“Classic Chrome: At the Car Show” is the current exhibition at the Lee Dam Center for Fine Art. The exhibit features fine art oil paintings by April Spicer, Marysville, of many makes and models of cars.
The show opens Saturday, May 28, and closes Thursday, June 30. The art center, 201 South 9th Street, has special hours for this exhibit: Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; Sunday, May 29, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.; Friday, June 3, from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. After June 3, the art center will be open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.; Wednesdays from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.; Thursdays from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Spicer finds cars to be a satisfying subject matter for her to paint. She enjoys the bright colors, shiny surfaces and the reflections in the chrome.
“The chrome is my favorite part as it acts as a mirror and reflects the landscape, sky, surrounding people and other cars,” she said.
Spicer prefers to paint a close-up portion of the car allowing her to include all of the details. She appreciates the art of each car’s design.
The idea of painting cars and car shows came as a surprise to Spicer.
“I have always enjoyed painting and craved it more and more, but didn’t know what to paint.” she explained.
Four years ago, she discovered the artist Carol Marine. A few years earlier Marine started painting a 6″x6″ painting each day; she posted the daily painting on her website. She inspired many to do the same – this led to a “daily painting” movement.
“I liked the concept of a painting a day and thought this would be doable with my busy schedule,” Spicer said.
To get in the routine, Spicer woke each morning at 4:30 a.m. and set up a still life, mostly consisting of a few pieces of fruit or objects. Spicer gave herself a time limit of one hour from start to finish.
“The small canvas was not intimidating, and I considered each one practice,” she said.
Spicer realized she did not always want to paint still lifes or landscapes.
“Randomly, in the middle of the night, car shows came to my mind and I immediately knew that is what I was supposed to paint,” she said.
At the time, Spicer was not a car enthusiast, but she enjoyed going to car shows with her husband. They attended the World of Wheels car show in Kansas City where she took a variety of photographs. When she came back, she used the photos to paint a few small paintings of the cars she liked.
“I tried different compositions and then gradually painted larger,” she said. “When painting larger, I realized they needed something more. Since the cars were at car shows, I started to include people and the car show atmosphere into the paintings.”
Spicer likes to include the car show atmosphere in her paintings because it shows the cars interacting with each other and the people around them. She feels the addition of people in the paintings adds an element of life and is unique in car paintings.
“I consider my style to be painterly realism,” she said. “The realism part is the accuracy in proportion and details. As for ‘painterly,’ I like the hand of the artist to show in the brushwork and mark making, never going for perfect lines, but rather overall essence and feel.”
Most of Spicer’s current work is commissions for others.
“I enjoy painting what is special to them and making it custom to fit their desires,” she said.
A recent commission was for ten paintings for the newly opened car museum in Salina, The Garage. Spicer met Jay Leno this past April when he visited the museum.
“Although I would have never come up with the idea of painting cars on my own, it has been such an enjoyable, rewarding subject matter,” she said.
Spicer holds degrees from Kansas State University and Baker University. She has taken additional graduate courses from the Kansas City Art Institute and has attended several workshops across the country. She taught high school and junior high art in Marysville for sixteen years.
Spicer and her husband, Curtis, have two children, Blake and Ava.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Marshall County Arts Cooperative. More information is available on the organization’s Facebook page or by calling 785-859-4260.