Artist James Becker’s pencil drawings of classic and muscle cars are amazingly detailed, seeming to capture sunlight glinting off chrome. See more of his work by visiting his website.
I’ve been doing some sort of commercial art since I was in high school. Now, some thirty or so years later, I have work that appears in many different media, including magazines, books and videos in over sixty different countries and in more than seventeen languages.
As a commercial artist, I have been creating artwork for other people, other’s visions, and other’s purposes. But, a little while ago, a small voice in the back of my head began whispering to me to explore my own visions.
I enjoy creating a commercial piece that can uniquely and creatively solve a marketing problem of some sort, but I feel more and more the pull to create art that is not restricted by any outside requirement. No parameters, except of my own choosing. Simply put—what do I want to do?
I started by turning off my computer and picking up a pencil. I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of photorealism, and have a long time love of automotive design. So it seemed only natural that I would dive into the chrome bumpers of a ‘57 Chevy. For years I’ve been attending an annual auto show in Central Florida that features over 650 show cars. I’ve found quite a bit of inspiration in the photos I take at that show.
I have three .5mm mechanical pencils, loaded with different hardness of lead, and one .3mm that I will sharpen for use on the finer details. I also have several erasers and a small set of Staedtler Mars pencils that I use for the occasional large area. Most often my originals are 14″ x 11″. When I finish a piece, I get a hi-res drum scan that allows me to create prints that are about 30″ x 20″ with no loss of image quality.
While most of my pencil work is automotive, I recently completed a montage of science fiction and fantasy images. This piece is 21″ x 17″ and I worked on it off and on (more off than on) for six years.
It is filled with images from movies, television, comics, books and artists that I enjoy. I have a key that explains where the ninety or so images are from, but it is fun to watch people look at it and discover something new from one moment to the next.
Like many artists, there are several sides to my work. In addition to the pencils, I am also playing with some pen and ink work that was inspired by abandoned barns and shacks I saw from the road while on a trip through North Carolina.
Another side introduces color into my work with a less photorealistic, more impressionistic approach. One of my newest paintings is “Sunset on Ocean Drive.” I love the deco architecture on Miami Beach and I’m not finished with that source of inspiration. Still another side to my work makes use of the amazing power of Photoshop to create several surreal “photos” that are based on photographs from various vacations I’ve taken.
I’m not sure exactly where I will head next. I’m not done with pencils and cars, but I also have a piece featuring a P-51 Mustang and another with an F-18 Hornet that are waiting for my attention. And there’s more color work I want to develop. I’ve come to realize that there is a bit of a back log of ideas waiting to come out of my head—and I can’t wait for the chance to express them.