Motoring art: Kieran Gabriel

| 12 Oct 2022
Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Kieran Gabriel

Be it a deserted ’60s housing estate with a prized Ford Anglia on the drive or a classic VW Golf sitting in the long shadows of London railway arches with The Shard on the misty horizon, the stylish prints of Kieran Gabriel have a tranquil mood.

Atmospheric colours and a bold, economical style have a dreamy quality that contrasts with modern urban congestion.

The work of the American realist painter Edward Hopper was an inspiration for Gabriel, particularly the New Yorker’s city compositions from the 1930s.

“Hopper’s use of light and shadow was a huge influence on how I observe things,” explains Gabriel. “David Hockney’s paintings are also something I go to regularly for reference.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Kieran Gabriel

Only a glimpse of The Shard dates this artwork, with a Mk1 Volkswagen Golf parked in the shadows

Growing up in Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, Gabriel has always been surrounded by dramatic architecture, particularly across the Mersey in Liverpool.

“I’ve always been creative,” he says. “Through school, college and university, art was my number-one focus.

“My parents weren’t artistic but my uncle was a talented hobby painter. I did a foundation course in Liverpool before taking an illustration degree in Blackpool.

“I’ve always drawn, and the course taught me the value of constantly creating pieces, an ethos that allowed me to develop my style.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Kieran Gabriel

Kieran Gabriel’s compositions display a timeless quality that celebrates architecture and suburban domesticity as much as the cars

Gabriel’s early commercial work focused on independent record labels and gig posters: “I didn’t start working digitally or with colour until university, but that initial graphic style was hugely beneficial in developing my own technique.”

At first, Gabriel would sketch out thumbnail ideas for new compositions, but now he has the confidence to dive straight in digitally with his pen and tablet.

“In my mind, I deconstruct a scene and establish the perspective,” he explains.

“After editing the details, I get creative with the lighting and select the limited palette.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Kieran Gabriel

The cars featured in Gabriel’s artwork are favoured as much for their styling as for his nostalgia

The cars that Gabriel features in his evocative cityscapes are often classics, because he resonates more with the older styling.

“When I was 16, I used to fantasise about owning a Mini Cooper, and most of the machines I draw are from the ’90s when I was growing up,” he says.

“I also feature the vehicles of friends, but most importantly I’ll select a car based just on the aesthetic and how it looks within the drawing.

“The angular style of a classic Volvo or BMW reflects the light in a more inspiring way and often better complements the buildings behind it.”

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Kieran Gabriel

The choice of car is often arbitrary in many of Gabriel’s pieces

To find suitable locations for his compositions, Gabriel commonly starts by looking on Google Maps: “I’m a keen walker and I like to explore to find my references, too.

“This was particularly fruitful during lockdown, when the streets were deserted.

“When you regularly walk the same route at different times you see certain buildings in a different way and light.”

Gabriel’s art prints (A3 or A2) plus a second edition of his A4 book, Common, is available on his website; see


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