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The Wild West Motorcycle is Coming

 “It seemed pointless to do another airbrushed, flamed bike with demonic skulls, as there are plenty of them out there” Letterfly begins, “I recognized an opportunity to showcase what I do best, with skills and abilities that are unique to the old school artisan to create a one-of-a-kind show piece.”

The opening of the American West created what the world now recognizes as this nations greatest epic. Handpainted images of the old west that empower that portion of our heritage are on a special motorcycle.  You’ll imagine the jangle of spurs, the thunder of a stampede and having to smack the dust off your chaps as you enjoy looking at the extensive paint job on a motorcycle reminiscent of this reining era, now gone by.  Details are what make a bike interesting and you will not be disappointed as you peruse the many carefully painted elements that take you back to that colorful age.

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The inspiration for the theme of the Wild West bike was influenced by the artist’s favorite subject matter, the horse. Since being trained as an “old school” sign painter and this bike having massive fenders reminiscent of the old Indian motorcycle that have plenty of room for art, I went for the forties look. Starting with a two tone paint job, I decided on a soft saffron yellow and ivory to create a nostalgic foundation for the artwork to reside. A gentle sprinkling of old school flake in the clear coat provides a hint of sparkle that draws the viewer in for a closer look. This was buried in clear. When dry, the surface was “knocked down” with 1000 grit. Gold leaf and all the art was next.

There is nothing that has the special rich glow and looks like gold except for real twenty-four carat gold. I have applied a lot of gold since being trained as a sign painter thirty five years ago, becoming adept at window glass gilding, fire engine décor and surface leafing such as was going to take place here on this bike. Variegated gold is a thin metal leaf that has been treated by some chemical process to have variations in color that provides interest to this delicate effect. Quarter inch stripes and Victorian scrolls are reminiscent of the era I intended to emulate and the nostalgic flavor was supported with the selection of a dusty teal color for the delicate pinline outline that surrounds all the gold work.
 

Brush painted artwork, rather than airbrushed artwork, would fill all the available areas on both fenders, top of the tank and side covers showcasing my skill as a brush blending pictorial artist. Although adept with the airbrush, the result of painting a couple thousand murals on motor homes during the past twenty five years, wet blended brush painted pictorial work is what Letterfly produces while at bike shows across the country.

Having created thousands of hand painted works for customers all over the country; I have found a process for finding the right theme for a depiction, with the right elements and the right composition that pleases the patron. When I am commissioned to create a mural or any form of art, the procedure begins with an interview where I not only learn what my customer has in mind but can suggest a few ideas and watch his response to get a clue in regards to which direction to go for his project. When a theme is selected, the ideas begin to percolate in my mind, the discovery process begins and as I quickly sketch what is in my mind as I monitor my customers reception. When the final pencil composition is agreed upon, I have a clear idea about the project and can then begin, stick to the plan, and create my paintwork. Since this is my bike, no formal interview took place - I went straight to having ideas and sketching. I agonized over the composition of each of the images that would go in the various places and kept changing my mind, even in the midst of painting a design, thus the project logged many more hours than if I had had a firm plan and had stuck to the intended strategy from the start.

As I mentioned, horses were a given, the Indian chief was a given and from there my theme could go several directions. Not wanting to depict the slaughter of buffalo or even braves equipped for war, I leaned more towards what qualified as entertainment from an era gone by, perhaps influenced by my background with the circus years ago and went with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show idea.
Magazines with pictures of Indians from the old west, dressed in period regalia mounted on horses were pored over. To celebrate this nostalgic tribute to American entertainment, I found a stunning picture of William Cody as a young man during his days as a prairie scout and planned a portrait of this personality for a prominent location.
 
