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Contemporary Car Art

2014 Mazda CX-5

2014 Mazda CX-5

2014 Mazda CX-5

Lookin’ Good!

I had only been driving the 2014 Mazda CX-5 for a few minutes when I stopped at my local soccer field parking lot to get out and really take a look at this crossover and take a few photos. Instantly, an older minivan stops. “Are you selling that?”, came from the van. “I want that! Will you sell me that Mazda?” Though tempted to take this pleading, enamoured lady up on her offer, it wasn’t mine to sell. The CX-5 is a looker. And this latest Mazda iteration is also great on gas.

I’ve always liked vehicles that gave double duty to carry passengers as well as camping gear, sports bags and peat moss on sale. Minivans have been in the family for 2 decades. But there comes a time when you have to grow up; well, at least the kids. When that happens, it’s really hard to give up the utility you’ve taken for granted for so long. Enter the Mazda CX-5. The problem, though, is after decades of vehicular anonymity, you are now on centre stage – all eyes are on you. Gotta behave!

The CX-5 is a continuation of the bigger-is-not-always-better frame of mind that most of the world has known forever. You get a lot of utility without taking over the road. Though our minivans got full usage with highland dancing competitions, scout canoeing and rock climbing expeditions, the Mazda CX-5 still offers utility in a more compact package. I just won’t be taking six passengers with me like before, thank goodness; not that I didn’t enjoy it at the time!

The new safety features are something that at first seem novel, but then essential. Blind spot notification is something I really appreciate, especially when you had no idea another car is driving beside you in the lane you want to enter. Much better than a rude awakening. The safety features come in handy with the CX-5  since you may underestimate you speed because the handling is sportier than you might expect in a smaller crossover.

Painting the Mazda CX-5 was enjoyable because of the aggressive stance Mazda is exploring in their design. This makes me want to be more expressive in my painting. Not always a bad thing!

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2013 Nissan Sentra: All grown up

2013 Nissan Sentra

2013 Nissan Sentra

 

Nissan Family Reunion.

Have you ever had a nephew or niece who you knew when they were just a kid but hadn’t seen for a while? You live in a different part of the country and then – family reunion! Who are these people? They’re all grown up and mature. Refined, even. That’s what I felt about the 2013 Nissan Sentra. My sister-in-law had Sentras for years. She just liked the way they drove, and they worked well for her. She eventually graduated to other Nissans and I hadn’t been around a Sentra for a while. Now I meet a 2013 and feel like I just met a now-grown up niece. There is a familiarity, but with a new level of sophistication that shows its relationship to its larger siblings.

To start our get-reacquainted relationship, I had to stock up on matt boards for a series of art projects I was working on. While a box of matt boards isn’t huge, it still had to fit in the Sentra to get back to my studio. When I opened the trunk, I wasn’t getting that compact car vibe. In fact, the trunk seemed large; the whole car seemed more mid-size than compact. Almost. My boards wouldn’t fit, but a quick push of a button and I had ample room for my load with the rear seat backs folded.

While the new Nissan Sentra has a presence in the parking lot, with its chrome grille, chrome door handles, body colour side mirrors, alloy wheels, fog lights and side-mirror-integrated turn signals, I was completely unfamiliar with its CVT transmission and its 1.8 l 4-cylinder engine. But I was pleasantly surprised by the Sentra’s starting-from-stop capability. While I realize that the Sentra is far removed from a performance vehicle, it may actually have hit the sweet spot for those who want a stylish vehicle with very good fuel economy and want to go about their business transporting friends, family and art boards.

When it came to doing a painting of the 2013 Nissan Sentra, I had a few thoughts on the project. I wanted to show the now-grown-up niece that the Sentra had symbolically become, and I wanted to add a bit of colour to the project. The colour of the Nissan Sentra I had was Amethyst Grey. While that colour made a very handsome car, I needed a bit more colour in my painting. I saw that the Sentra also wore a fetching Metalic Blue, and decided that would be a good choice. Luckily in painting, as opposed to life unless you are a chameleon, changing colours doesn’t require a lot of sanding, taping and spraying, so the revision was relatively painless.

More and more, with families wanting a car that does double duty with city and highway driving, hauling the occasional load, and needing to keep within the family budget, the compact car, and the Sentra in particular with its excellent fuel economy and interior space, is the way to go.

Prints of this painting are available at www.thedrawingroomgallery.com.

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2013 Chevrolet Spark: Attitude!

2013 Chevrolet Spark

2013 Chevrolet Spark

 

Chevy Sparks of excitement

I’ve always liked small cars such as the 2013 Chevrolet Spark. They remind me of the fun I used to have on the go-carts at the nearby amusement park – the Luna Park. My friend Chuck lived next door to the park and hung around so much that they decided to put him to work. He got a part time job at the go-carts. Normally, these carts had a pretty severe speed governor on them, so the little kids wouldn’t get hurt when they bounced off the track boundary tires. When the cart course wasn’t busy, off came the governors and we had a blast doing the circuit at slightly higher speeds. The thing was, we actually weren’t going very fast at all but it seemed it, being so close to the ground and the engine whining away.

The 2013 Chevrolet is definetely a small car. Or actually a mini car. But it DOES have 4 doors, or actually 5, if you count the rear hatch. It gives me a similar level of go-cart fun when bopping around the city streets. But with significantly more utility than a go cart. As much as I love coupes, when I’m ferrying around more than one extra person, I love the extra set of doors. Though tight in the back seat, I actually didn’t mind it, especially since I had ample headroom, unlike a lot of coupes. And the seats fold down, giving lots of extra storage space for that city grocery foraging.

Car design seems to have hit a renewed renaissance of late, with the current crop of vehicles. The design-by-windtunnel approach now seems to have given away to vehicles with character, and the Spark has that in spades. Though the Chevrolet Spark IS what I would call “Cute”, its looks also have a certain attitude, kind of like those pre-pubescent YouTube singing sensations. Ya gotta stare. I love the bright shiny bits in the interior. It cheers me up. My pet peeve with car manufactures in the past was the “small engine – no extras” approach to marketing. I love the fact that I can trick out the Spark and still keep the frugal engine for my city driving. Who doesn’t love a heated seat in the Canadian winter!

The Spark’s 1.25 l 4 cylinder engine seemed perfect for my city driving, though traffic merging capability on the highway depends on load. Though my test vehicle has a 4-speed automatic, my old-school ways still prefer the 5-speed manual transmission, even in the city. This gives me that extra get-up-and-go feeling I like when I have a small car and engine. For those who have issues with stick shifts and hills, this does come with Hill Start Assist, to help restarting when stopped on an upward slope.

One area where size matters is in city parking. All those spots that you just knew were too tight are now on your radar, not to mention getting past that double-parked parcel delivery truck. That condo underground parking space that made you wonder what the builders were thinking now works. One other pet peeve of mine is the push start button now so prevalent on so many cars today. Don’t get me started. The Spark offers what I consider a great alternative. The key part of the fob folds in and is released with a small button. Compact in your pocket, but you know where the key is when you’re driving the car. Now if I could only find my glasses…

When illustrating the 2013 Chevrolet Spark, I loved its playful stance, kind of like a bulldog, fun and interesting, but not threatening. The colours that the Spark wears have a certain youthful exuberance that I hope I captured. For city-intensive driving with a certain playfulness, the Chevrolet Spark makes my shortlist.

Prints of this painting are available at www.thedrawingroomgallery.com.

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