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Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Slice of Bugatti Please, & make mine Yellow.


I have some rather exciting news to share with you this year. I've begun a series of paintings, my first ever, focusing on the beautiful chrome and sensual lines of classic automobiles. The first (to the left) is a 1936 Bugatti Type 57S Atlante Coupe.

Not only was I fortunate enough to have a private tour of the RM Auctions showroom, where I was in seventh heaven among the jewels of the Classic Car Universe, but I also had the privilege of taking over 100 reference photos to use as a basis for this project.

To add a bit more cherry to the pie, I get to add a little zing to the whole series, too. I purchased the rights from CGM to use a photograph of Ms. Monroe as an artist reference for a painting. I'm planning a portrait involving a classic car and Marilyn Monroe -nothing cheesy, just vintage beauty.

I'll be posting the progress of these paintings here on my blog - completion date (goal, I should say) is set for the middle of May. Here are a couple "work-in-progress" photos of the painting shown above:


I used an H pencil for the initial sketch, and chose Cadmium Yellow Pale (hue - I don't like to have real Cadmium in my paintings for obvious health reasons) for the first glaze. The tire is a mix of Idanthrone Blue and Burnt Sienna, and the first light washes of blue are Cerulean (which is almost impossible to "lift" so it makes a great base)


The subsequent glazes of yellow include Aureolin and Cadmium Red, with a little Alizarin Crimson added to the shadows at the bottom of the headlight (see finished painting). The chrome effect is made up of Cerulean Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Idanthrone Blue and Indigo for the darkest shadows. The grille was probably the trickiest - I didn't want it to look too "perfect" but it still needed structure. I took a rather brave leap and washed a shadow of Indigo OVER the lines I had already painted. This was risky, because I didn't know if it would bleed too much and make a mess of everything - lucky for me, it gave me just the effect I was looking for. I finished off the grille with a few touches of white gouache in the shadowed area for highlights.

Ironically, the part of the painting that pleases me most is the reddish-shadowed area under the grille. I say this because I almost made a very big mistake here. I was working from a b&w photo and was so immersed in the chromed areas, that I started applying blue to the wrong area! And as I said, it is almost impossible to lift. So I added as much water to it as I dared, lifting out as much as I could without ruining the paper, and let it dry. It took 6 layers of yellow and red glazing over the top to get to the finished stage, but I have to say it was a mistake that ended up working out. I think the blue undertone gives it a little bit more depth & pop!

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