Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bentley Greenbrier: 5-Doors, AWD, V10TDi Hybrid

The Greenbrier is taller than the Continental on which it's based, with a 12" longer wheelbase despite the same overall length. Click image to see more closely the tailored details of this upper-crust British crossover sedan.

C H O P — A totally new niche is explored by Bentley with this new Greenbrier, a 5-door crossover sedan, with a V10 TDi Hybrid powerplant and AWD. The wheels are pushed to the corners for maximum interior room for its 4 well-heeled occupants, along with their fitted luggage. Aimed at those Sloan Rangers no longer comfortable driving their top-shelf SUVs in town, this new ruggedly handsome and upright Greenbrier Hybrid by Bentley will fit their needs like a bespoke Savile Row suit or Christian Louboutin footwear for M'Lady.

Chop based on the Flying Star Shooting Brake concept.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Labeling Project Finally Finished

S I T E   T E C H N I C A L I T I E S — I've just completed labeling each and every post in the blog, dating back to the first post in late February. Labels, the small words/links listed at the end of each post, make it much easier to find older posts. If you're interested in seeing all of my fake cars, you can click on "Chops" and every post of my cars will appear for you to peruse. If you're only interested in my Lincoln chops, you can click on "Lincoln," and those will come to the fore. The same goes for my flower photos, you'll find "My garden" listed and all of my garden posts will appear. If you're looking for the art I create on wood, click on "My art."I didn't realize the importance of Labels when I started this blog, and I apologize for the lack of ease in finding relevant posts here until now. I have plenty more to learn as well. I'll be refining the Label feature—I think I have too many and will consolidate in the future to make it even easier to maneuver around here—and I'll be posting videos in the future. Maybe, lol.

You'll find the "Label" listings in the lower right corner of each blog 'page.'

BMW 3 series Hatchback-From Three Years Ago

The pre-facelifted 2007 M3 (E92) provided the base for this avant-garde 5 door hatch, a full three years before BMW introduced the 5GT and mentioned plans for a similar 3 series hatch. As usual, clicking on the image will enlarge it to a full 1,000 pixels wide.

C H O P — I created this sport "Touring" M3 in late 2007. I added 2 smaller side doors behind the main doors, that would give better rear seat access once the front doors were opened. Instead of minimizing the "Hoffmeister Kink" as so many Bimmers do these days, I enlarged it and made it the C pillar, actually leaning the pillar back in the style of some of the last generation Renault models, and my beloved Mercury Breezeways. I think a dramatic roofline like this would be perfect for a less-than-subtle model like the M3. It would also make the most of the room in the back without making the car any taller. I think one of the worst things BMW did to the 5GT is to make it so tall and "unsvelte." 

I've changed the body-colored rocker panel/front spoiler addenda to a polished aluminum or stainless steel adding some flash to the car without blinging it out too much. Interestingly, BMW has revealed that the 3 series will get it's own GT 5 door hatch in the next generation, but I chopped this one several years before. "They're Watching Me, Part 167!"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Digging in the Archives: Coupes of the Two-, Three-, and Four-Door Persuasions

Gee, a coupe with only two doors, whodathunkit? Besides the deletion of two extra doors and its B pillar, I've moved the front wheels forward 6 inches on this Passat for a better (imho) front wheel axle-to-steering wheel proportion. Chop from 2008 when the CC first arrived on our shores.

A few days ago I posted my version of a new VW Corrado. This is my chop of its little brother, the raucous Scirocco, using its tried-and-true formula of being a lowered and sportified Golf. If I had done this chop recently, I don't think I would have rounded the taillights so much—they sort of clash with the classic Scirocco angular greenhouse, but it definitely has that eager-little-puppy stance that the original Giugiaro design emphasized. This chop dates to 2007 I believe.

Honda Accord 4 door coupe. I chopped this 'sedan' when the current Accord concepts first made the show circuit, late 2007. Let's just say the rear seats are very low, lol. As had been their practice, I knew Honda's coupe would have a separate body from its sedan counterpart, so I decided to go the other way and make the sedan from the coupe. This chop was only 600 pixels wide, and pretty 'webby' and pixelated when I enlarged it to 1,000 for this blog. The wheels looked especially crappy, so I did a quick update with new Nissan Juke wheels. I've recently read that Honda is actually working on a 4 door coupe concept, but I'm 100% sure it will look absolutely nothing like this.

Woody's site has a mention of the upcoming Accord 4 door coupe.

The Power of Nostalgia in the Digital World

This fragment of a 78 record, Glenn Miller's The Woodchuck Song, 1946, is all I have left of one of my favorite childhood memories. Click on the record to enlarge. Record is superimposed over my painting, "Checkerberry Memories."

