How to paint a Harley in 9 steps

Harley Davidson Super Glide (2006 FXD) ©2017 Kendrea Rhodes All Rights Reserved

Painting for the pleasure of another is the greatest reward; anticipation of this pleasure is the greatest anxiety.

This Harley was commissioned by a friend as a surprise for her husband’s birthday. It seemed like a fun idea and I had nine months notice — what could possibly go wrong?

That year came and went. I was still painting the Harley along with other paintings. I was also working, familying and procrastinating to a degree of excellence. My gracious friend said, ‘Don’t worry, he has a birthday every year.’

This Harley is easily my best motorcycle painting to date. It caused frustration (self-induced) but the reward outweighed the pain in pannier-loads. It was well received by the birthday boy who was delighted by its uniqueness and unaware of its tardiness.

Click here to go directly to the 9 steps of the Harley painting process

Motorcycles play a big part in my life: riding, painting and admiring (mechanics are contracted out to actual experts). My first motorcycle painting was of my own Yamaha Virago 535xv. Painted for two purposes: a local exhibition called ‘Out of the Blue’ and the inaugural Biker Ally Rally in Galena, Illinois, USA.

I was working as the Australian correspondent for an American women’s motorcycle magazine, Biker Ally (ceased publication 2008). The magazine’s first rally was announced and prizes were required. So I thought I’d paint my very first motorcycle using my grid portraiture style. It was such a success that I decided on an encore or two (click on the links below or click the tags in this post).

Paint what you see, show don’t tell

Biker Ally Motorcycle Magazine Articles

Gallery pics

For the ‘Out of the Blue’ exhibition, I mounted the motorcycle on a sheet of corrugated iron. It was aesthetically pleasing, due to the 2:1 proportions of the iron to the canvas. This was dubbed a ‘frame’ and requested by a number of commissions thereafter. Little did they know, their frame was pulled off our fence. Now our property is bordered by wire.

Paint for Purpose

I never paint for myself. I paint for other people — well at least that’s where the motivation begins.

I need a kick-start, just like my cantankerous 1967 BSA Bantam. But once I’m warmed up, there’s no stopping until the finish line is thoroughly crossed.

I’m obsessed with every stroke, problem and achievement. Engagement occurs both analytically and creatively; dealing with techniques and chemistry as well as the emerging image.

Motivation usually presents itself in the form of an exhibition, prize, community event, commission or gift for another (most common).

Painting with purpose drives my brush through thick and thin: that’s me. But I do admire friends who sit and paint for fun, to fill in time. They are relaxed and manage to get that lost-in-the-moment-meditation-look without the driving motivation that I need.

Perhaps that in itself  is the motivation?

 

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