Layne Larsen is an engineer by education, an aviator by training and an artist by avocation. Raised in Moose Jaw, SK, after graduation from Royal Military College (RMC), he spent 38 years in the Canadian Forces/RCAF, retiring in 1994 in the rank of Colonel. Initially, he flew the Argus aircraft from bases on Canada's east coast, and fulfilled progressively more senior engineering and management positions in Canada and Europe over the years, including Deputy Commandant of RMC.
He is a completely self-taught artist who works in watercolour, ink, egg tempera, acrylic, pencil and graphite, having given up oils as a teenager due to an allergic reaction. His work is strongly representational in style, emphasizing accurate detail and the play of light. He specializes in Canadian wildlife but also does portraiture, figure studies, aviation and military subjects, architecture and landscapes.
For colour work in acrylic and watercolour, he uses a limited palette of only five colours: black, white, red, yellow and blue, preferring to mix everything from the primaries and using the black and white for toning. Although this is perhaps more difficult than simply picking a tube of the nearest appropriate colour, it does result in having to maintain only minimal stocks of paint!
He is a member of several regional and national artists' and professional engineers' organizations, is the author of seven book-length technical analyses and more than 100 technical monographs, is listed in "Canada's Who's Who" and also operates a full-service archival framing business. His work has hung in galleries in Canada, the USA and Europe and is to be found in public and private collections in more than 30 countries.
What is your artistic background?
I have been painting since I was 10 years old, but have never had any formal art training except what one gets in primary and secondary school.
Why do you like to paint aircraft?
I paint aircraft as a hobby; my "bread and butter" work is mostly wildlife.
What is your connection to aviation?
I was an aircrew officer (navigator) in the RCAF/CF for 37 years.
How do you choose a subject?
I like to paint subjects that most other aviation artists don't usually deal with, such as aircraft under maintenance on the ground with the unsung techs doing their job so as to keep pilots and navigators gainfully employed. For an aviation artist, it is the story that generates the painting since we are portraying parts of history that cameras never caught.
What are your favourite media to work with?
I select my media based on the subject. Aircraft I usually do in acrylic (I had to give up oils back in my 20s when I developed an allergy to the solvents) or pencil. Figure studies in pencil or silverpoint, wildlife in watercolour, architectural stuff in ink, portraits in egg tempera.