Friday, March 13, 2009

Short break, back soon.

I'll be unable to post after today for around a week or so due to moving home. As soon as I get moved into the new place and my internet connection is established I'll be adding new posts as usual. For now I'll leave you with another example of beautiful decay (above) and something that made me smile from way back in 1949! (Below)

See you again very soon!

Messerschmitt Micro cars.

I touched upon the subject of the fuel crisis that hit Europe in the 1950's in an earlier post on this blog, and, well here is a car that was born perhaps as a result of that crisis.
The painting above is a watercolour sketch that I did of one of the most unusual cars of the period, The Messerschmitt. As the name suggests this vehicle was made by the same company that a decade earlier had been producing the fighter aircraft that roamed the skies of Europe. Once hostilities ceased however, both the Messerschmitt and Heinkel aircraft factories turned to producing small fuel efficient micro cars.

As can be seen from the brochure the Germans - as always approached the task of design with the utmost ingenuity, the cabin of the KR200 (Kabinroller 200cc) had a front and back in line seating design in which the passenger climbs in behind the driver...exactly as in an aircraft!
Note too the design of the steering wheel, although I'd hesitate to call that a wheel!

Again echoing its fighter plane heritage the Messerschmitt's plexiglass canopy was hinged sideways and opened to allow the 'pilots' to enter and exit. A small 200cc two stroke power unit drove the little fighter along briskly enough, and most importantly delivered astronomical MPG figures which were a real selling point to post war fuel starved Europe.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oops! Painting causes controversy!

Over the centuries it has been standard practice for artists to study other artists work, and the practice of copying paintings has long been accepted as part of the artistic process. A painting that is painted 'after' someone simply means that it is a copy, and not intended to represent the real thing...which would of course be forgery!

The painting above is by a Scottish painter by the name of Peter Howson, an artist I greatly admire and would dearly love to own one of his works. His subject matter and technique are dark, and brooding which as a painter myself this fascinates me... so much so that I decided to paint a copy after Howson in order to investigate his technique.
First of all I began with a smaller blank canvas than the original so that there could be no chance of it ever being passed of as an original, I used a cotton canvas where Howson uses linen, and merrily painted away for a day or two to achieve the finished painting. (Below) It was a technical exercise, nothing more.

Well my wife hated it! She wanted to know why I or anyone else would want to own such an 'ugly' painting! (How do you argue with a woman's logic?) After a time defending it, I eventually gave in and she decided to put the canvas on her ebay to 'get rid of it'.

It was listed unambiguously as a copy, and priced for just about the cost of the materials used to paint it. I even included a link to the art gallery that sold the original painting (which sold for 100+ times my asking price!) thus generating them additional web traffic.
Imagine my surprise then when I was contacted by the owner of the gallery that sold the original who objected to my selling the canvas! Not only did (she?) object, but threatened legal action if I didn't remove the work immediately!

"i own the original of this painting and i am a director of the Art Company Scotland that you have provided a link to in your listing. You are infringing copyrite laws and unless the listing comes off with immediate effect we will instruct legal action.

- nicola-mac"

See this link and read the comments in full below the listing.

It seems to me that the Art Gallery Scotland or whatever it is they are called need to take a little time to think how pathetic they have made themselves appear with this, after all my intent was merely to offer the painting to someone else who might appreciate it, but it seems that no amount of money and profit are enough for this gallery.

Of course if I have unwittingly infringed copyright, or 'Copyrite' as this big time art dealer spells it, I should apologise and remove the item, which I would then sell by other means so what's the difference I wonder?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Mood and lighting

Continuing the theme of beautiful decay today I'd like to add another dimension.
I've spoken before about seeing beauty in the unlikely forms of rusting old vehicles, and about looking at the shapes and colours in an abstract way.
The V.W. above makes an excellent 'Rust canvas' and includes that winning colour combination of blue and rust. When you add to that a little worn texture in the flaking paint for me it's a winner both as a photograph or as the inspiration for a painting.

So we've established the VW photo would make a good painting, but the 'head on' composition, combined with the even lighting tends to flatten out the appearance of what is actually a very curvy car.
To add a little depth and mystery to our rust art we need to employ some visual tricks using shadow, this will then enable us to create several effects that add interest to a painting.
In the image above the chrome on this old beauty sparkles in the sunlight, and the dark background enhances that sparkle making it appear brighter and more dramatic.

In the example above shadow has been used to even greater advantage, the strong light and shade of the picture describe the 'pattern' of the composition, while the hot colours of orange and yellow tell us that the sun is strong. The foil to all this heat is, once again our old friend the blue which describes the patterns of reflected light in the headlamp.

This next one I like a lot. It's very difficult to achieve a sense of heat and dryness in a painting using a very restricted warm palette, almost always there has to be some cool colour in there to balance out the warmth.
In painting terms 'warm' colours are broadly speaking those we associate with the sun, so reds, oranges and yellows, while 'cool' colours are those of blue, green, and purple hues.

In the picture above the photographer has managed to include all of my 'Holy grail' requirements for good rust art. There is the close up composition that has been cropped down to remove the extraneous detail, the interesting shapes made by the fall of light, the deep, dark shadows which add a sense of depth and mystery, and last but not least the texture of the worn metal and paint.
Notice how there is a subtle hint of cool green/blue in the burnished steel of the repair, added to which an almost imperceptible blue in the lens of the headlight, these are the 'cool' colours needed to bring a little relief from all that hot, stuffy orange!

