Sunday 7 December 2014

Racing History T-shirts

I’ve decided to create a t-shirt line through Zazzle featuring my racing history art.
You can see them at my Zazzle store here:

Here are the first designs …

Thursday 6 November 2014

A Car For All Seasons

Renowned Canadian artist Tom Forrestall has been painting since the early 1950’s, but he could have never anticipated getting a commission from Mercedes-Benz.

Over 30 years ago, when Tom found success with his art, he invested in a brand new 1980 Mercedes-Benz 300 SD Turbo Diesel, a solid car for his large family.

In 2012, he had his trusty car stored with the O’Regan family, owners of the local Mercedes-Benz dealership. He and his friend Dr. Mary O’Regan discussed what to do about it, and hatched the idea of “A Car For All Seasons”, where he would paint his depiction the 4 seasons directly on his old car, which was still in lovely condition.

Mercedes-Benz Canada embraced the idea, and with approval from the Daimler head office in Stuttgart, they purchased the car and commissioned Tom to paint it.

Tom at work

All the trim was removed from the car, and Tom set to work. It took 5 months for Tom to create his masterpiece. Afterward, the car was varnished in 18 coats of clear varnish, with sanding and polishing between coats. The trim was then reattached.

The final result is nothing short of astounding! The seasons, and the transitions between them, are beautifully depicted, all in vibrant colours.

Interspersed here and there are bits of Mercedes-Benz history, with portraits of Mercedes Jellinek, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz; there are also representations of the various Mercedes-Benz logos through the ages.

Mercedes Jellinek

Gottlieb Daimler
Karl Benz

I really hope that Daimler will see fit to have this beautiful artwork in their museum so it can be enjoyed.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

The Wrong Line …

My path in art has been far from straight and unbroken.

I started sketching when I was quite young, and would spend hours and hours at it. I struggled with perspective, and went through a lot of paper.

At the age of 16, at a point where I had a basic sense of sketching, it all came to a sudden shuddering halt … I had discovered the opposite sex, and quickly forgot pencils and paper.

I later started a career as a graphic designer, and other than sketching here and there for my kids as they grew up, I had basically stopped doing art for myself.

32 years passed, and I decided to pick up pencil and paper, sketching out the fascinating stories I was reading of automotive racing history.

I then wanted a bigger challenge, so I moved to pen&ink. I decided to do my very first crosshatched pen&ink sketch, the subject being a Cobra Daytona Coupe. As a graphic designer, I was taught to draw the line where it was meant to be. But as I put that first line to paper, it didn’t go at all where it was planned!

I thought to myself “I’ve ruined it!” At this point, the normal reaction would be to throw it out and start over. Instead, I thought that as it was already ruined, I might as well continue for practice. I put another line down … wrong! … and then another line down … wrong! … and so I kept going.

Tourist Trophy - Goodwood 1964 © Paul Chenard

Before I knew it, I had a lovely crosshatched pen&ink Daytona Cobra Coupe sketch!

It was a real revelation for me, the fact that what I first perceived as a mistake was really just fine, and worth continuing. You can start something without knowing the final result, and let your curiosity lead you through … let the result be a surprise.

I later digitally added colour to the sketch. © Paul Chenard

Later I showed my sketch to an acquaintance, and they said that they could never do something that well, that they would put the lines down wrong! I told them that every line in my sketch was wrong, yet look at the result!

Tuesday 23 September 2014

The 2014 Goodwood Revival

Well, this is now the 4th year in a row that my Belgian artist friend Nicolas Cancelier and I get together to go to the Goodwood Revival, but this year was certainly different for us.

We decided not to book a vendor stand, but instead we were invited to join some friends who had their race teams there. This is the first time that I’ve actually managed to take in the event, and it is frankly vast and astounding! The vintage cars, motorcycles, aircraft, and spectators!!!!

Matt and Anne arriving!! © Paul Chenard 2014

My friend Anna, our friends from Vancouver Matt and Anne, and our friend Alan from Shropshire joined us at the townhouse we rent each year on the English coast.

Our gang ... Nico, Matt, Anne, Anna, Alan and moi! 
© Nicolas Cancelier 2014

Matt is actually an official Goodwood Revival photographer, so he was working all weekend at the event.

On Friday, September 12th, Nico and I wandered around getting our bearings and taking photos.

Above photos © Paul Chenard 2014

 For the following days, we wandered around sketching what we found interesting, and tracking down our friends here and there.

Photo © Alan O'Neill 2014

Photo © Nicolas Cancelier 2014

Photo © Ian T. Grainger 2014

Live sketching really attracts the curious, and it was lots of fun to interact with the spectators and answer their questions. It actually led to a few commissions, which are always great.

On Sunday, my dear friend Vicki organized a tour of the track for us in Nick's 1958 Xk150!!!!

In the evening, we would all gather in a great local restaurant like the
Pizza Pasta Pub for great hospitality, food and service, or the Bracklesham Diner for fabulous Chinese cuisine!

