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Face of Defense: Marine Employs Artistic Talent to Motivate

By Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua Pettway
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C., June 12, 2012 – Marine Corps Pfc. Coty Thomas uses his flair with paint to motivate his fellow Marines here.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Pfc. Coty Thomas paints the lettering for a going-away canvas for one of the Marines in his shop on May 13, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua Pettway

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Thomas, an aircraft technician assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, airbrushes different symbols and meaningful pictures on his shop’s interior walls.

“I have been airbrushing for the past four to five years and it’s easy to become lost in my work,” Thomas said. “So far, I’ve painted a few different things for my shop. … You won’t see anything like [my work] in any other shop.”

“I like it because it’s not something that everyone can do, and I take pride in the end result,” he added.

Right outside the Thomas’ office is an airbrushed rendering of a knight clad in armor with a shield depicting a previous unit mascot. This work of art was completed with the help of Marine Corps Pfc. Frederick Stewart, a fellow maintenance technician.

“I think it’s pretty cool to do something like this for our unit,” Stewart said. “Everything looks really good, and it’s unique to our shop. And it lets me do something for everyone in it.”

Airbrushing can take a lot of time to complete, depending on the level of difficulty and effort behind the image.

“I could spend hours painting because I’m so focused on finishing once I start,” Thomas said. “I can’t just rush through it because it’s my name going on the work, and I want whoever sees it to think it looks good.”

Thomas said he always begins from scratch and cuts out all of the outlines for the artwork himself.

“But it’s worth it in the end,” he said.

Thomas recently completed airbrushing a canvas for one of the Marines in his shop as a going-away gift and reminder of the effort and work they put in before departing for a new unit.

“Starting is the hardest part, but the last project I finished took [about] 22 hours,” Thomas said. “With the free time I had after work, I would add as many details as I wanted.

“It’s unfortunate being a perfectionist when you really enjoy something because you can’t allow yourself to make a mistake,” he added.

As Thomas’ artwork catches the eyes of the Marines of his shop, he hopes they appreciate it after he leaves.

Thomas’ long-term goal, he said, is to establish a portfolio of his work. However, he added, it’s an enjoyable hobby creating airbrushed artwork for his fellow Marines.


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