Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arrangement Impromptu

 Just a few Zinnias and Ageratum make an attractive summer arrangement. Purple Tradescanthia and a green ornamental grass give some height and added color to the flowers.

M Y   G A R D E N — After I watered the vegetable and the flower gardens earlier this evening, I clipped some of the zinnias and ageratum. All the plants are branching out nicely now, from selectively pruning early buds and stalks on these annuals. Now I  can enjoy the vivid colors of these flowers indoors, and at the spur of the moment. I brought in just a few blooms in various pinks, oranges and and white. The purple Tradescanthia will hopefully root in the water and I'll be able to start another plant. It's an annual that I plan on wintering over inside. Hopefully I'll be able to make a few separate plants for next year. The frosted muted yellow glass vase contrasts well with the more vivid and saturated colors of the flowers. Just barely visible to the left, is a multicolored porcelain dragon my parents brought home from Japan in the mid 1950s.

B O N U S   C H O P S : 
Old- and New-school Cadillac Redux
Sedan De Ville returns to GM, along with its tradition V-and-Crest logo. The six-light greenhouse, or DLO in designer-speak, would be offered in addition to the more private 4 window sedan.

From the spy shots, and the advance information on the web, Cadillac's entry-level ATS, with any luck just might be as striking as my most recent little chop shows. Using the 'proportion' tool I was able to simulate a slight 'fish-eye' lens effect which adds some drama to this view.

C H O P S — To relax tonight I decide to quickly chop a couple of Cadillacs. I showed a 6 window DTS a couple of entries ago that I created two years ago, but wanted to try one that was a bit more production-oriented. I named this one the Sedan De Ville, another time-honored Cadillac nameplate. I like both of these airier Caddys, and am surprised how different I chopped them. For this one, I reprised Cadillac's old V-and-Crest logo it used for the DeVille and Series 62 models of yore. I would reserve the Wreathe-and-Crest for the upper level models in each lineup. I lowered the roof and changed the angle/shape of the C pillar, and changed out the door handles for classier units.

I also created another small entry-level Cadillac. I posted a BTS for the Chinese domestic market not too long ago, and tonight I created a similar ATS for the American market. They are both made from the CTS coupe. For this new silver American ATS, I shortened the hood of the CTS coupe, and changed the C pillar and greenhouse slightly. I made the car taller in height as well as shorter in length than the larger coupe it's based on. Yes, the rear door opening looks a bit tight to enter, fashion is fashion after all, but the 2 bucket seats in the rear would be very deep-dished for adequate head- and leg-room.

The difference between the old-school GM styling for the 6 window Sedan De Ville and the up-to-the-minute styling of the CTS-derived ATS is night and day!

(I just fixed numerous typos in these chop descriptions. It was very late when I first posted them, lol.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

As Smooth as Peggy Lee in '53—Audi A8C

Standing the test of time, this s-m-o-o-t-h Audi A8 Coupe was chopped in 2007 or early 2008. I'm not sure the A5 was even out at the time, but this A8C certainly looks like its big brother in today's light. I did a second version with a longer roofline, a fastback/hatchback, but it wasn't as balanced looking. I'll find it for a future post of awkward chops, lol. I lengthened the hood and steering wheel-to-axle ratio to make room for a brand new straight 8. Hah! Can you imagine?

B T W :
By the way, Peggy Lee, in 1953, was in a remake of the Jazz Singer, Al Jolson's classic film. Danny Thomas starred alongside Peggy, and while I haven't seen it, it's apparently quite awesome. You can check it out at this amazon link. She was married for the second time in 1953, and also released the classic Black Coffee. As smooth as Peggy Lee in '53 would have to be pretty damn smooth! 

I was lucky enough to see Peggy Lee perform twice, both times in the early '90s.I brought my mother the second time, in Manhattan, and we had a great time in the city, one of my now-classic Mom and Son memories  : )

RWD Fairlane Revives Fifties Checkmark Cue

A sketch of a new rear-wheel drive Ford Fairlane Victoria Coupe sport sedan. Ford's answer to the Mercedes CLS's low-slung four-door 'coupe' is its new Victoria Coupe models. This time around, the Fairlane's trademark 'checkmark' trim is stamped into the sheetmetal rather than affixed as separate trim pieces.  Perhaps this could be built on the Mustang's platform, to more fully utilize that RWD chassis.

Adding Some PIzzazz to the Sizzle

The Taurus SHO receives some much-needed SHOW

C H O P — The Taurus SHO is a great new car, very desirable in fact, but it's visual subtlety might be a hindrance to sales in its segment. I'm usually a stealth/sleeper type of guy, but I thought adding a bit of visual drama to the car via retro two-tone paint and a more aggressive roofline, resculpted back panel, bumpers and new wheels would go a long way in reviving the 'wow' factor. Rumors are the SHO will be bumped to an even 400hp next fall, up from the currenty 365. Perhaps the added power could be marketed as an option group with my visual mods as the SHO Interceptor.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Only Time I've Used Glitter. So Far.

Self Portrait: Scarf Sculpture, Bugs Bunny, und Ich. 
I scanned this in 4 pieces and pieced them together in Photoshop. There is no original photo. The piece was placed on the scanner glass and shot directly. I think this is the way to get more detail in the overall images. 15 x 18 inches on wood. Click for the closer view.

M Y   A R T — As one of the glazes on this multiple-image self-portrait, I mixed in two colors of dime-store glitter, metallic lime green and metallic royal blue. Then through sanding and further glazing, the glitter ends up a fairly restrained addition, lol. Images include a scarf sculpture installation from 2003,with dangling vintage rhinestone jewelry, various collectibles, and a mix of digital and film prints.

