Grandson and protege of the legendary aviation artist and one of the founding members of the American Society of Aviation Artists, the late R.G. Smith, Steve Tack possessed a love of aircraft at an early age. Steve studied under his grandfather and after years of hard work and critique, achieved his own critically acclaimed style. Tack is group leader for airborne photography at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Pt. Mugu California. He has created oil paintings for more than 50 air shows in the U.S. and Canada.

A native of Southern California, Steve attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a degree in cinema and television production. In 1990, he began working as an airborne motion picture and video photographer in support of Flight Test for the Naval Air Warfare Center at NAS Pt. Mugu in Southern California. Steve’s educational training, in combination with his “on-the-job” experience, has lent him a unique insight and detailed perspective toward aviation that is reflected in each of his paintings.

According to Steve, “Flying on a regular basis is the single greatest insight to my art. Knowing the airplanes inside and out, plus all of the things you don’t see—such as mission briefs, flight profiles, NATOPS rules—help to build a greater understanding of Naval Aviation. This greater understanding has translated into a heightened realism. That’s not to say I paint every little detail—in fact, I don’t—but the knowledge is the foundation from which to build and select the appropriate detail to paint.”

Steve Tack attributes most of his award-winning artistic style to his grandfather, R.G. Smith, who had critiqued just about everything he has ever done until his passing in 2001. “He cautioned me, against overpainting the picture, and suggests various techniques for fitting the airplanes IN the background instead of ON the background. He has taught me the power of suggestion; the mere suggestion of something in the background rather than overpainting the details, helps to focus the viewer’s eye on the desired points of interest.” This inherited artistic approach results in each of Steve’s paintings being a harmonious blend of realistic detail and flowing artistic interpretation. His work consistently shows Steve’s talented eye for composition, balance and knowing detail.

Steve’s artwork is included in the collections of countless aviation museums and facilities throughout the United States. His magnificent painting “Forever There” which depicts a flyby of Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima by an F/A-18D of the MCAS Beaufort based VMFA(AW)-224 The Fighting Bengals, won BEST OF SHOW in the 2005 National Museum of Naval Aviation Art Exhibition, Pensacola Florida and was prominently hung in the museum from May 15, 2005 to May 10, 2006.

He has received nationwide acclaim for his distinguished style and is an active member of the American Society of Aviation Artists and the International Council of Air Shows. Steve was presented the 2007 RG Smith Award for Excellence in Aviation Art, during the Naval Aviation Symposium at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Steve currently spends his time creating private commissions for individuals or commemorative events and continues to create artwork for military air shows throughout the country.

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