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Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Indy 500 – Now and Then ...

The 100th Indianapolis 500 is just around the corner, and it’s making out to be an exciting race.

Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe captured the pole position at 230.760 mph!! It’s doubly amazing because a year ago, Hinchcliffe almost died from the results of an Indy 500 practice crash!


The first running of the Indy 500 was just as exciting.


In 1911, there were 40 cars running the race vs the 33 cars for 2016.


Driver Ray Harroun was running his car, the Marmon Wasp, without a riding mechanic, the only one doing so in the race. To have an idea of what was going on around him, Harroun installed a mirror on the cowl, the first recorded use of a rear-view mirror!





Hand-carved/acrylic painted 22"x 12.5"
© Paul Chenard 2016

Harroun, relieved by driver Cyrus Patschke for 35 laps of the race, lead for 88 laps of the 200-lap race, and won it with an average speed of 74.602 mph.

He retired from racing after the race, and lived to the ripe age of 89 years old, passing away in early 1968.

The lovely Marmon Wasp survives still, residing in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Bugatti Sale of the Century

American John Shakespeare from Illinois was a curious gentleman who sought the unusual and the exciting.

Heir to his father’s fishing tackle fortune, John discovered fast cars amongst his other distractions of skydiving and waterskiing. He also had interests in
oil, real estate and auto dealerships.

He tried his hand at racing Ferraris in the mid-1950s, even racing with Luigi Chinetti to a 6th place finish of the 1954 Carrera Panamericana in a Ferrari 375 MM.

By 1963, he had accumulated a large collection of rare cars, with a strong focus on Bugatti’s.

The
Schlumpf
brothers in Mulhouse France heard of his Bugatti’s, and thought they would make excellent additions to the museum they were creating.

Negotiations began, with lots of back and forth, and by 1964, a deal was struck where Shakespeare would selling them all his 30 Bugatti’s for the lowly sum, including shipping, of $85,000 USD, which works out to about $650,000 USD in today’s money!



John Shakespeare seeing off his 30 Bugatti's
Pen&ink and white markers on blue and brown paper © Paul Chenard 2016


They were all loaded up on railcars, and shipped to France.

Considering that most individual vintage Bugatti’s sell between $350,000 and $30,000,000 USD today, the Shakespeare Bugatti deal could certainly be considered the used-car sale of the century!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

1956 Mille Miglia


Few races in the world were as difficult and dangerous as the Mille Miglia.

The race took place on public roads through Italy, starting in the northern town of Brescia, where it weaved it’s way down the western coast to Rome, crossed over to and up the eastern coast to finish again in Brescia.

It ran non-stop over the length of the day, and for 1956, totalled 992.332 miles (1597 kms) in full distance.

Historically, other than a few exceptions, the race was mostly won in Alfa Romeo’s. Alfa Romeo’s rein on the race changed in 1948 when Ferrari finally won.

By 1956, there were no less than 5 Scuderia Ferraris in the race, and not surprisingly, they took the top 5 positions!


Pen & Ink, watercolour pencils and acrylic pens on 18"x 12" watercolour paper.  © Paul Chenard 2016

The winning Ferrari 290 MM Scaglietti was driven “sans” navigator by Italian driver Eugenio Castellotti (1930-1957) in a time of 11hr 37:10.

It was a quite an accomplishment in an extremely miserable, wet and rainy race, with a number of fatal accidents.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Art should challenge!

Art should, in my mind, challenge, educate and inspire the viewer.

As an automotive artist/historian, it’s also important to me that my art tell a story. I try to challenge myself and the viewer by trying different medium to tell that story.


The chosen medium for an art-piece is influenced by many variables; my location, my mood, the story to be told, how that story might have been told in the past, and how it can be retold differently.

One of the mediums that I sometimes choose is creating the art on a specific colour of paper. For example, I did the 1969 Matra with Sir Jackie Stewart driving, which is done on blue paper.





Though I’ve used no blue in the art, an interesting illusion happens where the blue of the body of the car looks different than the blue of the paper. The mind re-interprets the colour!

I’ve also create laser-cut stainless steel illustrations, in this case, the 1959 Le Mans-winning Aston Martin DBR1, where the black part of an original pen & ink artwork is laser-cut clear out of a sheet of stainless steel, then painted the main subject colour (green).

I have black-painted sheet metal behind the illustration coloured sheet metal, and paint the highlights and secondary colours on the green illustration sheet metal. It all hides the fact there is no black in the art, but it is actually cut out metal.

Using the same kind of laser cutting, I added another layer of information in the illustration but doing laser-cut art of the engine, hidden behind the bonnet. It makes for a nice surprise for the viewer!

Most recently, I’ve been playing with the idea that a bunch of abstract colour blocks become a recognizable image as you step further away for the art-piece, which featured the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring-winning GT40 MKII X1.

For this artwork, I choose the use coloured paper, which I match as closely to the original image as possible, then trim out and glue down on the 3000 + rectangle grid that I’ve created to build the art.



Though it was very tedious to work on, the final result is very surprising. As a test, I blurred the photo of the art using Photoshop, and it looks like an original photo was used!



Interesting, the final art seems full of action, which is possible caused in part by the “vibration” that happens when certain colours are put side by side.

I think as an artist, one mustn’t stay in the same medium or technique and get “comfortable”; the artist should always push themself into new territory, and constantly explore.

This helps keep their art fresh and challenging.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

An Addiction to Writing Books


It’s been a few years since I published my first book “Silver Clouds: The 1934 Grand Prix Season”.

That first one was somewhat of a “bucket list” project, something that I thought I should do before moving on to the next life … there is a next life, isn’t there?

It wasn’t easy, but at the same time it was.

