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Artist captures 'Corner Gas' on canvas

BY TAMARA BELKOV You'll find Garson's acclaimed realist artist Gordon Drysdale either at home in his garage, tinkering with his 1974 Dodge Charger, or in his art studio painting nostalgic images of garages and vintage automobiles.
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Gordon Drysdale will exhibit his work this weekend at the Travelway Inn on Paris St. His paintings are known for historical accuracy and attention to detail.

BY TAMARA BELKOV

You'll find Garson's acclaimed realist artist Gordon Drysdale either at home in his garage, tinkering with his 1974 Dodge Charger, or in his art studio painting nostalgic images of garages and vintage automobiles.

Drysdale is best known for his detailed recreation of historic scenes featuring old buildings, cars, trucks and farm machinery. His passion for historical accuracy and his attention to detail make his paintings lifelike and almost photographic.

"I really like details," Drysdale says looking over at his soon-to-be-completed painting titled Corner Gas.

"That's Hank's truck over there and the grain elevator. I'm just waiting for the Dog River Police logo to finish off the cruiser."

Drysdale was invited to visit the set of the popular TV show by the set designer of Corner Gas while he was in Saskatchewan doing research for a different painting.

No detail is too small for Drysdale's brush. He spends hours pouring over historic books, catalogues and photographs of gas stations and garages all the while surrounded by replica Studebakers, Thunderbirds and Mustangs in his studio.

Incorporating artistic licence, Drysdale skillfully captures time by bringing life, warmth and character to inanimate buildings, vehicles and landscapes and tells warm and compelling stories through his work.

In his piece Generations, Drysdale depicts the four generations of a local family with their beloved collection of Chevrolets in the driveway.

While in his painting Home for Lunch, Drysdale is able to portray a prairie family gathered at the homestead on a fall day without showing them. Instead, he lets the house, yard and vehicles tell the story. The Monday morning laundry flaps on the line in the backyard and the hardwood's leaves change colour out front. There is a Woody station wagon pulled up beside the shed and the kids have dropped their bikes at the gate and gone in for lunch on their first day back at school.

With skill and patience, he recreates familiar scenes from Sudbury's past and present. Drysdale has recreated Gloria's Restaurant, circa 1960, complete with a yellow delivery truck pulling in as folks make their way from the parking lot  into the popular eatery.

His realistic painting of Science North is a marvel. Drysdale was perched on an 80 foot tall construction crane in order to view the building from the perfect angle. This unique perspective looking down over Ramsey Lake is almost photographic in its detail.

On a recent visit, Drysdale was discovered in his studio preparing for an art exhibit this weekend. On his easel are dozens of photographs of his latest muse, muscle cars and a new "petrolianna" painting he is researching and sketching out. The new acrylic will feature a Super Test gas station based on two former stations and will come complete with cars and other memorabilia.

Drysdale has become more interested in petrolianna, also known as gas station memorabilia.

Collectors purchase and restore old gas and oil cans, pumps, advertisements, signs, decals and even old Coke and Pepsi machines, a standard in every garage.

His original artwork hangs in the Ontario government's permanent collection and in private collections around the world. He has won numerous awards at the Art of the Automobile competition, including the national first place award.

Drysdale's work will be on exhibit this weekend at the Travelway Inn on Paris St., next to Science North. The show opens today at noon and runs till 9 pm, and continues Saturday (9 am-9 pm) and Sunday (9 am-5 pm.)




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