Remember the Miss that Scribbled This—1898

The majority of images in this piece are paper items I found in one of my Great Aunt Edith's memento boxes. She died in the early 1920s of a form of anemia, but my mother always felt she would probably have been diagnosed with leukemia in more modern days.

M Y   A R T — Hopping over to "This and That With Artichoke Annie" today, Annie had posted an entry about her grandfather's autograph book from 1894, here. I was amused to see that one of the inscriptions was exactly the same as one in a very similar autograph book I inherited. It belonged to my grandfather's sister, Edith, who died in the early 1920s. It was a pie-slice shaped book, moth-eaten velvet on the outside, with many of the pages so dry and brittle that they were mostly loosened from the binding. Page after page were poetic little ditties, written from just about the same time period as Annie's, the 1890s through the early 1900s. I was acquainted with the surnames of several of the people, and I actually had known one of them, a woman in her late 80s when I was growing up, Annie Good (as well as her equally elderly spinster sisters Alvina and Alma—three of the sweetest women. When I was no older than seven or eight they would give me a butterscotch candy for every song I could play on their piano for them!). 

Anyway, a couple of years ago, I decided that I might as well use the pages in a piece of art. Most of the time I will scan items and use printouts, but these pages were personal family items, not necessarily historical to anyone but me at this point, and were in such bad shape that 10-12 coats of polyurethane could only help them last another 100 years. I gathered some newspaper clippings that had belonged to Edith also, and added them to other images germane to the period—a children's book from 1900, dried leaves, tiny bits of colored paper from one of her little boxes. The pie slice-shaped pages from the autograph book proved to be challenge for me to work into my desired grid patterns, but I'm happy with the way it turned out. 

I also used bits and pieces of other works of mine, including one of my Dad at St Peter's in Rome as a young sailor, and a few of his brother's motorcycle friends from the '40s. I really like to reference my earlier work in new pieces. It makes an art show so much more interesting when you see all of my pieces together and realize where the bits and pieces have come from. Someday, maybe collectors will want to own all of the pieces with a certain image in them, or maybe future art historians will search for a piece that they've only seen in a tiny form on another piece. I've even used images of earlier pieces that no longer exist for one reason or another, just to throw them off and create a mystery perhaps. It's sort of like a chess game—I'm thinking five steps ahead even if no one else is right now, rofl. Either that or they'll all end up in a dumpster one day. Who knows?

These amusing poetic constructs will definitely be around now for the next several generations to be amused by as well. See if they sound familiar to you. I'm sure almost everyone has something like these in their family history too.

I thought and thought, and thought in vain,
At last I thought I'd write my name.
May 27, 1898 (my birthday would be 59 years to the day in the future, lol)

When you are old and cannot see, Put on your specs and think of me.
Jan 14th, 1898

Remember the Miss that scribbled this.
Jan 14th, 1898

Remember me on land or on sea.

If I should write perhaps you'll laugh, So I'll merely sign my autograph,
March 7, 1901

The last written autograph is just my grandfather's brother's name, Arthur Sanborn, no little poem. He was a very shy and quiet man from all I've heard—I've posted his two 1920s Buick coupes previously. Art never married, and collected and pressed dried wildflowers. I have a large-format handmade book he created, with wildflowers pressed on each page, with their common name and latin names printed. It's dated 1906 and has some wildflowers now that are very hard to find in this area now, like Trailing Arbutus and a Yellow Violet. Art was actually the Valedictorian of his high-school class, a tiny one-room schoolhouse next to their home, but he refused to take part in the graduation exercises because he was the only boy in the class. A class of six! 

He later went on to invent a collapsible oar for boats. I never knew this, no one in my family ever mentioned it, but going through boxes of stuff a few years ago, I wondered why I had 25 copies of a Science & Invention magazine from 1917. I wondered why anyone would ever buy 25 copies of a book or magazine when my eyes glanced over to my bookshelf. I have multiple copies of most books I've designed, and I have multiple copies of magazines I've had art or letters featured in and it dawned on me: one of my relatives MUST have had something published in it. I looked through it carefully, and in the section of 'new patents' was one issued to Arthur Sanborn. It was a Eureka moment! I just smiled at the similarities in our lives. Art died when I was five, and I have very limited memories of him, but I felt so close to him at that moment it was almost as if he was in the room with me. I had a bottle of Verve Clicquot champagne in the fridge for a 'special' occasion that never happened, so I opened it for him, congratulating him for his patent and congratulating myself for having solved a mystery all by myself, lol.

My pieces are very detailed and intricate, and the scan of the entire piece doesn't really show them to their best advantage. I placed the 24 x 24 inch piece on my scanner and scanned a couple of areas right up close, hopefully showing the details more clearly. I was amused by the newspaper clipping that said "British Princess Held as Naughty Militant." You just wouldn't see those words together today! I was also amused by "Queer Play at Field" and "Bad Day for Americans." I really like to give my viewers lots of stuff to talk about when they see my work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Walk Through the Community Gardens

D I G I T A L   P H O T O G R A P H Y — Yesterday, June and I, my friend and fellow resident of Pink Gardens, rode our bikes to our town's Community Gardens. For a nominal fee, I think it's $35-50, you can rent a 20x20 foot plot of land on a farm that was given to the town. Gardens of all sorts, and gardeners of all sorts, rent these little pieces of farmland to varying degrees of success. I shot mostly the flowers, as the vegetables were almost uniformly untended and rather sad looking. I'm going to chalk it up to the heat wave we've had for the entire month of July, and am going to check back next week. The past few days have not been quite as hot, and maybe that will nudge the 'farmers' to tend their vegetable plants a bit more closely. It was a shame to see so many tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and beans just rotting on the vine rather than being picked when ripe. It took all I had not to go and "remedy" the situation by picking them, but Karma's a bitch, so I didn't take anything that wasn't mine, lol. I'm glad we have our own garden at home though, as it's just so much nicer to be able to go right outside and weed, and to check on how the plants are doing—it's so much of the gardening experience to just walk around and stare at the burgeoning bounty on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Four more photos after the jump.

