Dan Budde



       8ft Panoramic Painting

I have been commissioned to paint Erie Air Park in Erie, Illinois. This painting will be very unique, a panoramic painting 8ft wide, and 1 ft tall. The very wide and flat layout of an airport will be a challenge to paint.

Erie Airpark is owned by Jim Robinson who has commissioned me for this project.  This airpark is home to mostly ultralight and light sport aircraft.  It has a grass field and four main buildings. Two long hanger buildings and two taller hanger buildings, the middle one with a clubhouse and lounge and the other on right with a shop along with his home.

I will be posting the progress of this painting as I work on it. This was Jim's idea and I thought a good one.  Jim builds aircraft in the shop building, and often posts the progress of these projects on his webpage


Thumbnails can be clicked twice for increasing detail


    Photos    Early morning on a fly in weekend (to catch lots of planes on the field) a series of photos are taken from various points on the field. Each point will consist of 7 shots to make one panoramic compilation. After picking the point of view from three taken, the photos are cut and spliced together to form the scene for the painting. the early morning light aluminates the scene in rich colors and the angle lights the inside of the hangers.

   Masonite   Masonite or hardboard is chosen for the painting surface. My usual choice of stretched canvas would be unstable at this width prone to warping. There is a smooth side and rough side to the board. I will use the rough textured side. After three coats of primer with sanding in between, the surface feels smooth but has the texture somewhat like canvas to hold the paint. Two aluminum angle strips are glued and clamped onto the back for strength.  Picture shows raw Masonite with clamps on top.

  Primed and partitioned  The board is primed and partitioned off into smaller section each having a building. With the very wide width of this project I decided to think of the painting as four separate paintings that merge together. Here the tape will keep my drawing in the right place for each section.

   Rough Drawing   Next a rough drawing is done in each section. The detail will come in later steps and be painted in. Not drawing in detail lets me position things later after the painting is covered in paint and I can see the correct values. The aircraft will come latter in the detail steps.

   Ready to start painting   Here the drawing is completed and the tape removed. I made a mounting system on the studio wall the hold the board. I can slide it left and right to reach parts. I will also use my easel along with the drawing table for some detail work. The width of this was a challenge in my small studio space, but now feels comfortable.

   Blocking in sky and trees  When I start painting, the first goal is to block in the painting with color. I am not after detail here, I just want to cover the white so I can see the forms and values. For the sky the pigments Titanium white, Cobalt blue, Permanent red and Cadmium orange are used. The paint for the trees and foliage are three transparent colors, Ultramarine blue, Transparent earth yellow and transparent earth red. Using transparent pigments allows the light to shine through to the underlying white and makes the painting glow. Taken from the old masters. I try to move along at this blocking in and resist the temptation to work in detail.

    Blocking in ground   After blocking in the sky and trees, the ground is blocked in.  The same transparent colors used painting the trees are applied to the ground. Since all of the ground in this painting is grass and its so wide, care must be taken to make this wide area interesting. Using direction of brush strokes and adding light and dark areas where the morning sun hits, and shadows, along with more red, breaks up the ground into different areas of interest. Here I have the painting straddling the easel and drawing table. My paint is mixed with a medium to help it flow and dry quicker. Mineral spirits and Gamblin Galkyd are used. The first layer of paint is thin with more mineral spirits, then as layer build the paint gets thicker with more Galkyd to help the thicker paint dry.

      Buildings   Next the buildings are painted in. I rough the buildings in with more detail than the sky, trees and ground as there is less artistic license with these. The  main thing is getting the color values close so they look real. Later I will adjust the darks and add more detail. Here the left two buildings are painted in. The brushes I use up to this point are all bristle brushes. These are stiff and push the paint into the surface. Later I will use sable brushes for detail.

      Close-up detail of buildings



     The board is covered with paint  Now that the board is covered with paint you can stand back and see if the painting is going to work. Does it look interesting?  Does the light look right for the morning in all areas of the painting? If you turn it upside-down  does it still look good? Your looking for the abstract design here. An interesting design of the darks and lights. I have determined that where the trees meet the building they need to be darker and the foreground needs more work. I have made the middle of the painting the first eye catcher. It is best to plan the movement of the eye in viewing the painting. The middle has more color and has more detail so the eye will go there first then travel to the right and back to the middle. The airplanes that will be added  will also be a big part of this eye travel.


       Changing values  In this step I have darkened the blacks further, defined the black in the trees and defined the clouds more. More black and more white to get the value range correct. I also added detail in the corn fields behind the buildings in the middle. Next I will work on the ground adding a bit more dark and some detail.


        Sketching in planes  The planes are sketched in with a middle value gray.  I have also added some fall colors to the trees and continue to add layers to the sky and clouds.

         Painting in planes  This painting will have about 12 planes in it. Here a group of five have been painted in. Along with painting in the planes I add dark green below and behind creating the shadows. Getting the scale right is the hardest part here. I use mostly opaque paint so the small planes stand out more.



          More planes and detail  I continue to paint in the planes and add detail to the buildings, trees and sky. I painted more reds in the grass to build more color into the painting.


  •             Final detail   The remaining Challenger Aircraft are added to the painting along with the Erie Airpark letters on the roof of the main hanger. The final detail to trees, clouds and buildings are added.



  •                      Completed!   The painting is completed. Its hard to get a good photo of this without getting glare from the light on some part since it is so long, the washed out areas are from this. Some final coats of sealer will be added to even out the luster of the paint and a frame.