Just in case you haven’t noticed – I’m into cars.
My first toys were cars. The only other person in my family that liked cars was my dad, T.K. VanNortwick. He liked sports cars. I liked hot rods and customs. Dad was a professional artist and art teacher. His main work involved oil paintings of western landscapes. He lived in California and Oregon.
I never painted a lick while he was alive. He died in ’77. In ’80 I started pinstriping rods and bikes around Roanoke, VA. It wasn’t long before I was the best striper in Town (OK, I was the only striper in town).
Forgot to mention, when I was 15 I started playing drums. Of course my plan was to make enough money to play with cars and meet girls. It worked in both respects. I’ve played on several albums with bands in Roanoke. I still play occasionally both live and studio.
In ’88 I was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. The wreck messed up my back to the point where I was in constant pain. I had to quit the band I was in and had to cut back on pinstripin’. In ’89 I bought a beginner set of oil paints and did a painting. It wasn’t too bad, so I did another one. It was better than the first so I figured I was on a roll.
In the early ’90s I went blind in my right eye due to macular degeneration and for several months I didn’t paint or stripe. After 5 or 6 months I just didn’t notice it anymore, and I resumed my work. The only real change was my striping getting smaller and tighter.
Most of my paintings are of automotive subjects. My major influence of course is Dad but I also like Edward Hopper, Kent Bash, Tom Fritz, Keith Weezner, Nicola Wood, Arlan Olsen, Larry Johnson, Ken Eberts, Pat Anderson, Steve Stanford , Darrell Mayabb, Kenny Youngblood, Robert Williams and many others. My favorite pinstripers are Jim Norris and Dave Bell. Jim Norris is a very close friend.
I have work in the collections of John Haven, Billy Gibbons, The Chicago Bears, French Grimes, Jay Abbott, Gene Winfield, Rick Miller (S.C.O.T.S.) and others.
Some of the cars I’ve had are a ’58 Cadillac Hearse (1st car when I was 18), ’48 Buick Sedanette, ’38 Pontiac (1st hot rod – Had it from ’74 to ’84), ’32 Ford Pick-Up, ’56 Chevy Bel-Air, 50 Chevy Fleet Line, ’31 Ford Tudor Hi-Boy, ’32 Ford 3-Window Hi Boy, ’32 Ford Tudor Hi-Boy and currently a ’31 Ford Hi-Boy Roadster. Several of these cars have found their way into my paintings.
When I had the ’32 3-window I started going to Maxton, N.C. That’s where the East Coast Timing Association holds Land Speed Trials. This is the only Land Speed Racing east of Bonneville. At first I was just a spectator, but in ’99 with the help of my friend, Dash Haven and our two man team “A.C. & Sons Racing” I started runnin’ the ” Maxton Monster Mile”. The coupe ran good, but when I ran the ’32 Tudor I set the record in C/GRS at 140.406 MPH. I held that record for 8 months. My partner Dash runs motorcycles and is a member of the E.C.T.A. 200 MPH Club. He has also run at Bonneville over 200.
I’m now in the process of building the new Roadster, pinstriping Rods, Customs and anything not tied down and paintin’ pictures. I wish Dad was here now, I think he would like to see that I’m carrying on the art of the VanNortwicks.
I’ve had a lot of my paintings published in magazines. Here is a partial list:
Custom Rodder Summer ’91
Custom Rodder May ’94
Custom Rodder Sept. ’97
Street Rodder Sept. ’92
Street Rodder Dec. ’93
Street and Custom Rodding Illustrated – Winter ’96, page 100
Auto Graphics Magazine May ’97, Page 67
Street Rodder Mar ’97
Street Rodder Nov. ’02
Street Rodder Jan. ’03
Street Rodder Feb. ’04
Street Rodder Jan. ’06
AutoArt magazine Jan-Feb ’06