Andrew Kitson – motorsport artist

From Senna to Hamilton, Andrew Kitson has caught them all on canvas

The quality of Andrew Kitson’s art is not up for discussion.

The man creates absolute masterpieces. Paintings that are awash with colour and life. With every stroke of his brush, they evoke memories – and not only for the self-confessed motorsport nut who produces them.  

As the action stares back at you from the canvas, you can almost smell the burning rubber and hear the roar of the engine. It takes you straight back to a time and a place where you witnessed the scene played out in front of your very eyes for the first time.  

Andrew Kitson painting

It’s that nostalgia – coupled with the jaw-dropping beauty of the pieces – that has allowed Andrew to carve out a successful career working in and around a sport he adores.

Like any motorsport fan, he loves taking those special trips down memory lane. Back to a time, an event, a race or a driver that stirs the deepest of emotions. That’s because it’s often easier to look back with a fondness that has perhaps only grown over the years that have passed rather than accept what’s happening in the here and now.

Is it this reason and this reason alone that we continue to hark back to the halcyon days so often? Will we ever take off our rose-tinted glasses and be able to look with a clear perspective? Andrew seems to be able to, judging by his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton’s greatness, but even he admits that it’s his older paintings which perhaps continue to resonate more with his fellow lovers of motorsport.

“What excites me about doing my paintings is first and foremost I’m an enthusiast and I have been all my life,” smiled Andrew.

“So, particularly pictures from when I was growing up, the scenes from the 1960s and ’70s, I love doing those because it brings back so many memories, so many happy memories. But I also do enjoy doing the modern cars, the modern Formula One and modern Le Mans scenes and that sort of thing.

“Quite often with the older races people have only seen black and white photographs and with a bit of research into what the actual colours were I can create paintings in full technicolour if you like and bring them to life a bit more. So I really do enjoy doing the older scenes and I don’t think that will change. I think people will always like the history side of things.

Andrew Kitson Jim Clark

“You get people who are into old steam trains. You get people who are into old Battle of Britain aircraft. People are always interested in nostalgia and it’s the same with motor racing.

“But at the same time what is happening today, that will be history one day. So you know, Lewis Hamilton will retire one day or move on to something else and pictures of Lewis will become history. So I might still be painting pictures of Lewis in 20 years’ time as it’ll all be part of history really.”

Whether Andrew will still be painting motorsport icons as he approaches his 80s is yet to be seen. But will Hamilton garner the respect he deserves when the man who commemorated his first F1 triumphs in 2007 props his brushes up to dry for the final time?

Why is it that some people baulk at suggestions that Hamilton is Britain’s finest ever Formula One driver? As he heads towards his fourth world title, why do we find it so hard to give him credit? That stats don’t lie. He was the youngest ever world champion. He’s had more pole positions than any other driver. He’s only 32. And yes, he might not ever surpass Michael Schumacher’s haul of seven crowns. But why does it matter? Why can’t we just enjoy what he’s doing and appreciate his talents? After all, it’s not his fault he was backed by McLaren from day one.

Or is the big problem simply because he’s one of our own? Because there’s nothing more British than building up our sports stars to be able to knock them down again and label them as arrogant rather than confident. Is Ayrton Senna placed on a higher pedestal because he’s Brazilian? Has the air of magic and mystique around him only increased since he tragically passed away?

Time will always remain fond on some people while it can be harsh on others. Once the phrase idol has been achieved, the status is rarely lost. So while we allow this latest Influx project to spark some lively debate, we’ll just allow Andrew’s words on Hamilton and fans’ decreasing opportunities to meet F1’s heroes in the film to stir as many thoughts and emotions and his amazing pieces of work do.

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