R E M E M B R A N C E — I've written in this blog before of my aunt Hoohoo, a tremendous lady that helped me through a most difficult period in my young life. She fostered the young artist in me, showed me the way to create with my head and my hands what I was feeling inside. If you haven't read about Hoohoo, there's a great photo of her and I in 1967 here and a post I wrote about her here

I had two rooms all to myself in her beautiful 200+ year old colonial saltbox home in Leete's Island, the Daniel and Charity Leete House. I had a great bedroom, the Red Room, for my overnight stays, and a little room next to it, Art's Room (named for her uncle Art as much as the art we made in it), full of antique toys, a Depression-era Victrola. and paintings and drawings on the walls she had done as a child and young adult. 

The nights I would spend with her we'd inevitably end up in the little room cranking the Victrola by hand, and playing old 78s of her younger life. We listened to Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, The Andrews Sisters, The Ink Spots, Glenn Miller. We'd sing and try to Jitterbug, well quietly Jitterbug as the old home's 1766 beams shook like a tiny kitten in cold bathwater if we moved around too heavily, lol. We'd look through old magazines and books, she pointing out the old dresses and fashions and me pointing out the old cars and trying to guess what they were. She'd show me how to draw cats,and birds and houses, and anything else that would pop into my head. "How do you draw the sky, Hoohoo?" I was full of questions for her, she had endless patience, and endless affection for her little wide-eyed nephew. I really don't think I would have made it to my teens without her. Hoohoo stepped up when I needed new karma in my life.

One of the songs that highly amused the 8-year old me to pieces was Glenn Miller's The Woodchuck Song. It was silly, it was fun, it was full of that fabulous forties harmonies, and we'd play it over and over, reveling in the scratches and the 'waviness' of those recordings and the player. I learned all the words by heart, and we'd even sing it walking around the yard sometimes. Even though I have all of her 78s to this day, more than 250 or so, and the vast majority are in playable-to-mint condition still in their jackets, the Woodchuck Song's early shellac-resin disk cracked decades ago. It was one that I always put out on my shelves, and through one move or another, one crazy friend or another, or one all-nighter or another, it ended up in fragments. For the past 25 years all I've had is the one small piece scanned and posted above. I hadn't heard the recording in at least 35 years until last night.

Looking at the fragment on my shelf last night, it occurred to me I might be able to find the song online. I checked Youtube, and, seriously, within 5 clicks of my mouse, I was listening to the familiar notes of Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Band swing like they never stopped. The lyrics came flooding back to me:

     How much wood, would a woodchuck chuck, 
           if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
     How many cats would a cat nip nip, 
           if it nipped at a cat if it could?
     Just how high would a horsefly fly. 
           if a horsefly could fly high? 
     How many fish would a fish fry fry,
           if it had any fish it could fry?
     You're a whiz at tricky phrases,
           A walkie-talkie on a street,
     Put away those silly phrases,
          They mean nothing to me.
     How much wood, would a woodchuck chuck, 
          May be hard to say it's true,
     Let's have fun, Try an easy one, 
     Say, I—Love—You.

To hear the entire song, including the second verse, please click over to the YouTube recording here. Its swing-era saxophone, the licks and curls of the trumpets and the rest of the band, the phrasing of the singers, it all just knocks my socks off every time, lol. THAT was singing and THAT was music, and THAT was Hoohoo. I'm 8 years old again, smiling and swaying, my mind a million miles away from my life. At the risk of sounding 100 years older than I am, it's amazing, almost miraculous to me that all of these memories, all of these emotions, are available at the click of a mouse, a push of a button, a link to a site. The digital world we live in can be cold and sterile, it can cause untold grief in the hands of the unscrupulous, and yet, it's also a tool we can connect, and reconnect, with the outside world and with ourselves. Talk about yin-yang! 

My digital piece, Gloria's Loss, incorporating a Glenn Miller album,  the Depression-era sign for my great-uncle Art's beach store, and one of my self-portraits, The Day Judy Garland Died, among other collectibles.

My upstairs foyer today, showing some of the vintage toys and games from my room at Hoohoo's home. The Victrola is downstairs, although not currently in working condition.

Paper Bag Dreams, one of my pieces, utilizing the fragments of a very fragile charcoal drawing done by Hoohoo in the early 1930s on a brown paper bag. That's a school photo of the young artist at just about the same age she created this Depression-era dreamscape of a colonial home, a lake with a sailboat and evergreen trees all around it. A little girl's dreams realized on her mother's reality—Black Friday's stock market crash and resulting Depression affected every member of the family. Cut-up brown paper shopping bags replaced drawing pads for the budding artist.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Mistake, Dying Batteries, WOW shot!

Not Photoshopped, but the byproduct of low-energy AA batteries in the camera. You MUST click this image to see it larger. It floats above the blue background I swear! : )

D I G I T A L   P H O T O G R A P H Y — I just completed my morning 'walkabout' around the yard, and shot my twenty-five photos for the day. This is the last photo I took before the batteries in the camera died. I can only think that the low-power batteries didn't have enough 'juice' to process the greens of the foliage. This is not digitally altered in any way except to resize it for this blog down to 1,000 pixels. I'm floored by this shot. 

