November 2010

Nov. 2010 “Running Down The Road”

The past year has again been a whirlwind of excitement here in the studio. After publishing this newsletter last October, I exhibited at the SEMA Show in November and was finally able to meet Automotive Designer Chip Foose. What a thrill to learn that he’s even more of a nice guy in person than he appears on television. Even though he was in a hurry in the moments before the opening of SEMA, he stopped at my display and discussed some of my art he hadn’t seen before. He was extremely relaxed and respectful and a true credit to his parents.

A Busy Year

In February I learned that I was to be appointed the National Corvette Restorer’s Society Board of Director’s Representative to the Board of Directors of the National Corvette Museum. I was to replace ten-year director John Pirkle, so I knew I had big shoes to fill. This position means I will travel to the Corvette Museum for four Board of Director’s meetings annually as well as attend two NCRS Board Meetings per year. I assumed those duties in March of 2010. One my biggest missions has been the transfer of the NCRS Archives into the Archives of the Corvette Museum, and I have a couple of new projects that I’m planning.

My calendar this year has been one of exhibition conflict. Because of the way the calendar fell, and the changing of several event dates, I missed three events I would normally have attended. I missed the C5/C6 Bash at the Museum for the first time in about ten years, an NCRS Regional in Des Moines, and Vettes on the Rockies in July. Other obstacles kept me from the new Barrett-Jackson Auction in Orange County and the Pebble Beach week in August. In 2011 I would like to attend one of the Pebble Beach events, more Barrett-Jackson and Mecum Auction events, and possibly the Meadowbrook Concours. I treasure the invitations to attend many other events but just can’t attend them all. Lance Miller invited me to join his group of ten attending LeMans for the completion of his father Chip’s dream of returning his Cunningham #3 Corvette to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Corvette’s first Class win at that race. I had several deadline paintings that prevented my accompanying them, and I really have regrets that I could not fly to France for that event. However, you’ll note I was able to get my photo (on previous page) taken inside that historic Corvette.

Judy and I led another NCRS Midwest Road Tour to the NCRS Convention, this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our initial route was to take us through the “Tail of the Dragon,” the spectacular winding road with 200+ curves in 18 miles, but a huge rockslide a week before our pre-drive in March closed that route until after the convention. We did view the Kemp Automotive Museum and the Hunter Automotive Collection, both in the St. Louis area, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the massive Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Just outside Charlotte, we took a detour to dodge a traffic problem and proceeded to get lost when highway signs disappeared. We were saved by a local motorcyclist who led us back to the correct route while, ironically, wearing a t-shirt for the television show “Lost.” The convention was the largest gathering of Corvettes in NCRS history, with 285 exceptional cars on the show field. It was an great convention with many tours to NASCAR garages and local attractions. As usual, the renewal of great friendships was just icing on the cake.

Questions and Answers

Many customers and friends continue to ask about the A.W.S. and N.W.S. letters which I sign after my name. In the earlier years of my painting career, I was competing in major watercolor competitions around the country, and the two most prestigious and least likely to grant acceptance were the American Watercolor Society in New York and the National Watercolor Society in the Los Angeles area. The A.W.S. was limited to 500 signature members worldwide and would accept approximately 120 paintings from slide submissions of 3000+ entrants. A painter was allowed to apply for signature membership only after acceptance into three of their exhibits in a ten-year period. The artist would then send two slides to compete against others for the number of open slots determined by the number of members who had passed away that year. I was accepted for membership my first year of eligibility, five years after my first exhibition. Most watercolorists never are accepted into that exhibit once, so I treasure my A.W.S. Signature Membership. The National Watercolor Society is a newer organization and its prestige is almost equal to the older A.W.S. Few watercolorists are signature members of both groups, so I am proud to use these letters following my signature.

Many customers also ask about the sizes and medium of my print reproductions. About five years ago printing technology changed when the type of scanners used to produce the printing plates evolved. That required changing my printing to the newest and more expensive Giclée Printing. Giclée (pronounced jyee-clay) is printed by a high quality ink jet printing process. Scanning is done in a higher resolution, producing better quality than the previous Offset Lithographic process.

