Internationally renowned as a motorsport artist, John has been commissioned to produce work by many leading companies and private individuals. His semi abstract style allows more freedom to interpret the subject matter. Paintings are typically motorsport orientated although any subject that involves speed is embraced. His work is on permanent display at the Historic Car Art Gallery.
John spoke to Mick Walsh of Classic and Sportscar Magazine:
One glance at John Ketchell’s spectacular paintings and its clear from his Impressionist style that speed motivates him. “I’ll paint anything that moves” he explains “I’ve done speedboats, aircraft and horses in a polo-themed series, but cars are my first love.”
Ketchell has always been mad about motors. “I’d look for pictures in papers and magazines. The GP Talbot-Lago was an early favourite.” A talent for drawing developed and Ketchell eventually went to art school in Preston to study graphics. There he’d regularly sketch interesting vehicles in the car park and subsequently worked as an illustrator. Following ad agency jobs he switched to stop-frame animation: “I’d continued to draw and had done paintings for local shows. With the development of computers, though, I became discouraged and decided to start painting full time.”
He began with photo-realism but quickly found it frustrating: “I was a fan of the French Impressionists, and thought it would be a good direction to capture speed.”
Acrylics suited his new style, and his vivid studies of histories were soon in demand: “Jim Clark was my hero and the 1960’s and 30’s are my favourite periods. The shape of the subjects is a key factor and the big sports-prototypes such as the 917, T70 and GT40 have always excited me. The balance of danger against speed of the silver arrows – particularly the Auto Unions – is also part of the appeal.”
Many artist’s would be intimidated by the prospect of depicting a wet race, but not Ketchell: “There’s something about racing in the rain or at night, or both together. I love the atmosphere with the spray and the reflections from the lights.“
Ketchell’s love is his 440bhp 5.7 litre V8 GTD40. Little wonder his paintings are so dramatic.