From the USA to Italy and Back Again

Svelte, sleek, sophisticated, slinky, swank. My Mustang Sportroof, created from Giugiaro's concept car can be described in many ways.

C H O P — Four years ago, an incredible Italian industrial/auto design firm, Ital Design, worked its magic on the then-current Mustang. It went over fairly well in the enthusiast press, but on the forums, not so much. It seems that no European's design for the consummate American pony car would do for them, no matter how long and storied the European designer's career was, and Georgio Giugiaro's Ital Design is a designer's design firm. 

I found nothing wrong with his vision, in fact I coveted it! I'm not crazy about the particular shade of paint they chose, seemingly the worst shades of brown and copper mixed together. Both brown and copper can be gorgeous, but I think they missed the mark with this hue. The lines of the car I thought were just about perfect though. I decided to chop it not to 'fix' it, which is the usual reason for any chopper to chop a car, but just to go further with the sleekness factor.

I changed the color to a brighter shade of orange, a much more American "pony car" color than the original one. I "finished" the body side sculpting behind the rear wheels, matching, and emphasizing the indents in the middle of the car. I totally changed the rear taillight configuration, and added a chrome bar in the center of the hatch lid, tying the fuel filler cap and the taillights, in much the same way Ford did in the '60s and early '70s on many of its cars. Interestingly, Ford has done this particular touch on the new 2010 Taurus, but I did it first, lol.

I'm posting the original image so you can get a feel for the changes I made! Enjoy!

Giugiaro's stunning Mustang concept from late 2006, the original photo for the chop above.

Sometimes They SHOULDN'T Copy Me

I was kidding. They were, sadly. not!

C H O P — You'll find this hard to believe I'm sure, lol, but sometimes I don't take my chops very seriously! I think of them as Editorial Page cartoons occasionally. When Ford first started touting their three-bar grille as their new corporate 'face' I thought, if three bars are good, wouldn't TEN be better? I extended the Fusion's grille a few times, and then made it into a coupe to keep my street chop cred, haha. You'll also notice that since the point of the chop was the bad-ass grille, and not the fact I made it a coupe from its original sedan, I didn't give it my full attention. Look 'inside' the windshield and the Fusion's driver side B pillar for the original 4 door is still visible—a novice chopper's classic mistake. The viewers at the sites I posted it at all got a good chuckle over the grille anyway, one of the few times my sense of humor was actually understood by the 'masses."

Well, knock me over with a feather, about 2 years later I came across this "tuner" version of the new S Class Mercedes. I'm pretty sure it was a Russian custom, a custom gone horribly awry, but I immediately remembered this joke chop. I photoshopped them together as an example of when you should NOT be copying artandcolour!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hello Dahlia!

The Little Plant That Could. Eventually. Click to see the beauty up close!

M Y   G A R D E N — This Dahlia is 14 months or so old today—old for an annual!

For the past few years, Mary has given me several Dahlia corms for my birthday in late May. I've had fantastic luck with them and have grown to really appreciate their beauty and long-flowering season. By last November however, while the other five of my Dahlias were 5-6 feet tall, this little one was barely 18 inches high and hadn't thrown off one blossom. I didn't even remember what color it was supposed to be. The corms from this company in Oregon are stamped with their variety, but I didn't keep track. Anyway, I just didn't want it to get frosted and die without ever blooming, so I dug it up and planted it in a pot. 

It struggled all winter, alternately growing too quickly and too tall, and then wilting and dropping leaves. I cut it back a few times, but frankly by the time spring came around, I didn't have much hope for it. I cut it back again in May, and have watered it every day. It's in full sun, and FINALLY threw out some buds a few weeks ago. Today the first one opened up and boy am I glad I saved it and put all the time I did into nurturing it! It has bits of lavender, dark purple, burgundy and yellow, and it's not even fully open yet. Welcome to the world!

Light and Airy Cadillac Six-Window Sedan

I may have gone a bit too large with the size of the wreathe-and-crest Cadillac logo on the trunklid, lol. At least there would be no doubt what type of car you were driving!

C H O P — Cadillacs of the Seventies through the present day, have often been very formal, with large 'blind' C pillars, first made popular post-war by Ford's Thunderbirds and Galaxies of the late Fifties. Cadillacs of the time however, often came with very glassy rooflines, with slim and elegant roof pillars. I wanted to see what a current-day DTS might look like with a less formal roofline, so I created the version above. I made the taillights taller and slimmer, more elegant to my eyes, and then added a V-shaped indent on the trunklid, focusing on Cadillac's current wreather-and-crest logo. "Back in the day" only Cadillac's top-shelf models came with this wreathed logo. "Lesser" versions came with a large "V" under the Cadillac crest. I wish this was the case today, I liked the look of the "V" better than the wreathe, but nowaday's Cadillac uses the "V" to denote the more powerful versions of its cars while still using the wreathed crest on its grilles and trunklids. The way I created a "V" in the trunk would be a subliminal nod to those Caddys of the '50s and '60s. I also used my favored 'suicide' doors, perhaps more of a Lincoln styling fillip, but was last used on a Cadillac for its limited production über lux '57-'58 Brougham models, so there is a postwar precedent for their use.

