Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Flame Keepers Portrait Series

I am creating a series of portraits of the people who have helped inspire and preserve the Ferrari legend in the United States. These are some of the folks whose passion for their craft has encouraged the preservation and historically accurate restorations of vintage Ferrari. Typically these people work within a small circle of peers and remain anonymous to most enthusiasts. The intention of this portrait series is to pay tribute to these dedicated people. Once the series is complete the paintings will be shown at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. I'm also excited about getting some publications on board.

Some of those who I have drawn, painted or currently working with include Steve Beckman, Charles and Brooke Betz with Fred Peters, Parker Hall, Gerald Roush, Patrick Ottis and others. There is a bunch of people I'm excited about including that represent a variety of essential skills or hold a unique position in our industry.

Some of the finished paintings are included here, along with a few sketches.

Junior's long career of automotive paint work began with George Barris in the fifties. He is particularly proud of his accomplishments on this carbon fiber circular staircase, made by Swift Engineering. Even though it isn't automotive, I'll paint him in whatever environment he wants. 

The Body Builder - Steve Beckman
Steve Beckman's skills in three dimensions just blow me away. When he is done with a body it looks like it was born, not beat out of metal. One owner presented his car in bare metal to showcase Steve's skills.

Resuscitation - Patrick Ottis and David McCarthy
Patrick Ottis and David McCarthy breath life back into a V-12. This painting was compiled from dozens of shots done over two visits.

Dick is one of the pioneers I'd like to include, this sketch was done from a small photo in Prancing Horse. 

Dick Merritt presents his book to Enzo Ferrari

These images show both the development stage and completed projects. I plan on having about twenty pieces for the show, and am working with a lot of people to get suitable photographs and ideas on how they'd like to be presented. 

A bit about my background. I was always "the kid who could draw" and this led to several art scholarships. I attended three colleges including Los Angeles Art Center College of Design. I've spent most of my life pursuing art, but have other interests. I grew up around cars and motorcycles. I raced TT and Flat Track and my brother raced Top Fuel dragsters. In the mid-sixties I discovered sports car racing and have enjoyed recreating racing scenes ever since. My main art/automotive focus is Ferrari 1947~67 and I've owned both vintage and contemporary Ferrari. I was a major participant in the Ferrari at 50 exhibit and the first (if not the only) person to be named artist-in-residence at the Petersen Automotive Museum. I worked for the Betz & Peters vintage Ferrari collection for ten years and then joined Randy Ema who restores Duesenberg and other classics. These years in restoration gave me a mechanical intimacy that few artists possess. Classic rock 'n roll has also played a major role in my artistic outlook. I've been fortunate to have access to, and even collaborate with, some legendary photographers in that field.

After winning Pebble in 2007 with a Duesenberg I saw that the guys in the trenches, the ones behind the scenes, were completely removed from the accolades. This portrait series is a way to pay tribute to some of those who keep history alive with their passion and dedication to their crafts.
Please drop me a line with any comments or suggestions.


Gerald Roush

This one had its challenges. I didn't have many photo references for this, but Gerald's daughter sent me a photo of him at his desk that she liked. I too liked that idea but needed a lot more info and used over 160 reference shots. I did a video interview with Gerald back in the 90s and reviewed that footage. Ultimately I took pictures off the TV screen and did some charcoal sketches from those. I used the sketches as reference for his likeness. 

I did a small portrait and the likeness was fine but it didn't have any story, any punch, just a face. I remember being in his office, surrounded by files and books and papers, the printer busily churning out the next issue of the Ferrari Market Letter. I felt like I was in the huge library described in Faust and wanted to convey that in the portrait. So I (loosely) based the painting on his desk area with bookshelves towering over him, relaxed and relating a story of how he got involved with Ferrari in the first place (the magazine on the typewriter is the source). I didn't make the background exactly like his environment, there's no memorabilia, just reference material, but it conveys what I wanted to say.


Next up is Parker Hall of Kilamanjaro Designs... I'll keep you posted.

The Historian