Thursday, August 3, 2017

Experimenting on the Experimental

Turquoise Edsel watercolour sketch on cotton paper
This looks like a 1958 Edsel Corsair to me.  Edsel was only in production from 1958-60 so I can't be too far off.  The Edsel began in 1955 as the "E car" and the "E" stood for experimental. Ford was trying to develop a car that would put them in competition with the other big names; Oldsmobile, Buick and DeSoto.   When it went into production they named it Edsel after Henry Ford's son.  Unfortunately the Edsel was a flop. I wasn't around for it but I can only imagine it was like Geraldo opening Capone's vault.  So much marketing and hype went into it and when the big reveal came it sold well at first but soon fizzled out. If you're a fan of The Simpsons you might be replaying, in your mind, the episode where Homer's brother let him design a new family car and it was a huge disaster. Edsel's disaster wasn't exactly due to poor design like Homer's monstrosity.  The people at Ford want you to believe it was due to a turn in the economy and the big bulky engine that required premium gasoline. In the late 50s a lot of people were moving towards more fuel efficient vehicles like the VW Bug. (It's hard to beat good German engineering) so the Edsel didn't sell well. Only 2,846 Edsels were manufactured in 1960 and the resale value made them so undesirable that dealers didn't want to sell them.  There was another one on this property so out of the only 118,287 ever made I got to meet two of them. It's fun to imagine where these cars may have gone and the conversations people had in them while tooling down the road.
Like the experimental vehicle I experimented with this sketch.  I can't recall ever trying to paint rust before and I knew it would be harder than it looks.  The parts where the rust and the paint mix, is difficult to render. Busting out your dry brush technique is helpful with that.   The parts, like the roof, where it's completely covered in rust was a little easier but the little bit of light hitting on it really makes a difference in the way it looks. You think you can just pull out your burnt sienna because it's a fairly rusty colour, but then you realise rust isn't just one flat colour. I ended up using a combination of burnt sienna, brown madder and raw sienna to get the subtle differences. If anyone has any tips on painting rust throw them my way, I have a few more of these old timers I'd like to paint.

2 comments:

  1. Great history lesson on Edsels! This one looks pretty good for its size. I've seen some watercolors that render rust super realistically but they were fairly large and on heavily sized, non absorbent paper. I think that let the water move on the surface and allow the color mingling to mimic the rust. With the Indian paper dry brush was probably the best (only?) approach.

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    1. I think I'll practice that on some scrap watercolour paper. You're right, this Indian paper won't really allow for colour mingling and I think that technique would be really suitable for rust. Thanks for that!

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