#17. Eunice's 1991 Toyota Corolla DX, "Dixie"

September 2011

A couple days before her seventy-fifth birthday, Eunice picked up her painted car. Happy birthday, Eunice! She paints pet portraits (www.pet-drawings.com) and was my neighbor when I painted my first car. She always said she liked driving through our alley and watching the progress I was making. The time finally came when I painted her car.

This was another collaboration – my second. Eunice drew twelve animals on brown kraft paper, and then cut them out. I glued the resulting stencils to her freshly painted car and filled them with black. The plan was for me to decorate each animal – polka dots! scribbles! swirls! checkerboards! – but when it came down to it, I decided they looked better solid black, except for a couple defining lines with an orange Sharpie oil paint pen, which we later found out faded really quickly. Shame on you, Mister Sharpie.

Because positioning a curling, thin border – the stencil itself – would be very awkward, I used the center of the drawing for that purpose. Once I liked its orientation, I taped it in place and glued the stencil around the interior.

Then I removed the interior.

And filled the center with black paint.

I expected the edges to be sharp because I used a glue stick on them, and really glued 'em down tight. I also expected the edges to be sharp because I am delusional. If the paper absorbed the glue, it also absorbed the paint, but I wasn't thinking that far ahead. Therefore, the edges were rough at best ...

... and horrifying at worst.

But it was nothing mineral spirits + elbow grease couldn't handle. Also, I immediately liked the rough effect. It went along with the great texture of sponge-painting in the first place, and it added fur – even to critters who don't have fur ...

And then I just made some fun designs on the bottom of the car, using the great colors Eunice had chosen. I herded all the critters together with bright magenta dots. On the roof, where the parrot lives, I made stylized flowers using more dots. It's true that I saw the resemblance of the flowers to paw prints, but it's equally true that I dismissed paw prints as being trite. Eunice agreed with me ... and yet ... and yet ... And so a handful of the flowers did in fact become paw prints, so it's only a minor cliché.

#16. Geri's 1993 Volkswagen Eurovan

March 2011

Geri, a mosaicist who was my neighbor-vendor at Circus McGurkis one year, called me to say she'd decided to have me paint her van. It's a big van, too, with a Westfalia roof – a roof that opens up into a sort of camper.

Since I have that horrible fear of heights thing (which is really a horrible fear of falling thing), I wondered how I'd be able to get up on that roof to paint it, but I did. Cheryl Cawthon, my acupuncturist of all things, figured out a way for me to set up a scaffold, and my friend Bob Phillips came by one morning with a second ladder. I made him watch me get up and get down again, and I did it without breaking my neck. Al Scott told me to be sure to keep my cell phone with me. I would have been embarrassed to ... what? call the fire department to get me down, like a kitten in a tree in a Dick and Jane book? Yes. Still, there were two times when I thought it might come to that, but I talked myself down (heh), and so now I think I'm all big and brave.

Geri chose these great colors, and said she pretty much wanted vertical stripes. The stripes could be made out of whatever I wanted: squares, balls, snowflakes, whatever. She wanted some Klimt-type poppies and some paisleys. As you can see from the top picture, it looks like a blanket, a tapestry. I really like this van!

The roof is a field of poppies, but I haven't yet seen it from any perspective other than my sitting cross-legged on it, quivering. When Geri opens the roof for camping, she'll take some photos, and when I get 'em, you'll get 'em.

#15. Jean's 1991 Toyota Corolla

November 2010

As Jean – ever an optimist – said, "Clearly, we don't understand each other." I had delivered her painted car to her, but it's not what she had in mind. Once this lettering enamel is on, it's on, so the only remedy is to add more paint. We'll do that when the weather warms up. Until then, here's her car, which I like very much. Still, I don't want anyone driving a car she doesn't love, so I'll show the AFTER pictures, um, AFTER I repaint the car!

And here they are:

Jean felt that the contrast of the black paint and the silver car was too much, so, at her suggestion, I lightly sponged lavender over most of the black and the dark blues. I had real reservations, but she's the boss, and behold! she was perfectly correct! My personal taste runs to high contrast and plenty of bold, but this tamped-down version of the car is really, really pretty.

Well done, Jean!

#14. Julie's GeckoMobile

October 2010

Julie's 2005 Scion xA was a ball to paint. In the first place, she has bought at least one – and usually more – of almost everything I've ever made, so painting for a fan is wonderful. She won the bid for the gecko I painted as a fundraiser for the Gulfport Merchants Association at the Geckos in Wonderland Ball in 2010, and placed it at Peg's Cantina (www.pegscantina.com) so the whole public can enjoy it. Now that's a patron of the arts.

And after I painted that gecko (on both sides, as shown above, along with my right foot), Julie decided she wanted a GeckoMobile, so that's what she got.

She chose orange and gold, with black for the background of the critters. I do wish the photos would show how gorgeous those colors are against black, with the texture of the sponges. I threw in bits of Tulip brand 3-D blue glitter paint. That turned out to be a very nice touch. I used gold Tulip, too. I'm turning into a crow: If it sparkles, I like it!