Photo © Nicolas Cancelier 2014

We are all looking forward to next year!!!

Monday 25 August 2014

A Story of the Silver Arrows …

I’ve recently corresponded with the Mercedes-Benz Museum Archives, and they very kindly sent me copies of their publication “Magical Moments – 120 Years of Motorsport”.

One of Mercedes-Benz early racing successes, the 1914 French Grand Prix.

There is a great cross-section of their motorsports successes from 1894 till now.

As I read through the publication, an interesting story was featured in relation to the 1934 Grand Prix season.

The AIACR, the controlling body of motor sport in the 1930s, introduced new rules for the 1934-37 Grand Prix seasons:

The weight of the car without driver, fuel, oil, water or tires should not exceed 750 kg.
2. A minimum bodywork width of 850 mm at the driving seat.
3. Free choice of fuel.
4. All races must be over a minimum distance of 500 kilometers.

In the story, it recounts the famous legend of the switch from the traditional and official German white on Mercedes-Benz race cars to the colour silver.

Alfred Neubauer, the Mercedes-Benz racing manager of the time, claimed that the day before the June 3rd, 1934 international Eifel race, they weighed their newly introduced W25 Grand Prix race car, and found that it weighed over the 750kg limit, coming in at 752kg.

The Mercedes-Benz W25 Grand Prix car on it's way to winning the Eifelrennen.

In a flash of inspiration, he had his technicians work overnight to remove the white paint, exposing the beautiful aluminum bodies of these technically advanced racers, bringing them to exactly 750kg, and they won the race. This sparked the legend of the “Silver Arrows”, as the press was to soon label them.

The very successful Mercedes-Benz W25 Grand Prix car.

In the past few years, a few motorsport historians have questioned the credibility of the story.

As I researched my book “Silver Clouds: The 1934 Grand Prix Season”, I have to say that I developed the same doubts.

There are a few facts and insights that I can bring forward:

In the same year, Auto Union (a merger of Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer) presented their rear-engined Grand Prix cars under the same 750kg rules, never in any other colour but silver.

I find it hard to believe that in the thorough testing their sometimes white-painted W25, that the Mercedes-Benz technicians wouldn’t have weighed the racer well before any actual racing would take place.

The actual June 3rd, 1934 race was a Formule Libre race, and not under any of the restrictions of the 750kg Formula. In other words, it seems quite implausible that they would work so hard at removing 1kg of paint for an unrestricted race.

With these points, you can still ask, “Why the story then?

Well, for one point, it features the absolute precision of the Mercedes-Benz technicians and engineers, who considered the race machine only, not such frivolous things as the paint.

It also shows the creative quick-thinking of the legendary Mercedes-Benz race team manager Alfred Neubauer, always the clever strategizer.

Yes, it’s a damn good story, true or not …

Thursday 7 August 2014

1914 Grand Prix de France

The world was at the edge of the huge turmoil that was to be World War I.

Just a few days before the 1914 Grand Prix de France, Archduke
Franz Ferdinand was felled by an assassin’s bullet in Sarajevo, so rumours of imminent war ran wild.

But near Lyon, France on July 4th 1914, there was only talk of French victory on the track, with Peugeot’s Georges Boillot, winner of the 1912 and 1913 Grands Prix, being favoured by the partisan crowd of over 300,000.

Mercedes showed up with an effective-looking team of 5 white cars (and one spare), and white-dressed mechanics and drivers, along with colour-coded containers (red, white and black) for fuel, water, and oil.

The Mercedes engineers had even made earlier visits to the circuit to test the cars and make the appropriate improvements.

Pen&ink and white paint markers on gray archival paper © Paul Chenard 2014

It was the first return of Mercedes to racing since they had won the 1908 race, which was still stingingly fresh in the minds of the French. Still, they expected a French win in a French car in their French race …

Of the 37 cars that started the race, only 11 finished. After 20 grueling laps totaling 752 kms, Mercedes took the top 3 places, with Jules Goux’s Peugeot coming in 4th. After 7 hours of racing, the brilliant Christian Lautenschlager, winner of 1908 event, earned the victory laurels yet again for Mercedes.

One mouth after the race, the world was plunged into World War I, and the race would disappear from the spectators’ memories …

Saturday 2 August 2014

Painting at the Silverstone Classic 2014

With the Silverstone Classic being one of the world’s top historic racing events, I thought it was worthwhile to attend.

I’m represented in the UK by the Historic Car Art gallery, and they had a stand set up in the Art Kiosque, showing some of my art.

To make things rather more interesting, I thought I would work on an acrylic on canvas painting there over the weekend.

I chose to paint Sir Stirling Moss racing his Maserati 250F to win the 1956 Grand Prix de Monaco.

Painting in front of the crowds is never boring, and though I didn’t move very far ahead in my painting, I had a great time chatting with onlookers and making great contacts. Many friends dropped by to say "Hello" which I always love, and I also chatted with fellow artists in the kiosque. I even generated a few sales!

I did miss the great racing and featured events, but I still had fun!