Friday, 14 October 2011

Fading glory

When I was in my teens, I was very keen on custom cars and vintage American cars. The chrome and the curves and the outlandish styling captivated me. I subscribed to two different car magazines, had bedroom walls covered in double-page spreads of cars and even had a led sled t-shirt (although it was stolen from the back garden washing line not long after I bought it, so doesn't quite count). It was my obsession in the years before music fully took control of me.

During September, the first month of my stay in Fayetteville, that old obsession returned. For over thirty days I took photos of cars to publish in my daily photo journal online. Every single day I hunted down, and often simply walked into, beautiful cars. I talked to their owners whenever they were in attendance and I took thousands of photos. Eventually after many splendid adventures, I had to stop because it was becoming too much of a hindrance on my day and Megan's, who was often needed to drive me to these cars (ah yes, the irony here being I have never learned to drive!).

Last week when I stopped taking the car photos, I knew that I was not yet over the obsession. I wanted to make it continue in some way and I had the idea to make art from the images I had amassed. As it happened, artist Linda Sheets (who for weeks had been whetting my appetite by feeding me a fine line of car adverts from vintage magazines) had cut down some MDF strips into square blocks for me. I realised these would be the ideal place for my car art. There was something about their chunky appearance that just seemed right. However I did not know quite what the art would be, apart from somehow combining the cars with my abstract painting style. I considered several ideas, before settling on drawing the cars directly onto the gessoed blocks and then painting over the drawings.

Representational art is something I have avoided for years and I was hesitant to make any now. It has taken time and perseverance to reach the point that I have, where I am settling into abstract painting and even becoming (ever so slightly) known for it. To make non-abstract art seemed like either a backwards step, or possibly even self-sabotage.

On the other hand, the impetus to make this art was very strong and I have learnt never to ignore the muse when it strikes. Sometimes it is better to move and then find the time later for explanations. With this in mind I began working and, with encouragement from Megan, Linda and Jennifer Libby Fay, I continued. So far I have made seventeen paintings (although only fourteen are shown in the above video).

These paintings fuse my love of line, my training in illustration, my obsession with vintage cars and my new-found confidence in mark making. I have combined the skills I learned in making abstract art with my dormant illustrative skills to simply enjoy myself. These paintings were created for no other reason than to make them, they do not represent a new direction, nor an old one, they simply are.

All of the paintings are on six inch square, 3/4 inch deep MDF blocks. I may make as many as thirty of them, depending on how many blocks are left in the box Linda left me.

I'd love to hear what you think of my mini-project. Any and all opinions are welcome. How are my drawing skills after all this time? Do you think I'm making a mistake mentioning this in public? Do you love them so much you simply must buy one? Please, drop me a line or leave a comment and, once again, thank you for stopping by.

(shown in the above video are: '53 Plymouth, '59 Edsel Ranger, '66 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, '62 Oldsmobile Super 88, '55 Chevrolet Bel Air, '73 Pontiac Catalina, '54 Dodge Wayfarer, '55 Nash Ambassador Super, '65 Ford Falcon Futura, '61 Ford Galaxie Starliner, '67 Pontiac Firebird, '60 Chevrolet Impala, '56 Continental II, '60 Cadillac Coupe de Ville)

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