A 1961 Cadillac Six-window sedan showing the light and airy greenhouse. In these years, alternative sedan bodystyles were also available, ranging from a 4 window design with a severely wrapped rear backlight to a more private 4 window sedan for the Fleetwood models.

For Tampa Granny! : )

Look what I found at Google Images! It's just what Granny asked for... 

I gave this version the 'artandcolour' touch! This one should be large enough to print well, lol.

The Next Caprice for the General Public? Nope.

My chop for a 2011 Chevrolet Caprice passenger car. This automobile actually exists in very similar form, but is only sold in Australia and the Middle East. So far.

C H O P — This Chevrolet Caprice is soon to be introduced in the United States. For realz! BUT, and there is usually a 'but' in everything, it will only be available for use as a police car. It seems odd to go to the trouble of certifying a car for sale in the States and not sell it to the public, but that's the case for this car. I can only assume that the final price might be too high for Chevrolet's 'usual' market, as it would probably have to be sold for $42-50K. IF you enlarge the image above, you can see that at least in the Middle East, this Chevy comes with a rear seat DVD video system with monitors in the rear headrests, a pretty nice touch. I can only assume that this car will be subsidized heavily for the police fleet market to make it affordable for American communities. A slightly shorter version of this car/platform was recently sold in the US as the Pontiac GTO, and was withdrawn after a few years due to low sales and ultimately Pontiac's demise as a marque.

When I heard rumors of this police car coming to the States, I created this luxury version for well-heeled Bow Tie buyers, adding more trim along the rocker panels with darker rocker panels to make the car seem lower and longer, and I added full-width taillights with some extra chrome too. Full width taillights are not necessarily a Chevy styling cue, although some smaller Chevys have used it before, but I felt that the entire car was not very  Chevy-like, so I went with what I thought would look good regardless.

The actual upcoming United States domestic market Caprice in police-car trim. I think this might be the first time that a police-car will be sold in the United States without a related passenger car on sale as well. You can read a bit more about it in today's Autoblog here.

U P D A T E — An anonymous comment below corrected this post. The last version of this platform sold as a Pontiac, a short wheelbase version of this Caprice, was the G8, not the GTO. The GTO was an earlier coupe version of the Australian Monaro coupe. Thanks, Anonymous!

Crumbling Pages, Crusty Popovers—1915ish

A page of a crumbling notebook filled with my grandmother's handwritten recipes. The notebook has a printed copyright date of 1915 in the front, but I'm not sure how long it would have taken to fill it. I scanned this and left the image quite large. If you click on it your should be able to read it quite well. Well most of it, I can't make it all out as you'll read below. All photos in the post are clickable to make larger. I'm always amazed at the details that the primitive box cameras captured and the condition that the negatives remained in for close to 100 years.

R E M E M B R A N C E — Boy did my grandmother love to cook! I entered the 'scene' quite late in her life, and she was pretty sick most of the time I knew her, but from all the stories I heard, and from my own limited experience, she could cook with the best of 'em. As it was, at the tender age of 5 or 6 she began teaching me to read recipes and to cut vegetables and measure ingredients. To this day I use her beat-up old aluminum measuring cup every time I need to measure. I've had really nice cooking utensils come and go, but I'd be truly saddened if I lost that measuring cup or her equally old brass pie crust serated cutter/crimper. I must have more than 1,000 recipes either handwritten, or typed, or cut out from newspapers and magazines, in several books and containers that she collected. I also have really old cookbooks from various companies, like Gold Medal Flour, that she must have sent away for. I think a large part of her camaraderie with friends revolved around passing around recipes and comparing cooking notes. I have no idea what I'll do with them all, but I'm thinking of making a large, highly-detailed piece of art with them. Most are becoming illegible due to the fading of ink, and the drying out of the paper, but they'd stay in their current condition 'forever' under several coats of polyurethane.

This fading and crumbling ruled notebook, dated 1915,  dates to the time of my grandmother's first marriage in late 1916. I like to think of her driving to friends homes and sitting down to coffee and copying old family recipes of theirs, in preparation for her upcoming marriage. My grandmother never knew her real mother, and both of her stepmothers died by 1910 when she was 15. From what I remember of her, I'm sure she wanted to do everything right, to be able to cook anything for her future husband, to be the best mother she could be for any children she might have. 

Nanny's Model T Ford parked in front of a friend's house (I always called my grandmother Nanny). Maybe she was inside writing down these very recipes in this entry.

Life isn't fair, we all know that, and while my grandmother was blessed by becoming pregnant a few months after she was married, her husband, my mother's father, died within 6 months of the marriage in a diving accident. He was a bridge engineer and was diving to inspect the pilings when something happened and he drowned. My mother ended up never knowing her father and my grandmother was a widow at 22 with a baby. And not much family left either. She not only refused to let it get her down, she eventually flourished, and my mother flourished, although I'm sure that deep down, both women were inexorably hurt by their losses. 

I also have a handwritten little notebook of my grandmother's with her 'Budgetary Needs' written throughout with categories of day, week and month. The majority of the items are household and food in nature, or car expenses for the Model T she had bought herself in 1915, with items for 'Veronny' my mother's nickname, the second most listed. Only rarely were items like 'new dress' or 'dressy heels' or any other items for the young mother listed, so I know it wasn't easy for her. That would change in 1924 when she married her second husband, and as is the case in this blog, that will be another entry. : ) I'll just say now that her second husband, whose last name is my middle name, was a peach and very good for her. He adopted my mom right away, and my grandmother could buy pretty much anything she wanted from that point on. Well, until Black Friday, in October of '29, but that is another story too. The Great Depression hit everybody and, skipping ahead, by the age of 40 my grandmother would be widowed for the second time, this time with two daughters, Hoohoo (née Gloria) having been born in 1925.

