Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SOSOCAL

Paint by Fenders

A car detailer who works in the buff

August 06, 2000|MARILYN PITTS

Every night Mike Lyton dons paint-spattered jeans and a T-shirt, turns on Frank Sinatra, steps into his dropcloth-draped studio and revs up that essential art accessory: the car buffer. "Everyone thinks my paintings are airbrushed," the 29-year-old says, "but, no, it's just my buffer."

To be specific, a Milwaukee 1750 rpm, the same buffer he uses in his day job to detail and shine some of L.A.'s priciest cars, such as a 1959 Mercedes Gullwing or a $1-million Ferrari X50. After hours, however, Lyton shows his true colors as he swirls and spatters 40 to 50 multicolored acrylic paint layers onto canvas.

This Jackson Pollock of auto care discovered his vehicular passion at 6 while washing the neighbor's Cadillac. "I've always been drawn to cars," he says. "All my toys were cars and racetracks." But auto mechanics held no appeal. "I was a clean freak. I decided that if I was going to work with cars, I was going to clean them."

Four years ago, Lyton, then employed as a full-time auto detailer in Chicago, sneaked into the VIP lounge at the House of Blues. There he met noted H.O.B. Chicago folk artist Gregory "Mr. Imagination" Warmack, who urged the aspiring painter to discover his own artistic vision. Later, as Lyton lovingly buffed a deep-red Mercedes, he "noticed that the first time the buffer goes across, it creates a three-dimensional illusion--one repetitive swirl after another. I watched those swirls as the buffer was spinning and spreading the wax up and down, up and down, and thought how cool they would look on canvas." His buffer became his brush.

Lyton's artwork now hangs in 12 collections and the office of "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. "The painting has a tremendous amount of energy and creativity," remarks music industry veteran Michael Brokow, who purchased a Lyton original last year. "It's constantly evolving. And, let's face it, the process is absolutely as unique as it gets."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|