Of course, I could create these colors any time I want, with a few quick clicks and drags of the mouse in Photoshop, but I'm not a fan of 'forced natural beauty' like that. This completely natural 'mistake' left me speechless when I first saw it! The yellow and orange of the flower is exactly perfect, matching the original better than I've seen my camera do before. and it just hovers over the blue foliage in an almost 3D effect. I think this will have to be included in the series I'm currently creating on wood.

Lotsa Color, Lotsa Work, Lotsa Satisfaction

I forget the name of this Hydrangea variety, new to my shade garden (thank you Mary!), but it's a lot of fun to watch mature. The flowers start out a creamy greenish white, then start turning slightly pink and blue with a touch of lavender. They are supposed to eventually turn to a burgundy in the fall. Click each image to enlarge.

I've posted other photos of these Foxgloves before, but I can't help photographing them almost every day. I take 25 digital photos every day as a discipline, and these are the rockstars right now, lol. I think they're really interesting up close, and almost a perfect yin-yang for each other, white and burgundy with a touch of pink, and pink and white with a touch of burgundy. They are in two different gardens though—the smaller white one just wasn't growing at all in the sunny front perennial garden, try as I might to help it along. I finally moved it to the shade garden, next to the hydrangea above, and it almost immediately started flourishing. Mary says that she has found that Foxgloves grow where THEY want to, and I have to admit it seems they do, lol. It doesnt' really make sense that one Foxglove would thrive in the full sun, and the other one prefers partial shade, but I don't question them. I really try to listen to my flowers and do what they want.

Next to the veggie garden, outside of the fence, Mary and I have put in a cutting garden of annuals. The Larkspur are just starting to bloom, and I've since cut the blossoms off. This will help the young plants grow stronger and will also force them to grow more shoots at each pruning point, making them bushier as well. 

Another 'find' from the backyard clearing project. This is an old metal pot, which had been bent and dented through years of sitting in the old chicken coop we bulldozed last fall. The shape of it, along with the handles on the side, reminded me of some of the vintage purses I have in my collection. The bottom was corroded through in a few places, making a perfectly drained planting container. I've put in a variegated peach and white colored Impatiens, and added moss to the sides to help keep the moisture in the soil. It's sitting on a few pieces of granite I found around the yard, next to a covered swing seat/glider thing.

Hit the Jump for a few more garden shots.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lincoln Sedan—Town Car or Continental?

Oh yes, I've chopped another Lincoln sedan from the MKT. I'm just not sure if it's a new Town Car or a revived Lincoln Continental.

C H O P — Starting with my new favorite car to chop, the MKT, I took quite a bit of height out of the middle of the car. Since this rendering is meant to show the spirit of a new sedan, forget the actual MKT's dimensions. I'd say the wheelbase of this car would be 120-22 inches, similar to the regular S class, 7 series and XJ these days. I've made the grille wider and shallower in relation to the lower horizontal grille, and cut the fenders down as far as possible, crating subtle fender humps. Instead of the rather abrupt beltline bump on the MKT, which I believe is modeled after the incomparable '61 Continental, I've made it much more gradual in the manner of the gorgeous 1970-71 models. I've used a slim vertical C pillar window, patterned after the '80s and '90s Town cars, too. Relative to the lower body, the wheels are perhaps 20s or 21s and I've made the rear overhang longer for a sedan. The front overhang was shortened by moving the front wheels forward by about 6 inches relative to the crossover donor. A very minor change from the MKT is the hood's cutline. Instead of cutting across the front of the car above the Lincoln logo, I've dropped it below it, in line with the bottom of the grille openings. The twin grilles would lift with the hood, in the same way many "fine" luxury cars do. I think the cutline on the MKT hood is one of the very few 'mistakes' they made. It dilutes the strength of the body colored central divider, and it looks a bit cheap to me, 

This rendering is a bit over-the-top, a bit too low—the William Townes outrageous mid '70s Lagonda comes to mind—but I'm in love with the vintage stylized renderings that Harley Earl's and Bill Mitchell's studios created in the thirties, forties, and fifties. In the back of my mind, those are what I'm trying to evoke. Yes, my chops are photographic to start with instead of hand drawn sketches, and are already production cars for the most part, but I like to think of Photoshop as just a better pencil I'm privileged to be able to use. Think of chops like this hung up all around the studios for the styling heads to peruse and discuss. I also like to add to the backgrounds and create the atmosphere I'd like see the imaginary marketing departments shoot for.

So the question is: Would this make a better Town Car or should the classic Lincoln Continental nameplate make a comeback? I really can't decide!

