This is a painting I did last year of an LC-130 Hercules of the United States Navy on the ice at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
It is based on a photo I took back in 1976 when I was employed as a mess attendant at McMurdo (see this post from my other blog if you want to know more about my time in Antarctica).
This was one of three LC-130 Hercules aircraft that were recovered after they all suffered severe damage during attempted takeoffs from an isolated part of Antarctica called Dome Charlie. Following major structural repairs and replacement of engines in the field, the three LC-130s were flown to McMurdo, with 319, the last one, arriving back on Christmas Day, 1976, which is when I photographed her.
I must say that I always wondered about the cost-benefit ratio of sending a team of engineers to one of the coldest and most inhospitable places on Earth to recover what were essentially just dime-a-dozen transport aircraft. I have heard a theory it was because the Americans were worried about the Russians obtaining the secret of the retractable skis – but surely it was something less prosaic than that?! Maybe this could be the plot for an espionage novel?!
For my painting I used artistic licence to move a mountain. I wanted a more interesting background than that in my photo, so I added Mount Erebus, with its wisp of smoke and halo of cloud. This isn’t entirely fantastical, as in real-life the volcano can actually be seen from the runway. It is just that from the angle I took my photo of the Hercules, it wasn’t in frame. But it is now!
I also wanted something in the foreground, and what better than contrasting the modern with the old in Antarctic transport. This dog team would have come from New Zealand’s nearby Scott Base, as the Americans didn’t use dogs at this time.
Nowadays you won’t find any dogs in Antarctica at all, after a clause added to the Antarctic Treaty in 1994 required non-native species to be removed. Dogs could potentially spread distemper to the native seals of Antarctica.
The following images demonstrate the process I used to paint my picture. As with all my paintings, I used acrylic paints on stretched canvas.
This painting isn’t included amongst the ones I am currently getting made into fine art prints to sell … though, of course, that could change if people tell me they want this one!