The Automotive Art of L.E. Gardinier II

Before ever touching brush to canvas, Lawrence E. Gardinier II was destined to paint cars. In a home where his mom drew and his dad drag raced, Larry was steeped in an atmosphere of the art world and the car world. Painting cars never felt like a choice. It was something he felt obligated to do.
After having taken all available art classes in school, he entered Mohawk Valley Community College working on a degree in Advertising, Design and Production. Even with his schooling, he considers himself to be largely self-taught. Larry worked a few years in advertising, sign design, and architectural illustration. He then lost his job and “retired” from the workforce at the ripe old age of twenty-five. He has since made his living solely on his art which begs the question, why have you never heard of him?

Frankly, Larry is no good at self-promotion. Growing up, in addition to art and drag racing, the big life lesson his parents taught him was modesty. When you meet Larry, he strikes you as someone who would rather talk of any other subject than himself. He agreed to this article only after being convinced it might help his career.

When talking about his art, he admitted to having some talent to have supported himself with his painting. He further explained his favorite aspect of painting for people is customer service “I love doing the work better than the customer expected.”

Most people are surprised to find many of his original paintings cost around $900.00. This is for supplies and the time it takes to produce the painting. And while many customers are nervous about what Larry’s time costs, they are always satisfied when the project is finished. He believes that once a price is quoted, it doesn't matter how much time goes into the painting as long as the piece is as good as it can be and is completed on time. For Larry, this often means about 100 hours of work. He quickly adds that he also sells prints of his paintings for around $20.00. When asked why he puts that much time and effort into his originals he said, “Well, for a couple of reasons. I'm only as good as my last painting, and I need to know that it's all my best work.

His most ambitious, and most polarizing piece is titled Dart Nouveau. He spent six months designing and painting this car, and he gets to drive it! "I did all of the work on the car myself. It's my second paint job and the amount of labor it took was shocking. It's simply the most work I've ever put into a piece and the one I'm most proud of." It gets some really unusual reactions. "I've seen people at a show stop in their tracks and just scratch their heads. Some smile, some love it, and I've seen some trying avert their eyes. Trying."

I believe what speaks to Larry’s character more than anything else was his answer to a question about art in general. He ended the interview by saying, “I'm sorry I don’t have any bull!@#$ artspeak for you. I just like to draw cars” So folks, when you meet Larry Gardinier, don't ask him about the stylistic differences between Manet and Monet, he'd rather talk about the stylistic differences between Virgil Exner and Harley Earl.

By Toni McGarey
To learn more about commissioning artwork from Lawrence Gardinier and purchase prints please visit his website at he also has a facebook fanpage as Lawrence Gardinier 2