I've also created this Lincoln Town Car chop in the past couple of weeks, based on the same MKT, but in profile instead of front 3/4. The greenhouse is totally different, as are most of the proportions. This shows the power of Photoshop. Starting out with the same vehicle, you can really do anything you want with software and an Apple single-click mouse growing out of your right hand, lol—I really don't care for the new multifunction ones.

I really liked the earlier one when I did it, but now I think I like this newest version, lol. Reminds me of when I'm working on my 'other' art: My favorite art piece of all time is always the one I'm working on at the time. 

Have a great day/afternoon/evening/all three!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three Lambos from the "Not Anytime Soon" File

"Honey, the kids are late for school. Can you get them there NOW?"

Long before the Estoque concept was revealed, my QV350 was the family Lambo. Click each image to enlarge.

C H O P S — I really need to finish labeling all of my older posts. I didn't see the need to do so on this blog until I hit the 150 mark for posts, and now I'm closing in on 200 in a couple of weeks. I was pretty sure I'd remember every post I ever made. . . At first I kept a file on my mac's desktop of images I've used in posts, then in a rush one day I neglected to do that, and then the floodgates of disorganization just flew open, lol. Until I finish the labeling, my dear readers just may have to see some duplicate chops. I'm really trying not to post chops more than once, unless they have a valid reason for it. "Forgetting it was posted" isn't a valid reason, imho. : )

All that was a lengthy introduction to my three least-likely Lamborghini chops, a 4 door sedan, the QV350, a MINIVAN, the LMPV-002, referencing the mighty, and now classic, Lambo off-roader, the LM-002, and a revived 4 seat Espada. I'm also posting my Lamborghini QV350, a sedan I chopped a few years before the gorgeous, and I mean GORGEOUS Estoque concept was unveiled. This sedan concept has been rumored to be greenlighted, and then rumored to be shelved. Who knows? I think mine is a bit leaner looking, more in the direction of '60s and '70s Italian exotic sedans with a plentiful greenhouse and minimal bodywork. I've always been in love with high-speed saloons! Click each link for the Wiki on each car.

Chopped several years ago, this revived Espada chop isn't finished to a high degree. Let's call it a painted clay model now. Except for the recent Estoque, Lamborghini doesn't have a suitable front-engined platform right now anyway.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saving Grace Finale, and Today's Edition of the Playlist for My Own Series Finale

Cast photo from season 3 of Saving Grace. From left, Bailey Chase, Laura San Giacomo, Lorraine Toussaint, Yaani King, Leon Rippy, Holly Hunter, Gregory Cruz, and Kenny Johnson.

D A I L Y   L I F E — This is the first post about I've put up on this blog about a TV show. I've been watching Holly Hunter in Saving Grace for three of the four seasons it aired. Last night was the series finale, and OMFG. Six Feet Under's series finale blew me away, as did The Soprano's final episode, and in this writer's humble opinion, both were the best finales since the M*A*S*H finale aired, but Saving Grace just took the #1 spot for me. I didn't realize how much I had invested in each character, and in the storylines and in the premise of the show. Just like Six Feet Under's finale, Saving Grace tied up loose ends in a way that will ensure there will never be a made-for-TV movie. I was in tears by the time the screen went to black. The music for the final few minutes was The Calling's Wherever You Will Go, which was completely perfect for the storyline, and added that extra layer of intimacy and emotion that only music can.

Am I the only one that watched this series on TNT? None of my friends ever watched it.

For the Wiki on the series itself, including cast and episodes, click here.

For a 'video' of the song with plain greenscreens with the lyrics, (not the official video—if it's one thing I CANNOT watch is a music video of self-absorbed musicians. I am one of those that truly feels that video killed the radio star, lol, ) click here.

I'd like Wherever You Will Go played at my own finale. (If anyone is taking notes for my personal finale,  I'd also like Santana's brilliant Europa,  Linda Clifford's Runaway Love (the long-play version), the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Judy Garland's Somewhere Over the Rainbow, newest American Idol winner Lee DeWyze's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujuh, and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Artandcolour is in the Details. Many Details

M Y  A R T — When I'm done with a new piece of art, I shoot photos of them, usually outside for the best light. I color correct the images so they best represent the originals and post them on my Flickr album. While they're certainly representative of my work in terms of color, layout and subject matter, they never really convey the details that are in each piece. Working on wood allows me to add texture into the pieces, and the fact that I sand them and tend to 'erase'  parts of them and allow the wood's flaws and knots to show through etc, is pretty much lost when I photograph the entire piece. Today I decided to place some finished pieces on my scanner and show as many of the details as possible. Though these scans are just small sections of larger pieces, the point was to show the minute details in my pieces, and I'm happy with the way I was able to do so.

