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Presidential painter: Colorado Springs artist documents history with a brush

Rick Broome's dream of flying didn't pan out, but he's found a way to stay close to the skies with his paintings that have attracted famous and important clientele.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Inspiration can come from anywhere. Many artists create what they love most.
Rick Broome dreamed of being a commercial airline pilot one day, but when his aviation career never took flight he found another way to stay in the sky.

“I was fortunate enough to get accepted as a flight officer when I was only 22 years old but I got furloughed,” said Broome.

Broome combined his love of aviation with brushes and paint to create eye-catching artwork of iconic planes.

“I had an art display at LAX in the crew lounge, where I worked as a mechanic for United,” he said.

Despite having no formal training, his artwork of historic airplanes took off.

“It's a gift," he said. "I haven't had any art lessons except in high school. I’ve read a lot of books. I never really promoted it but it started selling, so we started the art business 52 years ago.”

Broome uses acrylic paint, model planes and special lighting to show specific details in his work.

“For every painting I do, I start at a different light value," he explained. "So they are always a new challenge. Most of the paintings I've done come from dreams.”

Credit: KUSA


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His paintings have a starlight effect, giving Colorado’s sunsets and mountain terrain appear as if they are lifting the image off the canvas.

“I change the frequency of light all the time," he said. “It's like stained glass.”

Broome paints fighter jets, presidential aircraft and iconic commercial airliners.

“I paint like Rembrandt, it's an old war style of painting where it's done with transparent paint," he said. "To get those colors, there are literally 100 layers of paint."

Broome’s artwork caught the attention of aviation experts and celebrity figures. He's painted for nearly every United States president dating back to former President Gerald Ford.

Former presidents Donald Trump and Barrack Obama hung Broome's work in the White House during their stays in the Oval Office.

Singer John Denver commissioned one of his paintings in the late 1990s, but Denver died in a plane crash before he could receive it.

“I knew (John Denver) real well," Broome remembered. "He was a fan of my work. I'm still mad at him for not doing a checklist on that very flight he lost his life on.”

Credit: KUSA

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Broome paints in a home studio and converted the front end of a commercial airliner into his office.

“I hired a broker to find me the cleanest 727 on the planet, and it was in a movie lot in Hollywood," he said.

His original paintings hang on the walls of his house and he sells the prints for tens of thousands of dollars.

For decades, he’s painted yearly portraits for the graduation classes at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, providing cadets with a keepsake to remember their dedication to the program. 

Broome hopes his love of aviation will soar long after he puts down the brush.

“That's what I try to do," he said. "Teach these young cadets the importance of history so they will do a good job preserving it and protecting it.”

Credit: KUSA

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