"...And here is the News". Featuring the latest news stories and pictures from Peter Dennis Art.

PLEASE SCROLL-DOWN TO SEE SOME LATER ADDITIONS.

PRIVATE COMMISSIONS & PRINTS.

Whilst Peter has for a long time concentrated on the commercial market for his art, this site has been established primarily to benefit the individual private purchaser. Limited-edition Giclee prints of many samples used on the site can be obtained at very reasonable prices simply by using the contact details given. Just call today.

25TH ANNIVERSARY FLYPAST FOR PETER DENNIS ART & DESIGN!

As the home of much aviation art over the years, we're awarding ourselves a quick, cheeky flypast (sketch) featuring just three of the iconic types in service with the UK forces when the business began back in August 1991. Of course, over their long service careers, liveries changed and they may never have been seen together quite like this: that's the good thing about artist's licence - although Peter doesn't like to use it too often, being a stickler for authenticity when engaged on his realist work.

 

Harrier, Phantom and Buccaneer

Featured in the quick sketch are the Harrier GR7 - which was just replacing the GR3 at the time of the business' inception; the McDonnell Douglas Phantom - retired as FGR2s the following year and depicted in earlier form; and the wonderfully impressive Hawker Siddeley (formerly Blackburn) Buccaneer S2.

It helps to put the time-span in context when one views the number of other aircraft types which were still flying then, that we could also have shown. Despite massive cuts in the defence budget in the 1980s, by 1991 aircraft flown still included Andover CC1/CC2/E3; Bulldog; Canberra B2/T4/PR9/T17/T17A; Chipmunk; Dominie (HS125); Harrier GR3/7/T4; Hunter T8; Jaguar GR1/T2; Jet Provost; Jetstream; Lynx AH3; Nimrod MR2P; Sea King2/4/5; Sea Harrier; Tornado F3; VC10 C1/C1K/K2/K3; Victor K2; Wessex HC2/HC5/HCC4; (and probably a few more). Along with the three aircraft depicted above, that's an incredible 38 types listed, let alone the number of individual airframes! With far fewer replacements, there is less opportunity to witness the thrilling visual spectacle of that era. Or should that be more opportunity for aviation art nostalgia?

THANKS TO ALL OUR CUSTOMERS FOR THE LAST QUARTER CENTURY!

Celebrating the business anniversary Peter says: "I'd like to use this opportunity to give a big vote of thanks to all my many customers over the past 25 years. From private commissions to artist's impressions, cartoons, logos, souvenirs, signage and special projects/events, the wide variety of challenges has made the work stimulating and rewarding. I'm extremely grateful to all who have made purchases and assured that my artwork will be out there in the community for decades to come. It is particularly gratifying when regular customers return again and again for repeat orders or with new artistic challenges. Grateful thanks to all of you, or as we say here in North Wales: Diolch yn fawr iawn!"

 

REGULAR VISITORS TO THE SITE MAY BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THERE ARE RECENT ADDITIONS TO BOTH THE HELICOPTERS AND SHIPS PAGES.

 

OFFSHORE STARS.

Peter's love of depicting helicopters in all their wildest operating locations has led to the creation of another two paintings of medium-sized types which have made their mark in offshore oil-support in the North Sea (as here) and around the world. These have now been added to the Helicopters page. The first, featuring a Bristow Bell 212, is a reminder of just how long this civil operator has been involved in Search and Rescue in some of the most challenging environments. The second, features a Sikorsky S-76A+ Spirit in the less commonly seen but stylish livery of British International. Just scroll down to the S-76s at the base of the page. Both will continue to appear on the relevant page, although with a sell-off of some paintings due in order to clear some studio space, don't be surprised if one or both originals make an appearance on a popular online auction site before long.

 

REGULAR GUY.

