“About a year and a half ago my friend, who’s an Angel Flight pilot, took me along on a flight and I just fell in love with it immediately,” said Noelle Dass.
Like so many she got bit by the aviation bug… hard.
She then took a few sporadic flight lessons, but quickly surmised the occasional lesson was not going to get her closer to her goal of becoming an Angel Flight West pilot herself.
“So I realized I’d need to focus full time on learning to fly, but I’m always working in the summer, that’s when all the art shows are,” noted Noelle. “That’s where I earn most of my income so I couldn’t really dedicate my time in the summer.”
A professional artist for nearly 15 years, Noelle makes a living painting, showing and selling animal art at art shows each summer. But that gets in the way of the prime flying season in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon.
“Well, in the winter I could go down to somewhere else like Arizona and focus on learning to fly,” Noelle continued. “I don’t do many art shows in the winter.”
Knowing that flight training is pricey, she turned to her inner artist and thought, “I could raise funds for my flight training by doing plane portraits.”
While Noelle hopes to sell many copies of her paintings, she’s really interested in commissioned art. In other words, a custom painting of your plane.
Noelle walked me through the process.
“First I would look at photos,” started Noelle. “In person would be great, but I don’t usually get to do that.”
“After looking at the photos, I talk with the owner about what they’re looking for in a painting. Some people might just say, ‘I have this perfect photo’ that they love and say, ‘I want this painted.’”
But that isn’t usually the case.
“More often it’s ‘Here’s my aircraft and I would like it flying over the mountains or over my house.’ Most often, people have a specific image in mind.”
And for those without an idea, Noelle will guide them.
“I ask, do you fly over the coast, over the mountains, to a favorite lake or golf course?”
Once the general idea is agreed upon, Noelle gets busy sketching. After creating a number of quick sketches, Noelle emails the images to the customer for their opinion. This step further refines the composition of the painting.
Next up, she starts painting. She emails progress photos.
“After all, the customer knows their plane better than I do, so I want to make sure I get the details right,” she said.
Time and Money
As Noelle outlined the process, I couldn’t help but think this is a rather involved process. So I asked how long the process takes from start to finish?
“About one week to do one painting,” she said.
But the time also depends on a number of factors. Some customers want their plane in a field of flowers, others will want more or less background detail.
“I have a customer right now who ordered a commission with 10 planes in it,” smiled Noelle. “He has 10 planes and he wants them all in one painting.”
So that painting will take a little longer. It will also cost more.
Like so many custom projects, commissioned art is tough to price. If you’d like to see your plane in your own custom painting Noelle’s price starts at $900 and goes up from there.
Noelle seeks to become a pilot not as a career, but as a vehicle to serve. Whether as a pilot for Angel Flight or Pilots N Paws or some other cause, Noelle’s passion to serve will be enhanced by learning to fly.
And that’ll happen one painting at time.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Ed Lansinger for this story idea. Do you have a story, or know of one, worth sharing? Let us know about it via our My Story form.