By Sandy Myhre
Don Packwood is described as a ‘fine artist’ and there would be few who’d disagree. His creative depictions of cars – often classical or historical vehicles – are outstanding examples of an eye for detail and accuracy over-laid with an almost ethereal, delicate, atmosphere.
His latest such work is literally a classic example. On a 91cm x 51cm oil, he has placed a 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Classic Spider in what appears to be an appropriately Italian backdrop but was in fact inspired by photographs he took on a trip to Cavat in Croatia.
Alongside this little 1950’s sports car he depicts a thoroughly modern woman looking at her cell phone as a defined juxtaposition of several ages – of architecture, the car and the woman herself.
“I was intrigued with that part of the world. You could be living in an apartment in a building from the 12th century, drive a snappy classic Alfa Romeo sports car and be a vibrant woman with a wonderfully healthy and successful future.
“I imagined this lady is off to the gym or a jog through the fabulous streets of this age-old city.”
After travelling through Croatia and Italy a few years ago he accumulated 4,000 photographs and regularly scrolls through those for inspiration. The idea for this particular Alfa Romeo composition began at the beginning of July this year and is already nearing completion.
He’s called it ‘Giulietta’ of course. It was created using a number of references but alas, he says, he didn’t have access to the actual car. On completion, Giulietta will be on sale at the Queenstown Gallery of Fine Art.
Given the considerable number of car paintings that Don Packwood has done over the years, it’s something of a surprise he doesn’t consider himself the archetypal petrol-head. Despite that, he is resident motorsport artist to the International Art Centre in Auckland’s Parnell and The Champion Brock Experience in Queensland, Australia and most of his work is commissioned by motoring enthusiasts.
“It’s the workmanship, the artisanship, the fabulous skills of the finest in design. For me it’s aesthetic that will arouse the wow factor in me.
“There are cars like the little Alfa sport that are just a joy to behold. Cars like the 1963 E-type Jaguar, a ’57 Thunderbird and luxury models like Bentley, Rolls Royce, Bugatti and Duesenberg I look at as a complete story, the marque, the history, some with racing heritage.”
Another Packwood is called ‘Ladies In Waiting’. It could be presumed this forms part a woman-and-cars series, but he doesn’t call them that specifically, they’re done as the impulse emerges from within.
In this scene a woman is dressed from the era of World War I and standing near a classic Rolls Royce. The other woman in the painting, in case you hadn’t noticed, is the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ bonnet ornament. Don painted this oil after viewing the car in a private collection, not a dealership, and added the woman to achieve an almost romantic milieu.
There are cars he would never consider painting but diplomatically doesn’t say what they are. Neither does he restrict himself entirely to cars. He has ‘done’ yachts like the Whitbread Maxis NZ Endeavour and Lion New Zealand, plants, flowers, oceans and landscapes.
The totally self-taught Auckland artist has developed numerous techniques in his style of painting over the years and has exhibited extensively in New Zealand, UK, USA and Australia.