Piers Dowell – Airbrush Master

Enth Degree

Call: 01568 750477

Reno Air Races

Reno Air Races Propeller Blade

Piers had always had a passion for what was perhaps one of the most iconic and beautiful racing cars, the Lotus 49. He sought to produce a piece that was totally different from the usual wall mounted canvas and show case his skill with an airbrush.The starting point was to somehow make an accurate truncated nose section of a Lotus 49. Obviously a starting point would be a measurement of an original and if possible a fibreglass nose cone. Once again, Martin Stretton comes to the rescue as he has a good contact at Hall & Hall who maintain an early Lotus 49 for the Beaulieu Collection. As it happened the car had been damaged in a light crash at the Silverstone Classic and therefore was at Hall & Hall in Lincolnshire, not inaccessible in a museum . So tape measure, camera and profile gauge in hand Piers went to measure the car. Fortunately they also had a mould for a fibreglass nose cone which was borrowed and a piece laid up in it.With all these measurements Piers then set about making a pattern for a piece that could be wall mounted on a bespoke plinth. Quite an undertaking involving a lot of Body filler, MDF, fibreglass and even real rivets. Once a pattern had been made and finished, a mould was taken from it in order to produce one fibreglass piece to be painted. Although there were a number of variants of the Lotus 49 it’s the original version that was in Piers opinion the cleanest & best looking and also had the association with the legendary Jim Clark. This meant Piers could opt for the British Racing Green Lotus Livery with Jim Clarks number 5. To this point the main image, at 400mm wide, portrayed on the piece was the largest Piers had painted with an Airbrush. Compared to the bike fuel tanks he was used to this was acres! This image on the piece was tricky as it had to portray motion & speed with its soft focus and blurred sections. All new territory from very accurate focus the portraiture he was used to. For example all the fuel injectors on the engine really look like nonsense close up due to the blurring but when viewed at a distance it all makes sense, assuming it is rendered correctly. Piers also made another innovation with this work and that was the use of a monitor for the reference image rather than a print off. This allows much more flexibility in viewing size and the facility to spot check any area for a colour sample. This is really helpful to the artist as our perception of a certain colour is always tainted by what’s around it for reference. On a portrait for example, think the eyes are white? No where near but in contrast to a skin tone they do look as good as white as the eye is fooled. Also the luminescence from the screen is far preferable to a print off. It’s this initial experimentation with ways of viewing reference that has culminated in the construction of a purpose built fully adjustable 8×4 foot drawing board for Piers current Photo realism projects. The board contains its own computer, compressor, lighting system and pantograph mounted table for the airbrushes and viewing monitor. Once the main painting was done it was onto the 2 black & white portraits of Jim Clark and Colin Chapman. These were comparatively easy compared the colour work as the amount of decisions to be made is drastically reduced. After all this and the Lotus paint scheme applied the piece was clear coated completely with about 5 coats of clear, cured, then sanded and any artwork adjustments made. Then the whole piece is re cleared and cured. Then it’s best if it sits a week or so before being sanded with 1500 grit and a firm sanding block. Then it’s sanded by hand with 2000 grit and finally compound polished and buffed. When this was complete the whole piece was mounted on its bespoke wall mounted plinth and shipped for its unveil at the Autosport International Show. The piece currently resides at Paul Matty Sports Cars in Bromsgrove.