I’ve always been interested in car design, particularly the flamboyant designs that came out of the Art Deco period and the evocative styling of post war sports cars, and had been thinking for some time of creating a series of artworks that paid homage to work of the designers, the beauty of the forms and design detailing.
The lightbulb moment came when I thought about using Aluminium instead of canvas or board as a painting surface. These vehicles often had Aluminium bodywork so it felt very appropriate and opened up lots of possibilities to use the metal as part of the composition and to introduce a sculptural quality to my work.
I started working on the project in Sept 2014 and it took around 6 months to establish the approach to composition, the style of painting, and technically how to achieve the surface treatments and work with Oil paints on Aluminium.
I paint in oils and glazes onto specially fabricated or reclaimed Aluminium panels and apply different surface treatments to the Aluminium to make it part of the composition – areas are polished, etched with acids or textured to represent features of the car or to introduce background design elements. The combined effect is unique - the Aluminium’s surface treatments subtly catch the light according to the position of the viewer and lighting conditions, bringing the image to life.
How I work
The process starts with sketches to get a feeling for the overall composition, which may include several views of the subject combined with close ups of styling details, elements taken from engineering drawings or badges and emblems from the model or marque, and this can involve some research.
The next step is to get photographic reference of the subject. Where possible I’ll take the photographs myself to ensure the angles are correct and I have good reference of all the details. I like to have the design, colours, compositional elements and colours resolved before I start painting and sometimes prepare a mock-up of the painting in Photoshop using the photographs.
With the design finalised, the next step is to prepare the Aluminium, which can involve a number of processes including etching with acids, polishing, sanding and brushing. The painting is then executed with oil paints and glazes. Everything is done by hand with brushes and each piece takes between 3 and 8 weeks depending on the size and number of elements in the composition.