Teaching the passion for Formula 1 to a new generation of enthusiasts
“I owe a lot to Stirling Moss,” says David Johnson. “I asked him to sign prints of one of the first paintings I did and he invited me to his house. That encouraged me.”
Art is not David’s full-time occupation: he teaches design and technology, but racing finds its way to his lessons too. He organises trips to races and F1 team bases and adds, “I once took 16 pupils to Sir Stirling’s house!”.
Monte Carlo is a favourite setting for David’s work: “I collect images of the buildings and map out the scene. Then I work from the background forward, trying to be accurate about details and colours. Once I have an outline I switch to acrylicswhich dry quickly so I can get the fine detail in.”
“I’d have to say my favourite era is the ’50s and ’60s. It feels as though the drivers had a different level of skill. And the drivers were much more visible.”
David ranges from the 1950s to today, with Hamilton figuring as well as Button, both Hills, and Jackie Stewart (he is about to present a painting to Sir JYS) in his scenic work. Recently, though, he has developed a new technique, using a palette knife to create a dramatic colour background with a large driver portrait up front.
Now he exhibits his work at historic meetings, usually in limited editions and often signed by the driver featured. Now he has a new challenge: “I’ve been asked to paint live at the Grand Prix ball over the Silverstone Classic weekend. I’ve not done that before, but I guess it won’t be much different to working on the board with the kids making comments!”