Artist Interview: Shan Fannin

After spotting Shan's painting of the Ford GT on social media we approached the artist with a few questions about her work and inspiration as an automotive artist.

What attracted you to this shot of the Ford GT?
"I first saw the new Ford GT during Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016. Both #66 and #67 were there, and I instantly fell in love with the back of the car. It looked like a fierce dragon with flared nostrils. I knew I had to capture one onto canvas.  
We saw more Ford GTs at the Circuit of Americas in 2017. We took pictures of them while in the paddocks, but the lighting was bad. 
A collector of mine that will be purchasing a Ford GT offered to send me photos of #68 that he took at a Ford event in the US. That and my other reference photos helped me to paint the final piece. I added the glowing brake lights by looking at Google images as I thought they would stand out against the red and blue of the car. I also think they are a gorgeous accent to the back of the car."

How long do paintings like this take to complete?
"Most of my paintings take between 2 and 3 weeks to create. I believe this one took me around 3. I try to bounce back and forth between several paintings. This especially helps when I become frustrated with a painting. That’s the time for me to change to a new easel."

Can you say a little bit about the process and the medium?
"My husband and I travel to car, motorcycle, and air shows for photographs. In 2016 we traveled to UK for Goodwood. This year we are going to Italy. My husband is the photographer, and I decide on which vehicles to photograph. We make a great team.  
 Once we look at the images we’ve taken, I decide what angle and how to crop the photo to fit the canvas. I am an acrylic painter and sometimes incorporate inks, water soluble graphite, or gouache into my works. I love working large as I can then paint with my fingers and hands. You will see this technique in the backgrounds and abstract reflections of my vehicles. The Ford GT has areas in the blurred background that were done with my fingers. I’m also a big fan of colour."

Was there anything particularly challenging with the Fords GT as a subject?
"The car and background came together relatively easy. What usually takes some time is the sponsor decals or emblems. Quite often, I can’t paint those until the end of the painting when the body work is done. For the GT, I liked how one of my reference photos showed the car’s dirt and patina from racing. I tried to capture that here."

How did you come to specialise in painting automotive subjects?
"I was a Marketing Director, mom, and homeschooled our son for 16yrs. When he started college, my husband suggested I go take a few art classes through our local college. I had received a scholarship when I graduated high school, but married and never finished a semester. I started with figurative drawing and thought that was where I would direct my art. When my husband purchased a 1961 Ford Thunderbird (we call her “Maybelline”), we began attending car shows. FUN FACT: She’s been around the Circuit of the Americas F1 track twice with Felipe Massa and Marcus Ericsson for pre-race parades. 
Around this time, my husband challenged me to create a painting of a car. I didn’t think it would be for me, but I painted an orange GMC truck. I was hooked! I loved the lines, reflections, and the car culture. I also felt that my figurative drawing exposure was the perfect segway to vehicle art. The curves of the human body translated to the metal and carbon fiber of cars."

What other Fords have you painted and are there any others that you'd particularly like to paint? 
"To date I have painted the Ford GT (2’x4’), 1966 Arctic Blue Mustang (2’x4’), 2009 Ford GT40 (4’x6’), 1956 Thunderbird (3’x3’), and 1963 Mercury Monterey (4’x6’) 
As for what other Fords I would like to paint, I can see myself painting: a vintage truck, Bronco, Fairlane, Model A, 1951 Mercury, Continental, Sunliner, Comet, and Cougar. It always depends on which vehicles I come across. I have requests in with car clubs, and folks will send me possible reference photos from time to time. There are so many beautiful Ford cars throughout history. I would also like to paint the newest Ford GT from the front as I think her hood is pretty amazing too."

We'd like to thank Shan for taking the time to speak to us!

Info about Shan Fannin
SocialFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, +Google


Popular Ford Europe Articles