The other day I was talking to a good friend who drives a bright green, spit shined Dodge Viper and he asked me “Do you paint chrome?” I loved the way he summed up the art of the automobile!
From the time I started driving until 2004, I’ve been a Jeep person. First it was my 1973 CJ 5, bright red with a white convertible top. We drove off from our wedding reception in it. Then it was the Islander package Wrangler with a hardtop and air conditioning! As we grew older it became the Jeep Cherokee and then the Jeep Grand Cherokee. In a college print making class I remember producing etchings of my CJ 5. There was something about the design of it that I found artistically appealing.
In 2004, along with becoming middle aged, I spotted a sporty black 2004 Thunderbird, limited edition. It was a retro looking car with all new parts! It was a car I could identify with and even though it wasn’t a practical car, I had to have it. I’ve never considered myself a “car person” but looking back I guess in a way, I really am. I felt like what I drove helped define me. I loved driving my jeep and I love driving my T-Bird. I could definitely see me painting my 2004 Thunderbird because I find the lines of the car a work of art.
One of my fun commissioned paintings was a painting of a 1927 Duesenberg! I flew to my client’s home in Wilmington, DE and photographed the antique car from all angles. My client loved his collection of fine automobiles and paintings of his cars meant a lot to him. His garages were automobile museums. The garage floors were spit shined just like the cars. Automobile memorabilia was all over the walls and old fashioned gas pumps were featured prominently throughout the auto museum.
I also painted his 1941 Cadillac convertible in front of his beautiful home. His autos also defined who he was, a nostalgic person, who cherished “the good old days” and wanted to hold onto a little of the past, when things were made to last. Quality mattered. Chrome was a symbol of quality and when it was spit shined a sense of pride of ownership happened.
Being asked, “Do you paint chrome?” reminded me of my Duesenberg and Cadillac paintings. I have an appreciation of the artistic lines of the classics and a personal understanding of how a car can be much more than just a car. It can be a work of art!