Thursday, April 2, 2015

Something Completely Different: Steve McQueen's XKSS

I paint airplanes. Lots and lots of airplanes. That's not something that I was pigeonholed into, as is sometimes the case with artists who find themselves stuck in a genre', but a subject that has fascinated me since I was a child. Demand for new aviation work and new aviation commissions, however, leaves me with little time to explore new territory. As a professional artist I'm motivated to be accepted elsewhere. I love classic cars. I love surrealism. I love portraits.

I had to make something different!

Classic Americana. History. Hollywood and heroes. I searched old photographs to help me come up with an idea and rough composition that would encompass the most among those elements. I found it with Steve McQueen and his Jaguar XKSS in a Hollywood movie studio back lot. That car! I adore the European sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s. It's no accident that my Maserati GranTourismo by Pininfarina is a car designed after Ferrari's 275 GTB/4 by the same designer. The XKSS, though a British car, was built for the same tracks and with the same graceful flair. And Steve McQueen? I know he was a guy who was difficult to work with and famously stated, "If I hadn't made it in Hollywood, I think I would have become a hood," but nowhere has their been a greater uniquely American icon - in my opinion.  

My painting adhered relatively closely to a famous photograph of McQueen, which I wanted to do. I depicted him a few years older, and changed the atmosphere of the studio lot that reflected his movies and its location in California. I added the reflection of his famous (though much later) 'Bullitt' custom Mustang in the fender of the Jag. I adorned Steve with his uniquely designed wedding ring and Occhiali Persol sunglasses.

I've released this composition as limited edition prints in all of my regular sizes on various papers and canvas:  

I did go overboard with detail, as that's part of my style.

Maybe a Ferrari next?

- Ron Cole

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