Ian Coate Military Art
Portraits and Commissions
Ian Coate Painting

I enjoy doing the odd portrait from time to time.  Usually I am commissioned by loving wives or daughters who want to create a special gift that honours their husband or father.
Presently, I am overloaded with work, but if you are not in any hurry, please contact me for a chat. Click: GETTING IN CONTACT
Below is a sample of some of the commissions I have undertaken in the past – and a little bit of the process getting there.

Soldier Art Soldier Portrait
Military working Dog ArtMilitary Working DogSAS in Borneo
Painting A Military Portrait
Australian Soldiers in Vietnam The Commission: I was approached by a lovely lady who wished to commission a painting of her good friend depicting his time in Vietnam (I quickly learnt from other sources her friend happened to be a well-known and much respected former member of the Australian SAS). The old photo on the right was all she had for me to work with. This was going to be tricky as there was no crisp visual information from this photo to work from. 
One thing I have learnt about painting military artworks is soldiers know their stuff. If you paint their kit wrong they will always be quick to tell you. I’ve had people contact me to correct my artwork because I have drawn a soldier’s boots laced in a fashion that didn’t occur until a few years after the event which the artwork depicts. As you can imagine the people who enjoy military art are very passionate about their subject so it behoves the artist to do their research.
Below are the steps I went through from conception to completion.
Soldiers GridArtist MannequinDrawing a Figure
On this commission I used the simply grid method to transfer visual information correctly.  I used an artist mannequin put under the same directional lighting as the photo to guide me with basic shapes and shadows.
Drawing a SoldierSoldier Sketch
I flesh out the drawing until I have a visual map of the desired layout.  I then lightly pencil the basic line work onto my canvas.  Using the photo and my drawing as reference I then start painting the details on using a brown oil paint (burnt umber) diluted down with Medium No. 1.
Painting a soldierPainting a military artworkPainting a figureSoldier Painting
The Browning stage can be time consuming, but if you get this stage right it saves much time later.  Once the browning stage is finished and dried, I loosely glaze over the background with colours mixed with Medium No. 1.  Then using various photo references to find the correct colours for the camouflage uniform and rifle, I glaze over the main figure.
Soldier in JungleSAS Phantom of the JungleVietnam War Art
I slowly build up detail layer after layer.  To give a sense of jungle it was decided to add some foreground foliage.  You will see in the second picture above that the top foliage was removed due to overcrowding.  Then bit by bit I painted in the details (this is the most time consuming stage).  One of the hardest things with an artwork is knowing when to stop so you don’t over-work it.   I guess this comes with practice (I’m still working on that one myself).  Once finished I sign it, wait for it to dry and then seal it with picture varnish gloss.
Australian Soldier Vietnam War
Every now and again, I paint non-military as well.

Painting in Progress Painting a Military Artwork
Behind the scenes look at the process.

This page takes a look behind the curtain in the process of producing a military artwork from conception to the finished artwork. PRESS HERE

Australian Military Art
Military Prints

If you are interested
in purchasing a
limited edition print:
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"I believe military artists truly achieve something of worth if they can create an image that inspires the soldier who is simultaneously protecting all artists' freedom of creativity."
Slouch Hat by Ian CoateIf your unit is considering creating a commemorative artwork, I'd be happy to chat with you. Please contact me at: iscre5@bigpond.com. At the very least I may be able to advise on different ways your unit can raise funds through print and merchandise paths.
To see my rates and conditions page: PRESS HERE