story and photos by Dean Adams
(Editor's note: Dean Adams was a Guest Artist at the AFAS 2017 Pebble Beach show is currently under consideration for Associate Membership in the Automotive Fine Arts Society. Voting is not yet completed.)
As a self-taught artist, I saw paintings by John Singer Sargent and was fascinated with the level of depth and dimension he had achieved. I knew I had to change my approach in order to achieve the level of depth I knew was possible.
That’s when I decided to study painting from life. To fine-tune my skills, I began taking portrait and figure painting instruction using live models. Today, painting from life is my preferred method and I've turned my attention to painting motorsports. My fondness for motorsports began the first time I rode a minibike at 12 years old. The exhilaration came to full fruition three years later at the age of 15. It was then that I raced an ATC250R (3-wheel ATV). For years I set out to recreate that exhilaration. On my search somewhere between a career in clinical psychology and computer programmer, I began drawing and painting. I had always had
a knack, but it wasn’t something I ever thought to pursue. Art gave me the same exhilaration that motorsports had given me. My admiration for motorsports outweighed other subject matters. It dawned on me that the elation was not just what I was painting but also how I was painting. I wanted the same level of attention and painting approach given to painting a face or the human form to be applied to painting one of the greatest American inventions - the automobile. As the product of a thinking mind, cars are the material form of an idea - a problem solved. A problem that may have even seemed insurmountable at first.
My love of motorsports continued to develop overtime and led me to a fascination with race cars. Racing cars in particular represent the idea of Grounded Intensity - brutal power that is controlled by a sensitive intelligence. The overall design: its curves, its angles, and those aggressively wide tires where an incredible symbol of innovation, challenge and creativity. Formula 1 cars for instance, were continually reinvented to adapt to the limits of Formula 1 rules.
Behind these cars is a driver that is fascinated with the obstacles his vehicle overcomes. My soft spot lies in the older Formula 1 cars with their hooligan qualities and raw, primal strength. I feel my best work comes from painting from real life. Painting from life feeds all of my senses and provides inherent time constraints that forge focus and spontaneity. If logistics don’t allow that, I will still use photos and supplement the photos with models of the car to recreate “real-life” experience.
The result is a combination of controlled randomness and abstract shapes in realism. For an aggressive subject such as automobiles, I prefer a more aggressive approach and application of paint – one of the reasons I paint in oils. I paint wet-into-wet which allows for better integration, and thick, juicy layers of paint embolden the subject.
I currently live in New Jersey and my work has been exhibited in NYC and Miami galleries.