We have received many kind favourable comments about the painting used sometimes on the homepage, featuring an old Land Rover. It seems there are a lot of heritage vehicle enthusiasts out there. One little known brush with another sort of transport in Peter's life was with historic buses. As a teenager, he assisted a group who were restoring old Public Service Vehicles and used to accompany them to events such as the Brighton Commercial Vehicle Rally. Earlier still,  holidays were sometimes taken to Sussex and Kent by coach. Travel while in those areas was invariably by the colourful variety of bus types then in use. One particular old vehicle which stuck in Peter's mind from childhood was the attractively liveried Guy Arab double-decker used by East Kent. Even then it seemed to have a distinctly smart but heritage look. Peter's watercolour image shows a typical seafront bus stop with a Guy double-decker waiting for passengers while a Maidstone and District single-decker shares the stand (as was often the case). An elderly lady prospective passenger in typical 1960s attire struggles to keep her hat on against the strong onshore breeze.

 

Guy Arab double-decker bus
 

 

ESSEX EXPRESS.

Another bus which registered in Peter's mind from childhood was one which he used to witness when in a north London suburb. Unlike the more local vehicles, these Leyland Leopard single-deck buses, with smart Willowbrook bodies, had coach seating and travelled far out of London across the Essex marshes to places which seemed exotic for a bus route. The main towns on the route were emblazoned along the roof to emphasize that these were no ordinary service buses. They operated the splendidly titled Empire's Best service - the very name seemed to come from a bygone era. Yet these particular vehicles, introduced in 1965, carried a smart two-tone blue colour scheme and seemed to reflect everything that was best about streamlined, 1960s styling. Though the modernism of contemporary buildings could also sometimes be brutal and towering, single deck public service vehicles of the time captured a kind of low-rise, clean-lined styling which still looks good to this day. The Willowbrook company, latterly a part of British coach-builder Duple, encapsulated all that was best about this design trend and Peter's "Line & Wash" painting of an Empire's Best example on the less cluttered rural main roads of Essex in the 1960s, is a fitting tribute to this snapshot in time. The bus is seen twixt a typical wooden barn of that area and a Mk.1 Cortina from then Dagenham, Essex-based Ford, UK. As with some other paintings on this page, these bus scenes may be sold-off in the near future.

 

 

Empire's Best Willowbrook Leyland Leopard bus
 

 


ABERDEEN REVISITED.

The usual run of commercial work was broken by a recent commission ordered as a gift for a pilot from Bristow Helicopters in Aberdeen. Bristows is one of the major North Sea offshore operators and Peter's association with them goes back to the 1980s, when he remembers their kind hospitality on a number of occasions including cockpit trips and tours of the impressive maintenance facilities at Aberdeen. The client on this occasion had seen an old acrylic painting depicting one of their Super Puma helicopters, which appears on this site, done back in the 1990s. Since then, the livery has changed and so have the aircraft. She wanted something in the same style (at first light by the hangars) but in a different watercolour line-&-wash style (from other examples on the site). The aircraft this time was one of the new-generation Sikorsky S-92s and it was nice to revisit a similar theme but in a totally different medium. The painting was apparently a great success and many kind comments were received. Above all, it serves as an example of how the website can be used as a source of inspiration to "mix and match" styles, media and aircraft to get the desired result.

A small, watermarked-print of the S-92 painting can be seen on the Helicopter Art page of the site. Ah Bristow! - happy memories of good times spent at Aberdeen's Dyce Airport.

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF RAF SEARCH & RESCUE TRAINING - with official Peter Dennis artwork. 

Regular visitors to this site will know that we have long featured samples of helicopter art depicting the Griffin aircraft of the locally-based RAF Search & Rescue Training Unit (SARTU). This is a world-renowned centre of excellence for instructing pilots, winchmen and winch-operators in the complex and potentially dangerous task of helicopter rescue. RAF personnel as well as those from forces overseas hone their skills on two of the sleekest machines of the rotary world: the Bell 412EP (Griffin) and the new Agusta Westland AW139. Whilst the front-line RAF and Navy units that have saved so many lives around the UK richly deserve their high-profile, it is true to say that SARTU can claim a little of the credit for every life saved - for it was their meticulous training which instilled the necessary skills in every crew.

