Unconventional Canvases: Part 4 – Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer

Rachel Levin, a popular art lecturer who often lectures at the Bernard Betel Centre for our weekly Tuesday Lifelong Learning Lectures, has provided a thoughtful and creative write-up for the Bernard Betel Centre community on unconventional canvases. Enjoy!


The unconventional canvases shown in this article challenge the conventional usage of paper, panel or canvas. It suggests that just may be the traditional media as we know it is passé when it comes to creating art.

Today artists are using just about anything they can get their hands on as canvas to display their work. In this segment car owners adorn cars with their original décor.


Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an American artist who’s Pop Art and graffiti-like work grew out of the New York City street culture of the 1980’s. He is famous for his spontaneous chalk outline drawings of various figures and other images in his own style.

He first started to show his work on the New York City subway walls. After getting public recognition he started to create larger scale works, such as colorful murals, many of them commissioned. All through his art carrier Keith used unconventional Canvases.

Keith drew his pictograms which become widely recognized visual language and often addressed political and social themes—especially homosexuality and AIDS—through his own iconography. He produced over 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989 many were created voluntarily for hospitals, day care centers, and schools.

In April 1986 he opened in Soho his studio ‘Pop Shop’. This made Haring’s work readily accessible to purchase at reasonable prices, though he was highly criticized for the commercialization of his work such as shirts, posters, and other items showing his work were sold there.

Keith painted his imagery on cars to be auctioned with proceeds donated to African famine victims and other charities. In February 1990, Haring died of AIDS-related complications at his apartment in Greenwich Village.


17-year-old Giovanna Campagnino from Staten Island N.Y wanted her first car to be unique. Equipped with permanent markers she transformed her Mazda 6, which she inherited from her mother, into a work of art on wheels, illustrating a design on the hood of her car. “I saw my car as a blank canvas and I was inspired by everything around me. I wanted my first car to be different.”

Giovanna asked her mother for permission first. “Mom was very encouraging… she had a lot of faith in me. It took me two days and 10 Sharpie markers to accomplish my design”. The illustration incorporates Giovanna’s interests, including New York City landmarks and fashion.


When Collen Kelton moved to Japan, he purchased a pre-owned car. However, Collen didn’t like the color, so he told his artist wife, Allison, to draw over some scratches on the front bumper for fun before he gave it a fresh paint job.

Turns out, Allison enjoyed drawing on the car a little too much, so she covered up way more than just the bumper with lines, swirls, and a variety of detailed patterns. Collen liked his wife’s art work so much that he decided not to repaint it.


This tattoo like supercar has a most unusual paint job and is known as the ‘Sharpie Lamborghini.’ The car is owned by Prestige Imports Lamborghini in Miami. The Sharpie Lamborghini artwork was done entirely with Sharpie permanent marker and covered with a clear coat to preserve the artwork. 

Although the Sharpie Lamborghini has been on the scene for a while, it’s one of the more prominent examples of taking extreme design chances with an expensive, rare car to achieve the ultimate in luxury personalization.


When a truck bumped into this Car, the driver decided to “fix” it in the most creative way. People are a pretty resourceful, especially when it comes to “fixing” stuff. While traveling through Altai Republic (a small Russian republic between Kazakhstan and Mongolia), a large truck bumped into a driver’s passenger door.

The driver didn’t take his vehicle to the body shop to get the damaged door replaced. Instead he decided to fix the problem himself, by taking a permanent marker and covering the dent with a detailed map of the region!

The truck driver paid for the damage he caused. The design is only a temporary fix until the owner of the car can get the door replaced.


Artists are able to turn any surface as their canvas. Whether it is a wall, a piece wood, or as in this case a dirty car, anything can become art. Nikita Golubev is a Russian illustrator based in Moscow, uses dirty cars as his canvas. 


2 thoughts on “Unconventional Canvases: Part 4 – Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer”

  1. Loved that! Zentangle anything anywhere. There’s an artist inside all of us. We need more public art. The world might become a better place if we just let creativity speak for us.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.