Pencils of Magic – The Aviation Art of Reinaldo Munilla

United Fuel Cells

by Moreno “MO” Aguiari

Humans have been creating ‘aviation art’ since the Montgolfier brothers first took to the skies in their hot air balloon during the 1780s. And of course, most of us are more than familiar with the multitude of more recent oil paintings, and their ilk, depicting epic aerial battles of the past century. More recently, the increasing power of computers and the availability of sophisticated graphical editing software packages have allowed a new breed of artists to emerge, ones who paint with light on digital canvases.

A 1786 depiction of the Montgolfier brothers’ historic balloon with engineering data. (image via Wikipedia)

However, if you were to debate which medium you might employ to create the very finest aviation art, it is unlikely many would consider using a pencil on paper. That omission would be a mistake though. For some time now, I have been observing the sublime work of Reinaldo Munilla, a Spanish artist who creates the most accurate and realistic pencil drawings I have ever seen. His distinctive, personal style involves making precise  drawings of flying machines or sailing vessels, and even portraits, but all while capturing the natural soul of the characters involved. We recently had the opportunity to converse with Munilla, and the resulting interview is laid out below, along with a selection of his finest artwork. We feel sure you will be amazed by what you see!

 “I am a story teller, and I welcome you to join me on this visual journey.”

MA: When did you first start drawing?

RM: I have been drawing ever since I could pick up a pencil. I still have the book where I started reading and writing… My drawings are better than the letters! When I do get time, it’s as if I’ve never stopped!

MA: How did your passion for aviation start?

RM: My passion for aviation started when I was 9 or 10. A friend of mine was collecting aviation encyclopedias and I started reading the history of WWI and WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Drawing warbirds and others planes was the next step. I drew planes at all hours, even on the class table! Sometimes I drew so elaborately that the school cleaning services did not clean my table. This was great because it was easy to add formulas and texts for the exam day… but this is a secret between us!

MA: Which of your drawings is your favorite so far?

RM: It is impossible to choose a single drawing. I would need to list a top 10, or even a top 20. The B-24 Liberator that we see in this magazine is one of my favorites.

MA: You also draw portraits, right?

RM: That is right! My clients request lots of portraits of famous pilots, especially Robin Olds and other great pilots. Some retired pilots request his portrait next to his plane or inside a fighter, but my favorite pilot is Robin Olds. That man radiates a special energy; drawing his portrait is an incredible experience!

MA: Who are your clients?

RN: My clients, I also like to call them “Friends”; they are usually small collectors, companies, former pilots from USAF, ARMY, US NAVY, other air forces in Europe and Australia, and combat squads (Wings), who want to give a gift to a colleague…

MA: Friends?

RN: I call them friends because normally a continuous relationship is established thanks to social networks. Some even send me gifts such as patches or dedicated books, and tell me stories of their careers, some old photos, etc. For me, this last part is the best of all; those stories and photos are spectacular for a plane enthusiast!

MA: Tell me about your pencil drawing technique?

RM: The usual method is the classic grid. Many of us used this method when we were a child. I use 2 to 3 high quality pencils, an eraser and acid-free paper. That ensures a good result, and years and years of life for my works.

MA: Do you use color in your drawings?

RM: Sometimes I add a little color to the drawing. The result obtained is usually very pleasing.

MA: What is the most difficult part of creating these drawings?

RM: Giving the correct shape and dimensions; that is the goal. Sometimes I see artists with a correct technique, but they ruin the work when you see almost “square” wheels or air intakes that look like an “S”.

MA: How long does it take to make a drawing?

RM: I never count the time spent on each drawing. For me the most important thing is to do a great drawing. Also, if I count the time, I will see clearly that it is not a profitable job!

MA: Does that mean the price is reasonable?

RM: It is so reasonable that retirees can afford my drawings, and I have a waiting list.

MA: Where can we see your work?

RM: I am preparing a National exhibition, but you can visit my website, my Facebook profile or Istagram.

Many thanks to Reinaldo Munilla for talking to us about his work. It is clear that he has enormous talent!


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