Saturday, February 28, 2009

Built to last.

Here's a funny thing. I don't know if it's just me, but sometimes I have a chain of thought that works it's way backwards... Ok here I'll give you an example.

I originally intended to do today's post on cars made in 1949 to mark their 60th anniversary, and of course because many of my favourite models were introduced in '49! What happened next set that reverse chain of thought in action to bring forth this post that is the result.

So here's how it works. On my last post on the old Ford that had been stored for many years I said that I'd rather have an original car than a restored example, mainly due to the authenticity and 'honesty' of a nicely patinated vehicle.
I then got to thinking of the oldies that I have owned and the stories they could tell if only they could talk. I've mentioned before how I tend to wonder who owned them, and what their stories were? I look at the curves of the bodywork and chrome finishings and can easily imagine the original owner back in the 1940/50's running a polishing cloth along them.

I get to wonder where those cars have visited in their long lifetimes? When I take a trip in an old car to a different city I find myself wondering "has this car been here before perhaps?...maybe back in the 1950's?"

As the thinking regresses further, (and here's the thing about 'all original' rather than restored cars) when dismantling some part for maintenance I feel a direct connection with the last guy to turn that nut over half a century ago...which then gets me wondering who he was too!

Well below are a set of great photographs that go some way to answering that question by showing the faces of who built those old 'Jellymould Jalopies'.
This first photograph shows a fella working on a Buick Eight, it may just be my eyes but the guy in the background looks like his brother!

These next ones show the production line in full flow, the year is 1950 as the cars wear that wonderful 'Chrome waterfall' grille.

Here we have three more shots of those beautiful old cars on their way to completion and then on to the GM showroom windows!

Of course every factory has its managers, ensuring good quality control and consistent output, then, like today they had offices that overlooked the factory shop floor from where they kept an eye on things.

And finally, the guys that made it all possible! The next time I ponder who it was that turned the nut tight that I am about to undo, maybe I can picture these old timers faces and give a little nod of appreciation for the work they did. Notice the sign 'Don't run to the clock' LOL...some things never change!

Well so long all you old timers, you did a great job back then, and as testimony to the craftsmanship you put into your cars there are examples still around despite many years of neglect.

Friday, February 27, 2009

1946 Ford

When it comes down to originality there's a lot to be said for buying a car that hasn't been used that much. Personally I would rather own an original car than a restored one, which is why todays post features this lovely old '46 Ford Coupe.

Now here's a cute old girl that has just seen light of day after many a year in storage. In fact, this car has spent so much time in storage that despite the faded paint job it's practically new.
Take a look at the speedo' that's a rare find!

Yep, you guessed it I've been looking on ebay motors again lol! I have decided to prolong my agony by watching how much this one eventually sells for, as a good solid base for some light restoration they don't come much better.

The photo's show a good straight car from any angle, and this car is rock solid...I mean amazingly solid as the photo's of the underside show.

This is just one of several good underbody shots of this car, the interior is also complete and in good shape including the period accessories such as this heater! It all seems hardly worn, just the surface rust from condensation during those long years in storage.

I know that the US has a large custom and hot rod fraternity and they do make some great stuff out of old wrecks, but I hope that this one goes to a new owner that will clean her up, maybe a have paint job and put her back to original stock appearance.

However tempting it might be to customise this one I think it would be a shame as it's rare to find anything this good and complete. For more photo's see the auction listing here.

If I could buy it I'd be tempted to have a top class repaint and let the old girl settle into light use on sunny Sundays and for show days. This would be just about the oldest 'new' car around!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Portraits in rust and colour!

What a fantastic image this is! The capture of light, the colour, and of course the subject matter (I may be a little biased here lol) all combine to make a photograph that describes perfectly the title of this blog...Beautiful Decay!
And here below is proof positive that others see these things that way too. I'm afraid I don't know the name of artist but I love what he's done with this old Pontiac, how cool is that? My wife thinks I'm crazy, but for me I could put a painting like this up right there in my living room - no problem.

Here's another that would pass as a large canvas. I can't name the make or model of car but it looks to be from the Mopar fold, sure makes nice rust-art!

Next up is an old truck that has rusted into that great combination of colour, texture, and interesting shapes. I mentioned in an earlier post the colour vibrations that occur when orange (rust) and blue are juxtaposed in a canvas, well here the blue has been pushed to a darker shade and the rust becomes almost brown...but still the effect works!

Of course even on a white car there are still many possibilities to include colour. Obviously the first thing to notice is that the white paint has aged and rust has come through giving both additional colour and texture.
White is an amazing 'colour' in that there is no colour to white! Therefore it takes its hues from its surrounding objects, this gives us a wide scope to include almost any colour combination that appeals when painting a white object. Look closely at the car below and in addition to the orange/brown of the rust, it's possible to make out the cool blue of the shadows and even a greenish hue around the lights and fittings. This latter green may be the result of the white picking up colour from the grass that the vehicle most likely sits on.

When looking at highly reflective objects such as the chrome, well here again just like white paint chrome also takes its colour from surrounding objects. The chrome here looks to be a deep blue, and that's because it is reflecting, and therefore taking its colour from the sky above it.

This old split screen VW makes another interesting shot. I often say that such things could be put on canvas as is and look great, but for this one I think if I were painting it then it would need a little red in there, maybe some red flowers? The reason for the red is that artists use certain principles to create colourful paintings, as I have already described by the action of blue and orange a painting creates a certain harmony, so it is true of green and red. They are actually opposites on the 'colour wheel' and need to be handled carefully in the same painting, but I feel a splash of red would enliven the old bug above.