Thus it was a great honour for Peter to be asked to create a special artwork for the celebration of 50 years of RAF Search & Rescue Training in May 2012. Over that time, various different aircraft have been employed, in a multitude of liveries and models and it was the Commanding Officer's intention to celebrate this diversity and also to incorporate as much as possible of the less glamorous but vital background work: maintenance, protective clothing, Operations, etc. Peter paid tribute to the warm welcome received and access given in the course of researching for the degree of accuracy which would be required. This included a session on the winchman's virtual-reality goggles simulator and opportunities to explore the aircraft close-up and sit in the cockpits.

RAF Bell Griffin, SARTU 

The 50th anniversary was celebrated with a fantastic day which included a well coordinated and punchy role-demonstration of both the current aircraft types, a lavish dinner and a wonderful evening party to which members of the unit (and Pete!) were kindly invited. Limited-edition prints of the artwork were sold on the night to raise money for the station's charities and Peter was on-hand to sign each individually. There was great attention to detail in the organization of the event and part of the art-brief was also to design some pump-clips for the Purple Moose Real Ales which stimulated the conversations between many former colleagues - each with their own fascinating tales to tell. Peter says: "It was a humbling experience to be amongst so many skilled aviators, many of whom have risked life and limb to save others. Fortunately they also have that other great quality of the flying community: they know how to have a laugh and party - the perfect antidote to a demanding job".

As the artwork was done for a Limited-edition gift, it is not possible to reproduce it in full here but some small thumbnails from the original large watercolour are included. The framed original (a montage of interlaced scenes throughout the 50 years) has been retained for display on the walls at SARTU, RAF Valley, Anglesey.

RAF Westland Wessex

RAF Westland Whirlwind

 

40 YEARS SET IN STONE.

Another Peter Dennis artwork client had something to celebrate in 2012. The Welsh Slate Museum in Llanberis, Gwynedd have been open for 40 years and have gone from strength to strength in that time. Anyone who hasn't visited their incredibly atmospheric working museum on the lakeside beside beautiful Llyn Padarn, is strongly advised to do so. The massive workshop complex (part of the National Museum of Wales) lies at the foot of the former Dinorwic Quarry, for which it was once the nerve centre. The exhibits include an old foundry with casting pattern-loft, a row of sample quarry-families' cottages down the ages and the largest waterwheel in mainland Britain: still turning! Knowledgeable and friendly staff are on hand to guide the visitor around the museum which from the outside could be mistaken for an old fort. This is something the museum staff joke about themselves and a cartoon to that effect was commissioned for their celebratory brochure.

 

ON THE SLATE

The North Wales quarries and derelict mines have long provided Peter with inspiration for paintings. He was lucky enough to visit some of these remarkable places when they were still working, sometimes when their equally fascinating internal railways were in use. Peter quips that he'd rather spend a week in rain-soaked Blaenau Ffestiniog than a week in a Mediterranean resort - and he's not joking. There's something about the landscape that's alluring and sometimes the unique light (or lack of it) plays just as important part in the scene as it does in those sunnier places.

 

Blaenau Slate Quarry, rain

 

For a while the slate quarry scenes on this site have been a part of the Narrow Gauge Railways page but they probably deserve a page in their own right and it's the intention to eventually move them. For now, here's a painting which captures one of the wilder, soggier days in the mountains. Peter recently re-discovered some old photos of the Fotty and Bowydd Quarry Mill Level on the footpath to the Rhiwbach Tramway in Blaenau. The rusting wagons beside the track and the incline leading up to Maenofferen Mine, then still in operation, brought back happy memories and the intention to encapsulate the scene in a dramatic and slightly impressionistic way. The view is one you might get from inside a truck, perhaps arriving for a day's hard toil in the mines, during heavy rain..


WORKING HOLIDAY?

