Rex Burnett AutoArt Gallery

Rex Burnett Biography

As a youngster, Rex Burnett liked to examine the tire tracks left in the dusty road by an occasional automobile passing through his native Boston, Arkansas.  He started drawing very early, filling the open spaces of his school books with car sketches.  As a teenager he studied the automotive ads in The Saturday Evening Post® and Colliers® magazines.  The pastel renderings of futuristic cars in Esquire® magazine by designer Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky intrigued Rex; yet it was the startling beauty of the innovative 1936 Cord 810 that elevated its legendary designer, Gordon M. Buehrig, to near sainthood in Burnett's mind.

Burnett's college study in engineering - with a minor in art - was interrupted by service in the Navy during World War II; his formal art education was limited to a still-life drawing class.

After the war, Burnett worked as a technical artist for Douglas Aircraft where he created complex illustrations for aircraft catalogs, manuals, and proposals.  Fellow artist George Stevens took note of Burnett's automotive sketches and introduced him to Gary Davis, future creator of the Davis Divan, a three-wheeled car.  Davis needed someone to conceive and draw a body style for his Davis car, so he hired Burnett to do the job.  Burnett's phantom drawing of the Davis Divan was published September 1948 in Hot Rod Magazine®.  After that, he made regular contributions to the magazine illustrating the "Hot Rod of the Month," while still working full-time in the aerospace industry.  He later created art for MOTOR TREND®, Auto®, and CYCLE® magazines.

The source material for Burnett's automotive drawings were usually a small stack of black and white photographs of a car's components shot separately in pieces, in a garage or work space, prior to the car's assembly.  Following the principles of three-point perspective, Burnett used these photographs as reference material to "assemble" the car together as a pencil drawing on tracing paper.  Over his pencil drawing he laid down a sheet of vellum upon which he used a technical pen to make the final ink drawing.

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