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Face of Defense: Airman’s Passion for Art Leaves Mark on Unit

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., Nov. 15, 2013 – A 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron propulsion technician here is a passionate artist who is leaving his mark in the squadron's hangar.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Airman Patrick Corcoran stands in front of a mural he airbrushed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Oct. 17, 2013. The mural took him about six weeks to complete and is the second of five murals to be painted in the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hangar. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier

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

Air Force Senior Airman Patrick Corcoran said he has always had an interest for art. He draws and does watercolors, but his favorite medium is airbrushing. A neighbor who worked as an auto body painter gave him some guidance when he was growing up, he said.

"One day, he pulled out a truck, and it had a checkered flag all the way down the side," Corcoran said. "I asked him about it, and he gave me a book on airbrushing and custom automotive painting."

His neighbor told Corcoran that he wished he had gone to art school first and then learned how to do auto paint, instead of the other way around. That piece of advice stuck, and in 2007, Corcoran received a bachelor's degree in fine art from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He tried for two and a half years to make art his career, he said.

"It was hard to live off the money," he added. "One week, you might make $2,000 and then not get another job for over three weeks."

When his wife became pregnant, priorities changed. Corcoran decided to join the Air Force.

"I joined for stability," he said. "If I were to get sick, it would be OK. What were to happen if my son got sick? He wouldn't have insurance. I needed to look out for him."

For two years, Corcoran said, he put his artwork aside to focus on the Air Force mission.

"I knew how to airbrush," he explained. "What I needed to focus on was aircraft engines. I needed to be able to study and know what I was doing, and do it well. If I didn't know what I was doing for my job, I would have got kicked out and [would have] had to start over again."

Once Corcoran was settled in and comfortable with his knowledge and experience of engines, he made his way back into the world of art.

"No one in the shop knew I drew," he said. "They knew I had a degree, but they didn't know in what. I never drew at work or did anything artistic."

When Corcoran began airbrushing again, he said, he started displaying his work and received a lot of positive feedback. He was even asked to airbrush communication sets for some of his co-workers. Earlier this year, his leadership approved his request to airbrush murals in the squadron.

"He is a go-to technician, and is very passionate about what he does," said Air Force Master Sgt. Donald Gerhart, Corcoran’s section chief. "He stepped up and asked if he could do some artwork in the hangar. His first task was the painting of the squadron patch, and next the EC-130H."

The mural of the EC-130H Compass Call aircraft took Corcoran about 36 hours over a six-week span to complete.

"I would work on the pieces whenever I had down time," he said. "Some days I would get two hours in, while other days I would maybe get 20 minutes."

Three more murals are in the works.

"I go through spurts," Corcoran said. "I don't just do it two hours here and there. When I'm in it, I'm in it for a couple weeks straight, and then … take a step back and relax."


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