There were so many things to deal with ­– budget, research (so much research!!!), aesthetics, design, logistics, editing – real hard work, but overriding all of that was passion for the project, and a curiosity to see what the final result could and would be.

I wrote it, illustrated it, designed it, hand-assembled it, and self-published it. As I had no idea what would happen, I made it a limited edition, signed and numbered, of 50 copies.

It was never THE book on the 1934 season, it was MY book of the 1934 season, yet it did very well and sold out quickly as the reviews came in.

The book bug has been biting me ever since, so I’ve now written my second book.

I’ve taken a different track this time. Still wanting to self-publish (to maintain aesthetic control), I chose the go through Blurb books for all the book/magazine/catalogue options available to the writer/designer/artist. Their user-interface is also nothing short of brilliant!

This time, my new 10"x 8" hardcover book “Ferrari in Art” features the Ferrari motorsports art that I’ve created over the years, with descriptions and stories of the art and subject.



You can take a look at my new book offering by going to this link:
www.blurb.ca/bookstore/detail/6772551-ferrari-in-art

With each order, the buyer has a choice of 1 of 4 (10"x 8") Ferrari posters.

By the way, even though I have scratched that itch, there are still a few books in me waiting to get out …

Sunday, 18 October 2015

My Summer “Vacation”

This past Summer, I travelled to the United Kingdom and Belgium to attend events and sketch what I found interesting.

I’ve been working at refining the idea of “live” sketching, where I sketch an interesting motorized vehicle on-the-spot, no matter what the context or situation.

The most interesting aspect of it is the not-knowing what will happen next, and be able to adapt to any changes, whatever they may be.

There are always spectators who have questions, or who want to chat, which I very much appreciate; it’s comforting as an artist to have so many people interested in what you do. There are also the professional photo-journalists who look for that different image to make their story-telling more unique.

There are the changing weather conditions (especially in the UK and Belgium!); wind, rain, the movement of the sun … they all impact the final result.

Other things that impact the art, or more accurately, the artist, are the noises of racing engines being tuned, exhaust fumes that burn the eyes, flames coming out the exhaust pipes, or even the race car being moved.

Finally, there is the time crunch of trying to get 2 artworks done in one day, for which I don’t always have much control over.

Sometimes the car is racing within the 2 hours, so there is a minimum amount of the art-piece that needs to be finished. For a land speed record car at the Brooklands Reunion, I had to reset up 3 or 4 times to get the artwork finally finished.

Below are the 16 artworks that I created at these 5 events … my summer “Vacation” …

Silverstone Classic




Brooklands Reunion



Goodwood Revival





Spa Historic 6 Hours



Sywell Classic Pistons & Props

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Blue Bird Sunbeam Returns to Pendine Sands

The 350HP Sunbeam was built in 1920 as a record car, powered by the enormous 18.3-litre V12 Sunbeam Manitou engine.

By 1922, it had already broken 3 land speed records in the hands of various drivers.

In 1923, it was purchased by Sir Malcolm Campbell who had it repainted blue and re-christened “Blue Bird”.

On July 21st, 1925, racing Blue Bird on Pendine Sands in Wales, Sir Malcolm set a new land speed record of 150.766 mph (242.628 km/h).

© Paul Chenard 2015

Exactly 90 years later, the Blue Bird Sunbeam was returned to Pendine Sands to celebrate and honour this historic achievement.

© Paul Chenard 2015

The event was made that much more special with Sir Malcolm’s grandson Donald Wales, a land speed record holder in his own right, taking the wheel of this very beautiful record car.

© Paul Chenard 2015


© Paul Chenard 2015


© Paul Chenard 2015




The Blue Bird was joined on the beach by the powerful 1933 Napier Railton.

© Paul Chenard 2015

© Paul Chenard 2015

The sight of these 2 record-breakers on the beach was nothing short of stunning, a very fitting tribute the bravery of those drivers of the past, and of British technological history.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Pinehurst Concours d’Élégance 2015

In early May, I was commissioned to be the roving artist at the 3rd annual Pinehurst Concours d’Élégance, a stunning event held at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.





The quality of the event was second to none, and organizer Jay Howard and his competent team made it shine! The Concours and car show are vast and very well organized.

My job was to sketch the cars of participants, each of who paid the organization $750 USD for me to sketch their cars, with the money going in support of the USO, the official charity.

I also donated an original artwork for auction, and it raised $1250 USD towards the USO.



Actor Denise Haysbert was invited to be the Grand Marshall of the event, which he did with much poise and class. I luckily got to meet and chat with him … very nice and approachable guy!







The first car that I sketch was a lovely 1959 Porsche 356 Carrera Coupe. Once I finished, the owner took me for a little spin in it … it had impressive performance!






That sketch was followed by an Austin Healey 3000, a 2005 Ferrari 575 SuperAmerica, and a 1965 Jaguar XKE Coupe. I literarily ran out of time, so that I did the final sketches of a McLaren P1 and a Ferrari NART/California Spyders grouping at home.



Over the weekend, I was very fortunate to meet in person for the first time some old friends. Automotive PR guru Deb Pollack was responsible for me being at the event, and she was there representing Singer Vehicle Design, who were unveiling their new customer-owned 911 from Virginia and restored by Singer. Deb’s an absolute gem!!!



I also had a wonderful visit from Jennifer Revson, and I loved every second that we spent together!



Keith Koldsbaek of Hendrick Motorsports also came by to meet me, which was a huge honour for me.



The event was capped off with an outdoor concert by 3 Dog Night, and they really had the crowd hopping!



All together, my participation in the event raised a total of $5750 USD for the USO, which I’m very proud of. I hope that I can return to next year’s event to build on what was started.