our purpose was to document the work of the Air Force Reservists in the area of Aero Medical evacuations. I sketched and took a load of photos, to be used in the creation of a painting (or two) that will be given to the Air Force in return for the opportunity to observe their work. The painting will be too large to scan, but I will try to get a good photo of it to post when it is done. For the moment, it isn't even started! Although I have a good idea of what I will paint. The Air Force allows the various offices and locations to 'borrow' these works of art for their walls. I saw many of them at the base in Germany, covering the hallways and offices.
The main thing we observed was the loading and unloading of patients (soldiers) coming in from Iraq, and going from Ramstein back to the USA. The transports used were c-17s and KC-135s (a refueling plane) and we went from Andrews AFB in Maryland to Germany on a KC-135, and came back on a C-17. I did most of the sketching on these flights, since they were long, and people were holding still more often. Everyone was very gracious, allowing us to stand by and watch them work, and they were quite focused and industrious. I am looking forward to doing the painting, school is in swing now, and I will have work it in, between that and the film (Eagle Eye) that I am working on now.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Robin, that's awesome to be able to sketch aboard those massive planes. It must have been strange seeing all the injured soldiers coming back from Iraq. You have some wonderful sketches, they give me a sense of how it is in the plane. I especially like the one of the soldier sleeping with the beenie over his head, haha. Did you have to sleep in bunkers while in Germany? Hope everything is going alright with you.

18 September, 2007 14:41  
Blogger Robin Richesson said...

Hi Tim,

It was quite an adventure. We did sleep in housing on the base, but it was just like a hotel room. Nothing fancy, but very nice. It was very cold on the KC-135, because the bottom half was full of fuel (it is a re-fueling plane) and as you rise to the high altitudes, the fuel gets really cold, and radiates very cold air up from the floor. Your feet feel quite numb, like you are sitting with your boots in the snow. The guy with the beenie shaves his head, so that was to keep warm!
Hope you are doing well. I am working right now, so things are crazy.


20 September, 2007 15:33  
Blogger Anthony said...

These sketches are really beautiful, Robin. What an amazing experience to have done this. It's great, and a little surprising in this day and age of digital photography, that they have this program for artistic documentation. There's kind of a nineteenth century feel about the concept, and yet a very twenty-first century subject. I can't wait to see the painting!

14 May, 2008 00:15  

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