Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sports Car Factory Winter

                                             oil on canvas 5 x 8 in  $275

1 February 2017 finds me sitting on my painting caddy in the snow, in front of the Sports Car Factory in Hallville, Ontario, working on the first painting in what I hope will be a series - of one of my favourite anthropogenic places in eastern Ontario. 

Rather like a museum, both inside and out,  there are old cars and parts of cars leaning against walls, and parked and piled by the Ashes, Elms, and Apples around the perimeter of the yard. A monstrous ancient tractor parked in a sunny corner on the south side of the building, waits like a patient draft horse until it is wanted for pushing snow or rearranging old Jaguars, Austins, Mercedes, and Landrovers collected for parts. I love wandering about with my camera, capturing images of curved metal of various antiquity, either emerging from or becoming one with the landscape. 

The red car crouching behind the snow bank in front of me is a 1968 Bentley. In this photo it was being admired by my cousin David Malcolm, visiting from Yellowknife, NWT.

Having forgotten to pack my palette, I set up a makeshift one on the side of a cardboard box. It’s a calm sunny day and just below freezing - perfect conditions for winter painting, so I refuse to be stopped by lack of equipment! 

After an hour and a half I have my canvas, under-painted with red oxide, filled in roughly. The Elm stump, sprouted like a bush, has fluffy hats of fresh snow perched atop its its few remaining clusters of autumn leaves. 

There is an unpreposessing, utilitarian grunginess about the inside of the building. It was built in 1949 as a farmers' cooperative (date inscribed in the cement by the front door).  It operated as a cheese factory in the beginning and changed to an egg grading station for an unknown period. 

John Pritchard bought the place in 1985. It hadn't been used in quite some time and so the transformation into the Sports Car Factory started at a snails pace. John still has older folks telling him that they worked here years ago!

John's sons, Mark and Steve, run the Sports Car Factory with their father. I've been coming here for cars and repairs for over 10 years. The building is full of objects that are mysteries to me but which doubtless have layers of history for those who work with them. Every time I visit, I’m inspired by the fascinating juxtaposition of the very old and the very new - of inanimate but somehow organic metal forms, the contrast of greasy gears and fine electronics - every item has a name and a purpose, largely unknown to me. 

At the Sports Car Factory I feel like a babe in the woods. This inevitably inspires my artist’s eye, and out comes my camera and I prowl about collecting reference images for paintings.

Lately, John has been taking an interest in pickup trucks, so there are some of these about the front of the building, one bedded with a wooden platform and railings. Last week I found him with paintbrush in hand, blacking the square surrounds of the headlights of a 1970 Landrover, nearly ready for its new owner. Recently we purchased a 2004 Volvo SUV from Mark, and I'm doing this painting while he's making it "a little more perfect" for me.

Before leaving, I ask about the distinctive-looking Landrover parked in front of the building, just off the right hand side of the scene that I’ve painted.  I am told that it is a 1993 Landrover Defender, previously owned by an expeditionary photographer (the black, periscope-looking tube on the driver’s side is an air intake that allows the engine to run even when the hood is entirely covered with water). It has grating over all the windows for the security of camera equipment. 

I looked up the photographer at the url (from one of the decals on the vehicle) and was forwarded to the website of On this site I found a blog post about gearing up for a trip to Arizona, with a photo of this very vehicle with its rooftop tent up. I wonder if the new owner knows that his Landrover used to be called “Jessie”….  By the way, the photographer's new expeditionary vehicle is a Jeep named “Emily”. An exciting summary of his adventures in 2011 (the year he changed vehicles) is at 

David du Chemin calls Vancouver home. He is a  courageous and inspired adventurer, a great photographer and mentor of photographers - and an excellent writer. I have subscribed to his blog, and ordered his recent book “A Beautiful Anarchy” about the creative process… all because of a chance meeting with his old Landrover, Jessie, at the Sports Car Factory in Hallville.

Dear supporters and patrons of my art,

The 5 x 8 inch original oil painting, "Sports Car Factory Winter" is available for purchase at $275. If you would like to purchase it, please contact Aleta 

1 comment:

  1. Hello

    My name is Michael Curtis and I am the current owner of 'Jessie' the Land Rover. I a fully aware of the history of this vehicle and that is one of the reasons I bought it. I have spend almost 4 years having major work done on it.
    I picked it up today from John and put on the new 'JESSIE93' personalized license plates. I live near Kingston, Ontario. I picked up the vehicle through David's father in the Muskokas.
    I have also purchased several of David's books.

    Michael Curtis


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?