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Running Down a Dream
The Land Cruiser I painted for the Art Car Parade
Last November at Zine Fest Houston 2023 I brought a box full of original art for sale the first time ever at this show. Early in the day an unsuspecting couple came and dropped some serious cash (in Zine Fest terms) and picked up some reputable pieces of mine. He picked up a card, expressed that he really like my work and asked if I’d be interested in painting an art car next spring, and naturally I told him yes. I soon filed the meeting away in my mind and carried on with the fest, elated that they spent so much on my work to begin with.
Fast forward to March and I get a call from the man, Lou Waters, and he fills me on his idea. Well, first off, Lou and his family are no strangers to art cars nor rocking out at the parade. First they crafted The Hippysaurus, a rolling psychedelic triceratops, and their latest creation, The Phoenix, literally depicts the mythical bird rising from the ashes. Both are mechanical engineering marvels.
What Lou has in mind for me is not nearly as ostentatious, but still just as colorful and fun. The project is painting this modified Toyota Land Cruiser with all types of images and characters inspired by classic rock music. His band, 8-Track, will play atop the Land Cruiser, and they cover all manner of classic rock hits from Warren Zevon, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, and sprinkle in some Beatles as well as others. The timeline was already cutting it pretty close (the Land Cruiser itself wasn’t ready to be painted until the last days of March) so I gathered supplies, he tossed me the keys to the workshop and I got to work.
With the deadline of the parade looming on the 15th, I had roughly two weeks to come up with some designs and execute them. Although I’ve never painted on a car before I knew exactly what to use and I assured Lou it’ll be ready on time. Fortunately his workshop was not far from my job, so promptly after work I’d scoot on over and get to work a few hours every day. A soft, white pastel pencil worked perfectly to sketch outlines on the surface of the vehicle. It didn’t scratch the coat and wiped away easy with a chamois. Because I intended to brush on the paint, as opposed to spraying it on, I had to find an automotive-grade enamel that’s meant to be brushed on. Enter Alpha 6 Brand enamel pin-striping paint. It’s specially formulated for painting car graphics and came in all sorts of vibrant colors. Now for some sketches!
After sketching the drawings on the vehicle, I began doing the color fill ins.
Fill-ins took the most time. A few of the colors had to be built up with many coats to get the pigment solid and bright. Others laid down very nicely on the first go (shout out to teal, violet and chocolate brown). After all the colors are laid and everything is solid and smooth we’re ready for line work. I even picked up some special pin-striping brushes for the delicate parts, like the feathers in the wings.
After what has felt like the longest fortnight I’ve ever felt in recent memory the Land Cruiser was ready for the final clear coat that Friday before the parade. Here’s how the final art turned out.
The fill-in phase felt like it took so long that when I got to the line work phase I told Lou, “I finally feel like I’m starting to do what you wanted me to do in the first place, draw cartoons on the Land Cruiser!”
Well, what do ya know, I have an art car under my belt!
I have daylight shots posted on Instagram, holla! (@)toonzday