Bright airplane paintings raise nearly $30,000 for environmental charity

Trisha Oldfield of Chemainus created nine paintings of de Havilland planes, which were auctioned off for charity.

Trisha Oldfield’s painting of a de Havilland Beaver helped raise nearly $30

Trisha Oldfield’s painting of a de Havilland Beaver helped raise nearly $30

Bright paintings of iconic de Havilland planes by a local artist have raised thousands of dollars to support tree-planting projects in the Maldives.

Trisha Oldfield of Chemainus, who is a member of the Ladysmith and District Arts Council, created nine paintings for Viking Air, which were recently auctioned off for nearly $30,000.

Viking Air, an equipment manufacturer specializing in de Havilland aircraft products, is based in Sidney and is the type certificate holder for the DHC-2 Beaver, DHC-2T Turbo Beaver, DHC-3 Otter, DHC-6 Twin Otter, DHC-4 Caribou, DHC-5 Buffalo and DHC-7 Dash 7 aircraft.

Viking is one of Oldfield’s graphic design clients, and, originally , the company commissioned her to do a painting of a de Havilland plane for their CEO.

This led to Oldfield creating nine paintings representing the de Havilland fleet, which were auctioned off during Viking’s All Operators Forum April 17-19 in Sidney.

All de Havilland owner-operators from around the world were invited to the event, and Oldfield says more than 500 people attended the forum, and more than 300 people were at the gala and auction.

When Viking Air wanted to do something to commemorate the All Operators Forum, Oldfield came up with the idea of paintings.

Oldfield worked with Angela Murray of Viking to come up with nine compositions for the Chipmunk, Beaver, Otter, Caribou, Turbo Beaver, Buffalo, Twin Otter, Dash 7, and the Twin Otter Series 400 that are reminiscent of vintage flying posters.

Oldfield started working with Murray on these compositions last May. Oldfield moved into the studio at the Ladysmith Waterfront Studio in August and started painting the series in September.

Oldfield finished the paintings in January.

Originally, Viking was going to keep the originals in the corporate office. Oldfield would make a limited number of prints, and the first one of each print would be auctioned off. Two days before the gala, Viking executives changed their minds, and they decided to auction off the original paintings and donate the money to a charity.

The money raised during the auction went to the Flying Green Fund, which was established by Trans Maldivian Airways in April 2011.

The fund engages in environmental projects throughout the Maldives, such as tree-planting projects.

“They focus on that particular charity because, in the Maldives, they have the largest fleet of operating Twin Otters,” said Oldfield. “A lot of the islands are eroding because they’ve been de-forested for a long time, so now, they are looking at re-planting.”

At the gala, with Tom Watson from the Timebenders acting as auctioneer, the auction raised $29,750 for the Flying Green Fund.

The nine paintings represent the airplanes and the many places around the world where they fly.

“Because they work all around the world, we decided each airplane would be set in a continent, and we covered all the continents,” said Oldfield.

Oldfield created the paintings so they could fit together as a set.

“Compositionally, if they were all lined up in a row, the horizons are all the same,” she noted. “It was important we worked on all nine of them. I had to work on them all at the same time and had to work on them as a set so we had the same sky colour and the same cloud structure.”

Oldfield was surprised how many people were interested in her airplanes when they saw her work in the studio.

“It was really interesting how many people came in the studio who were airplane enthuthiasts,” she said.

One woman came into the studio asking for directions, and when she saw the paintings, she said she’d been to all those places, recalled Oldfield. The woman was a stewardess with British Airways and Air Canada in the 1950s, and she sat and told Oldfield stories.

“It was interesting how many people were fascinated by them and, in the end, how my paintings helped support a good cause” said Oldfield. “It was fun. I’m glad I did it.”