It's not often one can take a break in this business. So the rare chance to spend some time at a friend's home on a remote Scottish island recently, imbued Pete with renewed enthusiasm. The host of maritime experiences gained circumnavigating the islands on a small motor boat and travelling to Mull on the ferry, renewed his enthusiasm for this neglected subject. So though the short break proved a tonic (well, a Scotch actually) it just added to the backlog of paintings on his return. With a healthy resolve to capture some of these sights while the scenes were fresh in the mind, Peter at once commenced some Scottish marine watercolours on his return. Happy memories of an enjoyable afternoon spent in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, are recorded in this view of the beautifully manicured fishing vessels alongside at the town's old stone quay; along with all the paraphernalia of that trade, which is strewn along the quay and forms an enchanting backdrop.

Fishing vessels, Mull 

In order to give the site the first viewing, the painting is displayed as finished, without trimming, mounting, or framing. Those interested in maritime scenes or Scottish waters, will find another new view of a fine local working coaster loading at the nearby Lochaline jetty on the mainland, in the ships section of the website.

 

 


MISTY MARITIME MAJESTY.

Cutter off Cormorant Rock

With commercial design and illustration taking up much of the early season in 2010, Peter was hard at work catching-up on a backlog of acrylic and watercolour painting ideas. Several new transport themes have been the subject matter and the above simple watercolour of a traditional west coast pilot-cutter threading its way through a narrow channel in the mist, captures the beauty of these small but effective vessels.




FFESTINIOG RAILWAY: GETTING YOU BEHIND THE SCENES.

Two works, depict "staff only" views of this interesting World famous line. A "fireman's eye view" from 1893 locomotive Blanche as she threads through the woods between Penrhyn and Tanybwlch on a winter service, captures the complex reflections and tones of the brasswork when you get up close. This is one of many watercolour scenes produced of Ffestiniog subjects.

The other scene uses pastel to take you into the steamy confines (if you'll pardon the expression) of the Glanymor loco shed at Boston Lodge, where Single Fairlie loco Taliesin is just returning from it's labours at the end of the day.

FR Fireman's eye view

 

Taliesin back on-shed

 

SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

The design arm of the business takes-on all manner of interesting projects. These may be small logos or large signboards. Peter has been employed in a number of projects coordinated by a Heritage Group that undertake conservation, restoration and interpretation work for the World-famous Ffestiniog Railway in Gwynedd, North Wales. Peter has of course, worked closely with this excellent tourist railway for many years to solve some of their design and illustration requirements. These have included souvenirs, artist's impressions, grant-applications, logos and crests, headboards, special event corporate image, leaflets, guidebook photography, postcards, prints and various other applications. The work with the Heritage Group has led to "thinking big", as they needed an Interpretation Panel to explain the history of the scenic Tanybwlch station to the casual visitor.

 

The brief was for a sign to have a clean, layout and modern outoor materials but with a nod to the Railway's long history and rise to prominence in the Victorian era. Ideally it was to be compatible with their "Spooner Album" house-style, based on a collection of 19th century photos of the line. It was also necessary to incorporate a traditional logo and some fine old photographs of the station from the Archives. As the photos were taken on old glass-plate negatives, their quality was crystal-clear despite some being taken in the 1870s.

 

Peter worked closely with the Heritage Group team and with the excellent Gwasg Eryri/Snowdonia Press to ensure a high quality laminated presentation. This was important as the panel had to exist in a harsh environment, exposed to the elements on a mountainside location, beneath overhanging trees. The sign was so well received that a second one was ordered for the opposite end of the station and was quickly delivered.

 

Tanybwlch Interpretation Panel 


Since then, Peter has been called-on at short-notice to produce a leaflet for the Group's wagon and track restoration appeal. This has been circulated in the 1000s through various publications and outlets and has led to a tremendous response from the general public. Further work is in progress to continue the enhancement of Tanybwlch which is a beautiful location, complete with nature-trail, play-area and (in the main season) cafe.

 

Other large-scale Interpretation and signage boards have been ordered by Llechwedd Slate Caverns and the C2 Locomotive Group who needed some exhibition boards when their engine was displayed at the National Railway Museum's Shildon site.

 

Fixed!

We are pleased to say that progress has now been made by installing a new page specifically for fixed-wing aircraft images. More material will be added shortly.