We meet motorsport artist Martin Tomlinson

We meet motorsport artist Martin Tomlinson
We meet motorsport artist Martin Tomlinson

We don’t need artists anymore, we have lenses everywhere, along with Photoshop, and filters that can make many of us create something eye-catching even with our phone cameras. But that’s like saying we don’t need candles any more because we have electric strip lighting.

EPSON scanner image

Motorsport has always drawn artists just as much as it has drawn the punters. Artists see things differently, they can add atmosphere or details or just some broad strokes that instantly tell us a story of the moment. Just look at that picture of Mike Hawthorn in the pits in his Ferrari Squalo 555.

The overhead angle shows you the sun and the heat and you get such a sense of atmosphere from this unusual angle. The man who painted it, professional artist Martin Tomlinson, rather likes it too.

‘If my house burned down, that’s the painting I’d save’ he says. He pauses. ‘Actually no – I’d let the whole lot go up and claim on the insurance!’

Tomlinson’s talent matches his sense of humour, a talent that slowly grew and developed over decades, right back from the 1970s. Back then he was racing a Formula Ford single seater but the money ran out just as he got a works drive.

He’d studied fine art at Harlow Art College but went on to create a graphic design business. All the time he carried on painting and also commentating at Brands Hatch, so his little black book of contacts grew fast. The list of people who have commissioned works of art from him includes Carol Shelby, Sir Stirling Moss, Mark Blundell, Theo Paphitis and many more.

At an age when most men have retired, Tomlinson has been easing back on the graphics design business and painting more. In the last three years he reckons he has completed more than 100 paintings, with each one taking around two weeks of long days at the easel.

He researches the subject, since everyone is finicky about detail, then he does a pencil sketch to ensure it all works together. Then he paints in gouache, which is water based and a paint that dries quite quickly – handy for those speed blurs.

If you were lucky you could get a sketch for about £250 but even a completed painting can be had from about £1000.

Does he enjoy his work as an artist?

‘I love it. My partner says I’m grumpy though. She’d like me to paint flowers. But I won’t.’

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