Ron Cole’s Aviation Art – History You Can Touch
For over thirty years Ron Cole has combed the globe to accumulate some of the rarest and best-preserved parts from historic aircraft to combine with his award-winning aviation artwork. No one else combines these elements as Cole’s Aircraft does. Connecting art and history is something Ron does well.
His interest in airplanes began as a child when he grew up in upstate New York. His father had a passion for aviation and passed that love on to his son. When Ron was eight years old, his dad took him to NYC to an aircraft show. He was hooked.
It’s no surprise that Ron flew a plane before he could drive a car. That first flight took place in Binghamton, New York as his interest in airplanes continued to develop. While still in high school, he founded a quarterly magazine devoted to aircraft preservation and history.
After earning his degree in Industrial Design at Rochester Institute of Technology, Ron explored many areas before coming back to his artistic self.
He learned a lot and grew his talent during time in Los Angeles working with companies such as Disney, Pixar, Mattel, Boeing, JPL, and many more. Ron stated, “I found my creative calling through diverse opportunities.” He worked as a model maker on films such as Harry Potter, Terminator III, Toy Story, and Madagascar. It was while he was working in this area that he developed his own unique way of presenting his artwork.
He discovered a way to combine the best of acrylic-on-canvas with the versatility of digital painting. That blend of traditional art with digital art has made him stand out in the field of aviation art.
While still in LA, Ron founded Cole’s Aircraft in 2006. It now resides in Zanesville, Ohio at 616 Main Street. He also operates Gallery Luminaria at 53 N. 4th Street. He feels Zanesville has a great art community with amazing talent and he wants to help promote art in the area – not just his own.
Aviation art and aircraft archeology have remained in two separate fields. Framed and matted artwork could be found on walls and excavated airplane parts in piles or remote jungles. Ron wanted to change all that.
His paintings needed a touch of history so Ron began buying parts of airplanes from WWII. He discovered boxes and buckets of them saved by families in Japan. Many airplane parts he purchased from museums with serial numbers or markings that could be traced back to a certain plane.
These parts were cut into pieces and a small piece placed in the frame with the picture. On each picture, you’ll find a history of the plane. He calls these “relic displays.” He likes having real history that you can reach out and touch in his paintings.
In March 2022 Cole’s Aircraft acquired its first complete warbird: a Japanese A6M2 Model 21 Zero Fighter, built by Nakajima in 1943 and served with the famous 201st Kokutai out of Tobera, Rabaul. Recovered from Balalae in the Solomon Islands in 2019, it now has a permanent home in his Zanesville Ohio studio while Ron works to restore its cockpit section.
As you shop online, you will find everything from small fold-out pictures for desktop display to large 20 X 30 canvas for wall hangings. His aviation art contains an authenticated part of the historic aircraft pictured as well as a short history of the craft. He prefers to paint planes in a peaceful setting but has done some on request that were in the midst of war.
You’ll find a lot of variety in his artistic work. There are paintings of American, German, Japanese, and Royal Air Force aircraft from WWI and WWII. Included are automotive and military vehicles as well as civil and commercial aircraft. Don’t forget he also does local Zanesville art!
Pictures of the local area that show its history have become another of his specialties. Each year he designs a special painting for the Festival of Trees. Ron expressed, “I want to support the community by highlighting special buildings and events.”
Prints of his paintings are now sold all over the world through the internet. It isn’t unusual for him to ship out 4,000 paintings a year. He has a deluxe printing system at his studio where he can print all sizes on demand using canvas or different paper to create special effects. Ron continues to introduce a new special edition weekly. Many of his limited editions sell out quickly.
Marketing is an important part of his business, and he credits its success to his wife, Erin, who serves as executive director for the WHIZ media group. She lets him do the artwork while she does the organization, communications, and accounting.
Visit his website at www.roncole.net or stop by his studio at 616 Main Street on First Friday Art Walk. When Ron thinks about his paintings, he exclaims, “Nothing I’ve ever done in my life or career has approached the pride that I have thanks to being able to do this.” His work takes art to a new level.