Martin's flying high

AN engineer with a passion for planes has proved that new paths in life can open up at any time. After discovering a love of painting, Martin Bleasby from Ordel-mere in Letchworth GC, is flying high in the world of aviation art. Martin works as a maintena

AN engineer with a passion for planes has proved that new paths in life can open up at any time.

After discovering a love of painting, Martin Bleasby from Ordel-mere in Letchworth GC, is flying high in the world of aviation art.

Martin works as a maintenance engineer for aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in Ampthill, but in his spare time paints beautiful, atmospheric oil paintings of aeroplanes, especially those of the Second World War.

Originally from Hitchin, the 50-year-old's award-winning work is shown in galleries and illustrates calendars.


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He was initially inspired by a David Shepherd painting of a Harrier aeroplane to take up painting as a hobby and is now an associate member of the Guild of Aviation Artists (GAvA), selling his work around the world.

Martin said: "I have worked in aerospace for much of my life, at British Aerospace when it was over in Stevenage and now at Lockheed Martin.

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"I like aeroplanes for their aesthetic value and especially for their mechanical side. And I did have an uncle who was a pilot in the Second World War who was one of those who didn't come back.

"I was really inspired by David Shepherd, who does nature paintings now, and I submitted some of my work to GAvA in 2002, which first made me a friend and then an associate member."

Explaining his creative process, he said: "I use photos for reference - particularly backgrounds, for instance I might see a sunset I like or vice-versa a plane which needs a certain setting.

"Sometimes I use Photoshop to see what it would look like before a painting begins. It is a really useful modern tool. But they are not copies or anything, they are constructions, a mixture of reality and imagination.

"I think it must be getting on for 30 paintings I've done now. I'm allowed to submit six to the Guild's annual exhibition in the Mall Galleries in London and I've always come back having sold them. I've sold prints of my work around the world, to New Zealand and the States.

"I did a painting recently of the Dambusters to mark 65 years since their flight and got the last surviving pilot to sign prints of it.

"I didn't start out for any financial reward, but I would like to do it full-time. The most rewarding thing though is when someone says they like a painting."

In 2005 Martin received the Frank Wootton Regional Award

from the Guild of Aviation Artists. This award is given to improving artists and is set up in memory of the Guild's founder member, the late Frank Wootton OBE.

The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises is also publishing one of Martin's works in its 2009 calendar.

Six new works by Martin are currently on display at the Norton Way Gallery, on Norton Way North in Letchworth GC, until Friday, September 12.

The gallery owner, Collette Hoefkens, said: "Martin told me his passion was for painting planes, particularly from the World War Two era. I think I was expecting to see some dark and perhaps rather technical pieces but I was truly delighted to be presented with beautiful, sensitive and uplifting paintings."

Collette usually exhibits work by professional artists, but said: "I was so impressed with Martin's skill and with the immense amount of time and dedication he gives to his work that I decided to give him an exhibition."

She added: "There are many local people who have shown tremendous interest in his paintings."

For the gallery's opening times call 01462 685139 or visit nortonwaygallery.com

For more information about Martin, visit http://www.martin bleasby.co.uk/news.html

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