A new offering this year is Giclée prints on Canvas. My local printer is able to print any of my images on a stretched canvas with the image actually extending around the corners of the canvas stretcher to the wall. The style of this printing is known as a “Gallery Wrap,” and many artists worldwide are producing their work in larger sizes on canvas. This style also doesn’t require expensive framing or glass, although the owner has the option of framing. If you’re interested in this new type of image, any of the items on my website can be printed on canvas. Please call if you have any questions.

I’ve recently been gathering older images to combine with my newest work to publish another book of my work. This will be a larger, coffee table style book that will reflect on the brick wall series from my early years as well as many of the original photographs from that period that I used as source material. My assistant Sharon has been scanning some of those slides and converting them to a digital format, and I consider this a long term project. I’m excited about this attempt to document the entire body of work I’ve created. It may take a year or more to complete the book.

Judy and I are awaiting the newest addition to the Forrester family. My daughter and her husband, Allison and Brett Howell, are expecting our first grandchild in early November. His name will be Paxton Lee Howell, and he most likely will have the basketball heritage of his parents.

New Art in 2010

As usual, I have a number of new works this year. In January at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, I debuted an unusual new composition approach for me in a piece titled “Thunder Road”. Other automotive artists often focus on certain details of the automotive subject, so I’ve avoided creating work that conflicts with their style. However, when I photographed a ZR1 last summer in Colorado, I knew at that moment that I’d have to create a major work from that photograph. The lighting and reflections were too perfect to pass up. The title recalls the 1950’s movie of the same name as well as a Bruce Springsteen tune. Besides, no Corvette creates Thunder like a ZR1.

For years I’ve searched for photographs of Kansas City’s historic cruising hangout, Sidney’s on the Plaza. Last year I located such a photo and created “Triple Black” with that drive-in and an iconic Tuxedo Black 1962 Corvette. I toyed with the idea of adding the Corvette’s owner talking with a car hop of the period, but decided against it. “Triple Black” is available in all four Giclée sizes on paper and two sizes of Giclée Canvas.

I’ve wanted to create another Shelby Mustang piece for years, so I combined two of those cars, a 1967 GT500 and a 1965 GT350. I envisioned them at some significant location and chose the Watkins Glen theme, as if the Mustangs were in that small New York town in the late sixties for the annual races. My friend Tom Strongman provided me with photos of a recently uncovered Owl Cigar sign from Pleasanton, Kansas, and I added the idea of the Watkins Glen Drug Store across the top to validate the fictional location. Its title is “Sunrise at the Glen”.

“Charlotte and LeMans” was created as the official art for the 2010 NCRS National Convention in Charlotte. The event was to be held in the infield garages of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, so Jimmy Gregg, co-chair of the event, provided me with photographs of the start/finish line for the painting. It was a significant challenge to paint the seats with upturned bottoms in correct perspective as well as the fence structure. With this being the 50th Anniversary of the 1960 model year and the expectation that the Cunningham LeMans Corvette would have returned from LeMans, I used that Corvette in the painting. Unfortunately, the LeMans Corvette was stalled in customs red tape and didn’t appear in Charlotte.

Two years ago I was commissioned to create the official art for this year’s 20th Anniversary of the Eureka Springs Corvette Weekend. I began the idea for the painting “Cruising Eureka” taking photos right away, so that I had an accurate preliminary sketch to display at the 19th Weekend event last October. The watercolor was in such high demand that I could’ve sold the original painting four times. The image features the one-of-a-kind Blue 1989 ZR-1 Convertible made for GM Executive Don Runkle and now owned by Bob Tyler, the Trophy Blue 1966 Coupe of Show Director Ben Whitacre, the White 1971 Convertible of Terry McCale, and all three of the Forrester Corvettes. Many believe the figures on the street look much like me (with camera), my wife Judy, and a friend Carolyn McDill (also with a camera). Two other friends are in the background — Kent Miller on the balcony pointing down to his wife Debi on the sidewalk outside the Flatiron Building. This promises to be a huge selling item, and it’s available in Giclée prints on paper and canvas.

