Plein air painting vintage cars in watercolor

Touring car
Touring car sketch
© 2015 Margaret Sloan
Watercolor on Arches hot press #300

If you follow this blog, you know that I was a little nervous about painting at the Ironstone Concourse d’Elegance in Murphys, California.

It’s not that I mind painting in public. Being part of the scenery doesn’t much bother me these days—I actually love talking to people I meet while I’m painting outdoors—but the attendance at the Concourse can be in the thousands. That’s a lot of eyeballs looking over my shoulder as I apply paint and scrub out mistakes. And the weather forecast predicted more tiresome California summer heat.

Yes, the weather was blisteringly hot, but the people who attended—car owners and car lovers alike—were the nicest people. Lubed by Ironstone’s wine and revved up by the event, they were always ready to chat. And best of all, a lovely young woman hired me on-the-spot to paint a portrait of her grandfather’s sweet little red Triumph. (Unfortunately, my iPhone was cranky and refused to snap a photo of the painting, so I can’t show it to you.)

By the end of the day, I was hot and tired with feet that felt flat, but I was still having a ball, splashing paint and schmoozing. I kept painting until I realized that I was no longer able to see and understand color. The color-parsing cones in my eyeballs had seized up like a motor run dry of oil. I quit painting during the car parade and simply admired the beautiful cars as they drove past.

My dad has always been a vintage car fan, and tried to interest me in them all my life, but until the Concourse, I never realized that these old conglomerations of metal, chrome, and rubber are amazing pieces of art, kinetic sculptural forms that are useful as well as gorgeous.  And devilishly fun to draw. My next vacation? The National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, or wherever vintage cars are found.

Green car painting
Vintage green car sketch
© 2015 Margaret Sloan
Watercolor on Arches hot press #300


Painting cars


Today I’ll be one of the painters-on-display at the Ironstone Concourse d’Elegance in Murphys, California. I’ve been nervous about this event, unsure of what I’ll find. I’m told that there will be thousands of people there; it will be very crowded.

So I’m taking my cue from Roz Stendahl, and packing the way she does for her state fair jaunts. I’ve torn down a sheet of #300 hot press watercolor paper into 8″ X 10″ cards; packed my backpack with watercolors, water can, and brushes; dressed my self in cargo pants (the kind with all the pockets), and comfy shoes; squirreled away some left over pizza for a snack. The only thing I don’t have that Roz recommends is the spiffy little stool, so I’ll have to stand. (Read here about the way Roz sketches at the Minnesota State Fair.)

But I’m also bringing my french easel, in case there is a space in which I can comfortably set up.

If you’re in attendance, look for me and stop by to say hello (I’ll be the the lady in the cargo pants and floppy hat, furiously sketching and splashing paint around—and nibbing on yesterdays pizza). If you hang around long enough, I’ll put you in one of my sketches!