#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.