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