These pieces use paint, paper, gold leaf, silver foil, lead pencil, polyurethanes and in some cases metallic or mother-of-pearl glazes and even dried leaves. They're created on wood of various types, ie new pine boards, plywood, antique chestnut, vintage clapboards, and any other wood I can lay my hands on, lol.. Please click on each image to see all the juicy details! : )

Hit the jump for four more images.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Evolution of Design, Evolution of Thought

My chop of the Audi S5 coupe, the Stiletto, done just after the first press photos were released almost 3 years ago. I didn't think that Audi would actually produce a 5 door version of the coupe; the A4 already has the sedan and wagon markets covered, and Audi hadn't made a hatchback version of the it's larger mainstream cars. I used a straight beltline, a long-time Audi styling trait. Click each image to see in greater detail.

Not a chop, but rather a tuner version of the actual S5 Sportback introduced earlier this year. This bodystyle won't be sold in the United States, at least that's the decision right now. The rising beltline threw me for quite a while, I just didn't "get" it. (Photo from Autoblog.com)

My much earlier chop of an Audi sedan concept, made into a modern-day 100 coupe. The yellow coupe is the 1970 Audi 100 coupe, a bodystyle never sold in the USA, but one of the great looking moderate-priced European coupes of that era, in my humble opinion. I used the 1970 100 coupe's upward curving rear side window to deliberately place this new coupe squarely in the Audi design lineage. 

C H O P S — When I first saw the images of Audi's A5/S5 Sportback concept last year, I was surprised by the rising beltline, terminating in an almost BMW-like Hoffmeister kink sweeping up for the rearmost side window. Audi's longtime styling tradition of a flat beltline and an elegantly curved and arching roofline had been supplanted. 

The production A5/S5 2 door coupe, designed by Walter de Silva had introduced flamboyance into the Teutonic bodysides with gently waving and bulging bodywork, directly opposite of every previous Audi sedan and Avant going back to the late 1970s. It wasn't until I saw an A5 in person that it all made sense, and I was a convert. BUT, the Sportback's beltline really threw me for a loop. I just couldn't understand where it had come from, why the designers would go in that direction, so obviously "off" for the marque. The next Audi concept, the larger A7 Sportback showed the same design cue, and I still didn't get it. 

Looking through my Photobucket album to find chops to post in this blog, I came across my Audi 100 coupe chop from several years ago. In a rare nod to my inspiration, I included a 1970 Audi 100 coupe in the chop for historical perspective. Eureka! The rising beltline and curved rear side window was present in an Audi all the way back to the early '70s! I couldn't believe I hadn't 'gotten' the Sportback's nod to the past immediately. I should have trusted de Silva's design team, I should have had more confidence in their sensibilities, good taste, and intelligent design decisions. I won't be second-guessing them the next time I'm flummoxed. And I really hope they keep me on my toes with their next new cars!

If you 'read' the design images in the order I posted, with my chops on top and bottom, you'll see how the production A5/S5 fits in perfectly with once and future production models. Bravo, Walter!

A word about my chopping philosophy—Pushing Pixels, lol. . . 

Even though many of my chops are cars 'of the future' ie, an extension or addional bodystyle for an existing model, I don't really try to predict what the actual designers will do. There are a couple of awesome choppers out there that have made a career out of predicting what a future car will look like, and they have their work published in magazines and websites. Their workmanship is flawless and they deserve every success and then some. 

I take a slightly different direction with my car creations. While I'll try to guess which car might come next, I create cars I want to see in MY driveway, the cars I always doodled as a kid. For instance, I love the entire look, feel, and ergonomics of suicide doors, so you'll see me use them often—not just on Lincoln Continentals. I like cars that are low to the ground with low roofs, large wheels and tires, and I like judicial use of chrome. I'm constantly reading about the history of cars, at least an hour every day, and I make frequent use of each marque's historical cues in an updated fashion for a [hopefully] contemporary look. I tend to use tried-and-true old-school kustom kar touches such as sectioningchanneling and chopping (the last technique refers to lowering the roof on it's supporting pillars, not the act of photoshopping, see Wiki link below). This really couldn't be done for a production car's addional hatchback bodystyle, or wagon version, and keep the pricepoint anywhere near the original, but I don't limit myself since I'm not really trying to accurately predict a production car... Of course,  I've done several chops 'their' way as well, but my core chops tend to be more fanciful and dramatic...

So even though I start with a press photo of some carefully thought-out production car, I never limit myself to what would be technically possible for a facelift. I treat the production cars as just a starting point, and let my imagination, and my eye-hand-mouse coordination, run free as a bird. (cue Lynerd Skynerd's Freebird, lol).

For the Wiki on these old-school custom car techniques, click here.
For an interesting short history of the early Audi 100s, check the Wiki here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Crouching Tigers, Driving Dogs

Click on image to enlarge.

