David Purvis is a British automotive artist from beautiful Olney. David is a successful hobby painter who loves classic cars and motorsports. He especially loves putting classic cars in more contemporary scenes.
I’ve recently visited Milton Keynes close to where you live. It’s beautiful and I can imagine you draw inspiration from such a beautiful environment.
I do a lot of local scenes. We live in a little market town. I’ve been painting pictures of cars for almost 40 years, I suppose. [Laughs] Since I was in school, anyway. About 30 years ago I discovered the Guild of Motoring Artists and I joined them. I’ve helped to run that group and worked to develop branding as well as help with their online presence since 1996.
I’ve been fortunate to have sold work all over the world – from Japan to the United States. I’ve also got quite a strong local following; I do Christmas cards, calendars, and local commissions. I always try to combine a car into the scene whenever I can. I love commission work and lots of local requests keep me going. Occasionally I have the opportunity to paint just the scene and vehicle that strikes me. That’s what I’m most passionate about.
I love 60’s and 70’s motorsport. I love 50’s and 60’s classic cars. I especially love having classic cars in more contemporary scenes. There’s a little phrase I often use, which is ‘brain painting’. I might be driving somewhere or see a photograph and I think to myself, “I’m going to paint that somewhere.” I do my best to incorporate these little memories into my work on an ongoing basis. That’s brain painting. For instance, I was once driving through snow on a mid-winter morning and I saw an old 1950’s shanty-type storage building. All the lights were on and the image just stuck in my mind – dark grey sky, snow all over the place, and you could just see the lights through the windows. I thought it would be a fantastic backdrop for a painting.
Sometimes I take a photo on my phone as a quick reference but mostly I just try to remember them as truly and accurately as I can. The other thing I really enjoy doing is getting a black and white scene and making it colour. Until the mid-50’s, the whole world was black and white. I love inserting colour into those images. I find inspiration in many places.
I’ve always wanted to paint this car. I love the long tails and the sort of psychedelic feeling it has to it. There’s normally a little story behind each painting for me. For this particular car, it began when I was in Italy last summer. I saw this beautiful dilapidated old farmhouse and I remember thinking, this is the perfect scene for a luxury car. And so I painted a beautiful Maserati as juxtaposition to this setting.
I live quite near the Aston Martin factory. For me, this painting was inspired by an idea of a car in the snow at nighttime. Quite a bit of thought and research goes into these paintings for me.
One of the things I love about your style, David, is how fast it feels. It seems as though these vehicles erupt from your pen or your brush with a remarkable amount of energy.
I think as an artist you go through quite a process to produce something that people will enjoy. I do a lot of still-life cars but I enjoy adding movement. To depict speed and movement and atmosphere is important. I also love painting vehicles in the rain. The reflections add so much to a painting.
I like having my paintings tell a story. It’s important to trigger emotion with art. Cars are about speed, action, atmosphere, and background. That’s where these stories come from. I dislike trying to copy a scene that people have seen in photographs over and over again. I like to infuse my personality into my work.
How did you develop your style?
When I finished Grammar school, I wanted to study art. My parents weren’t very keen on this idea so instead I went to study advertising and got an apprenticeship doing that. I kept painting cars as often as I could and eventually people started asking me for commission work. When I joined the Guild, I really solidified a few things. The first was that I could have some of my work next to the work of some people I thought were truly fantastic artists. Then I learned about the more technical aspects of automotive art. For instance, cars reflect all of the colours around them – like blue from the sky and green from the long grass. I learned so much from the other artists I was given the opportunity to meet during my work with the Guild.
Painting isn’t my occupation – too many bills to pay. [Laughs] At the moment, painting is something that I love and try my best to do each day. I think what I need is more time and a suitable location in order to be a professional painter. Having a style that sets me apart from other artists and that’s important to my personal success. And, most important of all, is that I enjoy painting. I like to think that my style demonstrates the joy I feel and fun I have while I paint.
Interested in seeing more of David's work? His website shows his extensive portfolio.