Before embarking on his quest to portray aircraft, mainly the Unlimited Air Racers, Denver was employed by the May Company, doing advertising design, a rather unimaginative and uninspiring occupation. Automotive artist, Harold James Cleworth, served as part of the inspiration behind Denver’s concept to create, Racing Aircraft Portraits. Cleworth traveled to the U.S., and to California in particular, to paint his first love – automobiles. Denver felt he could do the same, only with aircraft, and those with visually striking and colorful schemes – primarily, race planes.
Regarding the portraits, looking through most aviation art, he realized that air racing was lacking in representation, save for the works created by the late artist, Nick Galloway. Denver believed no one in the aviation art field had an affinity for race planes, even though the subject matter showed much potential, due to the diverse, colorful nature of these specialized vehicles.
So in creating this art, he developed uniqueness in style, a manner in which they are painted, parked on the ground, on a neutral background. Denver feels this forces the viewer to concentrate on the plane itself, and all the inherent details, nuances, and reflections of light and shadow, part of what makes the paintings. A good case in point is the portrait of Dreadnought, where the detail of the lettering on the landing gear door is also shown reflected on the underside of the massive Sea Fury wing.
Closeup of Dreadnought landing gear door
Of course this doesn’t rule out the portrayal of aircraft in the traditional manner – primarily in flight, with a background. That being said, Denver still believes that even this “traditional” style of art should carry a unique twist to it, such as in the Phantoms, or a different perspective, such as the view shown in the Super Corsair.
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