Nanny in the driver's seat of her little Model T Runabout during this period. It appears as if the spare tire had been used and not replaced, and the other tires look none-too great either. Stretching funds to make a life for herself and her little daughter, my mother, wasn't easy. She still found time to photograph portraits of her friends and to document her life in ways that are so special to me now. I have that steering wheel on my wall, and one of the two gas cowl lights at the base of the windshields is on the table in front of me as I type this. The windshields themselves are in the attic, waiting for me to do something creative with them. I also have several of the headlamps lenses, which I sometimes use as coasters.

A serious pose under the roughly-hewn cedar pergola....

... and a much more light-hearted pose in the back yard.

Little "Veronny" in 1921, short for Veronica, always came first in my grandmother's life. Never knowing her father who died before she was born, my mother always had nice, freshly pressed (starched?) dresses in the many photos I have of her, probably hand-made by her mother, and cute shoes and socks. I have a small notebook that listed the single mom's expenses and my mother's needs were always put in front of her own. I think perhaps this dress was meant for her to grow into a little bit, lol.  

I've scanned "Pop Overs" to post here, and at the bottom of the page is a recipe for a "1 egg Cake" although I can't really make out all the ingredients due to the condition of the page. I've never made popovers myself, but maybe I should try. I certainly enjoy eating them!

According to the recipe I scanned:

Pop Overs
2 eggs well beaten
2 even Tspoon sugar to be put in eggs
1 cup of flour
6 Tspoon of melted butter (Edit: I think it says 6, the page is ripped right through the number. Does this sound right?)
1/2 Tspoon salt
Mix all together and beat with egg beater.
3/4 cup of milk (Edit: This is the order where the milk is printed on the original, but maybe you mix it with the rest of the ingredients and then beat with the egg beater?)
Bake in hot oven 24 minutes.

1 Egg Cake
1 Tablespoon of butter. 
1 Tspoon B. powder
1 scant cup of sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup ( Edit: Can't read this word. Some sort of raisins?)
Bake 20 minutes to 1/2 hour

2 Tbs cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
(Edit: I can't read the rest of the words for this recipe.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

ZoomZoom x 100 = RX3 Sportback!

Chopped from Mazda's Kabura concept (below) which debuted January 2006. This RX3 Sportback would be Mazda's entry-level sports car with a smaller version of the RX8's Wankel Rotary engine.

C H O P — The Kabura was a very cool little Mazda sport coupe that made the rounds of the car shows in 2006. It was a back-to-basics small sports coupe, sort of like a Miata fastback. I thought that with a bit of 'productionizing' and restyling it could become a modern day RX3, the Wankel Rotary powered entry level Mazda from the 1970s. It could be the 'little brother' to the RX8 sports car, perhaps selling in the upper teens/low twenties. I enlarged the windows, adding more glass including a vertical pane of glass in the rear hatch a la Honda CRX. I also made some very cool polished aluminum trim pieces on the rocker panel and the rear diffuser valance panel, emphasizing the wheelhouse bulges—as if they needed any more emphasis! 

This is another early chop of mine, before I started completely changing the shape and design of the cars in the original photos and before I created new backgrounds for them. Below is the original press release photo I started with. I also worked at a much smaller size then, as many internet forums at the time had a limit of 600-800 pixels in width for images. Even though I had worked in Photoshop for 12-13 years by 2006, I hadn't used it for creating art so much as color-correcting and resizing art for my books. Creating fake cars was one way I taught myself a gazillion more uses of the software. When I look back at these early pieces, I see how crude they were in many ways, but I can also see the spark of creativity that really jolted me to my core when I realized how powerful a tool Photoshop really was, and how much I was going to be able to do with it. I smile at these early pieces for that very reason.

One of artandcolour's regular readers, dear Tampa Granny, has posted that she and hubby Gramps have a hot little Miata convertible. This could be her 'winter car' or when she wanted a hardtop roof over her head! : )

Original Kabura concept from 2006.

Lincoln Continental Chop From 2006

Crafted from a Bugatti concept car, this Lincoln would have been VERY high-end—perhaps six figures with only the finest materials in a limited edition.

C H O P — The interesting part of this chop is something I just realized looking at it four years after I created it. The sloped front end was very NOT Lincoln in 2006, the bluff Navigator-type classic chrome radiator surround was still being used, which itself was originally a Rolls-Royce knock-off when it was first used in '68 on the Mark III. Creating a Lincoln with this front end was controversial, and universally unliked when I first posted it online. I didn't think, and couldn't have known that Lincoln was going to create it's new trademark split-grille modeled after the '1940-41 Lincolns, but you can imagine that split grille on this car. Also note the extra large Lincoln logo on the front fender as well. I believe I did that before Lincoln started using this cue on their recent production models. This car doesn't have a very American feel to it, but then, the very first Lincoln Continental cabriolet was named the Continental for that very same reason: it was considered a very European design at the time. This car was chopped to appeal to the buyers of Rolls Royces and Bentleys.

Ever since I started posting my cars online in 2006, many people have commented that the real manufacturers are 'stealing' my ideas, lol. Of course they're not. But I like to think that designers of any kind, ie car, book, dish, train, clothes whatever it is being designed, that we all get our inspiration from the world around us. We all see what everyone else is doing in other fields and somehow react to the same forces in our own chosen fields. We all hear the same political rants, we all read the same books or watch the same TV shows, and those influences all coalesce into our chosen designs.