This final picture has some fantastic elements, the eye starts out at left captured at once by the strong colour and contrast, it's almost as if your eye has to adjust to the light as it would in real life before it can then explore the shadow.
The cool colours in the shadow consist of the green of the trucks original paintwork, some purple along the wing (fender) and once again the tiniest touch of blue on top of the headlamp bezel and in the lens. The more practice that you have at actually looking for these juxtapositions of light and shade, and warm and cool in a picture the more easily it becomes to know what would make an attractive, lively, and 'beautiful decay' painting!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Let's meet the owners!

I've not been posting as much as usual because I'm packing up ready to move house at the moment. But while I have a little time free I decided to include some photographs not only of those classy old cars of yesteryear but also their owners.

In previous posts I have mentioned that upon seeing any abandoned old jalopies my mind always wanders who once owned it and what might they have looked like? The cars histories are also the story of the lives, trials and tribulations of ordinary folk. They were real lives, that were lived in more innocent, simpler times.

I don't know any of the people in these shots, they are photographs widely available on the internet that just happen to give us a window in time, a picture of the faces of those who once owned the jalopies of today! The note that came with the above photo tells us that this was 'Minnie', from Fort Stockton Texas. The car is a Nash Metropolitan.

This dashing young fella' resplendent in his riding boots was photographed in the snows of Victor Colorado, date unknown.

The couple above have a 55 Chevy and pose with a much older (Ford?) car, the horn rimmed spectacles worn by the woman are typical 1950's!

I have no details on this one, possibly during the 1940's when these two ladies were frozen for all time on the front of their convertible.
The little girl below will now be approaching retirement! I love the combination of old cars and sunshine!

A European flavour to this photograph, (above) the car is a French Renault 4cv complete with fashionable-on-the-continent white-wall tyres. I don't recognise the registration as French so maybe this is an export model.

The car in the photo above is a Holden, which means Australia. The two occupants are posed in study of what seems to be a bottle of beer each!

Not many owners faces in this shot but I included it because it was taken in New York, I have written earlier about the brilliant NY painter Miro Sinovcic
So how cool would it be to see a vintage New York scene such as this painted in Miro's unique and fascinating style. I hope one day that he tries something along these lines for those of us with nostalgia in our veins!

Once again no names to put to the faces, but the 49 Buick is one of my favourite cars and here one is shown 'back in the day' with it's proud owner.
The couple below are a curious pair, I'm not sure where or when this was taken but it sure is an interesting shot.

The caption on the pic' above read "Another victim of the Petrol pill scam". It refers to a con where people were sold a pill that supposedly turned water into petrol. Obviously it didn't work!

That pill may just be a tall tale, which leads me nicely into another bunch of guys famed for their tall tales...Fishermen! LOL. No such tales of the 'one that got away' here though as their trusty old car is used as a backdrop to display the days catch.

A burst of colour now as a group of soldiers embark on a road trip, the year is 1956.
Below, a British Norton motorcycle.

I'll end this post as I began, with the ladies. For every man that owned, drove and maintained the family car there was a woman that often added a homely touch. I have seen home made cushions in the back seat, small vases containing flowers attached to the dash, rugs and blankets to keep the kids warm on long winter journeys, all were the province of the lady of the house, these last two photographs show the faces of those unsung heroes god bless 'em!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rust art in Situ.

Those of you that have followed my blog thus far will know that in previous posts I have championed the aesthetic qualities of rusty old cars. I'm not alone in this of course, and there are plenty of artists out there using similar subject matter to create art, what I want to do however is make 'Rustart' mainstream!

My vision for this idea has developed to a point that I can now illustrate exactly what I mean using a series of digital pictures of my 'paintings' here in situ.
When I paint those small images of rusty old cars on modest little canvases, they are done more or less on a whim as I enjoy painting the small, intimate scenes. I take great pleasure in fondly recreating the days of old, or the abandoned wrecks of today, yet such paintings are only really of interest to the old car buff, or automotive collector, which is a pretty specialised market that already has many artists that supply excellent work.

The new stuff that I am proposing is different, it is as attractive to the modern, minimalist home owner as it is to the dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast, it's larger, and it can add a splash of colour to a subtly shaded area to bring that space to life
Often on this blog I have mentioned that should an image of a rusty old car door be hung in a London or New York gallery it would (in my humble opinion) easily equal some of the paintings that they currently stock. As 'modern art' goes I'm not that keen, preferring naturalistic painting, but I do appreciate the juxtaposition of colours that can create a stunning visual impact.

These new paintings will not only depart from my usual subject matter, but will also move away from the smooth surface that I usually achieve, to a more rough, and crusted paint application more in keeping to the subjects texture. The owner of one of these new paintings will not only see the rust in all its colourful wonder, but actually see the ridges and ruts of the painted surface that echo the form of the image.

I notice today that many folks like to adorn their homes with great colourful splashes on canvas, this creates a focal point, and often (as below) sets the mood for the interior decor rather than matching it. My aim therefore is to offer a similar type of work with one exception... each and every one will be painted from a genuine part of an old jalopy!

The painting below is shown reproduced as a print, thus bringing 'rustart' to the masses! lol.

So there we are. Regular readers may be able to track my progress with these new paintings, although there are quite a few technical issues that I will have to confront and overcome during the production of them.
What do you guys think? Is there a future for bits of rusty wrecks as art? Would old cars become popular again? Am I totally crazy?... all opinions and comments welcome!