Photo Information

Pfc. Coty Thomas, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 airframer, paints the lettering for a going away canvas for one of the Marines in his shop May 13. Thomas has been airbrushing since 2008 when it was first introduced to him by a family friend.

Photo by Cpl. Josh Pettway

Marine aircraft maintainer uses artistic talent to motivate

6 Jun 2012 | Cpl. Josh Pettway

Marines find various ways to motivate them­selves in work and train­ing. Often times, the in­dividuals who make up the Corps use their own methods to help boost the morale of their brothers-in-arms.

Private First Class Coty Thomas, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 pow­erline mechanic, helps by adding his own artis­tic flair to his work shop by airbrushing different symbols and meaningful pictures on the 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.”

The words “Powerline” are displayed in his staff noncommissioned officer-in-charges’ office with a stylistic design to show­case their pride in the di­vision.

Right outside of the 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 Pfc. Frederick Stewart, a VMFA-122 powerline 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. Ac­cord­ing to Thom­as, he can spend more than 15 hours on any given project.

“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.

“I always start from a blank slate and have to cut out all the outlines my­self, but it’s worth it in the end.”

Recently, Thomas has 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 (approxi­mately) 22 hours to fin­ish,” 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.”

As Thomas’ artwork catches the eyes of the Marines of his shop, he hopes they appreciate it even after he leaves. His long-term goal, however, is to establish a portfolio of his work for release, but currently is satisfied coming up with military themed airbrushed piec­ing of art as a hobby.