Article by Rich Thistle ©

Nervous Energy by Rich Thistle © Nervous energy. For the actor it's the smell of the grease paint, the noise of the crowd. It's the pure excitement which lends its energy to the on-stage performance. Periodically, as an aviation artist, I need to have close contact with aircraft. I need to feed my senses. I need to experience. I need to store up memories. I need to charge the battery right up to the top.

As an aviation artist, I carry my cameras at all times when attending air shows or aviation events. Even though I rarely paint directly from a single photograph, once in a while I come upon a scene which simply begs to be painted, almost as is. One such scene confronted me at the 1995 Muirkirk air show as I wandered among the vintage aircraft and war birds doing some soaking. I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a definite "aaahah" experience of the highest order.

I knew immediately I wanted to paint it. The visual impact was more than I can explain in words. The colors were amazing, the reflections dazzled. The machine was exquisite. I experienced a treasure hunter's rush of excitement upon discovering a pirate's horde. Since in my mind I had already decided to paint it, I spent some time carefully contemplating the composition through the camera. I bracketed my exposures. I under-exposed for dramatic color.

The resulting painting, titled NERVOUS ENERGY, after the P-51's name Nervous Energy V, has created a stir wherever it goes. Somehow viewers respond easily to the realism, the reflections and the color. Somehow it conveys my original sense of the excitement of discovery. As a painting it is a fine example of why I seek out these periodic, stimulating excursions.

  • original painting available