Friday, July 22, 2016

Step by Step Acrylic Painting of Old Toy Matchbox and Hotwheel Cars

"Vintage Toy Car Collection," acrylic on panel, 8" x 8".  

A few weeks ago, my husband and I headed over to his mom's house and dug out his collection of small toy cars from the 1980s. I'd done a painting of some of his toy cars before, but not these babies! These were played with - hard. Still crusted with sand from the sandbox and rusted or dented on many edges, these are vintage with a capital "V." So of course I wanted to paint them.

When I did my other toy car painting, I used my acrylic-watercolor layering technique on Aquabord. For this piece, I decided to try a panel I'd bought from a local arts organization and covered with about six coats of sanded gesso. The difference, besides the handmade panel, is that the paint "floats" on the top when I do my layering technique, instead of sinking down into the panel. I used gloss medium mixed with dozens and dozens of layers of very thin transparent acrylic for this one, which creates a visual depth that I really like. It also simultaneously has a more painterly feel, with the brushstrokes from various layers still evident. In person, I feel like it carries the luminous look of a layered egg tempera painting - with light bouncing through the layers and back.

Here's some of my step-by-step photos of the piece. You can see I start very similar in method to the watercolor style, but again, each layer is basically a little bit of acrylic paint mixed with a lot of gloss medium. It was significantly more time consuming for me to work this way, but I think I'm headed in a direction I want to go with other paintings. Thanks for looking!

 1. With a basic drawing in place, I mix a "black" color from raw umber and payne's gray and begin laying out a monochromatic underpainting, trying to simply thin the paint to let the white of the board peek through.
 2. I need this stage to become a sufficient guide for me as I begin to add color, so I'm not trying to figure out too many complicated steps at one time.
 3. I prefer to lay out the "local colors" throughout the board rather than working on a single section. I find it's easier to keep my place and keep the painting more consistent as I build the layers to bring the entire painting up to the same level before moving on.
 4. Still building local colors.
 5. At this point, I've just started building the bulk of my layers. From here to the end of the painting, I spent roughly 20 hours. That's probably a little tough to see on the small screen, but it made a big difference in getting so many transparent layers and building a luminous painting.
 6. I work back and forth between glazing on the layers and sharpening the edges and details. I want to make sure, for example, that there are appropriate shadows, so the cars look like they are really laying on top of one another.
 7. Getting closer, but it was still probably 8 to 10 hours moving from this stage to the final one. It's little things, like the shapes on the hub caps or the rusty edges that make it unique.

8. And done! Thanks for looking!