An interview with the astonishing artist Juan Calderon

Juan Calderon paints incredible artwork as a part-time job whilst living in Costa Rica. I sent him some questions to give the viewers a great insight into the artwork that he produces.

What makes you decide on what to paint next?

“Honestly, there is nothing in particular that makes me think what painting will be next.
Since I started painting airplanes in 2013, I have received orders to paint specific
airplanes. So, what tells me which painting is next is the list of orders that I manage.

Next year will be different, I will dedicate my time to creating paintings for my art exhibition which will be in November 2022 and this exhibition will only be about flight decks. This the event will be held in the facilities of Aeroformacion flight school in Costa Rica. Its owners and I have a very close friendship, and they have given me a lot of support with art.

Right now I am working on a painting completely different from what I have been doing these last years. It is a painting of two Hindu Gods “Krishna and Radha”, it will be owned by two very close friends of mine. I wanted to clear my mind and paint something
different and they needed someone to paint that painting, so I decided to take the
challenge and paint it for them!”

The painting of the two Hindu gods that Juan is working on

Of all the paintings you have completed, which has been your favorite to do and why?

“I like all the paintings that I have done but I actually have some favorite paintings, those

  • “Sunset at FL360”, completed in 2018. It is one of my favorites because I love aerial landscapes, especially those where the sun is appreciated in the sunsets, it reminds me that tomorrow will be a better day.
The picture “Sunset at FL360”
  • Another of the paintings that I consider one of my favorites is the King Air 250, which was completed in 2019. In this one, the airplane is lining up and waiting, which means it is waiting for authorization to takeoff. It looks like you are actually sitting in the pilot’s chair.
Juan’s picture of A King air 250, also featured in our last article
  • And of course, the first painting of a cockpit “Boeing 777-200”. This was the first painting in my area, I completed it in 2013.”
Juan’s first ever cockpit painting, a picture of the Boeing 777-200

Why did you want to work for Volaris Airlines in Costa Rica?

“I had always wanted to exercise my crew member’s license. Besides, the airline came
with a good growth plan in the region and at that time I thought it would be a great
opportunity to grow professionally together with the airline. I am grateful to the company
and I plan to continue being part of it; I have also met people to whom I have affection
and respect, who has also taught me a lot through their experience.”

At what point did you decide to make painting a second income and not just a hobby?

“When I discovered my area of strength regarding art in 2013, I realized that there were very few people painted airplanes and that is why I decided to undertake a new art
theme which, by the way, has been well appreciated by the public in the area of the
aviation. It was in 2015 that I began to receive orders from pilots and crew to paint
airplanes, since then I have dedicated myself to sales.

It is always good to have a second income and in this case, the paintings have helped to solve extra charges. In the last two years, selling paintings has helped me pay my practices in simulators and some flight hours. Also, in the time that aviation was very affected by the pandemic, I received some calls to order paintings and those sales helped me a lot to cover the debts that I had at that time. However, now it’s time to work on me and start creating the paintings for the

A picture of an Embraer E190 done by Juan.

And finally, what are some of the steps to creating a painting?

“There are some steps to follow in order to create a cockpit painting: the first one is to draw the main lines of the sketch. These lines have to be well finished because they are the base for the continuation of the rest of the steps.

A sketched outline of the Boeing 737

The second step is to trace the first layers of oil paint in order to cover the pores of the cloth. The colors of the layers depend on the main colors of the painting. When this layer dries, the following step is to trace another layer, but only if it’s necessary; a cockpit normally takes three layers.

The second step is to fill in most of the painting but not all the details

After these layers are painted, the next step to follow is to place with chalk all the buttons and switches, which will later be painted carefully. When this is done, the final steps approach. Now it’s time to give all the realistic and final details to the painting like creating shades, and retouching effects with white and striking colors.”

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Juan then adds the final details to the painting

If you want to keep up with Juan, his Instagram account is @arts.calderon.


Interview with Sam the Avgeek and Juan Calderon

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