Saturday, December 09, 2006


(Click image to see enlarged view)

I laugh every time I look at this painting. If you had told me 6 months ago I'd be painting a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle with an American flag background, I would have thought you had lost your senses. But here are two traditional American icons painted by a life-long leftist. Who would have thunk?

I started by calling the local Harley-Davidson dealer and asking if I could come out and take some pictures. I convinced them that I wasn't an industrial spy for Kawasaki and just wanted some pictures to paint from. It was one of the few sunny days we had in Eugene in November and I was at first disappointed that they didn't have any of the bikes out in the sunlight. However the showroom was bathed in sun through large plateglass windows and the bikes reflected not only the light from the windows but the colors from the other bikes. One of the salesmen, after being a bit suspicious, started pointing out bikes that had a lot of chrome.

It took me about 5 hours to draw the image and then mask off the white areas. It took another 15 hours to paint. When I had finished painting the motorcycle, the background was still stark white. I couldn't decide what color to put in the background. So I took a digital picture of the unfinished painting and put it into PhotoShop with the intent of testing out different background colors. But before I could do that, the American flag image just popped into my head. I wish I could say that I thought long and hard and came up with the flag idea, but it literally appeared uninvited. I found an image of the flag on the Internet and, using PhotoShop, plopped it into the background to see how it would look. I laughed out loud to acknowledge the force that sent me the idea. It was perfect! I drew in the flag, masked off the stars and had the background done in about 2 hours.

There are a couple of things that I wished I had done better/differently, but overall I like the painting a lot.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad it was a sunny day when you took the photo - the reflections in the motorcycle add so much to your painting! I am very impressed - and inspired - I can't believe you have only been painting for two years. - Sheila