The Fine Art of Motorsport


At the A&R we are committed to examining Lotus and motor sport in the widest possible context.

We feel that all the nuances and indeed the passion and beauty cannot be understood otherwise.

In particular we like to discuss and analyse the work of artists that have embraced Lotus.

The machines are beautiful in their own right but the drama of the race and its associated activities are natural subjects for artists.

Furthermore there needs to be a more critical appreciation of applied beauty and representation. Convention and price has perhaps given some braches of the fine arts a place at the top of the hierarchy; Impressionism is a prime example but some motoring artists have been equally impressionistic possibly more so as they had to capture images that passed in a split second.

For some motor sport and representative art is considered inferior but we will hope to challenge this and perhaps place the art in a wider social context of our times. For some the motorcar has defined the 20C

In the 20C most of the arts have in some way deferred to engineering, many like the Futurists and Constructivists glorified the combination of speed and technology. In architecture and the Art Deco movement there was a desire to represent the modern and its associated power and speed.

The Bauhaus School was committed to the improvement of industrial and commercial   unification of technology with craft design and manufacture.

Through the representation of the car in fine art we hope to explore new perspectives and offer new interpretations and understandings. Along the way it will be appropriate to touch on marketing. Equally there may be scope to cross reference with some of the more creative writing related to the motorcar. Although perhaps seen by some as travel writing HV.Moton set out to convey word pictures of his driving exploits.

In this regular series we will look critically at a range of artists and their styles and indeed include some technical drawing .we will look at artists from the dawn of motoring to the present day. A brief article will also touch on the techniques and materials used by those artists we are considering.

The A&R have had support from the guild of Motoring Artists and in due course will cover their work.

The Internet has an almost exhaustive source of imagery and we fully commend that our readers use this in conjunction with our articles to gain maximum enjoyment and interpretation.

We appreciate that art is subjective and welcome suggestions from our readers as to artists they might like to see reviewed.

Two Art Cards by W.Sharp

The editor picked up a set of cards by W.Sharp [illustrated] Research on the net has not thrown up any details but we rather liked these monochrome works featuring Lotus GP cars.

JPS sketch

The full set includes:-

  • Jim Clark [illustrated includes portait]
  • JPS GP car possibly of the turbo era
  • Moss and single seat  Mercedes Benz GP car
  • Nigel Mansell

Word Pictures

All the drawings are in monochrome printed in post card size. No information has been included on the back.

The sketches are attractive and appear to be executed in pencil or fibre tip with wash? With these limited resources the artist has achieved considerable tonal contrast and succeeds in conveying mood.

Jim Clark

The depiction of Clark has a portrait of Clark wearing a helmet gazing slightly to the right. This is complemented with a sence of Clark racing a Lotus GP car [race number five].  Sharp has been able to communicate a considerable amount of atmosphere , the speed and movement and tension within the car as it corners is achieved with relatively few strokes .Detail is kept to a minimum.

Sharp uses shading effectively and captures the elliptical body contour of the car in perspective which is not easy. Equally the tyres and wheels have received little detailing but still provide an authenticity which sits with the whole composition and rendering.

Both images capture the moment and are deeply redolent.


The editors would suggest Sharp is quite accomplished .His rendering of the JPS possesses the same quality and technique present in Jim Clark.

The same techniques have been used .Depicting a glass black car body, tyres and suspension components is not easy. There is risk form is lost and shape colour risks bleeding into each other and getting either lost or confused.

However Sharp has used high lights [e.g. on suspension] and generally captured the foreshortening that perspective creates.

The car s captured in the wet and Sharp picks up the reflections on the track .Again the tyres are minimal but achieve the right elliptical profile.

The drivers head and helmet are correct to scale and the eyes and bridge of nose are just suggested. This requires confidence skill and dexterity especially when only suggested but gaining maximum affect.

Possibly the nicest touch in this work is how the water spray/splash /spray from the rear wheels has been rendered ; the intense white of the paper has been deployed to great affect again minimalism gaining maximum visual drama.

Moss and the Mercedes

In this image Sharp has sketched a portrait of Moss [wearing helmet] face on accompanied by a secondary view of him cornering the Mercedes.

The editors like the artists disciplined and simple approach [simple does not equate with easy] heavily reliant on tonal values to convey shape, form and function and speed!

In this work Sharp does not rely on the convention of air trails off the tyres but still succeeds in capturing the correct tension in Moss’s right arm as he corners at speed and fights centrifugal forces. Trying to represent spoke wheels especially at speed is not easy. They blur. However Sharp has excellent tonal control [variations] and these are portrayed in an impressionable split second manner.

The portrait of Moss is accurate .The eyes possibly the most difficult facial feature to capture are well executed with minimal strokes, tone or possibly pencil shading. Sharp captures the cheek bones and all the nuances and renders Moss immediately and characteristically, instantly recognisable as he smiles out.

Equally the rendering of the helmet with its delicate shading captures realistically the correct radius and double curvature. Note on a light background these requires considerable dexterity in handling and sensitivity.

Nigel Mansell

This image is in extreme close up and depicits Mansell at the wheel during a race and deeply ensconced with a modern racing car with only his head/helmet readily visible.

The composition is strong bold and strikingly diagonal; taking up about 75% of the frame.

The artist has caught all the main brand logos emblazed over the body. This is not easy when moulded over double curvatures, complex contours and perspective.

Although only using washes Sharp has captured the colour contrasts.

Mansell is not self-evident as his full face helmet masks his face.

The editors wonder if in order to paint in such minute detail the original might have been much larger and reduced for reproduction.

The rather unconventional composition has frozen out any background reference or context .it neither publicises  the driver or the car but it does illustrate all the modern sponsors [mainly Camel in this instance].In some small way it picks up on the ideas contained in Pop Art [ see A&R dedicated article]

Despite the detached restricted focus composition the editors rather like the extreme close up which makes the surfaces look tactile.

Exhibitions, Education, Economics

In the museum context commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period.

It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

We have noted that in general the automobile, motor racing and specifically Lotus has been the subject of artists and they have embraced the envelope which includes speed drama, glamour, excitement and equal danger of the subject matter. The automobile/racing has been represented in various branches of art from the commercial [including graphic poster] to fine art and sculpture.

The editors believe there is considerable opportunity for a variety of art exhibitions primarily focused on Lotus but also inclusive .It might be possible to feature Sharp.

Such exhibitions have both attractive merchandising and learning opportunities attached. Educational exercises extend through appreciation and application of technique to art history and technology. Art also plays an important part in school curricula and various exercises and materials can be developed possibly overlapping with arts crafts and technology.

Such exhibitions and education experiences can be fully integrated with film and related archive to ensure visitors of a totality of memorable experience; inbuilt with opportunities to learn and experiment with art on the spot.

In particular a range of Motor Racing prints, posters post cards, greeting cards, calendars and related imagery by various artists is planned. If possible it would be hoped to recruit an artist in residence who might conduct drawing classes and help student/ visitors increase their visual observations and aesthetic sensitivities


There can be no doubt that Colin Chapman and the designers he recruited were men of profound aesthetic awareness. This they incorporated in a succession of road and racing cars.

For this reason some of the greatest motoring and technical illustrators have selected to represent their work.

Therefore the A&R feel it incumbent to interpret his designs through the visual medium. Not only is this a highly cultured art form it presents unique learning opportunities inherent in observation and analysis. Not merely visual representation but also the development of the inner eye that sees potential within. This was one of the great gifts of Chapman.

If any of our subscribers have more information about Sharp we would be happy to print details.