This was a special piece to illustrate. A thoughtful wife reached out to coordinate something special for her husband. His father had passed away and the two shared a love of motorcycles together. To celebrate his memory, she commissioned an illustration of his Dad’s Honda, Indianhead motorcycle for his birthday.

I was really excited to dive into the intricate chrome and reflections. Reflective surfaces are a lot of fun to paint with watercolor. I also might have used this painting as an excuse to try a few new red watercolors…ended up settling on Da Vinci Red. It’s a perfect bright read that doesn’t pull orange or pink. It also is pretty easy to control.

The other element in this motorcycle I was particularly excited about was all that chrome! I branched out of my typical Payne’s Grey and Ivory Black (Windsor Newton) rut and decided to try Shadow Violet (Daniel Smith) and Grey Ochre (Ruby Mountain Paint Co.) for the chrome. I did pull some Payne’s in where I needed blue but for the most part those grey/purples carried the load! Because of the red of the motorcycle the chrome was picking up lots of pinks and purples and not so much blues/greens. Using a grey/purple helped keep everything cohseive.

I like to create a cheat sheet for each project’s color palette. You have no idea how quickly I can forget my color mixing recipes…yes even mid-project! I have my experiments and musings on the larger sheet of paper and my final color palette with recipes and pigment names on the smaller strip. I also used Bloodstone Genuine (Daniel Smith) for the pavement underneath the bike to get that nice gritty granulation.

I’m very happy with how the final motorcycle illustration turned out!

Illustration on White, 8×10″
Paper: Arches cold-press watercolor paper
Paint: Winsor & Newton Professional, Daniel Smith Artist, Ruby Mountain Paint Co.