TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Across time, a hobby can transform into a passion. For one creative Citizen Airman here at Tinker, his hobby of painting has taken him on a journey across the globe, gaining him notoriety along the way.
Senior Master Sgt. Darby Perrin, in-flight refueling technician with the 465th Air Refueling Squadron here, said he always enjoyed drawing and sketching, but branched out into painting in 1981 when his uncle first bought him supplies.
Perrin’s paintings have appeared in all corners of the world throughout his 29 years in the Air Force, the most recent of which was unveiled Oct. 28 in Nashville during the 48th annual Air Mobility Command and Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium.
The painting was donated to the Air Force Art Program, and it is significant because it depicts the role of the 910th Airlift Wing, based out of Youngstown, Ohio, and their cleanup efforts following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
“What I do is preserves the history aspect and raises awareness about the Air Force Reserve,” Perrin said. “This highlights a unique job, and it’s something many outside of the Air Force Reserve are not aware of.”
“Deepwater Horizon” is the second painting Perrin has contributed to the program. The first was “The Last Ace,” a painting that depicts 1st Lt. Charles d’Olive’s victory over three German fighter planes during World War I. Susan Mozena, d’ Olive’s daughter, and her family were in attendance Oct. 1 at the 2016 World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, held at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Perrin’s artwork is on display across the country: In California at the San Diego Air and Space Museum; In Nebraska at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum; and in Georgia at the Museum of Aviation as well as the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. His work can also be seen on the noses of KC-135R Stratotankers at the 507th Air Refueling Wing here.
In addition to donated works, his customers place orders from Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Japan, Turkey, and Australia.
When Perrin joined the military in 1986, he put the brush down -- but only for a short time.
“I would take a photo of something, and then paint it,” said Perrin. “After painting, someone would see it and encourage me to do more, and it snowballed from there.”
Perrin said he gets inspiration from his surroundings, especially aircraft. He won’t always be in the military, but he hopes the Air Force will always be a part of him and his work.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and eventually, I’m going to retire,” he said. “I would like to be able to do this when I separate.”