Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Little Red

Little Red, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen

It seems like every year, the interval between Thanksgiving and Christmas becomes shorter and shorter. Or time just passes by faster. What is up with that?  I have barely started thinking about all that I need to  do for Christmas, and it's already around the corner. Sheesh.

This is one of the few paintings of trucks that I did this year. I like painting old cars and trucks - they have so much character. I especially like them with all the wear and tear of the years, dents, rust and all.  Somehow old cars that are kept in mint condition for car shows and such, don't make it onto my canvas. No, that's not true exactly. It's not the fact that they're in mint condition, it's the context in which  the cars are seen. Showrooms and car shows don't interest me. I like seeing them in real life context, is all.

This little red truck is still working. I don't even know how old it is or whether it's a Ford or a Chevy (or something else?) but I've seen it jetting around town, carrying bales of hay or junk. Every time I see it, I think of the Energizer Bunny.

Here's a painting tip. When you are painting something that is essentially gray, say, like concrete, or telephone poles or a gray building. Sidewalk, asphalt, gray cars. Anything that a non-artist would identify simply as gray… you have a lot of room to maneuver as to what kind of gray it's going to be. You don't need to match the exact shade of gray that you see on that sidewalk. You can make the decision based on the other colors that you have going in the picture. 

The ground plane in my painting was a sort of nondescript cool gray, but I chose to make it pinkish to support the red truck. I was looking for unity through color harmony, rather than a precise depiction of visual reality. 

I think you can see that the color works well. Next time you have something gray in your painting, try it. Don't copy the gray, but think of it as an opportunity to introduce a nice muted color that enhances the color scheme  in your painting. 

But remember, "you don't have to copy the gray that you see" does not mean you give your self permission to be sloppy. The decision should be made thoughtfully. And also, altering the hue and saturation of a particular gray doesn't mean you can ignore its value.  You've got to keep that under control, always.


  1. My favourite part of that painting is the colour you put on the roof of the cab. Fabulous !

  2. I'm in love with old cars/trucks as well Terry! I beleive your example here is a late 30's Chevy. I love all kinds of automotive art but prefer impressionistic styles more, I love this one. I go to a lot of car shows, but I agree, a vintage vehicle placed in it's "natural habitat" is much more interesting. I'm glad to hear this one is still hard at work!

  3. Thanks larry, David, and Judy! Happy Holidays!