The Opel Kadett (1975) was the very first car I owned in my life. I didn’t call myself an artist yet (it was 1990), I was just working in an accountancy office and still living in the Netherlands, in Alkmaar.
Somewhere in that period I visited the Maritime Museum ‘Prins Hendrik’ in Rotterdam. They showed a special theme about the camouflage of ships during World War I.
On the way back from the exhibition the idea came up to paint my old (green) car in the same way as the ships.
I tried to make it look unbalanced if you look on the back side of the car, by painting a kind of oblique shape around the license plate, the rear lights and the back window. The wheel openings turned out especially well; they looked like they were cut out in a square form.
It took me 2 weeks in total (after work and in the weekends) and probably 200 meter mask tape to paint the car white and then add the black paint.
In advance I never had thought about people’s reactions, but sometimes their comments were quite amazing.
Most people were just positively surprised. In fact … often I even got unlawfully right of way, so people got a few more seconds to observe this weird thing. I am an introvert person, but safe in my cookie tin I was excited about the funny reaction and thumbs up.
On the other hand, obviously the car sometimes raised some negative feelings to some people. Because I was living in the inner center of the city, I always needed to park my car in the second ring. One day in my favourite parking street, a furious woman came out of her house yelling out that I never may park that nasty, dirty car in her field of vision any more. She screamed that it was a shame! She was under the impression that the black parts where the sooty reminders of a fire.
Another thing I noticed were the empty parking spots beside my car. Even on a busy day the free spaces beside my car stayed empty the longest. Maybe people were afraid that some lunatic would jump out the car and do the same thing with their cars …. 🙂
Here is an illustrated article about the camouflaged ships.
Once in a while I get requests of people to use the images of especially this car, for different projects. The last one was for a book about stripes. And use as material for an exhibition about WW1 ships at ANMM Australian National Maritime Museum.
After a few years of fun, I had to let her go … dying in front of the junk yard, grabbing attention till the last moment.
All in all … having this car was a quite amazing period. Looking back, now I can say; those stripes were the first steps of my change of profession from book-keeper to artist.
After the black & white Opel I didn’t want to drive in a plain car any more. It was too funny to get right of way most of the time, so I made a blue ‘zig-zag’ one.
Then our boxy little Fiat Panda was just the right car for an intricate tartan pattern. It took some careful planning and a couple of days of concentrated painting but in the end all my efforts payed off….. the car looked like a shopping bag on wheels! In 1992 we travelled to Hungary. The car was small enough to park under an abandoned trailer.
This visually distractive pattern is based on the use of opposite colors. Fortunately the Citroen was red to start with so that made painting a bit easier. It still was a lot of work creating the sharp edges needed to maximize the effect. It was hurting the eyes.
And this … this was no joke anymore. My pride and joy till today.