Chevrolet has been showing the Corvette Stingray concept car (a.k.a. Sideswipe), and the photos I took at the Kansas City Auto Show in March called to me to create a watercolor. The lighting was perfect for the styling of that car, and I believe future generations of Corvette will be somewhat based on this design. I wanted to find a special background for this car, one that would be significant to the future of Corvette, and one morning while awakening I thought of the original EX122 concept at the 1953 Motorama in New York. I then created “Motorama Treasures” (cover) with a fictional wall, as if it were just uncovered, featuring that car and another concept from that event, the Buick LeSabre.

I’ve always been amazed at the color contrasts of the black 1967 427 Corvettes, especially with the contrasting red hood stinger. Last year I had the privilege of creating a commissioned painting for Michael Soares who owned the Corvettes pictured. For Michael I created a brick wall ad of the original sales dealership of one of the Corvettes. After finishing his painting, I couldn’t resist again using the photos I’d taken of his ‘67’s, this time adding red line tires to both and using a U.S. Royal Tiger Paw advertisement on the wall. I’m very pleased with the reflections of the black cars in “Tiger Paws”.

Another commissioned painting that became a Limited Edition Print series is the “Berger Camaro” watercolor. Berger is a high performance dealer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has built special cars dating back to the 1960’s. They offered an edition of 20 new Special Edition Camaros that were purchased immediately by collectors. Jerry Andreatos commissioned me to paint three of those cars in front of the newly designed Berger dealership, and it has been a big hit.

Carl French, who has been restoring my 1965 Corvette for Flight Judging next year, commissioned me to create a number of significant cars he’s owned and restored. Carl wanted the front of his restoration shop with the cars parked at the curb, so the completed painting was 20″ tall and 73″ long. The 1955 station wagon was a special restoration car for him and his father. This image, “The Treatment Center,” is available as a print series as well.

Occasionally, I get inspired to create some subjects other than the automotive series. Two years ago I launched the Wine Series, last year I began the Paris Cafe Series, and this year I’ve completed my first watercolor in the Key West Series. As you can see, I’m painting things and places I love. Judy and I have been to Key West five of the last seven years and already have our reservations for 2011. “A Slice of Key West” features a small Key Lime Pie shop on Greene Street next door to Captain Tony’s Saloon. I was attracted by the color and tropical feel of the store and the chairs outside. The bicycle is very typical of the island’s local transportation, and I think this image really captures the color of Key West.

My final new work is simply titled “Town Topic” because that is the name of the hamburger landmark in downtown Kansas City. This Town Topic on Broadway is open twenty-four hours a day and is always full of late night diners. I parked a pair of 1961 Corvettes at the curb as if part of a club excursion and included a soda delivery truck with some of its doors open.

Future Watercolors

Fans of my painting are always asking what I plan to create in the near future. A frequent request that I’m planning to paint is the “Wil Cooksey” Edition, a Crystal Red Z06 which Wil personally signed, also known as the “427” Edition. I’m considering the Corvette Assembly Plant for the background. I also intend to paint a Barn Find Corvette, partially inside a barn door with sunlight across the front of the car. I’m planning on more Camaro works, one featuring the contrast of early and new generation Camaros and one starring the 1967, 1969 and 2010 Indy Pace Car models. I’m finally painting the two Chevelles I owned from 1969 to 1972, a red Ferrari 275 GTB in a European setting, a new Corvette Grand Sport (call if you want me to use your GS), and a Pedal Car Still Life. I’ll continue with the Key West Series, one for the Wine Series, and another in the Kansas City Architectural Landmark Series, most likely the Katz Drug Store on Main St. Also, for the Corvette Museum Garage Door Series, I plan to paint a rear view of a Corvette transporter with a Corvette being unloaded. And then there is the thought of a new Shelby Mustang. Where will I find the time?

Grape Design Partnership

This catalog is titled “Passions” because I still have a tremendous passion for creating my art. It is a personal statement about my world which I want everyone to experience. This is the second catalog designed and published by my son Adam’s design firm, Grape Design LLC. I’m impressed with Adam’s sense of design, so Adam and his partner, Roman, are also re-designing my Studio Website. Please enjoy the new look of It will be much more functional with a new shopping cart section for placing orders, even though you may still call the studio to talk to any of us in person if you like. Also, visit the Grape Design, LLC website at to see their work for other clients.