Propeller-driven warplanes from the mid-twentieth century were at the apex of aviation design at the time. These planes – many of them still in use after the Second World War, and seen widely in films and comic books – inhabited my 1950s boy imagination; and I suppose they still do now. We built models, drew pictures, and dreamed about aerial dogfights, our childs' imagination having no way Robert Spellman painting of a sunlit front porch.to grasp the enormity of war. My interest in painting – and in art generally – is in discovering poetry, the wordless surge of contact that happens with a fortuitous arrangement of things. The idea to do paintings of these planes came out of the same nowhere as any good or bad idea; but I can tell I'm on to something when I catch myself repeatedly sneaking looks at the result.

I started this series of planes in the summer of 2012 during a year-long sabbatical from my teaching at Naropa University. There are a number of new approaches in the doing of these. The painting surface is thick with attached canvas scraps cut to the shape of the plane, which is then overlayed with cheesecloth and modelling paste. The whole process had a demanding but satisfying, "artsy-craftsy" feeling about it, and they required a kind of patient industry to which I am unaccustomed. The result has the look of something antique, something with a few life scars, which I enjoy for no reason I can explain. Perhaps it is my own projection, but they also evoke the evanescence and sadness of past glory.