Or they're just checking out artandcolour for some cheap inspiration, lol.

I see lots of 'mistakes' in these early first chops of mine, but I'd rather do new ones than to go back and rework earlier pieces. They are what they are and they're a snapshot in time of my earlier work.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor : )

Hey blog friends—just a note to say my little old iMac that i access the web with is starting to act up more often. it's 12 years old, about 112 years old in human years, so it might just not last much longer. If i'm not online for a day, or eleven, I'm fine, but just trying to find an alternative. I have a second Mac, much newer but it's not a simple plug-in to get on the web, and would have to schedule Comcast to come out and do whatever they do. So if you don't see me for a while, that's it. If my past experience is anything, I won't have any warning, other than the 'jiggles' I'm seeing now and again. But I absolutely need my net access to live and work so I won't be without it for long if it goes down.

And You Thought the Magazines in Your Doctor's Office Were Out of Date? How about 1904?

This cover from 1904 looks more like 1804.
Who knew Purina once made human food? Or do they still?

C O L L E C T I O N — I have at least one hundred vintage magazines, dating back to about 1890. I found these scans last night on my hard drive and thought I'd share this morning. I'll get around to scanning some more one of these days. Some of the fashion magazines from this period, the early 1900s are amazing, with full color pages full of bustles and layers and swags, lol. I have one magazine with patterns in them so you can make your own 'high-style' mid-day and evening dresses. I also have a lot of farming magazines, magazines for inventors and other interesting genres. I really love the period automobile ads in them.

This Guy Plays Beethoven on the Piano?

Yours truly, 1979, age 21, almost 22

C O L L E C T I O N — The photo I selected for my college senior yearbook. My parents would have preferred a smile with a blazer and a tie, but admitted in the end this was certainly more "me." It appears as if I'm casting a wary eye towards my future—as clairvoyant a moment as I've ever had! I graduated 31 years and two months ago—such a baby! I can still remember the night of the photoshoot like it was yesterday. Odd how some memories are embedded in my brain for life, and others are gone-with-the-wind so to speak. 

I was a music composition major, but have never done anything in that field. I've played piano since I was two years old, and could sight-read 12 staves at once at the 'height' of my studies. I was never able to memorize a darn thing, maybe 3 measures of this or 5 bars of that, but I could sit down with a new piece of music, one that I'd never seen before, and play it the first time well enough to perform if I had to. I also sang in the choir and in a professional Bach Cantata singing group in Poughkeepsie, the small city where Vassar was located. 

I've rarely thought about music since I graduated except to sit down at the piano once a year or so. I was in the piano room in my mother's house next to her bedroom playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata when she died—the result of a brain tumor, and by her own choice not to receive extraordinary treatment. I've always felt that she was carried away on the arms of Beethoven—not a bad way to leave this mortal coil, to use a term written by Shakespeare in Hamlet:

To sleep, perchance to dream. Ah there's the rub, 
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

My mother, 1939, age 21, almost 22

Before We All Had Computers, ca 1880

Carriage closed, ready to type, 1880s Remington Typewriter. Pay no attention to the clutter around the machine! I always have pieces of art, paint bottles, and print-outs lying around everywhere. My mother would have been the first to admit housekeeping wasn't 'her thing' and I'm proud to say I'm just like her, lol. All photos clickable to enlarge of course.

Carriage open, ready to access the ribbon or a sticking key. Notice the keys are arranged in a full circle and the ribbon lies flat at the top, unlike the typewriters most of us are familiar with. The early stages of some piece can be seen on the upper right. These would be the bright base coat squares, which get progressively smaller and more subtle, and eventually sanded and glazed. I'd say each of my pieces of art consists of at least 25-50 different layers of paint, paper, graphite, metallic pens, glazes and polyurethanes.

C O L L E C T I O N — This is my Remington Standard Typewriter, dating back to the early 1880s. It belonged to my mother's Uncle Art, whom I've mentioned on this blog before. The interesting part is the design of the carriage and keys, which are arranged in a full circle instead of the semi-circle they are on 'modern' typewriters. You can see the wide ribbon lies flat on the top of them also. I have some typed letters from the early 1900s, and typed recipes, and I've determined that this is the typewriter that was used. I did a test of it once, several years ago, and I forget which key it was, I think the lower case 'h' but it was very distinctively worn, and it matched the fragile old typed sheets perfectly. It is kept in its original packing crate, which is a really nice old wooden piece with cool typography on the sides.

The paper holder has the following printed on it:

Keep the machine free from dust
Clean all of the top rods -- especially
the shifting rod -- with a greasy cloth
 Every day

Who needs internet tech support or a software update installed when a greasy cloth will work?

The original wooden packing crate it came in. It says Remington Standard Typewriter on it in cool, vintage typography. I like to keep a lot of my antiques all around me. The karma they give off is exactly perfect for my art to absorb, and they remind me of the circle of life every single day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

MIstakes & Leftovers: Let's Make Some Art

Trailing Throttle Oversteer. Approximately 12 x 20 inches on pine. Paint, paper and polyurethane, 2009.

M Y   A R T — I created a piece of art last year for a friend, Barry. He owns a classic 1955 Porsche Continental cabriolet. He's always been a car fanatic, and sent me a scan of a faded photograph from 1969 of he and some friends of his working on Barry's Corvair 'speedster,' a cut-down convertible that never made it beyond the dream and torch-cutting stage. He also sent me a few scans of his Porsche's body and details. I created a montage of the two cars and images and created a cool abstract piece for him about 24 x 24 inches, Rear-Engined Reflections.

