BMW, thanks to its patronage of famous artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtensen, is now famous for making art cars. With all due respect to those legendary artists, though, not all of the art cars are created equally.

What's needed to properly make use of a rolling canvas isn't just an artist, but a driver, too. Earl Shepherd just happens to be both of those things and his car Scatha is coming back to Bimmerfest West in 2018.

The car (or canvas, if you prefer) is a first generation Z4 M that Shepherd bought new in 2006-apparently he's doing alright as an artist.



The car was supposed to be a track/canyon carving car and at that's it. A little reward for all his hard work, but not a canvas. But as so often happens, Shepherd couldn't help but want a little more power, a little more speed through the corners, and eventually the modifying began.

"I ended up doing a lot of suspension mods to make her perform as well as the potential from such an excellent chassis," says Shepherd. "Later came bigger brakes and eventually (just for fun) an ESS CFR500 supercharger kit."



In that time, Shepherd regularly tracked the car, but also used it for his day to day activities. This, unfortunately, had the side effect of being hard on the car's paint. Realizing that Scatha's front bumper had been scratched and pitted by rocks, he decided that, rather than pay someone else to paint the car, he would get creative and paint it himself.

"I paint primarily on canvas," says Shepherd, so painting on a three dimensional car was a new challenge. At first, he tried to sketch out a design on paper, but it "quickly became clear that only drawing on the actual car would provide a composition that could be viewed successfully from all angles."

So he washed the car really well and pulled out the dry-erase markers to sketch out a design. Next, he put down a few coats of acrylic paint to refine the design. After adding a layer of clear coat to make the colors pop, he put down some enamel lines to finish up the composition.



The final design wound up being a representation of exactly what the car does best.

"The Art Car is a portrait of Scatha, metaphorically, on the car itself using my Formal Impressionist style," says Shepherd. "I used inspiration from her two roles as a weekend canyon carver and track car to cover her in a diptych of two separate, abstracted landscapes.

"Specifically, the driver's side is a stylized view of Hwy 154 overlooking Santa Barbara at sunset and the passenger side represents Willow Springs International Raceway at dawn," he continues. "The skies of the two sides blend throughout the hood, roof and deck lid. This creates a yin-yang shape with the "dots" being the M symbol on the hood and a helmet/moon on the roof."



In all the project wound up taking Shepherd about two and a half months to complete. Best of all, even though it's a rolling piece of art, it hasn't stopped rolling. Shepherd still takes it to the track from time to time, though his attentions have been divided somewhat by another art car project, this time by a Studebaker Avanti called Tribute.



Scatha saw her first Bimmerfest in full art car brilliance back in 2011 and this year she'll be back. Check out the gorgeous colors, the beautiful diptych (whatever that is), and the actual performance on May 26 and 27 at Bimmerfest West 2018. The biggest privately organized BMW event in the world, Bimmerfest will take place, as in previous years, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. And check out Shepherd's website for a much more thorough run down on the process and painting his Z4 M, and his Avanti.