Sometimes in order to see the beauty in something it's better no to look at the whole.
Take the photo above which is the usual type of photo that I've been posting here. The Pontiac sits in undergrowth surrounded by leaves and brush and it's obvious that it has been there for quite a while.
Although this image attracts me because of both the subject matter and the decay, if I were to make a painting of this scene then I would take out some of the image to leave what is seen below.

The reason for doing this is that it focuses, and concentrates the eye on the most interesting part of the image. Here you have all the colours, curves, rust, and texture of the bigger picture in a more concentrated form. The viewer will still see that the subject matter is a 1950's Pontiac that is in some 'distress', and that the image contains all the colours and textures that existed in the large version.
Even this image could be cropped further. Imagine a horizontal line that starts just above what we Brits call the 'overider' (fitted on the bumper to the right of the picture) going right across the canvas it would nicely dovetail into the top curve of the rear fender at left.

What you're left with here is just the essence of the larger image we started with, all unnecessary detail has been removed to create something a little stronger in both composition and impact! Now -compare this last incarnation of the Pontiac to the tall image that we began with and see if you can notice how much there was in the original that we didn't really need. This smaller, more compressed image still tells us everything that we need to know and feel about this car!

This last image may have been posted before, I get so exited when I find them that I forget when and where they were last used! LOL.

Now I like this picture as it is, I like the colour, I love the texture of the painted metal, and the abstract shapes of the strong light and shadow. With the advent of home computers todays artists have an absolute treasure store of image making or manipulating equipment. Where once I would have to laboriously draw and colour sketch several compositions and colour schemes to find one that I was happy with, now I can cut, crop, rotate and adjust at will in a matter of moments so that when I finally get the image I'm looking for I'm all set to paint!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Miro Sinovcic

Every once in a while while surfing the net I come across an artist that was previously unknown to me but instantly makes an impression. This is what happened when I discovered the work of Miro Sinovcic.

Miro's paintings of New York are so evocative of the atmosphere of the place, using amazingly beautiful bold colours, combined with an impressionistic technique, his street scenes look how I would imagine they would if you were to squint your eyes!

There are many more examples on his website, just click on the small row of images to enlarge them. Taxi's, or 'Yellow Cabs' feature in many paintings as above, and Miro captures the movement of the vehicles perfectly.

The atmospheric twilight world in which many of the paintings are set are also occasionally balanced out by superb daytime scenes where wintry sunlight sparkles, you can almost feel the cold!

I am always happy to find 'new' artists as they each give a unique perspective on how they view the world, I am particularly pleased to find Miro's website as he is the only living artist that I know of that comes close to matching one of my favourite artists Edouard Cortes. Click the link to Cortes work to compare and see what I mean.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Period photo's

One of the great things about the internet is the willingness of people to share photographs.
The one above was taken in Lincoln Nebraska in 1942, the line up of wonderful old cars shown is really something.
Quite often family owned photo's that would never otherwise have come to light are found also. I have no knowledge of who those folks are in the photo's below other than the first one was taken in Chicago of the 1950's.

I'm a huge Buick fan so the one above caught my eye immediately! I think it's fantastic to see those old cars as they were 'back in the day' like this, as today we are more accustomed to seeing them as forgotten, rusting hulks.

Not sure where this dealership was but oh how I'd like to be able to walk right in there now! Even the Chevy parked outside looks new.

It's hard to imagine that the lady above would perhaps be in her 90's now, and the kid's playing in the snow below will now have grandchildren!
Old photo's, especially those in colour tend to bring home how quickly time passes, and how all too soon we too will be just a memory on someone's photograph. It must be part of the wisdom that comes with age, but I find that the older I get the less time I tend to happy!

Friday, February 20, 2009

More beautiful decay!

A few more great examples of how old vehicles can corrode into works of art.
The patchwork quality of the car above reminds me of an old Bedspread quilt that I used to have as a kid!
The truck in the photograph below is shown in the searing heat of summer, it's really strange that the composition bears some resemblance to a painting that I did some years back. I have the feeling that this is one of those examples of life imitating art.

I was attracted to paint the old Dodge below because of the variety of different colours which had shown themselves as the paint became worn away by the weather. I did the sky an unusually deep blue to try and give the impression of the hot, dry summer, perhaps in the mid west.

The next four pic's are artfully taken photographs that use the rust and texture of the metal as the subject matter. Notice how the orange of rust seems to burn when set against the deep blue sky, always a good combination for creating drama in a painting or photograph.

The car below is more modern than I usually feature, (it's a Volkswagen from the 1970's) but I couldn't resist posting the photo as another example of how rust and blue combine to look attractive.

The old door above fits my category of it 'Could be a canvas', makes me think that maybe I'm going to paint a couple like this and see how they turn out.
The door below has absolutely no decay whatsoever, but what a beautiful image! Notice again how the cool blue of the car makes the orangey red reflected in the chrome burn like fire - Superb!

Finally for today, I came across this newspaper article on the net and can truly understand where that guy is coming from. Like me he has a passion for those old wrecks from the past and thinks that they should be preserved...we'll miss 'em when they're gone! Click on the images to get them large enough to read the article (hopefully).