C H O P — It doesn't happen very often, but I really can't remember what the original car was in this chop, lol. It very well might have been any number of ill-proportioned, or frankly ungainly Chinese cars in the news these past few years, but for some reason I don't think it was. It might have been a Korean Daewoo... Whatever it may have started out as, I've made it into a compact RWD Chinese sport coupe. It's now a pleasingly proportioned Crouching Tiger, presented in a silvery-mint green with a dark henna or russet leather interior—an odd, but one of my favorite, juxtapositions of colors.

Why Crouching Tiger, besides a partial riff on a movie title? 'Cuz the Chinese are the absolute KING of, shall we say, colorful, names. These are some examples of Chinese cars shown in the last year, for realz—Dongfen Crazy Soldier, Geely Beauty Leopard, Geely PU Rural Nanny, Tang Hau Book of Songs (seriously!), and Tang Hau Detroit Fish. I think Crouching Tiger is almost blasé in comparison! Click image for maximum beauty!

B T W : 

On second thought, this is not the way you should be transporting your Great Dane, fabulous 1961 Thunderbird convertible or not.

Driving with Dogs
One of my close friends, Bette, lives in Seattle so we don't see each other very often—twice in 10 years maybe, lol. We email almost daily, and we keep up through our blogs. She's the coolest artiste-type, (would I know any other?). Bette is a cinematographer with many credits, an avid gardener, auto mechanic, full-size Boy Scout cutout owner, inventor, owner of Tiny Growl, and now blog owner/writer. She is a huge animal lover and a tireless proponent of animal rights—think of a young Doris Day without the hit songs—yet! She has created the ScooPup Pocket, an awesomely simple and attractive carrying bag for dog poopies, and writes Walking the Dog listed in my blog roll on the right side of this site. Her most recent post is about carrying your beloved pets in the car safely—safely for them as well as for you. When it comes to animals, there is no Que Sera Sera in Bette's life—it's all proactive and very much well-thought out.

While I haven't owned a pet since a few stray cats were forced upon me as a child, meow, meow my ass, I certainly don't hold a love of pets against people. It's not like they're Republicans, lol. I KID—don't write mean comments... Please check her latest post out if you own dogs, transport dogs, ever saw a dog on the street, or if you just want a good read. Click here.

Playing With Words. And Cars.

I'm a fan of rapid cars. I'm a fan of wraparound glass. I'm a fan of word play. What is there not to like about a small powerful hot hatch that embodies all three concepts? Thus was the project outline for my Seat Wrapedo, a bright red small sports hatch from the Spanish arm of VW. My Wrapedo is based on the Seat Ibiza, which uses a platform that also underpins the latest VW Polo and the brand new Audi A1. Besides the obvious change to the C pillar and rear hatch, I've lowered the car and taken some height out of the bodysides, an old kustom kar trick known as "sectioning." A full length black glass roof panel completes this muy caliente auto.

Once a Mercedes, Always a Mer. . . Not So Much!

Starting out as a Mercedes Benz CL coupe, this new Chevy Bel Air is a favorite chop of mine. It incorporates several classic Bill Mitchell GM styling cues—a flying-buttress roofline, trademark "2-hole" Chevy taillights, and the pillarless coupe styling that the original 1950 Bel Air brought to the masses. Just about the only Mercedes left in it are the front fender bulges and rear valance panel with quad tailpipes. The louvered rocker panel trim piece wouldn't necessarily be functional, but is a styling detail that Harley Earl and Mitchell both would have loved. You know the drill: click images to enlarge.

This slightly tongue-in-cheek Ford Crown Victoria chop is a bit lower in resolution than I work in now. It dates back a few years. The donor image was an S63 AMG sedan, but the only Mercedes left in it are the rocker panels and rear valance/exhaust pipes. I wanted this large RWD Ford sedan to evoke the Crown Victorias of the early '90s, hence the 6-light DLO, although the C pillar window treatment is actually a bit '70s inspired. A full-length chrome beltline modling incorporating the door handles, is a touch that goes back to the '30s on many cars, as well as early '60s Fords. Rover first brought this styled molding back in the '90s on its last UK-built cars, but I think it could work on today's cars if done right. The front and rear styling was meant to be "Super" Fusion in appearance, although the chrome molding on the trunk lid with the Ford logo centered on it is very '68 Torino. The slight indents on the hood and trunk lids suggest Ford's trademark dual paint stripes used on it's performance models. The vertical headlights evoke the '65-'67 fullsize Fords, and the polished silver front passenger door is a nod to the Crown Vic's long-standing record as a police vehicle.