 
While I did find several pictures of “Little Miss Sure Shot” Annie Oakley, I found her face to be somewhat homely. In a Shepler’s catalog of western wear, I found the smiling face of one of the fashion models to be a big improvement to provide the reference for a portrait depicting the sharp shooter. These two paintings soon graced either side of the front fender.
To grace either side of the rear fender, I drew several sketches of ideas, imitating the masthead for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show from some historic books in my collection. Although I liked a design that pivoted around a bucking bronco on one side and a lady trick rider on the other, I lost enthusiasm for the byline “and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” as perhaps not fitting for this comfortable, ergonomically marvelous two wheeled machine. The rodeo designs interact well with a gold leaf “Wild West” and the byline “limited edition” was settled upon after much deliberation. Almost as an afterthought, the discovery that the word Letterfly would fit behind and over each design was an epiphany and certainly appropriate.

 

The deadwood stagecoach was an interesting, action packed part of the old time Wild West Show and the massive front fender had an interesting opportunity to showcase the antique vehicle and a six up team of horses albeit the depiction would curve all the way around the back.

Perspective would have to be bent because I planned the back of the coach to be visible on one side of the bike and for the lead team of horses to be coming straight at the viewer on the other side.

     
 
 

With the massive fender on the bench before me, I met the challenge of this perspective experiment as I began to create what was in my mind. Soon a believable hitch of horses looked the way I wanted, although by showing the backside of the wheel team behind the side view of the mid team and the lead team coming straight at the viewer, a gap existed. I was able to satisfy myself by adding another horse in the questionable area. The effect is certainly believable but anyone that counts the horses will wonder how a two abreast hitch can have seven horses.

In the center of the top of the front fender, a design evolved around the head of a buffalo. An eagle feather, two red tailed hawk feathers, a bear paw motif, lightning flashes and a graphic ruby shape, surrounded by graceful pinline designs that combine with the buffalo to make a nice ornament for this prominent location.

 

Years ago I had created a successful stitch design with Conchos on the bike of a dear friend and wanted to do that style of pinstripe again here. The back of each fender now sports décor reminiscent of a saddle maker complete with a latigo thong with beads hanging down from the Conchos central to the design. Soft ghosted Victorian scrolls surround the piece for a delicate effect that draws the viewer in for a closer look.

 

  The top of the tank has a bear claw necklace painted to compliment the almond shape of the console. Beads of turquoise and silver provide the rhythm between the claws and beneath the entire arrangement, a cast piece of silver jewelry with a gem stone setting is the centerpiece. Careful brushwork made successful the illusion that this piece is draped over the bike.
 

 

The side covers were last to get decorated. I had a pile of images of Indians on horseback torn from several kinds of magazines. I knew I wanted an animated stampede type depiction and intended to leave out any weapons. The first image I selected was a group of Indians galloping across the prairie in full dress regalia with plenty of feathers and ribbons flapping in the breeze. I actually spent more time per pictorial on these two paintings than on any of the other depictions. Central on the other side cover, a rider-less buckskin horse with cavalry gear appears to be being stolen by the group of Indians that surround him and are hell bent for somewhere, leaving the viewer with some questions.

Now that the bike is compete, after clear coating all the parts and reassembly. The Wild West Indian tribute bike has a cozy place to live in the back of the RV and is on display everywhere I go. If the reception of the bike aficionados that gaze at the bike in awe is any indication, the overall effect of the extensive paintwork is successful. The work took one month to complete. The bike is requested at all of the events that Letterfly Pinstriping attends all over the country and may easily qualify as one of the most photographed bikes ever with an endless stream of gorgeous females asking to straddle it and pose for a picture. Of course I am cordial and accommodating to these beauties and enjoy satisfaction when I see the enthusiastic throngs that gather around to enjoy this bike. After all, this work of art created with the spirit of fun is part of the entertainment that accompanies Letterfly everywhere he goes.

 

To see this bike and find out where the artist is going this upcoming year, just visit the blog: Travelog.Letterfly.com  To find out more about the high quality art and paint work services available from Letterfly visit; LetterflyPinstriping.com or contact the artist direct at; Letterfly@aol.com or call 813 505 5539

 
 

 

Here's where you can find out more:
LetterflyPinstriping.com / Travelog.Letterfly.com / Letterfly.com