America's premiere aviation artist, William S. Phillips has spent a lifetime in the aviation field, on the ground and in the air. More than an airplane portraitist, Phillips is a superb landscape and "skyscape" painter who places his subject in geographic and historical context. A tight formation of F-4 Phantoms scream over Crater Lake, Oregon; the Blue Angels soar in exhibition near the California coast; there is a violent confrontation between a German Bf-109 and a RAF Spitfire above the white cliffs of Sussex's Beachy Head; a line of Bell Hueys pass through a monsoon-soaked valley in the central highlands of Vietnam. Bill Phillips understands the place and purpose of each of his subjects. As an artist, he also appreciates the natural beauty of landscape and atmosphere. In a Phillips canvas, the viewer can almost feel the G-force on his body from the ground-blurring speed of the plane, his mouth go dry in the desert air or the chill on his neck when it's so cold it hurts to breathe. Immediately apparent in Phillips' military aviation art is his respect for the men and women who risk their lives to protect the values we cherish: family, home and freedom.
Williams S. Phillips majored in criminology in college and served four years in the Air Force including a tour in Vietnam. He was planning to attend law school when four of his paintings were sold. His life's work as a fine art painter had begun. Phillips was commissioned by the Royal Jordanian Air Force to develop sixteen major paintings, many of which now hang in their Air Force Museum in Amman. In 1986, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum presented a one-man show of Phillips' work. (He is one of only a few artists to have been so honored.) In 1988, Phillips was chosen to be a US Navy combat artist and was awarded the Navy's Meritorious Public Service Award and the Air Force Sergeants Association's Americanism Medal for his outstanding work. His art has appeared in numerous museum exhibitions including the 2003 United States Air Force Museum's "Centennial Celebration of Aviation Art." In the past fifteen years, Phillips' paintings have regularly been among the Top 100 in the National Parks Service's Arts for the Parks shows. In the fall of 2004, the artist was chosen by the US Park Service to be its first Artist-in-Residence in the Grand Canyon. He has twice been commissioned by the US Postal Service to produce a body of paintings for an aviation history stamp series, once in 1994 and again in 2005.
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