This Thunderbird is based on an image of the CL coupe, just as the Bel Air above was. I'm sure by now you've recognized the rear diffuser with quad exhaust and the rocker—I think they work really well so why change 'em, lol? My Thunderbird chops usually continue the 'real' Thunderbirds—the posh 4-5 seat luxury coupes that first entered the market in '58. This Tbird uses the classic indented trunklid of the '64-'71 models, but takes it a step further by indenting the rear window too, creating a glorious 3D piece of glass-probably enormously difficult and expensive to produce! Large square multi-element taillights and pillarless 2 door coupe styling are more Tbird cues, and the broad C pillar with Thunderbird logo round out this return to sporting elegance!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Proper VW Sports Coupe

Not content with the latest wagon-ish Scirocco, I changed the proportions a bit, and made it a fastback hatchback, a la the original Giugiaro Scirocco and the later VW-designed Corrado models. I think it captures much more of the spirit of the originals, and ends up being much more attractive, imho. Click for full 1,000 pixels width.

"Somewhere Over There"

Postcard sent to my grandfather in Europe during World War I. Using many other postcards with similar messages sent to him, I'm confident in saying the year was 1918. The last digit of the postmark is missing—apparently it was stamped on the now-missing stamp.

C O L L E C T I O N — Next time you're emailing, tweeting, using Skype, or texting on your iPhone, think about this postcard, and life nearly one hundred years ago. The sender included my grandfather's name and rank, an incorrect Infantry group, A. E. F. (American Expeditionary Forces), and 'somewhere over there." Someone, somewhere, in the postal system added "Prov. Co. MP, 82nd Division" and he received it. Perhaps it was the Christmas spirit. Click the image to read the period message.

B T W : 
I've started transcribing my grandfather's letters home from his time at boot camp, and in Europe during WW1. I'm also in possession of all of the letters he received from people back home, both relatives and friends. There is quite an interesting story in them, well stories in them. I have hundreds of photographs, magazines and postcards from this period as well. I'm not sure if all of it will end up being a book, or a part of a book, but since there is no one left to care about the almost 200 years of family "stuff" I've managed to hold onto, it's up to me to make sense of it all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MId-Summer Garden, 2008

Walking around the garden this morning, checking out what's in bloom, and what is still to come, I started thinking about whether or not the Thistles should really be where they are planted. I'm fascinated by their growth patterns, whirling and swirling leaves as they grow taller and taller, and I'm anticipating their pink flowers, but at this point, they're not terribly attractive plants from a distance. Of course their multitude of REALLY prickly thorns makes me hesitant to move them right now, lol. I had to go back into my digital archives to remind myself why I grow them at all, and I found this photo from 2008. That's a HUGE Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, and I instantly remembered the week two years ago that this visitor hung out in my yard. S/he was interested in ONLY the Thistles, and that week I spent at least an hour a day watching this beautiful creature fly to each and every flower on each and every Thistle plant and drink in the nectar. It was exhilarating in a way, to welcome a beautiful creature like this into my yard—and I remembered THAT is the reason I grow Thistles. 

Perusing the 2008 garden archive, I found this closeup of one of my Tiger lilies. With their "Curly-Q" spotted petals and distinctive stamens with large anthers and filaments, Tiger lilies are one of the more exotic New England perennials—in my humble opinions of course! I can't wait for this year's crop to bloom, although I enjoy watching them grow and mature on a daily basis. They are going to look even better when silhouetted against the newly-painted salmon clapboards.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"How do you say, DeeGorgeous?"

My friend and neighbor, June, recently came back from France and brought me these gaily colored French cookies, Macarons. I loved the colors and presentation so I scanned them, lol. I have a tendency to save everything anyone gives me, quelle surprise, but I really wanted to eat these cute confections and decided a scan would be a better way to save and remember them. I can report that as soon as the scan was done, I promptly ate two. To paraphrase Lady Miss Kier of DeeLite once again, "How do you say, Deelicous?" Click on the image to see them in all of their crumbly cookie goodness.

For Martha Stewart's Parisian Macaron recipe, click here.

I See Your True Colors, Shining Through

Orange and yellow day lilies complement the new salmon and cream house paint quite well. They also contrast well with the bluish-gray hand-cut 200+ year old granite foundation stones on this oldest part of the house. You know the drill—click on each image to enlarge.

I love synchronicity! I began writing this post a little after midnight. After deciding to post garden pics today, Cyndi Lauper's True Colors came to mind for the title. As I sit here typing, Cyndi Lauper just began singing on David Letterman. I had no idea she was a guest on his show tonight! I believe that there is no such thing as a coincidence if you dig deep enough, so enjoy these Foxgloves! I was going to write something about the true nature of these beauties—Foxgloves are highly poisonous to animals and people as well as stunning to look at, but I think I'll just show their true colors instead. Make sure to click on this image to see their intricate details.

Ever feel like a magenta bloom in a sea of white flowers? A recent gift from Mary, the red flower is a perennial I've never heard of which is supposed to bloom like an annual—all summer. She's a bit doubtful of the claim, and I'm hoping it's true. The white flowers are Feverfew, a perennial that has been grown in English cottage gardens for centuries. Just touching the foliage sets off an amazing herbaceous aromatic scent.