Whenever I do a piece, I always print out WAY too many prints, not knowing what I'm going to do for one reason, and wanting to have plenty so I can do anything I want, and then do it again. I try to work in stages, so I'll do all of my wood work first, finding and then cutting and sanding the bases I'll use, then the photoshop work, then I'll do all the printing, and then I'll get my paints, glazes and polyurethanes together. I don't like to have to do more printouts if I'm in the painting stage, or do some wood cutting if I'm in the printing stage. It's just the way I work best. It took a good 2 years for me to finish a piece for Barry that I liked and that I thought he would like. In fact I created two earlier separate pieces almost to the finishing stage before I gave up on them as they weren't 'right.' In the meantime I had literally hundreds of printouts too many by the time I finished the third and final piece.

Long story short, after I sent the piece to Barry, I decided to use the leftovers of his prints to do one for myself. I really liked the colors I had created for the photoshopped images, I liked the striping of the rear engine cover vents on his Porsche, and I liked the paint colors I had gotten for it. The piece of wood I had chosen looked just fine, but as soon as I started working on it, a crack appeared and then the wood split. Not being one to throw anything out, I started exploring ways to use it in the piece anyway. It was a clean cut, so I could have just joined it together, and made plans to paint the slim vertical piece and 'paper' the larger side of it. Then I put the pieces together in the opposite manner, so the curved 'slit' wouldn't join to create a rectangle, but to create a subtle 'S' shape. Then I realized how perfect this would be for a piece using parts of an image of a Porsche!

As Annie mentioned in her comments about her accident with her 912, early Porsches are known for their 'scary' handling traits, ie, that heavy engine stuck out at the back of the car always wants to find a way to come to the front of the car, in a pendulum type manner. Frequently the driver then hits the brakes and overcorrects the steering, resulting in what's known as 'trailing throttle oversteer' or better known as a major friggin' skid! The two pieces of wood looked like a section of a skid, the black rubber you'll find on roads after an accident perhaps, or the twin stripes left on a road after a smoking getaway. 

So the mistake of cracking the pine board, and the leftover printouts I had from the original piece combined in this second piece to create a cool piece of art that I'm quite proud to hang on my walls, the better to remember the original and my friend Barry.

Rear-Engined Reflections. The original piece I did for Barry, approximately 24 x 24 inches on plywood. Barry (the TALL one) and his friends standing by his cut-down Corvair speedster, ca 1969, are superimposed on the trunklid of his 1955 Porsche Continental cabriolet. The rest is pure artandcolour, with a myriad of squares, grids and colors in paint, paper, graphite and polyurethane.

For Artichoke Annie: Her 912 Recreated

A polaroid of Artichoke Annie's long-lost Tangerine-colored Porsche 912. Or is it?

C H O P ,   S O R T   O F — New reader, Artichoke Annie, mentioned in a recent post that she once owned a 1968 Porsche 912 painted a Tangerine color. She must have been AWESOME back in the day! She also mentioned that she didn't have a single photo of the car, so I thought that I would create one for her. What's the good of Photoshop if you can't recreate history once in a while? Annie, if you click on the photo, and then 'save image' on a Mac, or right click on a PC to save it to your hard-drive, you now have a photo of your car you can print out. If your car had the extra-cost, five spoke Fuchs wheels, let me know. I can change the chrome hubcaps here, but I'm pretty sure most 912s came with this wheel treatment. There is a Navy Blue 912 in town to this day, and it has these chrome wheels and hubcaps.

I remember a bright Pea Green 912 in my town. Did my readers know that back then Porsche would paint a car ANY color you wanted, as long as you paid for it of course? There were stories about people bringing samples of leather shoes, clothes, other car paint samples, their pet's leashes, you name it, to the Porsche factory, and for a price they would create the correct pigment color and paint your car. They supposedly KEPT all of those special formulas forever, in case you needed touch ups or wanted your next car in the same shade. I seem to remember racing Porsche Carreras in bright orange, but not regular production cars, so Annie's may very well have been a special-order color. 

For this Photoshop rendering, I found a photo of a 912 through Google images. I placed it on a generic wooded background that might have been anywhere Annie might have parked in front of. I changed the color to Tangerine, and then I placed it in a Polaroid frame background. I used a couple of filters to simulate the aging process which 'disrupts' the pigmentation a bit, and I added a wrinkled texture to make the polaroid appear as if it had been handled a lot. Annie said she bought the car in '69, so I wanted this image to look 41 years old. I keep files of textures for my art; in this case I overlayed 'wrinkled paper' for that last step. 

The 912 was the 4 cylinder volume sales model of the 911 lineup, and they actually sold more 912s in Europe than 911s in those years, helping to keep the company afloat in lean years. They were also used by die Polizei, the German Police. They never sold as well in the States with most Americans preferring the more powerful 911, so Annie had a pretty rare car on her hands for awhile! She also had what many people felt was the better handling Porsche by way of it's lighter overall weight. With Porsche's engine hanging way back past the rear axle, the lighter the engine, the better and safer the handling. It was the smart Porsche to buy.

For the Wiki on 912s, click here.

Hope you enjoy it, Annie. I'm very glad you found my blog!

UP D A T E :  At 10:00AM EST, I made a couple of 'fixes' to the image, and I updated it the entry. Annie, if you've saved it already, this version is a little bit better, lol. : )

UP D A T E  2:  PhantomX has alerted me to this very cool early 911 scale model available on eBay. It's right up Annie's Alley, lol! It's a 1964, but is very similar to the '68 912. Ya gotta love eBay, and thanks Phantom!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Same Sh**, Different Century.

