Monday, October 5, 2009

Lambretta Portrait

As my initial sketch for this painting started to take shape, I realized it was becoming very portrait-like, as if I had taken on the image of a flesh-and-blood person rather than a machine, showing the head (turned and tilted to its left), shoulders and torso. Nearly all of my reference photos had shown the scooter from a distance of several feet. But in deciding on composition, I was immediately drawn to the idea of focusing down more closely on the "face" of the object. Of course, that kind of narrow framing is typical in a lot of my work: I prefer odd angles and significant cropping in many images. In addition, I was especially concerned about the contrast between the blue and white of the scooter's body. 9" x 12", watercolor, pen & ink, Arches 300 lb. paper.

From my May 1, 2008 post: There are scooters all over the city, a favorite mode of transportation among restaurant delivery persons who favor the cheap Yamaha and Honda varieties. Italian scooters, however, are considered chic among the 20- and 30-something crowd. And since Piaggio reintroduced Vespas to the U.S. market several years ago, there seems to have been an explosion of these sharp little machines throughout Manhattan.

Who can blame their owners? They're fairly inexpensive (around $3,000 new), don't burn a lot of gas, and are easy to park. My favorites are the vintage scooters - those models marketed in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. There are plenty of old Vespas in the city and even Matthew Broderick tools around on a white antique model in our neighborhood during the summer. I like the Vespas, but for sheer style points I prefer the Lambrettas. Like the ubiquitous Vespa, they stood as an iconic symbol of the 50s and 60s and were the scooter of choice for many of England's "mod" crowd during that period. Just watch the movie Quadraphenia to get a sense of how important the scooter was to that movement! Only made by Italy's Innocenti corporation from 1946 until 1972, the Lambrettas are much more rare. And for my money, they were sleeker and more elegantly designed than the Vespas. (Although the Lambretta name is used on scooters and other vehicles in India and Asia today, it's not the same company.)


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1 comment:

Barbara said...

My nose has been stuck in Diana Gabaldon's "An Echo in the Bone," but I've come up for air to tell you this perspective of the scooter IS rather coquettish - and of course you know I love the blue! So good to see your work again;)