Picture perfect race-day safety
STEVE Parker says he gets a buzz when he sees a glimpse of his artwork on television.
The talented Warwick artist has been painting drivers’ racing helmets for nearly 20 years and yesterday finished his latest piece of work for V8 driver Craig Lowndes.
“You rarely get to see (the back of the helmets),” Mr Parker said.
“Often it’s if they step out of the car to have a change of driver, or sometimes there’s a camera inside the car and you can see it.”
Mr Parker uses the art of airbrush to etch designs onto the back of helmets.
He picked up the style of art from his father, who used it to paint model airplanes.
“I used to use brushes for paintings, but found it hard to give the colours a nice blend,” he said.
“With airbrushing, the skin looks really smooth and lifelike. You can also do it on any surface because it doesn’t touch the surface – it’s used a lot on surfboards and cakes too.”
Mr Parker paints wildlife and landscapes, but his real talent is being able to capture human portraits.
To do a realistic portrait, he explained, the dimensions of the face must be completely accurate.
“If you’re one millimetre out, it doesn’t look like that person,” he said.
“(For example) it’s got to look like your kids – you look at them every day so you know if the painting reflects them or not.
“If the proportions aren’t right, I just colour over the top of it.”
Mr Parker has been painting Craig Lowndes helmets for 11 years.
Each year the V8 driver sends a photo of his two children to the Warwick artist, so his helmets are almost a record of their early years.
The story of how the pair met is an interesting one.
“I did a painting of him and wanted him to autograph it,” Mr Parker said. “When he first saw the painting he must have liked it and asked me to do some helmets. I’ve also done about a dozen paintings for inside his house as well.”
The latest helmet took a mere 40 hours to complete. Mr Parker had to dismantle the device, taking the rubber strips and visor off, and tape it back up once it’s finished.
Among others one of Mr Parker’s biggest admirers is his five-year-old son Jett, who also seems to be taking on the love for painting. “He comes in here and does paintings too – he’s got a few canvasses,” he said.