The Title Page for the book Trial of Andrew Johnson, published by Congress in 1868. Click to see in greater detail. 

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — Andrew Johnson, first President to be impeached by Congress. Johnson took over when Lincoln was assassinated. Long story short, the Articles of Impeachment were never passed, losing by one vote in three separate tries. This is the Title Page to Volume 1 of the book of the entire Impeachment proceedings, published by Congress in 1868. There were some lawyers on my mother's side of the family back then. It's interesting to peruse their pages, and see the handwritten notes in the margins, notating various points I suppose they wanted to remember for future use. 

I have many, many books dating back to the very early 1800s. I've actually scanned the leather-bound exteriors to use as backgrounds in some of my book designs. I have a huge electronic file of backgrounds I've created and used in the past twenty years, just for use in a book in some way, shape or form. And with Photoshop, they're all endlessly variable. What appeals to me as much as the actual image, is the Karma that old leather etc carries with it. I like to use 'good' vibes in my books.

It's my profound wish that in 150-200 years someone finds a book which I have designed. Except for one book I forgot to make sure I was listed in, lol, I have my name on the copyright page of every book I've ever designed, numbering almost 1,000 tomes by now. Who knows if anyone will save 'hard copies' of books anymore though. I never thought I'd live long enough to see anyone actually debate whether or not printed books would cease to exist, and yet this is the world we live in. Since I don't have children, and never will, my books and my art will have to serve as my legacy.

For a HECK of a lot more about President Johnson, his background, his Presidency, the Impeachment and the rest of his life, Wikipedia has a ton of information. Wiki can be hit-or-miss on some subjects, some of the information I've found there about cars is so wrong it's laughable. I try to read through their entries before I ever post a link to their page. I don't know a lot about our early Presidents unfortunately, but this entry seems chock full of decent information. Click here.

The title of this post? The more politics change, the more it stays the same, right? This entry was prompted by a 'news' item I just heard on TV. Certified Crazy Loon Tom Tancredo has called for President Obama to be impeached. Oy vey. It never ends!

Original Dealer Brochures From the Seventies; It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Maserati-powered Citroën SM: exotic in every way. When's the last time you saw one though? The European version came with headlights under glass, including one set which swiveled with the front wheels as you cornered to light your way, but US regulations demanded these less-than-svelte round fixed sealed beams. Lexus, among a few other high-end brands have recently reintroduced swiveling headlights for their cars, although today's are Xenons and are electronically controlled. All images clickable to enlarge, of course.

BMW's now-classic 1600/2002 series set the stage for Bimmer's world domination in recent years. Their recent 1-series of small cars is supposed to be evocative of the 2002 models, but I think they missed the mark a bit.

Jaguar has gone from being part of a large UK conglomerate, British Leyland, to being a division of the Ford Motor Company to being currently owned by Tata Motors of India, which also bought Land Rover from Ford a couple of years ago.

C O L L E C T I O N — When I was young, my dad always drove me around to the various car dealers in our area, and even brought me to Manhattan to see the imported cars' large dealerships. I collected dealer 'literature' or brochures, and I can honestly say that this period of marketing/advertising was the greatest influence in my later publication design career and of course, my inspiration for the way I present my car chops today.

Follow the jump for three more import car brochure covers from the '70s.

Esquire Magazine Postcards from World War II

Caption: Some Necks. All postcards are clickable to enlarge. 

Caption: December 7, 1941

Caption: The New Orderlies

C O L L E C T I O N — These are satirical postcards Esquire Magazine published in the 1940s during World War II. The artwork is phenomenal, the sentiments brutal, the political correctness absent. Most of the major players are present, FDR, Churchill, Mussolini, Hitler and Hirohito I believe.  

I wish I knew more about the Second World War, I'm sure there are tons of nuanced meanings behind every image in these cards. My dad fought in the war, (and also the Korean Conflict) but we all know that his generation never really spoke about their experiences during that time. He spoke about some of his friends from that period, but really never talked about the war itself. How I wish he was still here. I'm pretty sure if I asked well-informed questions he would tell me the answers, but I doubt he ever would have been truly forthcoming about his experiences on his own, ever. The hellish images in the minds of what has been coined as 'the greatest generation' must have been truly terrifying and traumatic. He was 20 years old when the war started; he lied about his age and joined the Navy at the age of 16 in 1938.

He was mainly in the South Pacific theater. In fact, it's too large to fit on my scanner, but I have a framed "Imperium Neptuni Regis" proclamation, initiating him into the "Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep" which was given to each sailor as they crossed the Equator for the first time. His ship at the time was the USS Chaumont, and they were en route to the South Fiji Islands according to the document. The date on this proclamation? December 5, 1941, two days before the Pearl Harbor massacre/attack and the start of the war for us. I found a bit of history of this ship here,  which states they were on a routine mission to Manila, but we all know you can't believe everything you read on the 'net, lol. I'm looking at the proclamation right now and it clearly states they were on their way to Fiji. Interestingly, the web article says the ship left from Hawaii. If they had left at a later date, who knows if my Dad would have been at Pearl Harbor that day, and who knows if I'd be typing this blog entry right now. He was also on this ship, the USS Goodrich; I have two ceramic ashtrays with that name on them which interestingly also includes text in Greek fired into them for some reason. I have photos of other ships as well; it seems my Dad was shipped around a lot, Maybe most sailors were, according to the needs of the day.

Hit the jump for three more of these historical and politically hot postcards. Would a major magazine publish something like these today?