Monday, July 6, 2015

Michael Turner's Motorsports Art


One of the great living gouache painters is Michael Turner of Britain, known for his motorsports and aviation artwork. 

He painted the official posters for the Grand Prix of Monaco, Sebring, LeMans, Nürburgring and other Grand Prix events.

Born in Harrow, Middlesex, in 1934, he was raised near London during World War II, where he learned to recognize aircraft and drew them in his schoolbooks. He woke to the thrill of auto racing in 1947 when he saw a post-war revival of the British Empire Trophy Race

One of my favorite paintings, no surprise, is his portrayal of Dan Gurney's 1967 F1 Victory with the All-American Racers Eagle in the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.

With gouache, he captures the ornate overlapping detail of the crowds and the far architecture, while conveying the motion blur in the foreground, as if the camera is tracking along with the action.

Michael Turner formed his own art print company called Studio 88. His son Graham is also a fine painter, specializing in medieval warfare.

Michael Turner on Wikipedia
Thanks, Robert H.


Glenn Tait said...

I love Michael Turner's work especially some of his earlier work which was military themed illustrations for historical books, which were also done in gouache.

Jim Douglas said...

James, how do you suppose Michael Turner achieves the motion blur effect with gouache?

David J Teter said...

Thanks for this James. This artist is a new one to me. I love the effect he achieved with the blur on the wheels, just superb artwork here!
Which of course relates to the previous GJ Book Club, Chapter 13: Variety of Mass post, point number "8. Variety of edges" on soft/hard edges.

This also brings to mind another favorite watercolor/gouache automobile artist of mine I meant to mention on your other recent post "Some of My Favorite Gouache Masters". Walter Gotschke. He paints looser than these here but worked in gouache and his paintings have that same visual excitement and enthusiasm for racing as Michael Turner's.

The dedicated site on him is awkward:

See Lines and colors post:

And Art Contrarian:

Robert J. Simone said...

That's really fabulous stuff! Thanks for posting it.

Tom Hart said...

I'm really appreciating, more and more, the depth of the wonderful gouache artwork that's out there thanks to posts like these.

Slightly off topic, but this makes me wonder how gouache work is typically displayed. Because it's a water media, is it generally treated like watercolors in that respect and displayed under glass? Are there any other archival or handling considerations (of finished pieces) that come to mind?

James Gurney said...

Tom, yes, putting the art behind glass is important, because a sneeze could spoil the surface.

David Webb said...

We've got a copy of Michael Turner's book 'The Royal Air Force, the aircraft in service since 1918'. It contains fabulous gouache ranging from the old 'stringbags' of WW1, up to examples of the 'modern' jet age of the 1970's.
Just as interesting as the paintings are the accompanying pencil vignettes of pilots, technicians and plane details.

Pierre Fontaine said...

Do you think these were done as calendar pages? They remind me so much of Jon Berkey's style, much of which was learned working for a calendar company though in his case he painted in casein.

David Webb said...

Pierre, Michael Turner's work often appeared on greetings cards. I remember receiving a few myself in the 70's and 80's. It's quite possible that these paintings were used for that purpose.

Pierre Fontaine said...

Thank you for the information David. I love the style and intensity of these images and was curious if they were painted on commission or if they were done for his own enjoyment.