From Photo to a Watercolor Painting -It’s Car art

Hot Rod Art

It started as an email to to see if I would grant permission for an artist to use a photo he found. Thanks to artists Paul And Kimberly Buford for doing the right thing! Turns out, it wasn’t my photo, it was taken at Viva Las Vegas by Paul “Swanee” Swanson. Turns out, this is a popular photo:

Chevy rat rod, chevy patina, rusty chevy

Cars like this Chevy fit right in at Viva and original “Patina” has never been more popular. So I asked Paul some questions about his artwork. Keep in mind, about all I know about artwork and painting is what I like…

Hot rod art, hot rod painting, car art

Why watercolors? – I’ve worked in several different media, and always come back to watercolors. The idea that you are staining the paper is what I love, and the way the colors mix together either in the palette or on the paper.

Why this image (and others similar)? – I have always been drawn to decayed or decaying items (whether it be old buildings, collapsed barns, or abandoned/aged cars). The more I studied them and thought about what it was I got from them the more I realized that it isn’t the image at all… it’s the history of the image. At some point all these items were new, someone took pride in building them, events happened in and around them as they aged. Dents, rust, rot, algae, etc, are beautiful representations of just this, they are visual characteristics that there is indeed a story there. However, you may never know the story, and that lets your imagination go wild!  What “could have” happened here? Things like that… THEN, I came across rat rods and what most would consider “unfinished street rods”! This was pure controlled chaos! They are like someone is able to harness all this decay into functional art.

Hot Rod Art, car art, 57 chevy, 1957 chevrolet bel air

Kinds of cars I like? – Rat Rods, no doubt. It literally takes a genius to pull off a rat rod. Also, as mentioned above, the “unfinished” street rods… they are a testament to people who have enough control over themselves to resist the shiny new $5000 show quality paint job and maintain the visual “history” of the vehicle. I’m not discounting the other types of vehicles, I pretty much like them all, these are the ones that speak to me most. Oh, and motorcycles… fast, minimal, loud, NOT stock… can’t forget those!

Hot Rod Art, car art, watercolor painting, rat rod

Thanks Paul! Hopefully you’ll find a picture of mine you like some time… good thing I’ll be at Viva Las Vegas again this year! You can reach Paul and Kimberly Buford at their website: BreakNECK Watercolors

Turns out, this has been a popular picture to reproduce. Swanee out-did himself with this one!

Hot Rod Art, car art, hot rod paintings

To find out more about this image and the artist, go to his Deviant Art Page for Tony 231

We’d love to hear your comments and if you’re doing anything similar, let me know! Maybe we can do a story on you too!

For one of the best hot rod art stories at, check out Tom Fritz’s work.

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