I’ve been blessed by having numerous (male) heroes in my lifetime, beginning with Hero Number One… JESUS! Then of course there was my father, Hendrix Murphy, and his father, Matthew Murphy, and mom’s father, Patrick Murphy. Over the years I learned to admire and respect (in no particular order) Winston Churchill, John Wayne, Red Skelton, and numerous ‘aviation greats’ such as Chuck Yeager, Jimmy Doolittle, Douglas Corrigan, and Bob Hoover.
My passion for model airplanes introduced me to another… a super talented aviation artist who created the covers for Model Airplane News Magazine, and other publications, for many years. His name is Jo Kotula, (1910-1998).
Jo was Polish. He and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1910, when Joe was but 6 months old. By the early 1930s his work was appearing in national publications like Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Newsweek, Air Trails and Popular Science. He began painting covers for Model Airplane News in 1932, continuing for 38 years, creating more than 400 dramatic paintings. He also illustrated for Air Force training manuals during and after World War II. He was among the first aviation artists who mastered the difficult technique of portraying reflective bare metal in bright sunlight. One of this personal features was not to depict the sky as simply bright blue filled with puffy white clouds! Yellow, as seen in the illustration, appeared to be his sky-color of choice, appearing often in his work.
I found this copy of his 1950 work for Air Trails on-line and downloaded it. Next, I imported the file into Paintbrush and painted out the wording. The original magazine must have been old, as there were a couple of tears and folds, in addition to a mark or two… all of which I did my best to repair. I now have a framed copy of this ‘restored’ tribute to Jo Kotula hanging on my office wall. If only I had an original of his work!