When Island Automotive owner, Keith Pershing, decided he wanted to add lasting beauty to the front of his business on Elkcam Circle, he knew the project would be in good hands with local artist J.J. Stinchcomb.
Stinchcomb has built a reputation island-wide with his high-profile work at the Marco Island Historical Museum, as well as his sprawling historical mural at the Marco Ace Hardware on San Marco Road.
“This is pretty much just a more intricate version of the logo that they have,” said J. J. Stinchcomb, “which is palm trees, the sun, and the words Island Automotive. That’s pretty much the theme. We have the sunset, the waves, the ’41 Woody on the beach. It’s a big mural, probably about 20-feet by 12-feet. All acrylics, a little bit of air brush. Mostly all brush work.”
Stinchcomb has done so many murals that he’s lost track of how many he’s actually done.
“I don’t know how many,” he laughed.
The Island Automotive mural isn’t his biggest.
“This is probably medium-sized,” Stinchcomb said. “But it’s pretty intricate, as most of my murals are. I probably end up doing more than I need to – little paintings inside of paintings. It’ll be cool.”
Pershing agrees with Stinchcomb.
“It’s a cool mural by the incredible J.J.,” Pershing smiled. “We’ve known J.J. since his childhood. We started talking about a mural a couple of years ago and one day he came in with a drawing and said, ‘What about this?’ So, it was kind of a conversation that came to fruition.”
The parking lot in front of Island Automotive looks like a vintage car show just about any day you may happen to drive by. Stinchcomb picked a 1941 Ford Woody Wagon for his mural. Guess what?
“Coincidentally,” Pershing said, “the car he chose to paint, the old Ford Woody, we have a customer who had the same car. He had a picture of it and when he came here to start sketching, we brought the whole car in for him to look at. To really touch and feel it. To give him a more three-dimensional feeling for the car. As you see the car coming together there, it’s incredible – the shadows. The realism is way beyond my expectations. It’s just incredible. Watching him put layers down, I have an idea where he’s going. But once he starts doing the detail it just comes to life. It’s a painting. It’s not just a bland mural without depth. He’ll spend hours doing one little section. I sat back on Saturday and just looked at it, with nobody bugging me, and looked at the waves. They’re three dimensional. If you stand back here and just look at it, they look like they’re just rolling off the wall. The waves are beautiful, and the sunset just pops. Now he’s doing the through-the-car-windows view. That wasn’t there this morning. It’s amazing to me. My gift is cars. So, watching somebody with the talent he has is neat for me to see. I’ve never watched somebody paint in that much detail. To see it happen.”
Stinchcomb figures to have about four weeks of work in the mural by the time he’s done.
“About 200 hours,” he said. “The hardest part was the water rolling up the beach. The big blends I’ve been doing with brushes and the spray guy. I have to watch for overspray with all of these big, beautiful cars in the parking lot. So, I’m doing the big blends with brushes, which complicates it a bit. I’m used to just airbrushing it real thick and fast – makes it go a little faster. This was more complicated, making the waves roll up on the beach in the foreground. The trickier part is referencing things (like his picture of the ’41 Woody) but turning it into a sunset reflecting shadows and light. Changing everything to work with the scene.”
When Stinchcomb started the mural, Marco Island was being hit with a two-day windstorm.
“I almost got blown off the scaffolding a couple of times,” he laughed. “The pallet flew and streaked down the whole side of the mural. I called it. I said, ‘Keith, I’m done (for today).’”
Stinchcomb has also seen some of this winter’s coldest and hottest temperatures during the project.
“I’ll be ready to work on something inside after this,” he laughed.
While Stinchcomb considers himself a self-taught artist, he appreciates his influences.
“I’m self-taught,” he said. “Started as a little guy at Tommie Barfield Elementary. Then I started painting in high school at Lely. I had a real good teacher at Lely, Bob Domke, who pretty much forced me into painting.”
So, does Stinchcomb see more murals like this one at Island Automotive in his future on the island?
“Anything that’s commercial,” he said, “and it’s got elements that have to do with the island and is done tastefully, I mean absolutely. This mural is something that reflects what Island Automotive does, in the island style. I’m always up for a challenge. Something different.”
When he’s finished painting, Stinchcomb will seal the mural with a water based polyurethane sealer.
“We’ll be looking at this for a long time,” Pershing said admiringly.