Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman teamed up to paint many of the classic car ads of the 1960s. Using gouache, Fitz painted the cars and Van painted the backgrounds. They had a formula, but it was a great formula.
It goes like this. Coloristically, they choose a overall background color (here, blue). They let that color key fill the scene, including the areas that aren't so important. Those areas are allowed to stay flat (here, dock, water, and sky). The car is the feature color (here, a soft gold). And there's usually an accent color in the background (here, red). A black shadow beneath the car makes the other colors look sharp.
Compositionally, they fill the foreground with the car's front end, seen in perspective and stretched horizontally. They pick a complex background theme which suggests an attractive couple enjoying leisure time at an exotic location with other affluent people. This time we're dockside with a pleasure-boat party.
Fitz said that the ad was supposed to make people feel: "I wanted to be in that car, in that place, with that gal on my arm."
Overall background color—cyan. Feature color, magenta. Accent color—green (figures and swash of light). Background—tropical foliage. Theme—moonlight in the tropics.
Overall background color—dull ochre. Feature color—brighter yellow and blue. Accent color—red. Background —mountains and crowd. Theme: A day at the races.
Overall background color—magenta to violet. Feature color—red. Accent color—yellow. Background— architecture. Theme: Evening party.
Overall background color—yellow green. Feature color—green with blue highlights. Accents—yellow and pink. Background —stately mansion. Theme: Southern elegance.
Overall background color—blue green. Feature color—yellow. Accents—pink. Background —country club or hotel architecture. Theme: party in the country.
Even though the paintings look photo-real, when you compare them to a photo of a real car, you can see how many artistic choices they brought to their renderings. They ignored a lot of hood reflections, made the windshields more transparent, simplified the ground plane, and exaggerated the car's geometry.
Fitzpatrick's art appears in a book called Pontiac Pizazz!
Previously: More technical notes about Fitz and Van
My video tutorial "Gouache in the Wild"