Friday, August 12, 2011

Old Buicks

There's just something about old Buicks. Each time I see a photograph of one of these old girls lying around a field someplace I really want to buy it - and rescue it. The problem is I'm on the other side of the Atlantic ocean from these cars, so there they sit.

I have no idea when the attraction to such cars began, or where. Born and raised in England I have never so much as driven in a Buick let alone owned one, and yet the fascination continues.

How many farmers back in the US have one of these things sitting out on their land? Or perhaps stored in a barn? They built their cars from much heavier gauge steel back then which means these cars are still pretty solid and worth restoring.

Perhaps it is because I don't live in America that I see them in a different light? If I were to see them regularly and looked upon them as simply obsolete scrap metal I would be more in tune with those that have grown up around these classics, but here in the UK they are still seen as exotic, mysterious, and very desirable.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Garage find.

Having painted the painting entitled 'Barn find' earlier I decided to do another one, this time motorcycle related. Here in the UK we don't tend to have barns full of old vehicles as so many of us live crammed into this small island. What we do have are lock-up garages in which we store our old junk.

The above painting shows a 'Garage find' Kawasaki motorcycle. It is a 1972 model that appears to have been standing undisturbed for many years - wish I could find one just like it!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Old brickwork.

I often wonder why it is that I'm attracted to old things? Having thought about it I have come to the conclusion that I happened to be born in an era that was a turning point in Britain, where much of the old was swept away and replaced by the new.

During the 1960's we had what was known as the 'Slum clearances', where many of the old streets were demolished to be replaced by high rise concrete blocks. An unfortunate by product of this was that entire community's where shattered and dispersed, friends and long time neighbours separated and lost.

The new high rise blocks also had no human scale, no charm, or character. Just as with new automobiles they were manufactured cheaply, efficiently, and with an eye on the cost. As a child in the early 1960's I had shared the homes, streets, and sense of community that had been familiar to my father, and my fathers father before him, yet all of that was taken away.

In the painting above I have depicted a typical British 'slum' dwelling of the pre-1960's period. The term 'slum' is a derogatory term for poor housing, but many such houses were kept immaculately clean and tidy by the women of the house who were very house-proud.

The exterior gas pipes shown were often removed as electricity was installed in these housed by the 1940's, and even the old gas lamps were latterly converted to electric bulbs. The houses themselves were typically small, heated by coal fires, and had no interior bathroom, just an exterior toilet in the back yard.

To a child though they were a cosy haven, imparting a sense of stability and continuity that we just don't have any more, and I for one have many happy memories of such a home.

As with many of my paintings I have recreated a scene just as I remember it, which then asks of the viewer to decipher just what it is that is going on within it. Careful study of the painting would then reveal that there are some makeshift 'wickets' drawn in chalk on the wall, and there is a cricket ball on the ground telling us that a game of cricket was in previously progress. You can even see the marks on the wall that the hard cricket ball made when it hit, notice also that one mark is a little too high and wide.

One might then notice the small window in the corner is broken, and the score chalked up is thirteen...unlucky for some maybe? Well it was certainly unlucky for the boy that broke the window as he has been brought in by his mother and 'grounded' as punishment, which gave me the painting's title - "Not out!"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Barn find!

Here's a little oil painting that I did last week as an online painting demonstration.

Imagine the scene, it's 'somewhere in France', and the old barn door opens with a creak. As your eyes become accustomed to the light you begin to make out the old Citroen 2cv car. The sunlight streams in from the open window striking various objects in the room, there are cobwebs...and even a mouse!

Once again the blue and orange theme works well together to provide some interesting rust texture to the car. Also included in this painting are the depiction of textures such as glass, water, hay or straw, rubber, galvanised metal, flaky paint and rust, tin, a wicker basket, brass candlestick and copper!

It was lots of fun to paint.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Now here's a strange thing.
For years now I have been amazed at the way many Americans allow so many fine examples their automotive heritage to sit out rotting in fields. I have remarked upon the solid condition of many cars that have been abandoned to the Californian sun, those 'dry state' cars may be rusty, but they sure are worth saving.

Now here's where I'm a little confused. I know that among the VW bus and bug crowd there is a definite rat look vibe going on, and I can live with that because there are certain cars, (VW bugs included) that carry the distressed look off real well. Other products however don't.

Case in point the 1950 Buick fastback shown here. When I first saw it I was happy that this car had been saved, 'finally' I thought, someone has begun to appreciate those old heavy metal monsters enough to rescue them. But there was something about this car that just wasn't right.

I studied it before noticing that the chrome was new, and then I noticed the wheels. So okay the wheels are personal choice, but the chrome-work stands out as too new for the car. Rusty paint needs rusty chrome surely?

It was only after seeing this shot of the interior that I knew that the owner had blown it in my opinion. The car had been beautifully and carefully restored and re-trimmed - with the exception of the paint!

So that's why I have mixed emotions about this car. First of all I'd rather see it as it is now than sitting in a field someplace so that's good. I don't even mind original rust patina on those cars that can carry off the look either, but I think this car deserves better. No doubt the owner has spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours restoring this car, and the standard of work looks to be high, I just wish that on this occasion the car might have been returned to it's former glory, or left original but running.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Modern art in metal.

I've never really cared much for what is usually known as 'Modern art', preferring to admire the skills and quality of work from the representational artists who more accurately depict their subjects. On the few occasions when a modern painting has appealed to me it has been purely down to the arrangement of shapes and colours on canvas that simply have pleased the eye.

I spent some time thinking about this as by recognising that shapes and colour alone are able to please us without the element of drawing or structure, then surely using those shapes and colour combinations, with the extra dimensions of design and texture, would create a work that bridges the gap between representational art and the so called 'Modern art'.

The elements that are often missing in modern paintings, such as composition or light and shade are still present in my 'rust art' because we are dealing with the depiction of solid objects - and yet, the abstract shapes of colour and texture also play a part in the whole.

In the photo above we can see the bold yet faded turquoise of the roof contrasts perfectly against the flat grey/brown background. The rust textured paintwork gives scope for invention, as no two cars will ever rust the same, yet the firm bright-work of stainless steel lends a definite structure to the composition by rigidly locking those areas of abstract colours together.

I think the image above works beautifully, but there can also be changes made in the balance of the composition by removing even more of the detail, and changing the format. Often painting less has more impact, so it's fun to play around with the images until you find the one that 'speaks' to you.