Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Knights of the Air

Greg Manchess

Knights of the Air debuted in Paris on October 17th, at Galerie Daniel Maghen. The show exhibited my adventure paintings, as well as new narratives, such as this one.

Excerpt from the story:

“...transferred from artillery, he could field-strip the dual Backinger D30’s even airborne.

Good thing.

The hangars were already alight, shock troops circled raining ordnance on the field, and he wouldn’t have a chain gun’s chance if he couldn’t get aloft and prep them, stripped or jammed.

But....Lysette hadn’t made it to the airfield yet.”

I’m a long time fan of WW1 biplanes and sketched this idea a few years after I left art school. I had always heard the pilots referred to as ‘knights.’ But I stalled after the initial sketch, putting too much thought into the idea, worried people would think I was cracked. Blending two unrelated eras together in one piece was troubling, so I let it sit for awhile. Decades actually. It took me a long time to realize that I had finally learned how to paint it.

Original small sketch

Yet, sketching the pilot again after all that time, the feeling of ‘crazy’ came back. By now, I really shouldn’t care. I’d learned through my career that holding something back that feels right, even when it’s slightly nutty, is not the way to find new ideas.

So I got to work on blending a knight with a pilot and then picked the most metal-y biplane I knew of, the Spad, and enhanced all the mechanics of it. Extra pipes, tubes, plates, and heat exchangers later, I had what I thought might be a knight’s plane.

Would it fly?

That’s too much thinking.


  1. I love the diversity you achieved with what looks like a palette of 4 hues. The fully rendered sketch of the knight is also fantastic! This theme would be an absolute gas to see as an "air joust".

  2. Often times the crazy ideas are the fun ones. I'm all for more of these sky knights! Hope the showing goes well.

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