by Gary Whinn
I must admit that it does feel strange and somewhat unexpected to be looking at my own work under the banner of “Retrospective”. Most artists I am sure would agree that we are always looking forward to the next idea, the next painting. And yet as with all aspects of life it is good to pause now and again to reflect on where we have been before deciding on where to go now.
For it is often only with the benefit of hindsight that we truly see what has interested and motivated us over the years. At the time when we are immersed in the experience it sometimes feels that it is as much as we can do to grapple with the technical challenges of painting. But it is frequently out of that struggle that certain traits and personal inclinations gradually emerge to influence the direction of our portfolio of work. There are of course experiments here and there that have occasionally led down a blind alley but the overall trend ultimately reflects the inherent personality of the artist.
For me the early days were spent developing technique with paint and pastel that would enable me to capture cars and drivers with great accuracy, to create a convincing portrait of an historically important figure in motor racing or a rendition of bodywork and chrome that had that “Wow!” factor. These were the years of diligently practicing the craft and skills of being an automotive artist.
As the years went by I became increasingly captivated by the play of light on the sculpture of an automobile and the lessons learned so far enabled me to translate that interest into
creating convincing paintings in a mainly photo-realist way. However, after years spent doing that and feeling comfortable that those skills were to a large degree under my belt I became much more interested in the emotional content of a painting which in turn drew me towards the frequent inclusion of people in the scene. Cars do not exist in a vacuum but are rather an
integral part of our modern lives. So it seemed a natural progression to explore in my paintings our relationships around vehicles and on a deeper level, our personal relationships in the context of a snapshot of life around the focal point of a car. I have found that it is most often this emotional aspect which stirs the imagination and connects the viewer to the painting.
Automotive vehicles are wonderful pieces of technology and are often works of art in themselves. To paint what is effectively another person’s design undoubtedly carries the possibility of adding an extra dimension to that creativity but it can also easily fall into the trap of being little more than a skillful illustration.
My pursuit of finding that extra dimension beyond a literal rendering led one commentator to describe my work as having “a sense of theatre” and I think that is a fair summary. And where to now? Without wishing to head into philosophically pretentious territory, if our lives are about anything it is surely about our relationships with each other? As an artist I feel it is important to continue exploring that emotional aspect of life and that trend in my work continues to this day. In some form or another it will
undoubtedly continue to do so into the future but exactly what form it will take exists for the moment as “potential” to be explored and fulfilled as I grow both as a person and as an artist.
My years as a member of the Automotive Fine Art Society have always pushed my creativity and have brought about some of my proudest achievements in my artistic career, particularly the honour of the commissions to create posters for the Pebble Beach Concours and Tour d’Elegance.
Retiring from the Society is inevitably tinged with sadness and was a difficult decision brought about by the practical needs of “tending to my own garden of life” back in the UK, with personal and family responsibilities making regular trips to exhibit in the US increasingly difficult. Any change in life can be a little bit scary but also exciting and as the door closes on my AFAS years I look forward to seeing where my painting takes me next.