Monday, November 3, 2008


We had a good run of pin-up stuff but today it's just lemmings from my sketchbook. Though I was incredibly busy today and accomplished a lot, I can't show any of it now. But I can show lemmings. In one of the projects I worked on today, I needed to draw lemmings and so armed with a sketchbook, pencils, pens, and Google, I sketched a cartoony version of lemmings. And I managed to learn a bit about them too.

Since today's post is not incredibly exciting unless you are a lemming, (and please, don't be a lemming) I thought I would bring out some old work. From 1985-1992, I was working for Hewlett-Packard as the purchasing agent in Facilities Operations. For a while I was the interim Region Buyer for the Western Headquarters in North Hollywood, California. In other words, I was not a full time artist. But for a while there in the late 1980s until 1992, I was doing automotive art.

A buddy of mine got me going to classic car shows. He was a very gifted photographer. He would photograph details of the cars. Not the whole car, just areas of interest, the shape of the bumper, the curve of a fender and so on. I took pictures of the whole vehicle, not knowing what I would do with it. I don't know if he suggested I paint them or if I came up with it, but I did start to paint the cars. Sometimes working from one of his slides, sometimes working from mine.

For a while I displayed my work in an automotive book store in Burbank, California that had gallery areas for automotive fine art. No one bought the exhibited pieces, but I did get commissions because of them. I did several paintings for people who owned classic cars. I would photograph the cars or they would provide me with pictures. Sometimes they requested a specific background or they would just let me have at it and come up with something that reflected the spirit of the vehicle and it's history. I have slides of that art and one day I need to get a slide scanner in order to get them on my computer. But for today I thought I would share some of the pieces that were hanging in that gallery.
The T-Bird was an example of a no background piece. The paper is a lot whiter than it looks in this image. So when you see the original, the red just jumps off the paper. This was done entirely in watercolor on 10" x 14" Winsor-Newton Watercolor paper.
The 1963 Ford Galaxie 500XL image is a mix of things. The car was shot at the Pomona Fairgrounds outside of Los Angeles. The gas station is (or was) on the west side of Cambria, California. Cambria sits on the Pacific Coast between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. I used to spend a week or two in Cambria every year back in the 1980s. I photographed the gas station because it had a lot of character. Everything around the gas station is made up. The real gas station was inland and you couldn't see the ocean from there. I like to think it would have loved my location for it more. The rocks in the background is inspired by the coast line in that area. This piece was done in watercolor on 20" x 14" Winsor-Newton watercolor paper.

I have several more to share if there is an interest. A strange side note: At the time, I was driving a metallic forest green 1965 6-cyl 3 speed Ford Mustang coupe with black interior and a white 1966 Ford Mustang Fastback 289, with light turquoise interior. While I took a lot of pictures of them, I never painted either one. 


Gary M. Peiffer said...

Streaky the cat? Lemmings? Classic cars? Where else in the blog world would you get such a variety of artwork????

Please, show more "Louie the Lemming", maybe behind the wheel of a corvette!!!!

You managed purchases for HP Facilities? How long did you do that?


Royce Thrower said...

Painting cars? Uh Ph...better get Ma-co! I painted one once...then had to have someone else paint it a year later since my work didn't hold up so good.

My ex-brother in law is a T-Bird afficionado and would love that painting to hang in his T-Bird room. Very nice job Gene! Also love the gas station pic...such nostalgia!

Gene Gonzales said...

Glad you like the variety Gary. :) I joined HP in May, 1985. I was hired to be a Facilities Purchasing Agent. Our office was the HQ for 14 western states. My first job was helping to coordinate the move of 2 satellite offices and ours into one brand new facility we were putting up a mile down the road. We had been at the bottom of the hill from Universal Studios in an old Spanish/California style building and were moving into a beautiful modern very large building. I dealt with everything that had to do with that office, company forms, office supplies, contracts for equipment, janitorial, landscaping, HVAC contracts, everything. For about 7 months or so I was moved up stairs to the Buyers position when the department lost a two buyers and the Region Purchasing Manager all in a span of a couple of months. My job up there was coordinating all the POs and requisitions for contractors building a few new facilities in the SF bay area while also taking care of my own work. Actually got an award of excellence for my work on those projects. All this was during the boom of the mid-late 80s. By 1991 we were scaling back. My department needed to scale back and I was offered a severance package to leave. I could have stayed and someone below me might have been forced to take the package but I saw a great opportunity. So they gave me a bit more than a half of a years salary and I said goodbye after almost 7 years. And then started working as an artist full time.

Thanks Royce. I remember a car in Burbank was I was in high school that looked like it was painted with small cans of Testors model paint. That wasn't you was it? ;)

Gene Gonzales said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gene Gonzales said...

Oh and Gary, the best part of the story of how I joined HP is that I was not qualified in the least for the job. I worked for an upscale liquor and wine store in Toluca Lake, which is between Burbank and North Hollywood. HP was one of my clients with a house account. We delivered to their office. The Facilities Purchasing Agent there was my contact. He said I should apply for a job there and brought me an application. I sent it in and almost 6 months later I had an interview to replace him. Seems he screwed up big time involving a company car. At the liquor store I was the assistant manager and was in charge of ordering the liquor and wine from our warehouse that provided to all 42 of our stores in Southern California. So I was in charge of inventory for our store. Not that complicated. Run out of something, call the warehouse. But when I interviewed at HP with three different top people, one being my future manager, they asked about if what I did was the inventory control for the store. Sounded right. Basically they were talking about something much more complex and nothing at all like what I knew. We both thought we were talking about the same thing. I was never trying to oversell my abilities, I just didn't know. My first four weeks at HP was hell. I didn't know the lingo of purchasing, didn't know anything about purchase orders, requisitions, contracts, or how to go out to get bids for contractors to work. I wanted to quit but I stayed with it and learned fast. My limited skills did keep me from staying as a Region Buyer (in charge of all the purchasing departments in the region of the 14 western States.). I didn't mind being replaced and going back to my job. I understood the situation and they hired a great guy with an enormous amount of experience. And it all worked out. :)

Royce Thrower said...

That particular job wasn't me Gene. But I do remember "tooling" around Greensboro NC when I first got my license with my younger brother. We just drove aimlessly for the joy of it and exploring all those neighborhoods and back roads we had never seen before. Well, anyway, we turned into this one very old neighborhood and saw a guy painting his car on the street....with a standard roller like you would paint a wall with. Funny thing is that it was Autumn and this giy was parked under a huge Maple tree which was raining leaves on him as he painted due to a moderate breeze that was blowing at the time. Funniest thing I ever saw. When we camr back by about twenty minutes later, the car was gone....being driven with a wet paint job. Maybe that was the effect he was going for!

Gene Gonzales said...

That is a great story Royce! :)