The white and green variegated leaves of my ornamental Ribbon Grass gives rise to these wispy wheat-like seed stalks close to 5-6 feet tall if planted in full sun. This grass dates back to the early 1930s, when my grandmother introduced it to her gardens. She was a founding member of one of the first garden clubs in the state, the Leete's Island Garden Club, and helped naturalize ornamental grasses and bamboos on the shoreline. Many of my perennials are old-stock from her home and my late mother's home.

I've posted photos of my 'giant' Tiger lilies before. Most of my Tigers are the normal 3-4 feet in height, and at this time of the season are setting their normal 4-5 buds. Five of my Tigers are already close to 6 feet tall and this one shown has 15 tiny buds emerging from the spiral top leaves. The white cotton-candy type fluff is the 'glue' that holds the leaves together tightly until they're ready to unfurl and allow the buds to mature. I had to hold the camera over my head and shoot downwards to capture this view. These lilies are in their third year in this location, around the ancient decaying tree trunk that is the central focal point of this garden, and I can only surmise that the rich mulch-like material from this once-huge tree is the motivating force behind (underneath?) these special plants. Click to enlarge and see the little guest resting on a leaf. They're so much cuter when they're not inside my house, lol.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Early Chops Stand the Test of Time

One of my earliest chops, the Bentley Blue Train Coupe. I started editing photographs to create my own cars close to five years ago. I first read about 'chopping' while I was a member of the Autoweek Combustion Chamber, an out-of-control chaotic mess of an internet forum, lol. I had worked in Photoshop for years beforehand, for my day job to color correct photographs, add shadows to layouts etc, but had never thought about actually creating my own type of cars with the program. So for that, I'll be forever indebted to that rag-tag group of idiots, and I call them that with the utmost respect, lol.

This Blue Train Coupe is based on the Arnage sedan, and along with it's stablemate, the Excellence Saloon, would have been the flagship of the line. "Blue Train" was, of course, the nickname of the Bentley that famously raced a train from London to Paris in 1930 and driven by Bentley works driver, Woolf Barnato. I took the name Excellence from the historic French luxury car, Facel-Vega's flagship sedan, the Excellence. That early 1960s car was based on the chassis of the used the engines from the Chrysler Imperial, but used a stretched (by 20 inches) HK-500 chassis (not necessarily a great idea with the car's pillarless construction and suicide doors). I thought it was fitting for the top-of-the-line Bentley as well. I scanned one of my late grandmother's bracelets for its layout, as I've done for some of the books I've designed. For the wiki entry of the famous historic race, click here,

Click on each image to enlarge.

U P D A T E — I mentioned above that the Facel Vega Excellence used the Chrysler Imperial's chassis. While it's true it used Chrysler engines, the chassis was the company's own design. The large luxury car used a modified platform from its sportscar stablemate, the HK-500, stretched an additional 20 inches. A former Autoweek Combustion Chamber participant, Paul, corrected me, and after additional research  I confirmed my mistake. I also confirmed the fact that the Excellence used its own platform from my friend Nigel in the UK, a writer for several classic car magazines. A HUGE thank you to Paul and Nigel for this! Here is a bit more about this gorgeous French sedan, which if I could make it happen, would be in my driveway this morning. Additional Excellence info here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

$1.19 Car of the Week #3-the DeLorean!

Having just mentioned the DeLorean in the post below, it's a good time to show the latest in my $1.19 Car of the Week. My local grocery store seems to price all the 'small cars' the same, whether they're Hot Wheels, Matchbox or an 'unnamed' brand. The odd thing about this DeLorean is the gold color finish instead of the expected silver-gray. The head- and taillights are individually painted, a requisite for me, even at this  admittedly cheap price-point, lol. It just makes the cars seem so much more realistic to me The taillights are actually the correct scale eggcrate pattern too.

Future Cars of the Past

Drawing done in 1977—Delgiata GT/2, a stainless steel sportscar three years before the DeLorean was introduced. Delgiata is the name of the mythical auto company I came up with when I was around 10 years old. It's a total coincidence that both of these stainless steel sportscars start with D-E-L, but it's pretty cool, right? This sportscar was drawn during my sophomore year at Vassar. Click on each image to enlarge.

Drawing dated 1988 of a Packard-inspired Delgiata Caribbean in the pastel colors from the fifties—perfect for this fanciful luxury sport coupe. Using colored-pencils and markers I sketched this on a slow day while I was in my New York office overlooking the Forbes Building's roof. There was a reception on the roof that day with Liz Taylor in attendance. I picked up on her glam vibe for this Caribbean.

Drawing done in 1992 of a future BMW 2 series, the 235iX—a subcompact all-wheel drive Bimmer way before they were thinking of building one. Of course they have the 1 series now as well as the Mini brand.