Artwork, from top right :  Chevrolet Bel Air 1953 sedan  2015,  A3 size  29.7 x 42cm (11.7 x 16.5'')

Above :  Slideshow, Ford Escort RS 1600  (1970s era) 2018, A3 size. Below : Volkswagon Carocha

  (1970s era 'Carocha' means Beetle  in Portuguese) 2014, A3 size.

 ​All artwork ballpoint pen on paper​  ​© Luis Silva

Hong Kong


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Original content © The Ballpointer / Mahozawari Unlimited.

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    Since 2014・Volume 5

With well-deserved pride, Silva points out a pale blue Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sport (pictured, HEADLINES 1 page) as a fine example of the 'lights'. ''That shade of blue required an extremely delicate usage of the light blue  Bic  pen, in successive layers.''

Then come the details, for which Silva dons magnifying goggles. ''I like to go really microscopic in some details, like when reproducing the minuscule brand logo on a car's front grill.'' The lenses have been one of his tools from the start, and he often wears them even in the absence of details. ''It gives me an immediate feel of how the ink is penetrating the paper texture,'' he says. More detail doesn't represent more of a challenge to Silva, only the need for more time and patience. Hubcaps, chrome bumpers and trimming, and reflections there and on the highly reflective surfaces of glossy car paint and windows also constitute much of the details.  
     A close look at Silva's drawing of the Chevrolet Bel Air, which looks as if it has driven right off the pages of a 1953 LIFE  magazine ad, reveals the photographer who snapped the photo reflected on the chrome of its bumper. ''If the reflection is visually nice, I keep it,'' says Silva. Trees and buildings smoothly reflected on the glossy paint job of a Fiat Barchetta (pictured, HEADLINES 1 page) are the closest Silva has gotten to depicting landscape and architecture in ballpoint, and the reflection of the photographer is the closest he's gotten to drawing people, but his depictions of the cars qualify as 'portraiture'. The sale of these ballpoint on paper models, however, are the closest he gets to being considered a 'used car dealer '.

Silva feels a technical evolution shows in the four years worth of cars he's been drawing ''continuously'', but he insists he is ''still in the process of achieving better domain over the technique,'' and adds, ''I wish to keep evolving.'' When Silva passes a nice car on the street these days, he often imagines how he might draw it. But he does not  attempt to try something new, or different, with each car; it's not an artistic priority, ''I draw casual and with no preconceptions. Mine is a rather manual and instinctive drawing process.'' Silva has occasionally had to start over, but only rarely; not because of any irreparable mistake such as ink 'blobs' or smears, but instead because he miscalculated the size of the drawing in relation to paper area. Were Silva a car dealer, in fact, you'll find no 'lemons' on his lot.

The motor vehicles Silva has been commissioned to draw are not limited to four wheels; motorcycles have turned up, too, and the drawings are not all car catalogue representations. One VW Beetle was drawn as it might look as reflected in a curved corner of chrome (pictured). He has also drawn imaginative 'designer cars' of his own—''plenty,'' he says—but doesn't feel ready to share them with the public.  

Silva's exhibition experience has been mostly limited to his children's book illustrations, which are not ballpoint pen. His cars have not yet seen the inside of a gallery, but they have been displayed at classic car conventions. The artwork is likely better appreciated in those locations anyway. The wine and cheese art world is still quick to dismiss, or at least bypass, straightforward photorealist artwork such as Silva's—too little to philosophize about, ballpoint or not—but Silva's work has no shortage of viewers or fans, and continues to grow. The response is overwhelmingly positive, from car enthusiasts and otherwise who've shown their support by keeping the artist busy with commissions. That response comes mostly via Silva's own facebook posts, which link to his website. Alfa Romeo shared one of his making-of videos on social media, but no other acknowledgement from carmakers thus far. Television coverage has also helped spread news of Silva's ballpoint auto-motives. 

Attracting all the attention and maintaining public interest is what Silva considers his greatest achievement, with return customers as validation. Meanwhile, he's just happy to be drawing the cars regardless of make, model, color  or  composition: ''In the end, all cars have a certain charm,'' Silva summarizes     

For more art, information & contact :   

    PENNAME  by R. Bell & B. Neufeld  posted September 8, 2018

Auto  MotivesLuis Silva  Villa do Conde, Portugal


​​​​Continuing from  HEADLINES 1 ... As for his drawing process,

Silva explains, ''There's not a complicated method I follow, it

all comes down to two phases : tracing and filling the areas.'' Tracing is usually done from photos taken by the customer,

but he also sometimes photographs the cars himself. The filling, he says, ''requires much sensibility, observation and patience''—that amounts to approximately thirty hours of patience, give or take a few hours, spread over a week or so.

The matching and mixing of colors pose Silva's greatest challenges; respecting the colors of the actual car and pondering the penmanship necessary to achieve its nuances. Ballpoints' limited color palette heightens the challenge. ''I tend to appreciate the less worrisome color combinations,'' Silva admits, ''cars with colors that I can reproduce using three or four pens that match the hue.'' Blue cars fall into this category, as seen in his Alfa Romeo Giulia or Chevrolet Bel Air (both pictured), for which Silva used shades of ballpoint blue with minimal additional color while still achieving what the eye perceives as 'full ' color. Silva is also careful to not ''punish'' the sheet of paper with too much ink and the ball point scratching into its surface. Barring any further color concerns, Silva can proceed with ''the pleasure of reproducing lights and darks.''